Half Premium / Laptops & PCs

Half Premium / Laptops & PCs


Over the past six months, a lot of interesting and in their own way remarkable ultra-compact laptops have appeared, but looking at them, a practical buyer should have kept in mind that it would be better to wait a while with an upgrade of a working machine: in a month or two, Intel and AMD will open mass production of more economical and productive central processing units. The latest model in the ASUS ZenBook series with a 14-inch screen is just one of those laptops (in this case, based on Intel 10-nanometer CPUs), which we expected soon to appear. And, as it turned out, not in vain. Intel seriously tightened the speed of its own low-watt chips, especially in those places where the previous generation had weaknesses. However, a powerful processor is not all that is needed to get a good ultrabook. Let’s see how ASUS engineers did their part.

⇡ #Technical specifications, scope of delivery, prices

ZenBook 14 is not the first laptop based on 10-nanometer crystals of Ice Lake, which we managed to get to know: in the market, and in our laboratory, the updated MacBook Air appeared earlier. But Air, albeit Apple made the long-awaited upgrade to quad-core CPUs, remained a kind of reference typewriter due to serious restrictions on power consumption. ASUS had other plans for the ZenBook 14, so from the entire catalog of new Intel chips Taiwanese chose three models – the Core i3 dual core and the quad Core i5 and Core i7, each of which is characterized by the maximum clock speeds in its group with a nominal power consumption of 15 watts.

ZenBook 14 configuration offers a generous amount of RAM – up to 32 GB. And what is not guaranteed at all in the ultra-compact form factor, the memory works in two-channel mode. The Ice Lake core has acquired support for energy-efficient chips of the LPDDR4X standard, which ASUS did not fail to take advantage of. But looking at the high rating of a new type of memory (3200 megatransaction per second), you need to remember that it connects to the central processor by half the narrower bus than LPDDR3 or DDR4, and overall throughput has decreased.

Manufacturer Asus
Model ZenBook 14 (UX425)
Display 14“, 1920 × 1080 (60 Hz), IPS
CPU Intel Core i3-1005G1 (2/4 cores / thread, 1.2-3.4 GHz);
Intel Core i5-1035G1 (4/8 cores / threads, 1.0-3.6 GHz);
Intel Core i7-1065G1 (4/8 cores / threads, 1.3-3.9 GHz);
RAM LPDDR4X SDRAM, 3200 MT / s, 8–32 GB (two channels)
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620;
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Storage device SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4), up to 2048 GB;
Intel Optane Memoy H10 (32 + 512 GB)
External I / O Connectors 2 × Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.2 Gen 2;
1 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A;
1 × HDMI;
1 × microSD
Network IEEE 802.11ax + Bluetooth 5.0
Battery capacity, Wh 67 Wh
Weight kg 1.13
Overall dimensions (L × H × D), mm 319 × 208 × 13.9
Retail price (Russia), rub. Core i5-1035G1, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD – 77 990 rub. (recommended price);
Core i7-1065G7, 16 GB, 512 GB SSD – 91,990 rubles. (rek.);
Core i7-1065G7, 32 GB, 2 TB SSD – 129 990 rub. (rec.)

Unlike RAM, the SSD in ZenBook 14 can be replaced, but ASUS still allows you to type storage space in reserve – up to 2 TB with one M.2 module. In addition to standard solid-state flash-based solid state drives, some laptop modifications are equipped with an Intel Optane Memory H10 hybrid drive with a small fragment (32 GB) of XPoint superfast memory, but whether they get to Russia is a big question. We are aware of three articles that will definitely appear on the local market. Today is the first day that ZenBook 14 will be available for sale, and we have only the prices that ASUS recommends: for the younger quad-core version with Core i5 you will have to pay at least 77,990 rubles, and for the most pumped one, with the maximum amount of RAM and SSD, – from 129,990. As you can see, the ZenBook 14 is not the most affordable laptop among current offers with a screen of 13.3 or 14 inches, but compared to “premium” devices such as MacBook Air or business-oriented ultra-compacts like ASUS ExpertBook B9 – It was appreciated much cheaper. So, now we will begin to find out what the Taiwanese manufacturer decided to save on, if not on the title components of the machine.

