This article gathers my thoughts on the Asus ZenBook 14X Space Edition, the 2022 update of the 14X series built on a full-power Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake hardware platform.
I’ve already reviewed the 2021 ZenBook 14X in a previous article and commended the improvements in performance, cooling, and ergonomics over the previous ZenBook generations, even if they’re associated with an increase in overall size and weight compared to the regular non-X ZenBook 14 lineups.
With the early-2022 update, Asus put a Core i9-12900H processor in this chassis, the kind you’re normally getting with much larger devices. It doesn’t run at full power here, but it is still a very capable performer in CPU heavy loads, as we’ll discuss down below. Battery life takes a toll, though, with the transition from Core U to Core H specs, and the GPU performance is still somewhat limited to what the Intel Iris Xe chips can deliver, as there’s no dGPU on this series.
Furthermore, this Space Edition series of the ZenBook 14X comes with unique design traits and features that are not available with the regular models, as well as a price increase. We’ll go over all the details in this review, so you’ll know what to expect before deciding on one of these.
Specs – Asus Zenbook 14X UX5401ZAS Space Edition
||Asus Zenbook 14X UX5401ZAS Space Edition
||14.0 inch, 2.8K 2880 x 1800 px, 90 Hz, OLED, glossy, touch, 550+ nits, Samsung SDC4154 panel
||Intel Alder Lake 12th gen, up to Core i9-12900H, 6C+8c/20T
||Intel UHD, 96 EUs
||up to 32 GB LPDDR5-4800 (soldered)
||1x M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD (Samsung PM9A1), single M.2 2280 slot
||Wireless 6E (Intel AX211), Bluetooth 5.2, Ethernet with included USB adapter
||1x USB-A 3.2 gen1, 2x USB-C 3.2 with Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, microSD card reader, audio jack
||63 Wh, 100W USB-C charger with quick-charging
||311 mm or 12.24” (w) x 221 mm or 8.7” (d) x 16.9 mm or 0.67” (h)
||3.17 lbs (1.44 kg)+ .88 lbs (.4 kg) charger + cables, EU version
||white backlit keyboard, glass NumberPad, HD webcam without Hello, finger sensor in the power button, stereo bottom speakers,
special edition box and accessories
Design and construction
This ZenBook 14X Space Edition is similar in size and overall characteristics to the standard ZenBook 14X model, with an all-metal construction, a 16:10 touchscreen, full-size inputs, an Ergolift hinge, and the IO and hot-air exhausts placed on the left and right edges, and no longer shooting hot air into the display.
However, the Space Edition model is a cosmetic redesign of the standard 14Xs, meant to commemorate 25 years from the launch of the Asus P series of laptops used on the MIR Space Station, the precursor of the ISS that’s in orbit today.
As a result, Asus went with a titanium-gray color scheme here called Zero-G Titanium, and a rougher matte texture for both the lid and the main chassis. It looks good, feels pleasant to the touch, and hides smudges and potential scratches very well. Just to be clear, the laptop is still made out of pieces of aluminum, not of titanium alloys, but the aluminum is coated in this titanium color finishing.
There are also a handful of space-travel inspired design elements all around the laptop, with a representation of the MIR Space station on the left or the arm-rest, various morse code messages on the arm-rest and on the lid, a handful of engravings and markups on the back as well, plus that ZenVision mini display on the lid. I’ll let you discover the easter eggs and morse-code messages by yourselves; to me, it sure brought back some childhood memories of having to decode morse language. Ad Astra Per Aspera!
The ZenVision display placed on this laptop’s lid is a 3.65-inch P-OLED panel with 256 x 64 px resolution and 150-nits of brightness, to have a minimal impact on the battery life.
It can be customized through a unique interface in the MyAsus app and can display a couple of animations, QR codes, or text messages. It sure is unique and geeky and a potential conversation starter, but with limited practical use in real life, at least to me.
Asus put special effort into the Unboxing experience with this Space Edition as well, creating a custom cardboard box and including a handful of accessories and stickers. In theory, the secondary box that houses the included charger and dongles also acts as a potential stand. However, in practice, it provides little grip for the laptop and covers the intakes on the underside, so I wouldn’t recommend using it.
Other than that, the Space Edition 14X is identical to the standard 14X ZenBooks already tested, but with a few changes.
Among them, my biggest gripe is that the screen no longer goes back flat to 180-degrees, but only to about 155 – why would you change this and limit the angle this way on an ultraportable?
