Asus Zenbooks UX303UB, UX303UA, UX305UA and UX305CA released, with Skylake onboard

By Andrei Girbea , last updated on February 17, 2016

Most manufacturers will update their existing ultrabooks to Skylake this Fall and word on the street is they’ll have them in stores around October-November.

Asus have yet to release any official details on their plans, but I do know they are working on a few different devices, both in the Zenbook and the Transformer Book families. I’ll tell you a few things about some of these models in the following rows.

I can’t comment on performance and how exactly these Skylake versions will fare against the Broadwell variants just yet, but I do expect a significant performance boost over the Haswell versions (roughly 25% improvements in CPU benchmarks and a much bigger difference in anything graphics related), corroborated with a slight bump in efficiency, translated in longer runtimes.

Asus Zenbook UX303UB

The Zenbook UX303LN has been an great option for those looking at a sleek 13-incher with dedicated graphics in the last year and a half. It was briefly followed by a Zenbook UX303LB series, with Broadwell processors and the end of 2015 brought the new iteration, the Zenbook UX303UB.

This one pairs an Intel Core i7-6500U processor with up to 12 GB of RAM, SSD storage (on a 2.5″ bay that’s easy to upgrade if needed) and an Nvidia 940M graphics chip, while retaining the same chassis and the screen from its predecessors. That’s something to keep in mind, since the 3200 x 1800 px display is known for its colors issues and the hinge mechanism has proven fragile over the time, and those are the main reasons I personally would have expected a completely revamped design. My detailed review of the Zenbook UX303LN tells you more about these aspects, as well as all the other things you should know before buying one of these UX303s.

Performance wise, the Zenbook UX303UB is going to be a solid multimedia machine, capable of dealing with most everyday activities and work-related activities as well. The screen however kills it for photographers/videographers and anyone else who would require a color-accurate panel.

The UX303UB carries on from the popular UX303LN, but it's less impressive today than it was back in 2013, when this line was initially revealed

The UX303UB carries on from the popular UX303LN, but it’s less impressive today than it was back in 2013, when this line was initially revealed

Many of you would be interested in this one’s gaming abilities and it will be able to run some games, but don’t expect it to handle the latest titles smoothly. The Nvidia 940M is a low to mid-level dedicated chip at best and only a minor update of the Nvidia 840M chip used on the original UX303. In other words, while games have come a long way in the last two years, this Zenbook has stalled and is only a minorly improved version of the model launched in 2013, at least when it comes to the graphics chip inside. Thus if you need a truly capable gaming ultraportable, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Regardless, the Zenbook UX303UB is expected to make its debut in stores around October, with an MSRP of $1299 in the US and about 1300 EUR over here across the pond, for configurations with the Core i7 Skylake CPU, 12 GB of RAM, 256 or 512 GB SSDs and the Nvidia graphics. Follow this link for more details and potential discounts. Cheaper versions might be available in some regions and personally I would aim for the model with a FullHD display, which is imo better suited for such a device.

The Zenbook UX303UA is similar to the UX303UB in most ways, except for the fact that it comes with a touchscreen and does not get the dedicated Nvidia graphics. On the other hand, it’s much more affordable, with a Core i5-6200U configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD selling for under $900 these days. Follow this link for more details.

Asus Zenbook UX305UA

Update: My full review of the Zenbook UX305UA is available over here.

A few months ago Asus announced a brand new Broadwell-U machine, the Zenbook UX305LA, which we already analysed in this post. It is mostly built on the UX305FA’s chassis and inherits most of its traits (including the matte display and the non-backlit keyboard), but ccomes with a slightly thicker body in order to accommodate the more powerful hardware and a bigger battery. This model has been available in stores around Europe and some parts of Asia for the last month and has recently made its way to the US as well.

The Zenbook UX305UA will replace the UX305LA series in the months to come and the Skylake internals are going to be the only difference between the two.

The Zenbook UX305UA will be available with either Intel Core i5-6200U or Core i7-6500U processors, 4 or 8 GB of RAM (non upgradeable), M.2 SSD storage and a matte non-touch 13.3-inch FHD IPS display. I expect competitive configurations with the Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage to sell for around $900 at launch, which is going to be about $100 more expensive than the existing Broadwell model.

