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ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip Review: One for the Creators
- Design is sturdy and fuss-free
- Impressive thermal management for a laptop
- Capable CPU for multitasking, for the asking price
- Lacks a discrete GPU
- Mediocre keyboard feel
- Not value-for-money option if you won’t use the touchscreen
- Screen: 14-inch WUXGA FHD+ 16:10 panel, 1920x1200 resolution, LED backlit, 300 nits
- CPU: Intel i5 12500H 2.5GHz to 4.5GHz, 12 core OR AMD Ryzen 5 5600H 6-core 12-thread 4.2GHz
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics OR AMD Radeon integrated graphics
- RAM: 8GB /16GB DDR4
- Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
- Battery: 50WHr, 3 cell Li-ion, 90W charging
- I/O Ports: 1x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x Thunderbolt 4 supports display/power delivery, 1x HDMI 2.1, 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
Purchasing a laptop is exercise in patience, especially with several brands marketing many models as gaming laptops. People seeking a good productivity and content creation machine on a budget are also spoiled for choice, and ASUS' latest entrant in the segment priced at Rs. 74,990 (at the time of writing) seems to have a lot of things going for it. The Vivobook S 14 Flip is a compact and lightweight notebook packing a touchscreen 14-inch display, and a capable 12th Gen 12-core Intel i5 CPU. However, is it the laptop you should get, or are you better off choosing a laptop with a larger 16-inch display and a discrete GPU? There's a lot to unpack here, so let's get started.
Design and build quality: Tough as nails
From the moment you unbox it, the ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip feels like a rugged laptop you won't have to baby around. The chassis doesn't flex or twist at all, and the two stiff hinges in the corners mean you will need two hands to open the lid. They ensure the display doesn't flop around if you're finishing that presentation in your car. Since this is a Flip series product, you can put the laptop's lid up against its back and use the screen in tablet mode or prop it up with the display facing you in tent mode as well. The keyboard gets disabled in both these modes.
Holding this Vivobook with one hand for those elevator pitches shouldn't be an issue, either. It weighs just 1.15kg. Our review unit came finished in the Quiet Blue color - a dark metallic shade of gray. Disappointingly, the finish attracts a lot of fingerprints. The other color variant on offer is a bright shade of silver, called Cool Silver.
The laptop's interesting keyboard design caught our eye instantly. The Enter and Backslash keys share a cutout in the keyboard tray, which could also house an L-shaped ISO Enter key in some markets - a smart engineering decision to keep tooling costs down. The accented Enter key is also a pleasant touch. The ASUS ErgoSense-branded keyboard offers adequate 1.4mm travel for typing, but feels mushy and inconsistent across keys. Make no mistake, there's nothing Ergo about it - all you get is a little deck flex. The spacebar also dips below the deck, further worsening the typing experience. We also found the arrow keys a little cramped for our liking, but you could get used to it in some time.
Thankfully, the trackpad doubles up as a touch numpad, so you aren't really missing keys from a full-size keyboard. However, it treats accidental wrist contact while typing as intentional mouse movement, which can get infuriating sometimes. Otherwise, it is a substantially large trackpad, with firm and responsive click buttons underneath.
The keyboard on the ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip comes with three-step adjustable white backlighting, which is adequate for low-light use. The brightness of the numpad overlay on the trackpad also gets a two-step adjustment. However, we noticed the power button, which doubles up as a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, isn't backlit. It also sits lower than other keys and isn't placed in the corner, making it difficult to reach without accidentally hitting the Delete key.
On the outside, the Vivobook S 14 Flip has a surprisingly healthy I/O kit for a thin and light laptop, including a DC barrel jack, a Thunderbolt 4 connector with support for external displays and power delivery, one 3.5mm combo audio jack, an HDMI 2.1 display out, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, and one standard USB 2.0 port. There's adequate connectivity, but if your external mouse and keyboard take up the two USB-A ports, you should have a Thunderbolt dock handy for connecting other thumb drives.
