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ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED Review: The perfect coffee shop laptop?

Has the MacBook Air met its match?

Edited By: Manik Berry

Published: Aug 14, 2023, 06:30 PM IST | Updated: Aug 21, 2023, 03:53 PM IST

5. ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED display
5. ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED display

Story Highlights

  • The ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED is one of the slimmest and lightest laptops in the world.
  • It comes with the Intel Evo badge, which itself is a quality check for a laptop.
  • The OLED display comes with only 60hz refresh, but it has Dolby VIsion, with Dolby Atmos audio.

ASUS makes some of the best Windows machines, and almost all their laptops sit at the sweet spot for their respective audiences. I got my hands on the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED, and I think ASUS aimed at making the perfect coffee shop/travel work laptop with this one.

Zenbooks have been there for a while now, and with every iteration, ASUS has tried to beat the best, the Macbooks. They compete with ultrabooks from HP, Dell, Acer, and others, but I believe that ASUS has come closer to beating the MacBook than any other laptop. This time, the Zenbook S 13 OLED has become the world’s thinnest and lightest ultrabook. I used it as my daily driver for almost a month, and that’s how we reach this ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED review.

Box contents

There’s a whole sustainability theme going around the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED. Right from the box to the components of the laptop, everything is responsibly and sustainably sourced. It comes in glue-free packaging with plant-fiber-made covers for the laptop and the sleeve.

In the box, you get the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED laptop, a 65-watt fast charger, a sleeve, and some paperwork. I checked out the sleeve before taking out the main laptop, and could almost not believe that the laptop will fit inside something so slim. But that’s all for the box contents.

ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED specifications

Specifications ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED
Processor Intel Core i7-1355U (2P + 8E cores, up to 5 GHz)Intel Core i5-1335U (2P + 8E cores, up to 4.7 GHz)
Display 13.3″ 2.8K (2880 x 1800) ASUS Lumina OLED
16:10 aspect ratio, 0.0005 – 550nits brightness,
Dolby Vision, 0.2 ms response time, 1000000:1 contrast
Audio Harman Kardon tuned stereo speakers, with Dolby Atmos support
Memory 16GB/32GB LPDDR5 RAM (6000 MHz)
Storage 512GB/1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD (up to 6.5 Gbps)
Keyboard 1.0 mm travel, Edge-to-edge backlit chiclet keyboard
Webcam 2.1MP FHD camera
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
I/O 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (40 Gb/s data, 4K display, 65W charging)
USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A), HDMI 2.1 (TMDS), 3.5 mm audio jack
Battery 63 WHrs battery
Power Adapter 65 W fast charging (USB Type-C)
Dimensions 296 x 216 x 10.9 mm
Colors Basalt Gray, Ponder Blue

Build, design, and upgradeability

10. ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED verdict

The ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED has a stone-like finish on the lid, which is unique to this laptop’s basalt grey color.

An ultrabook is supposed to be light, powerful, and durable. And this checks all the right boxes. This is a slim, premium, and durable machine. The laptop has an aluminum body with a magnesium-aluminum alloy lid. There’s a stone-like finish on the lid, and the aluminum chassis feels premium to the touch.

Nearly everyone who held this laptop was astonished at how sleek it is. And despite the slimness, the Zenbook S 13 OLED is smartly built to house some necessary ports.

It is packing 2 USB-C, 1 USB-A, 1 HDMI port, and a headphone jack. For my work, I sorely miss an SD card slot, but there are enough ports for peripherals like a card reader. It has a sturdy hinge that slightly props up the laptop. The typing becomes more ergonomic and also improves heat dissipation. ASUS used a dedicated triangular foot on the TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition, but I believe this laptop could also use one as the chassis has a lot of flex when pressed hard. However, even with fast typing speeds, there’s virtually no flex. You’ll only know it is there when you press hard on one spot.

The laptop is slightly disappointing on the upgradeability end. You can replace the SSD to add a higher storage one, but the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. I also reviewed the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 last month, and that also had similar upgradability. It is good that this gets 16GB RAM on the base model, but an upgradable RAM would sit perfectly with the sustainability theme of this laptop.

ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED Display

5. ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED display

The brightness on this display can go from 0.005nits to 550nits, which is great for use in dark spaces as well as outdoors under the sun.

The name of this machine proudly says ‘OLED’ and speaks for itself. It is packing a 13.3-inch 2.8k (2880 x 1800) 16:10 ASUS Lumina OLED panel. Add a VESA certification and Dolby Vision badge to the mix, and you get a really good display. It has 550nits peak brightness, and there are burn-in prevention features in place to expand its life.

