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Asus quietly updated their lines of ultrabooks with Broadwell hardware and these devices are already starting to pop-out in stores around the world. They also launched a few new devices, sleeker than ever before, like the Zenbook UX305 or the Chi T300.
Broadwell is a “Tick” update, a shrink in die-size from Haswell, and that’s why when it comes to everyday performance, there’s not a lot of a difference between the two platforms. I’ve already analyzed the Core i5 and the Core i7 Broadwell processors side by side to the Haswell i5s and i7s, and the new hardware wins when it comes to efficiency and integrated graphics, while RAW CPU analysis show only a minor update from one generation to another.
All these, combined with the imminent launch of Intel’s next “Tock” upgrade, Skylake, at the end of this year, left OEMs reluctant to push Broadwell heavily. That’s why some went for these quiet updates, replacing the Haswell CPUs with Broadwell processors in their laptops, while others just haven’t yet announced Broadwell models.
Anyway, with that out of the picture, let’s turn our attention of the Broadwell Zenbooks and Transformer Books available these days. We’ll start with the Broadwell U models and we’ll also talk about the Core M devices towards the end.
Asus Zenbook UX303LA/LN
The mid-range Zenbook UX303LA now available in the US and several other countries with an Intel Core i5-5200U processor. The UX303LA-DS51T model includes 8 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SSD and a Full HD 1080p touchscreen, all for under $900 these days. Follow this link for more details an up-to-date prices.
An UX303LA-US51T model is also available, with a 256 GB SSD, and Microsoft Store offers a Signature Edition for $999. Signature Edition models from Microsoft come with no bloatware or unwanted preinstalled software, and they actually perform great, as you can see with my Signature Edition Dell XPS 13.
The laptop can also be paired with an Intel Core i7-5500U processor in Europe (already shipping in UK, Germany, France, etc), Canada and Asia, but it couldn’t find an i7 configuration in the US just yet.
The UX303LA Broadwell models fully benefit from the platform’s gains, as they should last 30-60 minutes longer on a charge, but also offer improved graphics performance, which is mostly going to be visible in light games and other graphics-demanding applications. But especially in games. That aside, the UX303LA remains the same solid min-range 13 inch ultraportable.
The UX303LN is the LAs kin, as you can see from this detailed comparison between the two models, and there are actually two major differences between the two: the LN gets dedicated Nvidia 840M graphics, while the LA settles for integrated Intel HD 5500 solutions, and the LN gets a 3200 x 1800 px touchscreen, while the LA gets a 1920 x 1080 px display.
If you’re into gaming, the UX303LN is clearly the better choice here, as it is actually one of the most compact and powerful laptops out there. Our detailed review of the UX303LN series will tell you more about that. The update to Broadwell doesn’t help it much though, as the burden falls on the Nvidia chip in demanding titles. In fact, you’ll only see an improvement in terms of daily use battery life, and maybe a minor, minor bump in terms of fps and loading times, due to the marginally faster processor.
The screen on the other hand still suffers from those murky colors, a problem Asus were still not able to address from what I’m aware of (please correct me if I’m wrong), despite unofficially saying they’ll release a fix for months now.
The Zenbook UX303LN with the Broadwell i7-5500U processor, QHD+ display, 12 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD is already available in some parts of the world with a MSRP of roughly $1300, which is on par with the Haswell version at launch. The i7-4510U Haswell models have seen price cuts in the meantime though and retail for under $1200 these days, which could actually make them a smarter pick, unless the slightly longer battery life is really worth $100+ for you.
Asus Zenbook UX301LA
For the last year or so the UX301LA was among the fastest Windows running ultraportables on the market, as it was one of the very few built on a 28W Haswell platform (the top configurations, with the Intel Core i7-4558U processor). That made it a prime option for those seeking performance in a compact body, for programmers, designers, photographers, etc. Battery life was somewhat sacrificed though, due to the more demanding processor, and in fact our detailed review of the UX301LA series shows you exactly what to expect from this model.
2015 brought quiet updates for this Zenbook as well, and at least two distinct models are (or will soon be) available in stores around the world, one with an Intel Core i7-5500U processor, and also the 28W Broadwell model, called the UX301LA-XS71T, that offers an Intel Core i7-5557U , 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD and Intel HD 6100 graphics for a whooping $2149. That’s a lot of money for a 13 inch ultraportable, but the UX301LA has always been pricey. In fact, follow this link for up-to-date prices on this series.
