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ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: A powerful and well-rounded laptop

By The Count - 14 Oct 2023

ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: A powerful and well-rounded laptop

Note: This review was first published on 8 October 2023.

ASUS’ laptop division is a busy lot. From laptops that cater to gamers and business folks right down to school kids, the tech company has a laptop literally for everyone. Take their Zenbook 14 Pro OLED that I’m reviewing today as an example: it’s a laptop that is geared toward content creators and comes equipped with an Intel Core i9-13900H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU, a 2,880 x 1,800 16:10 OLED touchscreen, and a 2TB SSD. This machine is a great choice for those seeking a blend of portability and performance, especially if you are into creative endeavours such as photo editing and 3D modelling.

Oh, and the gorgeous OLED display. ASUS seems to be carving out a niche for itself in the OLED laptop market, especially in the business-grade category. Other models like the Zenbook 14 Flip, Zenbook 14X, and ProArt Studio 16 have also garnered positive attention for their OLED display quality. However, it's worth noting that the Zenbook 14 Pro OLED faces stiff competition, not from another OLED laptop, but from Apple's MacBook Pro 14. The MacBook, in its 12-core variant, is similarly priced and features an impressive 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with a 3,024 x 1,964 pixels resolution, although it lacks touchscreen capabilities.

The TL;DR version here is this: Having personally spent some time with the Zenbook 14 Pro OLED, courtesy of NVIDIA, I can attest to its robust performance and vibrant display. Yet, it's not without its quirks. The OLED screen, while stunning, like all OLED screens can be a battery drain, and the machine does run warm under heavy loads. However, if you're in the market for a laptop (that isn’t from Apple) that offers a good balance of features and performance, the Zenbook 14 Pro OLED deserves a spot on your shortlist.

If you have a few more minutes to spare, why not continue reading a more in-depth version of my impressions below?

ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED Specifications
Display 14.5-inch 2,880 x 1,880 pixels OLED touchscreen
Processor Intel Core i9-13900H (12-core 5.4GHz)
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070, 110W max TGP, 8GB vRAM
RAM 32GB LPDDR5
I/O Ports USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 x 1, USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 x 1, Thunderbolt 4 x 1, SD Card Reader, HDMI 2.1 x 1, USB-C DP Alt Mode x 2, 3.5mm audio jack
Storage 2TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
Size 321.8 x 223.3 x 17.9mm
Weight 1.65Kg
Battery Capacity 76Wh

Aesthetics overview

In a market saturated with sleek and slim laptops, the Zenbook Pro 14 opts for a more utilitarian aesthetic. Its angular and industrial design may not win beauty contests, especially when compared to its more stylish sibling, the Zenbook 14X. However, what it lacks in flair, it more than makes up for in durability. Crafted from aluminium, the laptop is robust, showing no signs of flex in either the lid or the keyboard deck, even under considerable pressure.

Despite its 14.5-inch display, the Zenbook Pro 14 manages to maintain a compact and lightweight profile, measuring 321.8 x 223.9 x 17.9mm and weighing in at 1.65Kg. It also boasts the US MIL-STD-810H military-grade standard certification, ensuring resilience and giving owners more confidence against physical shocks and particle ingress.

When it comes to connectivity, the Zenbook Pro 14 is well-equipped and has pretty much every type of I/O port that a content creator will need. The left side houses an HDMI 2.1 video output, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 data port and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right, you'll find two USB-C ports – one with Thunderbolt 4 spec and the other with USB 3.2 Gen 2 spec – along with DP Alt Mode Video output, support for USB-PD charging, and a full-size SD card reader.

After spending some time with the Zenbook Pro 14, it's clear that ASUS has put thought into the user experience, albeit with a few caveats. The keyboard, for instance, is sturdy, but I suspect there will be some (like me) that find the 1.4mm key travel leaving something to be desired. While it's not uncomfortable, it doesn't offer the tactile satisfaction that you might expect from a premium laptop.

The Zenbook Pro 14's dimensions don't allow for a numeric keypad, which isn't surprising. What is surprising, however, is ASUS' decision to include half-height arrow keys when there's clearly space for full-sized ones. On the plus side, the three-stage white backlighting is effective, especially in low-light conditions, thanks to an ambient light sensor that adjusts the brightness automatically.

The touchpad is another area where the Zenbook Pro 14 shows promise but falls short of perfection. Measuring 130 x 82mm, it offers ample space for navigation and is highly responsive. However, the click-action feels somewhat heavy, making it less than ideal for extended use.

One unique feature is the ASUS DialPad, activated by sliding your finger in from the top-right corner of the touchpad. While some may dismiss it as a gimmick, I found it to be particularly useful when paired with Adobe Photoshop, allowing for quick adjustments to settings. Even in its most basic form, it serves as a convenient way to control system settings like volume and brightness.

