Asus ZenBook 14X OLed Review: A Laptop You Should Afford To Buy

Asus ZenBook 14X OLed Review
Asus ZenBook 14X OLed Review

The Asus Zenbook 14X OLED on a wooden table angled to the left. The screen displays a multicolor background with the Asus Zenbook OLED logo. The touchpad displays the Screenpad homepage.
Pretty color scheme.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Then there’s the touchpad, which has a screen. Asus has tried a variety of dual-screen laptops in the past, including the Zenbook Duo, Zephyrus Duo 15, and others. Using the touchpad as an external display, you may move windows between the main panel and the touchpad.

A secondary desktop with programs and shortcuts appears when the touchpad isn’t being used as a touchpad and you don’t have a window open on it. The Group button, which lets you “collect” a group of open tabs and programs and bring them back up later, is the most helpful to me. The Vivobook’s screenless touchpad also has a number pad and calculator, although it doesn’t seem as attractive. On the main screen, there are shortcuts like Voice Recorder, Solitaire, and the like (and you can add your apps and webpages of choice). Handwriting is an app that lets you write on it, and the words will appear wherever your cursor is (email, Slack message, whatever).

Asus has done an excellent job of making this UI both visually appealing and intuitive to use. I’ll also be the first to say that I’ve yet to come up with a good use for it. Once or twice a day, I’d put something like Slack or Twitter down there for a quick check as I worked. The screen was too small for any of them to be of much use. Applications and websites that you use on your smartphone are built to be accessed on a small screen – apps on the Zenbook, on the other hand, aren’t. The text was small, and clicking was a pain (and I have small fingers).

Despite my awful handwriting, the gadget was able to accurately decipher it thanks to the Handwriting app. As a reminder, this is a text-recognition program, not a full note-taking app; you can’t create diagrams and expect the Zenbook to copy them. With my language set to English, it was unable to recognize the Chinese and Korean characters that I had written. However, I’m not sure anyone truly needs anything like this for their profession (and those who need can acquire nice Wacom tablets for under $100), so it’s fun to play about with.

Since the numpad and calculator features are available on many other Asus computers, the grouping capability of the touchscreen touchpad is the most intriguing feature for me. However, I don’t believe it’s worth the extra money spent over the Vivobook by several hundred dollars.

In addition, windows I brought over to my external monitor were frequently too large by default and required to be manually downsized. In my opinion, it appears like the Zenbook is treating the touchpad as an extension of the primary display, rather than a secondary display, and this is throwing off its dimensions.. This isn’t a catastrophe, but I’m hoping Asus can fix it before the product comes to provide a smooth user experience.

In other words, this is pure Zenbook. It has a great glossy cover that’s easy to open with one hand, and the screen doesn’t wobble at all. Because the lids are fingerprint magnets, my Zenbook was always covered with them. When I put it in my bag for several days, I noticed one minor ding in its bottom deck; the build is a level beyond budget-priced trash. Dark gray futuristic-looking finish. Even while it’s not the lightest or thinnest tablet on the market, it’s still easy to carry around.

With the Ergolift hinge, seen on many other Asus laptops, the keyboard can be raised a few degrees to hide the bottom bezels. This is meant to make typing more comfortable and cool, but it was a little too sharp on my lap for me to use it comfortably and coolly.

The Asus Zenbook 14X OLED webcam.

It’s an HD camera, and it’s very tiny.

A USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, an HDMI 2.0 port, an SD card reader and an audio jack are all included in this model. Even though both USB-C ports are on the right side, this is an excellent blend. The sound quality of the Harmon Kardon speakers is good, but they don’t get as much loudness as I’d like. The keyboard has a fair amount of travel, and the fingerprint sensor in the power button worked without a hitch.

Finally, keep in mind that the webcam quality isn’t great. It seems like Vaseline had been put on it during a Zoom conversation, but the colors are true. My editor agreed. This is a worry for me because I frequently conduct video calls for business. The more I hear about humiliating Zoom situations, the more I prefer real shutters (which this one does not have, however there is a kill switch on the keyboard).

The Zenbook 14X OLED touchpad displaying the ScreenPad homepage.
You hit that tiny button in the bottom left corner to turn the Screenpad back into a regular navigable touchpad.

In addition to the Nvidia GeForce MX450 discrete GPU, the system has a Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of internal storage. A $1,400 price was given to me by Samsung and Asus, although they cautioned me that the price might alter closer to the product’s availability. This review will be updated if it occurs.

To put it plainly, these specs have me stumped. I wouldn’t recommend the MX450 for competitive gaming because it’s a low-end graphics card. (Don’t expect to get 90 fps in newer games with this setup.) The maximum amount of RAM available on this device, 16GB, will be insufficient for the majority of professional tasks. 1TB of storage at this price is great, but I still don’t see this as a suitable choice for professionals or gamers – it still appears primarily aimed at folks who enjoy OLED panels and smooth scrolling. It’s a waste of money for them to buy a Zenbook 14x when the Vivobook has the same display and an RTX 3050 for (supposedly) $200 less.

To put it plainly, these specs have me stumped.

Putting that to one side, the Zenbook handled my everyday tasks admirably, even with the fan set to “Whisper Mode” in Asus’ control center and Battery Saver enabled. It was occasionally warm, but never scorching, and I didn’t hear any fan sounds at all.

However, there is a significant cost associated with this: reduced battery life. Because the Vivobook is running a 90Hz high-resolution display and a secondary screen, I’m sure its lifetime isn’t helped. Still, this Zenbook isn’t long enough to serve its purpose. Using this gadget at a brightness of 200 nits for five hours and 38 minutes a day was just not enough. Compared to other high-resolution laptops like Huawei’s MateBook 16 and Apple’s M1, this one edges out the Dell XPS 13 OLED by a hair. Because of this, I couldn’t work a day without plugging in the gadget. Battery life will be more helpful than an MX450 and a touchscreen touchpad for the majority of consumers (particularly those looking for a 14-inch laptop).

Bloatware is the subject of my final observation. As a result, I had to quit all of my Chrome tabs and restart my computer to delete the preinstalled McAfee apps, which insisted on checking anything I downloaded before I could open it. This shouldn’t be on a $1,400 laptop — end of story.

The Asus Zenbook 14X OLED angled to the right on a wooden table, half open.
Booo, bloatware.

Zenbook 14X OLED is a reasonably priced method to get an OLED screen and a graphics card. Despite my numerous gripes, it functions admirably as a driver. The Vivobook Pro 14 OLED sports a similar chassis, a similar screen, and a superior GPU at a substantially lower price than the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 OLED. Even though it’s hard to believe that the Zenbook is so much more expensive, I’ll keep a watch out for any pricing adjustments as we get closer to availability.

The Zenbook’s sophisticated touchpad is the only feature that might possibly justify its higher price tag. Asus’s touchpad design is excellent, and I wish other companies would follow their lead. There are companies out there that are willing to test new things and see whether they truly work – and this is one of them. You have no idea how nice it is to hear that a corporation is out there trying to figure out where they can do things differently, as someone whose work involves testing one hundred thousand similar-looking computers every week.

The only laptop ever developed that exactly matches their needs is the Zenbook, and I hope there is a group of individuals out there that have a great purpose for this touchpad in their lives. However, despite the fact that I don’t belong to this group, I hope it does exist.

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