Award: SEK 12,990 at Cdon
OLED screens are common in televisions from mid-range to luxury ones and dominate in better mobile phones. In computers, they are more rare. And above all expensive. That will now change with the new Zenbook 13 Oled. It’s an upgraded version of the manufacturer’s ultra-thin laptop, bringing the OLED screen to a computer with an affordable price tag.
The computer comes in a handful of configurations, with ours being a mid-range model. It costs just under SEK 13,000, on par with the previous generation Zenbook 13 when they were launched.
For that, you get a well-built and stylish, if anonymous, designed computer with a chassis made mostly of aluminum, slim profile, uniform dark gray tone and a weight of 1.14 kilograms.
The computer has sharp edges that make it less comfortable to carry around, but when set up and folded up, it is all the more pleasant to use. The screen cover goes around the back edge and lifts it up a few millimeters when folded up, for a more comfortable working position and better airflow under the computer for cooling.
Wide yet compact
The keyboard spreads across the entire width of the computer, which we like. But instead of taking advantage of that for the good size of the keys, Asus has a row pressed together on one short side, making it still a compact experience. And the fact that the on button, as usual, sits like a key in one corner is a design choice we will never learn to appreciate. You get powerful three-step backlighting in the keyboard, but the brightest mode leaks more light around the keys than it illuminates its characters.
In front of the keyboard sits a wide mousepad with good control and a comfortable surface. It has Asus’ unique feature built in that allows you to use it as a numeric keypad. A push in one corner of the tablet lights up a virtual keypad that can make it easier to manipulate numbers. Not absolutely necessary, perhaps, but a fun bonus.
You get a capable webcam with 720p resolution, with a noise-free but slightly lagging image. It also has IR functionality, so you can log in with your face. Built-in microphones next to the camera do a good job with voices, but at first it won’t record sound at all. It turns out that Asus has its own ai-powered noise reduction function, which for some reason filters out everything in a normal audio recording.
Of course, the computer has Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and the same set of external ports as other Zenbooks we’ve seen recently. This means two type c connectors, which here support thunderbolt 4, a usb 3.2 gen 1 type a, an hdmi port and a card slot for micro sd. But no headphone port. You get an adapter to plug into one of the type c ports to plug in headphones.
Almost clean in the system
Control for the microphone, some network functions, settings for the screen and cooling can be found in the MyAsus program, one of the few pre-installed programs in the computer. There are also support functions and the opportunity to take part in special offers, such as discounts on various programs, if you register the computer with an Asus account. Zenbook 13 Oled is sold in Sweden in Pure configuration, which means that Asus puts in a minimum of its own programs and it is completely free of bloatware.
The computer’s built-in speakers deliver full and well-balanced sound with surround function from dts. There is good weight in the bass and really enjoyable for playing movies. But we lack clarity in the higher frequencies, which makes it not as good at playing music.
In terms of performance, the Zenbook 13 does not surprise. It is an Intel Evo-class computer, with an 11th generation Core i7 processor in low-power configuration, Iris Xe graphics, 16 gigabytes of RAM and a 512 gigabyte ssd. That’s exactly what we can hope for in this price range. There are similarly priced laptops with Core i5, with less ram and ssd, so this is really good. Especially considering the ssd drive is refreshingly fast.
It’s excellent performance for surfing, media streaming, lighter and more demanding office work and that with fan cooling that never becomes disturbingly loud. The performance is also sufficient for simpler photo and film editing.
Oled enhances the experience
That’s where the new screen comes in very handy. Not only is it oled, which means you get 100% deep black and clear contrast. It also has wide color gamut with promised 100% dci p3 support and it is Pantone validated for color accuracy.
It is also relatively bright for a laptop screen with its approximately 400 cd/m2. There is point brightness on small areas at a time, but even on the full screen it shines well. As long as we are not sitting in too bright sunshine, the computer can be used outdoors.
Oled has many advantages, but also a disadvantage that can be relevant in a particular computer, where you can often sit for many and long hours with a static screen. This increases the risk of so-called pixel burn-in. To avoid this, you should make a habit of a number of routines, such as having the taskbar in Windows set to hide automatically and always having the automatic screen saver enabled, even if you do not put the computer to sleep when inactive.
The light affects battery life
Asus has its own routine for that built into the system, but it doesn’t hurt to take some common sense measures of your own. It can also be good to dim the brightness and not run constantly on maximum mode. Not only for burn-in, but also for battery life. There’s energy to be saved by going down a couple of steps, and even doing things like having a muted desktop background and enabling dark mode for the interface.
The battery life is approved for a thin and light 13-incher. Working hard at full brightness can drain the power quickly, but really frugal driving gives us a battery life of around 18 hours. Then we’re talking offline text editing with minimal brightness. For more mixed realistic use, you can count on a full long working day without major problems. The computer is then quickly charged with the included 65-watt charger. It is half full in three quarters and fully charged in just over two hours.
The new Zenbook 13 is really a very familiar computer that doesn’t do anything exceptionally well or poorly. It is well built but not the thinnest and lightest. It is fast but not the fastest in its class. It has good battery life, but there are better ones.
It’s the screen that elevates it from another okay computer to something extra. The brutal contrast as well as the high color quality is not something we have been able to take for granted in this price range. Is the Asus laptop unique or are they just the first of a new trend of affordable OLED laptops? It remains to be seen. We hope for more of this item in the future.
Product name: Zenbook 13 OLED UX325EA-PURE7
Tested: April 2021
Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7, 2.8 GHz quad core
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7
Memory: 16 GB ddr4x
Storage: 512 GB ssd, space for micro sd
Screen: 13.3 inch glossy oled, 1920×1080 pixels
Webcam: 720p, ir for Windows Hello
Connections: 2 thunderbolt 4, usb 3 type a, hdmi, headset
Wireless: Wi-Fi 6, bluetooth 5.0
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Miscellaneous: Backlit keyboard, face login, number keys in the mouse pad
Sound level: 0-38 dBa
Battery life: 1 hour 30 minutes (high load), approx. 19 hours (low load)
Size: 30.4 x 20.3 x 1.4 cm
Weight: 1.15 kg
Rec. Award: SEK 12,990
Current price: SEK 12,990 at Cdon
Cinebench R23, cpu: 4,102 points
Cinebench R23, cpu single core: 1,380 points
Geekbench 5, cpu: 5,308 points
Geekbench 5, cpu single core: 1,534 points
Geekbench 5, graphics: 15,408 points
Disk, reading: up to 3,521 MB/s
Disk, writing: up to 2,940 MB/s