Asus' New ZenBook 14 Could be the Sub-$1,000 Laptop To Beat

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 Asus unveiled today the new ZenBook 14 UX431, an ultra sleek 14-inch laptop with the latest 8th Gen processors and a discrete MX150 GPU.

 asus zenbook 14 431

The new model is available today and starts at $799. The base configuration comes with a 14-inch, 1080p display, an Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. An $899 midtier model is equipped with a Core i7-8565U CPU and a 512GB SSD. For $1,199, you can splurge on a Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics.

 

  Asus ZenBook UX431
Starting Price $799
Display 14-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel
CPU Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel Core i7-8565U 
RAM Up to 16GB
Graphics UHD Graphics 620 or GeForce MX150
Storage Up to 512GB
Ports USB Type-C, USB 3.1 (Type-A), USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card, Headphone
Size 12.7 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches
Weight 3.2 pounds

The ZenBook 14 UX431 shares a number of features with its pricier sibling, the ZenBook 14 UX433. The laptop's 14-inch, 1080p display is framed by a razor-thin bezel, resulting in a screen-to-body ratio of 86 percent. This keeps the machine quite portable, at 12.7 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches and 3.2 pounds.

The ZenBook 14 has a 14-inch, 1080p IPS display that Asus claims "offers great viewing angles and uniform colors." We're crossing our fingers that it gets brighter than other ZenBooks we've recently reviewed.

Zenbook 14_UX431_Ultrabook_Thin and light

The ZenBook 14 UX431 also sports the ErgoLift hinge Asus debuted on the ZenBook S last year. The unique hinge system angles the keyboard upward at a 4.5-degree angle, which improves the typing experience.

Asus also claims that the design enhances cooling and speaker quality, but we haven't found that to be the case with other ZenBooks we've reviewed. 

The design of the ZenBook 14 UX431 is what we've come to expect from Asus. The laptop has a sleek aluminum chassis and the lid features the company's signature concentric circle pattern. The ZenBook 14 UX431 is available in a unique Utopia Blue, a silver color with a soft, subtle hint of light blue.

Zenbook 14_UX431_Utopia-Blue_spun-metal finish

While it may look elegant, the new ZenBook 14 is actually quite a sturdy machine, having passed MIL-STD-810G tests in harsh environments, like extreme altitudes, temperatures, and humidity.

With up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8656U CPU and 16GB of RAM, the ZenBook 14 should provide ample performance for running demanding programs. However, if you want to play games or run GPU-intensive software, then we recommend opting for the top-of-the-line model, which sports a GeForce MX150 GPU. While the GeForce MX150 is an entry-level discrete GPU, it's a huge improvement over the UHD 620 Graphics found in the base and mid-level models.

Despite its slim chassis, the ZenBook 14 offers a good variety of ports, including a USB 2.0 input, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a Type-C connection, an HDMI, an SD card reader and a headphone/mic jack. Unfortunately, there is no Thunderbolt 3 input for connecting to an eGPU or multiple 4K monitors.

Zenbook 14_UX431_NanoEdge display_Slim bezel

Asus is touting the ZenBook 14's quad speakers (two top-firing, two bass speakers underneath), which it claims offer 1.4 times higher-frequency response compared to its predecessor, the UX430. The ZenBook 14's battery life is rated at 10 hours but we won't know real-world runtimes until we put it through our own benchmark.

We'll post a full review of the ZenBook 14 UX431 once we receive a review unit, which should be in the next few weeks.