The new ZenBook 14 UX425 was announced on 12 Jun 2020, and Singapore was one of the first country to release this new design. The previous ZenBook 14 have model numbers UX43X, like the UX433, UX434. I have been using the Zenbook 14 (i7 processor) for a couple of weeks and I’ve got mixed experience with it. But I was impressed with the retail price which starts at S$1,398 (i5 processor) so I requested for a loan to find out if it’s worth the price or should I go with the UX43X series.
Differences between the ZenBook 14 UX425, UX433 and UX434
|Dimension (HxWxD mm)||13.9 x 31.9 x 20.8||15.9 x 31.9 x 19.9||16.9 x 31.9 x 19.9|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus Graphics||GeForce MX250||GeForce MX250|
|RAM (onboard)||8GB 3200MHz LPDDR4X||16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3||16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3|
Looking at the above comparison table, you can see that some of the most attractive spec are the price and battery life. Of course, the UX425 comes with Thunderbolt ports (40Gbps), faster RAM, latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) which will matter if your home network is using WiFi 6 routers.
One of the greatest key features of ASUS ZenBook 14 is that all the ports are full-sized which means there is no need to buy expensive converters. The HDMI 2.0 port supports 4K 60Hz output, a full-sized USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-A port, micro-SD slot, and 2x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports.
To minimise any extra ports, the AC charger uses the Power Delivery (PD) USB-C standard so there isn’t a separate proprietary charging port to manage. Neither is there a dedicated 3.5mm audio port, but ASUS included an adapter. This is the effect when most smartphones no longer have a 3.5mm audio jack, resulting in a majority of consumers not having wired earphones. If you ask me, I would rather have two USB-C ports than a single one, which is the case for UX433 and UX434.
I’m not a fan of the keyboard layout compared to the previous models. They added an extra column of Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys to the right, and as a result, the standard keyboard is shifted to the left, which I am not very used to. While the larger trackpad is useful, I have to take extra care not to come in contact with it.
Other than that, the key actions are responsive with sufficient travel to achieve pretty good typing accuracy, provided I remember to position my hands towards the left. The touchpad is also very responsive to multiple-finger gestures. Besides the NumberPad function which lights up and makes number entries more intuitive, it also has a short-cut at the top-left corner to open the calculator.
It’s a ZenBook
Having reviewed ZenBook models every few months, I am rather familiar with the design characteristics and tools. The UX425 comes with little surprises as it has all the familiar features of a ZenBook, like ErgoLift hinge, Harman Kardon speakers, Windows Hello face unlock, NumberPad on the touchpad, MIL-STD 810G toughness. The pre-installed MyASUS software is an all-in-one portal to resolve all your product issues, from system diagnosis to software updates and hardware settings, for instance, fan mode, display mode, charging mode, Wi-Fi Roaming optimisation. This is also where you can link your smartphones to MyASUS remotely to transfer files, mirror the phone screen to the laptop, read messages.
I am also pleased with the display quality as well as the speakers, exuding sufficient warmth that doesn’t make the speakers sound cheap and tinny. The audio tuning is consistent with earlier ZenBook models.
The ASUS ZenBook 14 UX425 is fitted with the largest battery in the ZenBook 14 series, and indeed it lasts longer than the previous generation of ZenBooks I have reviewed. The battery also charges rather fast. I can get a full charge in less than 2 hours. The charger is also compact for carrying, and best of all, the UX425 supports USB-C Power Delivery, so you could even share chargers.
Also, the benchmark score for the UX425 seems to be respectably high. On the PCMark 10, I am getting 4144. In comparison, the ZenBook Pro Duo is 4994, ZenBook Duo is 4015. It certainly reflects the efficiency and performance I am getting when using the UX425.
I like the overall build quality of the ZenBook 14 UX425 and its size. The inclusion of a full-sized HDMI port is very useful as most people would need to connect to an external display. Having two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports is also fantastic as we will be getting more devices supporting this connector. The lack of dedicated 3.5mm audio port is not of concern, and anyway the included adapter is compact so I can still use that if needed. Battery life is better than average, and recharging is really fast. I do not like the keyboard layout, but the key mechanism delivers accurate typing response.
As a whole, the ZenBook 14 UX425 offers a fantastic value proposition: affordable, durable, compact, good performance and battery-lasting. I guess I could get used to the keyboard layout, and I would still love to have a touchscreen feature, but otherwise, it’s pretty much a great laptop to own.
- Full-sized connection ports
- Good battery life
- Very fast charging speed
- Overall solid build
- Keyboard layout takes effort to get used to
- Requires converter for 3.5mm audio