Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED (UN5401) review: warns HP
Reviewing convertibles is difficult. There is this temptation to compare a 2-in-1 to a classic laptop, which you always have to keep under control. Because the moment you start doing that, you are drifting away from reality. Both are like apples and oranges. Some people like apples, others prefer oranges. Just because there’s a better apple to be had at about the same price doesn’t make the orange any less appealing.
For example, the Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED.
The top model of this convertible laptop will cost you Rs 1,34,990. You can get a better stacked laptop from Asus itself for less than this. The VivoBook Pro 16X OLED (test) comes to mind.
Then there’s the urge to pit the ZenBook 14 Flip against its Vivobook 13 Slate OLED (test), which technically is also a convertible – and much cheaper. It’s also not an apt comparison, as it’s designed to be a tablet first. His laptop shenanigans are limited.
The ZenBook 14 Flip combines the form and convenience of the VivoBook 13 Slate with the utility of the VivoBook Pro 16X and puts it in one device. This is its main USP. And that is why it is so expensive. So the question is, what do we compare it to? The HP Specter x360 14 (test) can be a good benchmark.
Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED | Design and build quality
The 14 Flip, being a ZenBook, is Asus’ premium offering, whether in choice of build materials, styling or ergonomics. It is also instantly recognizable with its characteristic concentric circle finish on the lid. The entire chassis is made of diamond cut aluminum alloy. The laptop is military-grade MIL-STD 810H certified for durability.
It measures only 15.9 mm and weighs 1.4 kg, acceptable proportions for a 14-inch laptop. It is easy to carry by hand or inside a backpack. So no problems there.
Naturally, the main appeal of this 2-in-1 is the hinge. It can “tilt” 360 degrees on its axis. This allows the device to be propped up and used at multiple angles. In laptop mode, Asus’ “ErgoLift” mechanism tilts the keyboard and raises it a little so that you can, for example, type more comfortably. It also helps to dissipate heat from underneath. We can’t stress enough how well thought out it all is and it works as expected with barely a hiccup. Asus claims the hinge is tested to over 20,000 open and close cycles.
Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED | Display
It becomes almost like second nature for Asus devices to offer some of the most compelling screens on a budget. OLED at “these” prices seemed outlandish not so long ago until Asus one day decided to flip the script. The 14 Flip also comes with a high-quality OLED display with 2.8K or 2880 x 1800p resolution, high 16:10 aspect ratio, and built-in HDR support. It also gets very bright, up to 550 nits. It’s a lot brighter than we would have liked, but that can’t be said to be a deal breaker.
Colors are nice and crisp and refined just about right, right out of the gate. The panel supports 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, is Pantone validated and TÜV Rheinland Eye Care certified. As a bonus, it can also refresh up to 90 times per second.
The headline feature, though, is that it’s a ‘touchscreen’ OLED, meaning it could be a great machine for creators and enthusiasts looking to dip their toes in in creation, photo, video, etc. Conventional laptops at this price usually don’t come with an optional touchscreen. The VivoBook Pro 16X OLED does not.
Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED | Hardware, performance and battery life
It’s crazy because under the hood, the ZenBook 14 Flip has the same hardware as the VivoBook Pro 16X, minus the dedicated graphics card. The top-end model we have for review packs AMD’s 8-core Ryzen 9 5900HX chip. This is paired with 16GB of LPDDR4X (4266MHz) RAM which is soldered down and not user replaceable. You get a 1TB NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD that can be upgraded.
|Geekbench 5.3 Multiprocessor||7423|
|Geekbench 5.3 Single CPU||1435|
|Geekbench 5.3 OpenCL / Computing||15673|
|Cinebench R23 Multi||11040|
|Cinebench R23 Simple||1416|
|Cinebench R23 Multi (30 mins)||10975|
Now, putting that much power into a relatively more compact chassis – like this one – might be tricky, but we’re happy to report that Asus has worked the innards well. There are enough vents and outlets, as well as two heat pipes and fans, to keep the temperature from skyrocketing. The system stays quiet most of the time, unless you’re testing it, say, during performance testing or heavy modding or when you’re spending one of those crazy days browsing through a bunch of different tabs on Chrome.
Overall, the thermals are pretty solid, and we struggled to notice any significant throttling or lag, even when using the laptop heavily. The ZenBook 14 Flip is reliable in that sense. Be aware that this is not a gaming laptop, so you should keep your expectations in check. More experienced creators would already know that getting a more powerful laptop or desktop would make more sense. The 14 Flip could be a good gateway – at best – to this illustrious career. Or a great portable device for work, study and play at home.
Battery life could be better though. There’s a decently sized 63Wh battery inside this laptop and Asus won’t give you any specific numbers. We were only able to get 6-7 hours of mixed use, which is fine, but we expected more from an AMD-powered machine like this. You get 100W USB Type-C fast charging, which is nice.
Port selection is generous. The ZenBook 14 Flip has 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, HDMI 2.0, a microSD card reader and a 3.5mm combo audio jack in addition to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The keyboard, likewise, offers enough bells and whistles, including backlighting and useful keyboard shortcuts which, when you consider the size and form factor, are quite impressive. The individual keys are nice and spacious. They have good travel – 1.4mm. The typing doesn’t feel cramped in any way. Asus also managed to add a fingerprint reader to the feature list, in addition to the power button. The top-end model gets the NumberPad 2.0 which is essentially an LED-lit number pad built into the trackpad, which itself is generously sized.
The Harman/Kardon tuned speaker is nothing special. The 720p webcam, too, simply does the job.
Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED (UN5401) | Should I buy it?
The VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is a creator-friendly laptop that gives the MacBook Pro a run for its money and the VivoBook 13 Slate OLED is a Surface Go clone that’s better than you think. The ZenBook 14 Flip OLED, similarly, warns the HP Specter x360 14.
It doesn’t kill the Specter but that’s not the point. The Specter still remains the best choice as the ultimate 2-in-1 dream for those who can afford it. But not everyone can afford it, really. Not everyone may want it either.
If you were to talk about feature sets and put them to work, effortlessly, the ZenBook 14 Flip does almost everything the Specter can do with a lot less. ZenBook 14 Flip OLED pricing in India starts at Rs 91,990 (Ryzen 5 5600H/16GB RAM/512GB SSD). The Specter x360 14 starts at Rs 1,19,999 (Intel Core i5-1135G7/16GB RAM/512GB). You’ll need a budget over 1.5K if you’re looking for an OLED Specter x360 14. Even then, Asus will give you better port selection and a bunch of other features like the NumberPad to sweeten the deal. .
The ZenBook 14 Flip OLED offers incredible value for what it delivers – from a premium design, colorful display, ample performance to an exhaustive port selection. Really, it gives you the best of both worlds – laptop/tablet – without breaking the bank. For those who were looking at such a package, well, now they can stop looking.
|Premium portable design||Battery life could be better|
|Stunning OLED display||No Thunderbolt port|
|Fast performance||Speaker configuration could be louder|
|Good keyboard and trackpad||Average webcam|