As mentioned in my analysis of the Core i7-5500U processor, the UX301LA equipped with it should come close to the i7-4558U model, while going for longer on a charge. The Core i7-5557U is the one that will catch all the attention though, and while I expect it to outmatch last year’s model, I can’t exactly tell what to expect right now. I do hope it will be 10-20% faster, run cooler and more efficient, but how will these actually translate in real-life use remains to be determined.
The Core i7-5557U version of the UX301LA is listed in a few shops, but a shipping date isn’t yet available. Will update this section in the near future.
Asus Transformer Book Flips
The Transformer Book Flip TP300 and the TP500 were quite popular at the end of 2014, mainly because they were great devices for the money Asus asked for them and because they were widely available across the world.
Asus upgraded them to Broadwell, but kept the prices at bay, and just like with the UX303LA, that should boost performance, graphics abilities and battery life, making these series even more attractive.
Check out my full reviews of the TP300LA and the TP500LA for more details. And keep in mind that in the US you will also find the Q302 and the Q502 models, which are identical to the ones before, but have a black case, as opposed to the silver one on the TPs.
The Core M options
While the devices mentioned above are powered by Broadwell U hardware, Asus also have a few Core M powered ultraportables in stores.
Core M, or Broadwell Y, is Intel’s low-power platform meant for ultra-compact and in most cases, fanless devices. The hardware is only powerful enough for daily activities like browsing, watching videos, editing texts and photos, etc, but isn’t particularly good at multitasking and definitely can’t match the Broadwell U laptops in terms of performance. But Core M devices tend to be very sleek and mostly affordable.
Here’s what Asus has to offer right now:
- Asus Zenbook UX305 – a fanless 13 inch mini-laptop with a metallic body and a matte display, selling for $699 and up. The base version includes a Core M 5y10 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, which is a great configuration for the money. Follow this link for up-to-date prices and check you my full review for extra details.
- Asus Transformer Book Chi T300 – a 13 inch detachable, a stand alone Core M tablet with a matching keyboard dock, selling for $699 and up. It offers a 12.5 high-resolution touchscreen, up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. The tablet is fanless and weighs 1.5 lbs by its own, or 3.15 lbs with the dock attached. Follow this link for my detailed review.
- Asus Transformer Book T300FA – a slightly beefier version of the Chi above, with a more affordable price tag. I’ve reviewed it here, but this model is probably going to be replaced by the CHI once it becomes available.
At the end of the day, Asus offers quite a few Broadwell powered devices these days, with more coming in the very near future.
All the Broadwell U laptops are in fact last year’s models with updated hardware and they’re mostly an improvement in terms of graphics performance and battery life, while all the other aspects remained unchanged.
The Core M machines are brand new though and they are thin, light, fanless and properly priced, that’s why I’m pretty these sure could become solid options for those of you that require a compact computer for casual daily use.
Regardless of what you end up choosing, be sure to check out my full reviews here on the site, as well as this complete list of Broadwell ultraportables or my selection of the best ultrabooks of 2015. Those should help and if you have any other questions, the comments section is open and I’m around to reply.
March 3, 2015 at 1:36 pm
Do you know if the zenbooks with the Broadwell integrated graphics support output of [email protected]? The GPU does for sure, but what about the DisplayPorts?
March 3, 2015 at 4:05 pm
The UX301LA should, since it offer a miniDP port. Not sure about the others that only rely on HDMI, they might be limited at 30Hz
March 3, 2015 at 11:16 pm
Thanks again for your beneficial update post,
Do you know if transformer book’s 700 gram keyboard dock will add any battery life to the device? i mean does it have a secondary battery inside?
March 5, 2015 at 9:49 am
It won’t, according to the latest rumors. I’ve yet to see it live so far, it’s protected by an NDA and I’m not sure when’s the launch date. Should be soon.
March 6, 2015 at 9:36 am
Thank you for the review. I am a student and want to buy ultrabook in the range of $800-900 ,what do you suggest. I was planning Asus UX305, but as I do programming , I think it will heat up under load. Any suggestions? . Thanks in advance bro.
