The series ZenBook di Asus it has always stood out, but on the other hand like most of the products made by the Taiwanese company, for a great design and for a general optimization superior to its competitors in the same market segment. The Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition that we try today and delve into in our review does not represent a total upheaval compared to last year's previous model, as much as it comes as an update of the hardware platform that reaches the latest generation of Intel processors, specifically the twelfth, Alder Lake.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review
Design and Materials
Space Edition is not a random word, as much as it stands for commemorate 25 years since the launch of the ASUS P series laptops that were used on the MIR space station during one of its first missions. What aesthetic changes does this special version bring compared to the traditional one? First the packaging is different: extremely refined and full of "spatial" goodies, it will surprise you immediately in the unboxing phase. The other differences, then, coincide with the color combinations in titanium gray and a rough matte texture, but some space-themed details scattered here and there on the body of the computer will not go unnoticed.
Even the rear part, to be clear the body behind the screen, certainly does not go unnoticed with its finishes and the presence of a small TFT screen with spatial animations; here, without a doubt this laptop, for those who are extremely attentive to details, finishes and above all minimalism, may not represent the most suitable choice, but let's focus more on its performance, which is undoubtedly the highlight. For the rest the notebook it shares all the characteristics of the "traditional" ZenBook 14X, ie the all-metal body, the 16:10 display, the ergolift hinge for opening almost 160 degrees and so on.
The notebook falls into the 14″ inch category, and as such comes with a width of 31cm, a depth of 22cm and a thickness of 16mm, with a weight of approximately 1.44kg. Compared to other notebooks in the same segment, and I am referring above all to the dimensions, this one Asus ZenBook 14X OLED it turns out to be comfortable to carry around, extremely light and perfectly optimized; although the dimensions are the same as mine Macbook Pro 14, the sensations during use made me think of a better optimized product.
For the rest, the device comes with a rather essential set of ports: on the left side there are two USB-C and an HDMI port, while on the right side there is a MicroSD slot, a USB-A 3.2 port and a 3.5mm hybrid headphone or microphone. There are quite a few slits for heat dissipation on both the right and left sides.
The display chosen by the company for this Asus ZenBook 14X OLED is a unit, as I anticipated, from 14″ inch OLED type with 2.8K resolution, 3% DCI-P100 color coverage, refresh rate up to 90Hz and declared maximum brightness up to 550 nits. The brand also does not go unnoticed "PANTONE Verified” present on the body of the device, an important brand that certifies the extreme reliability and calibration of the panel also for professional use.
However, beyond the purely technical aspects, this display, like others already seen on previous Asus laptops, is distinguished by excellent blacks and a characteristic contrast of OLED panels, as well as the brilliance of the colors. The panel is of course also compatible with HDR, but Windows disables it natively on first boot; for a better experience, I recommend activating this parameter in the settings, without exaggerating too much with the brightness, otherwise you risk missing out on some details. Here, if I really have to find fault with this display, I would tell you about its maximum brightness: i 500 nits claimed perhaps they are a bit abundant compared to reality, also because using it outdoors seemed a little more difficult than other similar laptops. It is not a problem that negatively affects the experience, also because using a notebook externally is quite rare, compared to a tablet or smartphone for example.
The panel externally has finishes that I don't know how to define; it's not glossy, but it's not matte to the touch either. In any case, the brilliance of the colors typical of matte finishes is not lost, and it absolutely does not capture fingerprints, which is typical of glossy finishes. In short, Asus has optimized this aspect to perfection managing to take the positive sides of both technologies.
Speakers and Audio Quality
The audio in this ZenBook 14X OLED it is entrusted to two speakers positioned in the lower part of the body; I'm not a fan of this solution, but since their positioning is slightly inclined, the end result is quite good with the sound being directed outwards and not towards the surface of the computer.
The audio quality is average, without infamy and without praise: it's ok for daily use, to listen to a few podcasts, watch a few films but nothing more. Basically the biggest problem is the almost total absence of bass, an aspect on which many manufacturers in any market segment tend to disappoint. Patience. All in all, the volume is quite high with maximum peaks of around 85dB.
Hardware and Performance
As we well know, finding yourself faced with the review of the identical model that we are going to buy, when it comes to computers, is practically a lottery, between hardware revisions, versions for different markets and so on. Specifically, the version that we received on trial is the one called with the code name UX5401ZA, with processor Intel Core i7-12700H, with integrated Intel Iris XE graphics, 16GB of RAM memory LPDDR5 soldered on the motherboard and a SSD from 512GB rather fast M.2 NVMe™ PCIe® 4.0 type.
