The Asus ZenBook UX433FA-DH74 falls on the better side of ultraportables that you can buy right now. I was attracted by the compact, slick chassis, which perfectly fits a 14-inch display in what is traditional a footprint for a 13-inch ultraportable laptop.
- Compact, premium design
- Military grade chassis
- Timeless LED-illuminated numpad
- Solid performance
- Not-so-bright display
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3
- Middling touchpad
The Asus ZenBook UX433FA-DH74 is a 14-inch ultraportable with a remarkably compact chassis and solid performance, and much beautiful than anything you’ve seen out there recently. It is one of the few laptops I would buy for myself without a second thought. This Ultrabook puts a 14-inch display into a body you would traditionally find on a 13-inch notebook, and the cuddly dark-blue aluminum boasts military grade durability. As if that’s not enough, the laptop’s touchpad sports a classy LED-illuminated built-in numpad.
Not to mention, the ZenBook UX433FA is surprisingly affordable. With our review unit, you get a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. If only it had a brighter display and longer battery life, the ZenBook 14 would easily emerge tops as the best overall Ultrabook around. Nevertheless, it doesn’t fall short of the honors by a big margin, it is still a great choice for students and professionals in the market for a powerful, sexy, ultraportable.
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A premium construction, a dark-blue aluminum body and timeless portability make the ZenBook 14 one of the sleekest devices I have reviewed, but it’s the surprisingly small size that had me awed. Asus reduced the ZenBook 14 into a clamshell that roughly the size of a standard A4 sheet of paper by eating into the display bezels to a mere 2.9 millimeters. The result is a 14-inch laptop with a screen-to-body ration of 92 percent, better than the luxe Dell XPS 13’S 80.7 percent ratio.
On the ZenBook 14, Asus uses an ErgoLift hinge we’ve seen on other ZenBook laptop and more recently on the ROG Zephyrus S released last year. With the new hinge concept, the laptop’s chassis lifts off the ground a few millimeters once you open the lid, and angles the keyboard downward by 3 degrees. The raised keyboard is meant to provide a more comfortable typing experience, enhance cooling and boost the audio quality. While the benefits of these additions are minimal, you’ll find them beneficial in the long run.
The ZenBook 14 sports Asus’ signature concentric-circle design on the lid, surrounding a centered, golden ‘ASUS’ emblem. There is a stippled gold bar that runs across the point where the keyboard deck meets the display, with a centered Asus ZenBook logo. The rest of the deck bears the same, sexy Royal Blue theme as the lid, while the keyboard features a darker indigo motif. A gold keyboard font and Harmon/Kardon branding wrap the exquisite color scheme on this laptop.
There is still more to like on the ZenBook 14. First, the sturdy aluminum construction is tested to MIL-STD 810G, in simple terms, military-grade durability. This level of certification is usually a preserve of price business-grade laptops, so I was impressed to find a consumer unit that is not just rugged. For the average user, this level of certification means that it can withstand extreme temperatures, humidity and altitudes, and can bear drops and vibrations.
It doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor –like the rest of the ZenBooks, but an IR camera (located on the narrow bezel above the display) allow for seamless and secure Windows Hello login. The laptop measures 0.63 x 7.8 x 12.6-inches (HWD) and weighs 2.6 pounds, notably lighter and shorter than the heftier Huawei MateBook X Pro (2.9 pounds, 0.6 inches).
Connectivity is excellent for all your gadgets and peripherals. On the left there is a USB-C port, a USB 3.1 input and an HDMI connector. On the right, there is a microSD card slot, a USB 2.0 port and a headphone/mic combo. You also have small LEDs for battery level and power mode.
That said, I wish Asus would have opted for a Thunderbolt 3 port instead of the ZenBook’s slow-charging DC-in connector. For a laptop that cost northwards of one grand it is disappointing to omit a Thubnderbolt 3 port, meaning you won’t be able to connect to a graphics amp and even some docking stations.
