The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is a dead gorgeous laptop with enough power for most people.
About the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED
Here are the specifications of the laptop we tested:
- Processor: Intel Core i5-1240P
- Memory: 8GB LPDDR5
- Storage: 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
- display: 14-inch QHD+ (2880 x 1800) 16:10, 90Hz, OLED panel, VESA DisplayHDR 600 True Black, Glossy
- Port: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (Display and power supported), 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x 3.5mm audio combo jack, 1 x microSD card reader
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe graphics
- wireless: Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211, Bluetooth 5
- Battery: 75 Whr
- Additional: Fingerprint reader in power button, Numpad in touchpad
- Dimensions: 12.35 x 8.69 x 0.67 inches
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Warranty: 12 months
What we like
The display is in another league
For a sub-$1,000 laptop, you’re lucky to get a decent IPS display that musters over 300 nits of brightness, making the display nearly unusable in very bright conditions. So, the entry of Asus with such a great display at this price is a big plus.
At 14 inches, the display’s 2880 x 1800 resolution ensures everything on the screen is crystal clear, producing smooth text and hiding jagged edges. The display is also OLED, providing an effective infinite contrast ratio that comes from having pixels that can deliver pitch black levels. Darkness in addition to a 600-nit peak (I measured as high as 630 nits) for HDR content makes this laptop great for watching movies and visual shows like Seven Worlds, One Planet.
Keep in mind that while the display can peak at over 600 nits (dazzling for a laptop), that’s only for HDR content. The screen can still reach 400 nits outside of HDR content, but this brightness limit and glossy display mean some measures must be taken to use the device in sunlight.
icing on top? the display has a 90Hz refresh rate that provides a smoother visual experience for on-screen motion.
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED may not be the ultimate machine for any particular task, but it can handle so many different tasks, making it a great all-round device.
It’s well built, and it has a great touch keyboard and a large, responsive trackpad that makes navigating and typing fun. The trackpad can also function as a Numpad, which is easier for data entry than the number row on a keyboard but not as reliable as a physical number pad. The display is brilliant for work and play, and it’s backed by good speakers.
The hardware inside won’t win any speed contests, but it can keep up with most daily office use, browsing, shopping and more with ease. The battery also works well throughout the day. Again, it’s not breaking any records, but unless you want to max out the brightness on the display and look at word documents for eight hours straight without carrying your charger, you should be fine.
Even the port selection is comprehensive. USB-A is still on deck while two Thunderbolt 4 ports can provide power, display and many other interface options through the use of a hub. As if that wasn’t enough, Asus includes a full-sided HDMI 2.0 port making it easy to connect to an external monitor or 4K TV.
It’s one thing for a laptop to pack in panache, it’s another to do it while keeping the price low. At $750, the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is a solid value proposition. Now that it’s already dipped as low as $500, we’ll likely see more price cuts every now and then that make it an incredible deal once again.
What we don’t like
Not ready for heavy work
This Asus Zenbook model is limited to 8GB of RAM. For single-core tasks, such as typing in Word, these tasks tend to sniff, but not for heavy multitasking. With a dozen or so Chrome tabs open, Slack in the background and a YouTube video streaming in between, the Zenbook 14 OLED has to refresh tabs from time to time.
As long as internet bandwidth is available, it reloads tabs fairly quickly, but there is still enough lag compared to laptops with 16GB or 12GB of RAM. Now, if the internet is spotty or the page that refreshes doesn’t depend on the internet, that lack of RAM can mean data loss.
I can’t say with 100% certainty whether the lack of RAM can be fixed with a larger page file, but it is a possible tweak. A faster storage drive can benefit the system, as it will then make accessing the page file faster. But unfortunately, since the system uses soldered memory, there is no option to upgrade RAM after purchase.
Your palms may sweat
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED packs a decent amount of performance into its three-pound chassis, but that comes with some limitations to its cooling capabilities.
In use, it doesn’t get scorching hot, but the hot spot near the left exhaust and just between the O, P and 0 keys can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit when the laptop is under heavy workload. The bottom of the laptop also feels hot, which becomes uncomfortable while using the laptop on your lap.
I didn’t get burned by the laptop, and running it in lower power mode can save some heat, but it’s hotter than most of the competition, most of which are capped in the mid-to-high 90s.
Poor storage speed
Although the laptop claims to have a PCIe 4.0 SSD, the WD SN735 drive installed in the system doesn’t seem to take advantage of the interface’s full speed potential or come close to the best SSD speeds on the market.
I tested the speed of the drive and saw an overall underwhelming performance. Sequential read speeds are comparable to most PCIe 3.0 SSDs while write speeds hover below 1,000MB/s. Meanwhile, the drive’s critical random read and write performance is more in line with older SATA SSDs, lagging behind most PCIe 4.0 SSDs by a multiple. On the plus side, this component is upgradeable, and it’s still far better than a hard drive.
Do you need to buy it?
Yes, unless you really need more RAM
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is a strong refresh to a strong product line. The 2022 model has capable performance that will satisfy most users, and it packs it all into a chassis that looks and feels more premium than its $750 price tag. While the display stands out as the best feature of this laptop with incredible color, brightness, contrast, vibrancy and smoothness, the touchpad is also great for its size, and the keyboard has a fun, poppy and tactile feel.
The only reason for hesitation is that 8GB of memory can slow down power users who rely on many applications and windows all running simultaneously and need to be able to switch between them quickly. Since the memory is not upgradeable, there is no easy way to get past this limit. If you’re looking for something that fits the same role but can come with more memory, the HP Pavilion Aero 13z is more configurable in the same price range while swapping the OLED display for a 400-nit anti-glare IPS display. The Dell Inspiron 16 5000 can also provide a sub-$1000 option with a larger screen and slightly increased weight.
Still, the Zenbook 14 OLED finds a way to stand above the pack in almost everything, with unmatched features for the price. Where many laptops excel in just one or two areas, it’s amazing that the Zenbook 14 OLED excels in so many areas without Asus raising the price.
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Prices are accurate at the time this article is published but may change from time to time.
Meet the testers
Mark Knapp has been covering technology for the better part of the last decade, keeping readers abreast of the latest developments and pursuing everything from phones and computers to e-bikes and drones to separate marketing from reality. Catch him on Twitter at @Techn0Mark or at Reviewed, IGN, TechRadar, T3, PCMag and Business Insider.
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