The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is an impressive new update of one of our favorite ultrabooks from last year, with a powerful new AMD Ryzen 7 6800 series processor with AMD Radeon 600M graphics functionality. Zenbook has plenty of processing power, efficient design and integrated features that make it a good buy among its competitors in the Ultrabook market.
Zenbook is designed for the “on the go” computer user, so it’s ridiculously light and fits anywhere at school, on a plane or in your local coffee shop.
After testing it thoroughly, the only limitations the Zenbook has are rendering graphics on the latest high-end games, but these should really be played on tricked-out gaming systems anyway. Still, the Zenbook flies through many of the best PC games without much trouble at some moderate settings.
Want to push the boundaries of video streaming? It’s a piece of cake. While the Zenbook doesn’t quite come close to the 4K resolution common with the best laptops on the market, its 2880x1800p resolution is still stunning to look at.
As an Ultrabook meant for the casual or business professional, the performance of this laptop is spectacular. The Zenbook features a 13.3″ OLED touchscreen/pointer display, 3 USB-C ports and a 3.5mm audio jack, all combined in a strong, military-grade, magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis.
The Harmon/Kardon stereo speakers are powered by Dolby Atmos technology and sound very good, although a little light on bass response. The memory and processor ensured that loading times were minimal. The Zenbook was fast and responsive to our commands, and overall we feel the Asus Zenbook is one of the best Ultrabooks on the market and a good choice for most computing needs.
However, the biggest concern right now is availability, and that’s a shame. It’s not well stocked online, and the only place we’ve seen it on sale in the US is Best Buy, and it’s currently sold out there.
Hopefully we’ll see more of this laptop on store shelves both physically and digitally, but given the supply chain issues, we’re not shocked by limited availability.
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED: Price and availability
- How much does it cost? $1,299 / approx. £1,039 / AU$1,870
- When is it out? It is available now through Best Buy in the US
- Where can you get it? Available in the US; UK and Australia availability to come
Here is Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
PROCESSOR: AMD Ryzen 7 6800U
Graphics: AMD Radeon 680M graphics
RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5
Screen: 13.3 inches, 2.8K OLED
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Ports: (3) Three USB-C ports, (1) One 3.5mm audio port
Connection: Wi-Fi 6E with Gig+ performance (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: 3DNR 720p
Size (W x D x H): 11.68 x 8.27 x 0.59 inches | 296.70 x 210 x 14.9 mm
The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is available for purchase in the US through Best Buy, but that seems to be the only retailer at this time that carries this model, and even then it’s sold out online. Buyers in the UK and Australia may have to wait a little longer for this laptop to arrive in these regions.
Asus has indicated that the Zenbook S 13 OLED range, when available, will center around five configurations, with the cheapest option including a Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and a non-touch screen for $1,099 which a starting MSRP.
The model tested for review had a Ryzen 7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a touchscreen/pen display available for $1,299 as a starting MSRP. The most powerful of these configurations will use a Ryzen 7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of memory, and a touch/pen display for $1,449 as a starting MSRP.
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED: Design
- Beautiful OLED screen
- Fantastic, light finish and body
The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED has a sleek design that uses a magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis that easily fits into your backpack or briefcase. When fully closed, it measures approximately 14.9mm tall and weighs less than 1kg. The display is a touchscreen that measures 13.3 inches diagonally. For those curious about the stylus capabilities, any Bluetooth-compatible stylus should work with the Zenbook, such as the Asus Pen 2.0 available on the Asus website.
Asus also loves to save space on its laptops. The Zenbook is no exception as it integrates the Asus NumberPad 2.0 into the touchpad of the device. Once you get used to it, it seems like a smart decision. If you hold your finger at the top right of the trackpad (on the keyboard icon), you will see the Asus NumberPad.
The Zenbook does a very good job of deciphering between random brushes of your hand and legitimate attempts to open the ten-key NumberPad. Once we got used to it, it worked really well, every time. The departure of the usual tenkey numpad leaves more room to incorporate a full-sized keyboard into the Zenbook frame instead of cramming in a miniature keyboard that no one likes.
The result is a condensed but user-friendly keyboard that slims down the size of the entire Zenbook to a very comfortable but efficient design.
The keycaps on the keyboard itself are “disked” as Asus likes to say. With a smooth 0.2 mm scallop on the key cap, your fingertips will experience typing as a pleasant experience. The keys have about 1.4mm of travel to contact with a rubber dome responsible for giving keystrokes a “tactile bump”, meant to replicate the resistance of typing on standard keyboards.
