Asus ZenBook 14X OLED
“The Asus ZenBook 14X OLED is a fantastic laptop with a spectacular display.”
- Spectacular OLED display
- Rock-solid build quality
- Excellent keyboard
- ScreenPad 2 adds some functionality
- Competent productivity performance
- Battery life is mediocre
- A tiny bit expensive
Asus has gone all-in on OLED laptops. It introduced the cheapest laptop you could buy with an OLED display in the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED, which we have named the best laptop under $1,000. It put two OLED displays in the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED. And it even introduced the first Windows detachable tablet with an OLED display in the Vivobook 13 Slate OLED.
The company even includes OLED in a laptop’s name, underlining what it considers to be the essential feature. That’s the case with the ZenBook 14X OLED, a laptop that will arrive in early in 2022 with — you guessed it — a high-resolution OLED panel.
I reviewed the $1,400 high-end version of the ZenBook 14X OLED, with a Core i7-1165G7, 14-inch 16:10 OLED display, and Nvidia MX450 graphics. It’s a superior addition to the ever-growing stable of premium 14-inch laptops, and its OLED display is undoubtedly a nice one. The smaller ZenBook 13 OLED still offers a better value, but the higher resolution and improved performance of the 14-inch model make it a standout option, even beyond its screen.
The ZenBook 14X OLED sports an aesthetic that’s not as minimalist as some other laptops I’ve recently reviewed. First, there’s the usual Asus concentric circle swirl on the lid that revolves around the silver Asus icon, which is typical of the ZenBook line.
Second, the ZenBook 14X OLED’s angles are more aggressive, especially along the lower edge of the lid and the side and rear edges of the chassis. Various other edges are chamfered for some additional flair. The laptop is available in two colors, Lilac Mist (lavender) and Pine Gray (charcoal), and mine was the latter.
It’s a sleek laptop that’s more attractive than, say, the Samsung Galaxy Book and the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro, both of which sport that minimalist aesthetic I just mentioned. The ZenBook 14X OLED trends more toward the exotic design of the HP Spectre x360 14 than the simpler sophistication of the Dell XPS 13, and it works well.
Asus is known for making solid laptops, and the ZenBook 14X OLED is no different. It’s constructed of machined aluminum, and it exhibits zero bending or flexing in the lid, keyboard deck, or chassis bottom. It’s built so solidly that the military certification testing that Asus applies seems superfluous — the ZenBook 14X OLED is easily as robust as the best out there, including the XPS 13 and the Spectre x360 14.
The ZenBook 14X OLED has small bezels around its display to create a portable laptop.
It’s far more rigid than the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro, which demonstrated some bending in the lid and flexing in the keyboard deck. The ZenBook 14X OLED’s hinge allows for opening the lid with one hand, and yet it holds the display in place with just the tiniest bit of wobble while working. It also props up the bottom chassis at an angle, allowing for more comfortable typing and increased airflow. The ZenBook 14X OLED is a solid laptop that feels great in hand.
Speaking of which, the ZenBook 14X OLED leverages small bezels around its 16:10 14-inch display to create a nicely sized laptop. It’s almost exactly the same width and height as the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro and the same 0.67 inches thick. The ZenBook is only slightly heavier than the IdeaPad at 3.09 pounds versus 3.04 pounds.
Given the Lenovo’s equally small bezels, this seems to be about the size you’re going to get when building a laptop around a 16:10 14-inch display. You can get thinner laptops, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 that’s 0.59 inches thick, but the ZenBook 14X OLED is thin and light enough to make it a 14-inch laptop that’s easy to carry around.
Connectivity is solid. You get a single USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port on the left-hand side, next to a row of vents, and then a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports (one of which is used for power), a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader along the right-hand side. That’s a good mix of legacy and future-proof connections. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 perform wireless duties.
My review unit is equipped with the 11th-gen quad-core Intel Core i7-1165G7, a productivity workhorse CPU that’s popular on thin and light laptops. That was mated with 16GB of RAM, a fast PCIe 1TB solid-state drive (SSD), and Nvidia’s GeForce MX450. As with all such laptops today, the ZenBook 14X OLED was a speedy performer while I was testing the laptop and writing this review.
Our suite of benchmarks backed up my subjective impressions. The ZenBook 14X OLED was the third-fastest in Geekbench 5 with an excellent score for the processor, behind only the slightly faster-clocked Core i7-11370H in the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro and the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U in the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1. The ZenBook also did well in our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, beating the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro and losing out to the speedy Ryzen CPU in the Inspiron 14 2-in-1.
It’s not that you can’t edit video or large images on the ZenBook, but you may have to wait for demanding tasks to complete.
