Asus struck a nerve when it initially released the ZenBook UX305 in 2015, particularly with MacBook Air fans jaded by Apple’s lackluster refresh of its most affordable laptop. However, the Asus ZenBook UX305 also reigned supreme over the new-at-the-time (and notably more expensive) 12-inch MacBook. Its high praise nearly three years ago was mainly the result of its spec-per-dollar advantage over not only Apple’s lot, but the Ultrabook space in general.
Since we originally reviewed the Asus ZenBook UX305 in January 2016, we’ve seen a multitude of thin and light laptops with great battery lives and efficient processors across the board. Some of these have even come from Asus itself, but still, very few are able to compete with the $699 (£599, AU$1,199) price tag of the ZenBook UX305. Paired with a 13-inch screen, a 6th-generation Intel Core m3 processor and a swath of full-size ports, this laptop is an enticing offer to this day.
The fact that the Asus ZenBook UX305 manages to squeeze plentiful specs into a compact chassis at a compelling price point is one thing, but that it’s able to juggle all of that while sustaining a gorgeous all-aluminum shell is another feat altogether. Asus’ signature radial lid design is back in full force with the ZenBook UX305, so you’ll never have to worry about it cramping your style when you’re using it on campus or at the local coffee shop.
You could easily mistake the Asus ZenBook UX305 for a sketchbook when holding it. It's stunningly thin, measuring just 0.5 inches thick and weighing 2.6 pounds (1.17 kg). This makes the ZenBook one of the skinniest Windows 10 machines in existence but don't think it's flimsy.
The UX305 is entirely made of aluminum. The interior deck is one solid piece of metal that features an anodized and fine grit finish. By no means is the surface abrasive – rather it adds an extra bit of texture for your wrists to sit on. The underside also sports an anodized sheen, and it's also made with a separate sheet of metal.
For a bit more style on the UX305's screen lid, Asus went with a brushed aluminum finish. However, instead of going with the traditional straight lines, the top panel features a radial pattern that's both attractive and conveniently draws your attention to the Asus logo in the center.
Despite the small size of this Ultrabook, the trackpad is extremely roomy and extends over a third of the laptop's width. The trackpad almost looks comically large, but you'll appreciate the extra space and the frictionless surface. Better yet, clicks are tactile and audible whether you're pressing on the dedicated left and right buttons or pressing anywhere on the surface.
Similarly, the keyboard is spacious and follows the standard layout with a full-length backspace and enter key. The keys bottom out to a defined thump and spring back instantly for a responsive typing experience.
Asus Zenbook UX305 (2015)-10
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
There's no denying the Asus ZenBook UX305 looks exactly like a MacBook Air. From the hinge, the bezel around the screen, the position of the trackpad to the recessed keyboard, you can easily see the similarities to the MacBook Air. The hinge even helps to prop up the entire book at a tiny angle – just like Apple's ultralight notebook.
One of the few original touches Asus has added to the design are its chamfered edges, as opposed to the MacBook Air's razor sharp sides. Otherwise, the UX305 looks like the MacBook Air after it's gotten a nip-tuck job to make it marginally slimmer and lighter.
While the new ZenBook seems extremely derivative, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If the MacBook Air helped set the benchmark for Ultrabooks, then the UX305 has surpassed it and improved on the design.
What's more, you also get a lot more ports too. This 13-inch laptop comes packing three USB 3.0 ports – which isn't even available on premium laptops, like the MacBook Pro and Surface Book. There's also an SD card reader and micro HDMI to round out the selection of ports.
First reviewed: January 2016
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this review