As expected from an OLED panel, this can go bright enough to use in direct sunlight and dim enough to use in dimly lit rooms. I’ve enjoyed watching Netflix on this display, but this also has its fair share of issues. For starters, it misses out on a high refresh rate as this is a 60Hz refresh panel. And the glossy nature of the panel means if there are lights behind you, they cause a glare on the screen.


6. ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED speakers

These speakers are Harman Kardon tuned, but they only come to life if you turn on the volume booster from the MyASUS app

This is the part where I say that a badge is never enough. The ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED comes with Dolby Atmos speakers, but they are simply not up to the mark. I’ve tested a ROG, a TUF, and now this Zenbook in the last 3 months, and the speakers have been one of the weakest parts on all three laptops.

They’re particularly disappointing on this one as there’s literally low to no volume. I even propped this up on a table for better acoustics, but the speakers are so underpowered, that I could hear the AC fans over them. I can appreciate the brilliant design, but I believe multimedia consumption should not have been an issue here.

Keyboard and trackpad

7.ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED keyboard and trackpad

It is a tactile keyboard with flat keys. The key travel is relatively short, but you can do fast and silent typing on it, thanks to the good spacing between the keys.

I started using this laptop right after testing two gaming laptops from ASUS. This has a different set of function keys that initially confused me. As a work-focused machine, the function keys are exactly where you need them. Volume and brightness controls come first, followed by brightness, screen projection, mic mute, camera off, and screenshot controls. It has a large trackpad, so ASUS added a ‘disable trackpad’ key to the mix so you can avoid accidental taps while typing.

The keyboard has just 1mm key travel but these are tactile keys, so there are low to no accidental clicks. It is a flat keyboard so it looks as if it is almost sitting flush with the base. However, start typing on it and you’ll see the keys are spaced in a way to make it feel like you’re typing on a larger machine.

Once you disable the trackpad, there’s a decently large palm rest at your disposal. This gets a large ErgoSense touchpad. Hands down, this is one of the best touchpads I’ve tested in a long time. While it isn’t as smooth as those on MacBooks, this definitely holds its own. So the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED review for the keyboard and trackpad department is sorted.

Software and smart features

8. ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED MyASUS app

MyASUS app is one of the most underrated apps on ASUS laptops. This gives you a lot of control over everything from fan speed to battery management, mics, and cameras on the laptop.

ASUS laptops are generally well-optimized and 0ffer a clean Windows experience. The laptop has MyASUS app pre-installed, and it offers you good control over the machine. This is a one-stop app to register device warranty,  diagnose errors and crashes, and get customer support. Then there are Link to MyASUS, ScreenXpert, and GlideX tools to connect your phone, manage multiple displays, and professional screen sharing.

Coming to more everyday tools, you get a Battery care mode to stop charging when it reaches 80% battery to increase the battery life. There are fan profiles to manually tweak the fan noise, AI mic and speaker controls, and Sound Modes with a Volume Booster. I’m happy to report that these tools work really well, and you can feel the difference they make when working on this laptop.

Battery and heat management

9. ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED Battery management

The battery care mode in the MyASUS app caps charging to 80%, making improving battery longevity. You can select ‘instant charge’ from a pop-up when you plug in the charger to power it up to 100% when you’re traveling.

The ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED has the Intel Evo badge, and this laptop’s battery performs on the promise. I’ve always got around 10 to 12 hours of battery backup on mixed-use from this machine.

In my testing, during the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED review, it manages to keep the heating under check. However, the bottom of the laptop heats up when the fans are in full swing. There’s no heat coming to the palm rest, trackpad, or even the keyboard area. But try to use it on a flat surface to make the most use of its ErgoLift hinge and heat dissipation.

ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED review: Verdict

So in a nutshell, ASUS has indeed made a great coffee shop laptop that will have you back no matter what you throw at it. The ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED is thin, light, and a portable powerhouse. It has a great battery and performance balance and a premium overall experience. While the display should’ve had a high refresh rate, it is pretty good as it is, and the other elements of the laptop also come into their own when you’re working on this machine.

In my usage, I was initially worried about it being so thin that I thought it was fragile. However, it is military-grade tested, and that’s pretty reassuring to know. Wrapping up, we can say that the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED is a combination of good hardware, software, and a responsibility initiative from ASUS that makes it environmentally sustainable as well.

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Author Name | Manik Berry


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