Notebookcheck

Review Asus Transformer Book TX300CA Convertible

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Markus Döpfert), 08/25/2013

Big screen tablet. Smartphones are growing so browsing and gaming becomes more pleasant. Tablets are growing so we can work more productively and performantly. Is Asus heading in the right direction?

ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA + keyboard dock (C4021H): A big 13-inch tablet without compromises concerning performance and convenience?
ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA + keyboard dock (C4021H): A big 13-inch tablet without compromises concerning performance and convenience?

For the original German review, see here.

Notebook or tablet? You don't have to decide anymore if you have the money for it. With the Transformer Book TX300CA Asus offers a convertible notebook (no ultrabook due to high weight) that comes with the full Intel Core computing power as well as many ports, a lot of memory space, a color-intensive IPS panel and last but not least superb processing. Is this a jack of all trades at a price of 1,400 Euros (~$1873)?

The competition is very creative concerning how to implement the convertible principle. Slider, turn-tilt hinges, 360 degrees hinges, dual-display - every imaginable possibility is available. Except for a detachable base unit, which makes the Transformer Book TX300CA a pioneer in its performance range. We highlighted the two most interesting and in our opinion best alternatives.

Case

Wie wir testen - Gehäuse

Solid design...
Solid design...
...with high-grade aluminum surfaces...
...with high-grade aluminum surfaces...
...and sturdy docking connection.
...and sturdy docking connection.

Asus doesn't show any weaknesses concerning processing: The manufacturer equips it with only the best material, a down to the last detail elaborate construction as well as high stability. The latter takes a toll on the weight: The total package weighs 1,932 grams, the tablet alone 973 grams. By way of comparison: The Zenbook Prime UX31A ultrabook with the same form factor weighs 1,410 grams. Samsung's Series 7 Ultra Touch 740U3E weighs 1,650. The Apple MacBook Air 13 Mid 2012 puts only 1,350 grams on the scale. Among its convertible competitors, Dell's XPS 12 (1,540 grams) and Sony's Vaio Duo 13 (1,334 grams) are significantly lighter.

The high weight is caused by the aluminum and the base unit. To prevent the heavy tablet from hoisting the base at an opening angle of 130 degrees, the tablet was internally equipped with additional weight at the front edge. In addition to that, an extra battery is situated underneath the palm rest. This leads to a well balanced weight distribution when put on a desk. Furthermore we get the impression of a normal notebook when handling and carrying it about.

Inside the base we find, besides the battery, two additional speakers with body, a 2.5-inch hard drive, a small motherboard and many connections. Therefore the device is just as slim as an ordinarily slim laptop.

The Transformer Book TX300CA becomes top-heavy due to the detachable tablet, which, of course, has its own battery, cooling system and all components of an Intel Core system. Therefore more cooling is required than for a Tegra 4 or an ARM SoC. The polished aluminum tub (back side of the tablet) has two dotted openings for the speakers and a bigger one for the air gate. Owing to the side areas that are slightly thinner, the impression of the device is not excessively massive when holding it in one hand (it rather is the weight that generates this impression).

Neither base nor tablet can be twisted by hand. The keys sit tightly and the tablet's back side can only be pushed in slightly. The joints are very tightly mounted to the base and lock the tablet properly. The mechanical connection is released via slider. Sturdy metal pins are in charge of the locking mechanism.

Connectivity

Wie wir testen - Ausstattung

Solely a TFT via MicroHDMI or headphones can be connected to the tablet. In addition to that it is equipped with a microSD card reader and the same power connection that is located at the base. The wide connector connects itself magnetically to the slot. Therefore the cable can never pull down the device. The microSD card reader is not covered by the docking foot of the base. It can still be used when the tablet is connected with the dock.

The equipment of connections at the base is generous: Mini DisplayPort and Ethernet are even rare among ultrabooks. We really like the assembly of the connections. They are positioned in a way that the cables are easily led away to the back of the notebook. Unfortunately, the two USB 3.0 ports are so close to each other that two wide plugs cannot be used at once.

Ethernet RJ45, 2x USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort; top: speaker holes
Ethernet RJ45, 2x USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort; top: speaker holes
Power supply, card reader; top: audio jack, MicroHDMI, volume rocker
Power supply, card reader; top: audio jack, MicroHDMI, volume rocker
Tablet: microSD card reader, power supply, docking interface, 2x locking mechanism for dock
Tablet: microSD card reader, power supply, docking interface, 2x detent dock

Communication

While the radio connection originates from Atheros (AR9485WB-EG), the Ethernet of the base is from Asix. The AX88179 USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet adapter supports the fastest standard. The quick range test reveals a neither great nor bad reception quality: At a distance of 15 meters to the house we have no issues when browsing (2 bars). The connection is only interrupted at higher distances. At 10 meters on the upper floor Windows shows a signal strength of four bars. Bluetooth 4.0, which is used for the connection of a mouse or a smartphone, is also available (WLAN+ BT 4.0 Combo). Asus does not carry a version of the Transformer Book TX300CA with HSDPA modem.