⇡ #Appearance and ergonomics

Apart from the plastic frames around the screen matrix, the ZenBook 14 chassis is entirely made of metal panels and is painted either a soft lilac or gray with a cold tint (as in the photographs of our sample). The device looks lightweight – not least due to the raised edges of the lower half of the case – and indeed it is. Despite the fact that a capacious 67 Wh battery is located inside, the car weighs only 1.13 kg. Both of these parameters should attract the attention of those who never part with a laptop, but had to pay for something with a small weight. In this case, not with money (as we already noted, the ZenBook 14 is not the most expensive of similar models), but with the stiffness of the case. Unlike the mentioned ExpertBook B9, the novelty cannot boast of any particularly durable materials and, as a result, its body, creaking, easily bends in all directions.

In addition, but this is more likely an aesthetic nit-picking, fingerprints are clearly visible on a smooth dark surface, which are especially difficult to remove from a cover decorated with thin concentric grooves. If your choice fell on the ZenBook 14, but annoying greasy traces, which inevitably overgrow any gadgets, think about whether it is better to buy a light option.

Squeaking in the hull ZenBook 14, we decided that the keyboard with the touchpad here probably left much to be desired. But it was not there. Of course, the keyboard bends easily under pressure due to the fact that the bottom of the laptop is raised high above the work surface, and in the working position the laptop rests on the back of the edge of the screen unit. But we must pay tribute to the Taiwanese, they did so that even though the keyboard does not give such a resonant response in the printing process, as in laptops that are better knocked down, it also does not jump at hand, as, alas, it often happens. And most importantly, the keys of the ZenBook 14 are quite high-quality mechanics. The hole in which the keyboard is recessed increased the stroke, and the response threshold is very clear. Finally, ASUS used the entire width of the case in order to place a number of auxiliary keys (Home, End, PgUp and PgDn) to the left of the main block of keys, but this, in our opinion, is a controversial decision. Many never use the above commands, even when they work with a full-sized external keyboard, and you have to keep your hands when printing on this layout in an unusual position – to the left of the center of the screen and, accordingly, the touchpad.

By the way, the touchpad, too, was a success. Like everything in ZenBook 14, it also creaks if you push a little in the wrong place, but it has a moderately smooth and moderately rough surface, and cursor tracking and reaction to gestures are set perfectly. From related laptops ASUS, deprived of a physical digital unit, the new product got such a function as a luminous marking of the touchpad on the “virtual” keys. It is turned on by a long touch of the upper right corner of the panel and, as you can see from the photo, the characters are perfectly visible even in bright light. In this case, the digital touch pad does not interfere with the use of the touchpad for its intended purpose. But the fingerprint scanner, alas, remains the prerogative of more expensive models. Fortunately, ZenBook 14 has another feature for fast authentication in Windows – a webcam that is sensitive in the infrared spectrum.

It is worth giving a brief description and the built-in stereo. As usual, we don’t expect anything good from acoustics in ultrabooks, but ZenBook 14 pleasantly surprised me here: the volume margin of the speakers is small, but there are low frequencies, and the sound is directed so that there is some kind of stereo panorama.

Unlike other ultra-compacts, especially the MacBook Air, the most popular connectors are displayed on the sides of the ZenBook 14: full-size HDMI, one USB Type-A and two Type-C, which transmit not only the USB 3.1 Gen 2 signal, but also Thunderbolt 3. The last – a very pleasant surprise from an ultrabook is cheaper than 80 thousand rubles. Electronics Thunderbolt 3 is also used to power from a compact voltage regulator, but for some reason only one socket works for charging.