One other aspect to mention here is the keyboard, which color-matches the overall titanium design of this special edition series. That means the keys are titanium – they look fine, and the finishing feels alright to the touch. Still, this mix of silver keycaps with white keyboard backlighting offers poorer contrast and visibility in some situations compared to the standard ZenBook keyboard with dark-gray keycaps.
On the other hand, I appreciate the finger-sensor integrated into the updated power button positioned in the top-right corner of this keyboard, but this series no longer offers an IR capable camera, just a standard HD webcam. Another practical improvement is the fact that there’s no longer a light in the power button, and that the status LEDs are all placed on the right edge, out of sight.
I also like this notebook’s ample arm support, made possible by the taller format compared to previous ZenBooks. The beveled metallic front lip and corners are fine, but a tad too sharp for my liking, especially around that notch under the clickpad. That notch is practical, though, as it allows to easily grab the lid and lift open the laptop.
This 14X is a somewhat larger and heavier laptop compared to the standard ZenBook 14s, though, as a result of implementing a taller display with a touch layer and the redesigned internals. Our unit weighs about 3.2 lbs, while the regular ZenBook 14s of the past weighed in around 2.6-2.8 lbs. Throw in the fact that the 14X comes with a larger 100W charger as well, which further impacts the overall portability of this series.
Zenbook 14x (left) vs ZenBook 14 (right)
Flipping this upside down, you’ll notice the various design tricks on the underbelly, the speaker cuts, and the rubber feet. These are small and only offer limited grip on the desk, especially as the contact surfaces are limited with this design meant to lean on the small feet placed at the bottom of the screen.
That’s a result of Asus’s Ergolift hinge design, which pushes the main chassis upwards, allowing for a slightly declined typing position and better airflow into the fans. Compared to the previous ZenBooks, though, the radiators and exhausts are no longer positioned between the hinges and under the screen, but on the sides. Add i the internal cooling redesign, and the 14X is now a much more powerful and better-balanced computer in its niche.
The internal redesign also leads to a revamp of the IO on the sides, and there’s almost everything you’ll want there, including two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports with data, charging, and video, a 3.5 mm jack, a full-size USB-A, and an HDMI 2.0b port.
The two USB-Cs are both placed on the left side, though, and I would have liked to have them spread on either side to allow the option to charge the laptop or connect an external screen on either the left or right. There’s also a microSD card reader on this series, but no full-size SD, if that’s something you might want.
Keyboard and trackpad
The taller format of the ZenBook 14X chassis allowed Asus to implement a slightly taller keyboard layout and a larger clickpad on this lineup compared to the previous ZenBook 14 models.
A particularity of this Space Edition variant is the color-matched keyboard color, with titanium keycaps and a slightly rougher finishing than on the standard ZenBook keyboards.
This finishing doesn’t smudge as easily, but it’s also not as practical in certain conditions (see the picture below), as it’s pretty much a variation of the dreaded silver keycaps with white backlighting combo that I’m not a fan of. In real life, that means you’ll want to make sure to switch off the illumination in good lighting, and only activate it at night. There’s no light sensor to do this automatically for you.
Backlighting on and off
Other than that, the layout and the typing experience are alright here. There’s also a virtual NumberPad included in the clickpad, which you can launch by long-pressing the icon in its top-right corner.
The backlighting system is fine as well, with white LEDs and three brightness levels to choose from. The layout includes indicators for Caps-Lock and for the camera/mic on the F9/F10 keys, and the light reactivates with a swipe over the clickpad when it times out.
My complaint is with the overall uniformity of the LED array, though, and with the fact that light creeps up annoyingly from underneath some of the keycaps, especially from underneath the arrow keys and the top row of function keys. The overall QC of the illumination system is something that ZenBooks have struggled with over the years.
The clickpad is a large glass surface that works flawlessly with swipes, gestures, taps, etc. This is also a solid implementation that does not rattle with firmer taps, and the physical clicks in the lower corners are OK, just a bit clunky.
A particularity of this series is that the clickpad surface is titanium as well, color matching all the other design pieces. That means smudges won’t be as easily visible on this variant.
For what it is worth, a ScreenPad option is available for the standard ZenBook 14X UX5401ZA series but not for the Space Edition variant.
Finally, for biometrics, I’ll remind you of the figner-sensor with Hello support included in the power button, and add that an IR camera is no longer included with the 14X series, although it was in the past ZenBook 14 models.
According to the Asus website, the Space Edition 14X lineup is available with a touchscreen OLED 2.8K panel with 100% DCI-P3 color coverage, 90 Hz refresh, and 550-nits of peak brightness. Furthermore, that’s a 10-bit panel with HDR 500 certification, a Pantone validated color profile, as well as a TUV certification for low-blue light emission.