Software 

Asus abstains from too much preinstalled software, but it seems obligatory to install McAfee Internet Security (test version). Smart Gesture retrieves the touchpad settings from the depths of the system settings and shows lucidly which gestures the pad is capable of. This software is apparently indeed from Asus and not from Elan or Synaptics.

The transformer settings offer interesting options: The notebook mode (on/off) deactivates the hard drive underneath the keyboard as well as the ports. In this mode energy-reservation stands for: The energy is not used for the operation of the tablet but simply charges the tablet. Hence the dock becomes a filling station. Asus Splendid has several color profiles to offer that are not even required by the color-intensive IPS panel though. For our measurements we kept the setting "normal".

Accessories

Asus doesn't enclose too many accessories in the elaborately crafted hardcover packaging. The slim bag made of sturdy artificial leather is well-made. The whole convertible fits inside. The bag is, however, a little bit too big for only the tablet. The handy plug-in power supply is complemented by cable ties, a polishing cloth and the common warranty information and quick start guides.

Maintenance

The tablet cannot be opened (no visible screws) and therefore it is impossible to clean the fans. The base, however, can be unscrewed pretty easily. Nothing stands in the way of replacing the 2.5-inch hard drive (only 7 mm design height) or the battery. Naturally the main memory (onboard) and the flash memory (system) are situated inside the tablet and are not interchangeable.

Warranty

Asus provides a warranty of two years. The manufacturer itself sells a warranty extension (WEP - Warranty Extension Package) of three years for 63 Euros (~$84, from date of purchase of the notebook). Replacement parts and working hours are included.

Protective bag (complete device)
Protective bag (complete device)
65 watt power supply
65 watt power supply
Cable ties, polishing cloth, warranty information
Cable ties, polishing cloth, warranty information
Smart Gesture (control via gestures)
Smart Gesture (control via gestures)
Transformer settings, e.g. HDD in the dock off
Transformer settings, e.g. HDD in the dock off
Asus Splendid: Color profiles
Asus Splendid: Color profiles

The quality of the 720p webcam is inappropriate: Colors are heavily washed out, contours fringe and objects are not focused clearly.

Close-up shot, 1280x720
Close-up shot, 1280x720
Wide shot, 1280x720
Wide shot, 1280x720
HD webcam front, rear cam is optional
HD webcam front, rear cam is optional

Input Devices

Wie wir testen - Eingabegeräte

Keyboard

A few months ago reports about terminating connections between the keyboard and the tablet circulated in the media. This apparently caused delivery delays of the Transformer Book TX300CA. If this used to be the case, Asus has gotten it under control. Our series devices did not have any issues. To the contrary, the keyboard is better than what most of the multimedia or office laptops have to offer. The input heavily resembles that of the AsusPro BU400VC.

Asus builds in a chiclet keyboard with excellent feedback. Cause for this positive surprise is the distinct key drop of almost 2.5 mm. The keys have a damped stroke but do not give in under pressure anymore. By way of comparison: The mechanical desktop keyboard of the tester has a key drop of almost four millimeters. Most of the notebook inputs have at most two millimeters.

The pressure point is defined in the first third of the stroke distance. The only deficit that prevents the keys to reach the level of premium input devices of business laptops like Dell's Latitude E series or HP's EliteBooks is the missing conic bulge. It would have slightly improved the guidance. The generous layout, the recessed directions keys and a wide key gap of 3.5 millimeters top it off.

Touchpad

The touchpad is not quite as good even though it appears to be very high-grade due to its solid surface, the silver frame and a tight pressure point. The short stroke distance hinders fast handling. The high exertion of force may cause the user to stop pressing the ClickPad and use the soft double-click instead. The lower area represents the left and right mouse button, depending on the finger position. Once again the stroke distance is too short. The smooth surface lets the fingers glide very well without causing smears.

Touchscreen

The FHD panel is a capacitive multi-touch TFT. It is very pleasant to operate because the fingers glide very smoothly and it responds very quickly even to soft input.

Keyboard with distinct key stroke
Keyboard with distinct key stroke
with double-stage illumination
with double-stage illumination
ClickPad with tight pressure point
ClickPad with tight pressure point

Display

Wie wir testen - Display

The 13.3-inch panel has a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The IPS-FHD touchscreen is not identifiable, but the contrast and brightness are indicative of the CMN (N133HSG F31) of the Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H touch-ultrabook. We measure a contrast of 731:1 (UX31A 523:1). The average brightness is set at 257 cd/m². The displays of the competitors Sony Vaio Duo 13 (362 cd/m²; 1.150:1) and Asus Taichi 31-CX003H (232 cd/m²; 1.275:1) show similar results.

