Keen readers of this column will remember that we an Asus Zenbook 14 OLED and you might be wondering why on earth we’re doing that yet again.
I am obliged to clarify here that this may be an Asus Zenbook 14 OLED, but not the same one – not by far.
While it shares many aspects with its namesake including the gorgeous screen and impeccable build quality, this Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is a spanking new 2023 model featuring AMD’s latest Ryzen 7 chips and is therefore a different beast in use. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, you’ll have to read on to find out.
This Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is available with two processor options, a Ryzen 7 7730U and the Ryzen 5 7530U, with both 512 GB and 1 TB storage options. I have with me the top end Ryzen 7 version with 1 TB of storage that sells for Rs 1,04,990, but the range starts at Rs 89,990. To add to the confusion, there’s even a non-OLED version where you save roughly Rs 3,000 on each model. It’s also worth remembering that the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED with Intel processors continues to be available alongside, which in the past, and they span these exact same price points for comparable specs.
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Ryzen is a handsome, elegant laptop.
By now, we’re somewhat used to the Asus Zenbook “look”. It’s all aluminium, with impeccable fit and finish, and minimal branding. There’s only one Jade Black colour and while it looks elegant out of the box, it quickly attracts fingerprints all over, and these are a challenge to wipe off. While shooting the pictures for this review I had to be careful to handle the laptop with a cloth, lest I leave fingerprints on the body.
This is not quite a deal-breaker, and this is a handsome, elegant laptop, but I wish Asus would move to a different finish, for future models.
Otherwise, it claims to be built to MIL STD 810H for durability, and the laptop feels rock-solid so I’ll take them at their word. There is no flex anywhere. Just like its Intel counterpart, the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED weighs 1.39 kg, which is about average for this segment.
The 16:10 inch 2.8K OLED display has a claimed peak brightness of 600 nits, and is Pantone validated for colour accuracy. Much like other Asus OLEDs we’ve reviewed, this is a glorious display. The colours, the contrast, the inky blacks – it’s an absolute joy to watch stuff on this laptop. It so happened that I was away from home for the duration of this review, so I had occasion to watch a fair bit of streaming video on the laptop. And I have to say I didn’t miss my TV as much as I thought I would.
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Ryzen has minimal branding, but it’s a fingerprint magnet.
This was also because the speakers are very good. The sound is plenty loud with a good amount of bass and ample detail. The Dolby Access app lets you tailor the sound to a great degree as well. Perched right in front of it, the stereo effect is also quite immersive. Overall this laptop is an absolute sweetheart for consuming content.
The keyboard and trackpad are first class. I really enjoy typing on Asus’s Zenbook keyboards generally and this is no exception. The key travel is good and the feedback is clicky. The trackpad also has the cool light-up number pad that you can toggle, but I don’t tend to use that much. Otherwise it’s spacious and precise and gets the job done as well as touchpads tend to. Personally I prefer mice, but that’s because I usually use a desktop for all my work.
The port selection covers the basics. There’s one USB-A port, two USB-C ports (all USB 3.2), an HDMI 2.1 port and a headphone jack. There’s also a micro-SD slot. It’s a pity that both the USB-C ports are on the same side though, it would have been nice to be able to plug the laptop in on either side.
There’s 16 GB of LPDDR4X RAM and a 1 TB PCIe 3.0 SSD. Rounding things out is a 75 Wh battery.
If you remember of the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Intel version, we waxed eloquent about its performance chops but were not quite as thrilled about its battery life. I’d say this Ryzen version of the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is the yang to the Intel’s yin. While it’s very capable and absolutely whip-fast in daily use – no stutters or stammers or hiccups of any sort were encountered while using it – it does take a step back in terms of performance when you push it to the limit.
The keyboard on the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Ryzen is a pleasure to use.
The Ryzen 7 7730U powering this Asus Zenbook 14 OLED, while a current generation chipset, is in fact a bit less capable than the older Ryzen 7 6800U as well as the Core i7-1260P that you’d find in the Intel version. Add to this the fact that the RAM is LPDDR4X vs 5X on the intel, and storage is PCIe 3.0 vs 4.0 on the Intel, and you can see that there are some small ways in which this laptop is not as performant as its sibling.
The average user is not going to be able to discern this at all. But when you fire up Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop and subject it to heavier loads like importing/exporting images or some of the GPU-intensive AI tasks, you can see that while this machine is plenty capable, it’s not at the same level as the Intel version. So if your top priority is performance and you are deciding between these two, I’d probably lean towards the Intel version.
But there’s a big caveat, so read on.
The Ryzen 7 7730U chipset is considerably more efficient than the Intel Core i7-1260P, and I got seven to eight hours of battery life from this laptop easily (with the display set to 90Hz). If I really tried, I could extend this further with some tweaks. This meant that this laptop felt like a more complete and fuss-free general use laptop than the Intel model. Add to it the fact that its sleep and wake behaviour is flawless (another area where Intel laptops sometimes struggle) and the experience of using this laptop felt smooth and easy. Even more so than the Intel.
Only a USB-A port on the left side.
Micro SD card slot, USB-C ports, headphone jack and HDMI port all on the right side.
Thermal management is excellent, with the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED remaining cool even under heavy load. The efficiency of the Ryzen processors I am sure has a role to play in this. I am typing out this review with the laptop literally on my lap and it’s very comfortable.
I was happy to see that the webcam is a 1080p unit. That said the performance is just about adequate and not anything to get excited about. The microphones work well, and video calls are generally trouble-free. The excellent speakers meant I didn't need to plug in earphones to do my calls.
And as I had mentioned before, when it comes to watching Netflix, this laptop is a dream. The same applies to just randomly using the internet or working with documents, with the 90Hz screen adding a little dash of extra smoothness.
Should I buy it?
If you’re a photographer or designer looking for a 14” laptop with a focus on getting your work done, I would probably pick the Intel version of this laptop simply because it offers more performance. Mind you, this Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Ryzen version also performed very well, but it’s just that the Intel is a bit more capable.
The screen looks fantastic.
That said, for someone who wants a general use premium laptop with a fantastic screen, great hardware including very good sound and reassuring battery life, I would look very closely at this laptop. The performance and great screen means you can put it to use as a professional machine as well every now and then, without breaking a sweat.
While this Ryzen 7 version of the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is excellent, I would also probably look at the Ryzen 5 version of which starts at Rs. 89,990 (before discounts). For that price you’re not sacrificing much performance, but you’ll save Rs 15,000 and probably eke out a little more efficiency to boot. And you still get all the other great hardware aspects of the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED line.
This Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (2023 Ryzen) was sent to the reviewer as a loaner unit for review purposes. The unit will be returned on completion of the review. Asus has been given no advance information about the content of this review and exercises no copy approval.
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