This here is the ZenBook 14 UM433IQ from Asus.
It looks and feels much like the other ZenBook 14 ultrabooks of this generation, so it’s a compact and lightweight notebook, but it’s powered by an AMD Ryzen 4000 APU and dedicated Nvidia MX350 graphics, in this configuration. Corroborated with fast memory and storage, they allow the UX433IQ to outperform the Intel-based ZenBook 14 UX434 by a significant margin in demanding loads and light gaming, while also selling for less.
At the same time, you’re not going to get a touchscreen with this product, or the ScreenPad integrated with the ZenBook UX434. So if you’re torn between these two options, you’ll have to choose between performance, a matte screen, and silver color on one side (UMX433), and a touchscreen, ScreenPad and blue color on the other (UX434). We’ve further compared the two in this detailed article.
Here, though, we’re going to solely focus on the UX434IQ variant. We’ve spent the last few weeks with this ZenBook 14 and gathered all our thoughts and impressions down below.
Specs as reviewed – 2020 Asus ZenBook 14 UM433IQ
|Asus ZenBook 14 UM433IQ|
|Screen||14.0 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, non-touch, matte, BOE NV140FHM-N63 panel|
|Processor||AMD Renoir Ryzen 7 4700U, 8C/8T|
|Video||AMD Radeon Vega 7 + Nvidia MX350 2GB DDR5 10W (10DE 1C96) (GeForce 445.87)|
|Memory||16 GB LPDDR4x 4266 MHz (soldered)|
|Storage||1 TB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD (Samsung PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR)|
|Connectivity||Wireless 6 (Intel AX200), Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||1x USB-A 3.1 gen2, 1x USB-A 2.0, 1x USB-C 3.1 gen2 (data only), HDMI, microSD card reader, mic/headphone|
|Battery||50 Wh, 65W charger|
|Size||320 mm or 12.56” (w) x 200 mm or 7.83” (d) x 15.9 mm or 0.63” (h)|
|Weight||2.64 lbs (1.2 kg)+ .44 lbs (.2 kg) charger, US version|
|Extras||white backlit keyboard, glass NumberPad, HD webcam, IR Hello camera and near-field mics, 2x 1W stereo speakers, available in Icicle Silver|
Our ZenBook 14 UM433IQ version gets the 8-Core/8-Thread AMD Ryzen 4700U APU with Nvidia MX350 graphics, 16 GB of LPDDR4x memory and a 1 TB Samsung PM981 SSD. Asus will, however, offer this in a couple of different configurations, starting with a Ryzen 5 4500U processor, 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, and with or without the dedicated Nvidia chip.
Our model is listed at around 1099 USD/EUR at the time of this post (follow this link for updates), but the base tier variant should start at around 800-900 USD/EUR.
Design and construction
As I mentioned before, Asus keep their design lines consistent within the entire ZenBook 14 lineup. That makes this UM433 a compact and lightweight 14-inch ultrabook, with a full-size keyboard, a large glass clickpad and a fair selection of full-size ports on the sides.
This is only available in what’s called an Icicle Silver color theme, with a matte aluminum lid-cover and underbelly, and a brushed aluminum interior. The build quality is top-notch, with almost no flex in either the chassis or the lid, and it seems to me that Asus took some steps in reinforcing the construction compared to the UX434 models.
The brushed silver interior also does a great job at hiding smudges and fingerprints, and the blunted corners and interior-edges are friendly on the wrists. Unfortunately, though, Asus also implemented a silver keyboard in their effort to maintain a consistent design, and I truly resent white backlit silver keyboards. We’ll get to that in a bit. Oh, and the Power-key in the top-right corner continues to integrate an annoying always-on light.
Much like the other ZenBook 14s, this one gets tiny bezels around the screen, with still enough room for a webcam and IR cameras on the top lift, as well as a tiny chin. As part of the Ergolift hinge design, the chin tucks behind the main body and lifts it on small rubber feet placed at the bottom of the screen, creating a slightly inclined typing position and allowing for increased airflow underneath. The feet provide a decent grip on a flat surface and the mechanism works smoothly, allowing to easily pick up and adjust the screen with a single hand.
However, there are are two downsides to this Ergolift design. First off, the screen only goes back to about 145-degrees, which is limiting when using the device on the lap or in tight spaces.
On top of that, the thermal system is designed to draw fresh air from the bottom and push it out through this grill hidden between the hinges. That means that the exhaust is within a cm or two of the screen, so the hot air is pretty much blown straight into the laptop’s matte, unprotected panel. That’s why this portion of the screen is the hottest part of this ZenBook, reaching 35-40 degrees with daily use and 45-50 degrees with demanding loads and games.
