Pros: Won’t break the bank, powerful and efficient Intel 13th Gen Core i9 CPU, brilliant 120Hz OLED touchscreen, slim and compact with premium finish and good power management.
Cons: Included GeForce RTX 3050 works well for creative professionals but is underpowered for gaming, no SD slot.
When the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED (UX3404) $2000 touchscreen laptop arrived it impressed from the get-go. Lifting the top box lid up raised the Zenbook in ceremonial splendour hinting of what was to come. Armed with Intel’s most powerful notebook processor, the 13th Gen Intel Core i9-1900H with 14 Cores and 20 Threads and 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, 4GB GeForce RTX graphics , drop dead gorgeous 14.5’” 2.5K OLED screen, this Intel Evo certified Ultraportable workhorse is ready to take on serious business and creativity tasks.
The 2880 x 1800 native resolution has plenty of room to work with several boxes open. That off course means multi-tasking which this Zenbook is very capable of. With a base 2.6 GHz frequency and a petal to the metal 5.3GHz supported by DDR5 RAM and a speedy 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD it’s not just responsive… it’s fast.
Does it do everything?
The Zenbook is not a gaming machine with its Studio Grade NVIDIA RTX 3050 graphics but very capable in handling graphics related productivity and creative tasks like rendering 3D effects or 8K videos in Adobe Premiere Pro editing suite. Like watching and quickly editing my recorded 8K home, travel and work videos I have been shooting with the last four generations of Samsung S series smartphones. Gaming graphics would have added weight, thickness and price to essentially what is an Ultraportable impressive working notebook.
Even hard-working folks deserve a break so watching 4K streaming movies on an OLED screen coming alive with impressive sound from the harmon/cardon Dolby Atmos stereo speakers with clear stereo spaciousness was a treat. The 120Hz screen refresh rate makes for non-stuttering graphics in action sequences. Watching streaming movies in Whisper Fan mode is also a treat as there’s hardly any heat from the notebook on my lap!
The 2.5K OLED screen shows clear, sharp text and graphics. You can’t see screen dots without a magnifying glass and being OLED you can view from any angle, period. RTX 3050 won’t attract gamers, but creative and productivity folks now have a viable road warrior laptop choice. Editing and playing back any resolution video is silky smooth and responsive on the Adobe Premiere Pro monitor boxes including, scrolling thumbnails when browsing for content.
What is Intel Evo
The Intel Evo platform, front and centre on the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED is Intel’s way of assuring higher notebook performance standards as well as bringing together devices, operating systems and form factors to create one integrated experience called Intel Unison.
Intel works closely with notebook makers seeking the Evo badge by subjecting their notebook to the most intense workloads, testing real-world conditions to ensure a better video conferencing experience in addition to better responsiveness. Like instant on and real world battery life which includes 9 or more hours of battery life on Full HD display laptops. Evo laptops are designed to eliminate lag, distractions and constant reliance on battery chargers.
The Intel Unison software feature, unique to all ntel 13th Gen Intel Core laptops, does not require an email or cloud account for a one-time easy and fast setup and use. It’s strictly a personal relationship with the user’s Evo laptop and external devices like another PC and smartphones (Android or iOS) for file transfers, photo sharing, text messaging, phone calls and notifications right on the Evo laptop screen all without waking up your phone.
- A generous sized multifunction touch pad serves as a secondary numeric keypad. When turned on, it can still be used as a cursor when on numeric mode and features one-touch diming.
- The included My Asus app has many handy personal preference settings and smart optional features from longer-life use 80% battery charging, 120 Hz refresh auto or fixed mode to smart webcam settings like motion tracking, skin smoothing, effective noise cancelling in meetings and more.
- The keyboard is smooth, quiet and surprisingly comfortable for this thin laptop. It has deep key travel with minimum resistance and gentle bounce, partially to the extra wide keycaps distributing pressure on on my fingertips.
