Asus ZenBook 14 review: A real alternative to the Mac Air?
Asus ZenBook 14 with i5-8th gen74,490
- Display is bright and one of the best
- Keyboard is edge-to-edge
- Bezel less Nano edge display
- Battery lasts a whole day
- Screen is too reflective
- Just one Type - C port
- Conventional charging port
- Gets pretty hot while high intensity usage
Asus recently launched their new Ultrabook range of ZenBook laptops, namely the ZenBook 13, ZenBook 14, and the ZenBook 15. These ultrabooks are designed to people on the move looking for a powerful device that is also light weight.
When talking about a lightweight high performance laptop, MacBook Air or the MacBook Pro comes to mind. But if you are in the market looking for a less expensive alternative and also want Windows, Asus ZenBook 14 might just be the one you are looking for. The Zenbook 14 starts at INR 72,990, which makes it a pretty sweet deal on paper. But how good is it actually?
ZenBook 14 Design and Build: Typical Asus quality
Asus is no slouch in designing their laptops accordingly be it aggressive looking gaming laptops or classy design of the ZenBook. Theyemphasized on making the ZenBook 14 the smallest possible design making it comparable to an A4 sheet, which they have more or less achieved in the size factor. Asus has very cleverly used materials, the top lid is made up of metal with a classic groove design which is not flashy yet noticeable.
The deck of the laptop is made up of complete plastic which helps the device in keeping the weight down to just 1.19 kilograms, which is so light you might just forget you have a laptop in your backpack. The plastic body does mean there is some flex in the deck which you can barely noticeable if you don’t put a lot of pressure on the keyboard.
The laptop is designed in such a way that once you open the lid it pushes the whole deck design towards you, Asus have called this ErgoLift design, which is very sleek and underappreciated. This design ergonomics help Asus in better cooling and creating a better sound as both the speakers and the fans are situated at the bottom of the device.
Near the top to hide the thick bottom bezel, they have cleverly put a golden faux speaker grill strip to make the whole design a bit more classy than it already is. While the golden strip enhances the look of the laptop it is a bummer that the faux speaker grill is just for show and has no actual sound output, which I will talk about a bit later.
Asus has successfully achieved a bezel-less design (minus the bottom bezel)
The display on the ZenBook 14 is a 13.3-inch panel with a Nano-edge design. This gives the laptop a screen-to-body ratio of 92%. The top panel also houses an IR – HD camera with face recognition feature. While it’s better than anything on other gimmicky face recognition found on laptops, it still sometimes struggles to find or recognize your face, which is surprising considering the IR blaster but it is surely well ahead of the competition.
On the keyboard, Asus has completely dropped the whole Number pad to make space for an edge-to-edge keyboard which is ergonomically better and bigger than any other keyboard on a 14-inch Ultrabook. Unlike other ultrabooks, you don’t have to give up the Numpad as it is now featured as a capacitive Numpad integrated into the trackpad. You can access the Numpad by pressing in the top right corner of the trackpad which displays the Numpad in all its glory. You can also use the trackpad while the Numpad is open.
Most of these new technologies featured on the ZenBook have been taken from the ROG series.
ZenBook 14 Display: Great but not Perfect
ZenBook 14 houses a 13.3-inch 1920×1080 IPS LCD display which is one the most vibrant and good looking display I’ve seen on an UltraBook. Of the top of my head, only MacBook comes to mind with a better display.
The display is very colorful and vibrant, the brightness levels are good. The panel is one of the best I’ve seen in terms of color reproduction so viewing movies in 4K is a joy on the ZenBook. But the display is very reflective, I would have preferred a more matte finish, anti-glare display for daily usage and in direct sunlight. Because of the display being so glossy it also can easily take fingerprints on it. So if you are clean freak there is a good chance you are going to be wiping off the fingerprints off this display alot.
ZenBook 14 Performance: Workhorse of the White collar
Let me get things clear here that if you are expecting any overclocked high-performance stats here, I advice you look at our other laptop reviews.
Because honestly, this ain’t it chief!
ZenBook is meant to be used on your work desk, for long periods of time or on long travel journeys. It is super fast in doing daily tasks and is a boon to content creators or editors. The ZenBook I reviewed was powered by a fairly new Intel Core i7-8565U chipset and is also available in Core i5-8265U chipset which to me is a better choice if you are going to buy the ZenBook 14. The Intel CPU is coupled with integrated UHD graphics 620 along with Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU which has 2GB of VRAM. You get 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM onboard which is standard across all variants. You also get a maximum of 512GB PCle 3.0x 2 SSD.
There is not much this machine can’t do but gaming is definitely one of them.
ZenBook 14 is a no no for most of the games that can come to one’s mind. Even if you run light and older games the laptop will be easily heated to a point you are not going to be able to keep it on your lap, and the fan gets really really loud.
Overseeing the gaming capabilities of the ZenBook 14 you will find a really powerful ergonomic machine that is arguably faster than any of its competition. Thanks to SSD bootups are really fast. Photo editing or even video editing is light work, and if you type a lot you are not going to get bored of using the keyboard, with overall feel being top notch.
The keys are all at a good distance and easily reachable yet don’t get in the way of your typing. The trackpad is fairly large and convenient to use. However, I rarely caught myself using the capacitive Numpad which felt like unnecessary work.
ZenBook 14 Sound: Good Enough
The speakers on the ZenBook 14 are situated at the bottom of the device. Speakers are of good quality and don’t break or crack at high volumes. When using on your lap or on your bed it is easy to cover up the speakers. I would have liked if Asus would have also used the grill at the top as a real speaker. That would have made this ultrabook the best sounding ultrabook yet. The speakers are sourced by Harmon Kardon, so quality is not an issue whatsoever. You get more of a balanced sound output rather than emphasizing on Base or treble. This is best suited for Movie watching or Binge watching your favorite shows.
ZenBook 14 Ports: No Type – C charging
The ZenBook 14 comes equipped with all the ports that you might need on your laptop. You have a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, two USB Type-A ports, a micro SD-card slot, an HDMI port, a 3.5-mm Jack (thank god), and a conventional charging port. Considering this is the newest UltraBook from Asus I expected them to have a Type – C charging port which could also be used as a secondary Gen 2 Type – C port.
ZenBook 14 Battery: Runs a full day
The ZenBook 14 runs on a 50W 3-cell Lithium battery. The laptops charges pretty fast and lasts easily a day when used for normal jobs like watching videos, web browsing, and typing for a good time.
ZenBook 14 Vedict
The ZenBook 14 is a very solid Ultrabook for its price and offers bang for it’s buck. Although, you can easily buy a range of gaming laptops for the same price but this is developed for a very different market. In my opinion you should definately consider the ZenBook 14 if you are in the market for one of the best Windows UltraBook money can buy. The Core i5 version seems like a better option to buy and you also get a bit more battery life than the i7 version.