As people are working from home nowadays, the need for a laptop has increased significantly. At the same time, one can find a plethora of laptops in the market for different use-cases. Some laptops prioritize portability while some are focused on offering high-end performance. With Asus ZenBook 14 UM425, the Taiwanese company is trying to offer both portability and high-performance at less than Rs 70,000 in India. It is trying to focus on style, portability, and good hardware with the ZenBook 14 UM425. The brand sent us the device for testing. If you are on a hunt for the above-mentioned parameters, then read our review to find out how the laptop performs in the real-world. Here is our review for the Asus ZenBook 14 UM425. Also Read - Vaio is finally back in India: Launches Vaio E15, SE14 premium sleek laptops
Design and build quality
One of the key selling points of the Asus ZenBook 14 UM425 is its design. I was quite surprised by the sleek profile of the laptop. The combination of a slim form factor and ultra-portability makes it one of the best laptops for productivity and travel purposes. Asus has used aluminum alloy to craft the laptop for a premium look and solid feel. Though, I do believe one will have to handle this laptop with a little extra care as it is quite slim and light, and not extremely robust. Also Read - CES 2021: Asus unveils new Zenbook Pro, Vivobook and TUF laptops
Watch: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Review
Asus claims that the device has passed MIL-STD-810G tests for durability and endurance, which is good. To sweeten the pot, the company has offered very slim bezels. I feel that this 14-inch laptop with a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio is just perfectly balanced. It not too big, not too small; as all this should be. It comes with an all-metal design along with an off-center Asus logo on the lid with a subtle brushed finish. The laptop is only available in the Pine Grey color option, which looks classy. Though, I would have loved to see more color options. Also Read - CES 2021 Day 2 recap: Asus ROG, Samsung Exynos 2100, GM flying car and more
While it is impressive to see Asus fitting in most of the ports in a sleek profile, it is also worth noting that it lacks the headphone jack and an ethernet port. Beyond this, we get two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, a standard HDMI 2.0 port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and a microSD card reader. I don’t mind the absence of the 3.5mm audio jack but regular users likely need it on the laptop. To address these concerns, Asus ships two dongles (one Type-A dongle for the ethernet and one Type-C dongle for 3.5mm audio socket) with the laptop. However, one might misplace them or not be comfortable with a dongle-life in the long run. If you have a pair of Type-C earphones, then you don’t need to worry about it.
The Asus Zenbook 14 also comes with an “Ergo-lift” design. What this actually means is when you open the lid, the lower half of the laptop is inclined at a particular angle. While this does offer a slightly better typing experience, it aims to offer breathing space to the air vents at the bottom for better cooling.
You get a 14-inch display with Full HD resolution with 250 nits of peak brightness. The display offers decent color accuracy with 100 percent coverage of sRBG. However, the overall display seems to be slightly on the warmer side. Though you can adjust the temperature of the display in the settings. Talking about the brightness levels, we had no issues viewing the non-glossy screen indoors but outside may be a problem. Considering the specifications, this screen isn’t ideal for content creators who demand pro-level color accuracy but one can still use it in a pinch. Beyond this, the display is ideal for regular content consumption and work. The viewing angles are fine, but the display doesn’t support 1440p resolution for better sharpness. Though, in all honesty, an average user shouldn’t have any issues with the lack of a higher resolution screen.
Unlike the Mi Notebook 14 laptop, Asus has also added a webcam on the upper side of the screen. The front camera has grown to be an essential feature considering the global pandemic. While there is no fingerprint sensor here, you can take advantage of face recognition. Finally, the included webcam also does not come with any physical privacy shutter.
Performance of the Asus ZenBook 14 UM425
We used the latest Asus ZenBook 14 UM425 as our daily driver for like two weeks and the experience was generally a breeze. The laptop handled most of the tasks well. We ran plenty of browser tabs, streamed videos, and used a bunch of everyday apps like Word, Spotify, and Adobe Lightroom. You shouldn’t have any doubts in the performance arena as you are getting the latest and most efficient AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor. Though, we did witness freezing issues twice when the device was heavy lifting.
To clarify, this laptop is not meant for gaming in the absence of a discrete GPU. However, it does come with integrated AMD Radeon Vega 7 graphics which allows one to play casual games. If you desire to play a few heavy titles, you may try at the lowest settings for an okay experience. But we won’t recommend you to do that. While it is capable of handling light to moderate complex GPU tasks, we would say it is better to keep your expectations on a lower side.
We tried Asphalt 9: Legends, which is one of the free games available on Microsoft Store. The gameplay was mostly smooth at high graphics setting, and we noticed minimal stutter in a few races. Additionally, after a few gaming sessions, the device got quite warm. Enough that I could feel the warmth on the keys in the upper half of the keyboard.
