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Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA is a lovely laptop for people who want to do everything. For $799, you get reliable mid-tier performance from a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor and over 9 hours of battery life. Besides a comfortable keyboard, the laptop also has some surprisingly powerful speakers. However, a weak display and a polarizing design can give some shoppers a break. This is our Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review.

Specifications

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Specs
Price:$899
CPU:1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-10210U
RAM:8GB
Storage:512GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD
Display:14-inch, 1920 x 1080
GPU:Intel UHD Graphics
VRAMN/A
Battery life:9 hours and 30 minutes
Size: 12.7 x 8.3 x 0.6-inches
Weight: 3.3-pounds

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review: Design

Last updated on December 3, 2020 8:34 am
Last updated on December 3, 2020 8:34 am

The Asus ZenBook 14’s spun metal chassis has a shiny silver finish accentuated by design similar to the stripes found in a vinyl record. Those vague lines, however, are deceptive, because the laptop feels completely smooth. It is also meant to have a “Utopia Blue” hue, but this hue is not noticeable. The shine of the silver overwhelms every other shade.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review

When you open the lid, you’ll see the same silver finish over the palm rest and keyboard panel. The keys have a similar shade without the stylish stripes, and the characters inside the keys are dark bronze. This contrast is bold and unique, but the combination of bronze and silver is a bit too industrial for my taste. However, if you take the keyboard’s brightness to the extreme, the bronze starts to glow and adds a sheen to the laptop that makes it much more pleasant to look at.

The speakers are to the left and right of the keyboard, while the trackpad is directly beneath it. The fingerprint scanner is placed on the top right of the touchpad. The laptop has a 145-degree hinge, and if you pull it back far enough, the bottom of the screen folds up and gives the base 4.5 degrees of breathing space.

The Asus ZenBook 14 fingerprint scanner works wonders with Windows Hello feature. I set up Windows Hello by placing my finger on the scanner in many different ways. From there, I tested how well the laptop recognized my prints. Every time I used my index finger, the laptop logged me in within milliseconds, and if I tried to use one of my other fingers, it would deny me.

Despite its sleek appearance, the ZenBook 14 is pretty cool. The notebook has undergone a MIL-STD-810G test, which means it can withstand “extreme highs, temperatures, and humidity” as well as a few drops. The laptop is undeniably sturdy, but I’ve noticed that the bottom may sound a little rickety. However, this happens only when the laptop is tilted on its side.

The Asus ZenBook 14 has sufficient ports to satisfy everyday users. On the left side, there is a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, an HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, and a DC-Jack. On the right side, there is an SD card slot, an audio connection, and a USB 2.0 Type-A port.

Keyboard and TouchPad

As someone who is typically used to a large mechanical keyboard, it was quite easy to get used to the island keyboard of the Asus ZenBook 14. The keys are sensitive and feel quite satisfying to click. I did the 10 fast fingers typing test and scored 108 words per minute with an accuracy of 96%. Then I did the same test on the keyboard that I have been using for about a year and scored 115 words per minute with an accuracy of 97%. Scoring the same accuracy on a keyboard that I have only been using for a day is a good sign.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review

The trackpad of the Asus ZenBook 14 is quite responsive when performing Windows 10 gestures, with quick responses for pinch zoom, three-finger tap, and flick. However, the trackpad froze occasionally and did not respond to swipes or clicks for about five seconds.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review: Display

The Asus ZenBook’s 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen is pretty good at presenting colorful, albeit slightly darker than average images. As I watched the Greyhound trailer, the grimness of the vast ocean and the lifelike explosions are propelled by the vivid composition. What’s more, the submarine’s internal red glow, when it comes into an alarming state, shines beautifully over Tom Hanks’ face. And when it got dark, and the crew had to lie down in the face of a barrage of glowing bullets, the striking moment was marked by the color contrast of the black night and the glowing flames.

If the color is not what you want, you can adjust the color, range, and color temperature with the pre-installed Asus Splendid software. There are 4 presets; Normal, Vivid, Manual, and Eye Care. While Normal looks nice, Vivid is the best of the set. It allows any color to pop on the screen, and when watching movies, the texture becomes much livelier and more compelling.

While measuring color reproduction, the Asus ZenBook has achieved 14 104% of the sRGB color gamut, which is much higher than the Acer Swift 3 AMD (62%) and moderately better than the average laptop (96%). But it falls short compared to the HP Envy x360 13 (108%) and binds the Lenovo Yoga C940.

The Asus ZenBook 14 has an average of 288 nits of brightness, which is higher than the Swift 3 (251 nits). Unfortunately, it is lower than the mainstream laptop category average (315 nits), Lenovo’s Yoga C940 (339 nits), and the Envy x360 13 (364 nits).

