When we mention the Dell XPS or Apple MacBook, the similar range from Asus is called ZenBook. If you fall into the ZenBook family … there is a plethora of models with incomprehensible denominations. Here we tested a model from 2021 equipped with the latest Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM and above all … an OLED screen with extremely thin borders.
The Asus ZenBook line of ultrabook is not easy to approach, because there are many different designs with varying configurations. From the classic ultrabook, with a different diagonal size, to 2-in-1, Intel on one side, AMD on the other … not to mention dual screen variants [19459009 ]. Here we tested the 2021 ZenBook 13 UX325.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325 (2021) Datasheet
The tested unit is equipped with an Intel Core i7-1165G7, 16 GB LPDDR4X 3200 MHz and a 1 TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD.
This copy was loaned to us by Asus.
A neat design, a comfortable keyboard and a contrasting OLED screen
Having used a Dell XPS 13 (2020) and a MacBook Pro M1, I immediately noticed how Asus really refined the latest addition to its ZenBook ultrabook line with a bezel-less design. very thin. The set is no bigger than an A4 sheet, moreover it is light (only 1 kilogram). We really have all the specifications of an ultrabook, with the added bonus of very correct connectors (2 USB-C Thunderbolt 4, a full-format USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB, an HDMI 2.0 b and a microSD slot).
From the first few minutes, you realize that you are dealing with a well-designed ultrabook. The black metal shell is completed with a silver Asus logo. The photographs don’t show how stylish this all is. The whole hull is made of a lightweight aluminum alloy that feels relatively strong. When you open it, with one worry-free hand, you’ll notice the ErgoLift concept that lifts the lower part with the keyboard to improve airflow and sound quality from the speakers.
If you remove the back cover, you can see almost all of the ultrabook’s components. Most of the space is taken up by a built-in rechargeable battery, with speakers on either side. We also see an M.2 NVMe SSD here (1TB in PCIe 3.0), with no free slots. You will not be able to add additional RAM as well. In short, there is no point in opening it.
The ZenBook series has always had comfortable keyboards. On this model, it is stretched over the entire length of the work surface. Therefore, the keys are really big and more comfortable. I also like the typography of the keys used which differ from what we are used to seeing. This provides excellent readability. The backlight is okay, with 3 levels of intensity. The set is well spaced with a wide travel (1.4mm). This allows for an efficient and pleasant typing.
Another detail that I appreciate: the independent function keys on the right are really useful. Finally the only criticism I will have is the presence of the Delete key next to the power key … I accidentally pressed it twice. It’s probably a matter of habit. To use a MacBook Pro M1 on a daily basis, the Asus ZenBook 13 (UX325) seemed more comfortable to me than the Mac.
Have you seen this very large touch pad? It is over 13 centimeters long. It’s really nice with a smooth surface and support for all the gestures available in Windows 10.
Asus’ NumberPad technology is still here with an LED-lit numeric keypad built into the touchpad. Activating the keyboard is simple: just tap the icon at the top right. The transition from cursor to keyboard is not at all difficult. This makes this ZenBook more convenient for people who have long sessions with Excel spreadsheets.
Due to the lack of a headphone jack, Asus includes a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter, which could be problematic. Twin Harman Kardon certified speakers are an attractive alternative to using headphones. We were also able to test the HD infrared webcam with microphone, it offers facial recognition via Windows Hello. We regret that this is only HD definition, nevertheless it is a camera that does the job enough for your Google Meet or Zoom meetings.
One of the interests of this laptop is obviously its 13.3 inch OLED screen with Full HD definition (1920 × 1080 pixels) and a 3mm NanoEdge frame. It completely clashes with the Dell XPS or the MacBook Air. This is the big change from the 2020 UX325 which used an IPS panel. OLED offers deep blacks, it is very pleasant to find the qualities of this display on a laptop when you have adopted OLED on your smartphone and TV.
This is an X-Rite Pantone certified display, which guarantees correct and precise color reproduction. But not everything is perfect, we noticed imprecise colorimetry just comparing it to a MacBook Pro IPS display. It turns out that the primary colors and green are too saturated. It’s okay, but it can be disabling depending on your job. Personally, this is a fault that I forgive him: with this infinite contrast and its viewing angles, a very correct brightness, it will be difficult to switch back to an IPS panel after making the ZenBook 13 OLED.