The CPU, as anticipated at the beginning, is part of the twelfth generation of Intel processors: it has 6 Performance Cores and 8 Efficiency Cores, as well as 20 threads combined. This ultraportable implementation supplies the CPU with up to 45W of power under sustained loads, so don't expect the same performance from this CPU as you would get from its desktop PC counterpart. The 16GB of RAM memory cannot be upgraded, so if you should feel the need, I advise you to opt directly for the version with higher RAM memory; the SSD, on the other hand, is upgradeable and replaceable.
All in all, the performance of the Asus notebook is good for its market segment, even if I still think that Windows 11 is the bottleneck for many products like this; the latest operating system from Microsoft, in my experience, is not among the best products ever made by the company, with microlag, uncertainties and sporadic blocks that are the masters. Unfortunately the various manufacturers, including ASUS, do not have much say and can do nothing but wait for the release of a new version of Windows.
On the purely performance front, however, ASUS has done a good job with its software suite that allows you to manage usage with predefined presents: performance, balanced and quiet, all of which aim to improve fuel efficiency and quietness. I anticipate that, at maximum performance and with heavy use, the fans make themselves heard; the silent mode, however, for office use will give you the impression of being in front of a practically fanless computer.
The use for which this laptop is designed is certainly "intense but not too much", to simplify; a camera of this type is to be recommended to those who work with a notebook in the office and sporadically, perhaps during the holidays, enjoy modifying a few shots or making a small souvenir video. It is a device potentially suitable for novice graphic designers with not too complicated projects and with many levels: its display and its calibration are excellent for this type of work. In gaming, however, I advise you to aim for other Asus products, especially those that have the ROG brand, specific for this type of use.
The excellent work of ASUS, on the other hand, I noticed with the dual-heatpipe dissipation module, with two fans, which work in tandem and provide an important upgrade compared to the previous generations of notebooks from the house; thanks to this system ASUS has conveyed the hot air on the side slits of the laptop rather than near the hinge and the keyboard, which often makes the screen heat up too much or in any case generates annoying hot air flows.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Il keyboard layout it is the all-time classic, the numeric keypad on the right side is absent, a feature usually dedicated to products with certainly more generous dimensions; there is, however, a virtual NumberPad inside the touchpad, a gem already seen in other models of the Taiwanese company.
For the rest, the keyboard has a good stroke, the pitch is not among the shortest and this makes the click decisive when pressed; it is not among the silent keyboards, it absolutely does not fall into that category. The only comment I make to the imperfect backlighting which, despite everything, in some situations seems to leave some keys almost "off", especially if we don't look at them from above (in that case the situation improves a bit).
Il touchpad it is quite large and well implemented inside the body; there is not much space on the sides to rest the wrists, but on the other hand the touchpad is precise and responsive on its titanium surface, which does not capture fingerprints during use and lets the fingers slide perfectly during use. Gestures and touches are also well implemented to fully exploit the potential of the touchpad.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition mounts a 63Wh battery on board in line with its other competitors on the market; the twelfth generation Intel Core is not famous for its low consumption, and in this sense a solution based on the Ryzen platform would have helped us obtain better autonomy, but we are faced with the well-balanced "usage profiles" of Asus it allows us to get the most out of it, depending on the type of use we intend to make of the computer.
The autonomy of this notebook, in fact, varies from about 3 and a half hours of use in Performance mode with stressful use, such as photo and video editing, maximum brightness, some games and so on; on the other hand, it reaches up to a maximum of about 5 hours of active display with Silent profile, active Wi-Fi and viewing of content on Netflix, Youtube and the like. The complete recharge of the device takes place in about two hours with the power supply included in cUSB-C package up to 100W.
Price and Considerations
On the aesthetic and construction front, I personally think this Asus ZenBook 14X OLED has very few rivals in circulation; of course, I understand that the Space Edition could be limiting for some and not suitable for everyone, but in that case you can easily remedy by purchasing the "standard" version of this device.
ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition it's not among the cheapest devices out there (about 1500 € are necessary, in fact, to take it home in this version), but it should be interpreted almost as a collector's product and not as a product to look for among those with the best value for money. He doesn't win on this front, he doesn't have a dedicated graphics card and this could be extremely limiting for many, above all because on balance he is an "office" notebook for writing content, web browsing, video streaming and nothing more. The game is worth the candle? Perhaps some notebooks, from ASUS itself but with a few more months on the back, could be decidedly more suitable.
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