In real use, this is an awesome-looking display, with the excellent blacks and contrast characteristic of OLEDs, and punchy brightness, colors, and HDR support on top. Make sure to enable HDR in the Display settings in Windows 11, as by default that comes ticked off. Don’t overdo the Brightness HDR setting, though, or you’ll end up losing detail in the light scenes, and keep in mind that opting for HDR is going to affect the color accuracy, so I’d make sure to cycle back to SDR for color-accurate content.
This is also a 90Hz refresh panel with swift response times of around 1-2 ms, impacting how smooth motion feels with daily use and streaming, and in games. There’s nothing preventing screen tearing though, unless you opt for VSync (and the associated lag). Still, this OLED panel is a superior option for gaming and fast-paced action content to the majority of the IPS displays available in the past in the ultrabook segment.
However, the 550-nits of peak brightness part is somewhat misleading. In our tests, I measured sub-400-nits of sustained brightness in a 16% white window (with the rest of the screen being black) with the display set on SDR mode, and around 400-nits on HDR mode. The 550-nits is probably recorded in a much smaller window, and I’m looking for further clarification from Asus on this matter, and will update.
Here’s what we got in our tests, with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor (with HDR switched off):
- Panel HardwareID: Samsung SDC4154 (ATNA40YK04-0);
- Coverage: 100% sRGB, 95.3% Adobe RGB, 99.6% DCI-P3;
- Type: 10-bit with HDR500;
- Measured gamma: 2.19;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 369.03 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 3.67 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1:1;
- White point: 6500 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0 cd/m2;
- PWM: to be discussed.
This panel came well calibrated out of the box and turned out to be uniform in luminosity and color. Plus, since this is OLED, you don’t have to concern yourself with any light bleeding on black backgrounds.
At sub-400-nits SDR, though, this panel isn’t ideal for bright-light use, especially with the glossy touch layer that translates in reflections and glare.
What bothers me even more on this panel is the graininess effect added by the touch layer, especially noticeable on white/bright backgrounds, such as when browsing or reading/editing text. I’ve experienced it on other Asus OLED laptops in the past and always found it annoying. I got used to it after a while, at least to some point, but it’s affecting the overall perceived sharpness of this panel – it feels like looking at the screen through a grainy mesh, and it bothers me to the point where this could be a deal-breaker for me.
I’ve added a picture of this OLED panel in a non-touch and touch implementation, but it’s hard to tell the differences from this image, even if it’s a lot more obvious in real life. I’d advise you to experience it yourselves if possible, and draw your own conclusions.
I’d also hope Asus can do something about it, as other touch OLED implementations that we’ve tested do not suffer from this same quirk.
That aside, you should also consider the other advantages of OLED panels, such as the lower blue-light emission and the way colors are perceived more vividly at medium brightness levels, but also the potential downsides of OLED panels on a laptop, such as black-crush, gray-bending, flickering, and even burn-in to some extent.
Black crush is still present here compared to an IPS or miniLED panel, there’s no way around it. Flickering, gray-bending, and especially image retention have been improved with these newer generation 2021/2022 Samsung OLED panels, to the point where I wouldn’t worry much about pixel degradation. Nonetheless, it’s still smart to be aware of the particularities of these OLEDs and try not to keep static interfaces active for long times, or run the screen at max brightness for hours.
Asus implements default settings and technologies meant to prevent burn-in. The laptop ships in Windows Dark Mode with a default screen saver designed to kick in after 30 minutes of idle time. There’s also a Pixel refresh and Shift setting in the MyAsus app, as part of the OLED Care panel. Furthermore, Asus mentions that these OLED panels are covered by a 7000 hours warranty at 200 nits of brightness in their review guides, but I can’t find this officially mentioned on their website at this point. Looking for clarification.
Finally, there’s one more trick meant to alleviate pixel aging if that were to eventually happen. According to the information provided by Asus, Samsung’s OLED algorithm can detect aging pixels and is able to enhance the amount of current applied to these dying pixels. This way, they are kept looking the same as the pixels around for a longer time. What I’m not entirely sure about is whether this trick accelerates the degradation process as a result, and causes them to die for good after a while.
Time will tell how these will age, but with careful use, I’d say 2021/2022 generation OLED panels should be OK on a laptop.