I’ve asked Asus about this and was told that this sort of heat won’t impact the panel in any way, but heat and electronics don’t play well together and I feel this aspect is something you should be aware of and consider in your decision, especially if you plan to run demanding loads or games on your computer. And I expect you will, especially if you’ll be opting for the Ryzen 7 + MX350 configuration. Lower tier models without the MX350 chip run cooler, but I’d advise on buying extended warranty with this UM433IQ configuration and make sure it covers any screen degradation issues that might occur long term.
This aside, we should also briefly touch on the IO.
Asus includes full-size USB-A, USB-C, and HDMI ports on the sides, as well as a USB to LAN adapter in the box, plus a protective sleeve. However, that microSD card-reader might not be that useful, and the USB-C port continues to be gimped, with just gen2(10 Mbps) data transferring capabilities and no support for video, charging or Thunderbolt 3. This still charges via a classic barrel-plug.
Keyboard and trackpad
There’s a silver keyboard with white backlighting on this laptop, like on most of the other silver ZenBooks.
This combo makes the writing on the keys very difficult to tell apart, and I pretty much had to switch the illumination off most of the time during my time with the UM433. Even so, I find this sort of keyboard frustrating, especially since the backlighting is not very bright or uniform on our test unit. In comparison, the blue ZenBook 14 models don’t suffer from this same issue, with contrasty and easy to read blue keys and white illumination. The UM433 is not available in blue, though.
As far as the typing experience goes, it’s pretty good, with short and shallow strokes and decent feedback, the kind you should expect from a modern ultrabook. I’d reckon this will satisfy most of you.
The UM433 also gets a slightly different keyboard layout than the other Zenbook 14 models, with an extra column of function keys at the right, and that’s a double-edged sword.
On one hand, some users will appreciate having these dedicated function keys on a small laptop, but Asus had to shrink some of the other important keys to make room for them, such as the entire block on the left, as well as the Backspace to Shift column on the right.
These take a bit of time to get used to, and the one I struggled most with is that narrow Control on the left.
Asus didn’t skimp on the clickpad here. They implemented a large glass surface with Precision drivers and smooth, albeit fairly clunky, clicks. This also backs up as a NumberPad with a press of the small button-area in the right corner.
As for biometrics, there’s no finger-sensor on this ZenBook, but there’s a more practical set of IR cameras compatible with Windows Hello at the top of the display.
The Zenbook UM433 series gets a 14-inch display, like the name suggests, and is only available in a matte non-glare non-touch option.
The implemented BOE panel is alright for daily use, with good contrast, colors and viewing angles, and little light bleeding around the edges. It could be brighter and more uniform, though, as it’s only a 300-nits panel and the bottom half is 10-15% dimmer than the middle and top. This might not suffice in brighter environments, but you should be fine as long as you’re using your laptop mostly indoors.
Here’s what we got in our tests, with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: BOE BOE07E9 (NV140FHM-N63);
- Coverage: 81.5% sRGB, 59.6% NTSC, 66.3% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.25;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 301 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1069:1;
- White point: 7000 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.28 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
Hardware and performance
Our sample is a top-tier configuration of the Asus ZenBook 14 UM433IQ, with an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor, 16 GB of LPDDR4x-4266 MHz RAM, a fast Samsung PM981 PCIe x4 SSD and dual graphics, with the AMD Vega 7 embedded within the APU and the dedicated Nvidia MX350 2GB DDR5 dGPU, in the efficient 10W implementation meant for ultraportable notebooks.
We’re also testing an early pre-production unit with the software and drivers available as of late April 2020 (BIOS 300, MyAsus 2.2.18, Nvidia GeForce 445.87), thus certain aspects might improve with future updates. We’ll update at some point if given the choice to retest a more mature unit.
The CPU, GPU, and memory are soldered and non-upgradeable, but inside you do get an M.2 PCIe x4 slot for storage. Getting inside is fairly easy, you just have to remove the back panel, hold in place by a couple of screws. Careful that there are two extra screws hidden underneath the rear rubber feet.
The Ryzen APU is the major novelty here, an 8Core/8Thread mobile processor with a TDP of between 10 to 25 W according to the various settings and loads. Asus offers two fan profiles in the MyAsus app, which also act as power profiles. Silent favors low noise, but caps the CPU at around 10W, while Auto is a balanced mode that allows the CPU to run at between 15-25W in sustained loads.
