Among the multitude of ASUS ZenBooks available in stores these days, the ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435 series steps-out of the crowd with its sub-one-kilo lightweight magnesium construction, good-quality matte screen, uncompromised IO, and long battery life.
lightweight ultrabooks sacrifice on some of those aspects, though, but not this one. Furthermore, the series is also a reasonably capable implementation of Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake hardware platform, with an optional Nvidia MX450 dGPU on some configurations. However, be prepared to pay extra for the lighter construction, and somewhat sacrifice on inputs over the regular 14-inch ZenBook 14 UX425 of this generation.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve spent time with an early version of this ZenBook 14 Ultralight series. Our unit is the UX435EGL variant with the included MX450 dGPU, but given the early BIOS and drivers only available at this point, we’re not going to discuss the Nvidia chip in this article. In fact, I’ve disabled the Nvidia chip for all our tests, in order to look at what Asus sells as the ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435EAL model, exclusively powered by the Intel i7-1165G7 chip with Irix Xe graphics. We’ll follow-up on the UX435EGL model in a separate article, and compare how the two face against each other in terms of performance, thermals, and noise levels.
Update: We were informed that the current software available for this sample significantly skewed our initial benchmark results, so we decided to retract them, as they were not accurate for the retail versions of this laptop. We’ll update the performance section as soon as we get a new finalized sample from Asus. Thanks for understanding.
Specs as reviewed – ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435EAL
Asus ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435EAL
Screen 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, 16:9 aspect ratio, IPS, matte, non-touch, AU Optronics B140HAN06.B panel
Processor Intel Tiger Lake, up to Core i7-1165G7, 4C/8T
Video Intel Iris Xe graphics (optional MX450 on UX435EGL models)
Memory 16 GB LPDDR4x 4266 MHz (soldered, dual-channel)
Storage 1x M.2 PCIe x4 SSD (1 TB Intel 660p SSDPEKNW010T8)
Connectivity Wireless 6 (Intel AX201), Bluetooth 5.0, Ethernet with adapter
Ports 1x USB-A 3.2 gen1, 2x USB-C 3.2 with Thunderbolt 4 (data, video, and power), HDMI, microSD card reader, 3.5 mm jack
Battery 63 Wh, 65W USB-C charger with quick-charging
Size 319 mm or 12.57” (w) x 201 mm or 7.94” (d) x 14.9 mm or 0.61” (h)
Weight from 2.09 lbs (.95 kg)+ .45 lbs (.21 kg) charger, US version
Extras white backlit keyboard with compact layout, glass NumberPad, HD+IR webcam with Hello, stereo bottom speakers
Asus offers the ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435EAL in a couple of configurations, with various amounts of memory and storage, as well as either Intel i5-1135G7 or Intel i7-1165G7 hardware platforms. They all get the same IPS 400-nits matte screen, IO, inputs, and battery, so most of this article applies to any of the configurations you might be interested in.
As mentioned earlier, we’ll discuss the UX435EGL variants with the optional Nvidia MX450 dGPU in a separate article.
Design and construction
The UX435 Ultralight series shares the overall design language with the standard ZenBook 14 UX425, implementing the same kind of Ergolift hinge mechanism, 14-inch matte display, and the IO spread around the sides. However, once you start looking closely you’ll quickly realize these two feel a fair bit different in actual use.
For starters, the UX435 Ultralight weighs less than a kilo in the configuration tested here, while the UX425 weighs 1.2 kilos, and you can immediately tell the difference when picking them up. It also feels friendlier to the touch and grippier. Down below I’ve added some pictures of the Ultralight ZenBook UX435 (on the left, lighter gray color) next to the standard ZenBook 14 UX425 (on the right, darker gray).
Asus went with the same kind of magnesium alloys we’ve experienced in the
ExpertBook B9 series for the entire chassis and exterior of the UX435EAL, with the dark-gray matte porous finishing that feels great to the touch and does a much much better job at hiding smudges. In fact, this is one of the most maintenance-free laptops I’ve come upon in a while, as even the clickpad and the keyboard don’t show smudges easily either.
Now, in all honesty, this sort of magnesium alloys might not feel as premium as the regular aluminum pieces used on other ZenBooks, but I do prefer its texture and overall friendliness. On top of that, this Ultralight model is sturdier made than the regular ZenBook 14, with less flex in the keyboard deck and the screen, and without any of those squeaky noises when picked up. It also benefits from a blunted front-lip that won’t dig into your wrists. Furthermore, it still meets the MIL-STD 810H reliability standards, much like the entire range on modern ZenBooks.