For what is worth, a matte IPS 2560 x 1600 px panel option with good specs is available for the standard ZenBook 14X UX5401ZA series, but not for the Space Edition variant.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a top-specced configuration of the Asus ZenBook 14X UX5401ZAS, with an Intel Core i9-12900H processor and Intel Iris XE graphics, 32 GB of LPDDR5-4800 memory, and a very fast 1 TB gen4 SSD.
Disclaimer: This review unit was provided by Asus for this article. We tested it with the early software available as of early-April 2022 (BIOS 203, MyAsus 3.1.3 app), thus some aspects might change with future software updates.
Spec-wise, this is based on the 2022 Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake hardware platform. Our configuration is the top-tier Core i9-12900H processor, the hybrid design with 6 Performance and 8 Efficiency Cores, as well as 20 combined threads. This ultraportable implementation supplies the CPU with up to 50W of power in sustained loads, so don’t expect this i9 to match the higher-power implementations in full-size computers.
Graphics are handled by the integrated Iris Xe chip, with 96 EUs and frequencies of up to 1.45 GHz. The power settings allow this to run close to its maximum potential in GPU loads and games.
Our configuration also comes with 32 GB of LPDDR5-4800 memory, in dual-channel. 8, 16, and 32 GB configurations are available for the series, and the memory is onboard and non-upgradeable.
For storage, Asus opted for a fast PCIe gen4 Samsung PM9A1 drive here, which performed admirably in our tests.
The SSD and WIFI chip are the only upgradeable components here. To get to them you need to remove the back panel, hold in place by a couple of visible Torx screws, and two more extra screws hidden behind the rear-rubber feet. You’ll need to use a plastic praying tool to get the back panel out, as it is quite strongly attached to the main chassis by many stubborn plastic caps, which you should be careful not to break. Overall, getting inside this 14X is more complicated than on the regular ZenBook 14 models.
Inside you’ll notice the redesigned motherboard with the new thermal module, as well as the battery and speakers. The SSD is still placed right near the CPU, but Asus included a large thermal pad that prevents overheating.
As far as the software goes, this ZenBook gets the standard MyAsus app which allows control over the power profiles, battery and screen settings, updates, etc.
There are three performance/thermal profiles to choose from:
- Performance – allows the hardware to run at 35-45W in sustained loads, with fans ramping up to 48-49 dB;
- Balanced/Standard – allows the hardware to run at 25-35W in sustained loads, with fans ramping up to 37-38 dB;
- Whisper – limits the CPU at sub 20W to favor lower fan noise of sub 30 dB.
Whisper mode is perfectly suited for daily use, and Standard is what I’d mostly recommend for demanding combined loads, and that’s because the Performance offers some performance gains, but with much noisier fans.
We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, here’s what to expect in terms of speeds and temperatures with daily use, with the laptop running mostly silent and the fans only rarely kicking on with multitasking.
Performance and benchmarks
On to more demanding loads, we start by testing the CPU’s performance by running the Cinebench R15 test for 15+ times in a loop, with a 1-2 seconds delay between each run.
On the Performance mode, the Core i9-12900H processor peaks at the 64W PL2 setting for a little while and then quickly drops and stabilizes around the 45 W PL1 power limit, with temperatures of 87-90 degrees Celsius, and fan-noise levels of ~48-49 dB. These result in sustained Cinebench scores of around 1900 points.
On Balanced, the system limits the fans to a much more usable 37-38 dB noise level. The CPU also ends up stabilizing at 35W, with temperatures around 85 C. The performance takes a 20% hit, with the scores stabilizing around 1600 points.
You can also opt for the Whisper mode, with limits the CPU to 17W with now barely audible fans and temperatures in the low-60s. The laptop performs at about 45-50% of its abilities on this profile.
Finally, our sample did not perform as expected on battery with the current BIOS, fluctuating between 10-45 W. Based on our experience with the previous ZenBook 14X, we can expect the laptop to run at around 25-30W sustained on the Performance mode, unplugged, with more mature software.
To put these in perspective, here’s how this i9-12900H implementation fares against others of the same i9 chip, in either portable or full-size formats. I’ve also included the Ryzen 9 in the 2021 and 2022 Flow X13 ultraportable designs in here, as well as the previous i7-1165G7 implementation in the 2021 ZenBook 14X.
With the 12th gen hardware, this ZenBook 14X is one of the most powerful ultraportables on the market for this sort of CPU-heavy load. However, 2022 Ryzen implementations are close contenders at the 40-50W power envelope that you can expect in this segment of thin-and-light products, thanks to the increased efficiency and competitive performance-per-watt of the AMD platform.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the more taxing Cinebench R23 loop test and in Blender, confirming our above findings.
