ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: A powerful laptop to rival the MacBook Pro

ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 is the latest in the company's line of rugged laptops with great screens for creatives.
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ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: A powerful laptop to rival the MacBook Pro - W3Tekno
Our Verdict
Reasons To Buy
  • ASUS Dial is great
  • Brilliant touchscreen
  • Handles video and photo work with ease
  • Reasons To Avoid
  • Pedestrian battery life
  • Almost as expensive as the MacBook Pro
  • The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED carries the burden of expectations set by its close relatives Zenbooks Pro 16X, 15 and S 13, rather than the weight of its components (weighing only 1.6kg). With their excellent power, creative ergonomics and gorgeous OLED panels, the big two have quite surprised us recently. The ultra-light S 13 OLED even took our Small Laptop of the Year title at the CB Awards 2023 (with the same screen but smaller).

    Does the Pro 14 answer a demand currently unmet by ASUS' wide range of laptops for creatives? While ASUS' StudioBook can't quite reach the heights of the Zenbook Pro 16X and even the Pro 14 Duo (with its smart second screen), it fully deserves its place next to its impressive siblings in the ever-growing ASUS line-up. I took a sample for review over a period of a few weeks to see if it could compete for a place on lists such as the best laptops for photo editing.

    ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review
    Key Specs (UX6404VI)
    CPU:Intel Core i9-13900H Processor 2.6 GHz (24MB Cache, up to 5.4 GHz, 14 cores, 20 Threads)
    GPU:NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4070
    Display:14.5-inch, 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED 16:10, 100% DCI-P3, touchscreen
    RAM:16GB LPDDR5
    Storage:1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 Performance SSD
    Connectivity:1x USB-A 3.2, 1x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C, 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x MicroSD, 1x DC-in
    Wireless:Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3
    Dimensions:32.18 x 22.33 x 1.79 cm
    Weight:1.65kg

    Design And Build

    ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: Design And Build

    The Zenbook Pro 14 shares several exterior features with the larger Zenbook Pro 16X, including a small ASUS logo delicately etched into the lid and a sleek black case. A similar narrative emerges when we open it, although we don't get the 16X's fancy lifting mechanism that lifts the keyboard and tilts the keyboard towards the user to increase airflow to the vents. Instead, the back of the lid protrudes slightly outward from the body, so that opening the lid while the laptop is placed on a table lifts the bottom (and tilts the keyboard slightly toward the user) to improve airflow to the underlying fans.

    Another clever innovation that helped make the 16X my new favourite laptop is the ASUS dial, another thing it (somewhat) inherited from its big brother. However, it's not a separate touch dial; instead, it's placed at the top left of the trackpad and is activated (and deactivated) by clicking on the top right corner of the trackpad.

    With 1.4mm of travel and a backlit chiclet design, the keyboard provides a comfortable typing experience for someone like me who has always preferred large external mechanical keyboards.

    The aforementioned dial promises a nice creative working ergonomics, and the trackpad is also quite smooth and fast.

    But the real star here is the display. Due to its outstanding colour coverage and intense brightness (550 nits in HDR mode), this 14.5-inch 2.8K display looks bigger than it actually is, despite being smaller than the 15 or Pro 16X. It also has a touchscreen that supports 10-point multi-touch and a stylus. Any travelling graphic designer or image editor can use it as it has a 0.2ms response time, a 120Hz refresh rate for gaming or high-quality video editing and 1.07 billion colours. It has also received Pantone certification for colour quality.

    While not as light as the S 13 in terms of weight, it's smaller and more portable than the 15 or 16X and didn't seem too heavy when carrying it for work on the road.

    I have to admit that there is one cosmetic aspect of the design that I don't particularly like, but the laptop is very stain friendly. The lid and keyboard area turned into Fingerprint City after just one day of use, and since the entire build is slick Tech Black, it shows up extremely clearly (the photos accompanying this review show it after cleaning with my best soft cloth).

    Features

    ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: Features

    The good people at ASUS have earned my respect for paying attention to ports that many laptop makers ignore.

    In addition to an HDMI 2.1 port, a dedicated DC-in plug, an audio jack and even a built-in SD card reader, this device has three USB-A, one USB-C 3.2 and one Thunderbolt 4 port. I can plug in all the everyday devices I need, and the Bluetooth 5.3 wireless card had no problem connecting with my wireless keyboard, mouse, speakers and headphones when needed.

    The webcam is a Full HD model that supports Windows Hello facial recognition. This additional security feature is supported by the webcam, which I found incredibly useful for securing important work files while working in the office or for taking with me on the go.

    The speakers were created in collaboration with Harman/Kardon, and while I rarely recommend built-in speakers for laptops, I found them to be at least decent here compared to many other laptops I've tried. Mids and highs are very well presented, although there is a distinct lack of depth and bass.

    In it, I discovered a collection of creativity-ready apps. ProArt Creator Hub allows creative users to customise and adjust ASUS Dial functions and more, while MyASUS helped me configure numerous system features according to my preferences.

    Performance

    ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: Performance

    ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED benchmark scoring

    PCMark 10
    Total8,046
    Essentials11,276
    Productivity11,499
    Digital Content Creation10,900
    Geekbench 6
    CPU Multi-core13,565
    CPU Single-core2,644
    GPU97,192
    Cinebench R23.2
    Multi-core12,280
    Single-core1,962

    The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED may not look like a powerhouse at first glance, but it's a cute little device. In the Geekbench 6 CPU test, it easily equals the MacBook Pro 14-inch M2, and the GPU result is also pretty good.

    It also showed what a powerful video editing and graphic design centre it is, with incredibly high results in the PCMark 10 and Cinebench R23 tests.

    Most importantly, it ran Photoshop and numerous other applications without much lag or slowness, but the fans kicked in. However, it never got dangerously hot, and I found I could play big games with ease, including Forza Horizon 5, No Man's Sky, Cyberpunk 2077 and many more. However, I connected a second, larger display for gaming because I generally prefer larger monitors over 14-inch laptop screens. However, I was pleased with watching TV and movies because of the OLED's happy brightness and clarity.

    But that performance means sacrificing battery life. While ASUS claims the Zenbook can run for up to 10 hours on a single charge, if you want to complete important work, you won't get that far. While I was able to watch a film for about 8 and a half hours on a single charge, it took me over an hour to complete a full day's work on battery power.

    Price

    ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED review: Price

    The unpleasant news comes now. The price of the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED is high. In the US it's $2,099 for the touchscreen model (you can also order it without the touchscreen for $1,799), while in the UK it's around £2,000. That makes it stand out as a device for professionals only (or if you're an incredibly wealthy student in the creative industries). That's a lot of money, even for a decent laptop. However, the MacBook Pro M2 has a slightly smaller, non-touchscreen display and costs the same or even less.

    Should I Buy The ASUS Zenbook PRO 14 OLED?

    The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED is part of the company's growing portfolio of Zenbooks, which includes 13, 14, 15 and 16-inch models. However, that's not where this particular model sets up shop; rather, it's in the space where the 14-inch MacBook Pro M2 often claims to be one of the best options for a laptop for picture or video editing. The price difference between both is marginal, the performance is the same and the screen is (slightly) better and larger (and a touchscreen). Therefore, if you don't like the macOS ecosystem, I don't see why you shouldn't choose this instead of the Apple counterpart.

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