The color space is interesting for graphic designers or other demanding users. Others better orient themselves towards the contrast. Unfortunately, we cannot offer a color space comparison because the iOne Profiler (calibration tool) constantly crashed. The Zenbook UX31A only missed the sRGB space by a little. The screens of the photo spectrometer tool CalMAN suggest that this might not be the case for the Transformer. Instead of a blue cast, which is very common for laptops, the TFT tends towards yellow (warm colors). The average DeltaE(2000) is 5.5. The yellow cast is especially perceptible in the brighter gray shades (see color chart in "CalMAN grayscale"). A color cast can often be eliminated or at least lessened by a calibration. In our case though, the calibration software failed.

263
cd/m²
283
cd/m²
254
cd/m²
263
cd/m²
256
cd/m²
256
cd/m²
243
cd/m²
243
cd/m²
256
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 283 cd/m²
Average: 257.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 86 %
Center on Battery: 256 cd/m²
Black: 0.35 cd/m²
Contrast: 731:1

Due to the good brightness, the device would be very suitable for outdoor use if it wasn't for the highly reflective touch surface. On a positive note, the Transformer maintains the 257 cd/m² (average) during battery use. To do so the energy saving mode of the graphics card needs to be deactivated manually. Otherwise the brightness sensor decreases the luminance (depending on ambient light).

The luminance is nowhere near sufficient to allow browsing during a sunny day. The display works better in the shade but not without distinct reflections. The brighter panel of the Vaio Duo 13 (371 cd/m² @battery use) is better suited but reflections are also unavoidable (glare type). The behavior of the Taichi 31-CX003H (258 cd/m²) is identical with that of the Transformer.

Outdoor use: Acceptable in the shade,...
Outdoor use: Acceptable in the shade,...
...but under direct sunlight the reflections are too strong.
...but under direct sunlight the reflections are too strong.
The brightness is unchanged during battery use.
The brightness is unchanged during battery use.

The horizontal and vertical viewing angles are at about 85 degrees. This is very common for IPS (In Plane Switching) panels. The Duo 13 and Taichi 31 are in no way inferior to these viewing angles.

Viewing angles ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA (C4021H)
Viewing angles ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA (C4021H)

Performance

Wie wir testen - Leistung

The built-in Ivy-Bridge processor generation (Intel Core i7-3537U) suggests that the market launch of the Transformer might have been delayed. Since mid-2013 Intel's Haswell generation has been available, which is still manufactured with the same structure width (22nm) but also with an improved logic (per-MHz-performance) and lower power consumption.

The processor is complemented by its own HD Graphics 4000 as well as 4 GB dual-channel main memory. The SanDisk U100 (128 GB) houses the system partition. A 500 GB HDD (Hitachi HTS545050A7E380) is implemented inside the dock and connected via USB 3.0. This provides way more memory space for the convertible than both the Vaio Duo 13 and the Taichi 31 can offer with their SDDs.

Systeminfo CPU-Z CPU
Systeminfo CPU-Z Cache
Systeminfo CPU-Z Motherboard
Systeminfo CPU-Z Memory
Systeminfo GPU-Z HD 4000
System information Asus Transformer Book TX300CA

Processor

CB R11.5 multi start 2.5 GHz
CB R11.5 multi start 2.5 GHz
CB R11.5 multi end 2.5 GHz
CB R11.5 multi end 2.5 GHz

The Core i7-3537U (2x 2.0 GHz) is an ultra-low-voltage processor with a TDP of 17 watts. The clock speed can be increased up to 3.1 GHz via Turbo Boost 2.0 (single-core load) but only if the generated heat can be dissipated. That is what we check with the Cinebench R11.5 under single- and multi-core load. The maximum theoretical clock speed is neither reached at the beginning nor the end of the benchmark: 2.5 GHz is still well above the standard speed though (no throttling).

Directly compared to the i5-4200U the 3537U loses clearly despite the higher clock speed. The built-in i7-3537U is by no means a slow model, however, the cooling system seems to be overwhelmed: The chart CPU Multi 64-bit shows that even the older i5-3317U is 20 to 40% faster. The same goes for the single-core test: At least the 3317U improves by 20%. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is an exception and suffers under considerable CPU throttling.

To put it another way: The built-in Core i7 is a fraud because the overwhelmed cooling system limits the performance drastically.  Asus might as well have simply installed a cheaper Core i5. We get more into detail about heat generation in the segment "Temperature".

