ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra-Slim Laptop Review
Offering an appealing yet durable design, solid specs, and decent performance levels, the Asus Zenbook 14 ultraportable resembles a high-end laptop, yet it is offered at a scarcely believably low price.
The Zenbook 14 comes in several configurations. Our review model packs an 8th-Gen Intel Quad-Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and integrated Intel UHD Graphics. Another model supplies a 10th Generation Intel Core processor and 8GB of RAM. The newest variant of the Zenbook 14 comes with the cutting edge Intel 11th Generation “Tiger Lake” processor, along with the all-new Intel Iris Xe GPU.
All variants of the Zenbook 14 ultraportable have Asus’ trademark stylish design in common, along with a compact footprint, an ultra-lightweight design, and an ultrathin display.
For the value it offers and its remarkable resilience, we have no trouble recommending the Zenbook 14 all day, which is as long as this ultraportable’s battery lasts.
- The keyboard deck is very comfortable and convenient for long typing sessions, with wide and quiet keys and a bonus column of function keys.
- With a MIL-STD 810G certification, the Zenbook 14 can survive several mishaps including shock, vibrations, and extreme temperature variation.
- The screen displays vivid and vibrant colors.
- Outstanding battery life (10 hours of heavy use).
- The Zenbook 14 gathers up enough credit in other areas to more than make up for its shortcomings.
- Some users might take issue with the absence of a headphone jack.
- There are other design flaws that may give some shoppers pause, not least among them the Zenbook 14’s inadequate speakers.
- Feels a little flimsy to the touch.
Design and Appearance
In terms of design, the Zenbook 14 does not look any different from other Zenbook models, which means it sports an aluminum chassis, an ultrathin display, and a very lightweight that’s very difficult for 14-inch laptops to replicate.
The laptop weighs 2.6 pounds, with a thickness of 13.72mm. The Pine Gray finish looks sharp enough, and you don’t have to look too hard at the lid to spot the concentric circles that have become part of the fabric of Zenbook laptops.
When you flip the lid, you’ll be met by a display that looks massive, thanks to slim bezels on its sides that facilitate a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. The rest of the chassis, including the palm rest, sport an aluminum alloy finish.
Like the Zenbook 13 (and other Zenbook models), the Zenbook 14 features the model’s flagship ErgoLift design. The ErgoLift hinge raises the back of the laptop a few degrees, tilting the keyboard to a more comfortable position and allowing the underside of the laptop access to much-needed air.
There’s a large touchpad right underneath the keyboard, equipped with Asus’ proprietary NumberPad 2.0 feature that converts the touchpad to a number pad on demand. Amazingly, the touchpad still recognizes swipes and other commands even when the Numpad feature is in use. What’s more, there’s also a useful calculator app that you can call up by simply swiping down on the touchpad from the top left corner.
Ports and Connectivity
Like they did in the Zenbook 13 ultraportable, Asus did away with the Ethernet port, and more controversially, the headphone jack. However, they included dual-band Wi-Fi 6 for connection to the internet, and Bluetooth 5.1, for connection to other devices. It’s all part of their drive towards a more wireless outlook.
For those who haven’t made the transition yet, Asus includes a USB adapter that connects to either of the two USB-C ports on the laptop’s flanks. There’s also a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, a MicroSD slot, and an HDMI output. Each of the USB-C ports offers Thunderbolt support and can be used to charge the laptop.
Display and Audio
The 14-inch, 1080p IPS display of the Zenbook 14 produces better than the standard fare for users. Colors are vivid and vibrant and watching movies, playing games and photo editing on this screen is more engaging than ever. The Zenbook 14’s screen can display up to 98% of the sRGB color spectrum, with a Delta E of 0.96 and a color temperature of 6,595K bringing amazing detail to both work and play. Amazing contrast and brightness levels also ensure that you don’t lose sight of what’s on your screen, even when you spend time outdoors on bright, sunny days.
The downward-facing speakers in the Zenbook 14 are decent without being remarkable. They’ll be enough for conference calling in quiet areas, but you’ll find them lacking for tasks such as multimedia playback and gaming.
The Zenbook 14’s components are worthy of note. 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage would usually lend themselves well to solid performance levels, and as a whole, are more than decent specs. However, the Core i7-8565U processor that comes with our review model holds it back a bit. That notwithstanding, the Zenbook 14 is a smooth and solid operator.
For most day-to-day tasks such as internet surfing, content creation, even light gaming and photo editing, the Zenbook 14 will execute them without fuss. During our benchmark tests, it was able to handle multiple open Google Chrome tabs playing media and ads, and cycle through other programs running in the background without any lag.
If you’re content with light gaming to pass the time, the Zenbook 14 will deliver a satisfactory gaming experience. However, this laptop will struggle to cope with AAA titles, even if you make concessions with regard to graphic quality.
Heat and Noise Emission
The Zenbook 14 gets through tasks without getting too hot or too noisy. During our testing, we noticed that the bottom of the laptop is usually the hottest part of the system after sustained periods of usage, but even here, the heat never reached a point where it became uncomfortable. As for the fans, they whir along silently, so much so that it’s easy to forget that they’re even there.
The Asus Zenbook 14 boasts a simply outstanding battery life, to say the least (be sure to check out our Zenbook Pro Duo review including it’s battery life). It offers a solid 15 hours runtime, enough to get you through the day without needing to recharge the battery. Now, depending on how hard you work your laptop, these values are bound to fluctuate. However, you can confidently expect at least 10 hours of battery life even if you’re a heavy user.
With its aesthetic build coupled with more than decent levels of performance, it’s hard to think of the Zenbook 14 as anything other than a bargain. Its combination of sturdy build and excellent battery life also makes it the perfect gadget to have with you when you’re out and about.
It does have its drawbacks. The absence of a headphone jack is abhorrent for people who prefer the substance of wired headphones, and the laptop’s speakers still leave a lot to be desired. However, the Zenbook 14 offers a long list of positive qualities as well, making it one of the best budget ultraportables available on the market.