On top of that, there is a microSD card reader, but the ZenBook 14, which is your iPhone, has lost a mini-jack for connecting an audio headset. Instead, you will have to use the bundled adapter on Thunderbolt. ZenBook 14 also does not complain about wireless communications – there is a mandatory Bluetooth 5.0 and high-speed Wi-Fi module of IEEE 802.11ax standard (Wi-Fi 6).

⇡ #Internal design and upgrade options

The new ZenBook 14, like most ultra-compact models, does not offer ample opportunities for changing accessories. ASUS has carved out a maximum of space so that a large battery fits in the case. As a result, the RAM chips had to be settled right on the motherboard (it is good that the laptop configuration provides up to 32 GB of RAM). Well, at least the SSD remained removable.

The cooling system is simple in appearance: it includes a single thick heat pipe passed between the CPU heat sink and a small radiator. But we will soon learn that the ZenBook 14 designers did not increase the long-term power reserve of the central processor in excess of the regular 15. Then the cooler is enough. However, ASUS does not consider it so effective that ventilation occurs through one grille between the screen hinges: cool air enters from below, passing through the holes in the bottom of the chassis.

⇡ #Testing methodology

Synthetic tests
application Settings
3DMark Time Spy
Geekbench 4
CINEBENCH R20
GFXBench 5 (Aztec Ruins – Normal Tier, High Tier) Windows: Vulkan, macOS: Metal
fio 3.16 Sequential read / write, random read / write (unbuffered I / O)

Testing the display is done using the Datacolor Spyder4 Elite colorimeter in ArgyllCMS and DisplayCAL 3 applications.

Laptop battery life is measured at a display brightness of 200 cd / m2 in the following use cases:

  • Web surfing: opening and closing the tabs of 3DNews.ru, Computeruniverse.ru and Unsplash.com sites one by one with an interval of 25 s in the Google Chrome browser (cache and cookies disabled);
  • Continuous playback of 4K video in HEVC format (H.265).

⇡ #Test participants

The following devices took part in performance testing:

Screen CPU RAM GPU SSD HDD Battery
ASUS ZenBook 14 (UX425JA) 14“, 1920 × 1080, IPS Intel Core i7-1035G7 4/8 cores / threads, 1.2-3.7 GHz LPDDR4X SDRAM, 3200 MT / s, 16 GB Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 System RAM Micron 2200 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 1024 GB No 67 Wh
Apple MacBook Air, Early 2020 (A2179) 13.3“, 2560 × 1600, IPS Intel Core i5-1030NG7 4/8 cores / threads, 1.1-3.5 GHz LPDDR4X SDRAM, 3733 MT / s, 8 GB Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 1.5 GB of system RAM Apple AP0512N (PCIe 3.0 x4) 512 GB No 49.9 Wh
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3 “, Mid 2019 (A2159) 13.3“, 2560 × 1600, IPS Intel Core i5-8257U 4/8 cores / threads, 1.4-3.9 GHz LPDDR3 SDRAM, 2133 MHz, 16 GB Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 128 MB eDRAM Apple AP1024N (PCIe 3.0 x4) 1024 GB No 58.2 Wh
ASUS ExpertBook B9 (B9450FA) 14“, 1920 × 1080, IPS Intel Core i7-10510U 4/8 cores / threads, 1.8-4.9 GHz LPDDR3 SDRAM, 2133 MHz, 16 GB Intel UHD Graphics 620 ~ 1 GB of system RAM 2 × Samsung PM981 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 1024 GB No 66 Wh
ASUS VivoBook S14 (S433FL) 14“, 1920 × 1080, IPS Intel Core i7-10510U 4/8 cores / threads, 1.8-4.9 GHz DDR4 SDRAM, 2666 MT / s, 16 GB NVIDIA GeForce MX250 2 GB GDDR5 Samsung PM981 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 1024 GB No 50 Wh
MSI Prestige14 (A10SC) 14“, 1920 × 1080, IPS Intel Core i7-10710U 6/12 cores / threads, 1.1-4.7 GHz LPDDR3 SDRAM, 2133 MHz, 16 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q 4 GB GDDR6 Samsung PM981 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 1024 GB No 52 Wh

⇡ #Screen quality

After we paid tribute to the successful design of the ZenBook 14 – and before we make sure that ASUS also doesn’t take up speed, we’ll have to voice the bad news: the novelty has received far from the best screen matrix. To begin with, the panel has mediocre brightness characteristics (only 253 cd / m2) and contrast (575: 1).

