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The Asus ZenBook 14 (UX3402) is the new-look version of Asus’s flagship Ultrabook series for 2022.
Refining the theory rather than reinventing the wheel, the ZenBook 14 (UX3402) is slimmer than its 2021 counterpart, but it’s available in the same trademark Asus dark blue, and once again the trackpad doubles as a numeric keypad, a feature we’ve seen on ZenBooks for quite a while now.
To see where the new ZenBook 14 goes one better than last year’s UX425 models, you need to look under the hood – they feature more up-to-date Intel processors, 12th-gen Alder Lake-P vs 11th gen Tiger Lake. The latest chips feature more cores, allowing you to run more things at once, as well as promising an overall boost in performance.
The presence of Alder Lake-P also means that the new ZenBook 14 can come with newer LPDDR5-type RAM, and a Wi-Fi 6E module. In simple terms, this means that stuff should run a bit more quickly than before, and also your Wi-Fi will be a bit faster (provided you’re connected to a fancy new router).
Design & Build
- Alluring design, available in dark blue or silver
- Just about light enough to hold in one hand
- Enough ports for most working situations without needing a dock
Asus ZenBook laptops have long been stylish and snazzy, and the 2022 model is no exception. It’s a very slim-looking device that you’ll be able to easily stow away in a messenger bag or rucksack.
It follows design cues set by previous ZenBooks, but instead of the usual concentric spun-metal jackets, Asus has etched lines from its Star Trek-esque ‘A’ logo into a flat finish. The usual curved corners are also out, with Asus now opting for a more angular look. The deck is trapezoidal, with the widest part facing up. Aesthetically, it’s still miles away from something like the Asus TUF Gaming A15 (2022), but it’s a step change.
The classic Asus ErgoLift element is present here – the shape of the laptop’s 180-degree hinge sees the deck slightly raised up off of the surface of your desk when opened.
This supposedly serves two purposes. It means that the keyboard is tilted slightly towards your hands, allowing for more comfortable typing, and it also, means that warm air from the air vents on the bottom can escape the system with greater ease – although Asus has added a second air vent on the left-hand edge too. The effect here is less pronounced than on older models, but still noticeable.
While the second air vent takes up a lot of space which could have otherwise been given up to ports, there is a single Type-A USB port 3.2 (Gen 2) here. All of the other physical connections – microSD slot, two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an HDMI 2.0b port – sit on the right hand side.
That’s good considering the dimensions of the ZenBook 14. Both of the USB-C ports here support Thunderbolt 4, so you can easily connect to 4K monitors, portable SSDs, docks, or whatever you want. However, as there’s no dedicated charging port, for the most part, you’ll be keeping one of those ports free for the 65W mains adapter.
The ZenBook 14 weighs a mere 1.35kg, which is light by 14in laptop standards. The HP Pavilion 14 (2021) isn’t much more at 1.46kg, and it’s lighter than the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 3-in-1s, which weigh between 1.74kg and 1.82kg.
It’s almost as light as the 1.29kg Apple MacBook Air M1, but the ZenBook 14 is more generous port-wise. That extra 6g is worth it.
Keyboard & Trackpad
- Well-spaced keyboard that’s easy to get comfortable with
- Very responsive and nicely sized trackpad
- NumberPad 2.0 trackpad calculator will divide opinion
The Asus ZenBook 14’s keyboard is really nice to type on, and the trackpad is decently-sized, and responsive, though I’m not totally sold on the utility of the NumberPad 2.0 feature.
The keyboard layout is largely sensible, and the keys snap back nicely. The keycaps feel a little thin, but there are no telltale signs of wobble or anything that gives me cause for concern. Everything feels reassuringly sturdy. I could see myself using this as a daily driver for the next few years.
