Category Archives: Hardware

Can you game on the ASUS Zenbook UX305CA?

Testing gaming on the ASUS Zenbook UX305CA with Intel Core M3-6Y30 and Intel HD 515 Graphics.

In this video we test The Sims 4, Rocket League, Hearthstone, Minecraft, Dirt Rally and GTA V to see if they are playable on this low-power laptop.

The Core M3/M5/M7 series of chips are also found in retina 12″ Apple MacBook and entry level Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

ASUS Zenbook UX305CA SSD Upgrade Guide

Video guide to fitting a replacement SSD into the ASUS Zenbook UX305CA Ultrabook.

In this instance we fitted a 512GB Sandisk X400 M2.2280, giving a four-fold increase in storage capacity to greatly improve the usefulness of the system.

You can also find our first impressions video of the ASUS Zenbook UX305CA here.

ASUS Zenbook UX305CA First Impressions

The ASUS Zenbook UX305CA is a Core M3 based Ultrabook for ASUS which packs a 128GB SSD and 3200×1800 screen in to a 13.3″ chassis at an attractive price point.

In this video we take a look at unboxing and firing up the UX305CA for the first time, investigating boot times, screen quality and more.

We also have taken a look at how to upgrade the SSD in the UX305CA – fitting a 512GB Sandisk X400 M2.2280 to enhance the systems storage capacity.

Intel HD 5500 Gaming – Star Wars Battlefront

Article: Dual Channel vs. Single Channel Memory

Disappointingly many laptop manufacturers ship systems without dual channel memory, which has a severe impact on Ultrabook gaming performance.Single Channel vs Dual Channel Memory

We take a look at how this impacts gaming performance, and how you can ensure you buy an Ultrabook with dual channel memory, in our latest article.

Why is ASUS UK pricing of Ultrabooks so high?

Overpriced ASUS UX305Ever since the Ultrabook specification was introduced in 2011 I’ve found it a very appealing idea and have been lucky enough to use a huge variety of them through my work, and amongst them the ASUS Zenbook UX-range of products has stood out as often being amongst the best in their class.

The ASUS Zenbook UX31E and UX31A both combined a better than average screens – 1600×900 and 1920×1080 respectively when most 13.3″ Ultrabooks were using 1366×768 – and a sleek, well built, chassis to create a real MacBook Air killer, whilst the ASUS Zenbook UX301LA upped the ante with Haswell based internals (including Iris 5100 based models), even greater aesthetic attention to detail, and the option of a 2560×1440 screen.

Now their Core M based Zenbook UX305FA has launched with the latest generation Broadwell based Core M 5Y10 offering great power efficiency and sufficient performance for a small, ultra-mobile, laptop, a gorgeous 3200×1800 IPS screen, and a slender, 2015 MacBook style, chassis. I want one, a lot.

But I’m probably not going to buy one, and the reason is the same reason I never bought a Zenbook UX31E, UX31A or UX301LA – ASUS UK continued and bizarre pricing and SKU choices…

The problem with SKUing

Both the original Zenbook UX31E and UX31A models were available in 4 main configurations, with Core i5 and i7 processor and 128GB and 256GB SSD options. The i7 was an expensive option and generally not worth bothering with, whilst in the early days of Ultrabooks SSDs added over £1 per GB to the price due to the cost of flash memory at the time.

Intel GDC 2015 announcements

Intel have made a number of exciting announcements at this years Game Developers Conference in San Francisco which look set to improve the experience for Ultrabook and Intel graphics users in the future.

Raptr-OptimizeRaptr

First up, Intel’s new partnership with Raptr provides automatic configuration of games graphics settings for optimal performance on Intel graphics solutions, easy support for game recording and Twitch integration with Quick Sync Video encoding, and easy driver updates to keep users uses always up to date.

Achievement Unlocked developer relations programme

As well as using Raptr to improve the performance of existing titles, Intel have also announced the Achievement Unlocked programme, part of a worldwide effort to work with game developers to optimise in-development titles for running on Intel Graphics hardware based around the Core and Atom processors. These efforts should hopefully lead to future games being better optimised for performance on Intel’s graphics solutions, giving a broader range of options for those gaming on Ultrabooks.

The announcement also mentioned the companies collaborations with Microsoft on the DirectX 12 API which is being built for Windows 10, as well as their work with Funcom to optimise the Windows and Android versions of LEGO Minifigures Online for Intel HD and Iris Graphics, and with Ubisoft and Codemasters on incorporating Intel optimisations and features in to their game engines.

We’ll be keeping tabs on these latest developments, so be sure to check back in future for more news as we have it.

Intel NUC5i3RYH Videos

We’ve been taking a look at the Intel NUC5i3RYH, using Intel’s new Broadwell based Core i3-5010U processor with HD 5500 graphics.

Firstly we looked at unboxing and assembling the NUC5i3RYH.

Article: Intel HD 5500 Architecture and Performance

HD 5500 block diagram

HD 5500 block diagram

In our first architecture analysis piece we take a look at Intel’s HD 5500 graphics, the mainstay of the 5th Generation Core line-up for Ultrabook systems.

Building on the foundations of the Haswell architecture launched in mid-2013, Broadwell shrinks it down to the company’s new 14nm manufacturing process – reducing die size and power consumption – whilst also introducing the company’s latest Gen 8 graphics architecture.

The first of the Ultrabook focused chips, known as ‘Broadwell-U’ were launched at CES in January 2015, with laptops utilising the HD 5500 graphics core arriving on the market in late January and early February – and it is these which we are looking at today.

Article: Intel HD 5500 Architecture and Performance

Intel NUC D54250WYK3 Build and OC Guide

D54250WYK_rear1__45884.1407113662.1280.1280In our latest article we take a look at building, setting up and even overclocking the Intel NUC D54250WYK3.

Whilst obviously not an Ultrabook, Intels range of ‘Next Unit of Computing’ devices – NUC for short – have traditionally been heavily based around the traditional Ultrabook hardware components and are a great way of building a basic PC for use around the home.

Be sure to take a look and let us know what you think in the comment section.