But this is not so bad. The panel would be even fainter if it were not for the extremely high color temperature – in the region of 8500K – and not for the gamma correction curve, far from the 2.2 standard, which brightens the image at the cost of losing the already not excessive contrast.

Finally, even when adjusted for a shot down white point, there’s no question of the ZenBook 14 displaying the correct colors. Alas, this is one of the rare laptops in recent years that could not pass the color rendering test by the rather liberal criterion of Delta E 2000.

Unfortunately, even adjusting with a colorimeter will not fix all of these shortcomings, because the ZenBook 14 color gamut triangle does not coincide with the boundaries of the sRGB space, which is covered only by 92.7%. Thanks also to the fact that the screen does not at least flicker and is not flooded with spurious illumination along the edges at low brightness values.

⇡ #Clock frequencies, temperature and noise level

The central processor Core i7-1035G7 as part of the updated ZenBook 14 is not overclocked and operates within the standard long-term TDP of 15 watts. As a result, the chip keeps moderate clock frequencies in the region of 2 GHz with a constant load on all four cores. The integrated video core Iris Plus also did not break beyond 1 GHz. In addition, the simultaneous loading of the CPU and GPU still causes a drop in the clock frequencies on the x86 cores due to the fact that the automation does not try to hold the graphics processor to make the central breathing easier.

Load frequencies
Cinebench R20 (max. Thread number) LuxMark 3.1 Cinebench R20 (max. Stream number) + LuxMark 3.1
CPU clock speed, MHz GPU clock frequency, MHz CPU clock speed, MHz GPU clock frequency, MHz
Avg Max. Avg Max. Avg Max. Avg Max.
ASUS ZenBook 14 (UX425JA) – Intel Core i7-1035G7 / Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 – Silent 569 599 201 250 399 399 85 100
ASUS ZenBook 14 (UX425JA) – Intel Core i7-1035G7 / Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 – Auto 2024 2195 876 948 1153 1297 654 699
Apple MacBook Air, Early 2020 (A2179) – Intel Core i5-1030NG7 / Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 1479 1511 651 700 995 1025 300 350
ASUS ExpertBook B9 (B9450FA) – Intel Core i7-10510U / Intel UHD Graphics 620 – Auto 1813 1900 671 750 866 900 508 550
ASUS VivoBook S14 (S433FL) – Intel Core i7-10510U / NVIDIA GeForce MX250 2555 3392 1550 1695 1804 2294 1248 1683
CPU and GPU power
Cinebench R20 (max. Thread number) LuxMark 3.1 Cinebench R20 (max. Stream number) + LuxMark 3.1
CPU power consumption, W GPU power consumption, W CPU power consumption, W GPU power consumption, W
Avg Max. Avg Max. Avg Max. Avg Max.
ASUS ZenBook 14 (UX425JA) – Intel Core i7-1035G7 / Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 – Silent 5 5 5 5 6 6 6 6
ASUS ZenBook 14 (UX425JA) – Intel Core i7-1035G7 / Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 – Auto 14 fifteen 14 14 thirteen 14 thirteen 14
Apple MacBook Air, Early 2020 (A2179) – Intel Core i5-1030NG7 / Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
ASUS ExpertBook B9 (B9450FA) – Intel Core i7-10510U / Intel UHD Graphics 620 – Auto 10 eleven 8 9 8 9 8 9
ASUS VivoBook S14 (S433FL) – Intel Core i7-10510U / NVIDIA GeForce MX250 nineteen 28 N / A N / A thirteen fifteen N / A N / A

Note The measurement is carried out after the device has warmed up and all parameters have been stabilized.