There are however a couple of specific grumbles. The Enter and the hash keys are too closely located, and the Enter key itself is too small for my liking. A lot of Asus laptops have a similar keyboard layout, so if you’ve used a ZenBook before, you’re probably familiar with this set-up, but there wasn’t a day during testing when I didn’t accidentally type ‘#’ when I meant to create a line break.
Speaking of which, it’s easy to accidentally toggle the NumberPad, the trackpad’s hidden feature. A long press on the top right corner of the trackpad sees a numeric pad and calculator keys blossoming into life, launching a calculator app on the display.
In theory, this is a nifty, time-saving feature. In practice, it’s a faff. It’s very awkward to use, because sometimes when you’re trying to type in, say, 4 divided by 2, the trackpad will sometimes correctly interpret your finger stabs, and see a number appear on the calculator, and then the result once you hit the equals sign. Other times, it won’t, and you’ll just move the mouse cursor a bit. Or, instead of typing ‘2’, you’ll find that it’s actually interpreted that as ‘2,222,222,222’.
Then you try to delete everything by pressing the back button. Which sometimes doesn’t work. NumberPad 2.0 very much feels like a solution looking for a problem. There’s no way to permanently turn it off in the settings either. At least you can easily turn it off again should you accidentally engage it.
It’s a shame to moan, because the trackpad, measuring a generous 5.8in, is otherwise great. It’s well-positioned, easy to use, and super responsive, requiring no sensitivity adjustment in the settings. The touchscreen, likewise, responds well to swishes and inputs, and even though you can’t fold the ZenBook 14 up and use it like a tablet, being able to thumb through documents and game menus is pretty handy.
Screen & Speakers
- 14in 2560 x 1600 touchscreen with 16:10 aspect ratio
- 100% sRGB colour space coverage
- Available in LED or OLED versions
- Twin Harmon/Kardon-tuned speakers
The new Asus ZenBook 14 range is available with two display options, one with a standard IPS-type LED, and the other, an OLED – I was sent the latter for testing.
The LED models promise peak brightness of 400 nits, while Asus says that an OLED ZenBook 14 will kick out a maximum of 550 nits.
Asus also claims that both models will cover 100% of the standard RGB colour space – which means in real terms that the ZenBook 14 will display websites, digital art, and photos with a high degree of accuracy. While I can’t confirm if the LED version achieves this, I can confirm that the OLED model absolutely does.
Using a SpyderX Pro colorimeter, I recorded full sRGB gamut coverage, and saw 96% of the Adobe RGB space covered too, along with 95% and 99% of the NTSC and DCI-P3 colour spaces, respectively.
This means that whether you’re processing your photos in sRGB or Adobe RGB, the Asus ZenBook 14 will give you a good look at what you’re working with.
In less positive news, maximum brightness I recorded was 375 nits. Personally, I think this is fine for indoor use, but you will struggle to work outside. It is also quite far from the advertised maximum.
Colour temperature at 25%, 50%, and 75% brightness was 6400K, and at full brightness I recorded 6500K, the neutral sweet spot you’ll want for natural colours. As it’s an OLED type display, where any ‘black’ areas are actually unlit pixels, the contrast ratio is 0:1, which is about as good as it gets.
Even if you’re not performing precise edits of RAW photo files, generally speaking, the OLED display is a wonder to behold. High colour fidelity and high contrast means that websites and games look positively radiant, and streamed video content – even upscaled content like this – looks sensational. The colours here are so rich, they’ll probably appear on a list in the Sunday Times.
On the audio side of things, you get a pair of speakers which sit on the underside, towards the front of the deck. These fire sound down, but as they’re set into the edges of the deck, not everything is muffled and absorbed by your desktop, or your lap, or whatever the laptop is on.
Audio from streamed content with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack will sound more immersive, as a result of objects being placed accurately in the soundstage. While audio from TV and movies is impressive, music generally sounds less good. Bass and mid tones sound nice and full, but trebly noises sound weak and tinny.
