Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED (UN5401) review: Puts HP on notice

Reviewing convertibles is hard. There’s this temptation to compare a 2-in-1 with a conventional laptop, that you need to always keep in check. Because the moment you start doing that, you step farther away from reality. The two are like apples and oranges. Some people like apples, others might prefer oranges. Just because there’s a nicer apple for grabs at around the same price, doesn’t make the orange any less appealing.

Case in point — the Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED.

The top-end model of this convertible laptop will set you back by Rs 1,34,990. You can get a better stacked laptop from Asus itself at a lower price than this. The VivoBook Pro 16X OLED (review) comes to mind.

Then there’s the urge to pit the ZenBook 14 Flip against its Vivobook 13 Slate OLED (review) which, technically, also is a convertible — and much cheaper. That isn’t an apt comparison either because it’s designed to be a tablet first. Its laptop shenanigans are limited.   

The ZenBook 14 Flip combines the form and convenience of the Vivobook 13 Slate with the utility of the VivoBook Pro 16X and puts it into a single device. That is its main USP. And that is why, it costs the way it does, too. So, the question is, what do we compare it with? The HP Spectre x360 14 (review) can be a good benchmark.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED | Design and build quality

The Flip has a 360-degree hinge. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

The 14 Flip, being a ZenBook, is Asus’s premium offering be it in the choice of build materials, styling, or ergonomics. It is instantly recognisable, too, with its hallmark concentric-circle finish on the lid. The whole chassis is made of diamond-cut aluminium alloy. The laptop is MIL-STD 810H military-grade certified for durability.

It measures just 15.9mm and weighs 1.4kg, acceptable proportions for a 14-inch laptop. It’s easy to lug around in hand or inside a backpack. So, no problems there.

The laptop is MIL-STD 810H certified. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

Naturally, the main appeal of this 2-in-1 lies in the hinge. It can “flip” 360-degrees on its axis. This allows the device to be propped and used at multiple angles. When in laptop mode, Asus’s “ErgoLift” mechanism tilts the keyboard deck and raises it up a bit so you can, say, type more comfortably. This helps dissipate heat from underneath, too. We can’t stress enough how well thought-out all of this is and it works as intended with barely a hiccup. Asus says the hinge is tested for over 20,000 open and close cycles.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED | Display

It’s becoming almost like second nature for Asus devices to offer some of the most compelling screens on a budget. OLED at “these” prices seemed far-fetched not long ago until Asus decided to flip the script one day. The 14 Flip, also, comes with a high-quality OLED display with a 2.8K or 2880 x 1800p resolution, tall 16:10 aspect ratio, and HDR support baked-in. It gets plenty bright, too, at up to 550nits. It’s a lot glossier than we would have liked but can’t say that it’s a deal-breaker.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED
It has a 2.8K OLED display. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

Colours are nice and crisp and fine-tuned just about right, right out of the gate. The panel supports 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut, is Pantone validated, and TÜV Rheinland Eye Care-certified. As an added bonus, it can also refresh at up to 90 times per second.

The headlining feature, though, is that it’s a “touchscreen” OLED which is to say, it could be a great machine for creators and hobbyists looking to dip their toes into creation, photo, video, and the likes. Conventional laptops, at this price, don’t usually come with touchscreen as an option. The VivoBook Pro 16X OLED doesn’t.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED | Hardware, performance, and battery life

It’s wild because under the hood, the ZenBook 14 Flip has the same hardware as the VivoBook Pro 16X, minus the dedicated graphics card. The top-of-the-line model that we have for review, packs AMD’s 8-core Ryzen 9 5900HX chip. This is paired with 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM (4266 MHz) which is soldered and not user replaceable. You get 1TB PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD which is upgradable.

Benchmark Score
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Multi 7423
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Single 1435
Geekbench 5.3 OpenCL / Compute 15673
Cinebench R23 Multi 11040
Cinebench R23 Single 1416
Cinebench R23 Multi (30 minutes) 10975

Now, putting so much power inside a relatively more compact chassis – like this –could be challenging but we’re happy to report that Asus has worked out the innards well. There are enough vents and outlets, plus dual heat pipes and fans, to keep temperature from soaring. The system keeps silent mostly, unless you are stress testing it, say, during benchmarks or some heavy-duty editing or when you’re having one of those crazy days navigating through a bunch of different tabs on Chrome.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED
The top-end model has AMD’s 8-core Ryzen 9 5900HX chip. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

Overall, the thermals are pretty solid, and we were hard-pressed to notice any significant throttling or slowing down, even while using the laptop extensively. The ZenBook 14 Flip is reliable in that sense. Know that this is not a gaming laptop so you should keep your expectations in check. More seasoned creators would already know, getting a more beefed-up laptop or desktop, would make more sense. The 14 Flip could be a good gateway – at best – to that illustrious career. Or a great portable device to work, study, and play from home.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED
The keyboard is backlit. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

Battery life could be better, though. There is a decently sized 63Wh battery inside this laptop and Asus doesn’t give you any specific numbers. We were able to get only 6-7 hours on mixed use which is fine, but we were expecting more from an AMD-powered machine like this. You get 100W USB Type-C fast charging, which is nice.

Port selection is generous. The ZenBook 14 Flip has 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, HDMI 2.0, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack in addition to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED
Port selection is good. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

The keyboard, similarly, offers enough bells and whistles including backlighting and useful hotkeys which when you factor in the size and form factor, is quite impressive. The individual keys are nice and spacious. They have good travel – 1.4mm. Typing doesn’t feel cramped in any way. Asus also managed to add a fingerprint reader to the list of features –this is on top of the power button. The top-end model gets NumberPad 2.0 which is basically an LED- illuminated numeric keypad integrated into the trackpad, which itself is generously sized.

The Harman/Kardon-tuned speaker is nothing special. The 720p webcam, also, simply gets the job done.

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED (UN5401) | Should you buy it?

Asus ZenBook 14 Flip OLED
ZenBook 14 Flip OLED offers amazing value. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

The VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is a creator-friendly laptop that gives the MacBook Pro a run for its money and the Vivobook 13 Slate OLED is a Surface Go clone that’s better than you’d think. The ZenBook 14 Flip OLED, similarly, puts the HP Spectre x360 14 on notice.

It does not kill the Spectre but that’s not the point. The Spectre still remains top draw as the ultimate dream 2-in-1 for those who can afford it. But not everyone can afford it, really. Not everyone might want it, too.

If you were to talk about feature set and putting those at work, effortlessly, the ZenBook 14 Flip does almost everything that the Spectre can do at a lot less. The ZenBook 14 Flip OLED price in India starts at Rs 91,990 (Ryzen 5 5600H/16GB RAM/512GB SSD). The Spectre x360 14 starts at Rs 1,19,999 (Intel Core i5-1135G7/16GB RAM/512GB). You’ll need to have a budget of over 1.5K if you’re looking for an OLED Spectre x360 14. Even then, Asus will give you a better selection of ports and a bunch of other features like the NumberPad to sweeten the deal.   

The ZenBook 14 Flip OLED is amazing value for what it offers—from a premium design, colourful display, ample performance, to an exhaustive port selection. Truly, it gives you the best of both worlds – laptop/tablet – without breaking a bank. For those who’ve been eying such a package, well, now they can stop looking.    

Pros Cons
Premium, portable design Battery life could be better
Gorgeous OLED display No Thunderbolt port
Fast performance Speaker setup could be louder
Good keyboard and trackpad Average webcam
Amazing value

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz