A fresh review of an ‘old’ classic.
Since launching onto the marketplace in 2015, the Asus UX305 has been a force to be reckoned with. Combining a competitive $699 price tag, a 13” screen, 6th generation Skylake processor, and a whole array of ports, this little beauty took on even the mighty MacBook on its own turf and arguably bested it.
Since the UX305 hit the streets, many thin notebooks have followed, but even today, few can compete on an equal level and it’s easy to see why the UX305 has become a perennial favorite for those wishing to purchase a notebook that combines affordability, practicality, usability, and a long life. It’s remarkable 0.5 mm thinness, 1.17 kg weight, and signature radial lid all add up to a notebook that is light, compact, easy to travel, and comfortable to use wherever you are.
So for the purposes of this article, we’re going back to the UX305 for a thorough review to see how it holds up in the here and now. Has it been overtaken by newer models or is it still a contender for one of the best notebooks still on the current marketplace?
Grab yourself a coffee and let’s fire it up…
One of the big selling points for the UX305 is the simplicity and elegance of its overall design and aesthetic. With no ungainly or gauche protuberances, in addition to a beautiful brushed dark obsidian stone finish on its sturdy aluminum body which boasts one of the thinnest waistlines you’ll find on any notebook, this is one prime piece of kit in looks and appearance.
The keyboard is well laid-out with a spacious touchpad. The bottom of the body is flat and smooth with speakers on either side and four rubber feet for good traction wherever you place it. One minor downside to the keyboard is lack of backlighting, but that’s a small gripe. The touchpad is sensitive but not overly so, with two-finger scrolling and pinch-zoom functions smooth and responsive.
The 13” display screen has a very nice matte finish that makes colors look a little desaturated in comparison to other notebook’s glossy screen finishes. Display is bright with a 180-degree viewing angle. Color reproduction is very good at 93.9% of the sRGB spectrum. But one place it does fail to meet expectations is in overall color accuracy, receiving a Delta rating of 11.7 (0 being the highest score).
The UX305 also boasts a large number of ports, containing 3 USB ports, 1 SD card reader, a micro HDMI port, plus a combined headphone/mic jack and DC-in port.
All in all, the UX 305 has it where it counts in design, it looks great and is well laid-out with most of everything you could want. An impressive start overall.
Sound quality from the UX305 was, I have to admit, an overall disappointment. With two side speakers designed by Danish company Bang & Olufsen, I was expecting better. The highs in music listened to on the unit were tinny-sounding while the speakers struggled with bassy lows, warbles and crackling coming through at times.
It comes equipped with SmartAudio software, allowing for up to 10 channels of equalizer action plus options for microphone and recording adjustments. Despite this, the UX305 was only able to put out a mediocre 79 db of sound at most.
A disappointment to be sure, but on we go.
With a sub-1-GHz CPU, the UX305 excels at screen performance, with a 1080p movie used as a test, this unit performed valiantly even with 10 open tabs and spreadsheet open at the same time. A low-power Intel Core M-5Y10 CPU and a 256 GB solid-state drive ensures this baby can handle a heavy workload without breaking a sweat.
In terms of graphics, the UX305 is equipped with integrated Intel HD 5300 which makes for solid performances even with difficult games, and its 1920×1080 resolution means stable frames and smooth animation all round. It reached its limit at around 30 fps on certain games where it struggled a bit but still came through in the end.
In terms of battery life, the UX305 boasts up to 10 hours, but in reality on tests, it pretty much gave up the ghost at 9 hrs 38 mins, so not too far off but still somewhat short of the advertised mark.
Lastly, the 720p webcam takes video at 30 fps but the overall image quality was at best mediocre and it really seemed to struggle with white balance.
Upon this review, the strength of the UX305 becomes clear, as do the reasons behind its longevity as a quality notebook. It’s thinness and lightness certainly make it very easy for mobile usage, it’s design is appealing and alluring, the keyboard and touchpad are well laid-out and spacious, it’s display screen bright and with solid resolution even if it falls short in color accuracy, the audio is a big disappointment, but graphics and screen resolution are top-notch. The lack of a keyboard backlight for working in darker environments was, for me anyway, a letdown, and the webcam really isn’t anything to talk about.
But for $699, this is an absolute bargain and despite some lesser features in the performance stakes, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a notebook out there as good as this without significantly paying more. Recommended.