Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA assessment: a regular step forward
Asus has so many ZenBook 14 fashions it stresses me out. There’s the UX433, a 2.6-pound slim-bezeled affair. There’s the Flip 14, a sublime convertible. There’s the UX431, a mid-tier $900 possibility. And there’s the UX425, which Asus quietly rolled out earlier this summer time, that included a couple of tweaks to the standard ZenBook design. Introduced earlier this month had been the UX435, with a tiny secondary show instead of the touchpad, and the UX425EA.
For the previous few days, I’ve been testing the ZenBook 14 UX425EA (particularly, the UX425EA-SH74). You possibly can’t purchase it but — Asus is eyeing a mid-October launch. There’s not a lot that differentiates the UX425EA from the horde of ZenBooks above — it’s obtained the identical lustrous metallic lid, the fold-under hinge, and the compact construct. However eyes are on this specific ZenBook for one cause: the processor. The UX425EA is among the first manufacturing machines to comprise Intel’s quad-core Core i7-1165G7 (of the eleventh Gen Tiger Lake line).
I obtained to attempt the flagship Core i7-1185G7 in an Intel reference design earlier this month, and the outcomes I noticed from Intel’s new built-in graphics had been wonderful. So I had excessive expectations for the very comparable 1165G7 as properly, significantly on the gaming entrance. I went into this assessment with two important questions: does the 1165G7 beat its Intel predecessor (the 1065G7, which powers the newest Dell XPS 13) and does it beat AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800U (a part of Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slim 7)? The reply to each of those questions is sure — albeit not as badly as I anticipated.
First, a fast ZenBook 14 crash course. The attraction of this line (and the UX425 specifically) is in portability over efficiency. The UX425 is gentle for a 14-inch laptop computer at 2.49 kilos (1.13kg) and skinny at 0.54 inches (13.72mm). Asus has managed to work the show right into a chassis that doesn’t really feel an excessive amount of bigger than that of most 13-inch rigs — there’s a 90 p.c screen-to-body ratio, due to the skinny (2.5mm) bezels on the edges of the show. (The highest and backside bezels are extra seen than these of the Dell XPS 13, however they’re not horrible — 6.2mm and 10.9mm, respectively.)
Two different options assist differentiate the UX425 from the sphere. The primary is a 1W display possibility, which ought to theoretically assist to increase battery life — Asus says it consumes 63.6 p.c much less energy than most laptop computer shows do.
The ZenBook’s battery outcomes didn’t blow me away, nonetheless. Our take a look at concerned working the system by my day by day workload (utilizing round a dozen Chrome tabs, downloading, importing, copying recordsdata, Google Sheets, Zoom calls, and different workplace stuff) on the Higher Battery profile round 200 nits of brightness — it lasted seven hours and 20 minutes. That’s an identical to the end result we noticed from the Dell XPS 13, but it surely doesn’t come near the gargantuan life span of Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slim 7, which made it 13 and a half hours. Charging velocity was additionally wonderful, however not mind-blowing — it took 58 minutes and 40 seconds to juice as much as 60 p.c (throughout gentle use).
The second is NumberPad 2.0. In the event you faucet a small icon within the high proper nook of the touchpad, an LED numpad seems. (This does require a surprisingly agency press — I often needed to thunk it a pair instances.) This can be a intelligent concept (how usually do you see a quantity pad on a 14-inch laptop computer?) and it labored as marketed. One factor I didn’t anticipate is you could nonetheless use the touchpad to navigate and click on on issues whereas the numpad is up — the ZenBook by no means mistook my swipe for a faucet or vice versa. I might even relaxation my palm on the numpad whereas clicking round with no problem. You may as well swipe down from the highest left nook of the touchpad to carry up the Calculator app (no matter whether or not the numpad is on or off).
There are a couple of different tidbits to notice. Design-wise, the UX425 is as ZenBook as they arrive, with Asus’ signature concentric swirl design on the lid and a well-recognized aesthetic that I can greatest describe as “industrial stylish.” Asus says the UX425 meets the MIL-STD-810G testing customary, which suggests it’s handed a barrage of drop assessments, temperature assessments, vibration assessments, and altitude assessments. There’s a good bit of flex within the lid, and a smidge within the keyboard, so I’m not floored by the construct high quality. However the chassis does really feel sturdy sufficient that I’m not anxious about battering the factor round.