Newer laptop keyboards without these features usually result in a softer keystroke that many users dislike. It is nice to see that Asus has responded to user criticism. Zenbook incorporates newer architecture in the keyboard that makes typing comfortable.
The Zenbook’s stereo sound is powered by Asus “Quadspeakers” which are certified by Harman/Kardon and feature Dolby Atmos technology. The speakers are located on the bottom of the laptop on the left and right. The webcam on the Zenbook is excellent. Asus has incorporated “3DNR” technology to ensure excellent video recording, but more on this later.
There isn’t much room for ports on Ultrabooks, but the Zenbook has three USB-C ports (one often used for the power adapter) and a 3.5mm audio jack. Fortunately, the USB-C ports are distributed with two ports on the right side and one on the left side. The USB-C power adapter cable that comes with the Zenbook takes up very little space. Therefore, it is easy enough to stick the power connection in one USB-C port right next to a USB-C dongle in the port next to it (on the right side), without much concern about whether there is enough space for both.
Zenbook comes in four colors: Ponder Blue, Refined White, Aqua Celadon and Vestige Beige.
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED: Performance
- Decent gaming performance
- Ray tracing on an ultrabook. Not great ray tracing, true, but at least it can do it
The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED performs fantastically across almost all metrics. The 13.3-inch screen seems larger than it actually is, and the OLED screen has an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a screen resolution of 2880x1800p, which adds up to over five million pixels.
You’ll need to lower the resolution in your video options to get the latest games to play continuously at 30 frames per second, as titles like Godfall require massive processing power to play at higher frame rates. However, a quick reduction of the game’s video settings allowed me to play Sniper Elite 4 and Godfall with very few problems.
The Zenbook has a peak brightness of 550 nits, a color depth of up to 1.07 billion colors and a screen refresh rate of 60Hz, and all around you’ll be hard-pressed to beat this performance at this price in the Ultrabook market.
Here’s how Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED performed in our series of benchmark tests:
Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 8,696
3DMark Port Royal: 847; Time Spy: 2,344; Fire attack: 5,524; Night Raid: 21,326
GeekBench 5: 1,447 (mononuclear); 7,274 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 battery life: 7:28
Battery life (TechRadar film test): 12:40 p.m
The sound of the Zenbook is solid considering that there is not much space to place stereo speakers in a 14mm chassis. Therefore, the speakers may not get much bass response in your audio mix, but the mids and highs are projected well. However, that is to be expected from any Ultrabook.
But when you use headphones, you can hear the magic of the Harmon/Kardon sound kick in as the Zenbook recreates the sound exactly as it was meant to be heard. Games, movies and even video conferencing sound amazing. There’s also Dolby Atmos support if you connect surround sound or Dolby Atmos audio monitors for gaming or movie viewing.
The webcam is probably one of the most important options of any Ultrabook, due to its frequent use in business and education, and the Zenbook’s webcam is a real winner. Asus uses what it calls “3D Noise Reduction (“3DNR”) technology to clean up the image quality of the Zenbook’s webcam. We can only guess that it does so by monitoring and adjusting the sensitivity of the light sensor when the webcam takes the photo or video. About like the ISO settings on a DSLR camera.
We’re not qualified to explain how the 3DNR algorithm works its magic (that’s a fancy way of saying “we don’t know”), but we noticed that when using the Zenbook during Zoom meetings, the Zenbook image was incredible clear and alive.
The model we tested included 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, which meant load times were very quick. There was hardly any stuttering or slowdown unless we were really pushing a game’s video resolution to the max. There was no fan noise we could hear during testing. Our only criticism would be that we noticed that the Zenbook would get a little warm if it was running and placed in a tight environment, such as a book bag.
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED: Battery life
- Pretty decent battery life, given the hardware
- Easily gets a full working day’s worth of battery life
The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED amazed us with its battery life. With a battery life of 67 Wh, we expected good results from the Zenbook. So we unplugged the Zenbook and ran a movie on a continuous loop at 50% brightness until the battery ran out of juice. We did this several times. The average we got for this little Zenbook was a whopping 12 hours and 40 minutes of battery time. This is good performance in this price range.
We ran a separate battery life test for the Zenbook using the PCMark 10 benchmark, and the average result for those tests was seven hours and 28 minutes, a fairly significant difference of five hours between two different battery tests.
Asus has 19 hours of battery life for the Zenbook 13 S OLED. If you use the Zenbook 13 S OLED for school or work with the “Battery Saver” function turned on, it can get 19 hours of battery life on a single charge. Battery performance is going to vary depending on the types of apps you use, so it’s certainly possible. That said, for general use cases between eight to 12 hours of battery life is respectable.
Should I buy an Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED?
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