Is the Asus ZenBook UX305 the best-value ultrabook ever?

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Asus ZenBook UX305

Credit: Asus

Think a great ultrabook can't be affordable, too? Thinks again. The new Asus ZenBook UX305F has great specs, great design, and most surprisingly of all, a great price. I've got the details.

Its $700 price may make you think you'll get a low-powered, industrial-design, plastic-body machine. If that's what you thought, you'd be wrong. It's got an aluminum body, a 13.3-inch screen, and a beautifully simple design. The screen is 1920 x 1080 HD, and offers rich colors. And it's no normal laptop masquerading as an ultrabook, because it's a mere 13 mm thick. That makes it even thinner than the Dell XPS 13, which measures 18 mm. It's lightweight as well, at only 2.64 pounds, comparable to the Dell XPS 13, which weighs 2.6 pounds. And it's both smaller and lighter than the newly released Macbook Air.

You'll be surprised at what you find under the hood: A full 8 GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an Intel Core M CPU. Those are exceptional specs for this price. But don't expect it to keep up with ultrabooks with more powerful processors and graphics subsystems, because the Core M CPU isn't up to the speeds of the more powerful Intel CPUs. And the Intel HD 5300 graphics are solid, but this isn't a gaming machine.

There's a nice complement of ports, including three USB 3.0 ports, a mini-HDMI and an audio port. There's also a USB-to-Ethernet adapter if you ever need to plug into a network rather than connect via Wi-Fi. And there's also Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The upshot of all this? It's clearly the best value in an ultrabook you can find today. You can buy more powerful ultrabooks, but you can't find one that offers the same bang for the buck.

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