Recently I attended a private course and found that more than half the class uses an ASUS brand laptop. Indeed, there are dozens of ASUS laptop models for various customer segments. The Zenbook series is the premium sub-brand for ASUS, and the latest Zenbook 14 UX433F starts at S$1898 that offers the following solid specs:
- 13% smaller than 2017 Zenbook 14
- latest Intel i7-8565U processor with discreet GeForce MX150 GPU
- 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD
- 14-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 LED screen with thin bezels, 100% sRGB
- 15.9mm thin, 1.09kg, A4 size
- 50Wh battery delivering over 10 hours use.
- Face Unlock with Windows Hello
- Dual-function touchpad works as number pad
- standard connector port sizes for HDMI, USB Type-A
- 2×2 MIMO supporting up to 1734Mbps Wi-Fi speed
- Bluetooth 5.0
There are a few features that attract me to the new Zenbook 14.
Single-hand hinge operation. Flipping the Zenbook 14 requires just one hand, no need to fumble and pry open like clam.
Gold accents above the keyboard. It’s a rather unique design that no other laptops have, and that makes Zenbook a little extra special. Despite appearing with speaker-like holes, the speakers are not located there.
Bezel-less display. The Zenbook Full-HD display looks really good with the right contrast, colour saturation and white balance. And the matt screen reduces glare.
Touchpad with number pad. It’s a really useful feature, and technically, you can leave the number pad on all the time because the touchpad can still work. The number pad works only when you tap on the touchpad.
Powerful speakers. Zenbook-series sound quality is one of the better ones in the market. They sound loud and clear with excellent tonal balance for a laptop. Even though the speakers are located below the laptop, the sound channels towards the user. Bass is obviously weak but treble is clear without too brittle. Through the ICE AudioWizard, you can finetune the audio, but I recommend easing on the controls, as the audio will be normalised by the audio software to prevent unpleasant distortion.
Full-size ports. No micro versions, the HDMI port is full-size, and so are USB Type-A. Also included is one USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps).
Speedy performance. Running the PassMark benchmark software reveals that the SSD is blazing, losing only slightly to Samsung EVO 960.
Face Unlock. I love unlock capabilities that do not require me to enter password, like fingerprint sensor or face unlock. Fingerprint unlock is more reliable but face unlock is more intuitive, just that you need to ensure the camera can “see” your face. It works even in the dark, but backlit conditions will be a challenge.
Free laptop sleeve. Not many laptop brands come bundled with laptop casing, but Zenbook 14 does, and it shows ASUS understands the consumer who treats the laptop well.
These areas didn’t work that well for me.
Touchpad sensitivity. It’s not as sensitive as Macbook or the LG gram 13 and even the Zenbook Flip S, and it causes some frustration. The sensitivity is slightly better without the number pad, but it’s negligible. Oddly, the Zenbook 14 does not support 2-finger back gesture on Chrome browser, but works on Edge browser.
Wide-spaced keyboard. It’s a personal thing, but I find the keyboard is too widely-spaced. I need to move my fingers over a wider area when I type. The keys feel good to type, though.
Like the predecessor, the Zenbook 14 is very polished and offers premium-feel portable computing experience with a well-built chassis to survive casual handling. Given its generous 16GB RAM and very fast 512GB SSD and a discreet GeForce MX150 GPU, the S$1898 retail price is attractive. Personally, I would go for a laptop with touchscreen to speed up user interaction at times, and the less-responsive touchpad can be a little frustrating to use.
Official Product Website: https://www.asus.com/sg/Laptops/ASUS-ZenBook-14-UX433FN/