It is worth noting that we encountered this both while gaming or pushing the laptop to its limits during general use. We checked the temperatures with HWInfo and it showed a maximum of 92-degree Celsius and an average 75 degrees Celsius after about 20-25 minutes of gameplay. If you don’t want the fan to make even a bit of noise, you can switch to Whisper mode. But, we preferred the Dynamic fan profile, which works best for day-to-day tasks, and while heavy lifting it didn’t make much noise.
Benchmarks, software, and audio
I ran a couple of other benchmark applications too. On Cinebench R20, the laptop scored 2,428 points. PCMark 10 gave it an average score of 3,551 in the regular test. The laptop also scored about 1,021 in the Time Spy test in 3DMark.
All-in-all, Asus ZenBook 14 UM425 is a good laptop for all-day productivity and media consumption. It runs Windows 10 Home out-of-the-box with a number of third-party apps. These include the annoying McAfee LiveSafe that continuously pestered me for the subscription. Besides this, the company’s MyAsus app is quite useful and helps quickly control battery and screen settings, fan profiles, and more. You also get to diagnose the system. The ‘Link to MyAsus‘ feature allows you to receive calls, notifications on the laptop, and transfer files to the phone. For this, you will have to download the MyAsus app on your smartphone.
As far as audio experience is concerned, the stereo speakers can get loud without distorting if you don’t keep the laptop on your lap. The down-firing speakers are good enough, but we would recommend earphones or Bluetooth speakers for a better surround sound experience.
Keyboard and Trackpad experience
The keyboard offers a good layout with decent key travel and white backlighting. I found that the ZenBook 14 UM425 comes with adequately spaced out keys. It isn’t too noisy as well. When the laptop is heavy lifting, half of the keyboard gets quite hot and you might not be very comfortable while typing. We didn’t witness much deck flex in the keyboard area but heard some creaking sounds when closing or opening the lid. I liked the hinge mechanism and could easily open the laptop with one finger.
Talking about the keyboard backlighting, it is great if you are working in a low light environment. Though, the light is overly evident if you look at the keyboard from an angle when typing. I found it a bit distracting and turned it off. The laptop features three levels of the backlight on the keyboard.
With Asus ZenBook 14, you obviously don’t get the ScreenPad 2.0 (trackpad with a built-in display) here. However, you do get the option to turn the trackpad into a number pad with the flick of a button. For this, you just need to tap once in the upper right corner. I liked the fact that you can make use of the trackpad even when the number pad is active. It can easily differentiate when you are using the number pad or switching between apps or checking desktop. Besides, the glass trackpad is quite wide and works well.
The Asus ZenBook 14 UM425 offers a 67Wh battery, and Asus is claiming that users will get up to 22 hours of battery life. We struggled to make it through a workday on a single charge. It managed to deliver 7-8 hours of power with light to moderate usage. Our usage includes a bit of binge-watching, heavy browsing, light image editing, watching a bit of YouTube, and writing all day. The brightness level was mostly less than 80 percent. But, the result will vary as per your usage patterns.
One can use one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports to charge this laptop. The 65W charger is quite compact and easy to carry around. There is no old-school barrel charger and the device uses USB Type-C for charging, which is nice. As per our test, the adapter took 1 hour and 45 minutes to fully charge the battery from zero to 100 percent. We also faced an issue where the laptop showed it was plugged in, but it was not charging the battery one fine day. Don’t worry, this is not a laptop’s issue and is because of a Windows update. This charging issue was resolved through a software update.
Asus ZenBook 14 UM425: Should you buy this laptop?
The Asus ZenBook 14 UM425 is a good laptop and deserves to stay on top of your buying list. If you are looking for an incredibly thin and lightweight 14-inch laptop, then you can’t miss this one. You also get AMD’s latest Ryzen 4000 series processor, which will offer good performance given your usage doesn’t include very graphics-heavy tasks. Asus has aimed the product at people who would require it for office or typical personal use. However, if you are looking at content creation such as video editing then this laptop is not the right pick. You can look at the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 and more for your content consumption needs. The screen is good enough for all-day productivity in a single slim package. You will also get great battery life if your usage is not on the heavy side.
The only issues include the lack of an in-built audio jack (though it comes with a dongle) and the heat it produces during heavy, intensive tasks. We hope that the company can manage to improve the thermal controls through firmware updates or hardware revision in the next generation. Finally, we advise you to handle the laptop with extra care due to its light and thin form factor. The Asus Zenbook UM425 price in India starts from Rs 69,990, which is for the Ryzen 5 4500U model. The AMD Ryzen 7 4700U variant will cost you Rs 84,990. It is available for purchase via online channels and Asus exclusive stores.