ASUS Zenbook 14 UX425E w/ 11th Gen i5 Review

ASUS Zenbook 14 UX425E Review




The ASUS ZenBook series has gone through so many iterations that it can get quite confusing which one to pick. And although most do come attached with a hefty price tag, some of them don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. So today, we’re going to be checking out the new ASUS Zenbook 14 UX425E, not to be confused with the ultralight UX431, nor its more souped-up cousin, the UX435, which can be easily distinguished by its unique display found on the trackpad.

Although this particular model lacks the fancy secondary screen, this compact ultrabook is still powered by Intel’s latest 11th Gen i5 Processor, has improved integrated graphics, and comes with 16GB of RAM with a 512GB SSD. But are these specs going to be enough to keep up with your day-to-day use? Well, if you’re already set on purchasing a new laptop for work, keep watching as this could be the one for you.

Design and Construction

Out of the box, the Zenbook 14 looks and feels like what a Zenbook should look like. Slim body, portable form factor, and is easy to carry around. Now the unit that we’re going to be looking at is in the Pine Gray color variant, which is the only version available locally here in the Philippines, so if you’re looking for a white finish (i.e. Lilac Mist), well, you’re not going to be able to get that here. 

Alongside the laptop includes a couple of USB adapters, and a carrying sleeve sporting a combination of leather and fabric.

The laptop includes a couple of USB adapters and a carrying sleeve sporting a combination of leather and fabric.

The minimalist aesthetic is something we can always appreciate from the Zenbook lineup. The chassis is made out of aluminum, and while the ASUS logo on the back panel is located off-center, the signature spun-metal design still manages to intricately draw the eyes directly to the logo – even at first glance.

There’s nothing much to see on the front of the laptop. There aren’t any lights or buttons, and neither is there a place for your finger to open up the lid, but it’s kind of nice that the edges do contour in such a way that they are still easy to open, even with just one finger.

It also measures just 0.55 inches (13.9mm) thick and weighs just 2.49lbs (1.13kg) making for a very compact and light ultrabook.

Over at the left side, you get a space for a full-sized HDMI slot, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and an LED charging indicator that lights up bright orange when charging and switches to white when it reaches full batt.

While over at the right side is a USB-A port, a micro-SD card slot, and another white LED status indicator.

The amount of I/O ports on the Zenbook 14 should be reason enough for the average user, but the lack of a built-in 3.5mm jack is worth considering if you often use wired headphones. Thankfully, there’s a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle included in the box. In addition, ASUS also provides an RJ45 dongle, should you need to be hardwired to the internet.

With everything located on the sides, it leaves a good amount of space for the exhaust grilles at the back to dissipate as much heat as they can. At the same time, the Ergolift hinge gives the rear end a slight elevation which should help circulate the air a bit better.

Checking out the flip side, removing all the screws at the bottom will reveal the insides of the Zenbook 14. Unfortunately, the RAM is indeed soldered onto the board, but that shouldn’t be a problem since we do have 16GB on here, which should be more than enough. On the brighter side, the M.2 SSD slot seems to be accessible by removing these two screws on each side, but we’re gonna be stopping here since this isn’t a teardown anyway.

The inside of the laptop has a nice and premium feel to it, with the deck made out of aluminum, just like its chassis. However, this one feels matte in texture, as opposed to the exterior that uses a glossier finish. The keyboard, on the other hand, is a lot more well-spaced, and comes with dedicated home, page up, down, and end keys.

They’re also backlit, with three brightness levels which you can access using the F7 key. As for the typing experience, it is comfortable to type on. Despite its thin construction, we do still get a good amount of key travel at 1.4mm. It also requires just the right amount of force to actuate the keys. My only gripe with this layout is concentrated on the arrow keys, which did feel a tad too small. But I think this is something one can easily get used to overtime.

Now moving our attention to the touchpad, the ZenBook 14’s wide surface area is something greatly appreciated. The glass-covered pad is considerably larger over some of the other Zenbook models, and for a good reason; as it also doubles as a Number Pad if you long tap on the little icon on the top right corner, while doing so on the opposite end, controls the backlight with two levels of brightness.

This is what ASUS calls its NumberPad 2.0, and I’m glad that they decided to include it in the Zenbook 14 lineup. I’ll admit it is a little tricky to get used to due to the lack of any tactile feedback, but it’s worth mentioning how the touchpad can still be used like normal despite the number pad enabled. Pretty neat. Apart from that, there’s also this nifty shortcut to pull up the calculator at any time by swiping down from the top left corner—a convenient feature for those who often crunch a lot of numbers.

Display and Multimedia

As for the display, it’s equipped with a 14-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) 16:9 IPS panel, with a color space of nearly 100% sRGB and around 65% AdobeRGB. According to the global website, there seems to be a total of three screen types; one of which sports an energy-saving 1W display. But, unfortunately, only the QHD variant is the only available one here—at least we get the best-looking one


 

As expected, colors are vibrant on this display, and the experience was visually pleasing, to say the least. It also features an anti-glare screen, so apart from decent viewing angles, this could be a good candidate if you often take your work to a coffee shop or anywhere away from home. Unfortunately no touchscreen, but it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker to many people.

Audio is managed by a set of Harman/Kardon certified stereo speakers mounted by the underside. And while they are definitely loud and bassy enough for multimedia consumption, audio quality is not the most outstanding since the mids sound a bit muffled, while the hi’s are a little bit on the tinny side—but that’s just me being a little nitpicky.

