ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra Slim Laptop
Small enough to fit in the closest of spaces, powerful enough to make light work of most school and office tasks, with frankly astonishing staying power, the Asus Zenbook 13 is almost the complete package.
We say almost because it’s rare for a laptop to score top marks in all metrics and the Zenbook 13 does have a few drawbacks which may or may not be significant, depending on the user’s viewpoint.
The Zenbook 13 is offered in a few different configurations and users can choose between models with 10th and 11th Generation Intel processors, for instance. There are also differences in GPU and RAM between the models, and the perfect choice for you would depend on your budget and what you plan to do with the laptop, of course.
Our review model packs an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and an integrated Intel UDH GPU under its hood.
All models sport Asus Zenbook’s traditional good looks, but the Zenbook 13 has the steel to go with its velvet looks. It’s also offered at a very reasonable price, but the little extra features are what make this Ultrabook almost irresistibly appealing.
- Appealing, thoughtful & practical design
- Very good webcam, useful for facial recognition
- Asus ErgoLift design to keep it cool – meaning no overheating issues
- Backlit keyboard
- Screen boasts 380 nits
- Amazing 14hr battery life + 2hrs to fully charge
- No standard headphone jack
- The power jack is replaced by 2 x Thunderbolt 4 ports for power
Design and Appearance
There’s not much difference between the Zenbook 13 and others in the Zenbook line, which is to say that it looks absolutely gorgeous. It sports a Pine Gray aluminum chassis that looks great on a desk or anywhere at all, but that also seems to draw fingerprints in. If this particular shade of gray doesn’t sit well with you, the Zenbook 13 also comes in another shade known as Lilac Mist.
It’s when you flip the lid that the Zenbook 13 really comes alive. The laptop’s matte screen looks the part, surrounded by bezels that are neither too thick nor big. The first thing you’d notice if you look at the bezels long enough is that Asus has found space at the top of the display for a 720p webcam that also doubles as an IR camera. This is a perfect arrangement for those people that prefer to sign in to Windows using facial recognition.
Meanwhile, when you pop the laptop’s lid, you’ll notice that the rear of the keyboard lifts by about 3 degrees. This is the Asus ErgoLift design at work, intended to make typing a lot more ergonomic and ensure that the laptop stays cool.
The keyboard is backlit and well-spaced; you’ll face little difficulty typing out large word documents for school or work on it. Beneath the keyboard is a super-sized touchpad that sports a reflective glass screen.
The touchpad features Asus’ proprietary NumberPad 2.0 feature that converts the touchpad to a number pad at the touch of an icon on the touchpad’s screen.
Tapping on another icon on the touchpad’s screen and making a swiping motion into the touchpad will directly launch the calculator app, helping you take care of those Excel and Spreadsheet tasks with greater ease and finesse. You can also toggle the touchpad’s brightness to suit the lighting conditions in your immediate environment.
Ports and Connectivity
Asus made several forward-thinking decisions when it came to its offering of ports and slots. Unfortunately, this means that some traditional staples had to make way. On ditching the standard headphone jack that has maintained pride of place on laptops’ flanks for several decades, Asus challenged the norm.
The power jack has also been discarded, with two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the Zenbook 13’s left side taking care of the laptop’s power needs. Also featured on the Zenbook 13’s left flank is a full HDMI 2.0 port for connection to external screens.
Look on the right side of the Zenbook 13 and you’ll find a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port next to a microSD slot. If you haven’t bought into the Bluetooth headphones fad yet, Asus includes a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter so you don’t completely miss out. The Zenbook 13’s Wi-Fi 6 feature offers smooth and seamless connectivity to the internet.
Display and Audio
The Zenbook 13 sports a 13-inch NanoEdge 1920 x 1080 pixels screen that brings verve and color to both work and play. You’re going to have a pretty good time watching movies and playing games on this screen, although it may not be the best for editing pictures. The Zenbook 13’s screen is bright at more than 380 nits, but it still tends to get overshadowed by brighter lights on sunny days. Still, this laptop’s display holds up quite well when compared with others in the same category.
Asus positioned the Zenbook 13’s speakers towards the laptop’s front, reasoning that the ErgoLift design would improve their performance by reducing sound muffling (better than the downward-facing speakers on the Zenbook 14). In reality, this arrangement doesn’t make much difference. While the speakers are serviceable, they won’t do anything groundbreaking or noteworthy.
The Zenbook 13’s specs do not look particularly impressive, but this laptop is powerful enough to handle most day-to-day tasks pretty efficiently. It doesn’t struggle under the weight of multiple open Google Chrome tabs, flies between programs without breaking stride, and offers decent copy and video transcoding speeds as well. If you’re looking for a laptop that offers excellent performance for a price that won’t leave a hole in your pocket, this is it.
On the other hand, the Zenbook 13 will struggle massively with graphics-intensive games. This laptop may be able to run some AAA titles but at slower frame rates and reduced graphic quality, which will take most of the zip away from the gaming experience.
Heat and Noise Emission
No matter how long or how hard you use the Zenbook 13 laptop, it never crosses the heat threshold into uncomfortable territory. You can conveniently place it on your laps and work or play away for hours and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is cramp for staying in one position for so long.
The Zenbook 13 is also a smooth and quiet operator. The fans do start up from time to time, but they never get so noisy that they start to annoy.
The Asus Zenbook 13’s standout feature is its incredible battery life, which, at a remarkable and outstanding 14 hours, comfortably dwarfs most other laptops in its category, quite possibly including the UX550GE Zenbook Pro.
We should state that results and performance will vary depending on how you use the laptop and the kind of programs it supports. While those factors will naturally influence the battery’s performance, one thing that remains constant is that the Zenbook 13 will deliver a full day’s worth of battery life before you need to start thinking about connecting it to a power outlet. And when you plug it in, it charges rapidly, taking a little under two hours to reach full charge.
The Asus Zenbook 13 adds a slim profile, exceptional battery life, and several innovative gadgety touches to the trademark good looks of Asus laptops, making it one of the best value laptops available on the market.
Starting with a vibrant screen and an extremely durable design and culminating in a quite fantastic battery, the Zenbook 13 has a long list of positive qualities. While there are negatives, such as wonky speakers and a middling webcam, those cannot be considered deal breakers and can easily be worked around. The absence of a headphone jack can be interpreted in several ways by different users, even though it’s a really significant departure from established design norms by Asus.
Looking at the Zenbook 13’s specs, it doesn’t fail to register with us that this laptop is intended for users who do not require a high-powered laptop. So, if you’re looking for something that can handle some of the tougher tasks, you may need to look at a laptop with more powerful hardware.