During battery use the user doesn't have to go without (even less) performance. The R11.5 tests (also OpenGL via GPU) end identically.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
HD Graphics 4000, 3537U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
1.7 Points ∼10%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
2.02 Points ∼11% +19%
Asus Taichi 31-CX003H
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
2.37 Points ∼13% +39%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2.38 Points ∼14% +40%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
2.39 Points ∼14% +41%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAGN mSATA
2.47 Points ∼14% +45%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
2.55 Points ∼14% +50%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, ADATA XM11 256GB
2.82 Points ∼16% +66%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
HD Graphics 4000, 3320M, Toshiba MK3261GSYN
3.04 Points ∼17% +79%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
HD Graphics 3000, 2620M, Seagate Momentus Thin ST320LT000-9VL142
3.11 Points ∼18% +83%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
HD Graphics 4000, 3537U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
0.86 Points ∼43%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
0.74 Points ∼37% -14%
Asus Taichi 31-CX003H
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
1.06 Points ∼53% +23%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1.05 Points ∼53% +22%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
1.06 Points ∼53% +23%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAGN mSATA
1.15 Points ∼58% +34%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
1.32 Points ∼66% +53%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, ADATA XM11 256GB
1.25 Points ∼63% +45%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
HD Graphics 4000, 3320M, Toshiba MK3261GSYN
1.33 Points ∼67% +55%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
4383 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
6522 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
5055 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.86 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.7 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
8.32 fps
Help

System Performance

PC Mark 7 scores
PC Mark 7 scores

Does the weak processor hurt the application performance or can the fast SSD compensate for it? It cannot, as the system storage (sub score of PCMark 7) proves: The Vaio Duo 13 (+23%) and the IdeaPad Yoga 13 (+20%), which suffers from throttling, score higher in this discipline. Both of them (19 and 14% resp.) have more points in the overall ranking than our Transformer Book TX300CA. The SanDisk SSD (SD5SE2256G1002E) of the Asus Taichi 31 is significantly better than the U100 of the test device. 25 MB/s to 14 MB/s in the 4K read test.

Nevertheless it has little influence on the experienced speed, which was quite quick. We have a closer look at the hard drive inside the keyboard dock in the segment "Storage Devices".

PCMark 7
Score (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
3846 Points ∼55%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
2155 Points ∼31% -44%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
2563 Points ∼37% -33%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
3071 Points ∼44% -20%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
3724 Points ∼54% -3%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
4396 Points ∼63% +14%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
4443 Points ∼64% +16%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
4594 Points ∼66% +19%
Asus Taichi 31-CX003H
4665 Points ∼67% +21%
Dell XPS 12
4751 Points ∼69% +24%
Computation (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
12410 Points ∼44%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
5852 Points ∼21% -53%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
10525 Points ∼37% -15%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
18369 Points ∼65% +48%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
13987 Points ∼49% +13%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
14777 Points ∼52% +19%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
13618 Points ∼48% +10%
Dell XPS 12
16157 Points ∼57% +30%
System Storage (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
4093 Points ∼57%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
1608 Points ∼23% -61%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
1643 Points ∼23% -60%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
5332 Points ∼75% +30%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
4927 Points ∼69% +20%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
5184 Points ∼73% +27%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
5016 Points ∼70% +23%
Dell XPS 12
5156 Points ∼72% +26%
5.3
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.5
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5.3
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.2
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
7.6
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage7770 points
PCMark 73846 points
Help

Storage Devices

In direct comparison to other elite SSDs like the Samsung SSD PM841 (Vaio Duo 13), the U100 only has to admit defeat to some extent. The strong read value is with almost 500 MB/s very similar, but in the 4K test the PM841 pulls away (+44%). How far behind common hard drives are in comparison to SSDs is demonstrated by convertibles like the Lifebook T902, the ThinkPad X220T and the ThinkPad Twist S230u. However, the latter also costs nearly 400 Euros (~$535)  less than the Transformer.

The Hitachi hard drive (type HTS545050A7E380) with a gross capacity of 500 GB is a lame duck in comparison to the SanDisk U100: 88 MB/s in the read test is quite a good value for a common hard drive, but flash drives don't even start under 450 MB/s. Its main purpose though, is memory space, which is why performance is subordinate.

U100: HD Tune 252 MB/s seq. read
U100: HD Tune 252 MB/s seq. read
U100: CDM 465 MB/s seq. read
U100: CDM 465 MB/s seq. read
U100: AS SSD 459 MB/s seq. read
U100: AS SSD 459 MB/s seq. read
HDD: HD Tune 88 MB/s seq. read
HDD: HD Tune 88 MB/s seq. read
HDD: CDM 107 MB/s seq. read
HDD: CDM 107 MB/s seq. read
HDD: AS SSD 102 MB/s seq. read
HDD: AS SSD 102 MB/s seq. read
Hitachi HTS545050A7E380 via USB 3.0
Hitachi HTS545050A7E380 via USB 3.0
 