To have a 14-inch screen fit into a 13-inch body, Asus had to go for razor-thin bezels that give an immersive viewing experience. However, the lustre 14-inch, 1080p doesn’t get very bright like competing high-res screens. The display reproduces 121 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is fairly above the premium laptop (117 percent). Compared, the MateBook X Pro reproduces 125 percent while the Gram reproduces 128 percent, both are very colorful.
If you’ll be using this laptop outdoors, its glossy, not-touch panel offers mediocre backlighting something that affects outdoor visibility. The screen gets 217 nits which is above the 200-nit mark, while competitors like the MateBook X Pro offer more than double the ZenBook’s brightness at 456 nits, and the Gram maxes at 308 nits.
Keyboard and Touchpad
From experience, thin laptops don’t always have uncomfortable keyboards. The ZenBook UX433FA-DH74 proves that by offering a fairly good typing experience, in as much as it won’t be suitable for every user. It uses a 1.1 millimeters backlit keyboard with nice tactile feedback and needs 64 grams of actuation force to respond, which isn’t a lot considering that the island-style never get you fatigued.
If you’re a pro-typer, the cramped deck might be annoying, rather, complicate your typing experience, which is among the few sacrifices you make to such a svelte system. As such, it isn’t a deal-breaker as you can always adjust your typing style.
On the other hand, the ZenBook 14 has a 1 x 2.4-inch touchpad that is well placed, though not very sensitive to tap-to-click functions, something that might tempt you to revert to the left-click button. The touchpad has an integrated LED-illuminated numpad which can be activated by pressing a small icon in the corner, that simple. Once you press the button, a grid illuminates on the touchpad surface, where you can type numbers and mathematical functions. This feature works well, and we hope Asus adds some capacitive feature in future models.
Powering the ZenBook UX433FA-DH74 is Intel’s Core i7-8565U CPU and 16GB of RAM, a feature set that does a good job handling rigorous daily computing hassle free. If you’ve always wanted a petite system that can load up to 20 Google Chrome tabs and while at it stream five 1080p videos without slowing down, this is right for you. However, with all those tabs open, I realized that the cursor slowed down as I flipped through the open tabs. A simple refresh corrects the glitch, so it isn’t something to be worried about.
Storage comes in way of a 512GB NVMe SSD that lets you transfer files at great speeds (506 megabytes per second), which is at par with the competition (at least for now) – LG Gram leads the pack with 164.7 MBPs while the MateBook X Pro delivers transfer speeds at 512.9MBps, almost the same as the ZenBook.
The integrated UHD 620 graphics in our review unit isn’t suitable for gaming. If you must play, though, you can get away with casual games at very basic setting. To be safe, you can look at something with a dedicated graphics solution such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus S if you need something extremely portable, but at a cost, or the MSI GV62 8RD-200 (our Editors’ Choice for budget gaming laptops).
The ZenBook 14’s battery lasted 8 hours, 32 minutes, on rundown tests, which is expected of an ultraportable, although we’re seeing others like the LG Gram (10: 53) and MateBook X Pro (9:49), almost hit the 10 hours mark. The premium laptop average is 8 hours 17 minutes, which is still below the ZenBook 14’s endurance. There’s a 720p camera on the top bezel, as always, its lackluster and only surfaces for casual chats.
The Asus ZenBook UX433FA-DH74 falls on the better side of ultraportables that you can buy right now. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily the best. I was attracted by the compact, slick chassis, which perfectly fits a 14-inch display in what is traditional a footprint for a 13-inch ultraportable laptop. It wraps up everything with a lovable military-tested dark blue aluminum finish, making it one of the most durable and portable beauties out here.
In addition to the luxurious look, this portable laptop has a comfortable keyboard, good speakers and respectable battery life. I’m also impressed by the new hinge design and the integrated number pad on the touchpad, a feature I hope will be integrated into more laptops as we move forward. For all these features, the price is just right undercutting the competition by a wide margin. If you’re looking for an premium laptop that won’t sink your pockets, the ZenBook 14 is our recommended choice that should be at the top of your list.