ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED review: A sexy screen that kills the battery
The display in the Zenbook 14X OLED is easily the best and worst feature. It's gorgeous but obliterates the laptop's battery life.
- Gorgeous OLED display
- Comfortable keyboard
- Good general performance
- Battery life is poor
- Touchpad apps are neat but not that functional
- Poor webcam quality
ASUS has a frighteningly wide array of notebooks that it sells as Zenbook models, which can make it tricky to differentiate between them. It's at least easy enough to work out the selling point of the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED – the presence of a 14-inch, 90Hz OLED screen.
It's a stunning piece of hardware that's easily the highlight of the entire laptop. But it also leads to its biggest problem – draining the battery away at an alarmingly fast pace.
Design: Gaze deeply into the gorgeous display
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder
Folded down, the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED resembles just about any other ultrabook I've ever tested.
From its silver aluminium style frame that just loves to attract a fingerprint to its thin selection of side ports, it's all quite standard stuff, measuring in at 311x221x16.9mm and 1.4kg carrying weight. It's only when you open it up that you get to its real attractions.
First, as the name suggests, the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED features a 14-inch OLED display panel.
The big selling point here is that the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED is capable of 90Hz refresh rates. That's not likely to impress the gaming crowd, but if you're after a machine for both video watching and web page scrolling, it's a delicious and compelling prospect.
As with most OLEDs, colour display is superb with genuine blacks and some eye-popping colour to enjoy. Using the Zenbook 14X OLED as a work machine was a genuinely enjoyable experience primarily because of the bright display. There's absolutely some appeal here if you work with photography, but it's equally a compelling prospect for those who want a laptop that'll look its absolute best for presentations – or just as a luxury buy for yourself.
The ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED's keyboard spans nearly the entire width of the laptop body with fair response, although it's a little noisy for my tastes compared to competitor options.
Then we come to the touchpad, where ASUS has taken the idea of an app-and-screen collaboration and run with it. Hard. The Zenbook 14X OLED's touchpad is both a repository for select touch-sensitive apps as well as a secondary screen. Got a window that you want in view but not minimised? With a slide of your finger, you can shift it from the primary display down to the touchpad. Want tiny apps on a touchpad? Those are available as well.
On the sides, you'll find dual USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, HDMI, a microSD card reader and a headphone jack. I say sides, but outside that A-type port, it's all located on the left-hand side. As is common with most laptops of this style, either of those Thunderbolt ports also does double duty as the charging port for the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED.
For a laptop with such a focus on premium experiences, it was a little disappointing to see that ASUS packs in a very ordinary webcam. There's no privacy shutter, although you can shut it off digitally from the F10 key. Output from the webcam was grainy with low detail. That might be great if you want to obscure the fact that you're nodding off in that Zoom meeting you never wanted to be part of in the first place, but it's not particularly flattering, to say the least.
ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED review: The performance of the 11th Gen Intel impresses, but who is the ScreenPad for?
The model of the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED as tested ran on an Intel Core i7-1165G7 2.8GHz with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. On the graphics front, you'll be relying on Intel's Iris Xe GPUs, so don't make too many plans for high-end gaming sessions any time soon.
As ultrabook recipes go, that's right on the money now without being exceptional. Predictably, that means that the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED falls into good-but-not-great performance territory when benchmarked. Here's how it compares across PCMark 10 and 3DMark Time Spy:
The model supplied for review was running on Windows 11 Pro, although ASUS' spec sheet suggests that there are also Windows 11 Home models available. You do get an array of crapware pre-installed, including trials of Corel MultiCam, Disney Plus and McAfee Antivirus. If I were you, I'd uninstall the lot and make the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED my own, but tastes can vary.
The taste question is also highly applicable to the ScreenPad functions. I can see some utility in, for example, its in-built handwriting recognition for those who may have motor issues that prohibit using the actual keyboard. Outside that, I really struggled to like using the included ScreenPad apps.
If I forgot that the ScreenPad was enabled, all too often I'd try to mouse somewhere only to launch a small screen app instead. You can shift apps down to the ScreenPad in the style of an external display, or if you're feeling really weird even span them across both screens.
I'm just not sure why you'd want to do that. In nearly every case, my hands are going to either obscure the lower screen app or interact with it from my palms. It's neat technology, but it very much feels like it's solving a problem that relatively few people are ever going to have.
ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED review: That delightful screen devours the battery power
The ASUS Zenbook 14X's OLED display is undeniably gorgeous, but that beauty comes with a very steep price. That's the price you pay in battery life.
ASUS' own claims around the battery endurance of the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED are modest to begin with. It claims that the 63 watt-hour lithium-ion battery should be good for "up to" 8.3 hours of battery life.
Having extensively tested the Zenbook 14X OLED, I've genuinely got no idea how they reached that figure.
Battery life is always super relative. Your app choices will wear down the battery faster if you're using heavier-duty processing apps, but in every scenario I've tested, the Zenbook 14X OLED falls way short of the mark.
Finder's standard battery tests provide for a synthetic worst-case scenario through PC Mark 10's gaming battery test, and then a lighter but more real-world scenario with a looped, locally stored 1080p video file. Here's how the Zenbook 14X OLED compared in those tests:
It's not the case that the Zenbook 14X OLED is going to start plaintively pleading for a power supply the moment you walk away from your desk. However, anyone looking for all-day mobile action should definitely look elsewhere.
At least the use of USB-C recharging means that it's easier to keep the Zenbook 14X OLED topped up with power on the go. The supplied charger is also nicely portable. It's a real pity that you're going to need it far more swiftly than you really should.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you want a laptop with a truly stunning OLED display.
- Don't buy it if you need battery endurance.
As I noted at the outset, ASUS has a lot of Zenbooks to sell. The Zenbook 14X OLED is just one of them and it's a genuine mixed offering. Performance is on par with most other 11th Gen Intel laptops as expected and the OLED display adds a lot of punch if you're working in a visual medium. Photography or video professionals should definitely consider it as it might save you the need for an external Pro-level display or offer you one on the go.
However, the webcam is mediocre and the battery life is even worse. Given the relative premium pricing you still pay for an ultrabook, that's a tough sell for all but a small niche of laptop buyers.
ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED review: Pricing and availability
The ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED as tested retails in Australia from $2,299.
How we tested
I tested the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED over a 2-week period, using it for basic content creation, video editing and on-the-go research. It was also used for some light gaming and more entertainment-focused tasks, because who wouldn't do that with an OLED-screened laptop? It was also benchmarked for performance and battery life, alongside in-use observations on its performance, comfort and usability.
The reviewer has more than 2 decades of tech product reviewing under his belt and is a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including awards for best reviewer and best technical journalist.