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
Read Seq (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
HD Graphics 4000, 3537U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
465 MB/s ∼32%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
HD Graphics 4000, 3320M, Toshiba MK3261GSYN
76.59 MB/s ∼5% -84%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
HD Graphics 3000, 2620M, Seagate Momentus Thin ST320LT000-9VL142
104.6 MB/s ∼7% -78%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
112 MB/s ∼8% -76%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
267.3 MB/s ∼18% -43%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
452.7 MB/s ∼31% -3%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
463.2 MB/s ∼31% 0%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAGN mSATA
474.4 MB/s ∼32% +2%
Asus Taichi 31-CX003H
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
476.9 MB/s ∼32% +3%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, ADATA XM11 256GB
488.5 MB/s ∼33% +5%
Read 4k (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
HD Graphics 4000, 3537U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
14.71 MB/s ∼34%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
HD Graphics 4000, 3320M, Toshiba MK3261GSYN
0.363 MB/s ∼1% -98%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
HD Graphics 3000, 2620M, Seagate Momentus Thin ST320LT000-9VL142
0.394 MB/s ∼1% -97%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
0.322 MB/s ∼1% -98%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
15.28 MB/s ∼35% +4%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
17.7 MB/s ∼41% +20%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
18.68 MB/s ∼43% +27%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAGN mSATA
21.21 MB/s ∼49% +44%
Asus Taichi 31-CX003H
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
25.96 MB/s ∼60% +76%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, ADATA XM11 256GB
24.39 MB/s ∼56% +66%
SanDisk U100 128 GB
Transfer Rate Minimum: 217.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 293.4 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 252.6 MB/s
Access Time: 0.4 ms
Burst Rate: 63.4 MB/s
CPU Usage: 4.9 %

Graphics Card

CB OpenGL: Start 900 MHz, then decrease down to 400 MHz
CB OpenGL: Start 900 MHz, then decrease down to 400 MHz

We have already tested the performance of the HD 4000 graphics card in countless laptops. This GPU type varies significantly depending on the memory connection (here dual-channel) and the turbo speed (theoretical and actual). Performance differences are not detected while surfing the web but during general operations. Also see our article about the Intel HD Graphics 4000 concerning performance and scaling.

The range of the GPU speed theoretically amounts to 350 - 1,150 MHz. However, we only observe 400 (@end) to 900 (@start) MHz in the GPU benchmark Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL. The R11.5 OpenGL is a simple GPU test and no stress test. The performance is as poor as that of the CPU, which is proved by the following charts. The HD 4000 in the Taichi 31 (+82%) or in the IdeaPad Yoga 13 (+55%) reaches values that we expect from this graphics card. The HD Graphics 4400 in the Duo 13 outperforms all of them with 104%.

Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
8.32 fps ∼7%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
10.94 fps ∼9% +31%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
11.33 fps ∼9% +36%
Dell XPS 12
12.37 fps ∼10% +49%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
12.88 fps ∼11% +55%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
13.08 fps ∼11% +57%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
13.61 fps ∼11% +64%
Asus Taichi 31-CX003H
15.18 fps ∼12% +82%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
16.23 fps ∼13% +95%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
17.01 fps ∼14% +104%
3DMark 06 - 1280x1024 Standard AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
2968 Points ∼8%
Lenovo ThinkPad X220T 4298-2YG
4310 Points ∼11% +45%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
3574 Points ∼9% +20%
Dell XPS 12
4087 Points ∼11% +38%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
4368 Points ∼11% +47%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
3898 Points ∼10% +31%
Fujitsu Lifebook T902
4215 Points ∼11% +42%
Asus Taichi 31-CX003H
4316 Points ∼11% +45%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-C4027H
5110 Points ∼13% +72%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
6095 Points ∼16% +105%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
2968 points
3DMark 11519 points
3DMark Ice Storm17775 points
3DMark Cloud Gate2409 points
3DMark Fire Strike331 points
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Gaming Performance

The disadvantage of this HD 4000 is continued in the 3D benchmarks as is proven by 3DMark06. Performance differences are equally high. Therefore playing games is impossible with the Transformer. In theory Tomb Raider (33 fps @VivoBook S500CA with 3317U) and BioShock Infinite (28 fps @ThinkPad Helix with 3317U) can be played with this GPU in the lowest settings. The low clock speed and the weak cooling system prohibit such results though.

low med.high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 147fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 1710fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 55fps

Emissions

Wie wir testen - Emissionen

System Noise

Tegra, Atom and ARM tablets are built without a fan, something the Transformer cannot allow itself with its Intel Core. Asus managed to install an active cooling system in the tablet without having to design it unreasonably thick.

Most of the time, namely during simple office tasks like browsing or text processing, the fan stands still (28.6 dB(A); basic noise level of the room) or runs at the lowest level (30 dB(A)). It is a different picture under load during the stress test (40 dB(A)) or 3DMark06 (38 dB(A)). This time it is unbearably loud when holding the tablet in your hands. When connected to the dock and used as a powerful laptop, this kind of noise level is acceptable though.