Back to those inputs, Asus went with a smaller clickpad on this 14-inch laptop, as well as a slightly smaller keyboard layout. We’ll touch on those in the next section.
Practicality-wise, the Ergolift hinge design still raises the laptop’s main-body on two small rubber feet at the bottom of the screen. I did notice that for some reason these are not made from the same kind of softer rubber as on the regular ZenBook, so this laptop is not as stable on a desk, and the screen’s back-angle is slightly more limited, at around 140-degrees on the back. Otherwise, you can still easily pick up the screen and adjust it with a single hand.
Now, the thermal design is a common culprit of these modern ZenBooks, with the exhaust blowing hot-air straight into the screen. That’s not that much of an issue on the regular 2020 ZenBook 14 which gets a slightly thicker chin under the display, but it is here, as the UX435 Ultralight series is more compact and the exhaust ends up within an inch of the screen. You’ll see what that means in a following section, especially when running demanding loads and games, which you might want to on this Tiger Lake hardware (not to mention on the MX450 configurations).
This aside, I should also mention that the speakers are still placed on the bottom of this laptop, that there’s still a webcam with IR at the top of the screen, and that the IO is lined around the sides. Aside from the USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, full-size HDMI and USB, and the microSD card-reader, Asus also squeezed in a regular 3.5 mm jack on this series, unlike on many of the other 2020 ZenBooks. I’m glad they backed down on that, even if I’m not entirely happy with it on the left side. A USB to LAN adapter and a sleeve are included in the default bundle.
Keyboard and trackpad
This series does not get the same keyboard as the one Asus puts on their standard ZenBook 14s. The layout is a bit more compact, but don’t worry, that mostly translates in narrower function keys at the left and right side, as the main keys are still full-size at 15 x 15 mm (compared to the 16 x 15 mm ones on the ZenBook 14 UX425).
However, this keyboard just doesn’t feel as reliable in daily use, with a mushier and softer stroke that makes it more prone to errors and missed types. So while the regular ZenBook 14 is one of my favorite types in this class at this point, this here is only about average for an ultrabook, fine for most potential buyers, but not impressive. Now, I can’t tell for sure that this is the final-retail keyboard, though, so take these impressions with a grain of salt.
The keyboard is also backlit, with three brightness levels to choose from. It gets bright-enough at the higher level, but the illumination is not entirely uniform and light creeps out from some of the keys. Again, that’s something that could be addressed with the retail products, so make sure to look into other reviews as well.
Down beneath the keys lies a mid-sized clickpad, a glass surface with Precision drivers and NumberPad functionality. It’s smaller and a bit stiffer than the clickpad on the regular-sized ZenBook 14 UX425, but it’s still smooth and responsive with daily use and sturdy enough so it doesn’t rattle with taps. Can’t complain here.
A ScreenPad (clickpad with secondary display) is not available for the UX435 Ultralight series, but is available on the
ZenBook 14 UX435 lineup. I know, Asus have a neck for confusing their customers with these names, and they offer three very similar ZenBook 14 models: standard UX425 model with the larger NumberPad, UX435 with ScreenPad, and UX435 Ultralight with the smaller NumberPad, the one we have here.
Finally, I’ll also mention that there’s no finger sensor on this laptop, but you do get a set of IR cameras at the top of the screen with Hello support.
There’s a single screen option available for this series, and it’s the 1W 14-inch FHD matte panel made by AU Optronics that Asus also puts on the higher-end versions of the regular UX425.
This is a solid panel with 400+ nits of brightness, good back and contrast levels, wide viewing angles, and no flickering. It’s excellent for daily use, fine for occasional color-accurate work with 100% sRGB coverage and good uniformity (with a slight imbalance in the lower-left corner), but not amazing for games with the 60Hz refresh-rate and slow response rates in the ~40 ms GTG.
Here’s what we got in our tests,
with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUOA48F (B140HAN06.B);
Coverage: 99.1% sRGB, 70.8% AdobeRGB, 73.4% DCI-P3;
Measured gamma: 2.26;
Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 424.53 cd/m2 on power;
Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 21.75 cd/m2 on power;
Contrast at max brightness: 1725:1;
White point: 6400 K;
Black on max brightness: 0.24 cd/m2;
The panel came surprisingly well calibrated out of the box and I’m seeing some light-bleeding around the corners, but no bezel pinches. There’s no guarantee you will get the same.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a top-specced configuration of the Asus ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435EAL, with an
Intel Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 processor and Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16 GB of LPDDR4x 4266 MHz memory, and a mid-level 1 TB Intel 660p SSD.
Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit is a pre-production model sent over by Asus and tested with the software available as of early-November 2020 (BIOS 200, MyAsus 126.96.36.199 app). Take our findings with a grain of salt, some aspects might change with future software updates.
Update: We were informed that the current software greatly skewed our initial benchmark results, so we decided to retract those results, as they were not accurate for the retail versions of this laptop. We’ll update this section as soon as we get a new finalized sample from Asus. Thanks for understanding.
Spec-wise, the ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX425EAL series is based on the late-2020 Intel Tiger Lake platform:
the i7-1165G7 includes a 4C/8T processor with Max Turbo Speeds of 4.8 GHz and 12 MB of cache, plus Intel Iris Xe graphics with 96 EUs and up to 1.3 GHz clock speeds.
the i5-1135G7 includes a 4C/8T processor with Max Turbo Speeds of 4.2 GHz and 8 GB of cache, plus Intel Iris Xe graphics with 80 EUs and up to 1.3 GHz clock speeds.
Both variants are paired with up to 16 GB of LPDDR4x memory soldered on the motherboard, and PCIe x4 storage (a single slot). Our test unit gets a middling Intel 660p drive, but I’d expect the retail versions to ship with faster SSDs, especially in the 1 TB variants. Both standard drives and drives with Intel Optane memory are offered. I do have to mention that the SSD runs a lot cooler in our tests in this chassis than on the other 2020 ZenBooks we’ve tested.
The storage is nonetheless upgradeable, but everything else is soldered. Getting inside is a simple task, it just requires poping up the back panel hold in place by a couple of Torx screws, all visible around the sides.
Update: We were informed that the current software greatly skewed our initial benchmark results, so we decided to retract those, as they were not accurate for the retail versions of this laptop. We’ll update this section as soon as we get a new finalized sample from Asus. Thanks for understanding.
Price and availability
The ZenBook 14 UX435 series is not yet available in stores at the time of this article, so I can’t fully comment on its pricing and availability.
I’d expect a fair premium over the standard ZenBook 14 UX425, though, so it should start at around $1200 for an i5 model or more. At the top, the standard full-size UX435EG is listed for around 2000 EUR in Germany, so this Ultralight version should go for at least the same, if not more.
We’ll update when we know more, and in the meantime,
follow this link for updated prices and configurations in your region.
Update: We were informed that the current software greatly skewed our initial benchmark results, so I can’t draw final conclusions based on this sample. We’ll update the entire article as soon as we get a new finalized sample from Asus. Thanks for understanding.
— initial conclusion still available below —
While for the most part this ZenBook 14 Ultralight feels and works like the standard ZenBook 14s of this generation, there are a couple of aspects that could convince you to pay the extra for one of these.
Firstly, there’s the obvious difference in weight, with this model weighing under 1 kilo. If you’re carrying your laptop to work or school every day, this detail matters, even if the standard ZenBook 14 is also fairly compact and lightweight for a 14-incher, at 1.2 kilos. But that’s not all. The magnesium alloys used by this Ultralight series are also a lot friendlier in daily use than the aluminum
on the other 14-inch ZenBooks, don’t show smudges as easily, and require less maintenance, plus this laptop also gets blunted and more comfortable edges.
On top of all these, this Ultralight series also gets a 3.5 mm jack, but in all fairness that’s also available on the standard 2020 ZenBook UX435 series (non-Ultralight). I know, all these names are highly confusing, nothing we can do about it.
These aside, the specs, the performance, the battery life, the screen options, and the overall build quality are all top-notch for both the Ultralight and the non-Ultralight ZenBooks of this generation. With a slight advantage for the Ultralight, as this one doesn’t creak when picked up.
On the other hand, I feel that the typing experience takes a hit on this Ultralight model compared to the regular ZenBook 14s, with a mushier and more unforgiving keyboard, at least on this early sample. And then, with the smaller form-factor comes a smaller screen-chin, which means that the hot air is blown straight into the matte panel, which reaches temperatures in the 50s Celsius right near the exhaust, and these could cause panel degradation over time. In fact, this is my single major gripe with this laptop, and something you should weigh in your decisions if you plan to run demanding loads or games on this ultrabook, which I’d expect you might since you’re opting for a Tiger Lake ultraportable to begin with.
Furthermore, that’s going to be an even greater issue on the ZenBook 14 UX435EGL models with the Nvidia MX450 dGPU, but we’ll talk about that once we get finalized drivers and can properly test it.
This wraps up our review of the Asus ZenBook 14 Ultralight UX435EAL series, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, so please get in touch in the comments section down below.
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Andrei Girbea Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief
. I've a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering and I've been covering mobile technology since the 2000s. You'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site, as well as some occasional first-impression articles.
