ASUS X401 Hands-On: Affordable 14-inch Notebook Sizzles With Style

ASUS's Computex booth is overflowing with Ivy Bridge-powered notebooks, many of which are set to be released within the next few weeks. Of the dozen or so new models on display, perhaps the most interesting is the 14-inch X401, a thin-and-light notebook that's designed to be as good looking as it is inexpensive. 

Targeted at budget-minded users, the X401 will carry an MSRP of $549 when it launches later this summer, though one ASUS rep at the booth told us it would end up costing closer to $400. Proving that users don't need to sacrifice style for savings, the X401 has an attractive, soft-touch matte finish on its deck with a color scheme that carries through on both the deck and lid. The notebook will come in four compelling colors: lime green, light pink, white and black. The white and black models we saw also appeared to have textured palmrests.

 At 1.1-inches thick, the ASUS X401 is no Ultrabook, but its black plastic sides have a circular vent pattern and rectangular shape that make them look thinner than they are. The smooth, black island-style keys combine with a clickpad that matches the color of the deck to give this notebook a really premium aesthetic.

Key specs include a 3rd Generation Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, up to a 750GB 5,400 rpm hard drive and a 1366 x 768 resolution screen. Users who are waiting for Windows 8 will want to wait a bit longer, as this notebook will launch with Windows 7.  

The X401 doesn't have an optical drive, but it does pack a solid selection of ports. On the left side sits a single USB port while on the right we found a VGA port, fold-out Ethernet, SD card reader, HDMI-out and a second USB port.

ASUS says that despite its mechanical hard drive, the notebook will resume from sleep in just 2 seconds. The X401 employs a cooling system the company calls IceCool Technology to keep the area near the palmrest cool to the touch.

According to ASUS, the X401 we saw on display also has a 13-inch younger brother with similar specs, dubbed the X301. 

We had a chance to go hands-on with the X401 and were pleased with the accuracy of the clickpad, which, in our brief experience, didn't seem to have any of the jumpiness we've found on so many other buttonless designs. The screen seemed relatively bright and a looping video played smoothly. The keyboard felt responsive and free from flex, but the real stand-out feature we found was the palmrest, which felt really soft and comfortable to the touch. 

We look forward to reviewing the ASUS X401 in earnest sometime soon. In the meantime, check out the video and gallery below for a closer look.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.