If you are in the market for a compact, thin-and-light laptop with some sort of dedicated graphics, I’m pretty sure you came upon one of the Asus ZenBooks available out there.
This article focuses on the Asus ZenBook 14 lineup of all-rounder ultrabooks, ultra-compact 14-inch laptops with modern specs, few compromises, and highly competitive pricing in most regions. Down below I’ve listed all our ZenBook 14 reviews, starting with the most recent launches:
- ZenBook 14 UX435EA review – late 2020 model – up to Intel Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 CPU, optional Nvidia MX450 graphics, 63Wh battery, Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C charging, matte efficient screen.
- ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435 review – late 2020 model – up to Intel Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 CPU, optional Nvidia MX450 graphics, 63Wh battery, Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C charging, matte efficient screen, weighs sub 1 kilo.
- ZenBook 14 UX425EA review – late 2020 model – up to Intel Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 67Wh battery, Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C charging, matte efficient screen.
- ZenBook 14 UM425IA review – late 2020 model – up to AMD Renoir Ryzen 7 4700U CPU, 67Wh battery, USB-C charging, matte efficient screen.
- ZenBook 14 UX425JA review – early 2020 model – up to Intel Ice Lake Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 67Wh battery, Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C charging, matte efficient screen.
- ZenBook 14 UX434FLC review – 2020 model – up to Intel Comet Lake Core i7-10510U CPU, optional Nvidia MX250 graphics, 50Wh battery, touchscreen.
- ZenBook 14 UM433IQ review – 2020 model – up to AMD Renoir Ryzen 7 4700U CPU, optional Nvidia M350 graphics, 50Wh battery, matte screen.
- ZenBook 14 UX434FL review – 2019 model – up to Intel Comet Lake Core i7-10510U CPU, optional Nvidia MX250 graphics, 50Wh battery, touchscreen.
- ZenBook 14 UX431 review – 2019 model – budget-friendly option, slightly larger and heavier,
Furthermore, we’ve reviewed most of the other Asus ZenBook models, such as the ultra-compact 13-inch ZenBook 13, the premium ZenBook S models, and the full-size, yet still portable, ZenBook 15 lineup. Follow these links for our impressions, findings, and recommendations.
The reminding of this post is our detailed review of the 2018-2019 model, the Asus ZenBook 14 UX433FN. It was built on the latest hardware platforms available at that time, with Intel Whiskey Lake processors and Nvidia MX150 graphics, bundled alongside a good screen, fast keyboard and fair-sized battery, all tucked in a small and light metallic chassis.
A lot has changed since the release of the previous ZenBook UX430 series though and there are now many contenders in the niche, so this ZenBook is up to a serious challenge.
We’ve spent the last few weeks with the Zenbook 14 UX433FN, and gathered all our impressions below, with the positive sides and the quirks you’ll have to be aware of if interested in this computer. Read on to find out who is this for, where it shines and what can still be improved.
Specs as reviewed – Asus ZenBook 14
||Asus ZenBook 14 UX433FN
||14.0 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, non-touch, glossy
||Intel Whiskey Lake – Intel Core i7 8565U CPU
||Intel UHD 620 + Nvidia MX150 2GB DDR5 (10DE 1D12 variant, Nvidia 419.77 drivers)
||16 GB LPDDR3 (soldered)
||1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD (80 mm)
||Wireless AC (Intel AC 9560), Bluetooth 5.0
||1x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-A 2.0, 1x USB-C 3.1 gen2 (data only, no video or power), HDMI, microSD card-reader, mic/headphone
||50 Wh, 65W charger
||320 mm or 12.56” (w) x 200 mm or 7.83” (d) x 15.9 mm or 0.63” (h)
||2.71 lbs (1.23 kg)+ .44 lbs (.2 kg) charger, US version
||backlit keyboard, HD webcam, IR Hello camera and near-field mics, available in Royal Blue or Icicle Silver
Our review unit is a top specked configuration, but Asus offers the ZenBook 14 UX433FN in other versions as well, with either the Core i3-8145U, Core i5-8265U or the i7-8565U Intel Whiskey Lake processors, 8 or 16 GB of RAM, and 256 GB to 1 TB of storage. The Core i5 models are paired with only 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSDs, and you’ll have to upgrade to the i7 CPU for the extra memory and storage space.
