Asus Zenbook 14Unlimit your creative visionThe world’s most compact 14” laptop with ScreenPad™ 2.0*
The design of the new Asus ZenBook 14 follows that of the previous generation – and this is a good thing. Instead of the bog-standard black and grey laptop chassis designs that flood the market, you get a sumptuous regal blue and rose gold colour combo here. The ZenBook 14 is also available in rose gold and silver variants, for those who like their laptops to look more traditional.
Whichever colour you opt for, the top side of the ZenBook 14 features Asus’s trademark spun-metal finish, a concentric etched effect with the Asus logo sitting pretty in the centre. It gives the ZenBook 14 much dazzle and charm, which makes it stand out in a sea of staid notebooks.
Asus’s “ErgoLift” design seen in the 2018 range makes a return here. As the name implies, the shape of the ZenBook 14’s case sees the rear portion of the keyboard deck lift up off the surface of your desk when you open it. This is intended to achieve two things: more comfortable typing and better airflow.
Since the keys are angled towards your hands, and the deck isn’t parallel to the desk, I concede that the result is raised comfort. Perhaps more importantly, the ErgoLift shape means the thermal vent on the ZenBook’s underside is off the desk’s surface, allowing for warm air to escape the system more easily.
Weighing just 1.3kg and measuring 7.83mm deep when closed, the ZenBook 14 is both light and slim. Impressively, Asus has managed to squeeze in plenty of ports: a Type-C USB 3.1 port, Type-A USB 3.1, and another Type-A USB port, along with an HDMI port and a microSD card reader. Also included is the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and the mains port.
While Intel’s Whiskey Lake chips allow for Thunderbolt 3 technology to be added to a laptop, Asus has chosen not to include it on the USB-C port here. Thunderbolt 3 allows for data transfer at rates of up to 40Gbps, whereas USB 3.1 is capped at 5Gbps.
Chances are you won’t be transferring hundreds and thousands of high-resolution images or big video files to and from the ZenBook 14. Thunderbolt 3 tech is great, but it remains expensive for manufacturers to implement. Its inclusion in a system typically results in that cost being passed on to the consumer in some way – so its omission here might not be that big a deal.
There’s no full-sized SD card reader to be found here, but you do get a microSD reader. As such, whatever you’re shooting on, you should be able to easily transfer photos to the ZenBook 14 for editing. Asus hasn’t included a fingerprint scanner – which, at this price point, is a disappointing omission.
The Harmon Kardon-branded speakers are a mixed bag. Dialogue sounds clear and prominent, so if you’re streaming over iPlayer you’ll no doubt appreciate their addition. For listening to music they suffered the same drawbacks as the speakers on ZenBook Pro 14. Some music – especially acoustic guitar, or anything with a lot of resonance – sounds muffled if you push the volume beyond 40%. If you like to listen to playlists while you work, crack out the headphones.