The Zenbook UX305FA puts Skylake hardware in a sleek and affordable package

The Zenbook UX305FA puts Skylake hardware in a sleek and affordable package

There’s no word on an updated Zenbook UX303LA so far, but I’d expect Asus to bump that model to Skylake as well, in order to have a premium 13-incher with updated hardware and a touchscreen in their offer as well, since the UX305UA is only going to be available with the matte non-touch screen.

Asus Zenbook UX305CA

This one is the updated version of the popular Zenbook UX305FA series and it’s going to be built on a Skylake-Y platform, or in other words the updated Core M hardware.

The UX305FA has been a great buy in the last months, mostly because it is a fanless, sleek and nicely built 13-inch ultrabook, but especially because it had a great price: $699 (and even less) for a configuration that includes a Core M-5Y10c processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD, 1080P matte display. We reviewed the UX305FA a while ago and this post is going to tell you all there is to know about it.

The Zenbook UX305CA promises to address the two issues I had with its predecessor: everyday performance and battery life, but how are these going to translate in everyday use, that remain to be seen once the final products become available and we get to test them.

For now, we do know that Asus will offer at least two UX305CA versions, a base model with a Core M 6Y30 processor, 4 (or 8 GB in some regions) of RAM, a 128 GB (or 256 GB) SSD and a 1920 x 1080 px display, that should sell for around 799 Euro (or $799 in the US), and higher end version with a Core M 6Y54 processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB (or 512 GB) SSD and the 3200 x 1800 px display, expected to go for roughly 1G.

The Zenbook UX305CA promises to address the poor performance and subpar battery life with the upgrade to Skylake Core M hardware

The Zenbook UX305CA promises to address the poor performance and subpar battery life with the upgrade to Skylake Core M hardware

You might wonder why there are two options for the RAM and storage on these models? Well, that’s because the European versions of the previous model, the UX305FA, were not as good as their American counterparts. In other words, while the base model in the US came with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD for $699, the base model in Europe came with only 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD for 699 euro, which made this laptop far less attractive over here, across the pond.

There’s no way to know whether Asus will take the same approach for the Skylake update, but there’s a chance they will. We’ll see.

Asus Transformer Book Flip series

Last but not least Asus are going to work on updating their Transformer Boom Flip series to Skylake, and that includes the 13-inch TP300 and the 15-6-inch TP500 models.  I’d expect to see the new models in store around October/November as well, with Core i5/i7 processors and various amounts of storage and RAM, plus optional Nvidia GT 900 dedicated graphics chips.

If you don’t know what to expect from the Flips, they are affordable 2-in-1 convertibles with a Yoga-like form factor. Check out my review of the TP300 over here and of the TP500 via this other link for more details on these two models.

Wrap-up

Long story short, Asus will update most of their important series to Skylake in the following months, while gradually rolling down the curtains on their Haswell and Broadwell versions. The new models should translate in slight bumps in performance and battery life over their predecessors and should be the go-to options if you’re looking for a brand new machine this year, unless you can find the older models with some hard-to-pass-by discounts.

But while the UX305CA and the UX305UA are recent models that should be able to face the competition with success, especially with the help of Asus’s aggressive pricing policy, I do feel the Zenbook UX303UB and the Transformer Book Flips need a major rehauling in the near future if they’re to remains competitive. Hopefully we’ll start seeing some brand new designs at the beginning of 2016.

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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.

104 Comments

  1. Nakz

    February 16, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    hi, Andrei. When will you have the review of the UX305UA? I can’t wait any more for the review lol

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 17, 2016 at 6:29 am

      Will be up in about an hour

      • Georgia Crowley

        February 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm

        I am desperate for the UX305UA in the UK. Any idea when it will be available here? :-/

      • Cliff

        March 8, 2016 at 11:38 pm

        Hi Georgia,

        Just bought one but change of mind. I wanted a ROG instead. Would you like to buy mine for AUD $1200? I haven’t switch the laptop, just received it yesterday so this is brand new.

        256SSD I7 6500

      • Georgia

        March 9, 2016 at 8:35 pm

        Thanks Cliff, but I’m in the UK, so would prefer a UK machine….