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review: Audio

Perhaps the most glowing praise ZenBook 14 deserves is that its speakers are phenomenally sharp. Designed by Harman Kardon, two top-firing speakers present almost every element of a track perfectly. However, the volume could be a little higher. I immediately moved on to my last obsession and started playing “Stronger Than You” from the Steven Universe soundtrack. Estelle’s emotional voice comes through with crispness, and the electronic drops compliment the drum and bass.

To give these speakers a more difficult test, I then tried “Crawling Into A Fireplace Cackling” by Lauren Bousfield. The chaotic character of this track has remained intact, and Lauren’s low voice was as clear to hear as a solid headphone. However, these speakers seem to choose which aspects should be louder or quieter.

In general, these speakers could certainly be louder, but the quality and crispness of the sound are undeniably incredible. The laptop comes with a built-in software called AudioWizard, which allows you to adjust individual speaker settings. Bypass, Music, and Movies are the three presets. Activating the Music mode brings songs with their bass to the foreground, significantly increasing their intensity.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review: Performance

The Asus ZenBook 14 is equipped with a quad-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-10210U processor, 8 GB RAM, a 512 GB PCle SSD, and an Intel UHD Graphics GPU. With these specifications, this laptop is more than capable of processing YouTube videos, editing, writing documents, and busy email inboxes. With many chrome tabs open that run on Twitch, YouTube, Discord, Google Docs, Gmail, Spotify, and Slack, I only started to notice a delay when I ran movie trailers.

On the Geekbench 4.3 synthetic overall performance test, the ZenBook 14 scored 15.309, which is slightly more than the average of the mainstream laptop (15.001). However, the score is quite underperforming compared to the competition. The Acer Swift 3 (10th Gen Intel’s Core i5-1035G1) scored 19,163, the Yoga C940 (Intel’s Core i7-9750H) scored 18,672, and the HP Envy x360 13 (AMD Ryzen 5 4500U) scored 19,064.

When we ran the Handbrake Video Editing test, it took 12 minutes and 32 seconds to transcode a 4K video in 1080p. This is much faster than the average of the regular laptop (21:48) and the Yoga C940 (19:32). However, the Swift 3 has it beat at 11 minutes on the dot.

During the File Transfer Test, the Asus ZenBook took 14 11.1 seconds to duplicate 4.97 GB of mixed-media files for a transfer rate of 458 MBps (megabytes per second). Lenovo’s Yoga C940 managed a transfer rate of 1,017 MBps while the HP’s Envy x360 13 managed a transfer rate of 318 MBps. It also exceeded the mainstream laptop average of 369 MBps.

With its integrated GPU, the Asus ZenBook 14 is likely to have some difficulty running demanding titles. When we set the Dirt 3 benchmark to Medium settings at 1080p, the laptop managed 27 frames per second, which is well below the mainstream average (56 fps) and significantly worse than its competitors. The Swift 3 delivered the highest performance at 79fps, while the Lenovo Yoga C940 and HP Envy x360 13 achieved 51fps and 78fps, respectively.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review: Battery Life

The ZenBook 14 has a battery life of around 9 hours and 30 minutes based on our Battery Test (continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi with 150 nits of brightness). It just surpassed the 9:25 average, but the time was far below the competition. The Acer Swift 3, Yoga C940, and Envy x360 13 (2020) clocked at 11:09, 11:46, and 11:52, respectively.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review: Heat

We streamed a 1080p (Full-HD) YouTube video for 15 minutes and measured specific spots on the laptop after the lapse of time. The touchpad measures 81 degrees Fahrenheit, the middle 88 degrees, and the bottom 91 degrees. At its hottest spot, just left of the middle bottom, the laptop hit 94 degrees. None of those temperatures climbed over our 95 degrees comfort threshold.

Price and Configuration Options

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review

Our ZenBook 14 review unit costs $799.99 and comes with a 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-10210U processor, 8GB RAM, a 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD and an integrated Intel’s UHD Graphics GPU. However, you can upgrade to an Intel’s Core i7-10510U CPU and a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250 for $899.99.

Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA Review: Conclusion

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a reliable laptop thanks to a handful of thoughtful features. For $799, you get a bright, colorful display, strong mid-tier performance, and some surprisingly powerful speaker performance. The keyboard is also quite comfortable, and the battery life is pretty decent too. However, if you’re looking for a much brighter display, longer battery life, and more reliable performance, you’ll love the HP Envy x360, which also costs $799. Overall, ZenBook 14 is a reliable mainstream laptop with several premium qualities.

8 Total Score
Our Verdict

The Asus ZenBook 14 UX431FA is a solid laptop thanks to its bright speakers, colorful display, and decent performance.

PROS
  • Solid performance
  • Crisp speakers
  • Colorful display
  • Decent battery life
CONS
  • Dim display
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