Asus Zenbook UX305FA revisited – who is it for?

By Andrei Girbea , last updated on July 3, 2015

The Asus Zenbook UX305 is one of the hottest ultraportables of the moment. It’s built on a Core M platform, it’s sleek and nicely crafted and it’s cheaper than most of its piers.

In the US the base version starts at $699 and for this kind of money you actually get a capable configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, while most other ultrabooks in this price range are either bulkier/heavier, or not as beefy configured.

Still, I shared my impression of the UX305 in a previous article and while I did consider it a good deal for the money, I also stated that this laptop is not for everyone. This was initially based on a pre-production version of this Zenbook, but in the meantime I got to spend some time with a final retail unit, identical to the ones you can buy in shops these days, which proved to be an overall better package than that first unit I got to play with.

But it still hasn’t changed my conclusion: this could be a great machine, if you’re in its niche, but is also not the ideal pick for a fair amount of you.

The Zenbook UX305 is sleek and affordable, but it's not the ideal option for everyone

The Zenbook UX305 is sleek and affordable, but it’s not the ideal option for everyone

So, who is this for?

The average user looking for a thin, light and nicely built laptop able to handle light everyday activities, like browsing between a couple of tabs, watching some videos, listening to some music, working on some documents and presentations.

At the same time, this is meant for those of you that want a completely silent computer, with no spinning components inside, and are willing to compromise on performance and case temperatures to some extent in order to get that.

Who is it not for?

Those who’d require a powerful mini-laptop. Multitasking or more demanding tasks will put the UX305 to its knees. And even when it comes to lower end chores, if your tolerance for sluggishness and occasional stuttering is close to NILL, like mine, you’ll want to look somewhere else.

Still, there’s a lot more you’ll have to consider about this laptop than general performance, as important as that is for most users, so I’ll quickly summarize in the next couple of rows the reasons why one should or should not pick one of these Zenbooks UX305. And BTW, I get in depth with all the aspects mentioned here in the updated review, available over here.

The UX305 could be the right pick for you if:

  1. You want a dead-quiet, fanless Windows running 13 inch laptop, capable of handling most of the standard Windows software and apps. I’ve always been annoyed with spinning fans (or any other spinning component in my laptops, for that matter), but after using a few fanless computers lately, I wish EVERY COMPUTER would be as quiet. Especially when working long hours in a completely silent environment.
  2. You want a nice looking, slim and nicely built machine. This one weighs about 2.8 lbs, metal and soft plastic are used for its case and there’s little to complain about the build quality and overall craftsmanship.
  3. You need the practicality of a normal laptop, in a smaller package. The UX305 is a standard clamshell computer, offers a nice keyboard (with decent travel and feedback for a device this thin), a roomy palm-rest, an excellent IPS display and solid IO (3xUSBs, micro-HDMI, card-reader).
  4. You want a computer with a matte non-touch display. An excellent one, like I said above and proven here.
  5. You’d be happy with a computer that can run for around 5-6 hours of daily use, but not for longer. That’s not bad for an ultraportable, but some of the other Broadwell U and even Haswell ultrabooks can do better.
There are plenty of reasons why you'd want one of these Zenbooks

There are plenty of reasons why you’d want one of these Zenbooks

Last but definitely not least comes the UX305’s excellent price, although that’s mostly the case for the US only, at the time of this post, where the configuration that includes a Core M 5Y10 processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a FHD IPS panel MSRPs at $699 on Amazon, Microsoft Store and a few other places.

Across the pond, over here in Europe, a similar configuration sells for around 900 euros, which brings the UX305’s price too close to some of the best Broadwell U 13 inchers to still be a viable pick for most potential buyers (unless you really want the fanless hardware).

On the other hand, there are also quite a few reasons why this Zenbook might just not be for you, regardless of how much it costs. Imo, you shouldn’t buy the UX305:

  1. If you need a fast ultraportable. For that, look for a Broadwell U powered machine and aim for at least a Core i5 configuration.
  2. If you need an ultraportable for more than just casual tasks (email, documents, browsing, multimedia).
  3. If you need a backlit keyboard.
  4. If you need a touchscreen.
  5. If you have dodgy Wi-Fi signal in your home or tend to use your laptop far way from the router.
  6. If you want a silent and very precise trackpad, plus the ability to tweak with the touchpad’s functions (sensitivity, tap speed, etc).
  7. If you need above average speaker quality on you machine.
  8. If you want a 13 incher that can last for more than 5-6 hours of daily use on a single charge.

