Laptop, Review

Asus ZenBook 14 (2020) Quick Review: Long-Lasting Thin & Light Productivity Laptop

The latest iteration of the Asus ZenBook 14 was launched here in Malaysia earlier this month, and it continues to improve upon its predecessor. Not only is it thinner and lighter now, this productivity-focused laptop also offers very respectable battery life.

However, with a RM3,999 starting price, the ZenBook 14 isn’t exactly an affordable product. But for that kind of money, you are getting a refined, premium laptop. Read on to find out if it is worth your money.

What It Is

Display14-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)
ProcessorIntel Core i5-1035G1 (4C/8T, 1.0GHz with boost up to 3.6GHz)
Intel Core i7-1065G7 (4C/8T, 1.3GHz with boost up to 3.9GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics (Core i5)
Intel Iris Plus Graphics (Core i7)
RAM8GB LPDDR4X 3200MHz
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Camera720p (Windows Hello support)
Battery67WHr
Dimensions319 x 208 x 13.9 mm
Weight1.13kg
AudioBottom-firing stereo speakers
Ports2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3)
1x USB 3.2 Type-A
1x HDMI
1x microSD card slot
PriceRM3,999 (Core i5), RM4,699 (Core i7)

For this review, we received the Core i7 variant of the ZenBook 14. Besides the faster processor, this configuration is identical to the Core i5 model. So if you don’t need the extra power of the Core i7 chip, you’ll be perfectly fine with the more affordable base model. After all, both processors are still quad-core chips with eight threads.

Another hardware worth mentioning is the 67WHr battery of the ZenBook 14. It’s not an awfully big capacity, but it can return excellent battery life – more on that in the next section.

The Good Stuff

So exactly how good is the battery life of the ZenBook 14? Well, on average, I can comfortably get between nine to 10 hours of use on a single charge. But to get this level of battery life, I set the power plan to battery saver with the display dimmed to a comfortable level. Regardless, this battery life is still very impressive for a laptop as thin and light as this.

Speaking of which, the slim and lightweight nature of the ZenBook 14 is easily one of its main appeals. It measures only 13.9mm thin, and tipping the scales at 1.13kg, you can just slide this laptop into your backpack and forget about it; I certainly did.

Despite its slim chassis, it has a pretty complete selection of ports. These include two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, a USB-A connection, an HDMI output, and a microSD card reader. However, oddly enough, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, though a USB-C dongle for it is bundled with the laptop. Definitely not an ideal solution, but at least it’s given.

Aside from that, the ZenBook 14’s Core i7-1065G7 processor can easily keep up with my demands. I used it extensively as my work laptop, and whether I’m editing photos, writing reviews, or browsing the web, it doesn’t show any sign of slowdown. For its intended use as a productivity laptop, it has ample processing power.

Another hardware of the ZenBook 14 worth highlighting is the 14-inch 1080p IPS screen. Not only does it have tiny bezels surrounding the screen – lending to a sleek, modern-looking design – the panel itself is pleasant to look at too; it can get reasonably bright with vibrant colours and good viewing angles. The matte finish helps to reduce glare as well.

And then there are the input devices of the ZenBook 14. The trackpad, for one, is much wider than usual, so it doesn’t feel cramped at all. It can also accurately track my fingers, and if you ever need to use a numpad, just tap and hold the top right corner of the trackpad to activate it.

As for the ZenBook 14’s keyboard, it’s surprisingly comfortable to type on. Even though it doesn’t offer a lot of key travel, the large size of the keycaps and tactility of the keys can provide a pleasant typing experience. While I find the keyboard perfectly adequate to type on, it still has some aspects that I don’t quite like..

The Bad Stuff

For some reason, Asus decided to add an extra column of keys to the right of the ZenBook 14’s keyboard, so the layout of the keyboard is shifted slightly to the left. This, coupled with the oddly long modifier keys (shift and enter, for example) make for an awkward layout. Granted, I eventually got used to the layout, but it did take a couple of days.

Aside from that, unlike its predecessor, this new ZenBook 14 does not feature a dedicated GPU, so you won’t be able to game quite as effectively. Sure, it’s not like the Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU of the previous model is particularly powerful, but it’s certainly more capable than the integrated Iris Plus Graphics (for the Core i7 model) or UHD Graphics (the Core i5) of the current generation ZenBook 14.

Beyond that, there are actually no other notable downsides with the ZenBook 14, aside from maybe the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s really quite puzzling why Asus decided to omit that feature.

Is It Worth It?

For what it offers, the Asus ZenBook 14 is definitely worth it; especially so for the RM3,999 Core i5 option. Unless you really need the extra processing power of the Core i7 processor – which costs RM4,699 – I’d definitely recommend going for the more affordable base model. After all, only the processor differentiates the two variants. You’re essentially paying RM700 just for the Core i7 chip.

No matter which configuration of the ZenBook 14 you go for, you will still get a slim, lightweight premium productivity laptop with excellent battery life, not to mention a bright, vibrant display, as well as a good selection of ports. You can even easily add more storage on the cheap with the microSD card slot of the laptop.

Unless you’re not a fan of the limited key travel and layout of the ZenBook 14’s keyboard (not to mention the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack), you really can’t go wrong with it. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to look for a different thin and light productivity laptop that offers the same feature set at this price point.

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