The Asus ZenBook 14 UX425 weighs just 1.13kg and is 0.54 inches thin with a 90% screen-to-body ratio.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX425
Atom Tech Shorts Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 18:56

The ZenBook line of notebooks from Taiwanese computer brand Asus has so many models out there it's hard to remember them all. For the past few days, I’ve been testing the ZenBook 14 UX425 that launched in India on November 10. It may not be radically different from what has come before but there is one huge change: The UX425 is one of the first laptops that contain the quad-core Core i7-1165G7 chipset, part of Intel’s 11th Gen Tiger Lake line.

The ZenBook 14’s main appeal is portability. It’s a lightweight ultrabook that has the looks and now, the guts. It weighs merely 1.13kg and is just 0.54 inches thin. With a 90% screen-to-body ratio (and just 2.5mm bezels), Asus has managed to cram the 14-inch display into a chassis that isn’t larger than a lot of 13-inch laptops out there.

Design: Well-built but not the sturdiest

The design is one of the most attractive mid-range 14-inch ultrabooks out there. It’s compact, lightweight and nothing feels out of place. I got the dark-gray color scheme for review and it is pretty resistant to smudges and fingerprints. In fact, it's very nice to touch and use. 

Some may see this as a little unwieldy and easily breakable. Yes, it isn’t as sturdy as some of the competition, or higher-tier products out there, but it is well made. While typing, and testing the displays hinge, I didn’t feel any wobbles or bulges. You do notice some squeak when the display is tilted to its furthest. It’s not the greatest of hinges out there but is strong enough to last a few years. It’s the same Ergolift hinge design as other Asus ultrabooks. This allows for the screen to be raised slightly, allowing for airflow underneath, and a better typing position.

In day-to-day usage, I didn’t feel any tiredness from my palms. There’s enough space to rest your palms, a fairly large clickpad and a full-sized keyboard. The metallic edges aren’t the best for your wrists, but they aren’t a dealbreaker.

What you get with the ZenBook UX42SE

The ZenBook UX425 comes with Intel’s latest 11th-Gen processors. You can get an i5 or an i7. There’s 16GB LPDDR4X RAM, a 1TB SSD, a 14-inch non-touchscreen (1920x1080) IPS display, a 67Wh battery, Wi-Fi 6 and a HD infrared camera.

There are two USB-C ports (with Thunderbolt 4 support), a full-size HDMI port and a USB-A slot. There’s also a microSD slot. You won’t find a 3.5mm jack anywhere. Instead, you’ll get a USB-C to 3.5mm jack in the box, along with a USB-A to LAN adapter.

What’s popping

There’s one feature I’d like to highlight at the very top. It’s the NumberPad 2.0. This is what differentiates Asus laptops from the competition. There’s a small button in the top right corner of the touchpad. Tap (a little firmly) and an LED numpad appears.

This is Asus’ most clever implementation of any feature. You wouldn’t think of getting a numpad on a 14-inch laptop, but with this implementation, you can get one without sacrificing anything else. It works just as advised.

When it is activated, you can use both the numpad and the regular touchpad at the same time. Asus didn’t once mistake my clicks for touchpad entries. Furthermore, swiping down from the top left brings up the calculator app.

Key travel was another plus. This is by far Asus’ best keyboard in this segment. It stretches across the entire chassis, unlike previous generations. This makes room for a column of Function keys on the right side and a wider set of main keys. There’s more resistance in the keys and a higher accuracy when typing. The keyboard is also backlit, which is always nice. The touchpad is also one of the best on any ultrabook out there.

The display is bright and vibrant but nothing excellent. Unfortunately. There’s no option for a touchscreen, but again, not a dealbreaker for most.

What’s not popping

The only thing that I didn’t like on the ZenBook 14 UX425 was battery life. While using it for non-heavy tasks like browsing the web and writing on Google Docs, it gave me about seven hours on average, which is strictly average. With a heavy-usage of streaming and gaming, I got way less than what was advertised. Overall, it’s decent and on par with most other ultrabooks (including Dell’s XPS 13).

While performing some heavy tasks, the laptop gets hot, especially on the bottom left side. It’s not unbearable, but it is noticeable.

Intel’s biggest bet with the new Tiger Lake chips are the Xe integrated graphics. It’s supposed to offer up to twice the graphics performance as compared to previous generations, but I barely noticed it while playing games like FIFA 20, Call of Duty, Overwatch and Rocket League. Lighter titles worked well on maximum settings but games like Call of Duty and Overwatch stuttered. It’s slightly better than the Dell XPS 13 and that’s saying a lot. Sure, it isn’t a gaming laptop, but it also doesn’t live up to Intel’s claims. Saying that, this is the laptop to get if you just want to play Rocket League (the game is wildly popular these days) on the go.

Is it worth your money?

At a starting price of Rs 82,990 (available on Amazon, Flipkart and retail stores), the ZenBook 14 UX425 is slightly pricey. I was hoping more for a Rs 60,000 - Rs 65,000 price range, to be honest.

The Asus ZenBook 14 UX425 isn’t best-in-class in any category, but it isn’t terrible either. It’s a step-up from the previous generations and you’re certainly paying a premium for it. 

The Numpad is an outstanding feature but that isn’t enough to justify the higher price vis-a-vis the competition. 

There’s intense competition - especially from the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 or the Acer Swift 3 14 - but the Tiger Lake chips come in clutch on the ZenBook 14 UX425. It allows for a greater performance-to-weight ratio than its competitors.

My personal advice is to wait a few months for a discount and then to buy this. At a slightly lower price, it’s an easy laptop to recommend to anyone.

Views expressed are author’s own

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