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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist


Zenbook S 13 OLED review: World’s thinnest laptop packs a powerful punch

This ultrabook is a worthy challenger to Apple's MacBook Air.


Meet the Zenbook S 13 OLED, Asus’s sleek and svelte answer to Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s also the world’s lightest and thinnest laptop.

The first thing that strikes you about the latest addition to the Zenbook laptop line-up is how incredibly compact and lightweight it is, without sacrificing any of the important bits.

Keep reading for everything I liked (and didn’t) about it.

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED review

Despite its miniature stature, Asus avoided the usual pitfalls of cramped keyboards or limited ports.

Asus Zenbook S 13 Oled
But still with enough ports. Photo: Cheryl Kahla/The Citizen News

I gave the laptop a proper run for its money during the review period – the OLED UX5304 model.

And I’m just going to mention the battery straight out the gate: I got almost 11 hours on one charge. Eight hours when I really pushed it. Take that, load shedding.

Design and chassis

The Zenbook S 13 sets new benchmarks in ultrabook design with an edgy, captivating look. And it’s environmentally conscious too.

Asus used recycled metals and plastics for this beauty, and it comes encased in an aluminium alloy chassis, available in two colours – Basalt Gray and Ponder Blue.

The 180-degree hinge design is also a work of art and lets you lay the laptop flat if you need to collab with team members or something similar.

Asus Zenbook S 13 Oled
So, about that hinge. Photo: Cheryl Kahla/The Citizen News

Moreover, the distinct design angle tilts the keyboard slightly upward, creating a comfortable typing experience regardless of whether the Zenbook is on your desk or your lap.

Screen and display

One would assume that a laptop this thin and light would compromise on the OLED screen space, but somehow, the Zenbook doesn’t compromise on your viewing experience.

The 2880 x 1800 OLED display connects intriguingly with the base, creating an aesthetic that you can’t help but admire.

The screen itself doesn’t disappoint – colours were bright and vivid, shades of black were deep and rich, and the brightness was sufficient too.

Asus Zenbook S 13 Oled
Look at that screen. Photo: Cheryl Kahla/The Citizen News

I measured 540 nits, which I’m always happy with. For the night owls among us, the keyboard also comes with a backlight.

Performance

The Zenbook S 13 is equipped with Intel’s 13th gen i7 processor, along with 32 GB of onboard memory, and a 1 TB PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe M.2 solid state drive.

That’s a lot of words to say this is one helluva fast laptop. It’s a powerhouse in a tiny package, and it’s more than capable of handling a regular workday load.

My daily tasks during the week included website and social media management along with copious amounts of web browsing (and many, many open tabs).

Asus Zenbook S 13 Oled
Thin, thinner, thinnest. Photo: Cheryl Kahla/The Citizen News

I also had to multitask by watching and/or listening to live streams while reporting on said live streams. And when I wasn’t doing that, I either had Youtube Music or Spotify running in the background.

Ports and connectivity

Despite its small size, Asus didn’t skimp on the Zenbook S 13’s input and output ports.

You get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, along with a standard HDMI 2.1, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, and a combo audio jack.

This makes connecting to an external 4K display, storage devices, or expanding connections a breeze.

Asus Zenbook S 13 Oled
Ports on the one side. Photo: Cheryl Kahla/The Citizen News

The only thing missing is a microSD slot, but listen, let’s be real – I can live without that.

Gaming experience

While not entirely designed for gaming, you can bet I it gave it a go anyway and the Zenbook S 13 provided a smooth gaming experience.

The Intel Evo platform and the Iris Xe Graphics card are good for gaming on the go, but it probably won’t deliver when it comes to Diablo 4 or Star Wars Jedi.

It handled Cyberpunk 2077 quite well on normal settings, even if the fans protested a bit. That said, I wasn’t able to test it as thoroughly as I had hoped.

Keyboard and trackpad

The Zenbook S 13 features a surprisingly good keyboard for a laptop this thin. The key travel is a bit on the short side, but it’s still remarkably comfortable, I’m assuming due to the key cap indentation.

The ErgoSense touchpad is generously sized and has a hydrophobic and high-end PVD anti-fingerprint coating. It’s smooth on the scroll and the surface is easy to clean.

Asus Zenbook S 13 Oled
Nice, compact keyboard. Photo: Cheryl Kahla/The Citizen News

The touchpad also supports multitouch gestures. To switch between open apps, swipe left or right with three fingers, and to show the desktop, swipe down with three fingers.

Swiping left or right with four fingers on the desktop allows you to switch between desktops. There are other gestures too, but I digress. These are the ones I used most often.

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED conclusion

In summary, the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED delivers on its promises. It’s designed well, it offers superb performance and it really is as lightweight as Asus claims.

It’s the ultimate travel companion and I wish I had waited for this laptop to be released before I invested in a laptop that weighs 1.9kg…

I always say I love Zenbooks. But this might just be my ultimate, ultimate favourite Zenbook.

If you’re looking for a Windows-based alternative to Apple’s MacBook Air, I highly suggest you give the Zenbook S 13 a go.

The recommended retail price for the Zenbook S 13 OLED in South Africa is around R33 000, with the laptop expected to be available during the second quarter.

Pros

  • Very thin, very light
  • Unique design
  • Enough ports despite its size
  • Superb OLED screens
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Gets a bit loud when under strain
  • Key travel could be better

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