November 12, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Is there is an embargo on the Nvidia MX450 and that's why you cannot publish the review of it turned on? Any ETA on when that review will be published? Thanks !
November 12, 2020 at 2:10 pm
There's no embargo, the MX450 just doesn't work properly on this engineering sample with the current BIOS. The review is in stand-by right now, as I am waiting for updated BIOS or drivers on the Asus website, or perhaps a newer sample. So far no news.
November 13, 2020 at 1:49 am
Would you mind sharing the playlist you testing laptops speakers? I am also interested in what's your opinion about the trade off between the amount of bass sound and distortion or arm-rest vibration? Just curious cause I am only listen pop music. However, the weight of the devices seems unbeatable to anyway.
November 16, 2020 at 11:23 am
My playlist includes Pharell – Happy, Billy Joel – Vienna, PInk Floyd – Dark side of the Moon and a few others. For me, the laptop sounds best with DTS on but volumes of sub 50%.
November 13, 2020 at 1:53 am
Thanks a lot for this review. I've been waiting for it since September. I own a UX32VD which is now quite old, and I feel this generation might be a good candidate to replace it.
I tested a TB3 EGPU last summer at a friend's home and found it awesome. Plan to buy a system along with my new laptop. Do you think it would be a good combination?
November 16, 2020 at 11:25 am
Could be, but I'd wait for more reviews first. I was informed that our initial findings are a bit different than what should be expected from the final product, so I'm waiting for a retail sample and will update the article.
November 30, 2020 at 2:52 pm
Hi there, appreciate all your reviews, I personally think your content is some of the best out there. Wondering if you have any thoughts on the following:
Looking for a daily driver, worthy the ability to occasionally dabble inn some gaming. I would likely be doing most work and most gaming on external monitors with the device closed. Open to a external GPU situation but would like something that can handle some occasional gaming independently.
I also need to be able to travel with the laptop easily, I spend a good amount of time on the road so portability is key.
I have been looking at the ZenBook 14 EGL with the MX450, or possibly the new Zenbook S model. If you happen any thoughts between the two (or other suggestions) it would be great to hear!
Thanks again for all your perspectives!
November 30, 2020 at 3:21 pm
I've yet to receive a finalized version of the UX435 EL model, so can;'t comment on the performance with the MX450 for now. I'd suggest waiting for some reviews before deciding, just to be safe. The ZenBook S is a good Tiger Lake laptop based on our tests, but runs fairly hot in demanding loads and I'm not sure of the impact of using the laptop with the lid closed with these kind of activities.
personally, I'd rather recommend something with an open-back design, such as Lenovo IdeaPad 7 (AMD or Intel, based on what you prefer – form gaming, I'd probably go with the Intel + MX350 version). A Razer Blade Stealth should also cope with your needs well, if within budget, but both of these offer superior cooling imo over these ZenBooks.
December 1, 2020 at 4:54 pm
Good to know, thank you! This is probably a 90/10 situation (90% productivity and professional use / 10% gaming) so the "thin and light" aspect is the most important to me. Just trying to figure out a way that i can grab a device that can support that 10% well enough when the mood strikes. The Razer blade stealth is ok on budget, but it's a little beefier and more gaming specific than i really want to be carrying around to meetings.
DO you have any clue on actual release dates for these?
December 1, 2020 at 5:10 pm
Got it, this ZenBoom makes a lot more sense then in this case.
I was told January 2021 over here, but that my depend between regions. I also got a more recent BIOS on the early test unit that I still have around and the gaming performance is not bad with this sort of MX450. Still waiting for a finalized unit before I can republish the final test results, though, but I will have an article on MX450 laptops in a few days.
December 4, 2020 at 5:50 pm
I might die waiting to buy this laptop. They're soooo slow releasing it.
December 15, 2020 at 10:15 pm
Hi Andrei! Any timeline on the MX450 round-up?
Also wondering whether any of these MX450 models would be on the table for a Christmas purchase, somewhat surprised that they wouldn't try to get these out before the season.
Given that today is the 15th, I assume the answer is no. Let us know if you've heard anything further! I'm currently managing day-to-day on a 3-4 year old Zenbook that is doing ok, but itching for an upgrade!
December 16, 2020 at 11:06 am
I have a list of MX450 laptops ready, but I also wanted to include some benchmarks results and thoughts on performance in the article, and unfortunately, all I have right now is an early sample that might not return the same results as the retail models. I'm also waiting for a final sample of the ZenBook to update this article, but no word on it yet. Have been told it should be available in January. Sry I can't offer more assistance at this moment. If you're interested in the performance of that pre-production MX450 unit that I have, let me know and I'll get back to you on email.