We then ran the 3DMark CPU profile test.
Finally, we ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the Turbo profile. 3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit passed it just fine, which means there’s no combined performance throttling with longer-duration sustained loads.
Next, here are some benchmark results. We ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the Performance profile on this Core i9-12900H configuration, with the screen set on FHD resolution, for consistency with other laptops tested in the past.
Here’s what we got.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 5546 (Graphics – 5807, Physics – 24982, Combined – 2216);
- 3DMark 13 – Night Raid: 21377 (Graphics – 24446, CPU – 12492);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 2094 (Graphics – 1834, CPU – 10788);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 1183;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 3344;
- Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 54.31 average fps;
- PassMark 10: -;
- PCMark 10: 6029 (Essentials – 11049, Productivity – 7358, Digital Content Creation – 7317);
- GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1822, Multi-core: 11826;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 2294 cb, CPU Single Core 242 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 5315 cb, CPU Single Core 653 cb;
- CineBench R23: CPU 13865 cb (best run), CPU 12990 (10 min loop test), CPU Single Core 1702 CB (best run);
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 32.37 s.
And here are some workstation benchmarks, on the same Performance profile:
- Blender 3.01 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 3m 09s ;
- Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 7m 35s;
- PugetBench – DaVinci Resolve: 427 points;
- PugetBench – Adobe After Effects: 750;
- PugetBench – Adobe Photoshop: 1048;
- PugetBench – Adobe Premiere: 464;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – 3DSMax: 15.99;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Catia: 15.11;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Creo: 26.88;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Energy: 5.35;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Maya: 63.08;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Medical: 6.72;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – SNX: 7.04;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – SW: -.
- V-Ray Benchmark: CPU – 9046 vsamples, GPU CUDA – 244 vpaths;
These are competitive results, especially in the CPU loads. The i9-12900H is a powerful platform able to run at up to 5 GHz in single-core loads, and capable of solid multi-threaded performance, even if not fully allowed to unleash in this power-constrained implementation.
Compared to the ROG Flow Z13, this ZenBook 14X ends up scoring about 10% lower in the CPU loads, while compared to a full-size i9 laptop such as the Scar 15, it ends up behind by as much as 30% in the multi-threaded loads.
At the same time, this ZenBook beast the Ryzen 9 6900HS implementation in the more advanced Flow X13 design in most CPU loads, and it’s a major update over the previous ZenBook 14X Tiger Lake model, which it outscores by as much as 2X in multi-threaded loads, and 15-25% in single-core loads.
The GPU performance hasn’t improved much over the previous 14X generation, though, since both variants implement the same Intel Iris Xe chip. The iGPU does run at higher clocks in the 2022 Alder Lake platform, now capable of frequencies of up to 1.45 GHz, and that allows for an up to 10% increase in the GPU benchmarks. In real-life, the gains vary between the different applications, corroborated with the effects of the higher-clocked processor, the faster DDR5 memory and the faster SSD. I haven’t run workload benchmarks on the previous ZenBook 14X for a proper comparison.
One thing I must add here is that this ZenBook 14X runs noisy for an ultraportable on this Performance mode, at 48-49 dB and head-level. Thus, despite the solid results above, you might consider opting for the Balanced profile instead, which keeps the fans at 37-38 dB. Here’s what to expect in performance on this profile.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 5445 (Graphics – 5743, Physics – 22241, Combined – 2160);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 2063 (Graphics – 1817, CPU – 8907);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 3184;
- GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1816, Multi-core: 11338;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 4833 cb, CPU Single Core 631 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 39.74 s;
- Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 8m 17s.
We’re looking at a 10% drop in CPU performance with sustained loads, and even less with games, which is not much considering how quieter the laptop runs on this mode. The devil is in the details, though, and in longer combined loads the performance differences can be a little more significant, as you’ll see down below.
With these out of the way, we also ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the Performance profile of this Core i9 + Iris Xe configuration, at FHD+ resolution, with Medium or Low/Lowest graphics settings.
