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ASUS ZenBook 14 UX433 laptop review: Tightly-packed and powerful
ASUS does it again with its latest ZenBooks.
Despite Dell and HP's dominance in the laptop market, Asus has managed to build a name with its top-notch aesthetics and top-of-the-line specifications. And with its ZenBook series of laptops, the company might have found its Zen. When we talk about notebooks with small form factors and a dedicated graphics card, the Asus ZenBooks are a class apart.
- Great design
- Brilliant performance
- Impressive audio quality
- High-quality keyboard and trackpad
- Underwhelming battery life
- Glossy screen with low brightness
- Lacks full-size card reader
The company has now introduced a new series of laptops that come with the same promise of delivering smooth performance but in a much smaller form factor. The new ZenBook models are the world's most compact laptops in their respective size categories. The new lineup comes in three screen sizes: 13, 14, and 15 inches, and we got the 14-inch variant for review. It is priced at Rs 1,00,990 and will be available on both online on Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm and offline from January 30. So let's find out whether the new ZenBook has what it takes to be the ideal ultrabook.
- Intel Core i7-8565U processor
- 14-inch LED-backlit FHD display
- 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution
- Four-sided frameless NanoEdge design
- 92% screen-to-body ratio
- 8GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 512GB PCIe 3.0 x2 SSD
- Full-size backlit keyboard
- Glass-covered touchpad with integrated NumberPad
- ASUS SonicMaster stereo audio system
- 3D IR HD camera
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 50Wh 3-cell lithium-polymer battery
The biggest selling point of the new ZenBook is undoubtedly its design. It is a 14-inch notebook encased in a 13-inch chassis. The company has surely taken the design a notch higher by offering a tremendous 92 percent screen-to-body ratio.
The bezels running along all four sides are minuscule but still manages to keep the webcam on the top, and not on the chin peeking through your nostrils like the one seen on Dell XPS 13. To retain the camera at the top-bezel location, the company used an ultrathin camera module, with a four-element lens to produce sharper images and lower noise.
The device also has a unique Ergolift hinge mechanism which lifts the keyboard when the lid is unfolded. This helps in a comfortable experience during long typing sessions.
It might not be the thinnest notebook around at 0.63 inches, but it still easily qualifies as a compact and lightweight notebook. On the connectivity front, the laptop has a decent set of ports like the USB-A 3.1 port, a USB-A 2.0 port, and a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port along with an HDMI port, audio jack, and a microSD card reader.
However, the device comes sans a full-sized card reader which is a setback. Also, it lacks the Thunderbolt 3 which comes in handy for connecting high-end peripherals such as external GPUs.
Overall, the new Asus ZenBook 14 is one the best-looking ultrabooks in the market right now. Thanks to its compact design, it's easy to carry around and something you would like to flaunt in public.
The new ZenBook comes with a 14-inch LED-backlit FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and 157 PPI. The bezel on an LCD display normally hides many important components such as the camera module and some of the display circuitry.
The ultra-thin bezels make for a good viewing experience but the glossy nature of the screen might not be appreciated by many as it reflects the light in the background. Also, the brightness isn't up to the mark.
The company could have added a 4K UHD option for this variant because few querulous users might pick on the lack of sharpness in text and images. However, the display reproduced 121 percent of sRGB color gamut which easily better than many displays out there.
Overall, the color reproduction is good, but due to the dim backlighting of the panel, the outdoor visibility is below par, and it also affects the viewing angles of the screen.
The audio system of the new ZenBook series has been tuned by experts from the ASUS Golden Ear team and certified by audio specialists Harman Kardon. It does generate louder volumes, rich depth and surround-sound effects compared to other laptops that have a similar form factor.
The stereo speakers were a treat to listen to, as we were able to hear vocals piercing through the beats smoothly, with an ample amount of bass.
The twin speakers also feature a dual-channel smart amplifier that allows the maximum volume possible while preventing long-term damage to the sensitive voice coils of the speakers. The speakers definitely fired undistorted audio which was enough to fill my medium-sized room.
Keyboard and trackpad
The new ZenBook comes equipped with an ergonomically-designed keyboard that has large chiclet keys and 1.4mm travel. Each key has a 0.2mm keycap curve that aims to increase typing accuracy and comfort. The keys are also backlit for convenient typing in the dark.
The keyboard has 3 levels of brightness while the space between the keys doesn't feel congested. However, it will take a few days to get used to the layout. I found myself typing wrong words initially, but once I got the hang of it, the typing sessions became much more fun.
The keys feel tactical but aren't noisy and the inclination of the keyboard thanks to the Ergolift hinge enhances the typing experience even further.
The trackpad is where the company has distinguished itself from the competition. It's big and takes up a good amount of space while supporting Windows 10's multitouch gestures. But you'll notice an icon on the right corner of the trackpad which when pressed shows an LED numpad. The NumberPad is an LED-illuminated numeric keypad integrated into the touchpad.
Honestly, I didn't find myself using the LED numpad quite often, as the physical keys feel easier to access instead of the LED numpad. But, it could come in handy for users who don't prefer the physical keys.
Under the hood, the ZenBook 14 has Intel's latest Whiskey Lake 8th-gen chipset paired with 8GB LPDDR3 RAM. These processors feature four cores and up to eight computing threads with up to a 4.6GHz boost frequency.
The new ZenBook series not only upped the style game but also saw an upgrade in the performance department compared to its precursors. The laptop also comes packed with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q discrete graphics.
During our time with the new ZenBook 14, we used Google Chrome browser with multiple windows opened in the background, but still, there was no sign of slowing down during the process, all thanks to the processor.
Although the Whiskey Lake CPUs disappointed when we tried firing up some high-end games. The gaming performance was sub-par, but we weren't expecting much from the device anyway. But, you shouldn't shy away from playing mild games, as the processor will be able to handle to take them without any stutter.
Asus managed to cram in 50 watt-hours of battery into the ZenBook 14, which is pretty low for this class of ultrabook. Since this a laptop for productivity seekers, one should expect a whole day of backup. Sadly, it didn't live up to our expectations. We managed to use the notebook for around 6-7 hours with constant Wi-Fi and full brightness. Charging the notebook takes around one and a half hours. In our opinion, the company could have optimized the software to further enhance the battery mileage.
As an ultrabook, the ZenBook 14 checks most of the boxes. It's compact, lightweight, flaunts a beautiful design, and offers an impressive performance. All this is complemented by a pair of punchy speakers and a brilliant set of keyboard and trackpad.
Although we do feel that the company could have used a less glossy screen, making the viewing experience even better. Also, the battery life is a bit of a letdown.
However, if you look beyond the minor flaws of this ultrabook, it could be an ideal choice for your daily driver. But, if you are looking for more options, you might find other laptops that offer similar performance, good displays, and better battery life, but you might not get a better designed and compact 14-inch ultrabook than the Zenbook14.