RAM constrained for heavy multitasking
About the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED
Here are the specs 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
- Ports: 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: 75Whr
- Extras: Fingerprint reader in the power button, Numpad in touchpad
- Dimensions: 12.35 x 8.69 x 0.67 inches
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Warranty: 12 months
What we like
Display is in another league
For sub-$1,000 laptops, you’re lucky to get a decent IPS display that musters over 300 nits of brightness, making the display barely usable in very bright conditions. So Asus’ inclusion of such a magnificent display at this price is a huge plus.
At 14 inches, the display’s 2880 x 1800 resolution keeps everything on the screen particularly crisp, creating especially smooth text and hiding jagged edges. The display is also an OLED, providing the effectively infinite contrast ratio that comes from having pixels that can deliver pitch black levels. That darkness alongside a 600-nit peak (I measured as high as 630 nits) for HDR content makes this an awesome laptop for watching visually rich movies and shows like Seven Worlds, One Planet.
It’s worth noting that while the display can peak out at over 600 nits (dazzling for a laptop), that’s only for HDR content. The screen can still hit a respectable 400 nits outside of HDR content, but this limit to brightness and the glossy display means some measures must be taken to use the device out in sunlight.
The 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-around device.
It’s well built, and it has a wonderfully tactile keyboard and a large, responsive trackpad that makes navigation and typing enjoyable. The trackpad can also double as a Numpad, which is easier for data entry than the number row on the keyboard but not quite as dependable as a physical number pad. The display is brilliant for work and play alike, and it’s backed by decent speakers.
The hardware inside won’t win speed competitions, but it can keep up with most everyday office use, browsing, shopping, and more easily enough. The battery even does a good job carrying on through 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 bringing your charger, you should be okay.
Even the port selection is well-rounded. USB-A is still on the deck while two Thunderbolt 4 ports can provide power, display, and plenty of other interface options through the use of hubs. As if that weren’t enough, Asus included a full-side 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 the panache, it’s another thing for it to do so while keeping the price down. At $750, the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is a solid value offering. Given that it’s already dipped as low as $500, we’re likely to see more occasional price cuts that make it an incredible bargain 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, like typing in Word, it tends to be up to snuff, but not for heavy multitasking. With a dozen or so Chrome tabs open, Slack in the background, and a YouTube video running among it all, the Zenbook 14 OLED has to reload tabs now and then.
As long as the internet bandwidth is there, it reloads the tabs fairly quickly, but there’s still enough of a delay compared to a laptop with 16GB or even 12GB of RAM. Now, if the internet is spotty or reloaded pages aren’t dependent on the internet, that RAM shortcoming can mean lost data.
I can’t say with 100% certainty whether the lack of RAM could be remedied with a bigger pagefile, but it’s a possible tweak. A faster storage drive could further benefit the system, as it would then make access to that pagefile faster. But unfortunately, as the system used soldered-in memory, there’s no option to upgrade the RAM after purchasing.
Your palms might get sweaty
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED packs a good amount of performance into its three-pound chassis, but that comes with some limits to its cooling capabilities.
In use, it didn’t get blisteringly hot, but hotspots near the left-side exhaust and just between the O, P, and 0 keys can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit while the laptop is under a heavy workload. The underside of the laptop also feels the heat, which gets uncomfortable while using the laptop in your lap.
I didn’t get burned by the laptop, and running it in lower power mode can save on the heat a bit, but it was warmer than a lot of the competition, which mostly capped out in the mid-to-high 90s.
Underwhelming storage speeds
Though the laptop claims to possess a PCIe 4.0 SSD, the WD SN735 drive installed in the system doesn’t appear to tap into the full potential speeds of the interface or come close to the speeds of the best SSDs on the market.
I tested the drive’s speeds and saw overall lackluster performance. Sequential read speeds were on par with many PCIe 3.0 SSDs while write speeds hung below 1,000MB/s. Meanwhile, the crucial random read and write performance of the drive was more in line with older SATA SSDs, lagging behind many PCIe 4.0 SSDs by several multiples. On the plus side, this component can be upgraded, and it’s still a lot better than a hard drive.
Should you buy it?
Yes, unless you absolutely need more RAM
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is a strong refresh to a solid product line. This 2022 model boasts capable performance that will meet most users' needs, and it packs it all into a chassis that looks and feels more premium than its $750 price tag lets on. While the display stands out as this laptop’s best feature with its exceptional color, brightness, contrast, crispness, and smoothness, the touchpad is also great thanks to its size, and the keyboard has an enjoyable, poppy and tactile feel.
The only reason to hesitate is that 8GB of memory could slow down power users who rely on many applications and windows all running at once and need to be able to quickly switch between them. As the memory is non-upgradable, there’s no simple way past this limitation. If you’re looking for something that fits a similar role but can come with more memory, the HP Pavilion Aero 13z can come configured with more in a similar price range while swapping an OLED display for a 400-nit, anti-glare IPS display. The Dell Inspiron 16 5000 can also provide a sub-$1000 option with a bigger screen and slightly increase weight.
Still, the Zenbook 14 OLED finds a way to stand above the pack in just about every regard, with features that go largely unmatched at the price. Where many laptops excel in just one or two areas, it’s impressive that the Zenbook 14 OLED excels in multiple areas without Asus jacking up the price.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Mark Knapp has covered tech for most of the past decade, keeping readers up to speed on the latest developments and going hands-on with everything from phones and computers to e-bikes and drones to separate the marketing from the reality. Catch him on Twitter at @Techn0Mark or on Reviewed, IGN, TechRadar, T3, PCMag, and Business Insider.
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