Asus has been experimenting with various laptop features in recent years and some of them have been quite innovative, especially the Zenbook Pro Duo I reviewed earlier this year. At this stage it is unclear whether the massive secondary display will remain a feature in the future but the idea of a second display on a laptop is a multi-tasker’s dream.
For me I love to use a secondary display, and even a third on some occasions so when the opportunity to check out the Zenbook 14X OLED arose I jumped at the chance. For those unfamiliar, the Zenbook 14X has a secondary display as well but it also has a full sized keyboard and a bigger than normal touchpad. The innovation is that the touchpad doubles as a secondary display!
Although the review will (and rightly so) focus a lot on that secondary display it would be remiss of me not to discuss the rest of the laptop given that Asus has put a lot of effort into making that great too.
The Zenbook 14X is easy to open and can be done one handed thanks to a new hinge they call the Ergolift hinge. This hinge and lid is easy to open and sturdy once open, it lifts the base of the laptop up to allow more air flow underneath it and thus to help with cooling. It doesn’t do it by much, but every little bit helps – plus I love the extra angle it gives me on the keyboard.
The Ergolift hinge is not a reversible hinge but it does allow for a full 180 degree opening – yes it works but I cannot figure out when I would need to do this. Maybe place the display flat on the desk to draw with a compatible pen? Not sure but it seems to have minimal use to me – it’s there if you ever need it though.
One thing that I hope to never test properly is the durability of a laptop – and I bet the manufacturers hope I don’t too. The Zenbook 14X does have “US military grade durability” (US MIL-STD 810H military-grade standard) which means that it should be sturdy enough and solid enough to withstand some roughness – just how much, well, I’ll leave that for you to test should you buy one.
The keyboard is a full-sized keyboard with a long landscape rectangular touchpad below it. As mentioned above the touchpad doubles as the secondary display. If you ignore the display on the touchpad, the laptop design looks the same as a traditional laptop.
While the Zenbook 14X is all about that touchpad display it would be remiss of me to not mention the hardware Asus have packed inside it.
Let’s talk about the OLED display to start with. It is a 14-inch 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, 90Hz refresh rate and a fast 0.2ms response time. Is there much else they could have done to the display? Maybe 4K but that would be overkill in my opinion, especially in a laptop – surely we all want a battery life more than an hour or two? If you need 4K in a computer you should be looking at a bigger display on a laptop or a 4K desktop display.
The OLED display is as good as it is in Asus’ other laptops. It offers a great 550 nits peak brightness, a DCI-P3 of 100%, 99% of RGB and 100% of sRGB gamut. At the same time it is a glossy display which still works well enough outside thanks to its high peak brightness. Oh, did I mention it is also a touch display with high sensitivity and supports stylus use although one is not included in the box. In a nutshell, the display is bright, colourful and responsive with stunning vibrant colours and deep blacks.
The fingerprint sensor is located in the power button and it works incredibly well – one of the better ones I have used when located in this location. It turns on the PC and logs you in with a single press, consistently.
Port-wise, the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED houses two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports (yep, future proofed to a certain degree), a single USB Type-A port, a full sized HDMI 2.0b port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader.
The speakers included are Harmon Kardon speakers which are decent but it’s a laptop – the sound is not exceptional so if you want decent sound get yourself some headphones instead.
One strange thing about the Zenbook 14X OLED is the webcam. Everything else in the laptop is premium but the 720P webcam is just ok. Not exceptional with the resulting picture a bit grainy during video calls but it was still good enough for video calls but probably not recording video lectures etc. The webcam does not support Windows Hello and although there is not a physical shutter for the webcam there is instead a hardware key on the laptop (F10) to turn the camera on and off – F9 turns the microphone on and off as well.
- Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 Processor 2.8 GHz
- Intel Iris Xᵉ Graphics
- 16GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 1TB M.2 NVMe™ PCIe 3.0 SSD
- Wi-Fi 6(802.11ax) (Dual band) 2*2 + Bluetooth 5.0
- 31.12 x 22.12 x 1.69 cm
- Windows 11 Pro
The battery life on the laptop is decent. It is a bit lower than what you would expect in a laptop in 2022. The battery size is 63WHrs and is charged using a USB Type-C adapter which is relatively small and is easily portable should you need that extra battery life.
With the brightness at around 50% I was able to get just over five hours of usage with some Internet surfing and video watching which is not great. I dare say a lot of this sub-optimal battery life is to do with not just the 90Hz 2.8K OLED display but the touchpad display – the ScreenPad. Of course, this can be turned off and when I did that I got some extra battery life but not a heap. My advice is, if you are going to be out and about for a long time with this laptop take the charger – it’s not massive.
Day to day use was great. Web surfing, creating videos, watching the footy, all at the same time and the Zenbook 14X OLED did not miss a beat. Seamlessly transitioned from one program to another, dragging and dropping the windows into whichever display I wanted to was easy and smooth.
I managed to play a few games on it and although it wasn’t as good an experience as with a pure gaming machine it was still decent. It did not improve my gaming abilities, but it didn’t make them worse – which is not a huge issue given they were not great to start with. If you are going to be doing a heap of gaming on your laptop, this isn’t the laptop for you.
What it is good at is multitasking and creative uses. That OLED display is great for image and video production and the ScreenPad is perfect for having that small extra display you need to get all your things done, simultaneously.
ScreenPad — what it’s all about
This laptop by itself is a great laptop with a beautiful display and a nice keyboard but for me it’s all about the matte 1080P ScreenPad. The laptop is more expensive than its non-ScreenPad counterpart (Vivobook) but the ScreenPad can be incredibly useful.
The ScreenPad gives you the ability to multitask in so many different ways – use it to watch a video while working on the main display, display your playlist, as a numpad to allow for easy data entry, as an extra display for video editing or to have your current chat app such as Telegram open on it. I found it incredibly useful, especially at the moment during the NBA playoffs. I was able to work while having Kayo play the game on the ScreenPad – I’m not entirely sure that is what Asus had in mind in its development, but I found it incredibly useful.
I was also able to record a video of a lecture using PPT and the ScreenPad (and the webcam) along with the Corel Multicam software trial included with the laptop (don’t get me started on the annoying McAfee software included. First thing I do is delete that.). To use it drag and drop the window or app you want down into it as if it is an external display – because effectively it is.
The uses are limitless for ScreenPad. By default you can add app shortcuts to it, group captures where you can save your favourite window setups with various programs so a single touch will launch those programs in those locations on the display, along with an app switcher to quickly switch between the various apps you have used recently.
Did I mention that it can also function as a touchpad? Yep – you can use it as a touchpad temporarily over the top of the ScreenPad with the shortcut on the bottom of the ScreenPad or you can turn ScreenPad off entirely (to save battery most likely) using the F6 button. Turning it off does save battery but if I am in the need to multitask at the time it will be on.
The ScreenPad also gives the option of a handwriting app which works well enough but I’m not entirely sure when you would actually use it. Just type the words you want – the ScreenPad isn’t big enough to be able to cater to all that much writing anyway.
Who should buy it?
At $2,299 the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED is not a cheap laptop, especially when you consider you can pick up one of their Vivobooks with the same high quality OLED display for under $2,000. That extra cost is factored into the extra display you get, albeit a small one. The ScreenPad is innovative and a great idea.
If you have the money and think you would use it, I can say that it is well worth it, having used that secondary display quite often in the two to three weeks I’ve been using the laptop. I am someone who often relies on an extended display setup the way I work though so if this is you then this laptop is made for you. If you do not use a secondary display, ever, and don’t think you’d ever use it but you’d love such a high-quality OLED display on your laptop I’d recommend leaning towards the Asus Vivobook OLED range.