Designer Review: ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED (UX5400)

Review unit on loan from ASUS Singapore.

This review is from the perspective of a visual content creator, someone who does digital art, graphic design, edits photos and videos.

The ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED is a compact and lightweight laptop with a bright and vibrant OLED display.

There are few models available, such as the UX5400 and UX5401 and these are the differences:

Model UX5400 UX5401
Display 14-inch, 16:10, 2880 x 1800px touchscreen OLED display, 90Hz 14-inch, 16:10, 2880 x 1800px touchscreen OLED display, 90Hz
Processor 11th gen Intel i7-1165G7, i5-1135G7 11th gen Intel i7-1165G7, i5-1135G7, i3-1115G4
RAM 8GB to 16GB LPDDR4X 8GB to 16GB LPDDR4X
Storage 512GB to 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD 512GB to 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Graphics NVIDIA Geforce MX450 2GB with Intel Iris Xe Intel Iris Xe
Touchpad ScreenPad NumPad
Battery capacity 3WHrs 3WHrs
Price From SGD 2,398 From SGD 2,198

The UX5400 has better graphics and ScreenPad. If you're considering the UX5401, it's not very different from many of the other competing laptops running the same processor and Intel Iris Xe.

ASUS website also mentions a 4K OLED 60Hz display option as well. Between 4K 60Hz and 2.8K 90Hz display, go for the latter because the sharpness or pixelation (lack of) is similar when working from one arm's length away.

If you want to do some light gaming, consider the model with NVIDIA Geforce MX450.

Here's the specifications for the review unit I have:

  • 11th gen Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz)
  • 16GB RAM
  • NVIDIA Geforce MX450 2GB
  • 1TB SSD
  • Windows 11


These are the items included, just a 100W charger and a slim 1-pocket carrying case.


This is a good looking laptop with solid build quality. It's 16.9mm thick and 1.4kg.


Some of the screws are visible while some are hidden beneath the 4 rubber feet. Audio quality is decent for downward facing speakers. Edges at the bottom have a noticeable bevel to make it easy to pick up the laptop.


Ports on the right are microSD card slot, 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (with charging) and a full-sized HDMI v2b.


On the other size there's one USB-A 3.2, and those are exhaust holes.


And beneath those exhaust holes are even larger exhaust holes. The exhaust will come out from the left side. If you're a left handed user who uses a mouse, that area on the left side will get quite hot.


The OLED display is bright and vibrant. There's minimal colour shift and brightness drop from extreme angles.


Unfortunately I wasn't able to use my usual Spyder5Pro colour calibrator to calibrate the display. Hence I wasn't able to get the exact readings on sRGB or AdobeRGB, or maximum brightness. According to ASUS, the display supports 100% sRGB, 100% DCI P3 and up to 550 nits brightness.

Maybe the Spyder5Pro software has not been updated to run on Windows 11 yet. The laptop should still come with Windows 10. So I recommend waiting for all the Windows 11 issues to be fixed first before upgrading from Windows 10 to 11.

I was able to get my Colormunki Display colour calibrator to work though. The colours before and after calibration is quite similar, which suggests to me that the display is already calibrated at the factory.


This OLED display is listed as a 10-bit display and does performs, also, like one. I opened a 16-bit grayscale gradient file in Photoshop and saw some vertical banding, but it's not as obvious compared to 8-bit displays.


FYI, ideally on a true 10-bit display, the gradient will be completely smooth without banding. Anyway, the colours do look accurate enough and the laptop is definitely good enough for visual content creation.

I'm actually still undecided as to whether OLED is better for graphic design compared to LCD. OLED panels have more vibrant colours and better contrast compared to LCD that's for sure. And if you create HDR content or watch HDR movies, it makes more sense to get OLED. Most of my work outside of blogging and Youtube is actually print work so personally I prefer LCD displays with AdobeRGB coverage. OLED is a nice feature to have but not a selling point to me at least for the type of work I do.

One important thing to note is OLED displays can have burn in. Here's what ASUS says regarding burn in:

The visual appearance of OLED displays may change over the product’s lifetime. This is expected behavior that can include image persistence or burn-in, where the display shows a faint remnant of an image even after a new image appears on the screen. This tends to occur only in extreme use cases, such as when a static, high-contrast image is continuously displayed for prolonged periods of time.

OLED displays are noticeably more vibrant and has more contrast compared to LCD displays, but the compromise is there's risk of burn in.

To prevent OLED burn in, ASUS suggests using dark mode UI, and there's also a screen saver (cannot be disabled) that will appear after a few minutes of display inactivity.


The display can actually be flat on the tablet. Anyway, the highlight here is opening the lid would lift the laptop up slightly to allow for easier air intake from the bottom.


Keyboard has a good layout. There are additional Page Up/Down, Home/End buttons on the right side. Power button at the top right has a fingerprint sensor which works effectively and is fast.


ScreenPad doubles as a touchpad OR an additional display with shortcuts.

ScreenPad's LCD resolution is 2160 x 1080 so visuals are sharp. ScreenPad isn't that bright and brightness is noticeable lower when viewed from an angle.

ScreenPad is said to improve productivity but I'm not sure how useful it is. You can access shortcuts from ScreenPad but why would you want to put shortcuts there when you can put them on your main display? Launching an app from ScreenPad involves looking away from the main display, look at ScreenPad, and look back at your main display.

The other thing I don't quite like about ScreenPad is when you switch to the touchpad mode (black out the apps), it would go back to the shortcut mode when you close and open the display lid. Thankfully you can disable ScreenPad completely in favour of using it only as a touchpad by using the F8 button.

Note that the ScreenPad is actually an additional display linked to the main display. So you can drag your mouse cursor from main display to the ScreenPad, and you can also drag opened apps there too.

The ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED that I reviewed recently also has two displays and that one's actually useful because it's much larger, and that ScreenPad is just right below the main display.

General performance

General performance of this laptop is fast and smooth.


The read and white speeds for the M.2 NVMe SSD are 3.5GB/s and 3GB/s respectively. Loading and saving huge files is fast.

The default speed for launching apps is slow because McAfee Antivirus would scan each app you launch and the larger the app, the slower the launch. McAfee Antivirus is preloaded. After uninstalling McAfee, all the apps launch so much faster. I've been using the default antivirus protection from Windows for years and it works just fine.

Between the 11th gen Intel i5-1135G7 (quad 2.4Ghz) vs i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz), obviously the latter will be faster, relatively speaker. Both are very capable quad core processors. If you want to save some money you can just go with the Intel i5 and spend on the money on getting extra RAM or storage or external storage instead.

Multitasking with 16GB RAM is great. There are not hiccups, no lag when having many apps and browser tabs opened.

Photo and video editing


Here's how much time it took to export a hundred 16MP RAWs with Adobe Lightroom Classic:

  • M1 Macbook Air (2020) - 1 min 20s
  • ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED UX5400 (Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.80GHz) - 1min 20s
  • ASUS PA90 with Intel i9-9900K (8 x 3.6Ghz): 1m 27s
  • ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 UX582 2021 (Intel Core i9-10980HK (2.4 GHz x 8) - 1 min 40s
  • Dell Latitude 9520 (2021) 11th gen Intel Core i5-1145G7 (4 core 2.6Ghz) - 2 min 1s
  • LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2021) Intel i5-1135G7 (quad 2.40GHz) - 3 min 2s
  • LG Gram 16 (2021) Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz) - 3 min 11s
  • Surface Book 3 Intel i7-1065G7 (Quad 1.3 - 3.9Ghz): 3 min 50s to 4min 41s

Editing photos doesn't really push the processor so the fans would barely come on. I'm surprised the export time is very similar to the highly praised M1 Macbook Air.

Here are timings to export a ten minute 4K video with H.265 using Adobe Premiere Pro CC:

  • ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 UX582 (Intel Core i9-10980HK (2.4 GaHz x 8) - 1 min 40s
  • ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED UX5400 (Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.80GHz) - 4min 8s
  • LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2021) Intel i5-1135G7 (quad 2.40GHz) - 4min 16s
  • Apple M1 Macbook Air - 4 min 54s
  • Apple M1 Macbook Air with FCPX - 5 min 1s
  • LG Gram 16 (2021) Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz) - 6 min 11s
  • Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021) Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz) - 5 min 10s

Export time is around 40% of the length of a simple cut-and-join video project. That's great. Fans will come on while exporting.

Gaming

The UX5400 model comes with Intel Iris Xe and NVIDIA Geforce MX450 with 2GB of video RAM. UX5401 model only comes with Intel Iris Xe. So if you want to do some light gaming, consider the UX5400 model.

NVIDIA Geforce MX450 has mid range gaming performance.


I was able to play GTA V at 1080P usually around 60FPS, lowest at 35FPS in rare occasions.

2D games such as Hades can go up to 70+ FPS.

I had several issues with Red Dead Redemption 2. The game can't scale full-screen and I'm not sure if it's an issue with Steam on Windows 11. It worked fine with the ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo that I tested recently but that was running Windows 10. The other issue is RDR2 resolution max out at 720P due to the limited video RAM. Playing at 720P on a small windows isn't the best experience. Anyway, I got 50+ FPS at 720P.

In short, NVIDIA Geforce MX450 may not be able to handle graphics intensive AAA games.

Battery life

Battery capacity is 63WHrs. I was only able to get around 5 hours of battery life on average with normal non-gaming usage. You may be able to get longer battery life with the UX5401 model, the one with just Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

Other issues

When plugging in and removing the power cable, the display would black out and come back on again.

Conclusion

ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED (UX5400) is a good looking laptop with a beautiful OLED display. The display is definitely the main selling point for those into a vibrant display capable of editing and playing HDR content. This is definitely a capable laptop for visual content creation with its display.

Overall performance is good. The quad core 11th gen Intel processors are powerful enough to handle general computing tasks.

The UX5400 model comes with NVIDIA Geforce MX450 and is capable of some casual gaming although not with graphics intensive AAA tiles. If you want better gaming performance, prepare to spend more. There is the ASUS Zephyrus G14 with NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3060 which is significantly better.

The US5400 model also comes with the ScreenPad which I'm not sure how useful it is. Doesn't make much sense to buy the UX5400 model and not use the ScreenPad but the ScreenPad isn't that useful since you can already place shortcuts on the desktop. If you don't want the ScreenPad, then get UX5401 model but that only has the Intel Iris Xe.

The laptop should come with Windows 10. I recommend waiting for Windows 11 to stablise and companies to update their drivers first before upgrading the OS. Most apps that run on Windows 10 should run on Windows 11, but you'll never know. I wasn't able to get the Spyder5Pro colour calibration software to run and that's crucial for my work.

Here's the list of pros and cons
+ Design looks good
+ Compact, portable, 1.4kg
+ Solid build quality
+ Bright, vibrant, sharp OLED display
+ 2.8K@90Hz or 4K@60Hz options
+ 11th gen Intel processors are powerful for laptops
+ Fast boot, quick app launches
+ HDMI, 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-A 3.2
+ Decent audio quality for downward facing speakers
+ Mid-tier gaming performance with NVIDIA Geforce MX450
- MicroSD card slot instead of full-size SD card
- 5hr battery life
- Not all apps/drivers updated for Windows 11
- Screen black out when connecting and disconnecting power cable
- OLED may have burn in issues in the future
- ScreenPad's usefulness questionable

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