Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA review

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Asus ZenBook 13 specs

Price: $999
CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD
Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p
Battery: 13:47
Size: 11.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds

There’s just something about a ZenBook. They’re beautiful, tend to be incredibly slim and lightweight, and thanks to Asus, have some ace up their digital sleeves. In the case of the Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA ($999 reviewed, $949 starting), the secret sauce is Intel’s new Tiger Lake chips. Under Intel’s new Evo initiative, Intel Tiger Lake chips offer more powerful performance, longer battery life and the introduction of Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6. Plus, you get the added bonus of the ZenBook’s beautiful yet durable chassis. 

Asus ZenBook 13 pricing and configurations

The base model of the Asus ZenBook 13 is available for $949, which has a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with 8GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics. The $999 model I reviewed bumps the storage to 1TB and gets you Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

Asus ZenBook 13 design

The Asus ZenBook 13 is a looker, just like most ZenBooks. The entirety of the ZenBook 13’s chassis is made of Pine Gray aluminum alloy. There’s not a lot of bling save for the shiny chrome Asus logo embedded in the center-left. And once your eye is there, be sure to turn your attention to the concentric circles cascading out over the lid. While it doesn’t collect as many fingerprints as its convertible sister, the Asus ZenBook Flip S, it still picks up its fair share.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If the gray doesn’t suit your fancy, the ZenBook 13 is also available in Lilac Mist.

In case you need a little more sparkle on your laptop, just take a gander at the chamfered sides that add an unassuming twinkle to the laptop. Would I like it to be a little more pronounced like the gorgeous red copper accents on the Flip S? Yes, but some consumers prefer a more subtle look. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The laptop’s interior has more of that pretty Pine Gray sans Asus’s concentric circles. Instead, you get a matte surface that’s cool to the touch. On the lower part of the deck is a  slightly raised palm rest on which you’ll find an absolutely giant touchpad. That palm rest gives way to a recess where the full-size keyboard resides. Opening the laptop reveals Asus’ ErgoLift hinge which raises the keyboard 3-degrees to make typing that much more comfortable. 

Asus is slowly slimming down the display bezels, with the sides measuring 0.16 inches while the top and bottom are 0.24 and 0.43 inches, respectively. It’s a start, but now that the Dell XPS 13 has extended its InfinityEdge bezels to all four sides, Asus’ NanoEdge bezels are not enough.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

At 2.5 pounds and 11.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches, the ZenBook 13 is a serious lightweight system. The Acer Swift 3 (12.7 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches) is slightly heavier at 2.7 pounds. The HP Envy Wood Edition 2020 (2.8 pounds, 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches) and the MacBook Air (2.8 pounds, 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches) are the unlikely heavyweights in this review. 

Asus ZenBook 13 durability and security

But the ZenBook 13 isn’t just a pretty laptop, it’s also got some durability chops. The slim clamshell has MIL-STD 810G certification, meaning it can withstand extreme temperatures, drops, shocks, vibrations and extreme altitudes.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Asus doesn’t offer much in the way of security. The webcam is Windows Hello compliant for face recognition logins and the laptop includes a lock key for the Fn row. It’s not much, but it ensures that when the lock is enabled, no one can physically turn on your webcam. 

Asus ZenBook 13 ports

The ZenBook 13 has several useful ports and slots. There’s a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port on the right along with a microSD card slot. On the left, there’s a full HDMI 2.0 port and two Thunderbolt 4 ports, making the ZenBook 13 one of the first laptops to offer the next-gen charging standard. But what’s notably missing is the headset jack, which potentially ushers in a controversial trend of the disappearing headphone port. 

Asus ZenBook 13 display

The ZenBook 13’s display delivers a colorful experience with clean detail when you’re watching movies. When I watched the Still Here trailer on the ZenBook 13’s 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel matte display, I clearly saw the knit pattern in actress Zazie Beetz’s rose-pink sweater. The light glinted off her large, thin gold hoop earrings as the sun cascaded through her dark brown hair.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The ZenBook 13’s panel measured 76.1% on the DCI-P3 color gamut which is below the 83.4% premium laptop but above the 44.2% from the Acer Swift 3. It was not, however, enough to overcome the Envy 13’s 81.9% or the MacBook Air’s 80%.