Put the ZenBook 14X OLED in its “performance” mode, and you can squeeze out a little more speed, finishing the test in 156 seconds. The same was true with Cinebench R23, where the ZenBook 14X OLED took second place to the Dell while gaining a bit of a boost from performance mode at a score of 6,252. In PCMark 10 Complete, the ZenBook again lost out only to the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 in standard mode, but it was faster when running in performance mode. Its Essentials, Productivity, and Content Creation scores were average, though.
Overall, the ZenBook 14X OLED is a fast laptop for demanding productivity workflows but doesn’t quite rise to a creator’s workstation level. It’s not that you can’t edit video or large images on the ZenBook, it’s just that you’ll be waiting a while for demanding tasks to complete. But for anyone else, the ZenBook 14X OLED will make for a satisfying experience.
|Cinebench R23 (single/multi)||PCMark 10||3DMark Time Spy|
|Asus ZenBook 14X OLED (Core i7-1165G7)||1536 / 5780||173||1479 / 5717||5366||1756|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro (Core i7-11370H)||1578 / 5957||202||1514 / 5544||5149||1888|
|Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (Ryzen 7 5700U)||1184 / 6281||120||1287 / 8013||5411||1247|
|Samsung Galaxy Book (Core i5-1135G7)||1401 / 5221||180||1361 / 5391||4735||1584|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (Core i7-1165G7)||1327 / 5201||N/A||1469 / 4945||5147||1776|
Even though my review unit features the GeForce MX450 discrete GPU, it didn’t perform faster than the Intel Iris Xe in our comparison group. Its 3DMark Time Spy score was in the same range, and it managed just 18 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite at 1200p and epic graphics. That’s not far off what faster Iris Xe laptops can accomplish.
I was surprised by these results, but I ran them multiple times to ensure there weren’t any glitches that I could identify. I also tried performance mode, and that made no difference in the laptop’s graphical performance. The discrete GPU didn’t turn this thin and light machine into a gaming laptop, so buyers should temper their expectations when they see that it has a discrete GPU.
The ZenBook 14X OLED enjoys a 14-inch OLED display, and it’s available in a few configurations that are all in the productivity-friendly 16:10 aspect ratio. You can choose from a 4K+ (3,840 x 2,400) panel, a WQXGA+ (2,880 x 1,800) touchscreen display, and a nontouch WQXGA+ screen. My review unit sported the latter, and it was spectacular from the moment I turned it on. Blacks were inky, and colors were dynamic without being oversaturated. While working on the review, I loved using the display, especially the sharp black text that jumped off the page.
This display will please anyone, from productivity users to creators to media consumers.
According to my colorimeter, this is objectively as good a display as it is subjectively. It was bright at 389 nits, above our 300-nit threshold for displays that can overcome all but bright sunlight. It had wide colors at 97% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB, and those colors were accurate at a DeltaE of 1.2 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent). The contrast was otherworldly as usual, coming in at 27,010:1. Compare that to the 4K IPS display on the Dell XPS 13, which came in at 420 nits, 79% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB, with color accuracy of 1.21 and 1,360:1 contrast. Few IPS panels can perform as well as the ZenBook 14X OLED’s display, and you’ll find none that can provide the same true blacks.
This display will please anyone, from productivity users to creators to media consumers. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video high dynamic range (HDR) content looked great on the display thanks to DisplayHDR 500 support. OLED displays continue to impress, and while other technologies are catching up, such as the mini-LED displays on Apple’s MacBooks, you can’t go wrong choosing the technology.
For those concerned about OLED burn-in, Asus includes some utilities and technology to provide confidence. First, there’s a warranty of 7,000 hours at 200 nits, and the display detects aging pixels and enhances the current passing through them to provide better performance.
Second, two utilities are provided to help avoid burn-in. There’s a screen saver that can be set to automatically launch after 30 minutes of idle time and a pixel shift function that moves a static image on the screen just enough to avoid consistently shining individual pixels. These can both be toggled on and off, although it’s probably a good idea to keep them turned on.
The audio is provided by two downward-firing speakers on the bottom of the chassis toward the front. I found it to provide clear mids and highs and a surprising amount of bass. The only problem: The speakers don’t get very loud, even when turned all the way up. There’s zero distortion, which is good, but you’ll want a pair of headphones to really enjoy movies and music.
