ASUS ZenBook 13 OLED (UX325)
It's a fact that ASUS pushes out ZenBooks faster than a pair of unsterilized rabbits, so I wasn't surprised to find yet another one on my doorstep again. This time, I received the ASUS ZenBook 13 OLED (UX325), which is an extremely compact device that weighs just 1.14 kg.
In essence, the ASUS ZenBook 13 OLED is identical to the ASUS ZenBook 14 that I reviewed at the end of last year, except for the screen. This time, ASUS has packed in a delightful 13.3" OLED display which promises the vibrant and rich viewing experience that only OLED displays can bring. With that in mind, I won't be going into too much detail over the other features - you can refer to my previous review here.
Same ol' reliable chassis
The exterior of this ZenBook is like every other ZenBook on the market. On the lid is the classic ASUS logo surrounded by the ZenBook family's signature concentric circle design. While its simple and elegant design is aesthetically pleasing - especially in a corporate environment - it is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, so do take note if you're particular about that kind of stuff.
The ASUS Ergolift hinge remains the same - elevating the bottom of the laptop just a tad for better airflow and ergonomics. Unfortunately, the creaky hinge is also back - what I attributed to a lemon of a review unit last year may just be a common issue of this particular chassis. It's not extreme, but definitely audible.
On the bright side, the build quality is as solid as ever. There's little to zero give when twisting the laptop body, and only depresses slightly when you press down firmly in the center of the keyboard deck. It also boasts MIL-STD-810G certification, which means it can withstand drops, shocks, and more.
Display quality +999
I've always loved OLED displays, even with all its quirks. The display on the ZenBook 13 OLED is no different. It has vibrant colours and rich contrast thanks to the deep blacks that typical of OLED panels. Apart from that, it is also Pantone validated and covers 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, making it great for creative work.
The brightness is squint-worthy as well, with 100% brightness being blinding enough to use outdoors, and 50-60% sufficient for indoor use. For long sessions, it is also TÜV Rheinland certified for low blue light emission and flicker-free visuals.
The screen is glossy, which promises a pixel-perfect viewing experience compared to matte displays; however, expect some glare in return.
Surrounding the screen are ultra-slim bezels that still manage to house a webcam in its usual place - something I appreciate even more as other brands start to shift their webcam to the bottom bezel or even integrate it into the keyboard. Say no to double chins, please.
The webcam quality hasn't changed much (if at all) - it's clear enough to identify you, but blur enough to hide your smaller pimples during conference calls (which is a plus, imo). On the other hand, if you're the type who prefers ultra-clear webcam images, ASUS has introduced a handy new feature into the MyASUS app, which allows you to link to your smartphone so you can use its camera for conference calls instead.
Impressive audio and Thunderbolt 4 support
In terms of laptop audio, the ZenBook did an admirable job. Its clarity, richness, and volume is head and shoulders above many laptops within its category. While there isn't a dedicated headphone jack for those who have to be considerate to others in their immediate environment, ASUS has included a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle as usual. While this solution does take up 1 precious USB-C slot, I'm glad that the option is provided at least.
Speaking of ports, the selection is more focused on productivity on the go. It has a full-sized HDMI port so you can hook it up to an external monitor for presentations, just one USB-A port for your mouse, one microSD card slot, as well as two Thunderbolt 4 ports, which also double as charging ports.
Same great keyboard and NumberPad 2.0
As far as keyboards go, ASUS has rarely disappointed. The ZenBook has an end-to-end layout, as well as an additional row of keys on the right. There's a dedicated print screen button, as well as a separate arrow key cluster in an inverted-T shape. The keys are pleasantly tactile and have good travel distance for a thin and light laptop. There are 3 levels of back-lighting, which can also be turned off completely.
Although there's no numpad (not really feasible on a laptop of this size), you can do all your calculations and number-related work on the NumberPad 2.0 integrated into the touch pad. By touching and holding the icon on the top right, you'll activate a virtual numberpad that allows you into input numbers without disabling the touchscreen's basic functionality. In my experience, ASUS has perfectly fine-tuned recognition between the two - it has never confused number input with touch gestures before.
As for the touch pad itself, I have no complaints at all - the size is extremely generous, palm rejection works well, and your fingers will glide over the surface effortlessly.
The particular model of ZenBook packs an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor along with Iris Xe graphics. The processor is a minor step down from the i7-1165G7 in the previous unit we reviewed, but if you're using this laptop for general productivity tasks like spreadsheets, web browsing, and conference calls, you probably won't feel much of a difference. This model also comes with an i7 variant, but at a RM700 premium, I honestly recommend sticking to the i5 instead.
Otherwise, its capabilities are extremely similar to most other ZenBooks - the 8GB of RAM handled over a dozen Chrome tabs with ease, and you can even run Dota and CS:GO decently on medium settings. Don't expect to play triple-A titles or do heavy editing work on it though - this is more suited towards typical office users who desire portability over sheer performance.
In terms of battery life, it is seriously impressive. The 67 Wh battery will last you an entire workday and more - though it doesn't quite live up to its 13-hour claim in real world usage, it is definitely more than enough for an entire day's work, unless your boss is the type to make you do some serious OT. Even then, the charger is super small and light, and will fit into your bag with ease; the quick charging is a plus as well, allowing you to juice it up to 60% in less than an hour. It can also be fast-charged by Power Delivery power banks, so if you already own one, it can do double duty.
Do note that since this particular ZenBook uses an OLED panel, the battery life will vary depending on how much blacks your screen is showing.
Buy or no buy?
I don't think I've ever not recommended a ZenBook, and this time is no different. Of course, it isn't built for everyone, but it is an excellent device for those who desire a thin-and-light that packs enough juice to last you an entire workday and then some. Coupled with great audio, a tactile keyboard, and a stunning OLED display, your standards for ultra-portables will definitely be raised after using the ASUS ZenBook OLED 13.
Pretty much my only complaint is the (still) creaky hinge, but otherwise the build quality is super solid. The lack of a headphone jack maybe a downer for some, but at least ASUS has included a dongle in the box.
For more information, you can check out the official product page here.