December 22, 2020 at 2:00 am
Just a question, is there only one fan in this modell? Will there be enligt cooling for the mx450?
Saw you mentioned somewhere that this modell was thicker?
December 22, 2020 at 6:17 pm
Yes, single fan. This is the more-efficient MX450 and it is handled fine by a single-fan thermal module. Higher-perf/power MX450 versions would require a more complex cooling solution. I still can't share benchmarks results as I'm still waiting for a finalized test unit.
January 10, 2021 at 1:43 am
Hi again, happy new year!
Still doing some research although it still looks like the ZenBook 14 may be at the top of the list. At this point I've been trying to figure out whether the regular 14 or the UltraLight is the better call.
I know you had some concerns about heat management on the UltraLight configuration with vents blowing directly on the screen. Is that design any less concerning on the non-ultralight version?
It looks like there are some other MX450 ultrabooks coming out, if there are configurations you think are better than these would be great to hear as well. Hope you had a nice holiday!
January 10, 2021 at 3:30 pm
Hi, Happy new Year!. Less so because the regular model gets this thicker plastic chin, which absorbs most of the heat. With the UL, the panel is closer to the exhaust and thus heats up more. I should update this article with eh final findings within 2-3 weeks, waiting for the retail model to get here.
Not sure about the other MX450 models, but I'd expect some to better handle the heat with sustained loads than these thin and light ZenBooks. No way to tell for sure than reading proper reviews, though.
Hint: AMD 5000 mobile laptops will also be released in the next few days. Keep an eye on those as well.
January 10, 2021 at 4:40 pm
Thanks Andrei! Good to know.
February 6, 2021 at 3:43 pm
Hello, do you know if the wireless card is removable or upgradable? I don't know why Asus put BT 5.0 insted 5.1
February 6, 2021 at 8:29 pm
i'll have to check, I don't remember
February 8, 2021 at 1:24 pm
Asus seems to have a lot of issues delivering this product. It's like a ghost: very very few reviews, no retailer, no answer from Asus…
By the date it will be available, the next generation will be released…
February 15, 2021 at 11:08 am
Yeah, I noticed it. I've yet to hear anything about an updated review unit as well.
February 26, 2021 at 9:40 am
Any updates on delivery timeline on these models?
I'm still using a 3-4 year old zenbook as my daily driver and am highly motivated to find the right replacement!
February 26, 2021 at 9:43 am
I'm constantly inquiring about this and hope to be able to finish up the article at some point. Last I've heard it was scheduled for March here in Europe, but there's no way to tell for sure with the current situation…
February 26, 2021 at 7:27 pm
Crazy. I wonder what is causing such a delay. The non-ultralight Zenbook 14 is already available for retail, and it's the same hardware. They must be having some issues with manufacturing, or perhaps the heat dispersion issues you raised in your write-up have turned out to be more significant. Also wonder if there will be chipsets making these configurations somewhat "past-gen" by the time it's released.
Will be interesting to see, thanks for the note Andrei!
February 26, 2021 at 9:27 pm
I don't have any inside information, but I also incline to blame the delays on the manufacturing of the magnesium chassis. The hardware has been around for a while now, so shouldn't be the culprit.
AMD Cezanne will be out soon, but only available in fewer products. This platform smokes Intel in multi-core performance, but Tiger Lake is still solid as far as IPC goes and pair with the MX450, pretty good in GPU activities for this class.
March 1, 2021 at 8:48 pm
Hi! Thanks for your reviews. Do you know if Asus is releasing a 11th gen 15 inches Zenbook? Like an update of the UX534. As far as I know, there is only the UX535, but that one is a Zenbook Pro with H type processor and heavier (2 kg).
And related to this, does the number pad in the second screen of this ux435 work well? The number pad is one of the main reasons I look for 15 inches laptops so this seems a good alternative.
November 6, 2022 at 2:44 pm
Have Asus release a newer version of the ZenBook 14 Ultralight since this review? I am curious as to whether Asus did anything to fix the heat blowing up the screen and the mushy keyboard, considering that you had a pre-retail version of the laptop.
Also, are the speakers in line with the regular ZenBook 14? My understanding is that the 2020 model (with round-shape holes cutout) had subpar speakers, but the 2021 model (which has the same rectangle holes cutout as this ZenBook 14 Ultralight) improved the speakers considerably.
November 6, 2022 at 2:50 pm
They haven't followed up on this series. They do have some lightweight units with the ZenBook S 13 2022 generation, with improved inputs and cooling, but USB_C only IO and a 13-inch OLED display. They also have the Expertbook models now.