Categories: Tech News

Asus ZenBook 14 vs. Apple MacBook Air

Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Air, the notebook that originally hit the modern thin-and-light trend. The 2020 MacBook Air takes it further, offering a new Magic Keyboard with scissor switches, faster processors for better CPU and GPU performance, more storage space, and a starting price of $ 999. The rest of the market does not stand still, however. A number of MacBook Air rivals are now thinner, lighter and smaller.

The Asus Zenbook 14 is one such notebook, and it uses a more modern trend – smaller bezels – to fit a 14-inch display in a chassis usually reserved for a 13-inch panel. Does it beat the trendsetter of the industry?

The design

Asus ZenBook 14 UX433FNAsus ZenBook 14 UX433FN
Mark Coppock / Dictal Trends

When you open the ZenBook 14, the first thing you notice is the expansion of the display with so few bezels. The MacBook Air has smaller bezels than its predecessors, but they cannot compete with the ZenBook. Despite being a 13.3-inch laptop, the Air’s overall frame is about half an inch wider than the 14-inch Zenbook – all thanks to its chunky bezels.

Zenbook is 14 About Built as solidly as the MacBook Air, which normally benefits from Apple-quality construction. Asus subjected it to the full range of MIL-STD-810G military standard tests, and the lid and chassis are just as stiff as the excellent MacBook Air. But Zenbook’s keyboard deck is more flexible. In that regard, Asus is one step behind.

Aesthetically, the ZenBook 14 comes in a royal blue color with gold trim, including a gold bar above the keyboard that looks like a sound bar but is really just decorative. The MacBook Air retains its nail shape, although it is smaller than the original. Overall, it still looks like a Mac – and that’s a good thing. You can get it in three very luscious colors including gold, silver and space gray.

The ZenBook 14 gets a keyboard with more travel than Apple’s third generation butterfly keyboard, and we liked it better for its precise system. For its part, the MacBook Air normally sports big – and Apple Touchpad with Force Touch support. Meanwhile, the ZenBook 14’s more traditionally shaped Microsoft Precision touchpad works well and provides an innovative numberpad LED numeric keypad for number kunchers. Neither notebook has a touch display.

Finally, the ZenBook 14 focuses on USB-A 3.1, USB-A 2.0 and USB-C 3.1 ports with strong legacy support including Thunderbolt 3 support, a full-size HDMI connection, and a microSD card reader. The MacBook Air is a future all-in with just two USB-C ports with 40-GB Thunderbolt 3 support.

The ZenBook 14 deserves some kudos for squeezing a larger display into a chassis that looks similar in size to the MacBook Air, and its numberpad is a nice feature for those who work with numbers. But you can’t beat Apple’s build quality, especially ZenBook’s spongy keyboard deck.


Mark Coppock / Dictal Trends

Asus has equipped the ZenBook 14 with the latest and largest eight- and 10th-gen Intel Core CPUs, quad-core processors that are both faster and efficient than the previous generation. Our review unit used the Core i7-8565U, and is significantly faster than the low-power, 10th-gen dual-core Core i3, which powers the baseline MacBook Air (although you can use your MacBook Air as a quad- Can upgrade to something in Core i5) extra power). For more advanced functions like basic productivity and video editing, Asus is going to trample Apple.

The MacBook Air uses a much faster PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) than the Zenbook 14., which improves opening and saving files and booting the operating system. In practice, however, the Zenbook 14 is simply a very fast notebook.

Display quality is another important performance factor, however, and when it comes, the MacBook Air does not maintain the usual Apple advantage. Its 13.3-inch display is sharper at 2,560 x 1,600 than the Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) 14-inch display on the ZenBook 14. And Apple’s panel has a wider and more accurate color gamut. The Asus display was superb and had better contrast and more accurate gamma (so the video would neither be too light nor too deep). Neither are the best displays, but we choose the MacBook Air’s panel for its better colors and significantly higher sharpness.

Having said that, as long as you don’t use your notebook only for the most basic productivity tasks, then you’ll be very happy with the performance of the ZenBook 14.


Julian Chokkattu /

The Zenbook 14 is 0.63 inches thick and weighs 2.62 pounds. Compared to its MacBook Air, it is 0.63 inches and 2.8 pounds at its thickest point. This makes both of these notebooks thin, light and small enough to slip into the backpack.

In terms of battery life, another important portability factor, these two notebooks again closely match. They both come with 50 watt-hours of battery capacity, but despite the low-power CPU of the MacBook Air, they achieved very similar scores in our battery tests. The ZenBook 14 ran for a few minutes in our Basmark Web benchmark and video tests, while the MacBook Air browsed the web for a while.

In terms of portability, this is a draw between the Zenbook 14 and the MacBook Air.

MacBook Air offers more for its MacOS users

Riley Young /

The ZenBook 14 is attractively priced, with our review unit coming to $ 1,200 ($ 100 on sale) for the Core i7-8565U, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD. You can spend as much as $ 1,000 for a Core i5-8256U, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. The MacBook Air starts at $ 1,000 for a Core i3, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, and jumps to $ 2,249 for a quad-core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a 2TB SSD. This makes it a more premium notebook.

The ZenBook 14 packs a larger display in a similarly small chassis, and is much faster, but it’s not as good, and its performance isn’t as sharp – making the MacBook Air a more compelling option for its target audience.

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