That aside, a Zenbook UX433FA series is also available in some regions, identical to the UX433FN model tested here, but without the Nvidia MX150 graphics. Most of the aspects covered in this article apply to the FA variants as well, in case you’re interested in one of those.
Design and construction
The form-factor is perhaps this laptop’s main selling point, as it’s significantly more compact and even lighter than most of the alternatives with similar specs and features.
As you can tell from the pictures, the bezels around the screen are minuscule, and we’re not just talking about the side bezels, but also about the top and especially the chin, at least its visible part, as there’s more of it hiding behind the main body as part of what Asus calls the Ergolift hinge mechanism. This leads to an excellent screen to body ratio, but careful that the advertised numbers are somewhat misleading.
We’ve seen it on the ZenBook S line in the past, and it’s a system designed to lift-up the computer on the back of its screen, thus creating a slightly inclined typing position and extra space underneath, for improved airflow. The downsides are the fact that the laptop no longer rests on its four rubber feet placed on the underbelly, but on two of those and two extra tiny feet placed at the bottom of the screen, as well as the fact that the display is only able to lean back to about 150 degrees. Of course, we could also consider the long term-reliability of this mechanism, but there’s no way to tell how will it age and if it will become loose or unstable with time. As it is right now, it seems well made and reliable, and Asus mentions that the laptop is MIL-STD-810G military standard compliant, for what that’s worth.
I can also tell you that the ZenBook UX433 feels sturdier built that the older UX430 models. The construction still relies on a plastic inner frame encased in sheets of aluminum, but the metal is thicker and doesn’t bend as easily. The lid is especially tough, almost on par with the hood of my XPS 13, and there’s only a slight amount of warping in the keyboard deck, mostly when pressing hard on the surface and not necessarily something you’ll notice with actual use.
It’s worth mentioning that Asus offers the UX433F series with either a glass covered screen or a matte variant. We have the former here, and the glass reinforces the screen’s frame, thus I’d expect the matte versions to feel a bit flimsier. The glass also adds to the weight and overall thickness, as our test model weighs about 1.23 kg (2.7 lbs), while the anti-glare version weighs only 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs) according to the official specs sheet.
As far as materials go, metal is used for the main body, lid, and exterior, with just a single piece of plastic that wraps around the back edge and integrates cooling grills, as well as the ZenBook branding on the inside, above the keyboard. The design left no room for the branding beneath the screen, like on most laptops, thus Asus moved the logo over here. Seeing this grill’s design, I was hoping they’ve put the speakers beneath, but that’s not the case, the grill is merely decorative and the speakers are still firing to the bottom of the laptop.
The design is clean and for the most part, simple, without aggressive branding elements or stickers, and the status LEDs were placed on the side. There’s still an always-lit LED integrated within the power key though, and you’ll have to learn to ignore it when watching movies in a dark room.
Asus offers the laptop in either Royal Blue or Icicle Silver, both with Rose Gold elements: that aforementioned plastic piece and the Asus logo on the hood. The Blue is the more unique of the two, but at the same time the silver variant, the one we have here, does a better job at hiding smudges. We’ve included pictures of the blue version of the smaller ZenBook UX333 next to the silver UX433, for comparison.
These aside, The UX433FN is highly portable, sits well anchored on any desk even when resting on those small rear feet, and its screen can be operated with a single hand. The interior edges are a tad sharp though and they will dig into your wrists when using the device on a cramped desk, without proper arm support, yet they shouldn’t bother you much otherwise.
The IO can be a potential deal-breaker. On one hand, you do get two USB-A slots, one USB-C port, and an HDMI 1.4 connector, but on the other, there’s no Thunderbolt 3 support and no full-size card reader, just a microSD reader. The lack of Thunderbolt 3 is hard to accept in this day and age, especially when all the major rivals offer one, and the USB-C port doesn’t support charging. I can’t tell for sure if it supports DP, as this would be the only way to hook up a 4K 60Hz screen. As a side note, a USB-A to LAN adapter is included in the packs, as well as a protective sleeve, but not on all markets.