Again, all the aspects above are explained in the review.

But also a fair share of aspects that could drive you away

But also a fair share of aspects that could drive you away

Wrap-up

Long story short, the $699 Zenbook UX305 available at the time of this post in the US can be an excellent choice for the average user, regardless if we’re talking about a student, a journalist always on the go or someone who uses the computer for the most basic of tasks. That’s why this particular model was rewarded with a Recommended Buy award in the review.

In fact, I believe this UX305 is a great alternative for the newly announced Apple Macbook, with whom it shares the hardware platform and a few other traits. Yes, the latter is lighter, slightly faster and will probably run for longer on a charge, but it’s also nearly twice as expensive, does not include a matte screen, does not offer the same typing experience and is very limited when it comes to IO and ports.

At the same time, if you want a more versatile ultraportable, a 2-in-1 with a touchscreen, you should also consider the Microsoft Surface 3 (starts at $499 for the tablet alone), Acer Aspire Switch 12 or the Asus Transformer Pad Chi T300 (starts at $699 and includes a keyboard dock), all sleek and fanless powered slates. BTW, a longer list of fanless devices is available over here, in case you’re interested.

The Transformer Book Chi T300 is a hybrid alternative, also starting at $699

The Transformer Book Chi T300 is a hybrid alternative, also starting at $699

Anyway, that wraps-it up for now. Hopefully this post sheds a bit more light on whether the UX305 is the right device for your or not. Get in touch if you have any questions about this Zenbook or need help deciding on your next ultraportable, the comments section is open and I’m around to reply.

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Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I've been covering mobile computers since the 2000s and you'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site.

13 Comments

  1. Wassily

    April 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Microsoft Surface 3 is Atom and not Core M so it’s one more power level down

  2. Zhong

    April 3, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    There are different models coming out with faster M Core Processors and added touchscreen for its QHD display, that of course raises the price. Do you agree that the Zenbook UX305 has the most value for the price? If not, which one does?

    Also, it comes with dual-band wireless n interface, its speed is no better than an average laptop?

  3. Leandro

    April 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Hi, I’ll use an ultrabook for surfing web (more that a few tabs in a browser), and set a connect to remote servers through ssh for do my work (sysadmin linux, obviously i will remove the windows operating system and i will an installing a linux system on this ultrabook).

    Think you i should buy this ultrabook for that purpose? Please can you say me your opinion? I will be very grateful with you.

    Thanks a lot!!

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 27, 2015 at 8:18 am

      Well, you haven’t said anything about your budget, but I don’t see why not. Something with 8 GB of RAM, a Core I5 processor and preferably SSD storage will be more than fit for what you need. Make sure you get something with good support for Linux though. THere are forums out there that will help with that.

      • Leandro

        April 28, 2015 at 1:46 am

        Hi, I’m just between this computer, lenovo yoga two pro and macbook air (since everything will iugal ssh)

      • Andrei Girbea

        April 28, 2015 at 8:03 am

        this thing is slower than the other two, but cheaper and fanless. Go for it if you don’t need a very fast laptop

  4. Daniel

    April 30, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Hi,

    Thanks for the through review.
    I’m travelling overseas for about 10 weeks, looking for a lightweight laptop for photo editing, using Adobe Lightroom, perhaps a little Photoshop. Is this one suitable?

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 30, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      Personally I would not pick any Core M device for light photo editing. Go with a Haswell/Broadwell i5 and 8 GB of RAM, it’s going to be much better suited for the job. The XPS 13 is a decent option if you want something light and not very pricey (the i5 with the matte FHD screen). That’s what I’m using right now

  5. Scott

    July 9, 2015 at 2:23 am

    Do you know how this computer would handle google sketchup?

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 10, 2015 at 9:17 am

      I never used it, but based on the recommendations here (help.sketchup.com/en/article/36208), it doesn’t even meet the minimums in terms of graphics processing power. So I’d get something else

  6. Mak Hao Yang

    March 1, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Hello there. I’m consodering getting this laptop to do video editing. Do you think it can handle it? Might use programmes like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro.

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 2, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      No, I wouldn’t get a Core M laptop for that

  7. Christina

    January 6, 2017 at 5:08 am

    I will be using adobe software, InDesign Photoshop etc. Is this laptop a good choice when using such programs?

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