OLED screens are increasingly common among premium notebooks. The latest example is Asus' high-end Zenbook 14X OLED, which packs an impressively vibrant OLED touchscreen and the latest specs. It also has more I/O ports than I expected for a thin-and-light notebook. However, its battery life is middling at best, likely due to that same bright and high-resolution display.
- 14-inch 2,880 x 1,800-pixel OLED screen
- Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics
- 2x Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, HDMI, headphone jack
As the Zenbook's product page helpfully reminds me, its 14-inch 2,880 x 1,800-pixel OLED screen offers the deepest blacks and the most vivid colours. To use a cliché, colours really pop and look alive on this OLED screen. It also supports HDR videos on YouTube, many of which depict scenes of nature that perfectly show off the display's best characteristics. The screen brightness is rated at over 550 nits, which is relatively high for a notebook display. Meanwhile, the 16:10 aspect ratio also lets you see more content compared to a standard 16:9 screen. But you'll probably need a cleaning cloth to keep this glossy touchscreen pristine and free of the fingerprints from all the tapping and scrolling you'll likely do.
The Zenbook also supports Asus' ScreenPad feature, which turns the touchpad into a 5.6-inch secondary screen to display app icons and windows. It is a less capable and much smaller version of the secondary screen in the Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED. While it is now more responsive than previous iterations, I still find it awkward to use. Perhaps I just can't fit it into my workflow, so I mostly use it as a virtual number pad. The Zenbook also has a surprisingly number of ports for an ultrabook. Asus managed to fit both a USB-A and a HDMI port, along with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and even a microSD card reader.
The build quality is impeccable, as expected of a notebook that touts military-grade durability. The keyboard has virtually no flex while the lid is stiff and rigid. The power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor. I also liked how I can open the laptop lid with one hand. Performance, too, is good with its 11th-gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of memory and an entry-level Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics chip producing a score of 5,359 in PCMark 10. This result surpasses other 2021 ultrabooks I have tested that rely on integrated graphics, such as the Dell XPS 13. However, the base of the Zenbook does get warm enough during intensive benchmarks that I'm uncomfortable placing it on my lap.
Lastly, the Achilles' heel of the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED is its mediocre battery life. In our usual video-loop battery test, the Zenbook managed 6hr 34min. This would have been very decent just a couple of years back, but the latest ultrabooks now do better. For example, the LG Gram 16 lasted over 10 hours despite a larger 16-inch screen. But that's the price you'll have to pay for the Zenbook's bright and crisp display. Overall, the Zenbook justifies its premium price, though you probably have to lower the screen brightness to extend its uptime when on battery. The higher-end variant with the GeForce MX450 (S$2,398) is available on Shopee, Lazada, and from Asus directly. There's also a cheaper model (S$2,198) with integrated graphics here.
Note: Review unit provided by Asus.
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