Keyboard and trackpad
Asus uses a bunch of different keyboards on their laptops, and some are better than the others. After typing several thousands of words on this one, I can conclude it’s pretty good, yet not my favorite.
The layout is standard, with softly finished full-size keys, short arrows and miniaturized Function keys at the top, as well as the Power button integrated into the top-right corner, which I’d advise you to disable from Windows in order to prevent putting the computer to sleep when looking for Delete.
This is also a fairly short-travel keyboard, with 1.4 mm keystrokes, but the keys require a rather firm press to properly actuate, which for me translated in a fair bit of errors while typing fast, especially when capitalizing letters with the left Shift key. I am used to slightly shallower keyboards, like the one on the XPS 13, that’s why I’d expect most users to actually find this one quite good, especially those of you coming from older devices. This is also fairly quiet, thus appropriate for library use or other low-noise environments.
The keys are backlit, with three intensity levels to choose from, and the light doesn’t creep from underneath. They don’t light up when swiping fingers over the touchpad, at least not on my test unit, you actually have to physically press a key to do it.
This particular color scheme also uses silver writing on silver keys, which makes the writing difficult to see from a normal angle when the illumination is switched off. That shouldn’t bother you if you’re a power user and don’t look at the keys while typing, but the average user might find it a little annoying.
You can, of course, surpass this quirk by keeping the lights on all the time, but that’s not going to be ideal when trying to squeeze out long runtimes. Of course, that’s also not going to be a problem if you opt for the blue version of this laptop, with the more visible gold writing on blue keys.
A proper-sized touchpad sits beneath the keyboard, centered on the chassis, albeit it’s shorter than on the older Zenbook UX430s, due to the reduced sized of the new generation. It’s both visually and physically indented from the palm-rest around, and it’s a glass-made Synaptics surface with Precision drivers, thus it comes to no surprise that it’s a solid performer, handling swipes, gestures, and taps well. There’s also very little to complain about the physical clicks, which are smooth and quiet.
Keep in mind that our early-sample unit did not get the exact touchpad you’ll find on the retail units, which is what Asus calls a NumberPad. That’s a similar glass surface, which however doubles as a Numeric pad with the press of a dedicated zone in its top-right corner. We did get it with the later retail product, and it performs similarly to the one we had on the initial review unit.
I like how Asus is adding extra functionality to their touchpads, but those who use NumPads to quickly enter numeric data might find the experience a little lacking here, as there’s no haptic feedback and touch is not as responsive or precise as a physical key, so I wouldn’t get over-hyped about this feature. This implementation doesn’t support Alt codes either.
That aside, you should know that while you can keep the NumberPad active and still use the clickpad at the same time, I would rather recommend switching it off with daily use and only activating it when needed.
There’s no finger-sensor on the Zenbook UX433, unlike on the older models that integrated one within the clickpad. I doubt that’s going to be missed though, as the IR Hello camera is a smoother alternative for quickly logging into Windows. Our test model did not include the set of IR cameras at the top of the screen, but you’ll get it as standard with the retail versions.
Speaking of the screen, there’s a 14-inch display on the Zenbook UX433 series, like the name suggests, with a choice of either a matte or a glossy glass finishing, both without touch.
We have the latter implementation here, with the layer of glass on top of the panel, which on one hand translates in plenty of glare in bright environments, and on the other improves colors, reduces the graininess you’ll get with the anti-glare version and improves the screen’s overall rigidity. I’d personally take the matte finishing over the glossy alternative, especially when there’s no touch, but that might not actually be an option for you, because as far as I can tell Asus will mostly offer this laptop with the glossy screen variants in most regions.