Anything with a lot of cymbal hits and high pitched guitars, i.e. 90% of what I listen to, is going to sound messy. While this is fine for Netflix and video calls, for music, you’re better off reaching for some headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.
Specs & Performance
- Blazes through office tasks with minimal fuss
- Fans can get noisy when you’re running lots of apps
- Battery will last about 11 hours for a normal working day
The Asus ZenBook 14 handled basic office tasks and light photo editing with aplomb, but as there is no dedicated graphics processor on board, games often moved at a crawl.
The unit I was sent featured an Intel Core i5-1240P processor, which features 12 cores, a basic clock speed of 1.7GHz, boosting up to 4.4GHz, and Iris Xe integrated graphics. This sits alongside 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and a 512GB SSD, 475GB of which is user-available out of the box.
Day to day tasks like word processing and web browsing suffered from no visible slowdown, even with upwards of twelve Firefox tabs open and a YouTube playlist going. Photo editing is reasonably speedy, if all you want to do is quickly resize, crop, and adjust light levels. It took just under 3 minutes (2:43) to open 84 JPEGs (equivalent to 500MB) in GIMP. For buyers who want a versatile laptop to do the basics, the Asus ZenBook 14 will more than satisfy.
Below you can see how it compares to a selection of rivals including the Huawei MateBook 14s, HP Envy 13 and Microsoft Surface Laptop 4. With 12 cores, it easily outpaces them in Geekbench 5 – even against i7 chips – but PCMark 10 returns a lower score, likely as eight of those cores are lower power efficiency cores to keep battery life as long as possible.
For gaming, it’s not so good. Civ 6 was only really playable on the lowest settings, and even then, the fans would instantly kick into gear. This was fine for short sessions of an hour or so, but any longer than that and turns would really drag. The game even crashed on a couple of occasions.
To give gaming and video editing a boost you could invest in an external GPU (eGPU). That said, if you’re looking to spend lots on one of those, consider just picking up a gaming laptop instead, or something like Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, which is specifically geared towards content creation.
The Asus ZenBook 14 is neither a gaming laptop nor a creative workstation, so it’s a little unfair to compare it to those, but given the calibre of the display, you may be tempted to use it for video editing.
Battery Life & Charging
- All-day battery life
- 65W charging
Battery life is also respectable, depending on what you’re doing. An hour of Civ 6 saw a full battery drop to 60%, for example.
I was able to finish an eight-hour working day with about the same left in the tank. Looping a 720p video with the brightness locked at 120 nits saw the battery last 11 hours and 14 minutes. Other laptops will last for longer, but considering that OLED displays are gas guzzlers, this is good going.
From empty, expect to get around 25% of juice after half an hour, and 45% after an hour. Charging back up to full from flat takes around two and a half hours using the supplied 65W charger.
Price & Availability
Full pricing for the Asus ZenBook 14 (UX3402) range was not available at the time of writing, but Asus has said that the range will start at £1,099.
It was supposed to go on sale in May but we can’t see it anywhere in the UK yet. However, in the US you can buy the laptop from BestBuy at just US$749.99.
This gets you the same Core i5 tested here along with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Something of a bargain when you still get the OLED screen rather than a lower grade LED model.
Check our chart of the best laptops to see what other options you have.
The Asus ZenBook 14 (UX3402) is a fantastic-looking laptop with a dazzling display, offering good performance for everyday computing tasks. Anyone after a high-quality Windows 11 workhorse will be more than pleased with a ZenBook 14 from the 2022 range.
The high degree of colour accuracy means that this is an excellent choice for photography students, or anyone who wants to edit photos, although the lack of a dedicated graphics processor means it’s not as well-suited to video editing as other laptops.
Likewise, if you treat the Asus ZenBook 14 as a gaming machine, you will be disappointed – but that’s not what it’s designed for.
Solid connectivity, lightweight design, the latest Intel chips, a mostly reliable keyboard and a large trackpad make it a good choice. Just don’t buy it for the calculator hidden in the trackpad.