The port choice is first rate, with one bizarre omission. You get two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports (you possibly can thank the eleventh Gen chip for these), one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Sort-A, one HDMI 2.0, and one microSD card reader. Discover one thing lacking? Yep, there’s no audio jack; Asus nixed that for the UX425. In the event you’re totally transitioned to wi-fi headphones and microphones, pay this no heed — however that would fairly be a deal-breaker for folk who nonetheless need to use wired gear. The ZenBook does ship with a dongle, however the considered having to take up a valuable USB-C port to plug headphones right into a laptop computer simply makes me unhappy.
For authentication, there’s a webcam that helps Home windows Good day however no fingerprint reader. The webcam isn’t nice for video calls — I wasn’t washed out in vibrant areas, however there have been additionally instances when my face was completely darkish although I wasn’t in a really darkish setting.
Lastly, the keyboard has an additional column of keys on the far proper containing Residence, PgUp, PgDn, and Finish. There are numerous hotkeys, together with one which turns off the webcam, one which locks the entire system, one which disables the touchpad, one that allows you to take a snip screenshot, and one which brings up Asus’ command middle.
This ZenBook configuration will price $1,099. Along with the 1165G7 with Intel’s Xe built-in graphics, it has 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, a 67Wh battery, and a 1920 x 1080 panel display (with the 1W energy draw). There’s additionally an $899 mannequin, which has 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. The additional storage could also be definitely worth the premium for folk who need to play video games — 512GB can refill rapidly — and I’ll all the time suggest shopping for as a lot RAM as you possibly can afford.
The ZenBook carried out solidly all through my workday, and pages loaded a bit quicker than they’ve on Ice Lake programs that I’ve examined just lately. The underside of the laptop computer obtained sizzling at instances (targeting the left facet), however the keyboard, touchpad, and wrist rests remained cool all through my testing — and I by no means heard the followers. Throughout gaming, the CPU didn’t cross 95 levels Celsius.
It accomplished an export of a five-minute, 33-second 4K video in 11 minutes and 28 seconds, which is far quicker than Iris Plus programs just like the Floor Laptop computer 3, the XPS 13 2-in-1, and the LG Gram 17. There was a major efficiency distinction between this method and the Core i7-1185G7 reference design, although — that gadget completed the identical process in eight minutes.
Talking of gaming, Intel’s greatest wager with Tiger Lake is on its Xe built-in graphics, which it claims provide as much as twice the graphics efficiency of earlier generations. Whereas the ZenBook did beat each the 1065G7-powered XPS 13 and the 4800U-powered IdeaPad Slim 7, it didn’t give them the sound drubbing the reference design led me to anticipate.
The system did wonderful on simple titles, averaging 200fps on League of Legends and 92fps on Rocket League’s most settings. (The XPS 13 averaged low 160s on the previous and 70fps on the latter.) Overwatch, nonetheless, was stuttery at maxed settings, averaging 43fps on Epic and 62fps on Extremely. That’s higher than the XPS and the Slim 7 however nonetheless nearer to these than to the 1185G7 reference design (which averaged 59fps on Epic and 89fps on Extremely).
And, in fact, this isn’t a laptop computer you’d purchase for critical gaming. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was not playable in 1080p, averaging 29fps on the bottom settings. That is, once more, higher than the Ice Lake XPS 13, which averaged 17fps, and worse than the 1185G7 reference platform (I wouldn’t, in fact, suggest utilizing any of those to truly run this title).
In brief, these outcomes are an enchancment over Ice Lake and Ryzen 4000. They’re a decent step ahead. However they’re additionally a reminder that not all Tiger Lake programs (and never all chips) are created equal — and this configuration isn’t as far forward of Lenovo’s 4800U system as I’d hoped it will be.
At $800, I’d name this ZenBook an absolute steal. At $1,100, I’ll say it’s a wonderful buy. It’s transportable and practical, as ZenBooks are typically. On the skin, there’s no class the place it’s horrible and no class the place it’s the most effective in its class (aside from the NumberPad, which is legitimately very cool however received’t be helpful for everybody).
After which there’s the processor. Sure, it does ship the most effective gaming efficiency we’ve seen from built-in graphics outdoors of a take a look at design. Nevertheless it’s a step ahead, relatively than the leap ahead the 1185G7 seemed to be — and given the benefit that AMD has in multicore efficiency, I’m unsure that’s sufficient to crown Intel the brand new ultraportable king. Tiger Lake is definitely a extra formidable competitor than Ice Lake was — however the battle isn’t over.
Images by Monica Chin / GadgetClock
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