Laptop manufacturers have been trying to come up with their own ultraportable computer to outdo the Apple MacBook Air, and for the most part, many have tried but few have come close. For the most part, many try to copy, but not improve on things though it looks like Taiwanese company ASUS may have an answer in the form of the S 13 OLED.
The ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED is the younger and smaller sibling to the Zenbook 14 OLED which we reviewed in June, and it incorporates the AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor, AMD Radeon graphics, 16GB DDR5 memory and 1TB SSD storage. The Ryzen 7 6800U is an 8-core, 16-thread processor with 16 MB of L3 cache, and has a base clock speed of 2.7GHz.
Our review unit has a magnesium-aluminium alloy chassis, and on the lid we find ASUS’s new emblem that comes in the form of two right-angled triangles that are combined to look like an upward arrow, or likeness to the letter “A”. Measuring 297 x 210 x 14.9 mm, the S 13 OLED weighs a mere 1.1kg which doesn’t add too much weight to your existing work or school bag wherever you go.
The S 13 OLED boasts an OLED NanoEdge 13.3-inch touchscreen display with thin bezels on both sides that supports 2880 x 1800 pixel resolution, at 16:10 aspect ratio, with 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and 0.2ms response time. With up to 550 nits brightness, this baby ensures you will have no issue viewing your spreadsheets, photos or videos even when you are outdoors and seated under the sun. High resolution images and ultra high definition videos look sharp with good color accuracy and vibrancy, though if you find the screen a little too bright to look at, you can adjust the brightness via the function keys on the keyboard. A 720p HD camera is placed above the screen for your video conferencing or selfie taking needs.
For such a compact laptop, the manufacturer only managed to squeeze in three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C that supports display and power delivery for use – two on the left together with a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and one on the right. The full-sized keyboard has nicely spaced backlit keys that offer a pleasant typing experience. The power button also doubles as a fingerprint sensor which you can use to register your finger as an alternate Windows log-in option. The spacious 13cm x 7.8cm touchpad situated just below the keyboard works efficiently when we use gestures, swipes or taps to make a right-click function or launch a selected function. ASUS has also adopted the ASUS NumberPad 2.0 which can transform the touchpad into a numeric keypad. Simply press the NumberPad icon at the top right corner for one second, and the LED-illuminated touchpad will light up for use.
In the audio department, the S 13 OLED is equipped with built-in stereo speakers situated on both sides from the touchpad, and touted as certified by Harmon Kardon engineers. Regardless, don’t expect too much from the sound quality though – the mids are above average and the bass is slightly lacking. If you are just using it for casual YouTube video or Spotify music streaming, they would do decently. The ASUS also features Wi-Fi 6E 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5 wireless for connecting to your wireless network and other peripherals.
So far so good, but how does the S 13 perform? Putting the Zenbook S 13 OLED to PCMark 10 Professional tests in modern office applications, the laptop managed an overall score of 5737 which is slightly higher than its Zenbook 14 OLED sibling (5368).
In the graphics benchmark tests, the ASUS managed 17,286 on 3DMark Night Raid and 4,714 on 3DMark Fire Strike which are average in terms of graphics performance. To be fair, the laptop is not designed for 3D gaming but if you want to have some leisure gaming, it can run most games that are not graphics demanding. We ran Borderlands 3 in-game benchmark at 1920 x 1080 graphics settings, and the Zenbook S 13 OLED was still able to achieve an average 29.88 fps, which is pretty impressive. If you really want to squeeze out more frames per second for smoother gameplay, you will need to sacrifice on your visual details and resolution via the game graphic settings.
Battery life is pretty decent for this AMD-powered laptop as it was able to run for 13 hr 11 min on the PCMark 10 battery life test before it fizzled. This means on typical day-to-day office usage, it should have no issues lasting half a day or even longer before you need to plug in the power to recharge.
One complaint we had is that on long usage, some parts of the laptop did feel a little hot, especially the hot air blowing from the left vent as well as the area around the ESC button, which you may want to take note of.
At $1,998, the Zenbook S 13 OLED is probably one of the best-value ultraportables in the market today. And like the new MacBook Air, it’s available in several striking colours – Ponder Blue, Vestige Beige, Aqua Celadon and Refined White.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED is a good performance-value ultraportable that most mobile professionals would want to bring with them wherever they go.
Aesthetics - 9/10
Build Quality - 9/10
Performance - 8.5/10
Value - 9/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10