The Zenbook 14 is Asus’ ultra-thin premium notebook. We already tested a version of the product in 2019, and now it’s time to get to know the Asus Zenbook 14 UX434F, a product that has among its highlights updated hardware for the 10th generation of Intel processors and, its great differential, the ScreenPad 2.0, a screen positioned where we normally have the touchpad.
I’ll quickly get obvious out of the way so we can talk about what’s different about this product. The Zenbook 14 is another beautiful piece of engineering from Asus, maintaining the project that had already impressed us in the previous model we tested. Built-in a metallic piece with excellent finishes, it surprises with its very little weight and thickness, also due to the thin edges around the canvas.
Despite the restricted size, the notebook has three USB ports, two in the traditional format and one in the Type-C, an HDMI, a P2 port, and a MicroSD card slot, leaving only an ethernet port, something inevitable for the little height of the product. Other ultrathin could take note of Asus’ efficiency in maintaining good connections even with so little space available.
The screen has a beautiful FullHD LED display with wide viewing angles and an accuracy of 100% of the sRGB color palette, so it will serve very demanding consumers in this aspect and who need color fidelity to work.
Well, after the excellence we already knew about the 2019 model, time to look at the novelty there on the touchpad. The 5.65-inch screen has a very high-resolution display and has a light texture to make it comfortable to touch.
This additional display has great brightness and excellent definition, with a pixel density even higher than the main screen of the notebook, with a level of quality that we usually see on smartphones. But in functionality, it sins. We will comment later.
This new edition of the Zenbook makes minor updates to the components, the most important of which is the processor: the 8th generation goes out and the 10th generation Intel Core enters. Despite the exchange, in essence, we have small improvements, resulting from the use of the same lithography (14nm) and only increments in microarchitecture.
As the main change of the 10th generation, Core is the higher frequencies, however, the slim design does not allow to maintain this for long periods. The result is that the new Zenbook is better than the 2019 edition in quick activities, like the CineBench test, but it basically has the same performance in something time-consuming as the long rendering of a video.
The highlight of the notebook is responsiveness. With an NVMe SSD and a good amount of RAM, the Zenbook is an extremely agile ultrafine, instantly resuming from hibernation and opening applications immediately. This makes it an ideal device for anyone who wants a responsive notebook.
THE RESPONSIVENESS OF THE ZENBOOK IS ABSURD, REACTING INSTANTLY WHEN YOU TURN ON THE SCREEN, LOAD THE SYSTEM AND OPEN APPLICATIONS
For heavier activities, however, it suffers from the limitations of its ultra-thin structure. Rendering videos or other activities that need long processing times and high clocks maintained for long periods are not indicated activities for this model.
In games, you can’t go very far either, since we only have integrated graphics from Intel itself. You can send a Magic The Gathering, a PUBG Lite, or a Valorant, as well as games famous for being lightweight like a League of Legends, but even a CS: GO couldn’t reach a good frame rate.
The Zenbook already has a beautiful design, but without a doubt, the touchpad steals attention. With a touch screen and high resolution, it’s like having a cell phone attached to your notebook with an additional display.
I had many restrictions on this novelty. The first is the autonomy greatly impacted, as we showed in the synthetic tests, which halved the capacity of this notebook to stay out of the socket. The second problem is that it is in an essential location: on the touchpad. This means that if you are using it in a portable way, you will have two different features “fighting” for the same space, and the touchpad is more essential since we do not have the main touchscreen.
So this screen on the touchpad will show service mainly when the notebook is plugged in, and combined with a mouse. Then we started to see the benefits of this display, with features like leaving another window there, great for multitasking. At the height of functionality, the screen can gain contextual shortcuts, something that happens using Microsoft Office applications. A pity that not many applications are already adapted for this situation since notebooks with multiple displays are something quite unusual. Unfortunately, there is not a very large software ecosystem that makes good use of this additional screen.
THE MULTI-SCREEN NOTEBOOK ECOSYSTEM IS NOT YET MATURE
With all of these things, I ended up using the additional display very little, much of the time using the touchpad just as … touchpad. This is a reality that can change with the maturing of this interaction of additional screens on notebooks, but for now, it is not what we have.