The laptop comes equipped with a 1080p webcam that delivers crisp visuals. However, it lacks a physical shutter, a feature available in even some of the more budget-friendly Zenbooks. This is quite an odd omission and could be a point of concern for those who prioritise privacy, especially in a business setting. On the upside, the webcam supports Windows Hello facial recognition, compensating for the absence of a fingerprint reader.

Gaming & Content Creation performance 

The Zenbook Pro 14’s OLED panel is supplied by Samsung and while it doesn't quite match the MacBook Pro 14's Liquid Retina XDR in terms of pixel density – 234dpi compared to the MacBook's 254dpi – the difference is hardly noticeable to the naked eye. It is also protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass, lending it a glossy finish, and adding to the rigidity of the laptop’s lid.

The display itself is impressively vibrant, boasting gamut volumes of 171.6% sRGB, 118.2% Adobe RGB, and 121.6% DCI-P3. The laptop provides the flexibility to toggle between four colour profiles: ASUS’ own Native and sRGB, DCI-P3, and Display P3. Additionally, the screen has received Pantone validation.

Switching to discrete GPU mode via the MUX switch disables the option to change colour profiles, a limitation attributed more to Windows and NVIDIA than to ASUS. This is one area where the MacBook Pro's seamless integration has an edge. It’s also worth noting that the Zenbook Pro 14, because it’s not built for peak gaming performance, lacks support for NVIDIA’s G-Sync. Whether this is important to you or not, depends on how heavy of a gamer you are and what type of games you play, and while the GeForce RTX 4070 is more than capable of running many games, this laptop is built more for the likes of Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro than for Counter-Strike 2 or Modern Warfare.

Equipped with a 14-core Intel Core i9-13900H processor, 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and NVIDIA Studio drivers powering the RTX 4070 GPU, the Zenbook Pro 14 is a formidable laptop. While the RTX 4070 GPU starts with a default TGP of 35W, it can be cranked up to 110W. During my time with laptop, I found no cooling issues to speak of; even under my gruelling 3D Mark GPU Extreme Stress test, the temperature stayed below 70-degree Celsius.

Speaking of gaming, I decided to run Cyberpunk 2077 with the latest Update 2.0 to see where the laptop stands. At 1080p resolution with “High” detail settings and ray tracing switched on, the game achieved a consistent 68fps with DLSS 3.5 in “Balanced” setting. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, another of our regular test titles performed at 65fps with DLSS setting at “Balanced” as well. These are impressive figures for a machine that isn't primarily designed for gaming and not even using NVIDIA’s Game Ready optimised drivers.

On the productivity and content creation fronts, the Zenbook Pro 14 ran the SPECviewperf 3dsmax 3D modelling (Space Clay) benchmark at 93fps while scoring 7789 on PCMark 10’s Extended benchmark. These are pretty good scores for a 14-inch, 1.6Kg laptop.

ASUS claims the the Zenbook Pro 14’s 76Wh battery can last up to 10 hours in a single charge. In my PC Mark 10’s Modern Office battery benchmark, which imitates the drudgery of the average office and creative job, the laptop lasted 8 hours and 11 minutes. It’s not close to what ASUS claims, but I do think that’s good enough for most users to get their work done in a day without having to lug the 200W power brick along.

Impressions

In my hands-on experience with the Zenbook Pro 14, I found two variants to consider: the RTX 4070 (UX6404VI) and the RTX 4060 (UX6404VV). The former, which I had the opportunity to test (a reminder that this unit came from NVIDIA), is a SKU that is not available for purchase in Singapore (I don’t see it on the ASUS e-store nor at local retail stores). The latter, interestingly, is, for S$2,996 at Harvey Norman. The key difference apart from the GPUs is that the local SKU comes with 16GB of memory and 1TB SSD storage. Given the minimal performance gap in non-gaming tasks between the two GPUs, the RTX 4060 model could be the more sensible choice for local consumers and its target demographics.

Now, if you're willing to part with that kind of money, the MacBook Pro 14 is also within reach. It boasts a longer battery life and a more vibrant Mini LED display capable of superior HDR content handling. However, the choice between the two isn't just about hardware; it's also about your software preferences. The Zenbook Pro 14 has an edge for gamers, thanks to the RTX 40 series GPU and its compatibility with platforms like Steam and Xbox Game Pass.

In my time using the Zenbook Pro, I found its gaming capabilities to be a significant advantage, especially for those who want a machine that can handle both work and play. While the MacBook Pro 14 may outshine it in certain aspects, the Zenbook Pro 14 holds its own, offering a well-rounded experience for a variety of users.

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8.5
  • Design 9
  • Features 8.5
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8
The Good
Great CPU and GPU combo
Best-in-class OLED touchscreen display
NVIDIA Studio drivers provide uplift and stability for content creation tools such as Adobe Premiere Pro
Good range of I/O ports
ASUS DialPad
Great design with high quality build
The Bad
Average battery life for a 14-inch laptop
Content creators and productivity-based users might find the Macbook Pro 14 more compelling
Pricey (but you do get what you pay for)
The RTX 4070 sku is not available in Singapore
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