Here’s what we got on Medium settings at FHD+ resolution, and I’ve also included the Irix Xe configuration of the Flow Z13 and the Radeon 680M configuration of the Flow X13 and Zephyrus G14, for comparison.
||ZenBook 14X Space Ed –
i9 + Iris Xe
35+W, FHD+ resolution
|Flow Z13 2022 –
i9 + Iris Xe
~50W, FHD+ resolution
|Flow X13 2022 –
R9 + Radeon 680M
~45W, FHD+ resolution
|Zephyrus G14 2022 –
R9 + Radeon 680M
50+W, FHD+ resolution
|Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Normal Preset, TAA)
|33 fps (29 fps – 1% low)
||30 fps (25 fps – 1% low)
||45 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
||43 fps (38 fps – 1% low)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Medium Preset, TAA)
|24 fps (17 fps – 1% low)
||22 fps (14 fps – 1% low)
||37 fps (22 fps – 1% low)
||35 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Medium Preset, Hairworks Low)
|40 fps (22 fps – 1% low)
||34 fps (20 fps – 1% low)
||50 fps (40 fps – 1% low)
||47 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
This ZenBook 14X manages to outscore the Iris Xe in the Flow Z13, despite the fact that it’s running at lower power. That’s most likely because of the better-optimized drivers on this ZenBook, as our results of the Z13 unit are based on the 3050Ti variant running in Eco Mode, with the dGPU disabled, and not on the Iris Xe only model with native drivers for that particular configuration.
At the same time, the Radeon 680M chips in the 2022 AMD hardware are no competition for the Iris Xe iGPUs. This Space Edition 14X is Intel exclusive, but the standard 2022 ZenBook 14X model should get a Ryzen update at some point, and I expect many of you to be interested in that one.
Here are a couple more gaming results at Low graphics settings, compared to a handful of other iGPU platforms from AMD and Intel.
||ZenBook 14X Space Ed –
i9 + Iris Xe,
35+W, FHD+ 1200p
|Flow Z13 2022 –
i9 + Iris Xe
~50W, FHD+ 1200p
|Flow X13 2022 –
R9 + Radeon 680M,
~45W, FHD+ 1200p
R9 6900HS + R 680M,
50+W, FHD 1080p
|ZenBook 14X UX5401,
Core i7-1165G7, Iris Xe,
~30+W, FHD+ 1200p
Ryzen 7 5800H, Vega,
~35W, FHD 1080p
|Bioshock Infinite (DX 11, Low Preset)
||105 fps (66 fps – 1% low)
||97 fps (61 fps – 1% low)
||150 fps (92 fps – 1% low)
||117 fps (74 fps – 1% low)
||81 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
||91 fps (71 fps – 1% low)
(Vulkan, Medium Preset)
|33 fps (18 fps – 1% low)
||30 fps (16 fps – 1% low)
||46 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
|Dota 2 (DX 11, Best Looking Preset)
||84 fps (65 fps – 1% low)
||76 fps (64 fps – 1% low)
||78 fps (52 fps – 1% low)
||96 fps (66 fps – 1% low)
||72 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
||64 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Low Preset, no AA)
||37 fps (30 fps – 1% low)
||35 fps (30 fps – 1% low)
||50 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
||53 fps (47 fps – 1% low)
||31 fps (21 fps – 1% low)
||30 fps (22 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 6 (DX 12, Low Preset, no AA)
||31 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
||29 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
||46 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
||48 fps (35 fps – 1% low)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX12, Lowest Preset, no AA)
||42 fps (23 fps – 1% low)
||36 fps (23 fps – 1% low)
||65 fps (46 fps – 1% low)
||67 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
||41 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
||41 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Low Preset, Hairworks Off)
||44 fps (28 fps – 1% low)
||42 fps (23 fps – 1% low)
||57 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
||55 fps (43 fps – 1% low)
||41 fps (21 fps – 1% low)
||27 fps (22 fps – 1% low)
- Doom, Dota 2, Witcher 3 – recorded with MSI Afterburner in game mode;
- Bioshock, Far Cry 5 Far Cry 6, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
Once more, the RDNA2-based Radeon iGPU in the 2022 AMD hardware comes up on top, with the Iris Xe chips in this ZenBook 14X behind by 20-40% between the tested titles. At the same time, this implementation is faster than the previous ZenBook platforms, both the Intel Tiget Lake variant with the Iris Xe iGPU, and the AMD Ryzen 2021 platforms with the Vega iGPU.
Back to our review unit, we’re looking at 60+ framerates in the older titles at FHD+ resolution and low settings, and 30-40 fps in the more demanding AAA games launched in recent years.
Next, the performance logs down below show the CPU/GPU clocks and temperatures in a couple of games, on the Performance profile.
The hardware runs between 35 to 50W of power between the tested titles, based on how much each title calls on the CPU, with the GPU running between 1.3 to 1.45 GHz. At 35W, where this configuration ends up in most games, the GPU cannot maintain its maximum potential clocks of 1.45 GHz.
