Asus VivoBook series stands for elegant devices that offer a lot of performance while balancing everything you would expect from an everyday notebook. The VivoBook series has been doing this for a few years now, and we managed to pull out the latest model with the Ryzen 5 5500U CPU for a hands-on test. Asus recently introduced the Vivobook S14 model, which offers a wealth of new features and improvements over its predecessor.
The newly introduced notebook is perfect for those who work from home. Among other things, it features an improved Intel processor, RAM, OLED display laptops and much more. Shortly after the launch, the company shared the device with us so that we can gain experience with the laptop and create a comprehensive review. The number of people talking about laptop portability has dwindled in recent months, and you can’t blame anyone for that. We are in the midst of a pandemic and have been mostly stuck at home for nearly 16 months. Still, the thin and light laptops have their own charm.
The Asus VivoBook S14 is one of those laptops, packing an impressive array of features into a compact chassis at a reasonable price, making it ideal for online classes, office work, and content and video streaming. Asus is one of the big names when it comes to the best laptops, and while the Zenbook is the company’s premium laptop range, the Asus Vivobook S14 is aimed squarely at the mid-range, with everyday users like students in mind.
We are featuring the latest 14-inch version of the Vivobook here, the Asus Vivobook S14 433FA, but there’s also a 15-inch model that has largely identical specs aside from the larger screen. While its larger, more expensive cousins like the Asus Zenbook 14 are usually loaded with crazy features and cutting-edge tech, the Vivobook stays true to its mantra of being an affordable ultrabook that looks good, runs well, and doesn’t break the bank.
The newly launched Vivobook S14 comes with a compact design in attractive colors like Brave Green, Indie Black and Neutral Gray. The laptop hinge can be opened up to 180 degrees so you can work on the laptop at your comfortable viewing angle. The company has made some small but noticeable changes to the cheap keyboard, the Escape key has a contrasting color, and the Enter key has a classic twill pattern.
The Asus VivoBook S14 weighs around 1.5 kg and is 18.9 mm thick. The aluminum lid also features attractive logos that visually differentiate the laptop from other models. The USB Type-A, USB Type-C and audio jack ports are located on both sides of the laptop. In terms of looks and compatibility, I was really impressed by the laptop because it’s easy to take anywhere and you don’t need to carry the power brick with you all the time since it can be powered via a USB Type-C port.
Keyboard and Touch Pad
The Asus keyboard area is almost the same as the predecessor, but now has a twill-patterned Enter key for added flair. The first change you’ll notice in this segment is the large trackpad introduced on the Asus Vivobook S14 Flip, which I greatly criticized on the predecessor. The keyboard is again comfortable to type on and is not the clickiest, but it serves its purpose as I type this review on the keyboard, it does not feel bad even when typing for a long time.
The backlight is good enough for typing at night. One small change is that the power button is now on the keyboard and the fingerprint sensor is integrated into that button. This means the trackpad can be larger, and yes, it supports the NumberPad 2.0 usually seen on ZenBook series laptops. Also, the trackpad is now much more user-friendly, with enough room for fingers to play on the sensor. Overall, it is good to use, but not comparable to using a dedicated mouse.
The Vivobook S14 features a 14-inch 2.8K OLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate. The colors on this panel are very vivid and realistic. The display covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color space, which ensures color accuracy. If your work involves the use of color, such as color correction of photos, this panel will not disappoint. The 90 Hz refresh rate is a nice addition, but nothing exceptional. The colors of this panel speak for themselves, and we were really impressed with the display.
Text appears very sharp and viewing angles are excellent on this device. Once you have worked with OLED panel, it is really hard to go back to an LCD screen. Since this is OLED panel, the screen has a glossy finish. If you are using the notebook in an area with a window or a bright light source behind you, the reflective screen can be a bit annoying. That said, the display of the ASUS Vivobook S14 is amazing, and you can definitely enjoy all kinds of media on this panel.
Asus equips the new VivoBook S14 with Harman Kardon speakers. They offer decent sound quality. During my review period, I enjoyed watching movies and listening to songs when we were in a quiet room. Since the speakers face downward, sound was completely blocked when the notebook was on an uneven surface like a bed or sofa. ASUS claims that the Vivobook S14 Flip 2-in-1 notebook is equipped with Harmon-Kardon stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support, but it did not sound too loud, but rather served its purpose.