The laptop has huge unobstructed cutouts along one side and the back for exhausting hot air, while it sucks fresh air from the underside. You'll also see downward-firing Harman-Kardon speakers, grilles, and thick rubber strips for feet on the underside, which prevent the Vivobook from sliding on surfaces. However, note that if you use this laptop as a, well, lap-top, you will probably choke off the intakes. In tent mode, it is easy to choke the rear-facing exhausts.These situations cause the fans to ramp up, but they don't get too loud and the dual heat pipe design seems to keep temperatures in check. Nonetheless, we advise against performing intensive tasks in tent and tablet mode on this machine.
Display, Webcam, and Speakers
Anyone purchasing the ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip for media consumption and light content creation likely won't be disappointed. For a mid-range laptop, the CPU packs sufficient grunt to edit and encode HD video on the fly (more on that to come), while the display does a decent job of recreating colors accurately.
The notebook comes with a 14-inch IPS LCD panel with LED backlighting that can reach 300 nits of peak brightness, as per ASUS' claims. The panel has a 16:10 ratio with 1920x1200 pixel resolution, so you won't be telling individual pixels apart. Since it is an IPS panel, viewing angles are good, but you will notice the strong backlight bleeding around the edges when viewing dark scenes.
The biggest issue, however, is the lack of a matte finish on the display, which makes outdoor visibility in contrasting and brightly lit scenarios an absolute nightmare. The display also has some auto-brightness wizardry which we could not switch off. As a result, we cannot recommend this laptop for professional work like color grading and photo editing, because the system often disregards your brightness setting and cranks or lowers the brightness depending on the displayed content and ambient lighting.
On the bright side, ASUS thought about the display's use with a sharp stylus, and provided Corning Gorilla Glass NBT protection. It is a flexible material which certainly isn't glass, but it didn't scratch in our usage. Palm rejection when using the stylus is also remarkably good for a laptop at this price. We believe graphic designers and digital artists could consider this laptop a great Windows-based replacement for a fully-kitted-out iPad Pro, at a fraction of the price.
ASUS's speakers on this new Vivobook sport Harman-Kardon branding and Dolby Atmos support. They get adequately loud for laptop speakers and don't sound tinny. However, don't expect the sound quality to blow you away, even with Dolby Atmos turned on. However, Atmos can do your headphone audio some favors.
The new Vivobook S 14 Flip comes with a 1080p FHD camera. It works well in natural and artificial lighting, but struggles in low light. So, make sure you take your video calls in well-lit spaces. The webcam has a physical privacy shutter as well, because duct-taping your webcam like Zuckerberg is so 2002. Dual microphones, which do a stellar job at capturing audio, flank the webcam. Call participants should have no trouble hearing you. These additions make the top bezel slightly thicker than the borders on either side of the display, but the bottom bezel with Vivobook branding remains the thickest.
Stylus: A nice, but homeless accessory
Circling back to the display, this Vivobook works with the ASUS Pen 2.0 stylus, an optional accessory graciously bundled with our review unit. The long stylus includes three additional interchangeable tips, a tip changer tool, and a USB-A to USB-C charging cable (curiously missing from our package).
The stylus works well as a touch input device, but you get to take full advantage of the three onboard buttons after pairing it via Bluetooth. We can link one of those buttons to a customizable action. The USB-C charging port remains concealed and clean, a testament to a well-engineered product. The matte finish plastic stylus also weighs up nicely, offering decent grip and battery life. This stylus takes just around 35 minutes to fully recharge, and then offers around a week of use before the battery runs out. Depending on usage frequency, your mileage may vary. Replacing the tips with the included tool is also fairly idiot-proof.
We only had two major gripes with the stylus. There's no way to attach it to the laptop magnetically, or store it with the computer. A carry case for the stylus or a design/cap with a clip would have been a welcome addition. Second, the low battery indicator light starts flashing red quite early, when the battery drops below 35 percent. ASUS could have set this threshold lower, at around 15 or 20 percent, because Bluetooth devices aren't power-hungry.
