AMD is making its presence felt in notebook segment with several high profile vendors embracing their 3rd gen Ryzen chipsets in their new laptops. After using the Ryzen 7-3750H in the New TUF gaming laptop, now Asus has come up with the new ZenBook 14, which drives on 3rd gen Ryzen 5- 3500U processor and costs about 59,999.

Design

The ZenBook 14 lives up to most expectations, even if it doesn’t take it to next level. It is slim and with the lid down measures just 15.9mm which makes it easy to carry and pack in small bags. It also feels small and light for a 14-inch screen notebook, weighing just 1.39kg. Topping it all is the full metal body that has been carved out of a single piece giving it a more polished look. There is a slight design twist around the hinge, to tilt the keyboard at angle of 4.5 degrees for more improved typing experience. It is a nice touch but the implementation could have been slightly better if Asus had added some sort of padding on the edges to keep it steady on a smooth surface like a table. While typing, we noticed the laptop sliding back too easily.

The finger-print sensor in the touchpad is a smart addition and makes unlocking the notebook a lot easier. The front firing speakers are powered by Harman Kardon and are surprisingly loud and clear.

Despite the slim form factor, the notebook has made room for all relevant connectors like HDMI, type-C, USB 3.1, 3.5mm and SD card slot. There is no LAN port, though.

Display

Asus has kept bezels around the screen thin, offering 86% screen-to-body ratio, and this makes for a more immersive experience while watching movies. The 14-inch display is perfect for professionals as a 13-inch screen can feel too small and a 15-inch screen usually pushes up the size and footprint of a laptop. The display on the ZenBook 14 has a lot going for it. It doesn’t have the punch and vividness of the Dell XPS 13, but it looks sharp with 1,920x1080p resolution and bright enough for watching movies. Wide viewing angles are good so one doesn’t have to adjust the angle all the time for best view as is still the case with many mid-range notebooks. The non reflective panel also ensures the screen remains legible in brightly lit conditions.

Keyboard

The keyboard looks spacious and keys are adequately big for such a small notebook. The touchpad seems a tad small and feel limiting, but feels smooth and works accurately. The backlighting and the option to adjust the brightness also makes typing in dark hassle free. The Power button is placed within the keyboard layout. This is getting common in many laptops these days, even though it is not the most user friendly move. At least the button could have been highlighted in some way to distinguish it from the adjoining keys. We ended up pressing it on a few occasions while going for the Delete button, sending the laptop in sleep mode.

Performance

While the ZenBook 14 runs on Windows 10, purring inside is the 3rd gen Ryzen 5 processor with 4 cores and paired with 8GB RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD. The Radeon RX Vega 8 integrated graphics is more than enough for basic graphic requirements. Overall, the laptop is fast, boots up instantly, opens apps quickly and handled most work-related requirements like typing, little bit of photo editing, sending emails and web browsing with ease. While navigating between multiple tabs the Chrome browser froze on a few occasions, but otherwise there were no issues. Battery backup is more than adequate and on modest usage we got up to 8 hours of backup comfortably.

Verdict

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a solid entry to the mid segment and is on par with any of the new Intel Core i5 based notebooks in terms of performance and design. However, when it comes to features and price, we can't ignore the fact that there are more interesting options out there. A case in point is the Lenovo IdeaPad S340, which runs on 8th gen Intel Core i5, has 500GB SSD, 14-inch Full HD screen and a dedicated Nvidia MX110 (2GB) graphics, which is a more dependable option for creative professionals. While the Lenovo notebook weighs slightly more (1.6kg), at 55,990 it also costs less.

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