Asus ZenBook UX305 review

A most affordable and excellent Ultrabook keeps its streak

Asus Zenbook UX305
Editor's Choice
Asus Zenbook UX305

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

While the Asus UX305 doesn't break new ground in the Ultrabook scene, it's an excellent machine in almost every regard while being awfully affordable considering. It's thinner than the MacBook and, frankly, more capable to boot.

It's also significantly more affordable compared to just about every competing Ultrabook. It's has some notable shortcomings in graphics and audio performance, but for everything this laptop gets right at a bargain, it is worthy of high praise.

We liked

The ZenBook UX305 is a superbly-built machine that's thin, light and downright attractive. The full-metal build and slightly off-violet color of the chassis make it stand out from all the white Acer Aspire S7's and golden MacBooks of the world without being too flamboyant.

Skylake has completely repaired Core M's reputation, and I'm thoroughly pleased with the power of the UX305. This lightweight system' performance is mostly consistent whether I'm browsing the web, watching video or editing images. What's more, you can get stellar battery life lasting almost more than seven hours in some instances.

Of course, the most striking thing about the UX305 is that it comes at a $699 (£599, AU$1,199) price point. This is a great price for any mobile computing machine, but in this case you're getting a premium, full-metal Ultrabook with an excellent full HD display and a 256GB SSD to boot.

We disliked

While I enjoy an excellent overall experience with the UX305, once the laptop digs into its reserve battery tank, the Intel Core m3 chip's performance suddenly plummets. It's a problem you'll likely never run into until after 6 hours of usage, but it's a huge annoyance when I struggle to even draft a single email as the laptop slows to a crawl. Gaming performance is also a minor let down, considering it degraded from last generation.

I also wish the laptop's speakers were a tiny bit better especially, considering they were engineered by Bang & Olufsen. The built-in tweeters are in no way the worst speakers I've ever heard, but they're nonetheless a weak point of this otherwise excellent machine.

Final verdict

The Asus ZenBook is the most affordable Ultrabook you can buy currently, though it's not exactly a shining symbol of innovation in this space of ultraportable notebooks. Regardless, Asus has struck a remarkable ratio of components to price with an excellent build quality.

I would pick the Asus ZenBook UX305 1,000 times over most Windows 10 laptops. Other than being an absolute steal, this 13-inch laptop packs in a ton of features with a nearly perfect 1080p screen, a surprising number of ports and long battery life. Next to it, the MacBook looks down right expensive. (If you want a Windows 10 tablet-first hybrid, the HP Spectre x2 is a solid choice in its own right.)

This year, at CES 2016, PC brands introduced new, thin and exciting Ultrabooks. The HP EliteBook Folio G1 and Lenovo Yoga 900S standout as two unique Ultrabooks that are already turning heads. However, the Asus ZenBook UX305 still over shadows all these new units as the most affordable Ultrabook, and it won't disappoint you.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.