Performance: A well-rounded package
Coming to the business end of things, ASUS offers the Vivobook S 14 Flip with a six-core 12-thread AMD Zen 3-based Ryzen 5600H CPU capped at 4.2GHz or a 12-core 16-thread Intel i5 12500H chip with a 4.5GHz boost clock frequency. The laptop comes with 8 or 16GB of RAM and integrated graphics only. For storage, you get a 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen 4 SSD from Micron (Gen 3 on the Ryzen variant). The Vivobook S 14 Flip is reasonably user-upgradeable, sporting one vacant DDR4 SO-DIMM slot for RAM expansion, and one M.2 2280 slot for storage expansion. We reviewed the notebook with the Intel Alder Lake chip and 16GB of RAM. For networking, the computer has onboard Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Vivobook is an absolute joy to use, as long as you don't game competitively on it. It boots to an operable level in 20.18 seconds, and makes quick work of multitasking workloads or other CPU-intensive tasks, but does become quite the lap warmer. On an average, we saw idle temperatures in the neighborhood of 48°C and light workloads pushed the computer to 53°C. The Vivobook hovered around the 75°C mark during gaming, an impressive feat for a laptop. Heavy titles like Forza Horizon 5 struggled even in low settings because of the lack of a discrete GPU, but lighter titles like Rocket League were perfectly playable at medium settings.
That said, your mileage may vary and there's a lot more to a laptop's performance than what's on the specifications sheet. So, we rely on acclaimed benchmarks to evaluate similar machines quantitatively on a level playing field.
In a five-pass 8GB read/write test, we found the Micron SSD to be quite fast, posting numbers comparable to a top-of-the-line Samsung 970 Evo Gen 3 SSD, in fact outperforming it in sequential write tests. Real-world file transfer speeds and loading times likely won't disappoint.
We evaluated the CPU using the acclaimed testing utility Geekbench. The test proved that as long as your laptop is plugged in and running cool, performance is neck-and-neck with a comparable desktop processor.
CPU-based render tests like Blender and Cinebench R23 paint a clear picture of the computer's performance under heavy and sustained synthetic workloads. The Vivobook thermal throttled after around three minutes on battery power in our render tests, significantly denting its scores. The figures shown below were obtained when operating plugged in.
In summary, the Vivobook S 14 Flip is a decent mobile workstation, but don't expect it to encode your 4K videos in a jiffy. Everyday file transfers and extensive web browsing shouldn't be an issue. The laptop is a powerful performer for the price, as long as you aren't expecting it to move mountains.
Battery life: In for the long haul
The Vivobook's non-removable 50Wh battery felt adequate in our testing. It lasts for up to four hours (average) with everyday use like content consumption and web browsing. We could stretch the battery life to six hours by tweaking the Windows Power plan settings, using Battery Saver mode, and reducing the display's brightness. Your preferences and device settings could impact your battery life similarly, and your mileage may vary.
The included 90W charging brick fully recharges the Vivobook S 14 Flip in two hours and 13 minutes. It's a small and portable adapter with a standard three-pin top, but gets very warm to the touch when in use.
Software and UI: Good old Windows 11
The Vivobook S 14 Flip comes with Windows 11 Home (single user) pre-installed. You also get complimentary Adobe Creative Cloud membership, Dolby Access, a McAfee Live Safe subscription, and a free Xbox Game Pass subscription. We must commend ASUS for the minimal pre-installed bloatware, although we would have preferred a different antivirus provider.
ASUS also throws in the MyASUS remote help software and a program called GlideX which lets you set up a tablet or phone as a wireless secondary display, much like Apple's Sidecar feature - certainly a welcome addition. However, there's no included software to migrate your files over from the cloud or an older computer. We also find it surprising that a touchscreen laptop doesn't advertise any touchscreen-centric apps right off the bat.
All things considered, the ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip requires minimal configuration to set up, and the software experience is on par with your usual Windows 11 computer.
Should you buy it?
We conclude that the Rs. 74,990 ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip is an incredible value-for-money laptop for anyone looking to do light to moderate web surfing, content consumption, etc. You are also paying a price for the touchscreen here, meaning this is a great package for digital artists and content creators as well. We stop short of recommending it for enterprises and dedicated professionals because of the aforementioned issues with the display brightness. Such buyers could consider hooking up an external, color-accurate display, or getting a laptop with an OLED panel instead.
However, you could also trade touchscreen functionality for a larger 16-inch display and dedicated GPU at this price point. The Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-58) with an RTX 3050 GPU would be our recommendation for gamers, while the ASUS Vivobook S15 (L501WS) offers a larger 15.6-inch OLED display for professionals and productivity enthusiasts. On the other end of the spectrum, buyers looking for better battery life should consider other devices.