As far as the temperatures go, we measured between 80-90 degrees Celsius, depending on the amount of combined power. At 45W, expect this to run closer to 90 C. That’s hot!
Asus put a competent thermal design on this product and as a result, pushing up the back of the laptop in order to improve the airflow into the fans does not lead to any noticeable drops in internal temperatures. It does allow the hardware to run closer to 45W in more titles than with the laptop sitting on the desk, so it can be a method that allows maximizing the performance of this product.
Furthermore, I’d especially consider placing this on top of a good cooling pad when running games, which should enable sustained 45W of combined power in all titles and GPU clock speeds at around the maximum 1.45 GHz potential.
I will also mention that you could consider gaming on the Balanced profile as well, especially if you’re aiming for quieter fans at around 38 dB, compared to the much noisier 48+ dB on Performance.
In this case, expect the CPU to run at between 25 to 35W, and the GPU at around 1.1 GHz in most titles, or closer to 1.3 GHz in the less demanding titles such as Dota 2 or Bioshock, with CPU die temperatures in the 70s. That means the framerates are going to drop by 5-20% compared to the Performance profile. Up to you if this is worth it for the quieter experience.
Finally, I can’t properly judge this notebook’s performance on battery, as the current BIOS is not ideally optimized for it. We’ll need to update on this at a later date.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
Asus went with a dual-fan dual-heatpipe thermal module here. This is a more complex cooling solution than what they offer with the majority of other compact ZenBooks, and a much-welcomed update from the previous generations.
We’re still looking at a thin-laptop design here with thin fans and heatpipes, but this allows the ZenBook 14X to consistently run at 35-45W of power in sustained loads, as opposed to the roughly 20W of the regular ZenBook 14 (single fan, single heatpipe) models or the 25-35W in the ZenBook 14 UM425QA (also dual-fan, dual-heatpipe, but different design).
The other notable benefit of adopting this cooling module design is the fact that the hot air is no longer pushed into the screen, like on most other recent ZenBooks, but to the sides, away from the user and from the display.
This way the screen keeps cool and the chassis temperatures keep low as well, at sub 40 degrees C in the warmest spots, even when the internals heat up.
Down below I’ve included a thermal reading on Performance mode while gaming in Witcher 3, which pushes this configuration to 40+W of sustained power. While certain parts of the chassis warm up, mostly on top and under the CPU in the middle of the chassis, the overall readings are excellent for a thin-and-light product with this kind of power.
On Balanced, the fans are running quieter and the internals are running at lower temperatures, while the chassis temperatures are about the same as on Performance.
As for daily use, the fans keep idle for most of the time in the Whisper/Balanced profile and rarely kick in from time to time with multitasking. I also haven’t noticed any coil whine or electronic noises during my time with this unit.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Standard Mode, fans at 0-30 dB
*Gaming – Performance mode – playing Witcher for 30 minutes, fans at 48-49 dB
For connectivity, there’s the latest-gen WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 through Mediatek module on this laptop. On paper, this is not as fast as some of the recent Intel modules, but it’s still good enough for daily use and I haven’t run into any issues with the wireless connection during my time with the laptop.
Audio is still handled by a set of stereo speakers that fire through grills on the underside, much like on the previous ZenBook lineups. The angled shape of the D-Panel allows the sound to bounce off the table without distortions and prevents you from easily muffling them while using the computer on the lap.
The sound quality is alright for daily use, movies, or music, but not something to brag about. With the Enhanced Audio setting ticked in Windows 11, these speakers get averagely loud at 77-78 dB at head-level, with fair mids and highs, but little bass, which causes them to sound rather tiny at high volumes. Perhaps this is one area where Asus should focus on improving their future lineups.
Finally, there’s an HD camera placed at the top of the screen, which seems to be a little better quality than the norm, in fair lighting – don’t expect much, though, this is still a mediocre HD shooter. The mics are also placed at the top of the screen, flanking the camera, and do a good job in calls.
There’s a fair-sized 63 Wh battery inside the ZenBook 14x, larger than the norm for this class.
Here’s what we got in our battery life tests, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
- 16 W (~4-5 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Standard Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12 W (~5-6 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Standard Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.5 W (~5-6 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Standard Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 20 W (~3-4 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Standard Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
Based on my experience with other Intel 12th-gen implementations such as the ROG Flow Z13, these results should improve with more mature software. I’d expect around 7-9 hours of video streaming on the retail units and about 4-6 hours of real-use multitasking.
