Asus updates the ZenBook 14 for 2019March 13, 2019
If you’re of the mind that 13.3″ is too tiny and 15.6″ is a bit bulky, then perhaps you’ll take a liking to the just-right size of Asus’ latest ZenBooks. The ZenBook 14 UX431 series are slim ultrabooks that Asus says strike a balance between “fast” and “flashy” without burning up your pocketbook.
I probably won’t make any friends at Asus by saying this so directly, but savvy gerbils already know that ZenBook is more or less code for “Asus MacBook.” The new ZenBooks continue that trend with their brushed-aluminum exteriors and trim dimensions. There are three models, two of which come with Core i7-8565U CPUs, and the cheapest of which steps down to a Core i5-8265U. Those chips are all quad-core CPUs with Hyper-Threading, the only real difference being that the Core i7 boosts much higher—up to 4.6 GHz, thermals permitting.
The top-end model gets 16 GB of DDR4 memory and a GeForce MX150 discrete graphics card. That’s not bad for a laptop that’s less than 2/3″ (1.6cm) thick. That model and the middle unit come with 512 GB PCIe SSDs, with the entry-level unit packing a 256 GB drive. Both lower-end units come with 8 GB of memory. Regardless of which model you choose, you’ll get a 1920×1080 display with narrow, 6.5mm bezels that give the machine a screen-to-body ratio of 86%. As usual, Asus claims that means this laptop packs a 14″ screen in the chassis of a 13.3″ laptop.
The keyboard on all three models is backlit and includes a fingerprint scanner. If you’re a ten-key addict, the touchpad on these machines can pull numeric keypad duty—a cool feature for when you forgot to bring your external keypad. Asus says the four-speaker system (which puts two on top for high notes and two on bottom for bass) offers the best-ever sound out of a ZenBook. Unlike the Macbooks they externally resemble, ZenBooks still offer some regular old USB Type-A ports—two, to be specific—as well as a USB Type-C connection, a full-sized HDMI port, and a regular old 3.5mm combo audio jack.
Two of the three versions headed to the States are available for purchase immediately. You can find the UX431FA-ES51 and its Core i5 CPU at Amazon and Newegg for around $800. The step-up UX431FA-ES74, with a Core i7 CPU, 16 GB of memory, and a 512 GB SSD, is $900 at the same places. The top-end model with the GeForce MX150—the ZenBook UX431FN-IH74—isn’t available yet, but it will show up exclusively at Costco for $1200.