ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition Review - Powerful Yet Tamed!
Updated: Aug 12, 2022
ASUS has made quite the splash in the laptop industry with its Zenbook line-up. So, when it came down to celebrating their 25th anniversary of sending their own P6300 laptop into space, they created the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition. It's one of the most exotic 14-inch ultrabooks in the world right now and ASUS has made some mixed decisions with it.
This is my review of that Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition and before we get into it, here are all the details you need to know early on. The one I've reviewed here is a retail unit bought from the store and it comes with the new 12th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD. This one retails for ₹1,34,990 while the i5 (16GB, 512GB) & i9 (32GB, 1TB) models retail for ₹1,14,990 and ₹1,69,990 respectively.
Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition Specifications
Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition
14-inch, 2.8K (2800X1800), 16:10, 90Hz OLED, Touchscreen, 100% DCI P3
Intel Core i7-12700H, 14 Core (6P+8E), 45W TDP
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 Performance SSD
Chiclet Keyboard, Backlit (White), Key-travel of 1.4 mm
Wide Glass Surface, Windows Precision Drivers, Backlit Numberpad
2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4 (Power Delivery + Display output), 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen2, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x MicroSD slot, 1x 3.5 mm Audio Combo Jack
720P HD Webcam, Privacy Shutter
Bottom Firing Stereo Speakers, Dolby Atmos, Harman/Kardon (Premium) tuning, Array Microphone
Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11 ax) 2x2
63Wh Li-ion, 3-cell
1.472 Kg, 3.24 lbs
Design & Build
ASUS had a major focus on the design for the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition and it's the element that makes this laptop unique. The company went to the peak of its imagination while designing this laptop and it is filled with morse codes, and visual representations from the top to bottom, quite literally.
On the top, you get a series of morse codes alongside a 3.5-inch wide OLED display. The palm rest area on the keyboard deck has a visual representation of the MIR space station where the P6300 survived for 600 days regardless of fires and power outages, alongside another series of morse codes. There are even some subtle designs & texts at the bottom to complete the experience.
Check the image gallery below to get a better idea of the design:
The design looks really good with subtle yet flashy elements in place. The top OLED display is the first thing you're going to notice when you see someone working on the Space Edition Zenbook. However, when you're using it yourself, it's either mental peace or not. There are three brightness levels and several pre-loaded animations you can choose from, or create your own customized animation instead.
The Zero-G Titanium color looks great and the more codes and linings are done in silver. Now, those codes and lines aren't visible much when there's not too much light, so you really do notice them in good lighting conditions. I wish ASUS made these a little more prominent, but the copper accent on the Power and Space keys is a nice touch. Also, the planet icon on the space bar is pretty interesting.
The company has made major claims when it comes to how they built this laptop. There are some pretty intensive ones like survival at extreme temperatures from -24 to 62 degrees celsius, extreme vibrations from 20Hz up to 2000 Hz, and a bunch of other tests that according to ASUS, make this laptop tough enough to survive in space. However, I'll believe it when I see it, but it is built pretty well and feels one of the most premium, I've ever experienced on an ultrabook.
The chassis is made out of fine Aluminum, and for those who are confused about this part, the color on top is of Zero-G Titanium, but it is not made of Titanium. The weight as I measured it, is around 1.472 Kgs or 3.24 lbs which is ever so slightly higher than what the company mentions on their website. Of course, both the Macbook Air M2 and Galaxy Book 2 Pro are lighter, but the Zenbook 14X OLED SE is plenty light and I've had no issues carrying it around.
The display area is covered with glass with a glossy finish and a touch panel integrated. That means although the rest of the laptop is protected by a tough fingerprint-resistant coating if you are using the touchscreen, it gets fingerprints all over it. There is an oleophobic coating to deal with this, but it's not as effective as I expected. Even just opening the laptop with your finger, can get you occasional smudges around the webcam area, which is kinda annoying.
I'm quite impressed with what ASUS has managed to achieve by mixing excellent build quality with an exclusive design. This is definitely one of the most premium Windows laptops I've ever used. The way the space element mixes with modern-day technology, I just love the idea of that. But, the shortcomings are there as well.
The white backlighting on the titanium-colored keycaps makes the letters on top very hard to read whenever there is even some amount of light falling on top. That means the only time it is remotely useful, is when there is little to no ambient light. It's still better than not having keyboard backlighting, but it's a major design flaw indeed.
