ASUS continues to offer premium and semi-premium laptops in the Indian market with its refreshed ZenBook and VivoBook lineups. One of the best things about the current crop of ASUS consumer notebooks is that they are being offered with bright OLED panel display options at fairly affordable price points.
Take for instance the latest ZenBook 14 OLED (UM3402). It features a 2.8K OLED panel, which means sharper picture along with punchy colours and contrast, along with a 90Hz refresh rate ensuring a smooth and snappy experience. Powering the laptop is AMD’s latest Ryzen 7000 series mobile processor that offers excellent efficiency in terms of performance and battery life and of course being a ZenBook it notebook neat and offers a slim, lightweight design. But there’s more than what meets the eye. Read on to know more.
ASUS has repurposed the entire chassis from last year’s ZenBook 14 OLED. Now that’s not a bad thing because it feels and looks great, and why fix something that’s not broken? It features a magnesium-aluminum alloy construction having a thickness of just under 17mm and weighing just 1.39kg. It even meets the MIL-STD-810H durability standard, meaning that it is rock solid. Personally, it didn’t feel like a solid metal laptop, as is the case with Apple’s MacBooks or the Dell XPS range. Rather it feels a bit like high-quality plastic. But honestly, I am just nitpicking here and practically that’s how all magnesium-based notebooks are.
The notebook comes in a graphite colour option which the company calls ‘Jade Black’, apparently “inspired by the natural beauty of rock formations.” It has a minimalist look with the ASUS logo on one side of the lid and the ZenBook branding at the bottom. The company also mentions that the laptop has an anti-fingerprint coating, but it doesn’t do so well, especially on the lid and you will end up with finger oil stains. There’s visible flex on the lid and very minor on the keyboard deck but overall it manages to help up very well.
The cylindrical hinge mechanism feels sturdy and allows the lid to open all the way back to 180 degrees. Like most ASUS notebooks you also get the Ergo Lift design which lifts the bottom part of the notebook to move up at an angle when you open the lid, thereby allowing better airflow and at the same time offering a better typing experience on the keyboard.
The notebook also comes with a good selection of ports despite being quite slim. You get a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port on the left and on the other side there is an HDMI 2.1 port, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports that support display and power delivery, a 3.5mm combo audio jack and a microSD card reader. Other than that there is some ventilation on the left side as well as at the bottom.
Like the chassis, ASUS is utilising a very similar OLED panel from last year’s model. It measures 14-inch diagonally with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 pixels, 243 ppi pixel density, 90Hz refresh rate, and a 16:10 aspect ratio which gives more room at the bottom. It is a glossy display like most OLEDs so it is prone to reflections and there’s no touchscreen option if that’s something that matters to you. It is also Pantone Validated for accurate colours and covers 100 percent of DCI-P3 colour gamut. There is some improvement in terms of brightness as this one comes with DisplayHDR True Black 600 with up to 600-nits brightness (HDR), a slight bump from last year’s model. ASUS also claims that thanks to the SGS and TÜV Rheinland-certifications your eyes should be protected from harmful blue light emission.
The display offers ample brightness for everyday use cases and during my testing I hardly cranked up the brightness to a full 100 percent. You also get deep blacks, a really good amount of saturation and a solid contrast ratio. Using the MyASUS app one can tweak the colours as per their liking along with options to set the colour temperature, gamut and extend the life of the panel thanks to various settings under the OLED Care tab. Viewing angles are quite excellent and watching content is a delight on this laptop. On top of that the 90Hz refresh rate and low response times are a great addition as they make the overall user experience quite responsive. Apart from scrolling and switching between apps, the smooth response is visible while playing casual games.
ASUS has also taken measures to protect the OLED display to avoid burn-in issues. There are multiple settings in the MyASUS app like pixel refresh, pixel shift, hiding the Windows taskbar and disabling the Windows transparency effects that can help prolong the life of the panel. Overall, I think ASUS has done a fine job with the display. It is naturally not the most high-end as one would see on premium notebooks and like most OLEDs it is quite reflective, but it is definitely worth the asking price.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard comes with standard chiclet-style keys that offer a 1.4mm key travel. The keys are nicely spread out although ASUS hasn’t taken the edge-to-edge route which could have helped squeeze in some more keys. I was able to type comfortably on the keyboard and hardly had issues with actuation and getting used to the layout. Of course, you get adjustable backlighting, and I appreciate that the delete key is on the top right corner instead of the power button. The power button also embeds the fingerprint scanner which worked well most of the time while logging in via Windows Hello.
Below the keyboard there is a large glass trackpad. Apart from being smooth and responsive, it also supports NumberPad 2.0. Basically, it integrates an LED-backlit numeric keypad that can be enabled by holding down on the top right corner of the trackpad. While I don’t find that feature useful, it can be of good use for someone who constantly needs to use a calculator or input a lot of numbers into spreadsheets or accounting software.