Ryzen mobile also comes with support for DDR4 and LPDDR4x memory, with up to 16 GB of LPDDR4x 4266 MHz on this configuration, as well as a capable Radeon Vega 7 integrated graphics chip.
This UM433IQ configuration also bundles the Nvidia MX350 dGPU, which is more than just a minor bump from the previous MX250. Instead, it’s based on the GP107 chip with 640 processing units (previously used on the GTX 1050 GPU), compared to the 378 units on the GP108 that powers the MX250. However, Nvidia still offers two versions of the MX350, one designed for ultraportable implementations and with a TDP of around 10W, and another for larger products, with a TDP of 25W. The former is what we get here, and we’ll talk about its performance further down.
Before that, I should also mention that our configuration also included a fast Samsung PM981 SSD, which favorably impacts some of the benchmarks results. Retail configurations vary between regions, but Asus tends to put a slower Intel SSD on the 512 GB models, and the Samsung SSD on their 1 TB configurations.
Now, the ZenBook 14 UM433 is not just a fine performance ultraportable, but also a cool and quiet everyday laptop. Here’s what to expect in terms of performance and temperatures with Netflix, Youtube, and daily use, on the Auto profile.
On to the taxing chores that showcase the platform’s capabilities, we first test the CPU’s behavior in 100% loads, by running the Cinebench Cinebench R15 test for 15+ loops, with 2-3 sec delay between each run.
The Ryzen 7 4700U did well on the Auto power mode, running at 25W for the first 5-8 loops, and then dropping to 15W. Temperatures average around 78 C at 25W, and drop to 64 C at 15W, which suggests this laptop could easily handle 25W for longer with a future BIOS tweak.
On top of these, the laptop returns scores between 860 to 1050 points, which is more than the current 4C/8T Intel options are capable off in sustained loads, and on par with the 6C/12T Core U i7-10710U implementations, but at lower temperatures.
The performance drops once the processor is limited at 10W on the Silent mode, but this laptop does very well on battery, running at 15-25W, just the same as when plugged in. All the results are detailed in the logs and pictures below.
We verified these findings by running the longer and more demanding Cinebench R20 loop benchmark, as well as the gruesome Prime95 test. The CPU runs at 25W for a few minutes, then drops to 15W once the heat builds up, and then jumps back to 25W, and so on.
We’ve also compared the Ryzen 7 4700U with a few of the Intel Core U options currently out there, such as the Comet Lake i7-10510U and i7-10710U, as well as the Ice Lake i7-1065G7 implemented in premium laptops such as the Dell XPS 13 9300 or the Razer Blade Stealth.
Then, we ran some of our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook. 3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit failed to pass it.
Luxmark 3.1, on the other hand, fully loads both the CPU and GPU at the same time. The GPU runs well in this test, but the CPU drops to 10W after about a minute or so with the laptop plugged in, and to only 5W while running on battery.
These two suggest potential issues with combined loads, and we’ll further look into these in our gaming tests below. But first, some benchmarks.
We ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the Auto profile in MyAsus and Best Performance power mode in Windows. Here’s what we got.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 3691 (Graphics – 4062, Physics – 9906);
- 3DMark 13 – NightRaid: 14503 (Graphics – 17503, Physics – 6639);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1322 (Graphics – 1193, CPU – 3420);
- AIDA64 Memory test: Write: Read: 46533 MB/s, 41911 MB/s, Read: 46533 MB/s, Latency: 115.7;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 2990;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 34.54 average fps;
- PassMark: Rating: 4681, CPU mark: 14136, 3D Graphics Mark: 3496;
- PCMark 10: 4580 (Essentials – 9125 , Productivity – 6718 , Digital Content Creation – 4256);
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 4921, Multi-core: 22098;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1117, Multi-core: 5567;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1049 cb, CPU Single Core 176 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2602 cb, CPU Single Core 448 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 191.77 fps, Pass 2 – 57.64 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 51.52 s.
We also ran some Workstation related loads, on the Auto profile:
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 6m 23s (Auto);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 21m 38s (Auto);
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: 6104 – CPU not properly recognized;
These are some solid results for a U-type mobile platform.
Some of you might also be curious about how the AMD Vega7 iGPU performs in this laptop, given that Asus will most likely offer configurations without the MX350 dGPU in some regions. We disabled the Nvidia dGPU and here’s what we got:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 3115 (Graphics – 3474, Physics – 12463);
- 3DMark 13 – Night Raid: 12372 (Graphics – 13581, Physics – 8225);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1205 (Graphics – 1066, CPU – 4665);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 2177.