Also, the bottom bezel on the display is much thicker compared to the rest of the sides. Seems like companies like Dell are doing a much better job keeping a higher screen-to-body ratio, and preserving an even more premium style statement. ASUS also decided to skip on the IR Face Unlock and went with a traditional Fingerprint scanner instead. This seems more of a cost-cutting measure, instead of a technical one.
However, the company did do a lot of right with the Space Edition. It's extremely well built, has a design like nothing else out there, and that outside ZenVision display is pure luxury. So, although I'm not completely okay with the flaws, I am also excited and satisfied with using this interesting piece of machinery. So, I do like the design and build on this Space Edition Zenbook, and I like it a lot.
One of the most interesting parts of this laptop is the Display and that's because ASUS didn't cheap out on quality or features. This is a 2.8K (2800x1800) OLED display with a 90 Hz Refresh Rate. It covers 100% of the DCI P3 Color Gamut, has a 1000000:1 contrast ratio, a 16:10 aspect ratio, HDR 500 certification, 550 nits of peak brightness, Pantone Validation, and on top of all that, it's a Touchscreen.
Raw specs aside, this is one of the best laptop displays I've ever used. ASUS used a 10-bit panel that can show up to 1 billion colors and that's a huge plus over the previous 8-bit panels that were only capable of 16 million colors. The out-of-the-box calibration is also solid, and as a result the colors, at least under my testing, were really accurate. Both color-accurate work and content consumption were a delight on the display.
The touchscreen is handy, and it has ASUS Pen 2.0 support. However, the Pen is not included in the package, so you have to buy it separately, and if you live in India, it's not going to be easy to find. Also, while using touch, the 90 Hz is not even noticeable, and it’s more like The touch response isn’t very fast. So, I’m not really thrilled about the touch capabilities of this device.
The secondary 3.5-inch OLED display rocks a low-res monochrome panel and comes with two brightness levels. Even on the lowest brightness settings, it is quite visible and that's in fact what I'd recommend for indoor use. This will put less strain on those OLED pixels. However, if you are outside, don't hesitate to show off your secondary space-themed display at full brightness. It looks great.
However, the real problems with the display are the rainbow effect on angles and the poor HDR performance.
From extreme angles, you can notice a rainbow effect on the display which is very similar to the one we used to see on older generation smartphones. This is not noticeable much from the sides as you are looking from the front anyway, but can cause strain to the eyes at times when you are using the laptop on your lap at a more straight angle. This kind of issue on a laptop this expensive, shouldn’t really exist, so I have to cut some points for that.
The bigger issue is HDR video though. when playing HDR videos, The computer gets the brightness completely wrong. In technical terms, it has poor dynamic tone mapping. So, higher brightness often results in blown-out highlights and although this issue can be avoided sometimes by bringing the brightness down, it often leaves dead spots with no details in them.
Considering this is the flagship 14-inch ultrabook from the company, issues like these are quite unacceptable. Also, I have no idea why they skipped on Dolby Vision Support, considering the 10-bit panel is clearly eligible for it. So, although I really like to panel, I am not totally satisfied with the performance.
I love the fact that ASUS went with that gorgeous high-resolution 10-bit panel, added support for touch input, and kept the display above the curve. But, there are also several shortcomings that I wish weren’t present. So, consistency is definitely an area where the company has to put more effort.
Keyboard & Trackpad
When it comes to interactive input methods, ASUS has mastered the big two over the years. Yes, I am indeed talking about the keyboard and the trackpad. The ones on the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition are great, and although it is not as good as the ones Apple currently makes, this is still one of the better ones I’ve used in a Windows ultrabook.
The entire keyboard has been color-matched with the same Zero-G Titanium color as the rest of the chassis. The Power Button which also doubles as the fingerprint scanner and the Spacebar are different though, as ASUS painted these in Copper color and also put a Planet icon on the Spacebar key. Visually, this is extremely pleasing to the eye and it looks really premium as well.
That, however, is only true until you turn the keyboard backlight on. In the complete dark, it is a lifesaver, but if there is even a decent amount of ambient lighting, the White backlighting with the Titanium colored keycaps makes the lettering on the keys almost completely unreadable. That means most of the time, you'll be better off with no backlighting.
ASUS has used a really impressive Trackpad here though. It's made of glass, it's color-matched, and it also uses Windows Precision Drivers. The combination of great hardware and excellent drivers has made this trackpad buttery smooth for navigation, swipes, and gestures. Even the clicks are tactile and quiet. This is definitely one of the best windows trackpads I've used to date.