The speakers are more in line with Vivobook quality and not ZenBook quality, decent but nothing to brag about. One important area that ASUS has rightly improved is the webcam, which has been upgraded to a Full HD webcam with a physical camera shutter. It works really well and produces better images for quick snapshots and improved quality for video calls, which is a real plus for the Vivobook S14 Flip in this price range.
We test the relative graphics performance of Windows systems using two gaming simulations, 3DMark and Superposition. The first has two DirectX 11 subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are appropriate for mainstream PCs with integrated graphics and high-end gaming rigs, respectively. The second uses the Unigine engine to render and pan a detailed 3D scene at two resolution and image quality settings, with results measured in frames per second; 30 fps is usually considered a fair target for smooth animation, while avid gamers prefer 60 fps or higher.
The VivoBook’s integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics were good enough to land at the top of the pack, but it’s a relatively slow pack neither of these laptops are up for serious gaming like notebooks with discrete Nvidia or AMD GPUs are are. You should stick to browser-based or casual games and media streaming rather than the latest 3D shoot-’em-ups.
Our copy of the Vivobook S14 is equipped with a 12th generation Intel Core i7-12700H and 16 GB of RAM. Intel’s Iris Xe graphics handles the graphics tasks, and a 500 GB SSD supports the system. The chipset is cooled by a single fan, and the air outlet is on the left side of the device. We tested the Vivobook S14 during normal use, such as typing, checking e-mail, streaming video, and browsing along with software such as Adobe Photoshop. The Vivobook S14 did not sweat and handled tasks with ease during normal use.
However, the device tends to get a little warm during prolonged use, and can be felt near trackpad. As soon as the fan starts its work, the hot air escaping from the left side can be clearly felt on the palms of the hands. During our use, the Vivobook S14 did not stall thermally in any situation. When the typing for hours with multiple Chrome tabs open, the device is able to maintain its performance. The presence of 16 GB of RAM ensured that we always had enough memory to work with multiple tabs without bottlenecks.
What the VivoBook S14 certainly does well is the battery life. We’d get 9-11 hours of battery life on a regular basis whether we are just browsing the web, watching Netflix, or just editing documents. Charging a full battery can take a little under two hours, but once you have got enough juice you can be away from your charger for a good chunk of the day.
Asus bundles its MyAsus software, which you can use to check for updates and tweak some settings like the display, fans, and hotkeys, or download new apps. From here you can also adjust the battery charge level to extend battery life or run basic diagnostics to troubleshoot problems. There is no other additional software installed here apart from a McAfee subscription.
During our test, we measured a maximum of 44.8 °C under load on the VivoBook S14 S433FL. The warmest spot is in the center back under the display, so the palm rests only heat up moderately. In everyday use, however, the laptop always stays cool enough to be able to use it on your lap, for example.
In our approximately one-hour stress test, the core temperatures climbed to just under 80 °C, with the clock rates averaging around 1.5 GHz. This undercuts the CPU’s base clock of 1.8 GHz, but the system can still be operated smoothly. Since a scenario like that in our stress test is almost impossible in practice, users don’t have to expect limitations due to excessively high temperatures.
The tested model is the VivoBook’s entry-level model. It is equipped with an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor and costs €749 / EUR749. A model with a intel Core i7 processor is also available and costs €849, but this model is only available in Europe at the time of writing. A word of warning: the model tested here uses the part number UX435EA, but the previous generation is also still available under the name UX433.
These laptops have 10th generation Intel processors, wider bezels, and no fingerprint reader, so make sure you get the more current laptop. Only one configuration is currently available in the UAE, but Asus has announced that a second variant will be released in the future, presumably with more RAM and storage. The same configuration is available in the US, but it seems to be difficult to get it in the UK and Australia.
If you are looking for a mid-range laptop that can do a little bit of everything on the market, then the Asus Vivobook is certainly one of the most stylish options out there. The specs are good for the price, but the screen is a little basic. Battery life is solid too, and fast charging means you should never run out when using the Vivobook on the go.
At just $699, the Asus Vivobook S14 certainly represents value for money, and if you are looking for an entry-level laptop, look no further. We think this is a laptop best suited for students who need a lightweight laptop that won’t break the bank.