The plastic bezels on the Zenbook 14 come with a 2.5mm margin on the sides, making watching content a lot more immersive. However, the top is slightly thicker to leave room for the 720p webcam that’s mounted on the center. It’s a 3D IR camera with Windows Hello support, so if you’d like, it is also possible to unlock the laptop using facial recognition—a pretty convenient feature, if I may add.

OS and Apps

For OS and Apps, the Zenbook 14 UX425 comes with Windows 10 Home preinstalled and comes with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019.

Other than your usual windows apps, the only extras we have are “MyAsus,” which is present in all ASUS laptops, as well as “Mobile Plans,”; although to our knowledge, our unit does not have any SIM support. It’s also worth mentioning that you’re able to cycle to its three profile modes (Performance, Standard, and Whisper Mode) if you press the Fn + F key, leaving you room to optimize the Zenbook for whatever task you’re running.

Upon our bootup tests, it took around 11 seconds before being able to fully reach the windows screen, which is not as blazing fast as other ultrabooks out there but is still pretty quick if I’m speaking in a more realistic sense.

Performance and Benchmarks

Now underneath the hood, the only available variant here in the Philippines is the one packed with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 chipset and is paired with Intel Iris XE Graphics for its GPU. It’s also accompanied by 16GB of RAM and comes with a 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD. Thus, our unit actually sits comfortably in between the ZenBook 14’s i7 and i3 variants, both of which are not officially available in the country.

Starting with Cinebench scores, the results show that CPU performance is above average. The 4 core 8 thread CPU is often compared to AMD’s Ryzen 5 4500U Chipset, which has a slightly higher average score, but a considerably lower single-core score. It’s also somewhat at par with Intel’s very own Core i7-4770K chipset, coming out with almost similar average scores. It’s nothing compared to something like a modern desktop processor, but on a laptop such as this, it’s more than enough computing power.

Testing both the CPU and GPU, we ran both 3D Mark’s FireStrike (DX11) and Timespy (DX12) to see how well they perform together. The results we got were nothing off the charts, but they were not necessarily low either. Even though we are running off an integrated GPU, the Zenbook 14 technically does have the capability to play games.

We were able to run a couple of titles, such as Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 5, in which we managed to run an average of 29-30 FPS on high graphics settings. This is impressive but, at the same time, not too surprising, considering the highly acclaimed AAA RPG is already eight years old (and aging gracefully, might I add). Nevertheless, it was still a good game to test out for an ultrabook that doesn’t even have a dedicated GPU.

We also tested Genshin Impact, giving us an average of 37 FPS on medium graphics settings. Initially, there were frame drops left and right due to our variant’s QHD display, but lowering the resolution down to 1080p made the gameplay run a whole lot smoother with barely any noticeable stutters. Ironically, we don’t even pass the minimum requirements according to the official website, but we’re happy it was able to prove otherwise.

Getting down to the numbers, we fired up Thermal Capability’s Aida 64 to test out exactly how hot the Zenbook 14’s CPU can get under stress.

Running the system stability test for 25 minutes, we recorded a maximum temperature of 91C, averaging a much cooler 65C. Although nothing out of the norm, I would much prefer to stick to lighter tasks such as photoshop and some video editing since I only recently realized that they’ve been great for those use cases as well.

Battery Life

Last but not least, the Zenbook 14 is powered by a 67Wh 4-cell li-po battery. In our standard video loop test (which involves playing a 1080p video on loop at 50% brightness, 50% volume with airplane mode turned on), it was able to last 8 hours and 44 minutes at best, which is a far cry from what we expected as we even enabled Better Battery Mode and set the profile to Silent.

And although I’m not sure how this will be able to last the 15 hours ASUS advertises, running time should still be decent for a day’s work. Although I really was curious about its 1080p 1W display version, since that’s touted to last up to a whopping 21 hours. It’s too bad we don’t get that model here either.

Charging, on the other hand, took a shy of 2 full hours to reach from 0-100% with its included 65W Type-C charger,

Conclusion

Priced at PHP 64,995 for the i5 variant, the ASUS Zenbook 14 UX425E is not exactly the apex predator of ultrabooks out there. It is, however, a decent improvement over its previous generations—although not without any faults of its own. For one, it is easy to look past the absence of an ethernet port, but the fact that you still have to lug a 3.5mm dongle might be enough to set a few people off. The price is also very competitive, as other Ultrabooks such as Acer’s Swift and Lenovo’s Yoga series sit around this price range as well.

But one thing’s for certain is that the Zenbook 14 passes our standards of what a decent ultrabook should be: good battery life, easy to carry around, and has reliable performance. So if anything, ASUS has only made the Zenbook 14 a very palatable option for those willing to pay the premium price without sacrificing quality or build.

ASUS ZenBook 14 (UX425EA) specs:
14-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) Display
Intel Core i5-1135G7
Intel Iris Xe graphics
16GB 4266MHz LPDDR4X RAM
512GB PCIe 3.0 x2 NVMe SSD
WiFi 6+
Bluetooth 5.0
2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C with ASUS USB-C Easy Charge
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
1 x Standard HDMI 2.0
1 x MicroSD card reader
HD IR camera with Windows Hello
ASUS NumberPad 2.0
ASUS ClearVoice Mic with Cortana and Alexa voice-recognition support
Harman Kardon certified speakers
Windows 10 Home
Free Office 2019
67 Whr lithium-polymer battery
319 x 208 x 13.9 mm
1.17 kg
Pine Grey



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