Overall, I like how ASUS handled the typing & the tracking of this device. If the keyboard backlighting situation was better, this would have been a near-perfect experience. But, even with a few kinks here & there, I really like this Keyboard & Trackpad combo on this laptop.
Hardware & Performance
According to the company, they have used the best quality components inside, because it's a special edition product after all. Although, I can't really verify those particular claims, what I can do is test how the core hardware and check how they really perform, which is the important part anyway.
The Zenbook 14X OLED has been equipped with the latest 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H and unlike the P-series that is kept at 28W, this one has a TDP of 45W just like the previous H-series chips. What is different though, is the fact that it is now a freaking 14-core CPU integrated with 6 Performance cores and 8 Efficiency cores (Big-Little Architecture). It's also built on the 10nm Process Technology.
This machine is capable of pulling some crazy use scenarios and compared to the 11th-gen and PCIe Gen 3.0 equipped systems, this is a massive leap forward. Here are some Benchmarks to get you up to speed,
Geekbench 5 (CPU)
3D Mark Advanced (GPU) - Time Spy (1440P)
Time Spy - GPU
Time Spy - CPU
CystalDiskMark 8 (Storage)
Expected Max Temps
When it comes to real-world use, this laptop just blows things out of the water when it comes to CPU-intensive workloads and does a fair job with GPU-intensive tasks. The performance in photo and video editing surprised me quite a bit here, but because it's a 14-core CPU, it's kind of fair. What really surprised me here is how good the Iris Xe Graphics is compared to the UHD graphics Intel used to ship out.
The Creative Workflow
While editing videos, you need to plug in the device and set it to Performance mode, which ramps up the fans and unlocks the full 45W TDP. This setup does extremely well with 4K 30FPS videos, with smooth scrolling, and fairly fast render times. Most of the work is done by the CPU and the fast PCIe Gen 4.0 Performance storage here, but the Iris Xe GPU does pull some consistent workloads when it's needed.
I am not an expert at photo editing, but firing up Adobe Photoshop and doing some basic to medium complexity tasks seemed just fine. So, for the most part, this laptop should be fine for editing photos. It won't handle 3D rendering well though, you'll need 32GB RAM and a way better dedicated GPU for doing that smoothly.
Gaming is not a strong suit though, thanks to not having a proper dedicated GPU inside. You can do some light gaming with the Performance mode turned on, but if you're going to do a lot of gaming, I'd recommend something with at least an RTX 3060.
It's actually kinda annoying how laptops, much cheaper than this one, actually have much better GPUs. Considering the price of this device, ASUS should at least have given an RTX 3050 Ti, which should have kept the thermals in check regardless of being in a thin chassis like this. So, I am deducting some points here.
A few quirks here and there aside though, the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition is a solid performer. How ASUS managed to push this kind of performance inside this pretty & compact package, continues to amaze me.
There are exhaust vents around the left and right sides of the bottom which live at an angle to allow airflow and there are also some vents opposite to the bottom bezel of the display. The dual fans inside along with somewhat subtle heat pipes, actually do a pretty good job keeping the temperatures in check.
When doing regular office work and watching videos, it sits at comfortable & lap-friendly temperatures. Once you get into more demanding workloads though, it can easily hit 95-97 degrees on the inside, boosting the outside temps as well. This is when you'll need to place the laptop on a table. But, the elevated design alongside the pretty intense fans do a good job of actively cooling the system. Just be ready for some Fan Noise in the Performance mode.
Audio & Camera
One area I was kinda blown away by, is how well the Audio has been handled on this device. ASUS did mention that the audio is tuned by Harman/Kardon but from my experience with other laptops from the company I know that's more of a branding royalty. However, this time the situation was far more impressive.
The built-in stereo speakers can go really loud and this is one of the only Windows ultrabooks I'd be using without headphones. Listening to music, watching movies & TV shows, and even taking video calls, are properly audible most of the time, on the speakers. There is also Dolby Atmos support and you can tweak the sound according to your liking in the Dolby Access application that comes pre-installed.
Comparing these to the 13-inch Macbook Pro (M1) which is kinda the king of ultrabook speakers, these can reach similar loudness in Dolby's 'Dynamic' mode, but I still think Apple produces more detailed and rich audio. Although these speakers can get on to those loudness levels, you can still hear distortions or crackling noises at the highest volume levels, which isn't present in the Apple Macbooks.
