ASUS offers a vast array of laptops with a mind boggling array of possible configurations and at all price points. The new Vivobook S14, aka model K3402ZA is an affordable midrange laptop with a premium 14-inch OLED display and Intel Evo certified hardware shoehorned into a 13-inch chassis for under RM4,000; which is somewhat of a rarity for an Intel Evo certified laptop but is it worth the money? Our ASUS Vivobook S14 review will put that notion to the test!
ASUS Vivobook S14 review – Build and Design
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The ASUS Vivobook S14 aka model K3402ZA is part of their budget Vivobook range with an interesting blend of compromises and features that keep it under the RM4,000 mark. Unlike many other competing 14-inch laptops, it has a premium OLED display that offers more vibrant, richer colour rendition than conventional LCD displays along with a full 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut which is a feature critical for content creators.
Alternatively, you can also opt for the slightly larger Vivobook S15 aka model K3502ZA that has virtually identical specifications and the same RM3,999 price tag save for a slightly larger 15.6-inch OLED display.
The compact Vivobook S14 laptop is also one of the enviable few thus far in the market with an Intel Evo rating which certifies that it meets Intel’s rigorous guidelines for an ultraportable including long battery life, fast start-up times, fast charging and a battery of other demanding criteria.
Out of the box, our ASUS Vivobook S14 review sample comes with the bare basics with the laptop itself as well as a compact USB-C charger and a USB-cable to go with it too.
The laptop is primarily made of polycarbonate but ASUS has culled some of the more sophisticated production processes from their higher end laptops and given it a matte black paint job that mimics an actual metal finish.
The top lid is otherwise plain save for a stylised Vivobook badge stamped in the corner and is pleasantly sturdy with minimal flex while the underside panel is secured by pentalobe screws with grilles for ventilation and the downward firing stereo speakers.
In terms of I/O, ASUS has kitted out the Vivobook S14 with a fair assortment of ports with the left side featuring a USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A port while the right side has a denser cluster of ports with a 3.5mm audio combo jack, a HDMI 2.0 port and a pair of Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports with each supporting up to 100W power delivery and up to 40 Gbps data transfer rates. On paper this allows you to output a feed to two 4K displays and charge the laptop at the same time. It also has WiFi 6 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity.
Flip the lid open and you’re greeted with a surprisingly substantial setup for what you pay for. The hinge mechanism is relatively smooth and can be opened one-handed while the keyboard itself is fairly standard save for an Esc key coloured in a garish shade of neon orange and the Enter key features a hazard stripe emblazoned across it. The palm rest is also generously sized with a matte finish.
The biggest attraction and centrepiece to the Vivobook S14 is its luscious OLED display. While competitors typically made do with LCD displays, ASUS has gone all the way and kitted it out with a 14-inch OLED display with 2,880 x 1,800 pixels resolution, a respectable 90Hz refresh rate and 600 nits peak brightness along with a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio.
Where it truly impresses is that ASUS has ensured that the display is exceptionally colour accurate to professional standards as it features a 100% DCI-P3, is Pantone validated and has DisplayHDR 600 True Black certification for exceptionally deep blacks onscreen and the kind of vibrancy and colour rendition that only OLED displays are capable of rendering. Up top, the display has a fairly conventional HD webcam and a slider for a privacy screen.
Overall build quality is sturdy and from a distance, the external chassis of our Vivobook S 14 review sample looks like it’s actually made of metal and aesthetically speaking, it looks posher than what its price point would indicate. It’s a plus point that ASUS has opted for a more conservative, pragmatic matte black finish here rather than the garish metallic colourways seen in prior generation designs.
ASUS Vivobook S14 review (K3402ZA) – Performance and Specifications
Our ASUS Vivobook S 14 review unit is a retail sample for Malaysia and comes with the following hardware:
|Display||14-inch OLED 2,880 x 1,800 pixels, 90Hz refresh rate, 600 nits brightness, 100% DCI-P3, DisplayHDR 600 True Black, Pantone validated, TUV Rheinland|
|Processor||12th Gen Intel Core i5-12500H|
|Memory||8GB DDR4 3,200MHz RAM (4GB + 4GB SO-DIMM with max 16GB) / 512GB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD|
|Battery||70Wh w/ 90W power adapter|
|Size/Weight||316.4 x 224.5 x 18.9mm /1.5kg|
In terms of configuration, the Vivobook S14 is a design primarily optimised to be of immediate benefit for those seeking a starter laptop for general computing duties such as students. The 12th Gen i5 H-series processor, Iris Xe graphics and 512GB SSD are solid cornerstones but the biggest bottleneck in terms of performance here is its middling amount of RAM with only 8GB DDR4 issued out of the box.