Noise Level

Idle 28.6 / 28.8 / 30 dB(A)
Load 38.2 / 39.9 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test: CPU throttling 800 MHz
Stress test: CPU throttling 800 MHz
Prime95 Solo: CPU @1.4 to 1.5 GHz
Prime95 Solo: CPU @1.4 to 1.5 GHz
Furmark Solo: GPU @350 to 650 MHz
Furmark Solo: GPU @350 to 650 MHz

For the waste heat diagram we measured the tablet unit since the decisive components are located in it. The base with its hard drive and one board has neither a fan nor a passive cooling unit. During idle we measured a maximum temperature of 32 °C on the keyboard (above HDD). The bottom is uniformly 30 °C warm.

The TX300C gets already significantly hand-warm (tablet) during idle. The temperature is equally distributed (33 °C top/bottom). Under load the temperature rises most of all selectively: the infrared thermometer detects up to 44 °C.

We detected unusual low performances of the CPU and GPU in the performance segment. Both components work with a variable turbo speed that depends on the temperature. Apparently the cooling is unable to dissipate the waste heat and therefore causing the speed to be throttled.

The stress test exposes the predicament because it equally stresses the GPU and CPU for at least two hours. In the screenshot on the right you can see: The CPU package, which also has a built-in HD 4000, heats up to 90 °C causing massive throttling of the GPU (350 MHz, basic clock rate) and CPU (800 MHz). During Prime95 (only CPU stress) the clock speed is 1.5 GHz, which is also beneath the basic clock rate of 2.0 GHz. Furmark (only GPU stress) runs at 350 to 650 MHz, which is far below the theoretically possible 1,150 MHz.

 35 °C35.5 °C31.7 °C 
 34.9 °C34.3 °C29.4 °C 
 34.5 °C34.2 °C31.1 °C 
Maximum: 35.5 °C
Average: 33.4 °C
30.6 °C30.7 °C30.3 °C
34.7 °C33.8 °C33.2 °C
34.4 °C34.6 °C34.1 °C
Maximum: 34.7 °C
Average: 32.9 °C
Power Supply (max.)  38 °C | Room Temperature 25.1 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

Audio Wizard
Audio Wizard

What a pleasant surprise: Asus installs four speakers, two in the tablet and two in the base. The photos in the right column show the body of the base speakers, which produces a voluminous sound. We even feel slight vibrations at the chassis. It would be presumptuous to call them real bass sounds but the sound is quite appealing and highs are especially well differentiated.

Small flaw: Docking and undocking the tablet while listening to music sometimes caused the speakers of the base to be not detected anymore. It needed a reboot to get the full sound back; otherwise you were left with the thin sound of the tablet speakers. This problem did not occur with the old Windows Media Player. The Asus Audio Wizard offers modes for music, gaming, recording and speech (Skype).

Energy Management

Wie wir testen - Akkulaufzeit

Power Consumption

The TX300CA with i7 consumes significantly more power during idle (8.8-13 watts) than its 13.3-inch competitor Vaio Duo 13 (3.3-6.6 watts). This is owed to the additional components (HDD, USB ports) as well as the new Haswell processor of the Vaio.

In the stress test (CPU + GPU) the power consumption increases to 30 watts. This is very little for a system with a Core i7-3537U. Although the Vaio Duo needs 31 watts, it has a lower TDP (15 watts) and does not suffer from CPU throttling. The above tests reveal that the Duo 13 with Core i5 is about 100% more powerful (Cinebench tests). This reflects the missing turbo and the heavy CPU/GPU throttling. A power consumption of 24 watts during 3DMark06 is below that of the Vaio and attests the lower clock speed of the HD 4000.

The 65 watt power supply charges the battery in 2:42 hours, which is a long time. 1:50 hours suffice for 90% though.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.4 Watt
Idle 8.8 / 11.8 / 13 Watt
Load 24.6 / 30.1 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 960

Battery Runtime

We measured the runtimes with both batteries (tablet + dock) in the laptop state. The notebook mode in the Transformer settings was not activated, which means that HDD and ports were active and the extra battery was at the system's disposal. The Transformer lasted for 3:34 hours, quite a short time in comparison to the Duo 13 (6:51 hours WLAN test).

We repeated the WLAN test with activated notebook mode (HDD + ports off, extra battery reserved for charging the tablet). The runtime increased to 5:42 hours. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 only lasts for 4:29 hours and is therefore worse.

Reserve battery: Dock charges tablet & does NOT provide operating energy
Reserve battery: Dock charges tablet & does NOT provide operating energy
Load: 107 minutes Battery Eater Classic
Load: 107 minutes Battery Eater Classic
WLAN test: 214 minutes (with dock, HDD on)
WLAN test: 214 minutes (with dock, HDD on)
WLAN test: 342 minutes (with dock, notebook mode - ports/HDD off, "battery reserved")
WLAN test: 342 minutes (with dock, notebook mode - ports/HDD off, "battery reserved")
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 28min
WiFi Surfing
5h 42min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 47min

Wie wir testen - Fazit

Verdict

Asus is heading in the right direction. At a price of 1,400 Euros (~$1873) the big screen convertible Transformer Book TX300CA + keyboard dock is certainly no bargain. However, it impressively shows how a notebook can be used as a tablet with (almost) no compromises. The solid and high-quality processing is on a level of the unibody Zenbooks and can easily keep up with the MacBook Air 13. Weight-wise the buyer has to carry around almost two kilograms, which is already a lot for a 13-incher and even more for a tablet (972 grams). The color-intensive display with superb viewing, the keyboard that is optimal for frequent writers and the very good speakers (4) speak on behalf of the Transformer Book.