For the panel Asus went with a mid-range option, an AU Optronics B140HAN03.2 we’ve seen on other 14 inch laptops in the past. It’s fairly bright, at around 300 nits, but not as bright as the options on the Dell XPS 13 or the HP Spectre, for instance, and arguably bright enough for outdoor or strong-light use. Contrast and colors are also pretty good, but calibration is fairly poor out the box, with skewed gamma, White Point and gray levels, so you’ll want to use this color-profile to address those, or better yet calibrated the monitor yourselves. Our sample also suffered from some serious brightness variation towards the corners, even if light-bleeding was not noticeable with the naked eye.
More details below, recorded with a Spyder 4 sensor.
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUO323D (B140HAN03.2);
- Coverage: 97% sRGB, 71% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.3;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 291 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 840:1;
- White point: 8400 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.35 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
You can also read more about this screen in Notebookcheck’s review, as they use more advanced tools for their display tests.
Hardware, performance, and upgrade options
Our test model is a highly-specked version of the Zenbook UX433FN, with the Whiskey Lake 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of LPDDR3 RAM, a 1 TB Samsung PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR SSD, and the higher-efficiency/lower-clock 10DE 1D12 variant of the Nvidia MX150 dedicated graphics chip.
Retail versions will be available with either a 256 GB or 512 GB SSDs, and from what I can tell the supplier varies from region to region, as in the US the 512 GB version of the Zenbook UX433FA ships with a Western Digital SN520 SDAPNUW-512G drive. As far as I can tell, the included 256 and 512 GB drives included in some regions are limited to PCIe x2 speeds, thus not nearly as fast as the 1 TB version we had on our sample, but that should vary from region to region.
The storage is the only upgradeable component on this laptop, as the CPU, RAM and even the Wi-Fi chip are soldered on the motherboard. In order to get to it you have to remove the entire back panel, which is a fairly simple task, but keep in mind that the screws around the sides are of different sizes, and there are also two extra screws hidden beneath the rear rubber feet. Replacing the storage yourselves might however void the warranty, as for some reason Asus placed a warranty sticker on the screw, both on our sample and on the retail versions I’ve seen online. Contact Asus and ask them about this before proceeding.
As far as the choice in CPU and RAM goes, if you want 16 GB of memory you’ll pretty much have to upgrade to the i7 processor, even if the i5 is perfectly adequate for everyday use. Whiskey Lake CPUs are meant to run at higher Turbo clock speeds than their Kaby Lake-R counterparts, but that’s only possible as long as the cooling can keep temperatures at bay, which can be problematic on ultra-portables. We’ll get to that in a second.
First, I’ll tell you that this laptop handles everyday use smoothly, while running cool and quiet. The logs below we’ll show you what to expect in terms of performance and internal temperatures, while in the next section we’ll talk about the fan’s behavior and outer-shell temperatures.
Like already mentioned earlier, if browsing, movies, and text-editing are what you’ll ask from this laptop, the Core i5 version is probably the one to get, even if it only comes with 8 GB of RAM. You can however step-up to the i7 UX433FA models for the slight performance boost and the future-proofness of those 16 GBs of RAM.
In the next part, we’ll talk about this Zenbook’s performance in demanding CPU loads, as well as in combined CPU+GPU chores, like gaming, as gaming is the whole point of going for the UX433FN models with the dedicated Nvidia chip. Before we proceed, you should keep in mind that while our initial review was based on an early-production sample here with early drivers, we later updated our findings based on a retail model with stable drivers, so the behavior documented in the article is similar to what you should expect from the units available in store.
We test the CPU’s performance by running the Cinebench R15 test for 10+ times in the row, with 3 seconds delay between each run. Out of the box, the initial runs return results of around 650 points, which further stabilize to around 480 points for concurrent runs, which is equivalent to Turbo Speed frequencies of 2.2 GHz, a TDP of 14 W and temperatures of around 68-70 degrees Celsius. Details below.
We also undervolted our unit (you’ll find more about Undervolting and how it’s performed in this article), which was stable at -80 mV, and reran the Cinebench loop test. In this case, the CPU settles for scores of around 550 points after several runs, which is equivalent to speeds of 2.4-2.5 GHz, a similar TDP of 14 W and temperatures of around 70 degrees Celsius. Details below.