Keyboard and touchpad
Asus has been channeling HP lately when it comes to keyboards, using a layout and keycaps that are eerily similar to those on HP’s Spectre line. There is the same key spacing and row of movement keys along the right-hand side of the keyboard. That’s not a bad thing because the Spectre keyboards are excellent. At the same time, while the Asus switches have plenty of travel and a comfortable bottoming action, they’re not as snappy and don’t feel quite as precise. They’re a step behind the best, which also includes Dell’s XPS keyboards, but that makes the ZenBook 14X OLED’s keyboard very good nonetheless.
The touchpad is a wide format that doesn’t use the available space on the palm rest. Some laptops, like the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 14, make great use of the extra space afforded by today’s taller displays, but that’s not the case with the ZenBook 14X OLED. It’s not a tiny touchpad, but it could be larger. Fortunately, it has a comfortable surface that makes for accurate swiping, and it’s a Microsoft Precision touchpad, so multitouch gestures work well. The buttons are clicky and responsive without being loud.
Of course, you can’t judge the touchpad solely by how easily it allows you to manipulate your cursor. It also incorporates Asus’s ScreenPad 2, which provides an LED display embedded in the touchpad that enables a host of additional functionality.
ScreenXpert 2 is a multiscreen organizer that manages the interaction between the ScreenPad and the primary and any additional displays. Users can launch applications from the ScreenPad, and use the touchpad as a secondary display. You can turn the ScreenPad off entirely if you like, and the touchpad will function normally. Overall, I found the ScreenPad a useful addition, but not one I couldn’t live without.
Touch displays are available for the ZenBook 14X OLED, but unfortunately, mine didn’t include one. I missed it, as I always do.
Windows 10 Hello password-less login support is provided by a fingerprint reader embedded in a power button on the keyboard. It worked well, letting me power up and log in with one stroke quickly and reliably.
The ZenBook 14X OLED packs in 63 watt-hours of battery life, a fair amount for a 14-inch laptop. The OLED display is high-resolution and power-hungry, though, and the CPU isn’t a low-power version, so I was expecting average battery life at best.
What I got was a little less than that. In our web-browsing test that loops through a series of popular websites, the ZenBook 14X OLED lasted 7.5 hours, less than average and well under the 10 hours we like to see from thin and light laptops. The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro lasted 10 minutes longer with its higher-power CPU and high-resolution display, while the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 was much stronger in this test, lasting almost 13 hours.
In our video test that repeats a local 1080p movie trailer, the ZenBook 14X OLED hit 10.75 hours, again less than average and a bit lower than we like to see. The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro lasted two additional hours, while the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 went for a much stronger 16 hours.
I ran the PCMark 10 Applications battery test that’s the best indication of productivity longevity, and the ZenBook 14X OLED achieved eight hours, again a bit lower than average. Many thin and light laptops make it to 10 hours. The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro hit nine hours, and the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 wouldn’t complete the test. In the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test, which shows how hard a laptop works while unplugged, the ZenBook 14X OLED lasted for just 81 minutes, the lowest score we’ve seen but close to the 90 minutes or so that the IdeaPad achieved.
Overall, the ZenBook 14X OLED probably won’t make it through an entire eight-hour workday without needing a bit of a charge. You’ll want to keep the 100-watt USB-C charger handy.
Boiled down to its essence, the ZenBook 14X OLED is a well-built 14-inch laptop with robust performance and a spectacular OLED display. It’s easy to recommend on that basis alone, but it has some nice extras like the ScreenPad 2 touchpad that comes in handy if you’re willing to take some time to learn its various uses.
It’s not perfect. Battery life is mediocre, perhaps not crossing our all-day threshold, and it’s a tiny bit expensive. But taken as a whole, it’s a solid addition to the growing herd of 14-inch laptops and is worth a place on your list.
Are there any alternatives?
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is probably the best clamshell 14-inch alternative, simply because it’s also very well built, performs well, and gets better battery life. You don’t get an OLED display, but that’s not yet so common in 14-inch machines, and you’ll spend a little more money depending on your configuration.
If a convertible 2-in-1 is of interest, then you’ll want to consider HP’s Spectre x360 14. It also has an excellent OLED display, a great-looking and well-built chassis, and of course, the flexibility of a 360-degree convertible. It’s around the same price, but you won’t get integrated graphics.
Finally, you can always consider the Dell XPS 13 if you’re willing to go with a slightly smaller OLED display. The XPS 13 is more expensive, but it’s worth it, being the best laptop you can buy.
How long will it last?
The ZenBook 14X OLED is solid as a rock and feels like it will last for eons. Its components are up to date and will run Windows 11 with ease, should you decide to upgrade (and you probably will sooner or later). As always, the one-year industry-standard warranty is disappointing, but Asus does add in accident protection for a year.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The ZenBook 14X OLED is a great 14-inch laptop that competes strongly against its competition.