Unfortunately, the ZenBook 13 isn’t as bright as I would have hoped. It averaged only 370 nits, which is better than the Swift 3’s 251 nits. They’re both dimmer than the 382-nit average, the MacBook Air (386 nits), and the Envy, which notched 401 nits.

Asus ZenBook 13 audio

I’m not a big believer in bottom-mounted speakers and the ZenBook 13 has not disabused me of this opinion. The Harman/Kardon speakers barely filled my living room and, even worse, when I listened to Janelle Monae’s “Can’t Live Without Your Love, “ the vocals sounded distant and hollow. The horns and strings didn’t sound any better, in fact, the entire production sounded like it was submerged. And when I switched over to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Captain Hook,” the bass had no punch and, while Meg’s verses were forward-facing, the triangle and other percussions took a backseat.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I got some minor relief from the DTS Audio Processing software with its four presets (Music, Movies, Gaming and Custom Audio), but not much.

Asus ZenBook 13 keyboard

The ZenBook 13’s keyboard is springy and comfortable. My fingers had plenty of space on the large, slightly concave keys and their generous spacing. I surpassed my 70 word-per-minute average on the 10fastfingers typing test, reaching 74 wpm. The LED backlighting is nice and bright, making it easy to read the lettering in my darkened living room. Even better, you can adjust the backlighting to make it brighter or dimmer. 

Asus ZenBook 13 NumberPad 2.0

This touchpad is enormous. Measuring 5.1 x 2.6-inches, the ZenBook 13’s glass surface acts as a traditional touchpad. Which meant I had no problems performing the usual multitouch Windows 10 gestures, such as pinch-zoom, two-finger scrolling and three-finger taps. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

But if you’re someone who needs to crunch a lot of numbers for whatever reason, the touchpad can transform into a calculator with the touch of an icon. Thanks to Asus’ NumberPad 2.0 technology, tapping the icon in the top-right corner turns the touchpad into a calculator. The LED-lit device gives you a full number pad complete with mathematical symbols. The lighting has two brightness levels that can be adjusted via an icon in the top-left corner. A left-sided swipe from that icon will also launch the calculator. 

Asus ZenBook 13 performance

Sigh, Ice and Comet Lake, we barely knew ye. But as the sun sets on Intel’s last-gen processors, it rises on its newest: Tiger Lake. Tiger Lake, Intel’s third 10-nanometer chip, is built on the new Willow Lake architecture, a chip layout designed to improve power efficiency and performance. Using Intel’s new SuperFin process, the company has successfully introduced higher clock speeds that Intel claims will translate into 20% better performance. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

For the real-world test, I launched 30 tabs of Google Chrome with the ZenBook’s 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 quad-core processor with 16GB of RAM. Some of the tabs ran YouTube, some ran Twitch streams, while others ran TweetDeck, various GSuite applications and random news pages. The laptop didn’t show any signs of sluggishness. 

The laptop continued to excel during our synthetic benchmarks; the system scored 5,084 on the Geekbench 5 overall performance test, pushing past the 4,030 premium laptop average. The Swift 3, with its AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU, came closest to matching the ZenBook 13 with a score of 4,862. The Envy (Core i7-1065G7 CPU) and MacBook Air (Core i5-1030NG7 CPU) hit 3,487 and 2,738, respectively.

The ZenBook 13 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 17 minutes and 51 seconds, beating the 18:47 category average as well as the MacBook Air (27:10) and Envy (24:56). However, the Asus couldn’t outpace the Swift 3 which clocked a time of 11 minutes.

During the Puget Photoshop benchmark, which loops through 21 different Photoshop tasks three times per run, the ZenBook 13 attained a score of 742, skating past the 598 average. The MacBook Air notched only 459 while the Swift 3 obtained 549.1.

