A small laptop with a big heart

A small laptop with a big heart

As I sit down in a cafe, order my cup of coffee, and pull out the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED I have for review, I can’t help but feel extremely happy but also very frustrated.

I’m a happy camper because I know the Zenbook S 13 OLED can easily last me a full day of work even if I’m sitting in a coffee shop where all the outlets are already taken. My mixed usage involves editing documents, light photo retouching, watching YouTube videos, and even running a few laps of DIRT 5. With this usage pattern, I comfortably got over 6 hours from the 67 watt-hours of battery that Asus has crammed into this extremely thin and light ultrabook. Without any play, it would last me even longer on a single charge.

Asus Zenbook S

But, as I said above, I am also frustrated. Indeed, the Zenbook S 13 OLED lacks ports. I brought my Logitech MX Master 3 (one of the best wireless mice on the market) but forgot to bring a dongle. I sat in the cafe, having to use the touchpad, instead of the comfortable mice I had with me.

Laptops can get thinner and lighter thanks to the increased efficiency of the latest chips on the block. The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is a thin and light ultrabook that’s attractive, well-built, and one of the first to feature AMD’s Ryzen 7 6800U.

The new Ryzen chip allows the laptop to be extremely thin and is also the main reason why the battery life is extremely good. To make such a thin and light laptop, Asus had to make a few sacrifices along the way. Chief among them is port selection. Yes, the Zenbook S 13 OLED is light on ports.

Asus Zenbook S
Asus Zenbook S

There may be three USB Type-C ports (two on the right and one on the left) and even a 3.5mm headphone jack (on the right side), but there’s no USB-A port. It’s a shame. Those who need to plug in external mice, an SD card reader, or even connect the laptop to an HDMI cable will still need to remember to pack some dongles. To mitigate this, Asus has included a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the box. Still, my muscle memory isn’t quite ready to remember to always have a dongle on me yet.

Asus may have chosen that heat dissipation matters more for such a laptop than a USB-A port. Some consumers may disagree, but it’s something they’ll have to live with if they go out and buy the Zenbook S 13 OLED.

With a high-resolution OLED screen and very good battery life, the S 13 OLED is one of the best ultrabooks on the market today. Let me go into more detail and tell you why.

Here’s what you get with the Zenbook S 13 OLED ultrabook

– Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 6800U
– Graphics: AMD Radeon 680M (integrated)
– Storage: 1TB SSD
– Memory: 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM
– Display: 13.3-inch OLED (2880 x 1800 resolution) with 16:10 aspect ratio
– Camera: 720p
– Battery: 67Wh
– Mains adapter: 65W
– Weight: 1.1kg
– Price: starting price of ₹99,990. Price of the variant I have for review: ₹1.19,990.

A thunderbolt

The brand new and minimalist Asus monogram logo is love at first sight the moment you unbox the Zenbook S 13 OLED. The Zenbook S 13 OLED is one of the first laptops from Asus to sport the new stylized Asus logo. Maybe I like it more because it seems heavily inspired by the Star Trek icon. It’s a breath of fresh air. There’s nothing else on the lid except a small “Asus Zenbook” wordmark at the bottom.

Asus Zenbook S
Asus Zenbook S

The Zenbook S 13 OLED is a small laptop with a big heart. The laptop may appear to be pure aluminum, but it is more of an alloy of aluminum and magnesium. It may have a plastic feel, but the build quality is, for the most part, pretty solid. It is a minimalist design that will appeal to many consumers. The only annoying/negative rating I will give Asus is the fact that there are numerous stickers on the palm rest. No one needs dozens of stickers. You are buying a laptop and not a book on the laptop.

The thing that immediately caught my eye was the “Zen Capped 180* Hinge”. It’s a wonderful hinge. The hinge is attached to a circular bar on the back of the gadgets. It’s not a mechanical part, but it sure looks and feels one. It has been designed with premium end caps and runs the full length of the laptop. The best part is that it allows the display to be tilted up to 180*. Also, with the ErgoLift, the keyboard is raised slightly, which allows for a better typing experience and better airflow.

