ASUS ZenBook 14: The MacBook rivalling Ultrabook That Won’t Break the Bank
Mobility Zen is found in surprising places
As a long-time MacBook user, I never thought I’d find a Windows laptop that could compete in terms of battery life, performance, and longevity. However, the ASUS ZenBook 14 UX3402 has proven to be a worthy competitor to my 2020 MacBook Air.
The ZenBook 14 comes with a 13th generation Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD, all while offering an impressive 9-hour battery life. This is due to the 75Wh battery and the efficient Intel-optimized task scheduler in Windows 11. If you choose to run the ZenBook in Battery Saver mode you will get 11 hours of use. This should take the sting out of load shedding for us unfortunate enough to experience it.
The laptop performs exceptionally well in various tasks, including live DJ sets on Ableton Live, collaborating on Teams, working with Microsoft Office, and remote working applications. The ZenBook 14 also offers upgradability, with the option to replace the SSD. The SSD runs will transfer at 6GB/sec, so responsiveness will not be an issue, and it will last because the 16GB of RAM ASUS provided will reduce its utilisation.
It also offers a hinge that will rotate to 180 degrees too, which many laptops in this class will not offer.
It wins in the I/O too
The laptop features a stunning 2800×1800 OLED display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 90Hz refresh rate. The screen has a fast response time of 0.2 milliseconds, and is Pantone-certified. The ZenBook might function well for you if you need accurate colours on your laptop. In addition to its performance, the ZenBook 14 has a USB Type-A port and a MicroSD card reader – features missing from its MacBook counterpart.
A compelling comparison to MacBook
The ZenBook 14 outperforms the MacBook Air at a significantly lower price point (R28,000 vs R60,000 for a similarly-spec’d MacBook 16). But, there are a few areas where the MacBook Pro still excels: the ZenBook 14 tends to run hotter, and its trackpad and keyboard are not as refined as Apple’s. I would say that Intel still has good work to do in improving the thermals on their processors but this is a big improvement over previous generations.
The trackpad’s Numberpad 2.0 feature worked fine, but was a bugbear to toggle and I found I had to apply a little more force to click it in. There is some deck flex where the unibody MacBooks feel much more solid.
Zen can be found in value too
Overall, the ASUS ZenBook 14 offers exceptional value and performance, making it a strong contender for the best Ultrabook on the market. While there are areas for improvement, it’s a fantastic alternative to the MacBook at a more affordable price point of R30,000 vs. R60,000 for the high-end MacBook Pro 16. The entire-day long battery life is enticing and adds to the ZenBook’s value.