Asus ZenBook 14X OLED review

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Review

We like a well-made ultraportable almost as much as an innovative Asus science experiment. Well the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED ticks both boxes and chucks in an OLED screen to boot. It was announced back in August and not our review unit is here. Let’s see how it went.

UPDATE: Check out our 12th Gen Asus Zenbook 14 OLED review!

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Specs

14-inch, glossy, 90Hz, 2,880 x 1,800 OLED display; 5.7-inch, pearl, 60Hz, 1,000 x 504 LCD trackpad ‘ScreenPad’ display; 1.2-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU; 16GB RAM; 1TB HDD; Intel Iris Xe graphics; 63Wh battery. Dimensions: 311 x 221 x 17mm. Weight: 1.42KG. SKU: UX5400EA-KN210X. Full specs here.

Design and handling

Asus’s ZenBook 14X OLED’s aluminium-alloy chassis looks classy and is incredibly solid. There’s virtually no flex anywhere and the lid feels almost bullet-proof. Only the hinges display a slight hint of not being totally solid, but we’ve no complaints there. The hinges even raise the rear of the chassis up to add a slight incline for typing comfort and to improve airflow. It also folds down flat.

The Zenbook 14X OLED’s screen is very glossy and this can lead to some reflection issues, but we can’t really complain because the OLED technology means it offers incredibly vibrant colours and superlative (1,000,000:1) contrast. Not surprisingly, it also supports 100 per cent of the difficult DCI-P3 colour gamut and it’s also Pantone Validated (which designers will like). There’s even Blue Light reduction for eye comfort. A pleasant surprise was the 90Hz refresh rate. While it’s not quite capable of rendering fast moving objects as smooth as gaming laptops, the very-fast, 0.2s pixel response time means that few gamers would complain about the speed of the Zenbook 14X OLED when gaming.

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED review front
The Asus ZenBook 14X OLED has some of the best ergonomics of any laptop.

The 550-nit brightness is huge for any laptop screen, let alone an ultraportable. Multimedia and games generally look fantastic although there are a few caveats. Despite the bright highlights and detail remaining in dark and bright areas, colour transitions can exhibit a little banding and some blocky aberrations. This is especially true in monochromatic areas where we found a smooth gradient would regularly devolve into a blocky mess. However, we are nitpicking there – it’s minor in the scheme of things and we were actively looking for issues. Just note that dark content viewed in a bright room transforms the monitor into a black mirror.

Ultimately, though, the Zenbook 14X OLED’s OLED screen’s all-round performance makes it one of the best performers on the market… Oh, and it’s also a highly responsive touch-screen with impressive fingerprint fending-off fidelity!

ScreenPad with ScreenXpert 2

That’s just the first screen. Asus has also turned the trackpad into a second, 5.7-inch, quasi-HD screen (1,000 x 504 resolution) which fundamentally acts like a second display according to Windows. It’s LCD based and gets impressively bright, though colours look rather washed out when next to the OLED – again, not something that counts as a complaint.

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED review screenpad
The ScreenPad makes the (still very usable) trackpad much more interesting. We do worry about it’s impact on battery life though.

It can be used as a regular trackpad though you’ll need to activate that each time you turn the Zenbook 14X OLED on. You can use it as a regular second screen and do things like have videos or web conferences running on it – and that’s surprisingly useful – but the primary benefits revolve around Asus’ ScreenXpert 2 app.

This provides tools and shortcuts that can open your favourite apps and organise them on your screen in a single click; provide handwriting recognition; plus, access your favourite apps and Windows tools. It’s nice to have, but despite extensive use, it’s not a massive boost to productivity.

Keyboard and Speakers

The Scrabble-tile keyboard is low-travel and very comfortable and accurate to type upon for long periods. There are useful shortcut keys across the top and the power button doubles as a fingerprint reader that supports Windows Hello instant-log on. Our main gripe is the squished arrow keys.

Above the screen is an excellent HD webcam for web conferencing.

Our main concern coming into this review was the speakers – they let the whole device down with the recent Asus Vivobook Pro 15 OLED – but those within the ZenBook are incredible. Despite the 17mm-thin chassis, the Harman Kardon certified speakers get impressively loud, offer good fidelity from the bottom to the top end and even offer some bassy punch.

Ultimately, it’s a great laptop to interact with.

Performance

Inside the ZenBook 14X OLED is a 1.2 – 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor which is flanked by 16GB of built-in, low-power 4266MHz LPDDR4X RAM plus a 1TB NVMe hard drive. These combined to score 5,206 in the general-usage PCMark 10 test. That’s a good score for an ultraportable but nothing that sets the world alight. It also scored 974 and 6,110 in the Cinebench (R15 and R23 respectively) CPU rendering tests. These aren’t high scores but reasonable for a quad-core, Hyperthreaded processor.

We’re a bit disappointed that a newer 12th-Gen CPU wasn’t used. Those offer better performance and power efficiency. But, it’s still fine for most computing tasks, if not hardened design work or media encoding.

3D prowess comes from the integrated Intel Xe graphics and so our expectations were low. It scored 1,820 in 3DMark Time Spy which is an average of 10fps and in Fire Strike Extreme it scored 2,403 (average 11fps), so it can’t play the latest and greatest games. Still, its score of 17,982 in Night Raid (average 120fps) means it will still play casual and competitive games and they’ll look great on the fast and colourful screen.

Cooling comes via two heat pipes and 90mm fan. The latter can provide a light whoosh when under light load but it’s nothing distracting.

Connectivity

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED left
On the left of the ZenBook 14X OLED is a solitary USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED review right
On the right is an HDMI 2.0 port, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports (one of which is used for charging), a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader.

Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5. It’s all a bit last gen and wonkily laid out but the important ports are all there.

Portability and Battery Life

Asus’ ZenBook 14X OLED’s aluminium alloy chassis has a MIL-STD 810H rating for robustness and is easily strong enough to survive life on the road. At 1.42KG it’s in ultraportable territory even though the cables and PSU add a modest 415g.

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED review underneath
It’s not the smallest power supply but it’s not too heavy either.

The 63Wh battery ran our PCMark Modern Office test for a reasonable 7 hours 33 minutes. To be frank, this is a little low for a portable laptop but you’ll still be able to get plenty of office work done away from the mains. However, we recommend turning brightness down (on both screens) and activating all power saving settings when doing so because it can run out quite quick under constant usage.

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Price

Asus’ ZenBook 14X OLED costs $2,199 and that represents good value mainly because of the excellent ergonomics. Asus’ own Vivobook’s are cheaper ways to get into OLED but they have issues and aren’t as portable. Other options include the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 which offers much more power and Asus’ own ExpertBooks which offer more portability. However, the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED’s all-round usability still makes it very attractive portable laptop.

Conclusion: Should I Buy the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED?

The Asus ZenBook 14X OLED is certainly a tempting choice for those seeking a high performance portable laptop. We’re certainly a bit disappointed that 12th-gen components weren’t used and also a bit down on the average battery life, but the ergonomics, handling and build quality all make it a winner nonetheless. Ultimately, if you want a portable OLED, this the model to buy.

Pros

OLED screen
Build quality
Good speakers

Cons

Average battery life

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