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Asus Zenbook S13 OLED Review: This thin and light 13-inch laptop is a workhorse

Asus Zenbook S13 OLED Review: This thin and light 13-inch laptop is a workhorse
  • Asus Zenbook S13 OLED starts at a price of 1,04,990
  • The unit we reviewed was configured with intel core i7-1355U CPU
  • Zenbook S13 is the thinnest 13-inch OLED laptop in the world
April 2023 saw an ensemble of new laptops being launched from multiple brands. This increase in the flow of launches can be traced back to CES 2023. In the flurry of launches, Asus seems to be a front-runner in upgrading its line-up across categories. While our team has reviewed the latest ROG laptops. This review is particularly interesting because it is for the thinnest OLED laptop in the world. The Zenbook S13 OLED weighs just 1.2 kg, which is a big feat. But what’s beyond that? After all, the Zenbook moniker represents productivity, and I reviewed the machine with the same hopes. So does it live up to my expectations? After using the laptop for three weeks, I answer that in my full review.


Price & Availability
Asus Zenbook S13 OLED is available in multiple configurations which you can find below.

Model

CPU

RAM

Storage

Color

Price

UX5304VA-NQ541WS

i5-1335U

16GB

512GB

Ponder Blue

1,04,990

UX5304VA-NQ542WS

i5-1335U

16GB

512GB

Basalt Grey

1,09,990

UX5304VA-NQ741WS

i7-1355U

16GB

512GB

Ponder Blue

1,24,990

UX5304VA-NQ742WS

i7-1355U

16GB

1TB

Basalt Grey

1,29,990

UX5304VA-NQ762WS

i7-1355U

32GB

1TB

Basalt Grey

1,49,990



Design & Display

Let’s start with the most talked about aspect of the Zenbook S13 OLED - it’s the form factor. When Asus says that it is the thinnest OLED laptop in the world, they really mean it. And that’s beyond vanity the weight and design make it more utilitarian.

At just 11.8mm, the laptop can easily slide into a paper bag. That automatically translates to easier mobility since it doesn’t take up a lot of space. I generally carry the MacBook Pro 14-inch, which is a chunky device. Coming from that, the Zenbook S13 OLED was nothing less than a treat.

What amazed me even further was the availability of ports here. Asus has managed to pack in a USB Type-A port here, along with two USB Type-C thunderbolt ports and an HDMI port as well. In my opinion, this is an engineering marvel, making sure the productivity aspect of a Zenbook remains intact. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack that works for both microphones and headphones. All the ports work well and provide high speeds for data sharing. And the availability of the HDMI port is important if you are planning to share presentations, something I constantly do. For that matter, the Asus Zenbook S13 OLED was my laptop of choice during my live streams since I could connect multiple devices with it, providing me access to all my data.




However, the ports are not the only reason why it featured during my shoots. It is also the back panel that looks stunning. Asus has provided a plasma ceramic coating on the back that features the new Asus logo. While I personally found the execution of the logo here a bit loud, most of my colleagues were in disagreement. My issue with it is, no one could understand it was an Asus laptop, irrespective of the big logo. That being said, the back has a premium feeling texture. The texture also helps to avoid any smudges, so the look looks neat and clean.


Before we move to other aspects it’s important to talk about the keyboard on the S13 OLED. Now this is a backlit unit, something we have seen on Asus laptops before. The keys here are soft, and you can get up to speed with the keyboard here in no time. They are also backlit with three levels of brightness, which is thoughtful. You also get a wide array of shortcut function keys here. From volume controls to microphone, webcam and brightness you have everything one tap away. What I found missing on the keyboard was the tactile feel that you would expect from a machine like this.

Panning down you find the ergo sense trackpad, which is made available in a respectable size. The wide panel allows you to make use of Windows multitasking more efficiently and it is quick to respond.

Overall the design of the Zenbook S13 OLED is both aesthetically appealing and utilitarian.


Now, let’s move to the next important factor of the laptop - the OLED display. This is a 2K OLED screen with a screen resolution of 3200X2400 pixels. Asus has been providing OLED panels on laptops for almost half a decade now, and the execution has only gotten better with every iteration. So to no surprises, the display here is also stunning.

Bright at 500 nits, the display is an absolute delight to work and watch content on. I have been daily driving the S13 OLED for the last three weeks, this time has constituted for both work & play. The panel projects crisp texts, which is really convenient for your work. This remains true even when you have set the display on low brightness.

I am spoiled by the retina XDR display on my MacBook Pro and I did miss the 120Hz refresh rate from it. However, I got comfortable with the display on the S13 OLED in no time.