Also, the low, mids, and highs could have been better balanced for clearer vocals and better instrument separation. However, although some of these issues exist, I can't stretch the fact enough, that these are still one of the best Windows ultrabook speakers I've ever used. Maybe ASUS can try to balance the speakers better in the future.
The Webcam & Microphone
The Webcam & the Microphone situation is actually a mixed bag as ASUS cheaper out on the Camera sensor yet again. It's a 720P webcam, yet again, and while Samsung and Apple have moved onto better 1080P sensors, putting this mediocre sensor in a product this expensive, was a pretty bad move. It is usable, but I'm not particularly a fan of this webcam.
The microphone is surprisingly good though. ASUS has really put some effort into making the Microphone sound good, and the end result is a loud & clear sound. Now, you can also access the AI Noise Cancellation tech that the company built, through the MyASUS app. You can easily take video calls with just the microphones if you want.
So, the simple fact is, this is a good set of Mic & Camera, but it would have been great if ASUS used a 1080P sensor instead. The effort to provide great audio during video calls kinda melts down a bit because of the bad camera sensor, and that's why it's a mixed experience rather than a great one.
When reviewing a 45W Processor, I never expect good battery life, because compared to the regular 15W U-series and the new 28W P-series, these 45W H-series chips consume a lot more power to provide better-sustained performance. The i7-12700H on the Zenbook 14X OLED SE is no exception. Plus the addition of a 2.8K display and 90 Hz refresh rate adds up and takes a heavy toll on the battery.
Now, something you need to understand is that, every user has their own set of tasks that they perform on the laptops and while doing those tasks they set their laptops at different brightness levels, and with different power settings at different ambient temperatures. So, my usage will never match yours and the numbers on the charts are going to be different. The results here reflect my personal workflow.
Time (Worst - Best)
Average Workload (Writing, Watching a few Videos, Listening to the occasional music )
4 hrs 32 mins - 5 hrs 23 mins
3 hrs 48 mins - 4 hrs 19 mins
2 hrs 27 mins - 3 hrs 31 mins
The numbers clearly indicate the fact that this isn't your all-day laptop. Even with regular workloads, you'll need to plug this laptop every 5 hours on average, so if that is something you'll be comfortable with, this laptop is going to work just fine for you. Otherwise get something else, like the Macbook Air which has a much better unplugged-use experience.
ASUS did make improvements with the supplied power adapter though. It’s a 100W AC adapter that charges via. USB-C and you can use any of the two USB-C ports on the laptop to charge. There is support for fast charging and compared to the older bricks this one is way more compact, and is also lighter to carry around.
The Quality Control Issues
Even though this is an excellent laptop and one of the best Windows ultrabooks currently being sold, quality control seems to continue to haunt ASUS. I have purchased the device from an offline store and I've already encountered two quality control issues. One was on my unit and the other was on a previous unit that had to be sent back due to that issue.
1. The Tilted Power Button
Although my current unit works just fine, the Power Button/Fingerprint Scanner is a little tilted towards the right. I have no idea if this is going to be an issue in the future, but for now, both the clicking mechanism and fingerprint scanning work fine.
2. The Defective Display
The first unit the store got for me, had a blue splotch on its display, just below the webcam. considering this is a premium machine and claims excellence in the display section, a defect this serious right out of the box is unacceptable.
So, if you're buying this laptop, try to buy it offline, as online purchase replacements are completely messed up right now on Flipkart. So, if you live in India, you may face issues getting a replacement, in case you get a defective unit from Flipkart.
Is The Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition Your Cup Of Tea?
The celebration for 25 years of sending the first ASUS laptop into space, has resulted into something really special. The ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition is truly a marvelous piece of machinery.
But, it is still not going to be a good match for everyone. You need to understand if your workload fits with the capabilities of this computer and if you are willing to make the small compromises that come with it. Only then spending the extra money is going to make sense for you.
This special edition Zenbook is great for those who have a mostly indoor workout routine, need to do a lot of typing, might get caught into occasional video edits, and needs a laptop that is just great for watching movies TV shows, and listening to music.
However, if you spend most of your day away from a charging port, or you need to edit videos all the time, or you are thinking about doing 3D renders on your laptop, then you are better off with something else.
That would be all for this review. If you found it useful to share it with anyone who would is looking to upgrade their laptop and may be interested in something like this. Also, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments section and I will get back to you as soon as possible.