As expected, undervolting the CPU improves the performance in CPU-heavy tasks, and will benefit those of you who plan to run demanding software on this computer. Our test unit performs well once undervolted, but we’ve seen faster implementations of the i7-8565U processor. Undervolting also helps with everyday use, allowing the components to run cooler and more efficient.
Those interested in benchmarks results will find a handful of them below, on the default voltage profile:
- 3DMark 11: P3873 (Graphics: 3541, Physics: 7886);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 2621 (Graphics – 2873, Physics – 9110);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 935 (Graphics – 847, CPU – 2277);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 2080;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3514;
- PCMark 10: 3921;
- PassMark: Rating: 4480, CPU mark: 9354, 3D Graphics Mark: 2497;
- GeekBench 3.4.2 32-bit: Single-Core: 4219, Multi-core: 13781;
- GeekBench 4.3.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5090, Multi-core: 14689;
- CineBench R15 (best run): OpenGL 85.77 fps, CPU 634 cb, CPU Single Core 181 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 153.94 fps, Pass 2 – 38.15 fps.
We also ran some of the tests on the -80 mV undervolted profile, and here’s what that lead to:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 2594 (Graphics – 2860, Physics – 7687);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 952 (Graphics – 858, CPU – 2542);
- GeekBench 4.3.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5075, Multi-core: 14993;
- CineBench R15 (best run): OpenGL 81.75 fps, CPU 691 cb, CPU Single Core 175 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 156.03 fps, Pass 2 – 40.85 fps.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the gaming experience. Asus puts the lower wattage 10DE 1D12 variant of the MX150 chip inside this laptop, unlike on the older Zenbook UX430 that got the full performance MX150. However, as you’ll see below, performance is pretty much on par with the older variant, due to the fact that the GPU throttled badly inside the UX430.
We ran a couple of games on our test-unit, and I’ve compiled the results in the following table. All the games were tested at FHD resolution and High graphics settings, on the default voltage profile, and I’ve also added the following gaming ultrabooks as reference points: the Asus ZenBook UX430 (MX150 10De 1D10 GPU), the Asus Zenbook UX331(MX150 10De 1D12) and the Acer Swift 3 (MX150 10De 1D12). Here’s what we got.
|Far Cry 4
|Far Cry 5
|Shadow of Mordor
|Rise of the Tomb Raider
Based on these results, the ZenBook UX433 FN is a competitive option in its niche, but of course, there’s only that much you can expect from this low-power implementation of the Nvidia MX150 chip.
However, both the CPU and GPU were not able to maintain high Turbo frequencies for very long while running games on our sample, especially in the more CPU demanding titles like FarCry 4 and 5, so the performance drops after a while.
Undervolting the CPU helps in older titles like Shadow of Mordor, but has little to no impact in Far Cry, where it still clocks down very aggressively.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
The implemented cooling is very similar to the solution used on the past generation of the Zenbook UX430, with a single fan and single heatpipe, but a larger GPU plate that also covers what looks to be the VRM.
Given the gaming experience with the UX430UN, I was expecting something else, especially when other OEMs now implement dual-fan cooling with a more complex system of heatpipes on this kind of thin-and-light laptops with MX150 graphics.
It’s hard to say if the cooling is a bottleneck based on our experience with this test unit, so I’ll refrain that for further contact with a retail sample. Of course, performance is demanding CPU+GPU loads is the only potential issue, as otherwise, this cooling is perfectly adequate for everyday use.
In fact, the fan remains mostly inactive with daily tasks and multitasking, and only kicks on when the laptop is plugged in and switched to the High-Performance power mode. I did notice a faint electronic creaking coming from the inside, yet only audible at very short distances and not at the normal head level, so it’s not something that should bother anyone with regular use. Coil whine has been however problematic with modern laptops, and there’s a good chance you’ll get it to some degree on your device, so make sure to test for it. In fact, quite a few buyers report coil whine on their units, go through the comments at the end of the article for more details.