Options for upgrading it are somewhat limited as there is only one SSD slot and 4GB of RAM is soldered into the motherboard though it does have a single open slot that can accept a RAM stick up to 16GB in size for a grand total of 20GB of possible DDR4 3,200MHz RAM.
In its stock configuration, the laptop has Intel Evo certification and its capabilities certainly fit the bill with fast start-up times measuring in seconds and overall solid performance for general computing tasks. Unfortunately, it’s unsuited for gaming and content creation save for light photo editing tasks on account of the lack of RAM and omission of dedicated graphics. When set to Performance mode, it scored the following synthetic benchmarks:
|3D Mark Time Spy||1,317|
|3D Mark Time Spy Extreme||589|
|3D Mark Fire Strike||3,412|
|3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme||1.550|
|3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra||788|
|3D Mark Night Raid||12,474|
|GeekBench 5 Single core||1,181|
|GeekBench 5 Multi core||7.051|
|GeekBench 5 OpenCL||13,167|
|GeekBench 5 Vulkan||12,359|
|Cinebench R23 Multi Core||9,761|
|Cinebench R23 Single Core||855 x 11.41 MP ratio|
|PCMark 10 Extended||4,521|
|PCMark 8 Battery Life (Creative)||4 hours 53 minutes|
These benchmarks are slightly better than the Huawei MateBook D 16 that we tested awhile back which has a similar configuration for the entry level model save for the use of a larger 16-inch display and the use of Intel UHD graphics.
Under practical work scenarios, our Vivobook S14 review sample has a performance envelope that’s sufficient for general computing but the dearth of RAM and the lack of a dedicated graphics card precludes more demanding tasks like video editing and all but the most basic retro gaming like CS:GO on low settings.
In general tasks like web browsing, word processing and Netflix binging are handled adequately with the ability to comfortably swap between a dozen open browser tabs without too much trouble and running its bundled free copy of Microsoft Home and Student 2021 without issue.
What really impresses is its OLED display and there are few laptops of its size or its price range that have such a vibrant and colour accurate OLED display. Watching movies on this is an absolute treat with its luscious hues and beautifully deep blacks with its paired stereo speakers offering decent volume. The exceptional colour accuracy of the Vivobook S14’s OLED panel is perfect for content creators but the modest specifications preclude any heavy duty work which is unfortunately wasted potential here.
In terms of battery life, our Vivobook S14 managed to last close to 8 hours and 35 minutes with a general workload of paperwork, web browsing and the occasional peek at YouTube.
Under a more demanding PCMark 8 Creative profile that throws in content creation tasks, it managed a respectable 4 hours and 53 minutes. Between these two extremes, you’ll generally have enough endurance to last the better part of a work day though the light, compact nature of its bundled 90W USB-C charger makes toting it around and charging it in the field a convenient task.
Should you buy the ASUS Vivobook S14?
If you’re looking for a compact laptop for general computing duties with the best quality screen available, the Vivobook S14 delivers. With its Intel Evo certified hardware and gorgeous 14-inch OLED display in a compact chassis, it is a worthy choice for students and executives alike seeking a starter laptop.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit undergunned for more demanding tasks but it’s an otherwise sound option that edges out for the sheer quality of its display and its charmingly compact dimensions.
ASUS Vivobook S14 Review (K3402ZA) sample courtesy of ASUS Malaysia. To purchase please visit https://www.asus.com/my/Laptops/For-Home/Vivobook/Vivobook-S-14-OLED-K3402-12th-Gen-Intel/
ASUS Vivobook S14 (K3402ZA)
ASUS Vivobook S14 (K3402ZA)
The ASUS Vivobook S14 proves to be a compact laptop with a beautiful, colour accurate display, an Intel Evo certification and sufficient performance for light general computing tasks. It makes for a decent starter laptop for students and those who prioritise display quality and a compact chassis.
Intel Evo certification
Beautiful and colour accurate OLED display
Good assortment of ports
Free copy of Microsoft Home and Student
Sturdy build quality
Needs more RAM