Asus ZenBook UX310UA review: Screen

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA screen is one of the highlights, because is most respects it flattens a lot of the similarly-priced competition. For a £700 laptop, its sharpness and colour saturation are fantastic.

It covers 94.1 per cent of the sRGB colour standard according to our display-benchmarking colorimeter, where some at the price weve reviewed recently only hit around 70 per cent. Youll notice this as soon as Windows 10 boots-up: colours look deep and rich without appearing overcooked.

 Asus ZenBook UX310UA review

Pay closer to £1000 and you can find a laptop that will cover 100 per cent of sRGB, but in person the Asus ZenBook UX310UA seems about as impressive anyway. The Asus Splendid application also lets you tweak the display character, increasing colour pop further or applying a blue light filter to avoid eyestrain if youre going to read

This is a Retinastyle laptop too, a term Apple came up with to denote you wont be able to see any pixellation when you use the device at normal distances. Its a 3200 x 1800 pixel LCD screen, which equates to a 276ppi density. Thats very high for a laptop, particularly one that costs less than £700. It looks pin-sharp.

In use its almost the polar opposite of the convertible ZenBook UX360C too. A matt finish and very high max display brightness of 377cd/m mean itll sail through being used outside on a bright and sunny day. Itll cope better than some laptops double the price because of its lack of glassy screen reflections.

Once again, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA earns full marks for practicality.

There are a few little niggles, though. First, as this isnt a pure flat screen, which you tend to see in very fancy laptops or those with touchscreens. All we mean by this is that the display border is raised, but it does knock off a few style points.

The UX310UA display also does not tilt back that far. On a desk this doesnt matter, but if youre going to want to use this out in the park, typing away with it on your knees, the display angle will be slightly severe.

These are minor issues. The only one all of you should consider is display contrast, which isnt all that hot. Our colorimeter measures the display at 409:1, where some laptops can achieve over 1000:1.

We checked with Asus as in a reasonably well-lit room the display looks more punchy and vibrant than this ratio would suggest. However, even Asuss own claim for the laptop is only 500:1. When playing a film in a dimly-lit room, we did notice that the luminescence of the backlight is fairly obvious.

The UX310UA is hard to beat for using outside or in a well-lit office, but its raised blacks mean its not so great as a late-night movie machine.

Asus ZenBook UX310UA review: Keyboard and trackpad

Regardless, its an excellent standard to hit at this price, and Asus has also clearly aimed to set a new benchmark with its keyboard. Taking a cue from Apples 12-inch MacBook, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA’s keys have a scissormechanism designed to make them a bit less wobbly-feeling.

This is a very solid keyboard with slightly deeper action than most in this category, which is the exact opposite strategy to what Apple used a similar key mechanism for in the ultra-shallow MacBook 12-inch. We like it a lot, despite the visible keyboard flexing that happens is you type quite firmly.

Asus ZenBook UX310UA review

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA also has a keyboard backlight, one of the main features missing from the earlier UX-series ZenBooks.

Its trackpad is more familiar. Its large, topped with glass, and has buttons integrated into the pad that take a rough 50-50 split of the very bottom part.

If keyboard flex and the use of just one USB 3.0 socket were the first black marks against the UX310UA’s day-to-day experience, the trackpad is perhaps the third. A few times the pad registered taps when we were just trying to move the cursor, and the button arrangement isnt quite as smart as it is in the HP Envy 15.

Despite using a glass surface, the trackpad also is a little higher-friction than wed like. This is likely because the surface isnt treated to the same level of glass-frosting as you get in some more expensive machines.

We are being tough on the Asus ZenBook UX310UA here, though. The pad is still large, comfortable and has a button click that doesnt require too much pressure and isnt loud enough to annoy anyone nearby trying to watch TV. Its just one of the few parts that doesnt thoroughly outclass much of the competition.

Asus ZenBook UX310UA review: Performance

The UX310UA were reviewing here has an Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of DDR4 2133MHz RAM, a 128GB SSD and a 500GB hard drive. Its the hard drive that we need to notice here, as most laptops this size only manage to fit in a single 2.5-inch drive.

