When it comes to ultraportables, the Macbook Air may well be the most popular choice in the market to date, but it has not stopped PC laptop manufacturers including Lenovo, HP, Acer, Dell and ASUS from creating their version to go head on with Apple’s machine. Last year, ASUS unveiled the Zenbook S 13 OLED that claims to be the world’s lightest 13.3-inch 2.8K OLED laptop, and it won us over with its stylish design, decent performance and features. Naturally, we’re excited to see if the Taiwanese maker’s Zenbook S 13 OLED for 2023 can live up to its predecessor.
Taking it out from its standard retail box, the Zenbook S 13 OLED features an aluminum alloy chassis, measuring 296.2 x 216.3 x 10.9mm and weighing just around 1kg, which makes it extremely portable to bring with you wherever you go. ASUS has made some changes to the design on the Zenbook lid; the small emblem that was on the former Zenbook has been enlarged to four visible lines running across edge to edge, giving the laptop a serious yet elegant look. ASUS has also provided a small and portable 65W power adapter that resembles the one you use to charge your mobile phone, and a two meter long USB-C connecting cable.
The Zenbook S 13 OLED sports a 13.3-inch OLED display that supports 2880 x 1800 pixel resolution (16:10 aspect ratio) and claims 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 0.2 ms response time and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut. Our review unit does not have touchscreen functionality, though that option is available as an upgrade for those who want it. The display has 10 levels of brightness adjustment and offers good visibility and details when we played some high definition videos on YouTube and viewed office documents outdoors on a sunny day. The colors on high resolution images and videos also looked accurate and vivid, which is ideal for users who use graphics-related applications. A full HD infrared camera with ambient light and colour sensor is placed above the screen for video conferencing, self-picture taking as well as Windows password-free login.
Due to its slim design, the S 13 OLED comes with limited connectivity – two USB-C (Thunderbolt 4) that can be used for charging and a HDMI 2.1 connector on the left, and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and a combo audio port on the right. Under the screen is the full-sized keyboard with neatly spaced backlit keys, though the directional keys at the bottom right are notably smaller than the regular keys. The Zenbook does not have the fingerprint sensor, which means you won’t be able to register your fingerprint for quick Windows log-in.
A 129 x 81mm large touchpad is below the keyboard that supports multitouch gestures such as three- or four-finger shortcuts to launch frequently used applications or functions. Remember the ASUS NumberPad 2.0 feature on the S 13 OLED last year that can transform the touchpad into a numeric pad with just a touch of the icon? That is absent on our review unit, though again, it is available as an option if you require it.
The Zenbook S 13 OLED features dual speakers on both sides from the keyboard with Dolby Atmos support, certified by Harmon Kardon audio engineers. The audio quality is fairly decent though we wished the bass and mids could be more audible. Two ventilation vents are at the base, closer to the rear for heat dissipation and we noted when the display is lifted to its vertical position, it also elevates the base slightly elevated for some air circulation. The internal cooling fans run quiet, and even when the CPU is running at high load, the noise level from the fans isn’t overpowering.
Preinstalled on the Zenbook S 13 OLED is MyASUS application that lets you access various system controls. MyASUS is an exclusive software found on ASUS laptops, a one-stop portal which you can do system diagnosis, contact ASUS customer service via phone, email or online chat, backup and restore, as well as customization for visual, audio and keyboard backlight.
The ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED we reviewed last year incorporated the AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor, but the refresh model in this review is equipped with a 13th generation Intel Core i7-1355U processor, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB DDR5 memory, 1TB SSD storage and preinstalled with Windows 11 Home edition. It also features dual band Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless to connect to wireless networks and peripherals.
Performance-wise, the Zenbook S 13 OLED scored 4137 on the PCMark 10 Professional tests in modern office applications, which is slightly lower than the 5737 score of the S 13 OLED last year. In the gaming benchmark tests, the Zenbook managed 3842 points on 3DMark Fire Strike and 12,719 points on 3DMark Night Raid which translates to average gaming performance. We also installed Borderlands 3, an action role-playing first-person shooter game, and ran the in-game benchmark at 1440 x 900 resolution, which the Zenbook S 13 OLED showed that it could achieve 29.84 frames per second which is sufficient for a seamless gameplay.
Even though the laptop is not designed for gaming, it can run most games without stutter. But for games that require more performance juice, you may have to lower the game graphics and visual details setting in order to play without stuttering.
The Zenbook S 13 OLED did not disappoint in the PCMark Battery Life tests in the modern office scenario as it was able to last 13 hr 29 min on a full charge, which means that the Zenbook will have no issues running your typical office applications for over half a day before it requires you to plug the power adapter and cable.
Available in Basalt Grey, the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED is retailing at S$2,399 which is slightly more expensive than the model last year. But for its portability and performance, it is worth considering.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The new ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED is not only portable, but it also looks stylish, and has a long lasting battery life that appeals to the mobile road warriors.
Aesthetics - 9/10
Build Quality - 9/10
Performance - 8.5/10
Value - 8.5/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9.5/10