March 12, 2015 at 12:20 pm
go with the ux303 mate
i had the same problem -… tried ux305, yoga pro 3,
March 7, 2015 at 4:58 am
You offer excellent reviews,Andrei. Do you know if these new versions will be upgradeable eg ssd ram etc? Thanks
March 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm
RAM and SSD are upgradeable on the UX303 and ux301LA series, the SSD is also upgradeable on the UX305
March 11, 2015 at 6:54 pm
Hey does this heat up under extensive load like Photoshop or Eclipsce programming, since there is no fan . thanks
March 12, 2015 at 12:19 pm
Which one do you refer to?
March 12, 2015 at 2:21 pm
Asus Zenbook UX303LN / Dell Inspiron 7537 or another ultrabook/notebook at this price (around 1000E) ?
I am planning to use it for Photoshop/Lightroom work and student things. So, I’m looking for an ultrabook portable and with a good screen to use it for my daily routine.
March 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm
Which 7537 configuration?
March 12, 2015 at 3:24 pm
FHD Touch, Procesor Intel® Core™ i7-4510U (4M Cache, up to 3.10 GHz), 8GB, 1TB SSH, GeForce GT 750M 2GB
But this is a little heavy, 2,6kg.. You can recommend me other brands if you want.
Thank you for answers :)
March 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm
Asus Zenbook UX303LN has ASUS 13.3″ Zenbook UX303LN, FHD, Procesor Intel® Core™ i7-4510U 2GHz Haswell, 8GB, 256GB SSD, GeForce 840M 2GB this configuration
March 12, 2015 at 3:38 pm
I’d get the Asus if you want something portable, the configs are similar but the Asus is smaller and lighter. If you do want a bigger screen though and a device that probably will run cooler, the Dell is a good option too.
March 14, 2015 at 11:37 am
Are the yellows that bad on the QHD screen? Does it also suffer from scaling issues? Right now there’s 2 models of the Asus UX303LN that are pretty similar in pricing : one with a haswell i7 and a 1080p touch display, and the other one with a broadwell i5 but w/ the QHD display . The QHD w/ broadwell model is like $20 more expensive, the difference is really small. The exact models are the DQ284H and the R4141H ( broadwell and respectively haswell).
So which one should I get? Other than the usual workload of an ultrabook , I plan on using it occasionally for some casual gaming ( League of Legends and games like that, not too demanding).Will the QHD screen be a plus or a downside?
One other question as well, aren’t all the 1080p Asus UX303LN-s matte (and non-touchscreen) ?
Bafta in continuare.
March 16, 2015 at 5:11 pm
Well, yes, there are also the scaling issues you’ll get with all high def laptops running Windows. To be frank, I’d rather get the Haswell i7 1080p version.
Not all the 1080p models have a matte screen. In fact, most actually have a touchscreen from what I’ve seen.
March 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm
I was planning on ordering the UX303LN but was waiting for the broadwell refresh. Asus instead launched the UX305 with a low end CPU.
Do you know if the UX303LN will be refreshed with 5th Gen i7-5X00U?
Do you know if a UX305 will be released with a U-series cpu?
Or do you recommend just getting a UX303 on sale?
March 16, 2015 at 5:21 pm
1. the UX303LN is already available with a Core i7-5500U processor in some regions.
2. No, that’s only going to take Core M hardware
Imo, if you need the dedicated graphics, you’d better get a Haswell UX303LN model on sale, if it’s at least $100 cheaper than the Broadwell models. The Broadwell i7 is only marginally faster in terms of CPU power and slightly more efficient, but on a gaming machine, those might not matter that much.
March 18, 2015 at 12:44 am
Hi, I stumbled upon this review and I think the ASUS Zenbook UX303LA-DS51T is good expect I wanted to save even more battery by having a non-touch matte screen. Is this variant available? XPS 13 is like $999 for the same specs while the Asus is just $850. Any recommendations?
March 18, 2015 at 9:30 pm
Hi I am wanting to see if you could recommend me a laptop please. Here’s what I will be using it for: blogging, watching movies, some low end games online, general use.
Here are the specs and budget I’m working with: budget is no more than 1200. Specs are a screen no smaller than 13.3″ and no less than an i5 processor and no less than a full HD screen and I’d want no more than an HD screen because of the scaling issues I’ve heard of on qhd. I don’t mind if it’s a 2 in 1 either. Thanks for your help.