Performance: Tiger Lake-U roars with very good range
The example we are testing is equipped with the Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU from the Tiger Lake-U generation. This is not the first time that we have seen this CPU, we had the opportunity to test it on the Dell XPS 13 9310 . Our tests showed that this 11th generation Intel CPU (10nm +) was well ahead of the older Ice Lake CPU.
Intel Core i7-1165G7, a fast CPU, but which faces AMD
This is still a low power CPU with four cores and eight threads . Each core is clocked at 2.8 GHz up to 4.7 GHz (boost single-core ). The other remarkable element on this generation is the presence of the integrated Xe graphics chip based on the all new Gen 12 architecture. With a maximum TDP of 28 Watts, the Intel Core i7-1165G7 is efficient, which makes it possible to achieve theoretically a good autonomy.
On paper, AMD does better with an 8-core design they currently offer in the ultrabook market. However, Intel tries to compensate for this with high clock speeds.
We gave him the gaggle of the usual synthetic benchmarks. On Cinebench R20, the Ryzen 4800U fares better in multi-threading. It makes sense, as soon as you switch to a single-thread benchmark , the Intel Core i7-1165G7 takes the top spot. Same story with the Handbrake, encoding a 60-minute video (HEVC) is about 20% faster on the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U. As soon as a task is single-threaded , the Core i7-1165G7 is in front: this is the case for exporting a PDF in Acrobat PDF for example. On Adobe Premiere, Intel’s more powerful GPU can often beat the low-power Ryzen 7.
Providing high single-threaded performance is of real interest to users, useful for web browsing, the Office suite, and even photo editing in Photoshop. These examples are a good illustration of what can be done with an ultrabook on a daily basis. Finally, the only downside is the active cooling system: the fans turn on very quickly, the laptop starts to blow. It’s not that bad, nonetheless I feel like I hear it a little too often.
It does not have the fastest NVMe SSD on the market, far from it despite very decent performance. Finally, heating is really not a problem with this laptop. Even after several hours of use, the keyboard areas are not really warm to the touch.
The AMD and Apple M1 alternatives
It is true that AMD is a very attractive alternative, particularly the very latest AMD Ryzen 7 5800U (TSMC 7 nm FinFET) solution unveiled in early 2021 . With 8 cores and 16 threads , a maximum frequency of 4.4 GHz, AMD promises that its processor is 7% to 44% better than Intel’s Core i7-1185G7. However, few laptops offer AMD CPUs at the moment.
As of this writing, it’s hard to get your hands on a laptop released with an AMD Cezanne processor. In fact, a variant of the UX325 has been announced with the AMD Ryzen 5 5600U and Ryzen 7 5800U: the Asus ZenBook 13 UM325 OLED. We will certainly have the opportunity to test this other model later.
Should we compare it to the Apple M1? In office tasks, the difference in performance between the two chips will not be a game-changer. It’s in more advanced tasks, like compressing a file or encoding a video that Apple’s ARM chip will make all the difference. If you hesitate between an Asus ZenBook 13 (UX325) 2021 and an Apple MacBook Air M1 , we are talking about two different philosophies here with remote operating OS.
Intel Xe, always a good surprise
What about gaming on the Asus ZenBook 13? Even if a mobile machine is bought for work, it can theoretically be used for a few gaming sessions. We therefore carried out tests, on Grand Theft Auto V for example as well as a few other greedy games. In a low graphics quality configuration, we can reach 60 fps on GTA V. On Genshin Impact , once again in low graphics quality (do not hope for better), the observed average performance is 40 ips.
This is the case in many other games, such as Overwatch or WoW. This Xe GPU is always a good surprise. Obviously, nothing will be worth a dedicated GPU if you plan to play often with your laptop, nevertheless this PC allows you to play occasionally in correct conditions.
Very good battery life even for an ultrabook
The predecessor model UX325 reported 22 hours of battery life. As always with the figures reported by OEMs, I am wary of them, as I can hardly find them in my tests. On this 2021 UX325 OLED model, with a brightness of 200 cd / m² and the WiFi enabled, we were able to obtain 13 hours and 7 minutes of continuous battery life with the PCMark 10 protocol . It’s a bit better than the Dell XPS 13 9310 2-in-1.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325 (2021) Price and Availability
The Asus ZenBook 13 UX325 OLED starts at $ 1,100.