The Asus ZenBook UX310UA doesn’t leave much of a first impression, but we promise that it’s worth your time. Not only does this Ultrabook have a beautiful aesthetic and plenty of horsepower, but the Asus ZenBook UX310UA is so finely tuned in every way that it may just be the best laptop for anyone on the market for a well-rounded machine.
Asus ZenBook news
It follows in the footsteps of the original MacBook Air, a laptop once praised as the pinnacle of svelte design housing powerful components. This alone should be enough to make the Asus ZenBook UX310UA worth your time.
This is proof that Asus is determined to keep improving its notebooks – and the new Asus ZenBook S13 proves that even further – so much so that we refer to this laptop as 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 get the Asus ZenBook UX310UA we reviewed here for about £899 (about $1,040, AU$1,400. In comparison, you can get the slightly more powerful Dell XPS 13 2017 for £999 ($799, AU$1,400) – with configurations going much higher. Dell’s laptop is faster, but at that price it should be.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 710S is in the same ballpark as the ZenBook, but it’s plagued by an awkward keyboard layout and it’s packed with bloatware. Asus tested new waters with the ZenBook UX310UA, as many similar laptops go for a touchscreen or the 2-in-1 route. The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is none of these: it’s a traditional laptop done right.
First up, the Asus Zenbook UX310UA is incredibly pretty, arguably better looking than the old MacBook Air, in case you couldn’t tell from the CD-like glare on its all-metal finish.
That’s right, those concentric circles emanating from the Asus logo are just as impressive in real life as they are in our photos. What’s more, the smooth lines around the edge are even more apparent. The icing on the cake, though, is that you’re saving money by going the ZenBook route. The MacBook Air is more costly and leverages antiquated technology. So, that’s something.
Before you’ve even turned it on, the packaging is elegant. Unlike a lot of laptops, this one is worthy of an unboxing video.
When you open the lid, you’ll see the simple message ‘In Search of Incredible’ engraved on the inner lid, which is a nice touch. There’s a distinct lack of plastic and cable ties, too. Of course, the MacBook Air wins out when it comes to the charger, as it’s one of the few devices that still uses the amazing MagSafe charger, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA settles for an L-shaped plug, but it’s perfectly serviceable.
When it comes to ports, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA has a ton of them. Along the left side of the device, you’ll find that round charging socket, a USB 3.0, HDMI, USB-C and a headphone jack with an integrated microphone socket.
On the right there are two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader and a couple of lights, one for the hard drive and the other that let you know that it’s actually on, or if the battery is charging.
It’s a pity that the two USB inputs on the right aren’t 3.0 like the one on the left, but it’s handy that there’s a USB-C port included.
Similarly, the USB 3.0 port on the left hand side of the device supports USB Charger + technology, which allows you to quick charge external devices even while it’s off or hibernating. The Asus ZenBook UX310UA features software that will help manage the laptops battery when using this functionality.
Sizing it up to the competition, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA is mostly on par. It’s a little thicker than 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 is similarly specced and thinner but has a poorer display. HP’s Spectre x360 is also slimmer but its starting price is £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 beautiful screen. We were given the QHD 3,200 x 1,800 version for testing, 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 actually works, 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 don’t look obnoxious. This display could work for photographers on the move, thanks to its color accuracy.
And, if we go back to the Macbook Air comparison, 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 large, but it’s not too obtrusive.
At first we thought the keyboard wasn’t up to scratch, as typing causes a slightly disorientating bend in the center. However, the bend isn’t a detriment to 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 doesn’t really work, 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 do without pinch zoom. The pad itself feels a little slippery compared with others. But again, this is not a deal breaker and these niggles are fixable.
First reviewed November 2017