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

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)
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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  • tipoo - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    I was curious where Core M stood against some mid range 4-5 year old systems, namely Core 2 Duo. I checked on the Notebookcheck mobile CPU and GPU benchmarks, and it doesn't seem appreciably faster than the P8600/320M combo in an old white unibody macbook we have, for instance. The CPU scores a bit higher, not earth shattering, the GPU looks to track around the same. Is that wrong?
  • tipoo - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Not to say that that's not impressive, going from that in 35+23 watts to a total of 5 watts, but it's not a huge upgrade for people on those systems either, apart from form factor and screen etc.
  • Krysto - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    That's great and all, except....who asked for a 5W notebook chip? Intel has been doing this for a while, moving the MAINSTREAM of the notebook market from M/H-series chips to U (CULV) series chips...and now to the even less powerful Y-series, which until Broadwell was so crap nobody dared to put it in their laptops (IVB-Y and Haswell-Y). Core M is just a slight upgrade over those.

    It's already happening. We're already seeing "ultrabooks" such as this Asus, and the new Macbook Air arriving with these crappy chips, and making us pay $1300 for the privilege. Why the hell wouldn't I just use an ARM chip at this point in a $500 Chromebook, and with the same quality screen and materials?
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    I was with you until you mentioned 'chromebook'. That threw everything out of the window and, honestly, you'd be a bit silly to even consider such a machine.
  • Mikemk - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    You'd be silly to consider it for Chrome OS yes, but they can be good hardware with Linux Mint installed.
  • tuxRoller - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Not mint, and not with that tiny amount of storage, and not at that price.
    If they had at least made the storage upgradable it would've been the PERFECT linux lappy.
  • akdj - Thursday, March 26, 2015 - link

    True. Chromebooks seem silly, and an answer to nothing right now, in today's state of technology. I think Krysto, you're missing a few things...just as comparing this to a 2010 Air or an '08 MacBook. It's got 8GB of RAM. The earlier MacBooks were 2, an option of four but no more. They were either using 5400 RPM HDDs or the earliest, slowest SSD technology, they didn't aport IPS panels (nor options like HiDPI <&1000!!). You were lucky to get two, two and a half hours on the old, white plastic MacBooks, maybe an hour more on the '10 Air....they were thicker, heavier, and not anywhere close to today's GPU solutions integrated, sharing some of that RAM, in some cases 2GB of its internal/existing system memory when necessary. Along with the improvements made to OS X, this is a machine built for 'Most'...
    ...Not you and I. Different needs, all that but plenty are getting by everyday without turning a laptop or their desktops at home on. iPads, your Nexus or Samsung tablet of choice -- even today's smartphones smoke those older MacBooks for all reasons mentioned above; portability, longevity, 'speed' (with PCIe storage now, quick NAND solutions in tabs), and overall function.
    There's a WHOLE lot of folks using their iPad for their email, facebook, casual gaming and web surfing, entertainment and media, constant, 'everywhere' connectivity radios and phenomenal displays you can throw in a bag and forget it's there. Even charge it with a cigarette lighter. Same applies to today's phablet phones we've seen tab sales drop whether it's due to over saturation of the tablets in those who already 'want them', a slower upgrade cycle and/or the 'phablet' craze with incredible, HiDPI 5-6" display phones in our pockets...with the SAME power as their tablet counterparts (some compared favorably in this review ...IOW, iPhone 66/6+, Note 4 and incoming S6, new LGs, HTCs and iPhones, these 'phones' are going to be competing even more favorably this year to these ultra book scores, that's cool!)
    Point being 'Most' folks haven't the needs or just plain 'wants' those of us frequenting Anandtech are looking at for our next computer. That said, a dozen hours, two pounds and those improvements are all fine choices for someone not rendering video or manipulating 200 RAW 50mpxl images 'on the run' --- the perceived and 'real speed' increases via SSD storage, the iGPU and fabless quiet design might just make for an excellent commuter computer for many of us, at just 7-$999! Like the new MacBook, it's got a place in the marketplace for the masses but if it's not the solution you're lookong for the Broadwell 35/45 watt MacBook pro, XPS 15 and 17" workstations, etc ...they'll be here sooner than later and from all things I've seen, other than maybe a 5-8% power increase and savings over Haswell, there's plenty of options on the market today that cover the bases
    I'll be 44 this year and started with an Apple IIe. What a cool time to be a 'geek'!
  • eanazag - Monday, March 30, 2015 - link

    If Chromebooks could do RDP, than they would make decent thin clients. Otherwise, I don't find much value in them except for cases where you want your device to only be a browser from a management standpoint.
  • Marc GP - Thursday, April 9, 2015 - link

    They can.
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, April 23, 2015 - link

    that's not RDP, that's chrome remote desktop. not a terrible solution, but in my limited experience had issues vs RDP.

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