Nonetheless, the 12th-gen Core H platform dents this laptop’s runtimes compared to the previous generation built on the i7-1165G7 Core U processor (results down below), both running the same 2.8K 90Hz OLED screen.
- 10 W (~6-7 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Normal + Better Battery Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7 W (~9 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Normal + Better Battery Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 6.5 W (~10 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Normal + Better Battery Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13 W (~5-6 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Normal + Better Performance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
AMD options, when/if available, are also going to provide significantly superior runtimes.
The laptop still ships with a mid-sized 100W USB-C charger. It’s a two-piece design with two long and thick cables. The battery fully fills up in about 2 hours, with quick charging for the first 50-minutes or so.
Price and availability- Asus ZenBook 14X
At the time of this article, the ZenBook 14X Space Edition is only listed in stores in some regions.
Over here in Europe, the ZenBook 14X Space Edition UX5401ZAX configuration tested here with the Core i9-12900H processor, 32 GB of RAM, 1 TB of SSD storage, and the OLED display is available for 2000 EUR. The i7-12700H variant with 16 GB of RAM goes for 1600 EUR, which is a better-balanced offer.
The same top Core i9 model is available in North America for $1999, and I can’t find any of the other options at this point.
On the other hand, the regular ZenBook 14X UX5401ZA is more widely available, more affordable, and configurable with extra options that are not possible on the Space Edition series.
Stay put for updates, and in the meantime, follow this link for updated prices and configurations in your region.
Final thoughts- Asus ZenBook 14X Space Edition
I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again, the 14X is my favorite ZenBook design to date, despite the fact that it’s not as compact or lightweight as the previous ZenBook models.
However, this is not meant for everyone and there are some aspects that you should consider when shopping for one of these. I’m going to follow two paths for this conclusions section. First, we’ll be looking at the updated 2022 14X with the Alder Lake hardware as a whole, and then we’ll discuss the particularities of this Space Edition special series.
So, Asus put a powerful Core H hardware platform on this 2022 ZenBook 14X laptop, with DDR5 memory and fast gen4 storage. However, this is still a portable design, so it doesn’t fully benefit the Intel 12th gen hardware, which requires high power allocations to run at full blast. Nonetheless, this ZenBook is one of the more capable ultraportables available on the market when it comes to CPU-heavy loads. It’s also cooled fairly well for this class, but the hardware is going to run rather hot on the Performance mode, despite the fact that the fans are also running noisy for a portable design, at the 48+ dB mark.
At the same time, the 12th gen i9 platform is somewhat unbalanced when it comes to the iGPU performance, compared to the AMD 2022 alternative hardware, with the now more competent Radeon RNDA2 graphics. Add in the superior efficiency on battery for the Ryzen 6000 Rembrandt hardware, as well as the superior performance per watt that allows the Ryzen 9 6900HS to trade blows with the i9-12900H around the 45W power mark that you can expect in this sort of ultraportable design, and these could steer potential users towards the AMD variants of the Zenbook 14X, if/when these will be available. I sure hope they will!
As far as the Space Edition series goes, this is Intel exclusive, so it’s up to you to weigh in the advantages and compromises of this mobile Alder Lake implementation. Compared to most other ultraportables, this is a beast in CPU-heavy loads, and it could be a solid match for a Thunderbolt 4 eGPU setup. For daily use, though, the Core H hardware might not be ideal, as you’re sacrificing on efficiency on battery for very little benefit with light chores and multitasking.
Specs aside, the 14X Space Edition offers the space-oriented design and the Titanium-G color scheme, as well as extras bundled in the box, which might attract some of you. However, expect to pay a premium for this Space Edition series over a similarly specked standard ZenBook 14X. And BTW, the regular ZenBook 14X UX5401ZA variants are available in a wider range of configurations, including with a ScreenPad or matte IPS displays, for those not entirely sold on OLED.
I for one do like to overall feeling and looks of this Space Edition model, but I’m not entirely solid on its practicality and overall worth. The color and finishing are excellent at hiding smudges, but I don’t understand why Asus limited the screen angle and no longer allow it to lean back flat to 180-degree as on the regular 14X, and I’m also not the biggest fan of the silver keycaps, as I preffer the ergonomics of their more standard black keyboards. Furthermore, I also lean towards a matte IPS panel over a OLED touchscreen. So for me, the 14X Space Edition is a toss-up.
This wraps up my review of the 2022 Asus ZenBook 14X Space Edition, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and feedback. Is this right for you, or are there better-balanced options out there? Get in touch down below.
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