Asus shows on the basis of the TX300CA an innovative way of how a keyboard dock can be more than just a case for the keys and ports. The HDD offers a lot of memory space and probably no other convertible on the market (except for thick business convertibles) offers USB 3.0, DisplayPort and Ethernet. If memory and ports are not needed (only keyboard), they are turned off by the notebook mode and the base battery is reserved for charging the tablet (dock as filling station).

Drawbacks of the Transformers are on the performance side: Although the system feels quite fast owing to the reasonably quick SSD and Intel Core, the performances of the powerful i7-3537U and the HD Graphics 4000 are a complete disaster. The scores in our benchmarks are consistently low. Asus might as well have used a cheaper 17 watts processor. This way the user buys an i7 CPU for a lot of money and does not even get the power of an Ivy-Bridge Core i5 (+40%). Can Asus solve this problem with Haswell (15 watts)?

Test device courtesy of ...
ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA + keyboard dock (C4021H): Expensive but it is quite rare to find such a good combination of tablet and subnotebook
ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA + keyboard dock (C4021H): Expensive but it is quite rare to find such a good combination of tablet and subnotebook
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In Review: ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA + keyboard dock; courtesy of:
In Review: ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA + keyboard dock; courtesy of:

Specifications

Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4000, Core: 350-650 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz
Memory
4096 MB 
, dual channel
Display
13.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, capacitive 10 finger multi-touch, unknown, IPS, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel UM77 Express
Harddisk
SanDisk U100 128 GB, 128 GB 
in keyboard dock: Hitachi HTS545050A7E380 USB device, 504 GB free
Soundcard
HD Audio
Connections
2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: headphone-mirophone combi, Card Reader: SD standard in dock, microSD in tablet, Sensors: Compass, gyroscope, acceleration sensor, light sensor, Intel Wireless display, Mini DisplayPort
Networking
Asix AX88179 USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet (10/1000MBit), Atheros AR9485WB-EG Wireless Network Adapter (b g n )
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 24 x 340 x 219 ( = 0.94 x 13.39 x 8.62 in)
Weight
1.932 kg ( = 68.15 oz) Power Supply: 241 g ( = 8.5 oz)
Battery
58 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 2 cells, 5000mAh, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 8 h
Price
1500 Euro
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
Additional features
Webcam: 720p 1280x720, Speakers: Four speakers in notebook mode, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, cable ties, leather sleeve (bag), MusicMaker Jam, Skype, SuperNote, Fresh Paint, Office 2013 Trial, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The Transformer Book TX300CA is a tablet, ...
The Transformer Book TX300CA is a tablet, ...
...that transforms into a subnotebook via keyboard dock with one click.
...that transforms into a subnotebook via keyboard dock with one click.
A 13.3-inch subnotebook for that matter.
A 13.3-inch subnotebook for that matter.
In this format the Windows 8 tablet is one of the biggest on the market.
In this format the Windows 8 tablet is one of the biggest on the market.
Asus uses the same components for its Zenbooks.
Asus uses the same components for its Zenbooks.
Therefore the Transformer Book TX300CA should have the same application performance...
Therefore the Transformer Book TX300CA should have the same application performance...
...as the common ultrabooks (without dedicated GPUs).
...as the common ultrabooks (without dedicated GPUs).
It is difficult to detect that the 13-incher is a convertible at first glance.
It is difficult to detect that the 13-incher is a convertible at first glance.
This bulge is the only thing that prevents the keyboard dock from transitioning into the tablet seamlessly.
This bulge is the only thing that prevents the keyboard dock from transitioning into the tablet seamlessly.
Connections of the tablet and that of the dock complement each other, ...
Connections of the tablet and that of the dock complement each other, ...
...but both of them have a power connection (wide, left side).
...but both of them have a power connection (wide, left side).
Due to the active cooling system the tablet turns out quite massive.
Due to the active cooling system the tablet turns out quite massive.
The tablet alone weighs 972 grams, the base adds 959 grams.
The tablet alone weighs 972 grams, the base adds 959 grams.
The aluminum case gets thinner at the edges.
The aluminum case gets thinner at the edges.
Therefore the backside of the tablet appears, exaggeratedly put, like a bowl.
Therefore the backside of the tablet appears, exaggeratedly put, like a bowl.
The keyboard dock comes with a DisplayPort and 2x USB 3.0.
The keyboard dock comes with a DisplayPort and 2x USB 3.0.
The speakers are not only situated in the tablet, ...
The speakers are not only situated in the tablet, ...
...but also in the base. They even have a built-in body.
...but also in the base. They even have a built-in body.
Once again Bang & Olufsen provides the audio system.