The fan spins faster with games, but it’s never annoyingly noisy, topping at about 40 dB at head-level according to our sound meter, with the ambient noise level measured at 33 dB in a perfectly quiet room.
As far as outer shell temperatures go, out test unit runs merely warm with everyday use, and while the bottom does reach temperatures in the mid-40s with games, it actually ran cooler than the older Zenbook UX430. However, keep in mind the performance issues of our sample, mentioned in the previous section, I’d expect retail units to run hotter if the components are also allowed to reach higher temperatures in order to provide the long-term gaming experience expected from such a device.
*Daily Use – running a Netflix video in EDGE for 30+ minutes
*Load – running Far Cry 4 for 30+ minutes
For connectivity, there’s an Intel 9560 wireless module inside this laptop, with Bluetooth 5.0, pretty much the go-to solution for any up-to-date ultraportable these days. It performed great with our setup, both near the router and at 30 feet with obstacles in between, and didn’t run into any drops or other issues.
As far as the speakers go, there’s a set of them firing through fairly large cuts on the front side of the belly, and they’re fairly good. We measured maximum volumes of about 80 dB at head level, without any distortions and a limited amount of vibration on the palm-rest, and the sound comes out fairly rich, with good mids and highs, but a little lacking on the lower end.
Peaking inside you’ll actually notice that Asus dedicated a fair bit of space to the speakers in this otherwise space-constrained design, so no wonder they sound better than the average bunch you’ll find on current ultraportables. Just be careful not to cover them when using the laptop on the lap, which can, unfortunately, happen easily due to their positioning.
A 720p camera and a set of IR Hello cameras are available on the retail versions of the ZenBook UX433F, both placed at the top of the screen and flanked by an array of near-field microphones that work with Cortana and Amazon Alexa. The standard webcam is fairly mediocre, much like on most existing ultraportables, but the IR camera is going to prove very useful for logging into Windows, especially since there’s no finger sensor. It wasn’t included with our test-unit, but as far as I can tell it’s going to be a standard feature on all retail ZenBook UX433F versions.
There’s a 50 Wh battery inside both the UX433FA and the UX433FN models. Given the fact that there’s Optimus on the FN which disables the Nvidia chip when not needed, both lines will offer similar battery-life with everyday tasks, with differences only in games and other demanding loads that would use the MX150 GPU.
Here what we got in our tests, with the screen set at 30% brightness, which is around 120 nits. Keep in mind our unit is pre-production and we tested battery life on the default voltage profile. Retail units could squeeze slightly longer run-times with better-optimized drivers and if you decide to undervolt the CPU or dim the screen more, but don’t expect to get the 13 hours Asus mentions in their ads, it’s not going to happen.
- 6.3 W (~8 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.6 W (~9 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.4 W (~ 9 h 15 min of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.9 W (~8 h 25 min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.5 W (~4 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
Our test unit came with a compact and light 65 W charger, the standard design we’ve seen on ZenBooks in the last years, with the prongs attached to the power brick. A full charge takes around two hours.
The UX433FA variants are bundled with an even smaller 45 W charger and a full charge should take a little longer. As far as I can tell, neither include fast-charging technology, which is surprising given that Asus bundles fast chargers with some of their other laptops, like the Zenbook S UX391 or the ZenBook Flip UX362 lines.
As a side note, despite the fact that all the UX433s offer a USB-C gen2 port, they also lack to required circuitry to charge via USB-C, so you’ll have to always rely on the included barrel plug charger.
Price and availability
The Zenbook 14 UX433 series is already available all around of world as of early 2019, and more configurations should be released in the weeks to come.
In the US, the UX433FA model starts at $999 for a Core i5-8265U CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB PCIe x2 SSD configuration, while for $1199 you can find the Intel Core i7-8565U version with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB PCIe x4 SSD. The base-level configuration also starts at 999 EUR in Europe, but over here you’ll have to pay around 1350 EUR for the higher specced model, yet most stores offer a couple of other configurations in between.