The only downside that was immediately noticeable was that the power button (which doubles as a fingerprint reader) was swapped out for the delete key from previous Asus laptops. The company claims it was due to customer feedback, but I’m not buying it. The delete key is now more accessible and something most consumers will use much more frequently than the power button.

Asus Zenbook S
Asus Zenbook S

Last, but certainly not least, the OLED screen is an absolute delight. It’s a 2.8K touchscreen (2880×1800 resolution), with a 16:10 aspect ratio and slim bezels. It has one of the best displays in the segment. Watching movies like Anurag Kashyap or playing DIRT 5 is a truly wonderful experience. The screen comes with a good dynamic range. With a peak brightness of 500 nits, the laptop can be used outdoors without any issues. I would have liked a 90Hz or even a 120Hz panel, but the Samsung-made OLED panel is capped at 60Hz on the Zenbook S 13 OLED. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s certainly noticeable, especially after being exposed to higher refresh displays.

Ultra-fast performance

No, the Zenbook S 13 OLED is not a gaming laptop. Thanks to Asus’ improved integrated graphics, the Zenbook S 13 OLED can handle casual games with aplomb. The Zenbook S13 OLED is aimed more at creative professionals than anyone else, and it delivers very good performance.

The two games I tried were Fortnite and DIRT 5. With Fortnite I had to turn the graphics down to high and with that I was able to get around 33 frames per second (fps).

Push it a bit though and it gets toasty. After a few hours of intensive typing on Google Docs, playing music on Spotify, and opening my stock apps, the keys felt warmer than usual. It was, however, never too uncomfortable to use.

With Zenbook S 13 OLED, you can tune performance with Whsiper, Balanced, and Performance modes. Unless you’re a fan of noise, performance mode is fine for you. Using performance mode and pushing the laptop with some photo editing and occasional gaming, I could barely hear the fans in the cafe where I’m writing this review.

For everyday activities, the Zenbook S 13 OLED absolutely flies. There’s almost no stuttering or lag when opening and closing apps and even having 100 Google Chrome tabs open at once won’t slow down the laptop.

There are two speakers located under the front of the chassis. They are driven by an intelligent amplifier. At 75% volume, I got clear mids and highs. There’s no extra bass here, but these speakers are good enough to stream YouTube, Amazon Prime, or whatever video you want without having to connect to an external speaker.

The touchpad, as with most Asus laptops, has the Asus NumberPad 2.0. This means that the touchpad can transform into an LED number pad, which is particularly useful for those who fiddle with numbers on a daily basis.

The only big improvement was the webcam. It is now a FULL HD model and incorporates 3D noise reduction technology. In the few video calls I took from the laptop, it provided excellent picture and sound quality.

Is the Zenbook S 13 OLED worthy of your hard-earned cash?

The answer is a strong and resounding yes. I haven’t tested the new Dell XPS 13 (with the invisible trackpad) or the new XPS 13 or even the redesigned XPS 13 2-in-1, which I’m happy to do. HP has also just launched the brand new HP Specter 13.5 x360 and Specter 16 x360 laptops in India. On the MacBook side, Apple recently introduced the MacBook Air M2.

It just shows that the competition is fierce. Nonetheless, Asus is holding its own with the fantastic Zenbook S 13 OLED, my favorite product from the company over the past six months.

The Zenbook S 13 OLED has been Asus’ best ultrabook for months, and is a definite contender for the best ultrabook of 2022 (yes, I know the year isn’t over yet). There is practically nothing to complain about. You get fantastic battery life (all courtesy of AMD), a great keyboard and touchpad, and one of the best OLED panels in the business.

Asus has addressed most of the consumer complaints from its previous editions. The 2022 model is sturdier than ever and has the all-important ErgoLift for a more comfortable experience.

No laptop is perfect, and as I mentioned above, there are a few downsides to such a thin and light laptop. Mainly, the lack of ports. It also lacks a non-OLED option. There’s also the fact that due to the thermal design, the Zenbook S 13 OLED fails to deliver the full potential of the Ryzen 7 6800U hardware.

Still, with great everyday performance, light gaming, long-lasting battery life, and a gorgeous display, the Zenbook S 13 OLED is the ultrabook that should stay at the top of your shopping list. At Rs 1,19,990, the inflated version is the variant to get!