  2. Raia

    March 5, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Very interested in purchasing a new laptop and leaning heavily towards UX303UA! The laptop I have right now seems destined to have a hinge failure in less than a year. That being said, is the UX303UA using the same chassis as UX303UB, which you already mentioned may be prone to hinge failure as well? Above all else, I want a sturdy laptop, (no foreseeable physical malfunctions) with great battery life under $1000, that will be usable for the next 3 years or more. I also am looking forward to playing FFXIV on the new laptop, but I don’t want to pay the extra $400 to get UB just for that. Any recommendations? Even outside the Asus line-up is fine, but I’ve been researching and have heard great things about UX303UA.

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 7, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      The same from what I know. Are you looking for a 13-incher?

  3. Cliff

    March 8, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Is it possible to install a graphic card on UX305UA so it becomes like UX303UB?

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 9, 2016 at 8:36 am

      No, you can’t upgrade either the CPU of the graphics on 99% of the available laptops

  4. Mohamad Al Karbi

    April 10, 2016 at 3:31 am

    UX303UB was the best for my needs and budget. My main issue was the resolutions. There are issues especially with Firefox – but I was able to override it!

  5. Brad

    June 5, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    Congrats on a great site. Very useful and informative for someone who hasn’t thought of buying a laptop for many years as I’ve been happy with my first gen i7 860 desktop machine.

    I’d narrowed my choice down to the UX303UB but the problems with hinges put me off. I need it to last for years (my desktop has done over 6.5 years of perfect service and still runs fine), and the hinge issue is problematic.

    I know I’m asking a bit of a crystal ball question here, but do you have any knowledge of when ASUS may release a successor to the UX303UB?

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      I haven’t head of one yet. The Zenbook 3, Zenbook UX330 and UX306 are the new ones that I’m aware of right now, and none replace the XU303UB. I’d reckon you really want the dedicated graphics in a small package with a decent price, since you’re looking at the UB?

  6. Brad

    June 7, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Precisely! Portability is the main reason for the upgrade. Don’t want larger than 13″ and I don’t want to go backwards in terms of performance. My aging PC (1st gen i7 860, 8GB, 256 GB SSD, 9800 GT) still performs really well.

    I haven’t seen anything that really compares with the UX303UB in this price range. The hinge is such a damn shame ‘cos otherwise it’d be perfect for me. Even the screen issues don’t worry me because most of the time, it’d be used as a desktop running through my 46″ Samsung TV that I use as my monitor.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      There’s nothing similar in that budget. You could maybe look at the Gigabyte P34W or an MSI GS40, but these are 14-inchers, bulkier and heavier, but faster. There’s also the new Blade 14, but much more expensive.

      The hinge is a known issue on the UX303s though and from what I’ve read, it even cracked for people who claim they’ve pampered their units. So if you plan to keep your machine for that long, it’s safer to stay away.

  7. Brad

    June 7, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Thanks mate! Appreciate the guidance. I think I’ll sit on it for a while and keep an eye on your site for updates!

  8. Julie

    June 12, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    what are all your thoughts on this:
    The ASUS LiveUpdate client makes requests over plain, unencrypted HTTP to the ASUS update servers (liveupdate01.asus.com or dlcdnet.asus.com, depending on version) and interprets them as XML files (or obfuscated XML)

    I don’t know about you but I feel uncomfortable in the fact that liveUpdate delivers unencrypted HTTP

    Furthermore,

    ASUS’ LiveUpdate software is preinstalled on computers shipped by ASUS. It is responsible for delivering updates, new versions of the BIOS/UEFI Firmware and executables for use with ASUS software. Content is delivered via ZIP archives over plain HTTP, extracted into a temporary directory and an executable run as a user in the “Administrators” NT group (“Highest Permissions” task scheduler). There is no verification or authentication of source or content at any point in this process, allowing trivial escalation to NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM. I have a Asus Laptop that I bought back in 9/2015 and I’m worried.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 13, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Personally, I uninstall LiveUpdate and pretty much all the OEM software (Splendid, WEbcloud, etc). I get updates manually or via Windows updates and I’ve been doing this for many many years without any problem. Yes, certain OEM programs can only be updated via the OEM’s isntaller, but since I uninstall most of that software anyway, that’s a non-issue for me.

