The Asus ZenBook UX310UA doesn’t initially look like much, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Not only does this Ultrabook have a beautiful aesthetic and plenty of horsepower, but it’s so finely tuned that the Asus ZenBook UX310UA may be the best laptop for anyone on the market for a versatile machine.
Asus ZenBook news
This laptop stands on the shoulders of the original MacBook Air, which was itself once held up as the zenith of svelte design housing powerful hardware. This, in itself, is enough to make the Asus ZenBook UX310UA worth your time.
This just goes to show that the Taiwan-based company is determined to keep improving its Asus laptops – and the new Asus ZenBook S13 proves that even further – so much so that we consider this laptop the de facto heir to the MacBook Air’s throne.
It’s almost like Asus stepped up and said, “Well, if Apple won’t do it, we will.” Talk about courage…
CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-7200U CPU @ 2.50GHz running 2.7GHz
Graphics: Intel(R) HD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB, DDR4, 2,133MHz. Expandable to 20GB
Screen: 13.3 inch, 3,200 x 1,800 QHD
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 1 x COMBO audio jack, 1 x USB 3.1 TYPE C port, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 2 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x HDMI
Camera: HD Web Camera
Weight: 1.4kg / 3.09 pounds
Size: 32.3 cm x 22.3 cm x 1.84cm / 12.7 x 8.78 x 0.72 inches (W x D x H)
Price and availability
You can buy the Asus ZenBook UX310UA we reviewed here for around £899 (about $1,040, AU$1,400). In comparison, you can purchase the slightly more powerful Dell XPS 13 2017 for £999 ($799, AU$1,400) – with configurations going for much more. Dell’s laptop is speedier, but at that price it should be.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 710S goes for a similar price, but it’s afflicted by an uncomfortable keyboard layout, and it’s unfortunately packed to the brim with bloatware. Asus tested the waters with the ZenBook UX310UA, as many similar laptops go for a touchscreen or the 2-in-1 route. The Asus ZenBook UX310UA doesn’t – it’s a traditional laptop done right.
To start, the Asus Zenbook UX310UA is gorgeous, conceivably better looking than the old MacBook Air, in case it’s not obvious from the spun metal glare on its all-metal finish.
Those concentric circles flowing outward from the Asus logo? They’re just as spectacular in real life as they are in our photos. And, the smooth lines around the edge are even more apparent. The icing on the cake, though, is that you’re saving cash by going with a ZenBook. The MacBook Air is more expensive while containing older hardware.
Before you’ve even turned it on, the packaging is elegant. Unlike a lot of laptops, this one is worthy of an unboxing video.
Upon opening the lid of the laptop, the message ‘In Search of Incredible’ appears, engraved on the inner lid, which is a nice touch. There’s a definite absence of plastic and cable ties, too. Of course, the MacBook Air 2017 still comes in first when it comes to the charger, as it’s one of the few devices still utilizing the fantastic MagSafe charger – though the new MacBook Air doesn’t. The Asus ZenBook UX310UA, however, settles for an L-shaped plug, but it does the job.
When it comes to ports, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA has more than enough. Along the left side of the computer, you’ll find that round charging socket, a USB 3.0, HDMI, USB-C and a headphone jack with an integrated microphone socket.
The right side holds two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader and a couple of lights, one for the hard drive and the other to let you know that it’s actually on, or if the battery is charging.
It’s too bad that the two USB inputs on the right aren’t 3.0 like the one on the left, but it’s nice that a USB-C port was included.
Similarly, the USB 3.0 port on the left-hand side of the device supports USB Charger + technology, allowing you to quick charge external devices even if it’s off or hibernating. The Asus ZenBook UX310UA features software that can manage the laptops’ battery when using this functionality.
Sizing it up to the competition, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA is mostly in the same league. It’s not quite as thin as the 2017 Macbook Air which is 1.7cm, while the laptop we reviewed here is 1.84cm and admittedly doesn’t have the tapered end.
Lenovo’s Ideapad 710S has similarly specs and is thinner but has a poorer display. HP’s Spectre x360 is also slimmer but its starting price starts at £1,199 ($1,049, AU$2,299).
In order to keep the price low, Asus has increased the thickness, but kept the build quality high. A fair compromise in our eyes.
Screen and interface
The Asus ZenBook UX310UA isn’t just attractive, it also has a gorgeous screen. We were given the QHD 3,200 x 1,800 version to test, but it’s also available with a full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 panel.
This QHD panel is a glory to behold, too. With wide-viewing angles, and Anti-Glare that functions as advertised, it’s hard to find anything to complain about.
You won’t find much in the way of edge burn when the screen is blacked out, and the colors are well-defined, deep and look great. This display could work for photographers on the move, thanks to its color accuracy.
And, if we were to compare to the Macbook Air, at the same price point you most definitely wouldn't be getting a Retina screen. If we have one criticism, the bezel is a little larger than we would like, but it’s not too obtrusive.
At first, we thought the keyboard didn’t quite cut it, as typing causes a slightly disorientating bend in the center. However, the bend doesn’t affect the usability, as once we got used to it, it’s a perfectly functioning mechanism with low noise and reliable keys. But you may need give it time to adjust if you're used to rock-solid keyboards.
Similarly with the trackpad, it took a bit of setup and getting used to. The pinch zoom unfortunately doesn’t work well, as it would often get set off while using two finger scrolling.
In the end we had to turn off the zoom and just use keyboard shortcuts. Not an ideal solution, but we prefer to be able to use two finger scroll and can live without pinch zoom. The pad itself feels a little slippery compared with others. But again, this is not a deal breaker and these annoyances are fixable.
First reviewed November 2017