Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED review: An alternative to the MacBook Air

At this point, if you’ve ever used an Asus Zenbook, you’ve used it all. They’re Asus’ closest thing to a MacBook Air competitor, with a slightly flimsy chassis, a touchpad with more advanced features, and a less intimidating price tag. In recent years, they’ve also become one of the cheapest ways to install an OLED screen on a laptop.

But this $1,299 Zenbook S 13 OLED is also very exciting, as it’s one of the first devices I’ve tested to feature AMD’s long-awaited Ryzen 6000 series. While the Zenbook’s chassis is otherwise unremarkable, the chips inside provide the CPU performance and integrated graphics, once again some of the best in ultra-thin laptops. This power, combined with the ultra-portable nature of the Zenbook series, makes the Zenbook S 13 OLED a very viable MacBook Air alternative for Windows-open users.

The Zenbook S 13 doesn’t look particularly different from many other Zenbooks, but that’s not a bad thing. At 2.43 pounds and 0.59 inches, it’s the kind of device you can squeeze into the most packed backpack (and you won’t even feel it when it’s inside). While the lid and panel do feel a little plasticky, there’s little to no flex in the lid or keyboard deck. Both are fairly resistant to collecting fingerprints, an issue I’ve had with Zenbooks in the past.

The rear right corner of the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED.

By the way, check out the new logo.

It’s no secret that using OLED panels on an ultraportable production line can make the line incredibly expensive and destroy its battery life. This allows the device to breathe fresh air. This OLED touchscreen isn’t quite as vibrant as the most expensive OLEDs on the market, but it’s still pretty good, hitting a perfectly usable 360 ​​nits in my tests with little or no glare. (It’s 16:10 now, providing more vertical space.)

I still averaged 7 hours and 45 minutes of office work on this device with the screen at medium brightness and power saving mode on (which is pretty consistent with what I’ve seen in multiple trials). While I could get a few extra hours off the latest MacBook Air, it’s still pretty good compared to the various 12th-gen Intel machines (and various Intel-powered Zenbooks) I’ve tested this year.

The Asus Zenbook 13 S OLED opens on a blue and pink finish. The screen displays the ASUS Zenbook S OLED logo above a stream of water on a blue background.

Covers 100% sRGB, 100% P3 and 97% Adobe RGB.

Zenbooks are also some of my favorite multimedia machines, and this one is perfect for that use case. Audio is pretty good, with audible bass and percussion, and no distortion at maximum volume. In side-by-side testing, it sounded very similar to the MacBook Air, and vocals on the Air may have been slightly clearer. There’s a distinct surround effect — it really feels like my music is right next to me — and everything can be adjusted in the Dolby Access app. In fact, I think the Game and Movie profiles (which prioritize positional accuracy) lead to better sound and better surround sound than the Music profile (which feels a little muted by comparison).

The AI-enabled noise-cancelling mic didn’t give me any trouble either, and people could hear me through my apartment’s very loud air conditioner.

The Asus Zenbook 13 S OLED keyboard seen from above and left on blue and yellow surfaces.

I love Asus keyboards, this one is great.

ASUS Zenbook 13 S OLED half open, lid visible, on yellow and blue surfaces.

The classic concentric swirls are gone here too.

One big downside that people should be aware of is port selection. The Zenbook is now close to the level of MacBook connectivity—all you get is three USB-C ports and a headphone jack. I do like at least one USB-C port on each side (they support USB-4). Asus includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the Zenbook’s box, but needing to use a dongle left and right is still cumbersome. (There’s at least a headphone jack, which some previous OLED Zenbooks unfortunately decided to omit.)

Ports on the left side of the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED.

There’s a USB-C on the left.

Ports on the right side of the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED.

There are two USB-C and headphone jacks on the right.

The device I’m testing (it’s the only Zenbook 13 S configuration I can find available for pre-order) currently sells for $1,299. It includes an octa-core Ryzen 7 6800U, 1TB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and a 2880 x 1800 OLED display. That’s a very attractive price for these specs, especially considering the screen.

The webcam of the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED.

Webcams…good.

The system worked well throughout my workday. I used a whole bunch of Chrome tabs on Zoom calls on various downloads, apps, and battery saving modes, and it didn’t slow me down. I occasionally felt some warmth on the bottom of the device, but never any warmth on the palm rest or keyboard deck. (And I didn’t hear from the fans unless I had the performance profile turned on, and even then they weren’t annoying.) In intense testing, the CPU didn’t get past 96 degrees Celsius (but it did spend a lot of time hovering around 85 to 95 Celsius, it must be hot).

Zenbook exported 5 minutes 33 seconds of 4K video in just over 15 minutes. This doesn’t compare well to the scores we’ve seen from previous machines that have done this test, as the latest version of Premiere Pro’s overall scores are slower than previous iterations. For any aspiring video enthusiast, though, it’s worth noting that these kinds of workloads are generally not AMD’s forte. The device lost out to the M2 MacBook Air (and the M1 device) on PugetBench for Premiere Pro, which tested live playback and export times in 4K and 8K, as well as various 12th-generation Intel systems.

The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is half-open on a pink and blue background. The screen displays The Verge home page.

If this doesn’t have negative seven ports, I’d consider gaming occasionally.

Outside of these use cases, though, AMD’s integrated graphics are impressive. I’ve been saying this for years, but when integrated graphics are doing well, there aren’t many reasons to buy a laptop with an entry-level Nvidia MX GPU.

System average 238fps League of Legends and 114fps Rocket Leaguemaximum settings (all at 1080p resolution). Overwatch It was even playable at Epic settings, which averaged 52fps with that preset and 83fps with Ultra.even Shadow of the Tomb Raider Playability was higher at the lowest settings, averaging 53fps. (Though it doesn’t play at the highest settings, averaging 25fps.)

These results are some of the best we’ve seen from the integrated graphics of a 13-inch device. They beat the M2 MacBook Air (not to mention the M1 model) and also beat the Intel 12th Gen Dell XPS 13 Plus. That’s impressive (and frankly, encouraging) given the device is so much cheaper than these two laptops.

Here’s my biggest takeaway from the Zenbook S 13 OLED: AMD still makes some of the best integrated graphics you can get in a laptop of this size.

The octa-core Ryzen 7 chip remains a serious challenger to the best mobile chips Apple and Intel can find in a 13-inch space. While it doesn’t offer the long battery life of the M2 or Intel’s dominance in creative workloads, it’s still a powerful all-around chip that delivers a very good gaming experience without too much external heat. Maybe one day Intel will get back to the top of the chip market — but not this year.

Pairing this with the acceptable battery life and OLED touchscreen that the Zenbook gives us, I’d say it’s a great deal for anyone who finds premium ultraportables like the MacBook Air out of their budget (or just prefer Windows over macOS). is an excellent choice.

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