When we ran the File Transfer test, the ZenBook 13’s 1TB M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD had a transfer rate of 583.6 megabytes per second after duplicating 25GB of multimedia files. The result is just enough to overcome the 571.1 MBps category average and the Swift 3, which reached 406.8 MBps.

Asus ZenBook 13 graphics

New processor, new integrated GPU. With the arrival of 11th Gen CPUs, we’re also getting a new integrated graphic chip, Intel Iris Xe. With this new component, Intel is promising gamers can play more games at 1080p by doubling the gaming performance of the previous generation chip.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

OK, can you play AAA titles on these new integrated chips? Yes, but I’m still not convinced you should. I played Control on the ZenBook 13 at 1080p, but on low so it wasn’t the best-looking experience. Whenever I turned to take in my surroundings and scope out the environment for more lurking Hiss, there was heavy motion blur. Still, I made my way through the Astral Plane and onto my next objective at 24 frames per second. 

When I played the roguelike Hades, I got 56 fps thanks to its less-demanding workload. 

When we ran the Sid Meyer’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm 1080p benchmark, the ZenBook 13 reached 21 fps. However, it’s below the 26-fps premium laptop average and our 30 fps playability average. The Envy (13 fps, Intel Iris Plus) and MacBook Air (7 fps, Intel Iris Plus) scored lower while the Swift 3’s AMD Radeon Graphic achieved 27 fps.  

During the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, the ZenBook 13 put up an impressive 4,407, easily beating the Swift 3 (2,847) and Envy (2,071). 

Asus ZenBook 13 battery life

Intel’s 11th Gen processors also usher in Intel Evo, the second stage in the company’s Project Athena initiative. Evo comes with a number of requirements for laptops to receive Intel’s certification. One of those is at least 9 hours of battery life for 1080p systems. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Asus ZenBook 13 exceeds those expectations, lasting 13 hours and 47 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness). That’s more than three hours longer than the 10:01 premium laptop average. The Swift 3 lasted 11:09 while the MacBook Air tapped out after 9:31. The Envy had the shortest time of 6:31.

Asus ZenBook 13 heat

I spent a total of 13 hours with the ZenBook 13 comfortably in my lap. That’s because the laptop stayed well below our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold. We ran a 15-minute fullscreen YouTube video and measured certain spots on the laptop afterward. The touchpad measured 79 degrees while the center and bottom of the system registered 89 degrees. 

Asus ZenBook 13 webcam

Finally, a good integrated webcam! The ZenBook 13 720p camera is Asus’ new ultrathin module, which has a four-element lens. Paired with Asus’ proprietary camera algorithm, the webcam delivers sharp images and automatically corrects exposure and color balance, so there’s no excuse for a bad selfie. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Even though the wall behind me was a bit blown out, the webcam did a great job capturing my skin tone as well as the blue and white in my shirt. The detail was just sharp enough that I could read the box in the background. 

Asus ZenBook 13 software and warranty

Thank you, Asus for keeping the bloatware to a minimum. The company even managed to keep Windows 10’s glut of software down to a manageable size. As far as Asus-branded software goes, there’s MyAsus. It’s essentially a hub where you can adjust the display’s color temperature, set fan speed, power settings and Wi-Fi connections.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

McAfee Personal security is the only third-party app that makes an appearance on the ZenBook 13.

The Asus ZenBook 13 ships with a one-year limited warranty. See how Asus fared during Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands, our annual special reports. 

Bottom line

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA straddles the line between business and premium. For $999, you get a system rocking the fetching good looks of the company’s top-tier laptops with some of the durability and security features of the ExpertBook, the company’s new business line. Plus, you get the added muscle of Intel’s new 11th Gen chips and all the features Intel’s Evo initiative brings, including over 13 hours of battery life. And you can even game in a pinch (just not at the highest settings).

However, if you’re looking for a laptop with a brighter, more vivid display, the HP Envy 13 Wood Edition is a good choice. If you’re in the market for something with a lot of power for under $700, there’s the AMD version Acer Swift 3. But if you want a laptop that’s durable, yet lightweight and stylish with great performance and excellent longevity, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA is the way to go.



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About the Author: Chris Jenny

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