Graphics scores are within 15-25% lower here, but the CPU scores came up higher in some of these combined tests. That’s due to this particular implementation. With the MX350 enabled, the system quickly limits the CPU’s frequencies in combined loads and favors the dGPU, as also shown by our 3Dmark and Luxmark stress tests. However, with the MX350 out of the picture, the CPU runs at higher clocks for a bit longer, before eventually dropping to roughly the same frequencies. That’s what allows for those increased scores in short-term tests such as 3DMark, but it’s not going to make a huge difference in longer combined loads, such as games, which we’ll look at next.
We ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the Auto/Best Performance profiles, with and without the MX350. Here’s what we got:
|Ryzen 7 + MX350||Ryzen 7 + Vega 7|
|Bioshock Infinite (DX 11, Low Preset)||97 fps (45 fps – 1% low)||52 fps (24 fps – 1% low)|
|Dota 2 (DX 11, Fastest Preset)||95 fps (48 fps – 1% low)||100 fps (55 fps – 1% low)|
|Dota 2 (DX 11, Best Looking Preset)||74 fps (39 fps – 1% low)||-fps (- fps – 1% low)|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Low Preset, no AA)||35 fps (32 fps – 1% low)||22 fps (19 fps – 1% low)|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Lowest Preset)||65 fps (48 fps – 1% low)||46 fps (16 fps – 1% low)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, Favor Performance) – HD||30 fps (19 fps – 1% low)||–|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (DX 12, Lowest Preset, no AA)||45 fps||34 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (Vulkan, Lowest Preset, no AA)||40 fps (35 fps – 1% low)||18 fps (15 fps – 1% low)|
|Strange Brigade (Vulkan, Low Preset)||44 fps||40 fps (27 fps – 1% low)|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Low Preset, Hairworks Off)||16-35 min-max fps|
(29 fps avg, 18 fps – 1% low)
|8-14 min-max fps|
(11 fps avg, 8 fps – 1% low)
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3, Dota 2 – recorded with MSI Afterburner in game mode;
- Bioshock Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities.
You should take our findings with a grain of salt and perhaps expect some improved results with future software tweaks, and here’s why.
First, let’s talk about the UM433IQ configuration, with the enabled MX350 graphics chip. The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Dota2, Shadow of Mordor, and Witcher 3.
Going through these logs, you’ll notice that the GPU performance is the limiting factor here. The MX350 kicks in hard for the first minutes, and then gradually drops to around 950-1000 MHz in most titles, to keep temperatures at bay. The more GPU intensive the game, the higher the frequency drop, and you can tell the difference by looking at the Dota2 logs below, with low and high settings. The GPU runs at around 62 C and full speeds on low, but then jumps to 70+ C and lower frequencies on high settings.
However, raising the laptop from the desk, to improve airflow underneath, has a noticeable impact on the performance, as it allows the GPU to run at higher clocks, so this laptop is going to be a prime candidate for a cooling pad when playing games.
But what happens on the AMD-only configuration?
Disabling the Nvidia GPU allows the Radeon Vega7 graphics to take over in games. The CPU package kicks in hard at 25W for a few minutes, with the GPU running at 1500+ MHz, close to its max rated frequency of 1600 MHz. But then the CPU package drops to 15W, which results in the processor running at only 1.4 GHz and the GPU at around 1.0 GHz, roughly 65% of it’s potential, and that explains the limited performance in demanding games such as Farcry 5 or Witcher 3.
In conclusion, both the Vega7 and the MX350 chips cannot run at their full potential on this ZenBook UM433 implementation, and we’ll update our findings if we get to test a final unit.
We know for a fact that both can perform better in higher tier thermal designs, but I can’t tell whether final retail units of the ZenBook 14 UM433 will perform any better. Based on our experience with the past Intel/MX250 ZenBook 14 implementations, I wouldn’t expect significant differences. Asus pretty much have to thermally limit the hardware to keep temperatures at bay, as the thermal design on the current ZenBook 14 lineup is just not up to the task for this sort of configuration.
Even so, the ZenBook UM433IQ can deliver 30-60 fps in games released in the last 2-3 years at FHD resolution and low settings, while simpler or older titles should run much smoother. That’s not bad for an ultrabook.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
There’s a basic cooling module on the ZenBook 14 UM433, with a single fan and single heatpipe covering both the CPU and GPU. That’s barely OK for a 15W mobile APU and just not on par with the requirements of a 25W APU and extra 10W dGPU, as in this case, and proven by many of the more complex thermal designs implemented in this class by both Asus (on the ZenBook Duo, the ExpertBook B9 or the ZenBook S13) and the competition.