While that was for work, the display is good enough to provide you some fun play time. I binge watch my playlist on weekends, and Zenbook S13 OLED was my companion lately. The screen reproduces colors with precision, and details making the panel a delight to watch content on. The pixel dimming is also spot on with the screen rarely missing a mark, and providing deep blacks. The display also supports Dolby Vision HDR which gives a boost in details and adds another layer to the visual experience.

Where Asus has missed out is the audio set-up here. It has a dual speaker setup on the laptop but they left me unimpressed with the dull sound. I found myself either relying on my TWS buds or connecting the laptop to a Bluetooth speaker.


Tilting up on the screen, we find the HD webcam provides stellar video quality and works with Windows Hello efficiently. There is also an IR set-up here which makes the process snappier. However, the feature tends to miss out if you sit in a darker room, and I missed the fingerprint sensor.

Performance & Software

The variant with me is powered by the 13th gen Intel core i7-1355U processor, which belongs to this year's Raptor lake generation. It is paired with intel irisXe graphics. Rooting back to the original promise- productivity, these specifications were expected to perform well. And what I experienced was spot on.

As mentioned earlier, the S13 OLED was my daily driver, so from creating spreadsheets to attending video calls and writing emails, it was my trusted comrade. These tasks were handled easily and felt well within the pay scale of the laptop. Combined with a great keyboard and comfortable size, the output from the machine was spot on.

For a better understanding, I also ran a Geekbench performance test on the laptop. The results were competitive against the competition. The laptop delivered a single-core score of 1435 and a multi-core score of 6631.

These numbers can quantify my experience of using the notebook for generic tasks. However, my daily work also includes editing videos on the go. My choice of editing software is Adobe Premiere Pro, which I installed on my laptop. I generally shoot HD footage (1080P) for the reels we post on Business Insider India’s Instagram. While the final render is no more than 90 seconds, the number of clips comfortably crosses double digits, which I import into a project. The folder size is generally in the average bracket of 5-6GB. The video that I edited on the S13 OLED is the overview of the laptop itself. While creating a project, importing footage, and setting up timelines was easier task, the scrubbing made me the happiest.

Generally, scrubbing on timelines requires quick rendering and we do see a hit and a miss there. But, the experience on the S13 OLED was smooth, and I could brush past the timeline with ease. However, as the timeline got heavier, with .mogrt files, and graphics I found myself rendering the timeline more often than not. Export times were averaging at about 3 minutes for a 90-second video file with a match source high bitrate configuration.

I did try to export a 4K project on the laptop but there was a significant stutter and lag that discouraged me to do it again.

To quantify this experience I have run a Cinebench R23 test on the laptop. The multi-core performance score was 4950, while the single-core performance score was 1138.

Can you play games on the laptop? Very much yes. I didn’t push it very hard and stuck to Minecraft & CS: GO. These are lightweight titles and the performance here was very stable. The laptop was consistently delivering frame rates in the 70-90 range which made me very happy. Heating though remains a constant companion, which I feel holds the potential back.

Asus does provide two fans on the laptop, and they try hard to keep the heating in check screaming to a point that it becomes noticeable. But, clearly, there is a cap to which you can push the machine.

The variant with me was packed in a 1TB SSD which provided me with transfer speeds of up to 7 GB/s. These are solid numbers. My review variant features a 32GB LPDDR5 dual-channel RAM, which was sufficient to hold multiple applications.

Battery life is a prominent reason why I stuck with the S13 OLED as my daily driver. The laptop just doesn’t die. Lasting at least 6 hours with just everyday computing, I was plugging it in once every 2 days. To give you a real-time example, I had set up my hard drive to upload data on Google Drive overnight with the S13 OLED without putting it on charge. The next morning, the battery had drained 30%. The size of the folder was 100GB and it took 2 hours to upload. Clearly, the 63 Wh battery is extremely efficient and well in sync with the software.

Before closing this section and moving to verdict it’s important to touch upon the Windows 11 on board. The OS has been around for a while now and has become stable over time. The experience of using the OS on the Zenbook S13 OLED was pleasant. Be it using native Windows applications or downloading third-party apps from the Microsoft Store.

Simply put, it is an excellent laptop for everyday computing and small bouts of creativity. But this isn’t for someone who aims at creating high-quality renders or has heavy graphic work.

Verdict
Asus Zenbook S13 OLED is unparalleled when it comes to performance for Windows laptops, especially in the form factor it is offered at. The OLED display adds to the experience making it a beautiful machine to look at. That being said, it is the price that makes it difficult to recommend straight up. In a price-sensitive market like ours, a ₹1 lakh brings you to Apple’s Macbook Air category. A laptop that is in direct competition with the S13 OLED.

So a rational verdict is quite simple. If you want the thinnest and the best Windows machine, you have it here. But if you are fine moving to a new ecosystem and have a budget of over a lac, then you should check out the Macbook Air M2 & M1.



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