Once again Bang & Olufsen provides the audio system.
The four speakers are surprisingly powerful and loud.
The four speakers are surprisingly powerful and loud.
The cooling system dissipates the waste heat through these slots.
The cooling system dissipates the waste heat through these slots.
Pleasant side-effect of the tablet: ...
Pleasant side-effect of the tablet: ...
Even during the stress test the waste heat stays at room temperature.
Even during the stress test the waste heat stays at room temperature.
The connection is mechanically released by this slider.
The connection is mechanically released by this slider.
Now the tablet can be taken off the dock.
Now the tablet can be taken off the dock.
The retainer was cushioned to prevent scratches.
The retainer was cushioned to prevent scratches.
The tablet alone runs significantly shorter in battery mode than with the dock.
The tablet alone runs significantly shorter in battery mode than with the dock.
A 23 Wh battery is installed in the keyboard dock.
A 23 Wh battery is installed in the keyboard dock.
The polymer battery is located underneath the palm rest.
The polymer battery is located underneath the palm rest.
With the extra battery the complete system lasts for 3:34 hours in the WLAN test.
With the extra battery the complete system lasts for 3:34 hours in the WLAN test.
As usual the touch panel causes reflections. The brightness is not reduced during battery use though.
As usual the touch panel causes reflections. The brightness is not reduced during battery use though.
The wall plug transformer is not spared from a high-gloss finish.
The wall plug transformer is not spared from a high-gloss finish.
It provides 65 watts (nominal power).
It provides 65 watts (nominal power).
The magnetic power connector is a good feature.
The magnetic power connector is a good feature.
This way the device cannot be yanked off the table...
This way the device cannot be yanked off the table...
...when tripping over the cable.
...when tripping over the cable.
This bag is also enclosed in the packaging.
This bag is also enclosed in the packaging.
We have a look at the interior; not that of the tablet, ...
We have a look at the interior; not that of the tablet, ...
...but that of the keyboard dock. The two last screws are situated underneath the feet.
...but that of the keyboard dock. The two last screws are situated underneath the feet.
The bottom is made of this thin aluminum sheet.
The bottom is made of this thin aluminum sheet.
Underneath is...
Underneath is...
...a small board (control, USB 3.0, DisplayPort, HDD).
...a small board (control, USB 3.0, DisplayPort, HDD).
The body creates spatiality, ...
The body creates spatiality, ...
...so do the two speakers.
...so do the two speakers.
The aluminum sheet is located underneath the keyboard (compressive strength).
The aluminum sheet is located underneath the keyboard (compressive strength).
A large weight at the front side prevents the device from tilting backwards.
A large weight at the front side prevents the device from tilting backwards.
Warranty documents and polishing cloth.
Warranty documents and polishing cloth.
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA: tight pressure point and a surprisingly long stroke distance.
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA: tight pressure point and a surprisingly long stroke distance.
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA: The ultrabook components exact their toll. The runtimes are rather short despite the dual-battery.
Asus Transformer Book TX300CA: The ultrabook components exact their toll. The runtimes are rather short despite the dual-battery.

Similar Devices

Links

Price Comparison

Pro

+High-grade aluminum stability
+Concept with much memory space (HDD in dock)
+Mode: dock serves as energy filling station
+Color-intensive IPS panel
+Low system noise
+Optically speaking nearly a real notebook
+Good keyboard
+Many connections incl. Ethernet & DisplayPort
 

Cons

-High weight
-USB ports too close to each other
-Core i7 clearly below standard
-Throttled HD 4000

Shortcut

What we like

The overall concept. It is the first convertible that you don't immediately recognize as a docking concept. Additionally you can write with it and handle it like a notebook. The sound quality is outstanding for this type of device.

What we'd like to see

Longer battery runtimes. We expect more of two batteries than 3:34 to 5:42 hours (WLAN browsing; notebook mode off/on).

What surprises us

The i7 fraud. Why buy an expensive i7 when the performance is 40% below that of a Core i5? It would be annoying if the Core i5 version was also throttling.

The competition

Recommendations: Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E & Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

Consumer: Asus Taichi 31-CX003H, Dell XPS 12, Toshiba Satellite U920t-100

Business: Fujitsu Lifebook T902, Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u

Rating

Asus Transformer Book TX300CA
06/24/2014 v4
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
90 / 98 → 92%
Keyboard
90%
Pointing Device
82%
Connectivity
72 / 95 → 76%
Weight
64 / 78 → 67%
Battery
85%
Display
80%
Games Performance
49 / 85 → 58%
Application Performance
73%
Temperature
81%
Noise
93%
Average
78%
80%
Convertible *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Asus Transformer Book TX300CA Convertible
Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2013-08-25 (Update: 2013-08-25)