      On the other hand, I haven’t heard of any attacks through LiveUpdate or other similar software, and I can’t say if it’s possible or not, that’s a bit out of my league. If that’s a concern though, I’d just uninstall LiveUpdate and cut off the issue from the roots

  9. marc

    July 2, 2016 at 4:55 am

    I’m trying to decide between:
    UX305UA-AS51
    UX303UA-DH51T
    UX305CA-EHM1
    UX305CA-DHM4T

    I’m struggling to see the differences between them, especially on power and speed. Would greatly appreciate your insight. Thanks!

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 3, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      UX305UA – slightly thicker, faster processor, has a fan inside
      UX305CA – thinner, slower processor, fanless

      For basic daily activities, the UX305CA is a decent pick, but I’d get something with 8 GB of RAM and at least a core m5 processor. If you want multitasking and maybe run some more demanding software or some games, the UX305UA is going to be the superior pick.

  10. Uli

    August 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I’ve been considering this notebook before, but wasn’t satisfied with the overall specs – either too heavy or not powerful enough, depending on the model.

    Now I’m thinking about the new asus zenbook 3, that is about to come out, but the cheapest model has only 4 GB ram, which is not enough, and the middle model already costs 1500USD which will probably equal 1500€ in continental Europe (where I live).

    To be honest, the Samsung 900X3L would look like the perfect choice, but for some stupid reason Samsung doesn’t sell notebooks in Europe anymore. Do you have any idea, how I get my hands on one in Europe? If I order from the US (let’s say from ebay for example), will I have to pay taxes for importing? AND: Is it ok to just use an adapter? Will the Samsung 900X3L be able to handle the German electric current?

    Thanks, Uli

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 6, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Not sure how things are in Germany, but I expect you’d have to pay import taxes and potentially VAT.

      The charger will work in Europe just fine, you will need an adapter though so you can stick it in the European wall plugs. Those are cheap though, 5-10 eur.

      If you can wait, I think Asus are going to offer more configurations for the Zenbook 3 than what they announced so far, so there might be some in between the $1000 and the $1500 ones. I don’t expect to see them in stores earlier than October though.

  11. Eduardo

    August 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Hello and thank you for your reviews !!!!

    Do you know if ALL UX305UA variants will bring an IPS display? I’m seeing a lot of UX305UA variants and when I look for specifications in google they generaly dont mention about IPS…

    Thanks!!

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 23, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      The UX305UA is only available with IPS panels, according to the official page: asus.com/Notebooks/ASUS-ZenBook-UX305UA/specifications/ . That’s also in line with the reviews and what I know about it.

      • Eduardo

        August 23, 2016 at 10:13 pm

        I hope so, but you know, they not always put “IPS” in the specifications even though they may be. I’m about to but the UX303LB-R4109H I cross my finders; in the ASUS website they also say:

        13.3″ 16:9 QHD+( 3200 x 1800)/IPS FHD (1920×1080)

        If it’s not IPS then I will return it… thanks !

  12. carjo

    September 16, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Hei i want to ask i want to buy a laptopbut have a difficut choice whether ux303ub or ux305ua which one is better ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 17, 2016 at 6:32 am

      DO you play games? if yes, then get the ux303UB with dedicated graphics, if not, then get the UX305 or better yet, the UX306

  13. Ingrid

    June 21, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I am looking for a new laptop, but i cant seem to decide on one. I don't need it for much more than school work, but i do want a backlid keyboard, i7, able to multi task and it would be lovely if i could use it outside, it has to be able to last wuite some years, at least 5 if possible.
    I don't know if there are any of the new models that are a better fit and if the ux303ub would be to much?
    I hope you can help me :)

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 21, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Hi, a UX330UB should do fine, but I'd rather get a newer generation laptop. If you're looking at Asus Zenbooks, then something like the UX330UA, the UX430UA or the UX410UA are good options. In case you need dedicated graphics (for gaming, mostly), there are UX430UQ and UX410UQ options with Nvidia 940MX chips.

      • Ingrid

        June 22, 2017 at 10:04 am

        Thank you very much!
        But whats the difference between UA and UQ?

      • Andrei Girbea

        June 22, 2017 at 11:56 am

        UQ gets a more powerful dedicated graphics chip from Nvidia, will benefit in games. UA gets normal Intel graphics that will handle everyday activities (movies, youtube, casual games) but would struggle with more complex games. If you're not a gamer, then the UA versions are the ones to look at.

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