It’s not hard to see why the Asus UX305 is one of our favorite laptops. From the most basic configuration to the highest-end special edition, the 13-inch laptop represents the epitome of value. We like the system so much, our computing editor Matt Smith took it to CES as his main system. If there’s one thing it lacks, it’s performance — but no longer, as Asus has added a new model that upgrades from the Core M to a full-fledged Core i5, without losing the value that made the system what it is today.
The Core i5 configuration, which popped up on Amazon without much fanfare, packs in a Core i5-6200U. It’s a dual-core chip with a 2.3GHz base clock, 2.8 GHz Turbo Boost, plus Hyper-Threading for boosted core efficiency. It’s the same chip found in the Core i5 Dell XPS 13, which poses a serious problem for Dell, our current favorite laptop.
Aside from the processor, the new model is similar to the original. It has a 13.3-inch, 1080p IPS display, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. That’s a seriously competitive configuration, and best of all, the UX305UA with a Core i5 costs just $750. It remains just as thin and light has before, despite the upgrade.
According to the Asus site, there’s also a version of the UX305UA that boasts an i7-6500U processor, but it doesn’t appear to be available for sale anywhere yet.
Whether that larger, more powerful CPU causes heat or battery issues remains to be seen. It certainly wouldn’t surprise us, considering the i5’s wattage is a little over three times that of the Core m3-6Y30 in the base model. The standard UX305 already runs a bit hot relative to the competition.
In the meantime, the UX305 with an i5 CPU for $750 represents one of the best laptop values by a decent margin. The entry level XPS 13 is by powered by an i3-6100U, with just 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, a configuration that also sells for $750 to $800 depending on the retailer.