It’s been a while since I tested an Ultrabook. Yes the Surface Pro is built on Ultrabook standards but the simple fact is that if you want to get the most out of any processor you need to give it room to breath. The laptop form-factor, where fans are acceptable and screen backlighting doesn’t sit layered over the processor is the one to choose if you really need to get things done. It’s been an absolute pleasure to run the ASUS UX305LA through its paces for a Notebookcheck Tech Review video and having done that, I now want one.
This UX305 isn’t the Core M version we saw on the first time round, no, it’s now got a Core i7 Broadwell processor, an awesome 52 Wh battery, great Full HD matt screen, full SD card slot and in the model I was working with, 256 GB of very fast SSD and 8 GB of RAM. I had to re-run a few of the Notebookcheck tests just to prove to myself that what they were telling me was true.
I’m using the UX305L on my lap right now and it’s silent. Let’s see how long it remains that way. Time: 15:38.
The Core i7 Broadwell CPU is perfectly combined with great WiFi, fast SSD and the RAM and I can literally feel it happening under my fingers. Opening my website admin tools was noticeably faster so the benchmarks do translate into real-world differences.
At 1.3 KG this is a good weight for an Ultrabook with a 13.3-inch screen and a 52 Wh battery and as I type here the battery indicator is showing me 9hrs 30m remaining….off just 59% of a full battery. I’m not even in airplane mode!
The matt screen doesn’t have a touch layer which is catching me out a lot but I had forgotten how nice it is to work with a matt screen when the contrast ratio, colours and resolution are so good.
I like the keyboard and the trackpad is huge and smooth but there’s one thing that’s annoying and that’s the lack of a backlight. I would pay $50 to have that, honestly, as it’s worth it when you’re in a presentation and the lights go out. Incidentally, the price of the model tested is 1100 Euros. That’s a lot less than some Core i7 Surface products we’ve seen this week!
The full SD card slot is the thing that puts the icing on the cake for me here as I think about upgrading from the Surface Pro 3 as my mobile video editing machine. As you may know, I’m doing a lot of (more complex) video editing for Notebookcheck and I now have a fan on my desk that I point at the rear of the Surface Pro 3 to speed up rendering. Heat-related throttling is wasting my time. You know what? I’m going to side-by-side the Surface Pro 3 and the ASUS UX305L right now to see just how much faster it is. While I do that, check out the video review I’ve just published with Notebookcheck and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and spread the word on the new, detailed, Tech Review videos! The results of my testing will be below the video when I’ve completed them.
Oh, by the way, the fan is still off here. Time: 16:05.
Here’s the result of the side-by-side video rendering test. 65% faster on the ASUS UX305 saving me 4 minutes over the Surface Pro 3 on a 10m29s full HD render of a fairly complex video. The important thing to note is that after about 5 minutes the Surface Pro 3 starts to get too hot and clocks down. At that point the UX305LA is about 2x faster. As the Surface Pro 4 has the same case design and also uses a 15 TDP CPU there’s the potential that the Surface Pro 4 could also see these issues. The UX305 with Core i7 is definitely a great video rendering option today though.
Fan noise while rendering was there, noticeable and slightly louder than the Surface Pro 3 but that’s what I expect. If I wanted a silent render I could switch to power-saving mode.
Don’t forget, the full UX305LA review is available at Notebookcheck.