March 18, 2015 at 11:09 pm
You could aim for the Asus Zenbook UX303LA or the Dell XPS 13 2015 with the HD matte display.
March 27, 2015 at 9:01 pm
I’ve been looking everywhere for the tp300la with the broadwell update with no luck. Asus’ own website has all the older models, and even the microsoft store only has a haswell model. Is it just not out yet? Where can I find it? Thanks so much.
March 28, 2015 at 2:27 am
According to the Microsoft’s website the 303LA special edition actually has a display resolution of 3200×1800 not the 1920×1080 you specified. Can you confirm this?
March 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm
I need a new not so heavy laptop for photography. I use photoshop, lightroom, Nik, Topaz, OnOne, etc. and like to save in TIF. I now have a Dell with 8GB ram but am out of space. Can you recommend an Asus for me? Thanks!
April 1, 2015 at 3:15 pm
The UX301LA should be best fitted for what you need, if withing the budget. Otherwise, get the UX303LA.
April 1, 2015 at 5:40 pm
Many thanks; I finally have decided on the 303LA. The 301 is a bit pricey.
April 19, 2015 at 8:30 pm
Has there been any word on when the release on the UX301 broadwell versions will be? And what resolution will the screen be?
May 12, 2015 at 10:25 pm
is there any news on the upcoming Broadwell-refreshed UX301LA?
I have not seen this in any store in Europe as of yet.
Could you also shed some light on the configurations Is the Broadwell CPU the only difference, or have they changed other stuff, like battery, screen etc?
May 13, 2015 at 10:26 am
I don’t have anything besides that’s in the post. I’m seeing the Core i7-5557U model listed in some obscure shops in Europe, but none of the big places have it, thus I’d reckon it’s not out yet.
THe Broadwell refresh on the Asus UX301 and UX303 series doesn’t bring other changes from what I know, so everything else should remain identical to the Haswell models.
June 9, 2015 at 11:33 pm
thank you for the nice article.
Are you aware of any updates for the business class laptop series of ASUS?
In particular, the bu401la and the bu201la models.
I can still only find them listed with Haswell processors, which is a shame.
June 10, 2015 at 11:09 am
Hmmm, I know they have the updated B551 and PU551 series and there was also a Haswell 12incher from what I remember, but I can’t recall its name from the top of my mind.
June 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm
I was just told by an ASUS representative that the next
generation of the bu401 series will be released in the 4th
quarter of 2015 and will be based on Skylake.
June 16, 2015 at 11:15 am
Nice, didn’t know that but it makes sense
June 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm
Looks like there is a new version of the UX303. The UX303LB. It replaces the i7-4510U with a i75500U and the 840M is replaced with a 940M. So unlike the broadwell update above it also updates the video card from the 840 to the 940.
XoticPC in the US has it listed as available late June, I hope the date holds.
It looks like the US version will the QHD and the euro will have the FHD.
Andrei: Have you seen any more info on this laptop and its availability ?
June 17, 2015 at 11:41 am
I know the laptop is already available in Europe and hopefully will make it to the US soon as well, but nothing more than that.
July 11, 2015 at 7:36 pm
Supposedly there’s a fix for the UX303LN QHD yellow screen here:
Don’t have a clue if it works well or not though.
July 13, 2015 at 5:38 pm
It would be nice if someone around here would test this. I don’t have the UX303LN around to do it myself…
July 30, 2015 at 5:51 pm
Hi I am a college student and currently struggling with my current laptop in terms of performance. I would like a slim laptop around my budget of 1000. I came across the UX303LA model. I plan to use a laptop for programs like MATLAB and light gaming with league of legends. I was wondering if the UX303LA would be able to cater to my needs.
July 30, 2015 at 10:36 pm
what’s the config you can get for 1000 ($ or EUR ? )
August 6, 2015 at 9:29 am
Hi. I’m going to become an university student this year and I have been searching around a lot for a laptop that I can use to take notes during lectures and use for various written tasks related to that. I have narrowed my search down to the Asus Zenbook UX303LA (128 gb SSD, 4 gb ram, I5 processor.) And the Lenovo U430 (256 SSD, 8GB ram and an I7 core and it includes a graphic card).
Which one of these two would suit my need the most in terms of battery life and abilities to handle programs like microsoft word and microsoft power point?