Asus ZenBook UX310UA review
The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is what happens when a practical everyday laptop and an expensive all-aluminium Ultrabook fall in love. It gets you the pricey look and feel of a portable, stylish machine with the features of a workhorse and a price way below that of a rival MacBook. See also: Best laptops to buy right now
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We’ve seen a few laptops arrive with similar ideals, the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 being the most recent. This one is something special, though. It’s a laptop we can imagine recommending to many people over the next 12 months, and is even better than its ‘predecessor’ the ZenBook UX305 in several respects.
Asus ZenBook UX310UA review: Price
The Asus ZenBook UX310UA we’re reviewing costs £699 from Currys. It’s not cheap, but is also only about 60 per cent the price of a top-end laptop that, for many, won’t feel much faster to use day-to-day.
The exact specifications for the Asus ZenBook UX310UA vary depending on the country in which you buy the thing, but in the UK you get an Intel Core i5 CPU, a 128GB SSD, 500GB hard drive and 8GB RAM.
Asus ZenBook UX310UA review: Design
We’ve reviewed several laptops from the Asus ZenBook UX series over the past couple of years. The slightly disappointing UX360CA was the most recent, a good-looking but flawed convertible laptop.
The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is a return to the roots of the range. This is a normal laptop, without a touchscreen or a 360-degree hinge.
It’s also slightly chunkier than some of our favourite mid-price ZenBooks, because it fits in a hard drive as well as an SSD. However, it’s not thick and it’s not heavy. Its shape is simply a little less sharp and wedge-like than the MacBook 12-inch or the ZenBook UX305.
The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is 19mm thick and weighs 1.45kg, light enough to carry around with you all day, every day. It’s amazingly practical.
It’s a looker too. Like other 13-inch ZenBooks, the UX310UA has an all-aluminium frame that comes across as a more affordable Windows 10 take on what Apple has made with its slimmer MacBooks. The Asus flavour comes from the brushed concentric circles design on the lid, used across ZenBooks. There are plain silver and light gold shades to choose between. Both look great.
There’s one problem with the build. Apply firm pressure to the keyboard surround and you can get it to flex a little. It’s more noticeable that in early ZenBooks and is a little disappointing in an otherwise lovely design. But it is much less obvious than in the UX360CA and does not ruin typing or cause any weird trackpad problems.
This is a fairly sturdy little machine, just not one as well-built as a MacBook or Dell XPS 13.
Asus ZenBook UX310UA review: Connectivity
In many respects the Asus ZenBook UX310UA is much more up-to-date than a MacBook Air though, which is the closest machine Apple offers. Unlike the older ZenBooks, this one has a USB-C 3.1 port. USB-C is the new breed of USB, using a reversible plug rather than one that has to be plugged-in the right way.
It’s also a USB 3.1 port, meaning it’s ready to take on the fast peripherals that we’ll start to see more of in the next 24 months. Right now USB-C is a future-proofing addition, but it’ll become more important.
There are plenty of the old standards packed in too. The Asus ZenBook UX310UA has a full-size HDMI, an SD card slot and three regular USBs. One of just a few minor downsides of this laptop is that only one of the full-size USBs is a 3.0 port. The other two are slow old USB 2.0.
This makes no difference if you’re attaching a keyboard or mouse (unless it also works as a USB hub), but if you use an external SSD drive, you’ll have to make sure you use the USB 3.0 port on the left side. We can live with the compromise given the other high-end bits of hardware on offer, though.