It was way back in 2011 that ASUS launched the Zenbook series. The original UX21E and UX31E were the first of the thin and light Ultrabooks from ASUS to bear the Zenbook brand, and featured an all-aluminum chassis. ASUS has kept the styling consistent over the years, and refined their Zenbook with each new model. The new UX305 is their thinnest and lightest incarnation to date and keeps the Zenbook aluminum frame, with the distinctive concentric-circle finish on the lid, and squeezes the laptop down to an incredible 12.3 mm thickness.

Part of that story is what is powering the UX305. Intel’s Core M processor is a 4.5 watt chip which has compressed the entire system on a chip into a much smaller package than the traditional Core processors that have powered the other Zenbooks. ASUS has created a system board with a ten-layer high-density PCB which is only 0.83 mm thick, and roughly the size of a six-inch smartphone. Core M, with its low Thermal Design Power (TDP), also enables fanless devices, and ASUS has done this to provide a laptop computing system with no moving parts at all, and therefore it is virtually silent.

The most amazing thing about the ASUS UX305 though is that the company has crafted an all-aluminum, thin, light, and capable Ultrabook for only $699. With this kind of price point, one would expect sacrifices to be made in the specifications, but that is not really the case at all. For the base starting price, the UX305 comes with the Core M-5Y10 processor which has a base clock of 800 Mhz and boost to 2 GHz, along with 8 GB of LPDDR3-1600, and a 256 GB Solid State Drive. The display is a 13.3 inch 1080p IPS panel, and in April a 3200x1800 model will be available which includes multi-touch.

ASUS Zenbook Ultrabook
  UX305FA- As Tested, Core M-5Y10, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 1920x1080 IPS display, 802.11n Wi-FI
Processor Intel Core M-5Y10 (2C/4T, 0.8-2.0GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 4.5w)
Intel Core M-5Y71 (2C/4T, 1.2-2.9GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 4.5w)
Memory 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3-1600Mhz
8GB Standard in NA
Graphics Intel HD 5300 (24 EU, 100-800 MHz on 5Y10, 300-900 Mhz on 5Y71)
Display 13.3" 1920x1080 IPS matte
AUO212D

Optional 3200x1800 PLS
Optional Mult-touch
Storage 128GB or 256GB SSD
Sandisk model
256 GB standard in NA
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7265 (802.11n, 2x2:2, 300Mpbs Max, 2.4 and 5GHz)
Optional
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 (802.11ac, 2x2:2, 866 Mbps Max, 2.4 and 5GHz)
Audio Conexant SmartAudio HD
Stereo Speakers (downfiring)
Battery 45 Wh Battery
45 Watt charger
Right Side Power Input
USB 3.0 Port
micro-HDMI Port
Headset Jack
Left Side 2 x USB 3.0 Ports
SD Card Reader
Dimensions 324 x 226 x 12.3mm (12.75 x 8.9 x 0.48 inches)
Weight 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs)
Extras 720p Webcam
Colors Obsidian Stone, Ceramic Alloy
Pricing $699-$999 USD

For the US market, the $699 5Y10, 8GB, 256 GB 1080p model will be the base, however they will offer other configurations in other markets. As far as specifications, there is very little to complain about. ASUS has still managed to fit a 45 Wh battery onboard, and it has all of the ports one would expect of a modern Ultrabook, with three USB 3.0 ports including one port with sleep charging, a micro-HDMI port, a headset jack, and a micro SD card slot. They have even fitted a 720p webcam. Really the only spec that that might be considered cutting corners is the 802.11n wireless, but some models will come with 802.11ac as well. ASUS has packed all of this into just 1.2 kg, so the UX305 is very light too.

One look at the UX305 and you can instantly tell that ASUS is going for those who are after a premium Ultrabook, but with a budget price. However that budget does not mean that it skimps on the necessities like storage or RAM. At CES, I was hopeful that the push to lower cost devices with solid state storage would be right around the corner, and clearly that is the case. Many of us who follow technology get asked for recommendations on devices to purchase, and it was difficult to find a quality device for a reasonable price that included solid state storage. ASUS has shattered that barrier with a 256 GB SSD at this price point.

They have also changed the perception about design and feel of a mid-priced notebook.