As a result, you get 628GB storage rather than the 128-256GB youd usually get in a laptop this slim. Youll have to be fairly careful about what you put on the SSD to avoid filling it up very quickly, as once Windows has eaten up its share you only have about 60GB left. But it is an impressive combo.

Running Windows 10 off an SSD makes the UX310UA feel very fast day-to-day, but the spec is meant for those after an everyday laptop, not one to replace a giant desktop workstation. The Intel i5-6200U CPU is a low-voltage dual-core model clocked at 2.3GHz, and designed for laptops that need to last a good long while off a charge.

It can handle any kind of task, but bear in mind you may be better of with a higher-voltage HQ-series CPU if youre after a laptop for serious 3D rendering or video encoding. Such a laptop is going to be a lot thicker and heavier, and wont last long away from a power socket, though.

In Geekbench 3 it scored 5790 in the multicore test and 2544 in the single-core one. (For comparison, the newer Geekbench 4 scores are 5886 and 3175 respectively. )

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is also not well-suited to any sort of demanding gaming. Even at 720p resolution with low graphics settings applies, Thief only runs at an average of 15.3fps. It slows right down to 4fps at 1080p.

Alien Isolation is only playable if youre very patient, averaging 22fps at 720p.

This is actually slightly worse performance than weve seen in some similarly-specced laptops, making us wonder if theres slight GPU/CPU throttling going on here. However, its productivity benchmark score of 2097 in PC Mark 8 is at the level wed expect.

We also tried the now very old Elder Scrolls: Skyrim at native screen resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels, just to see how it would cope. While it looks great even with the graphics set to Low, its far too slow to be playable. It will run reasonably well at 1080p, though.

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA offers solid everyday performance, but is not a particularly performance-led machine.

Like most Intel Core i5 laptops, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA has fans rather than relying entirely on passive cooling. Its noticeable in quiet rooms, but the volume doesnt ramp up too high when you start challenging the CPU.

If you hate the sound of fans, you might want to look for a laptop with a Core M CPU instead. Those chipsets arent designed to be as driven quite as hard as a Core i5, but theyre often efficient enough to use heat sinks alone: cleverly-designed chunks of metal used to dissipate heat.

Asus ZenBook UX310UA review: Battery Life

One of the biggest pleasant surprises of the Asus ZenBook UX310UA, is that despite its use of a Core i5 rather than a Core M, its battery life is still very solid. Playing back a 720p video on loop at 120 cd/m brightness, it lasts eight hours 10 minutes.

That provides enough scope to use the Asus ZenBook UX310UA for a full days light work away from the adapter. The screen is a real benefit here, as it only needs to be set to 35 or so per cent brightness to be comfortable to use in a well-lit room.

This laptop is a fantastic all-rounder for someone looking for a laptop prepared for a whole bunch of different uses. However, for the sake of balance were going to end on one slight off-key note: the speakers.

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA has a pair of Harman Kardon speaker units that fire out from the underside of the laptop. Theyre fine, but lack the volume and beefiness of the Dell Inspiron 13 5000, and the greater finesse of Apples MacBook speakers. You cant have it all. But this latest ZenBook gets pretty close.

Specs

Asus ZenBook UX310UA: Specs

  • 13.3in (3200 x 1800) 276dpi LCD matt anti-glare
  • 2.3 GHz, up to 2.8 GHz Turbo, Intel Core i5-6200U, two cores four threads
  • Intel HD 520 GPU
  • 8GB RAM DDR4-2133
  • 128GB SSD
  • 500GB HDD 5400rpm
  • No Ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/n/ac 2x2
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 1 USB 3.0 port
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 USB-C Gen 1 port
  • HDMI
  • SDXC card slot
  • Stereo Harman Kardon speakers
  • 0.9MP Webcam
  • Single mic
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • UK tiled keyboard
  • 48Wh lithium-ion, battery non-removable
  • 323 x 223 x 19 mm
  • 1.45 kg

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