The ZenBook 14 cooling system is configured in such a way that the priority is SoC temperature, and not the noise level. Indeed, the crystal does not warm above 75 ° C even in the most adverse conditions. However, this does not mean that the laptop is working loudly. Well, even with a slight load, the fans do not stop, but they are so noisy that our device is no longer able to separate their sound from the background of the room.

Finally, if you wish, you can make sure that the cooler is not heard under any circumstances – the Silent mode, which is activated in the pre-installed MyASUS program, is for this purpose. That’s just a quiet setting, in our opinion, is too rude. Instead of raising the permissible temperature and possibly slowing down the processor a little, the Silent profile limits the SoC power so much that the clock frequencies of x86 cores drop to 570 MHz under load, and GPU to 200. In this form, ZenBook 14, no doubt, and does not overheat, and does not make noise, but it is decidedly impossible to use it for at least some productive affairs.

⇡ #Synthetic Performance Tests

Thanks to the latest processor, ASUS has demonstrated outstanding single-threaded performance in benchmarks. And in the scenario of relatively short multi-threaded operation (as in the Geekbench test), the results are such that even an increased power reserve does not allow the tenth generation Ice Lake cousins ​​(as well as the old mobile chips of the 8000 series) to approach Intel’s new product, which as if the fifth core had grown.

However, the long load of ray tracing in the Cinebench R20 put everything in its place in accordance with the number of cores and TDP of each processor. “Thick” ultrabooks with a diagonal of 13.3 and 14 inches dominate here, but among thin ones, some of which are even more limited by power consumption, ZenBook 14 is a clear favorite.

Intel has not in vain promised that the integrated graphics of Iris Plus will take a big step forward in the economical new wave of CPUs. So it is: there is a tremendous increase in the frame rate compared to the results of the tenth generation 14-nanometer low-watt SoCs, and even the category 8000 U-series chips equipped with high-speed eDRAM were left behind. Of course, Intel’s achievements did not make the ZenBook 14 a suitable platform for demanding games, but a laptop focused on business users, powerful integrated graphics come in handy for moderately complex work tasks – such as photo processing and video encoding. The presence of a discrete entry-level GPU would not bring much benefit to the ZenBook 14, but it would certainly not be reflected in the power consumption and price of the device in the best way.

⇡ #Performance in production applications

В первом же практическом бенчмарке свежая модель ASUS ZenBook 14 проявила себя с лучшей стороны. Новинка с легкостью превзошла по скорости рендеринга другие ультратонкие ноутбуки и подступает к результатам более габаритного ASUS VivoBook S14. Но это, разумеется, при условии, что Blender не использует дискретное графическое ядро в тех машинах, у которых оно есть. Встроенную графику Intel движок Cycles, как известно, игнорирует.

Неожиданно высоких оценок ZenBook 14 удостоился и в тесте, измеряющем время исполнения распространенных операций в редакторе Adobe Lightroom. Фотографам придется смириться с тем, что такие действия, как наложение фильтров, склейка панорам и прочие пассивные задачи, будут происходить медленно, когда в процессоре всего четыре энергоэкономичных ядра. А вот по скорости активных задач — тех, которые пользователь выполняет «руками», — ZenBook 14 выбился в лидеры, невзирая на то, что у соперников CPU повышенной мощности или шесть ядер с дискретным видеоадаптером.

Прим. Баллы рассчитываются в процентах от быстродействия эталонной рабочей станции с Intel Core i9-9900K, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 и 64 Гбайт RAM.

В бенчмарке Photoshop новый ZenBook 14 продолжает показывать высокие результаты. По итоговой оценке тестового пакета Puget Systems новинка занимает второе место после мощного лэптопа MSI. ZenBook 14 помогла и передовая архитектура ядер, и встроенная графика Iris Plus, которую Intel значительно усилила в новом поколении своих центральных процессоров.