Design and Chassis
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  • FwFred - Thursday, March 26, 2015 - link

    Microsoft store had it for $699. Amazon let's other resellers sell at any price they want, Amazon didn't have it in stick themselves when I checked. Reply
  • dionisk - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    Just bought it 3 days ago from amazon for 699. You just need to keep looking. Amazons prices fluctuate based on their supply. Reply
  • fabrica64 - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Too bad it is a 16/9 laptop. Stop 16/9 displays! Why can't people put a 16/10 display... a little bit more of squareness makes a lot of difference Reply
  • ArtShapiro - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    You're obviously correct, but in (somewhat) fairness, that 1080 pixel vertical resolution is 30 more pixels than an SVGA+ device provides. I like my 1600x1200 Thinkpads, but my 1400x1050 Thinkpads are certainly reasonable.

    I've never paid much attention to Ultrabooks, but this strikes me as a very intriguing machine, especially for travel. My only Asus device is their now no-longer-produced Mini-TS Windows Home Server box, and it's done fine for quite a few years. What's bothering me is that the more-expensive "Signature" edition is touted as having no bloatware and, curiously, some sort of illy-defined optimization for Windows. That implies that the non-signature edition has some non-optimized Windows settings, whatever that might mean.
    Reply
  • Supercell99 - Sunday, March 29, 2015 - link

    As someone who recently purchased a ASUS UX303LA Ultrabook, only to find that a design flaw /weakness has rendered it useless, due to the display hinge breaking. I would advise anyone considering an ASUS Ultrabook to look into the hinge/construction on the newer models to see if the have attempted to correct this flaw, in how the thin plastic that attaches the display to the base.

    Touch screens receive a lot more handling on and by the display in everyday use than non-touch screens and require at least as strong or stronger attachment to the hinge than regular laptops. ASUS neglected to do so with the UX303 series and is resulting in a high failure rate of display/hinges. (see amazon review for example).

    Anandtech, while likely beyond the scope of this type of review, please look deeper into the durability and construction of these ultra-portables in the future, as light weight construction techniques , can begin to translate into premature physical/mechanical failures.
    Reply
  • eanazag - Monday, March 30, 2015 - link

    What is interesting to note is that the Arm tablets' performance results can actually be posted alongside these laptops and not result in flat out jokes. At least in the web results. Convergence in performance is beginning to be real. Reply
  • Allan_Hundeboll - Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - link

    I bought the version with 128Gb SSD yesterday. My first impression was disappointment because the 1080p ips screen has alot of light bleed in the bottom. The way this zenbook digs into soft tables is also irritating. But I love everything else about it. Reply
  • SNV - Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - link

    Since laptops now are being stripped of any moving parts they should be silent, or so you'd think, but now that there is no humming from the cooling fan or buzzing from the harddrive, and suddenly the sounds from badly designed electronics can no longer hide behind mechanical noise. I propose a new test for electronics like laptops and tablets, the coil wine test. Do a search on "Dell XPS coil whine" (be it XPS 13 or 15 or Precision M3800) and you'll see what all the fuzz or should I say whining is about.

    A laptop can be fast, light, good looking, have high quality haptics, a battery that will last for days, and no moving parts hence promising no mechanically induced noise, but it can and will probably have some component on the PCB that is screaming IIIIIIIIIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIH constantly due to lack of proper EMC shielding of the circuits. The question is will this sound be loud enough to be heard by a user’s ears.

    The Dell XPS 13 is winning quite a few tests in this review, but it wouldn't do well in a sound test looking for noise from the electric circuits within the dB(A) range at a distance were a users ears would be.
    Reply
  • PhytochromeFr - Thursday, April 2, 2015 - link

    Explain is insufficient. intel core's throttling is more complex than that.
    It's mainly ruled by power usage condition. NOT thermal condition. Intel set 2 turbo power limit for turbo control. short and long. If Processor boost to maximum clock, package power usage reach short limit. core sustains a few seconds maxmum clock until averge power usage in time window reach long limit. after that, core throttles down their clock to until their power usage reach long limit.
    Reply
  • Allan_Hundeboll - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    I tested throttling on my ux305 with occp. Idle frequency when running on battery is 800mhz. When plugged in the mains idle freq. is 2ghz.
    100% CPU load will make the CPU spike @ 2ghz, but quickly settle @ 1.5ghz. 100% CPU and GPU will make the CPU settle @ 700-800MHz. It doesn't get hot so I'm guessing it's because of the power usage.
    Reply

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