Asus' ZenBook 13 offers great performance and long battery life for a very good price.
- Premium design
- Solid performance
- Great battery life
- Dim display
- Keyboard a bit cramped
A high-end laptop does not have to break the bank. Just look at the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA, featuring a powerful 8th Gen Core i5 processor and a ridiculously good battery life, all packed in a superb chassis at a reasonable price of $849. This is hundreds of less than competing systems such as the Dell XPS 13. However, there are some disadvantages, including the schematic screen of this device, the short keyboard platform and poor speakers. Despite this, the ZenBook 13 is a solid high-end laptop sold at a reasonable price. Let’s take a look at what this ZenBook offers us in our Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Design
The glossy, gold-colored Asus logo in the center of the ZenBook 13’s hood looks like a raindrop falling in the middle of a calm, royal blue ocean of aluminum, creating a symmetrical effect on the lid. It was fascinating – until I held it in my hands for a little over 5 minutes and noticed that the fingerprints had forgiven him. The lid of the ZenBook 13 extends along the hinge. So when I lifted the lid, the keyboard rose slightly, as if he was trying to greet me. The keyboard font and the edge of the hinge are foamed in pink gold.
I also found that the almost no-ring screen is incredibly refreshing compared to those laptops that refuse to reduce the number of pixels on the bottom edge. Although thin and light, the ZenBook 13 has room for a Type-A USB port and even an HDMI port. The left side contains a power connector, an HDMI 1.4 port, a USB 3.1 port, and a USB Type C port, while the right side has a microSD card slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a headphone jack. Although the choice of doors is solid, we regret the absence of Thunderbolt 3 on this chassis.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Keyboard and TouchPad
The ZenBook 13’s keyboard was active and eye-catching, but the narrow key spacing and reduced platinum length created a theatrical typing experience. As a comparison, the distance between the ZenBook 13 keys was about 1.9 millimeters, while the distance from the XPS 13 was 2.2 millimeters between the keys. The path of the keys was also shallow, at 1.3 millimeters, but the keys required a significant force of 70 grams.
We prefer to tinker between 1.5 and 2.0 mm and at least 60 g of force required. The keyboard features a simple white backlight and a numeric keypad built into the touchpad that can be activated by holding the top right corner of the touchpad. Although the 3.9 x 2.1-inch touchpad is too small for me to use comfortably, it was still sensitive and soft to the touch. I had no problem using Windows 10 as three-dimensional gestures and two-finger scrolling.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Display
The glossy 13.3-inch ZenBook 13 panel, 1920 x 1080, is colorful but dim. As a titular character of John Wick: Chapter 3 is mounted on the steps of the main branch of the New York Public Library. The ZenBook 13 panel beautifully highlighted the bold blue and yellow light that illuminated the entrance in a disturbing way. And when Halle Berry appeared on the screen, I saw every layer of hair flowing from her head. However, between the bright screen and the dimmed screen, it was frustrating to see how John Wick had killed people in a dark room (almost everywhere in the trailer).
The ZenBook 13 panel covered 115% of the sRGB spectrum, a score slightly lower than the average of laptops by 117%. While the Envy 13t (106%) and MacBook Air (109%) fared better, the XPS 13 recovered 119%. With 225 nits, the ZenBook 13 is disappointing compared to the average of the 321-nit category. The Envy 13t (248 nits) and MacBook Air (234 nits) do not reach the average but are slightly brighter than the ZenBook. Meanwhile, the XPS 13 convinces them all with no less than 375 nits of clarity.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Graphics
The ZenBook 13 Intel UHD 620 GPU scored 80,655 points on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, below the 87,129 category average. With the same GPU, Envy 13t and XPS 13 scored 77,685 and 88,473 respectively. In the field of real gaming, the ZenBook 13 reached 59 frames per second on the Dirt 3 benchmark, which is perfectly playable, but below average for high-end notebooks at 74 fps. The Envy 13t (48 fps) and MacBook Air (22 fps) are far behind the ZenBook, while the XPS 13 excels at 88 fps.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Audio
The ZenBook 13 speakers filled my room with Jon Bellion’s “He is the same”, but the sound was empty and weightless. The starting voices usually have a deeper voice, but these speakers distort the voice and all I can hear is the main track. When the hum of the chorus went up, it was superficial and lacked the bass needed to make a good impression. The electronic rhythms in the background were well balanced with the voices. When I tried to match the speakers to the included AudioWizard application, the Music setting made the song sound more consistent, but also significantly reduced the volume. The app also includes other presets, such as Movie, Recording, Games, and Speech, but no equalizer option.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Performance
Equipped with an Intel Core i5-8265U processor with 8GB of RAM, the ZenBook 13 shredded through 40 Google Chrome tabs and three YouTube 1080p videos without even stuttering. On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the ZenBook 13 recorded an impressive 15,100, on an average of 12,899 high-end notebooks and scores of the Core i5-8210Y (7,871) MacBook Air and Core i7-8565U ( 12,755) of the XPS 13.
The ZenBook 13 collected 65,000 names and addresses in 1 minute and 35 seconds on our Excel test, which was 4 seconds less than the category average (1:31). The XPS 13 progressed to 1:10, while the Envy 13t (1:33) just missed the average and the MacBook Air was far behind at 3:26. The 256 GB Asus SSD has copied 4.97 GB of data in just 12 seconds, at a rate of 424 megabytes per second, which is not far from the 525 MBP category average. The 256 GB Envy 13t SSD handled only 212 Mbps and the 1 TB SSD of the XPS 13 exceeded 565 Mbps. The MacBook Air finally turned out to be the best, with its 256GB SSD offering an incredible performance of 2,066 MB/s.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Battery Life and Heat
The ZenBook 13 blew us away with its incredible autonomy. When we surfed the web constantly via Wi-Fi at 150 nits of clarity, the ZenBook 13 lasted more than 11 hours and 28 minutes, which crushed the average of the top quality laptops 8:33. Meanwhile, the XPS 13 (7:50) and the MacBook Air (9:32) lasted after the ZenBook.
The ZenBook 13 can get a little warm, but the heat is not a decisive factor. After playing a 15-minute HD video, the background reached 96 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just above our 95-degree comfort threshold. Meanwhile, the middle of the keyboard and touchpad measured 93 and 85 degrees respectively. The lower average hinge reached a maximum temperature of 103 degrees.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review – Conclusion
The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA shines with a combination of fast performance and incredibly long battery life. Not to mention, it’s quite a beauty. However, the faded screen is an interaction and we want more space between the keys. If you want to spend a little more, you can get the XPS 13 with similar specifications priced at $1209; It offers a much brighter screen, a fully aluminum chassis, a wider keyboard, and better graphics performance.
But all in all, if you’re looking for one of the best lightweight ultrabooks under $900, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA is for you.
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