The Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA-XS74, now with Intel’s new “Tiger Lake” processors continues to be the best device for seekers of an affordable, beautiful and powerful ultraportable.
- Speedy performance
- Sleek, lightweight design
- Excellent battery life
- Relatively inexpensive
- No headphone jack
- Cramped keyboard
- No option for 4K display or touch screen
There’s just something unique Asus’ ZenBooks. They’re charming, incredibly slim and lightweight, and thanks to Asus, some have ace up their digital armor. In the case of the Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA-XS74, the crème de la crème feature here is Intel’s new Tiger Lake chip. If you’ve keeping pace with the latest in tech, then you know why these new chips are the way to go in mobile computing.
For starters, under Intel’s new Evo initiative, Intel Tiger Lake chips (and subsequent releases) offer more powerful performance, longer battery life and with the introduction of Thunderbolt 4 and W-Fi 6, you’re getting more versatility in a single device. Plus, you get the added bonus of the ZenBook’s classy yet durable chassis.
A comparable Dell XPS 13 or Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch would set you back hundreds of dollars more, which makes the ZenBook 13 UX325EA a reasonable choice for shoppers who want a cocktail of premium features and wallet-friendlessness. It’s easily one of the best laptops that should be on your list.
Asus ZenBook 13 design
Like all other ZenBooks, the ZenBook UX325EA-XS74 is quite a looker. The chassis is made of Pine Gray aluminum alloy, and except for the shiny Chrome Asus logo embedded on the lid, the rest of the laptop is plain. While the lid isn’t a fingerprint magnate, like its convertible sibling, the Asus ZenBook Flip S, it still collects its fair share of smudges.
The Pine Gray theme extends into the interior of the laptop sans the concentric circles. You’ll find the matte surface cool to the touch. The lower part of the deck has a slightly raised palm rest with a big touchpad, and it gives way to a recessed full-size keyboard. The laptop opens to reveal Asus’ ErgoLift hinge which raises the keyboard 3-degress, for comfortable typing.
At 2.45 pounds and 0.5 inches thin, the Asus ZenBook 13 is a serious lightweight device. The Acer Swift 3 is slightly heavier at 2.7 pounds and 0.6 inches thick, the HP Envy (2.8 pounds, 0.6 inches) and MacBook Air (2.8 pounds, 0.6 inches) are the possible lightweights here as well.
The ZenBook 13 has very useful ports and slots. For a start, you have a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port on the right, next to a microSD card slot. The left panel holds a full HDMI 2.0 port and a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports – making the UX325EA-XS74 one of the first laptops to support next-gen charging standard.
Even with the exciting port options, it lacks a headset jack, ushering in the controversial trend of a disappearing headphone port. Wireless connectivity come in way of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The ZenBook 13 uses an OLED display delivers a punch, with clean detail when watching movies and running productivity apps. This panel measures 76.2% on the DCI-P3 color gamut which is slightly below the 83.4% premium laptop average, but above the Acer Swift 3’s 44.3% coverage. However, it’s not enough to surpass the HP Envy’s 81.9% or the MacBook Air’s 81%.
As mentioned, the UX325EA-XS74 uses an OLED panel that offers 400 nits brightness, making it brighter than the almost identical Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA-AH77, with a full HD display (371 nits), but both are way better than the Asus Swift’s 253 nits. Again, both panels score above the 382-nit average, but still below the HP Envy that maxes out at 401 nits.
Keyboard & NumberPad 2.0
Asus offers the best keyboards on ZenBook laptops, without a doubt. The keyboard here is springy and comfortable with plenty of space on the large, slightly concave keys. Also, the keys have generous spacing to keep you going on a long college paper or office report. The LED backlighting is nice and bright for our liking, as it makes it easy to read the lettering in a darkened room. To make it even better, you have the option to adjust the backlighting to brighter or dimmer.
The Asus UX325EA-XS74 has an enormous touchpad. It measures 5.1 x 2.6 inches, and the ZenBook 13’s glass acts as a traditional touchpad. That means you don’t have any problems performing the usual multitouch Windows 10 gestures, including pinch-zoom, two-finger scrolling and three-finger taps.
For those who need to crunch lots of numbers, the touchpad can transform into a calculator with the touch of an icon. All that is thanks to Asus’ NumberPad 2.0 technology, tapping the icon in the top-right corner turns the touchpad into a calculator, with complete mathematical symbols.
Asus UX325EA-XS74 performance
The ZenBook 13 is the first production laptops we’re reviewing with Intel’s Tiger Lake CPU. The Core i7-1165G7 is a quad-core chip, eight threads, with a base frequency of 2.8Ghz. It also rocks Intel’s latest Iris Xe Graphics processor. This new integrated graphics engine offers performance that almost matches an entry-level gaming laptop with a discrete GPU, and is a boon to people who need an ultraportable laptop, with the occasional need to play games.
To the newer CPU, Asus offers 16GB of RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD storage. With these features, the ZenBook 13 readily offers excellent graphics and computing performance, which is ultimately expected given its cutting-edge processor. It’s a perfect match for office-centric tasks such as word processing, huge spreadsheets, web browsing, and videoconferencing.
The Iris Xe Graphics processor offers plenty of graphics muscle for light gaming, averaging 44 frames per second (fps) on modern titles at high settings. In fact, it’s better than the AMD Radeon Graphics in the Envy x360, and that suggest that for people who are willing to compromise detail and resolution can comfortably use the ZenBook 13 as an alternative entry-level gaming laptop.
Intel’s 11th Gen processor also bring on board Intel Evo, which is the second stage in the company’s Project Athena initiative. Evo ushers in a number of requirements for laptops to receive Intel’s certification. Top in the list is at least 9 hours of battery life for all 1080p systems.
The ZenBook 13 UX325EA easily exceeds those requirements, lasting 13 hours 48 minutes on a single charge. That’s more than three hours longer than the 10:02 premium laptop average. Compared: the MacBook Air lasts 9:32 minutes, while the Swift 3 lasts 11:09 hours on a single charge.
The Asus ZenBook 13 easily straddles the distinct line between business and premium laptops. For the price, you’re getting a beautiful system, reminiscent of Asus’ top-tier laptops with the same durability and security features of the ExpertBook, the company’s latest business line. Plus, you get the additional muscle of Intel’s new 11th Gen processors, and all the features Intel’s Evo initiative brings, including more than 13 hours of battery life.
If that’s not enough reason to buy this system, a pinch of gaming is more reason to grab it.
Alternatives in category include the HP Envy 13 with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 8GB RAM and a 4K UHD IPS touchscreen (401 nits). The Dell XPS 13 (9310) is an even better alternative, offering class-leading performance in a sleek, feather-weight chassis, all thanks to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD and a 13.4″ Touchscreen Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) 500-Nit Display.
Both alternatives above are great devices, but the additional power and features come at a price. And that takes us back to the ZenBook 13, that manages to sweetly balance power and price, while at the same time offering a premium build.
Therefore, if you’re shopping for a durable, yet lightweight laptop with a stylish design and great performance, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA-XS74 should be at the top of your short list. It’s our newest Editors’ Choice for midrange ultraportable laptops.
ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop, 13.3” OLED FHD NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Core i7-1165G7, 16GB LPDDR4X RAM, 512GB SSD, NumberPad, Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, Windows 10 Pro, Pine Grey, UX325EA-XS74
3 used from $838.02