You’ll also find Core i3-8145U models in some regions, and these should start at around 900 EUR and are not that bad performance-wise, able to surpass a late-2016 i7 as you’ll see from this dedicated article.
The UX433FN series with dedicated MX150 is not available on the North American market for the time being, but it should demand a $50 to $100 premium over a similarly specked FA configuration if Asus decides to actually offer it over there. The top-specked UX433FN is already listed at 1399 EUR in Europe, with the i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading.
Final thoughts – Asus ZenBook 14 review
I can’t draw final conclusions based on this sample of the ZenBook 14 UX433FN, due to the fact that I can’t tell if our early-production sample was performance-wise on par with the final retail units in games and other CPU+GPU heavy applications. And that’s the main reason you’ll want one of these laptops.
Update: In the meantime, you should look into the newer ZenBook 14 models, and I’ve linked some of our reviews down below (an updated list of ZenBook reviews is also available here):
- ZenBook 14 UX434FLC review – 2020 model – Comet Lake processors, optional Nvidia MX250 graphics, 50Wh battery, touchscreen.
- ZenBook 14 UM433IQ review – 2020 model – AMD Ryzen 4000 processors, optional Nvidia M350 graphics, 50Wh battery, matte screen.
- ZenBook 14 UX434FL review – 2019 model – Comet Lake processors, optional Nvidia MX250 graphics, 50Wh battery, touchscreen.
- ZenBook 14 UX431 review – 2019 model – budget-friendly option, slightly larger and heavier.
I can, however, draw conclusions on the UX433FA variants, ignoring the dedicated Nvidia chip for a bit.
As an ultra-compact daily driver, this checks many of the right boxes. It’s tiny and light, in fact, smaller than most of the competitors, it looks nice and is built well. It also packs a fast keyboard, a fairly good screen, punchy speakers, modern hardware and a fair-sized battery.
The hardware might seem like a significant selling point here, and this laptop does nonetheless perform great once undervolted, but Whiskey Lake is only a minor update of the Kaby Lake-R platform that you’ll find inside most existing ultraportables these days, so not a must have. On top of that, you should consider that the screen is only averagely-bright and not ideal for outdoor use, and you will get better autonomy with some of the competitors that pack a larger battery. And then there is also the lack of Thunderbolt 3, the lack of a finger-sensor and the inability to charge via USB-C, features some of you might want on your device and available with the competition.
For the most part though the ZenBook UX433F compensates its lacks with an aggressive pricing, not necessarily for the base-level models, but especially for the higher specced Core i7 / 16 GB / 512 GB SSD variants, available in the US for $1100 at the time of this update, with a $100 discount from the list price.
But that’s not all, if an all-around ultraportable is in fact what you’re after, don’t forget that Asus also offers a slightly smaller variant of this laptop, the ZenBook UX333FA series with a 13-inch screen, as well as the lighter Zenbook S UX391 series, both closer competitors for the current heavyweights in the ultraportable niche: the Dell XPS 13, the HP Spectre 13 or the Microsoft Surface Laptop. The UX391 is already available in stores, while the UX333 is expected at the beginning of 2019. These are all 13-inch laptops though, while the UX433 gets the larger 14-inch screen.
Update: As for mid-2019, Asus also offers the ZenBook UX392 in stores, a more refined follow-up of the ZenBook US391, and you can read all about it in our detailed analysis.
Back to the UX433FN variant with dedicated MX150 graphics, I’d advise you to further look into how it actually performs with games, once it becomes available. If it does perform well, then it’s going to be a competitive offer, but this niche includes many other options you should at least check out, like the Acer Swift 3 SF314-55G, the Huawei MateBook X Pro, the HP Envy 13 or the Asus ZenBook UX331FN, but also the more powerful MSI Prestige P42 and Lenovo IdeaPad 720s bundled with the full-power variant of the MX150 graphics chip. It’s a tough choice between all these, as each has their share of strong points and quirks, but we’re here to help.
Anyway, that’s about it for our review of the Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 FN series, but the comments section below is open for your feedback and questions, and look further for updates in the weeks to come as we hopefully get to test a final version of the UX433FN series.
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