Performance and softwareThe 2023 version of the Zenbook 14 OLED UM3402 has been updated with the latest AMD Ryzen 7000 series of processors that is based on the 7nm architecture and features onboard RDNA3 Radeon graphics. ASUS is offering the laptop with the Ryzen 5 7530U or the Ryzen 7 7730U, both of which are meant for thin and light notebooks. The review unit I received came with the latter that includes 8-cores,16-threads, and clock speeds that can go up to 4.5 GHz. With that, you get 16GB of LPDDR4X memory, a 1TB PCIe Gen 3 SSD.
Now the Ryzen 7 7730U might sound like an impressive mobile processor for thin and light laptops on paper. However, if you compare it with last year’s Ryzen 7 5825U, it is more or less the same chipset. Essentially AMD has just rehashed the older processor, so bear that in mind if you plan on buying the laptop. Having said that, it manages to deliver respectable performance. With a 15W rated TDP, the Ryzen 7 7730U was able to push up to 45W for a short period during peak workloads which is pretty impressive. You can squeeze the maximum potential out of the CPU by switching to the Performance mode fan profile via the MyASUS app which also offers a Standard or balanced mode and a Silent mode for whisper-quiet fan speeds with low power consumption and performance. Apart from daily computing needs the notebook is capable of media creation including photo and basic video editing purposes, but do keep in mind that it cannot keep up with higher-end notebooks with dedicated graphics.
Speaking of which, the Ryzen 7 7730U comes with an integrated Radeon RX Vega 8 GPU. It isn’t really meant for gaming but I still went ahead to test whether the laptop had any potential for some casual gaming. At 1200p resolution, CS:GO was able to run over 60 fps at medium settings while Apex Legends could only run between 30-40 fps at low settings. In short, you can play some older titles on this laptop but only at low or medium graphics settings to churn out consistent 60fps.
As for thermals, the CPU is cooled using a single fan with dual heat pipes. During regular usage, the laptop stays cool with the CPU temperatures staying well within 50°C and going up to a maximum of 92.8°C when pushing the CPU to 100 percent usage. At sustained loads like long rendering processes, the CPU temperature remained in the high 80s. During my testing period, I noticed that the fan remained quiet most of the time and was only able to hear it ramp up during high CPU or GPU usage tasks. Speaking of which, here is a look at the benchmark test scores:
Thanks to the inclusion of Wi-Fi 6E I was getting impressive wireless speeds and with Bluetooth 5.3 I was able to quickly pair devices like headphones and wireless peripherals with almost zero latency or connection drops.
The ZenBook 14 OLED comes with Windows 11 Home out of the box with fairly minimal bloatware. I did notice the annoying McAfee antivirus software that would throw random notifications, which I eventually ended up removing. The MyASUS system management and service app lets you tweak a variety of settings and additionally comes with some useful tools. Apart from switching between performance profiles the app offers AI-based noise cancellation when you are doing meetings, tweak the display colours and profiles, enable battery protection mode and more.
Lastly, the 1080p webcam is good, but not a huge improvement over 720p webcams that are seen on most laptops. The audio system is claimed to be tuned by Harman Kardon with support for Dolby Atmos. The down-firing stereo speakers are clear, but sound tinny and don’t offer a punchy sound. I was pretty disappointed as ASUS had an excellent opportunity to deliver a complete multimedia package, but in reality, the experience is below average.
I haven’t reviewed a laptop with long battery life for a while now, and the ZenBook 14 OLED was definitely a breath of fresh air. I got close to 10 hours of battery life which means it can last all day before you need to plug in the charger. The laptop also scored a respectable 9 hours and 10 minutes on the Modern Office battery test on PCMark 10. This is all thanks to the combination of the 75WHr battery pack, the efficient Ryzen 7000 series processor and of course, the OLED panel which compared to LCD draws less power.
Additionally, the laptop supports fast charging so you can quickly juice it up 60 percent in just 49 minutes using the 65W charging adapter. It can fully charge in about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
If you are looking for a good Windows alternative to the Apple MacBook Air, then the ZenBook 14 OLED is not a bad choice. It offers reliable performance, a smooth and punchy OLED display and a long-lasting all-day battery. The design and build are good too, and while it isn’t super-premium, it justifies the price tag. You also get a good number of I/O ports along with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 for fast connectivity.
My experience with the laptop was mostly positive, but there are a few things that ASUS can work on. Considering the laptop’s excellent OLED display, a good set of speakers would have definitely amped the entire multimedia experience. Second, and more importantly, the choice of AMD’s so-called ‘new 7000-series’ mobile processors is clearly misinterpreted as the chipset offerings are similar to last year’s Ryzen 5000-U processors. Other minor concerns I had were with the anti-fingerprint coating, which doesn’t really work, and the glossy nature of the display which leads to some reflections.
For a starting price of Rs 86,990, the ASUS ZenBook 14 OLED UM3402 is actually pretty decent for the asking price. The laptop should satisfy most needs and can be a great companion for students as well as working professionals looking for a powerful thin and light machine. If you are looking for improved performance over the last generation model, consider buying the Intel version of the ZenBook 14 OLED.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Great battery backup
- Bright and vivid 90Hz OLED display
- Respectable performance package
- Below average speakers
- Not the best anti-fingerprint coating