ASUS ZenBook 14 UX425 review: Is this the ZenBook we've been waiting for?
Performance & conclusion
We will be comparing the performance of the ASUS ZenBook UX425 closely against that of the current crop of ultraportable notebooks including ASUS ZenBook 14 UX434, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, HP Spectre x360, and the recently reviewed Huawei MateBook 13. Here are the configurations of the tested notebooks and how they stack up. The ZenBook UX425 model that we are testing is the higher-end one with a Core i7 processor.
|Model||ASUS ZenBook 14 UX425||Acer Swift 5||ASUS ZenBook 14 UX434||Dell XPS 13 2-in-1||Huawei MateBook 13||HP Spectre x360|
|Display||14-inch, Full-HD||13-inch, Full-HD||14-inch, Full-HD||13-inch, Full-HD||13-inch, 2K||13-inch, Full-HD|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1065G7||Intel Core i7-1065G7||Intel Core i7-10510U||Intel Core i7-1065G7||Intel Core i5-10210U||Intel Core i7-1065G7|
|Storage||1TB SSD||1TB SSD||1TB SSD||512GB SSD||512GB||1TB SSD|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce MX250||NVIDIA GeForce MX250||Intel Iris Plus Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce MX250||Intel Iris Plus Graphics|
General computing performance of the ZenBook UX425 was decent and within expectations given its specifications. Interestingly, the lack of memory (the other notebooks all have 16GB of memory) didn’t seem to hamper performance too much, at least insofar as computing performance is concerned.
Graphics performance, however, was a bit of a mixed bag. Despite having the same Intel Iris Plus integrated GPU as the XPS 13 and Spectre x360, the ZenBook UX425 recorded the lowest scores on 3DMark. The gulf in scores could be as much as 29%. Fortunately, the ZenBook’s scores were more comparable when it came to Tomb Raider. However, if graphics performance and gaming is important to you, then it's worth noting that notebooks with discrete NVIDIA GPUs – even the humble little GeForce MX250 – have much better graphics performance.
Note: Battery tests were conducted using PCMark 10's battery benchmark with display set to 100% brightness.
Battery life is where the ZenBook UX425 was supposed to excel and it did, mostly. Out intensive battery tests demand that screens are set to 100% brightness and even then the ZenBook UX425 managed to eke out 488 minutes or just over 8 hours on the Modern Office workload. Even on the taxing Gaming workload, the ZenBook UX425 managed over 2.5 hours.
These results would have been impressive if not for the Spectre x360 which managed to last longer with a smaller battery. Looking at the power consumption figures, we can immediately see that Spectre x360 is considerably more efficient than the ZenBook UX425. But if we look at the Portability Index where we factor in dimensions and weight, then the ZenBook UX425 begins to look a little more favourable. Its slim dimensions and light weight does count for something against the heavier and chunkier Spectre x360. Furthermore, as tested, the Spectre x360 costs about S$1,200 more than the ZenBook UX425.
This new ZenBook UX425 can be best described as a thinner and lighter version of the older ZenBook UX434 with less graphics performance but a longer battery life. If the ZenBook UX434 is an all-rounder then this new ZenBook UX425 was designed for life on the road. But it’s also a notebook that elicits mixed feelings because it does a couple of things very well, but it misses the mark in some others.
For a start, I like that its slim, compact, and light. That might have come at the expense of a bit of solidity and sturdiness, but if portability is a priority, I think the tradeoff is well worth it. It’s one of the lighter 13-inch notebooks and you can definitely feel the difference in heft next to notebooks like the Huawei MateBook 13. Performance is decent and battery life is exceptional. The feature set is above average too, with support for Wi-Fi 6, Windows Hello, a nice keyboard, a sufficiently large trackpad with a virtual number pad. I also like that it finally supports USB-C charging – a feature that is sorely missed on many older ASUS notebooks.
What’s not so great about the notebook? The build quality, despite being meeting MIL-STD-810 standards, is not tip-top. But perhaps more crucially, the selection of ports would have been perfect if not for the lack of a headphone jack. We can argue all day about its usefulness, but what’s undeniable is that ASUS could have easily included one and save itself and its customers a lot of trouble. The lack of a 16GB memory option will also turn off more discerning users.
Still, if you have decided that battery life is of utmost importance, the new ZenBook UX425 looks like it could be the most value for money pick. Notebooks with comparable battery life claims like the HP Spectre x360 and LG gram 14 are considerably more expensive – with prices beginning at S$2,000 and going well beyond – which makes the ZenBook UX425 seem like a bargain in comparison.
Comparisons against the older ZenBook UX434 are inevitable and the short answer is that you should pick the older ZenBook UX434 for performance and the newer ZenBook UX425 for portability. However, remember that the ZenBook UX434 doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3 ports nor does it support USB-C charging. On the other hand, the ZenBook UX425 doesn’t have a headphone jack. Each notebook has its pros and cons. Hopefully, ASUS will create the perfect ZenBook in the near future by melding the things we like about the two.