Прим. Баллы рассчитываются в процентах от быстродействия эталонной рабочей станции с Intel Core i9-9900K, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 и 64 Гбайт RAM, умноженных на 10.

Прим. Баллы рассчитываются в процентах от быстродействия эталонной рабочей станции с Intel Core i9-9900K, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 и 64 Гбайт RAM.

Ультрабуки, тем более самые компактные из них, не рассчитаны на монтаж видео формата 4К. Но если отмасштабировать разрешение просмотра в ¼ от исходного, новинка вполне годится и для таких задач, а вот иные легковесные модели — уже вряд ли. Впрочем, нарезать ролик, не перегруженный сложными эффектами (особенно теми, что полагаются на GPU), на ZenBook 14 можно, а вот кодирование все равно займет продолжительное время: в этом деле ценится каждый ватт мощности, доступной CPU и, разумеется, количество ядер.

⇡#Производительность SSD

В тестовом экземпляре ZenBook 14 смонтирован твердотельный накопитель объемом 1 Тбайт под маркой Micron 2200, который попадается в готовых устройствах далеко не так часто, как, например, аналогичные по быстродействию OEM-модели Samsung. Однако в скорости передачи данных эти устройства, по большому счету, эквивалентны при средних очередях команд. Вот с одиночными операциями (за исключением случайного чтения) SSD справляется не так хорошо, как ноутбучные накопители Samsung и Apple, особенно в режиме линейного чтения данных. Благо, ZenBook 14 — не рабочая станция, а в тех приложениях, которыми обычно нагружают ультрабуки, пользователь вряд ли заметит, что ему достался не самый лучший накопитель по сравнению с твердотельниками Samsung, которые ASUS устанавливает в другие модели.

⇡#Battery life

Начинку ZenBook 14 — как мы уже убедились, весьма производительную — питает крупный аккумулятор емкостью целых 67 Вт⋅ч. На этом резерве энергии лэптоп выдержит не меньше шести с половиной часов непрерывного просмотра видео или шести часов активного веб-серфинга. Даже MacBook Air, который не так давно считался образцом автономности, такое не по силам.

⇡#findings

Тот, кто хотел купить ультракомпактный лэптоп в этом году, но дождался, когда появятся устройства на основе 10-нанометровых процессоров Intel Ice Lake, поступил правильно, и обновленная модель ASUS ZenBook 14 — отличный тому пример. В тестах быстродействия она то и дело соревнуется с более тяжелыми и крупными машинами, в которых тоже установлены интеловские CPU 10-го поколения, но уже на «старых» и не настолько эффективных кристаллах Comet Lake. Следующее крупное достоинство новинки — емкий аккумулятор и, как следствие, солидный запас времени работы без подключения к электросети. Клавиатура и тачпад ASUS ZenBook 14 — не идеал для тех, кто пишет на компьютере крупные тексты (базе корпуса все-таки не хватает жесткости), но если делать акцент на легкий вес, то найти в продаже альтернативу с более удобными манипуляторами будет ой как непросто.

Наконец, инженеры ASUS смогли вписать в тонкое шасси почти все необходимые разъемы (включая картридер, но почему-то не mini-jack для гарнитуры) и не поскупились на поддержку Thunderbolt 3. Пожалуй, единственным неприятным сюрпризом на фоне общего качества ZenBook 14 оказалась посредственная экранная матрица, которая не отличается ни высокой яркостью с контрастностью, ни цветопередачей — и в результате не подходит для сколь-либо серьезной работы с дизайном и фотографиями. Несмотря на это горькое разочарование, ZenBook 14 остается в игре за чемпионство среди ультрабуков на передовых экономичных чипах Intel (а затем и AMD). Пусть золотая медаль ему уже не светит, до полуфинала он наверняка дойдет.

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