ASUS ZenBook 14 UX433 review: All this for under $1,900?!
Performance & Conclusion
How does it perform?
Performance was a mixed bag. On the one hand, general computing performance was quite good as the graphs of PCMark 8 and PCMark 10 will show. And thanks to the discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 chip, the ZenBook 14’s graphics performance was significantly better than comparable ultraportables reliant on Intel’s integrated graphics solution. However, if we compare the ZenBook 14’s graphics performance to the MSI Prestige PS42 and Razer Blade Stealth, which also have the same discrete graphics, we can see that its performance on graphics intensive benchmarks like 3DMark and Tomb Raider doesn’t quite match up. It seems then that the ZenBook 14’s design doesn’t allow for the GeForce MX150 to maximize its potential as some kind of throttling is at work here.
Show me the charts!
The ZenBook 14's general computing performance is good but its graphics performance could be better. Even though it was clearly superior to notebooks dependent on Intel's integrated graphics, it was considerably slower than the MSI Prestige PS42 and Razer Blade Stealth - both of which have the same NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics chips that the ZenBook 14 has. However, the difference in graphics performance is likely due to the use of a slower grade GeForce MX150 GPU. Still, it's plenty fast over integrated graphics, just not the same standard as its other peers.
How's the battery life?
Despite having discrete graphics, the ZenBook 14’s battery life was quite good, clocking in at 200 minutes or 3 hours and 20 minutes in our intensive battery test which consists of productivity workloads, video conferencing, and light gaming. It’s almost the same as the MSI Prestige PS42 but a bit shorter than the Razer Blade Stealth which has a slightly larger battery.
Using our Portability Index which takes into account dimensions and weight, the Prestige PS42 managed a ratio of 3.03. It was the highest ratio amongst notebooks with discrete graphics and a large part of that is down to the ZenBook 14's compact footprint and slim chassis.
So how does it compare to its rivals?
The ZenBook 14 is a strong offering in its price range. Its keenest rival is the MSI Prestige PS42 because both are slim and light, and both feature NVIDIA GeForce MX150 discrete graphics. The MSI is slightly cheaper at $1,799 and better graphics performance, but the ZenBook 14 counters with a more modern Whiskey Lake class processor and superior build quality. Personally, I would pick the better made ZenBook 14 over the Prestige PS42.
The Razer Blade Stealth is another keen rival. It has a sleek design, is arguably even better build, supports Thunderbolt 3, and performs even better in graphics-intensive workloads. However, it is considerably more expensive. At S$2,479 or S$581 more, the Razer has the same processor and memory but only half the storage - the green triple-headed snake commands a premium. For the budget-conscious and value hunters, the choice is clear.
The ZenBook 14 is an excellent mainstream notebook from ASUS with lots to like and little to fault. The overall design is outstanding, especially when you consider it is more compact than most 13-inch notebooks and it even meets the MIL-STD-810 standards for ruggedness. It also has a ton of useful and thoughtful features too, such as the ErgoLift hinge, the NumberPad, and full-size USB-A and HDMI ports. General performance was good too and the battery life is decent for a system with its specifications. And then there’s its attractive price. The only things that count against it are the lackluster graphics performance, lack of Thunderbolt 3 support, and the narrow trackpad. All things considered, it’s one of the best bang for buck notebooks you can buy, thus earning our Best Value seal of approval.