Looks like the MacBook, but not for MacBook money - Asus gets the price right for its sleek ultraportable.
Apple seems to have more or less abandoned the MacBook Air, which opens the door for another smart ultraportable for under £1000 to take its place - this might be it.
This premium 13.3in Ultrabook is not too expensive, and it has a Retina-busting resolution, plenty of power and lots of USB-C connectivity.
Asus Zenbook UX310UA Design
It certainly looks the part - the UX310UA is a bit of a stunner, available in the silver and bronze.
The all-aluminum shell weighs in at 1.45kg and is 19mm thick - not quite as thin as a Mac Book Air, but some 550g lighter.
This is not just another Mac book lookalike, with its brushed concentric circle design on the lid; it looks slick and more expensive than its price tag.
For an Ultra book it offers really good connection options. Includes two USB ports, one USB3 and one reversible USB-C, so you’re future-proofed. An HDMI, a headphone jack and an SD card reader are also included, not bad at all.
The keyboard feels at little spongy, but does include a full keyboard. You can always see which keys you’re hitting, handy for frequent flyers.
The touchpad has two built-in buttons and feels solid. With a massive glass surface that lets your fingers glide across with the smallest bit of friction.
Asus Zenbook UX310UA Screen
With a seriously good QHD+, 3200x1800 knocking spots off the MacBook Air’s now pitiful 1400x900. It makes pictures and text look absolutely pin-sharp. The trade off is in the battery life (see below), but it’s worth it if you want your photos and videos to really leap off the screen.
The contrast could be a bit better, so dark images aren’t quite as inky black and lighter photos look a little on the dull side, but for the money there is no real reason to complain. The IPS panel has great viewing angles and is easily bright enough to use anywhere - even outdoors, thanks to that reflection-busting matte finish.
There’s even a decent pair of speakers considering it's an ultrabook, but don't expect anything too special. They are not the best but perfectly adequate for a bit of background music or watching YouTube videos.
Asus Zenbook UX310UA Performance
Fitted with a dual-core Intel i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM on board, the UX310UA should be able to handle pretty well anything you throw at it.
The i5-6200U is an energy-efficient chip though, so don’t expect masses of power. If you do anything fancy with 4K video it may well struggle a bit.
The 500GB SSD is solid and quick, booting into Windows with ease.
It just has an HD 520 built into the CPU, and it is not going to ever work successfully as a gamer's laptop and will struggle badly with memory hungry games.
Running full HD you will get about 4 hours battery life, this is where Apple’s MacBook battery life still beats the Zenbook - that’ll keep going for up to nine before it runs out.
Asus Zenbook UX310UA Verdict
That high resolution display is a joy, and there’s enough power for day to day task and web browsing. A better graphics chip would have made it a more serious contender to the Macbook Air.
Battery life could be better too, but again for the money it's a niggle rather than a huge problem.
Asus has hit that price sweet spot, undercutting the competition and making potential MacBook Air buyers think twice before their next purchase and maybe jumping to Windows.
Buy the ASUS Zenbook UX310UA Amazon for £799.99