Battery Life versus Power Coexist Well Here
The Zenbook 14X OLED sports a three-cell 70 Wh lithium battery which can be stretched out to more than 9 hours taking in three movies in whisper fan mode and brightness set to the half way point fat 50% and speaker volume to 50%. Running Word the same screen brightness levels ran for 10 hours. But if you are running energy demanding apps like Adobe Photoshop or rendering an 8K video in Adobe Premiere Pro expect the battery to last only several hours. But hey, if this laptop thinks it’s a desktop and it behaves like a desktop you have it all…power and mobility. Unlike most laptops, this one can achieve peak screen brightness whether its plugged in or not. It’s nice to have a choice if your stuck working outside.
Designed for creatives on the go, the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED (UX3404) 13th Gen Intel i9 processor has the same DNA as it’s desktop siblings. But with fewer cores/threads at 14/20 (impressive for a laptop) compared to the Intel Core i9-13900K desktop with a 24/32 core/thread count it would be an apples to oranges comparison. Still, this laptop has an impressive head start over competitors in this price range. Testing the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED (UX3404) in most benchmarks would put ut to a disadvantage as the slower graphics would show an overall lower score.
- It should be noted the Zenbook’s 2.6 GHz base clock frequency boosts up to 5.3 GHz for serious processing power, comparing favourably to the desktop’s i9-13900K 3GHz base and top 5.8 GHz frequency. Remember, it’s still a portable, but feistier than most. All tests where done with laptop plugged in.
- With that said, the Geekbench 6 CPU score for the Zenbook is an impressive 2781 single core and 13225 multi core compared to 2833/20387 single/multi for the i9-13900K desktop.
- The UL Procyon Office Productivity suite scores 6222 for the Zenbook compared to 8814 for the i5-13600K Desktop.
- Ten years ago, a 30,000-row MonteCarloBlackScholesOptionPricing Excel file for analyzing stock price options was used by Intel to show off its 2nd Gen top laptop . It took more than five minutes to complete the 300,000 iterations. Today, the Zenbook breezed through the same file in 0.455 sec compared to the i9-13900K desktop’s 0.423 score. Close enough?
- This Zenbook was most impressive on multitasking. I rendered a 3-minute 8K video to 1080p while also running Photoshop, editing this story, and playing a YouTube video. The video rendered in 4.36 minutes while multitasking, exactly the same when running as a single app. Needless to say, the rear cooling exhaust fans were roaring but it gets the job done wherever you are.
Not in your budget?
Although the Zenbook 14X OLED (UX3404) might seem pricey to folks used to $700 budget laptops it offers an upgrade to CPU processing performance, classy looks and more. Serious tasks take minutes instead of hours. You can shave about $450 off for the same line with an i7 Intel processor instead and no Studio RTX 3050 graphics relying on Intel’s built-in less capable Iris graphics. Then there’s the build quality of this Zenbook, made of machined aluminum and polycarbonate with a robust MIL-STD810H rating for drop and temperature resistance. You do get what you pay for.
Here Are More Stats
- The 14.5” 120 Hz 2.8K (2880 by 1800) OLED HDR NanoEdge touchscreen with 100%DCI-P3 colour gamut, 0.2ms response time and uo to 600 nits peak brightness, HDR Dolby Vision certified and Pantone Validated for precise colour reproduction.
- 32GB DR5 RAM and 1T PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD.
- Integrated 2×2 Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) dual band and integrated Bluetooth 5.
- Three-cell 70Wh lithium-ion battery, whose full work day is well managed by ASUS Icecool and power control schemes.
- ASUS IceCool technology to keep things cooler inside.
- One USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A and two Thunderbolt 4 ports with display, charging and data.
- Harmon Cardon speakers
- One HDMI 2.1 TMDS port and one 3.5mm audio jack.
- One FHD front camera with IR function, compatible with Windows Hello.
- Comes in Sandstone Beige or Serene Inkwell Grey in sandstone finish.
- Windows 11 Pro
- This is a deceptively small, 16.9 mm thin and 1.5 kg light muscle machine. Don’t let size fool you.