Yes, the laptop performs well and out-scores many of the other ultrabooks in its tier, mostly thanks to the efficient and capable AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile hardware. But based on our experience with other similar hardware implementations, it could have performed 20-30% better in games and other demanding loads with a more competent thermal module. Hopefully, better-optimized software on the final retail models can further tweak the performance, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it.
As it is, Asus thermally limits the APU/GPU and that helps keep the internal and exterior temperatures down. The UM433 doesn’t run noisy or hot with games (and the AMD-only version runs cooler than the AMD+MX350 model), with the fans ramping up to about 41-42 dB at head level and the hottest part being the screen, around the exhaust. We’ve already talked about that and the potential screen-damage long term issues, another reason why I feel that Asus should change this thermal design.
On top of that, the fans keep quieter with daily use, at 30-35 dB on Auto, but they’re still active all the time. Switching over to Silent further ensures the fan will not occasionally ramp up with multitasking, but this also makes the laptop rather sluggish and I can’t seem myself ever using it in this mode.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Silent Profile, fans at 30-35 dB
*Gaming – Turbo– playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Auto Profile, fans at 41-42 dB
For connectivity, there’s latest-gen WiFi 6 with an Intel AX200 module on this laptop. It did well with our setup and the signal and performance remained strong at 30-feet, with obstacles in between.
Audio is taken care of by a set of stereo speakers firing on the bottom. They’re not the same as on the Intel-based ZenBook UX434 models, and are a bit louder, at 77-79 dB, but the sound quality is rather harsh and tiny. Will do fine for daily use, but they’re not one of this laptop’s strong selling points.
Finally, there’s an HD camera at the top of this laptop’s screen, flanked by 2 microphones. These are fine for occasional calls, but the camera quality is still muddy and washed out.
There’s a 50 Wh battery inside the ZenBook 14 UM433, much like on the entire ZenBook 14 lineup. It’s average-sized for a mid-tier 14-inch laptop, but the efficient hardware implementation helps squeeze solid runtimes on each charge.
Here’s what we got on our review unit, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
- 6.8 W (~7+ h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.8 W (~8+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.5 W (~9 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 10 W (~5 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
The laptop comes with a compact 65W charger (in this configuration) that plugs-in via a classic barrel plug. It’s a single-piece design with a small brick and a long cable, and a full charge takes about 2 hours. USB-C charging is still not supported on this ZenBook 14 generation.
Price and availability
The ZenBook UM433 is not widely available in stores at the time of the post, so we’ll update this section once we know more.
In the meantime, follow this link for updated listings and prices at the time you’re reading the article .
The top-tier configuration reviewed by us here, with the Ryzen 7 4700U and MX350 graphics, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage, is listed in Europe for around 1100 EUR, which is roughly 15-20% cheaper than the Intel-based ZenBook 14 UX434. That means we could expect this to sell for around $1000 in the US.
Of course, lower-tier configurations should also be available in most regions, and I’d especially look into the AMD-only Ryzen 5 4500U and 7 4700U models, without the Nvidia dGPU, as the best-value picks.
Drawing the line on this ZenBook 14, I’d like us to talk about what this is, and what it could have been.
Hardware-wise, the AMD APU and Nvidia MX350 platforms deliver performance unmatched by compact sub-$1000 ultrabooks in the past. The AMD Zen2 hardware is both powerful and efficient, which allows it to excel even in this thermally-limited implementation, and the MX350 is a significant step-up from the MX250s on the previous generation ultraportables. Furthermore, even the Radeon graphics within the AMD Renoir APUs can hold their way in simpler/older games, making those AMD-only based configurations something to keep an eye on in the $800-$900 price brackets.
Specs aside, the ZenBook 14 UM433 is also a compact, lightweight, and well-made ultrabook, with a fair-quality IPS matte screen, decent IO, a fast keyboard, and good battery life.
At the same time, though, the basic thermal design limits the performance in combined loads and games, and I’d expect 20-30% improved results on a higher-tier implementation that could run the CPU and GPU at full clocks. I’m also not a fan of the exhaust blowing hot air straight into the screen, that frustrating silver keyboard with white backlighting, or the lack of USB-C charging or video.
If you can live with these quirks, though, the ZenBook UM433 could be one of the better multipurpose ultrabooks out there, especially when backed by Asus’s aggressive pricing in most regions.
Nonetheless, this is one of the first Ryzen-based ultrabooks on the market, and I’d advise you to research the other options as well before making a decision, as well as look into this list of other MX350-powered ultraportables available out there.
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