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Asus Zenbook S 13 Review — Dynamite in a Small Package

Asus brings some eco-friendly and smart changes to its beloved 13-inch Zenbook.

Jeremy Proome

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Asus’ Zenbook range seems to have something for everyone, and the latest entry, the Zenbook S13, is a pint-sized, powerful, and extremely-portable laptop that serves to give you everything you need while trimming the fat on its design and keeping its key features front and centre.

First and foremost, while what’s under the hood makes or breaks a good laptop, the most standout feature of the Zenbook S 13 is undoubtedly its design. This device, despite being a 13-inch notebook, feels incredibly compact and streamlined — there are no unnecessary edges, design protrusions, or frills that prevent it from being arguably the slickest build we’ve seen in a while.

But even though Asus went with a ‘basic is better’ approach, it doesn’t mean that the Zenbook S 13 doesn’t have some sex appeal. The laptop features a beautiful ceramic plasma covering on the lid which gives it a graphite-type feel, leaving no finger marks or smudges. Its sleekness and portability also need to be praised, weighing in at only 1kg and measuring 10.9mm thick when closed, while still housing a USB 3.0 port, audio connectors, 2 USB-C / thunderbolt ports, and an HDMI jack. So, you’ve got everything you need.

As for the display, you get Asus’ Nanoedge 13-inch OLED display, which is only a 2K screen with a 60Hz refresh rate, but, for a laptop of its size, class, and price, it’s more than you need and the deep yet vivid colours of the Dolby Vision 16:10 display is gorgeous to look at, not to mention incredibly colour-accurate. If you’re using this as your on-the-go laptop with the odd media viewing session, it definitely delivers the goods.

The unique screen hinge design also opens to a full 180 degrees, and when in a normal open-mode, lifts the keyboard slightly for a more comfortable typing angle and to improve airflow beneath the device, which is a nice touch.

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The Zenbook S 13 features Intel’s 13th-gen i7 chipset (1355U), 16GBs of RAM, and a 1TB SSD, all of which make any application task or general use incredibly fast and fluid. Some tweaks have been done to past Zenbook models’ hardware designs to get more out of the i7 chip, using less power and stressing the internals less to do greater tasks, so there’s better optimisation going on with the specs. Like other Zenbooks, the Zenbook S 13 utilises Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics, which can play a fair share of games (and competently, we might add), but the framerate and graphic settings will have to take a dip for anything too demanding. Of course, this isn’t designed to be a gaming device. As a work/personal laptop for most needs, it’s hard to fault it.

When in use, you can also customise your performance using the MyAsus app, which allows you to switch to Performance, Standard, or Whisper mode to control the power usage and keep the fans from firing up to max speed.

With the sublime OLED and colour-correct display, the Zenbook S 13 is a great option for photo or video editors looking for something that gives an accurate representation of your work. And for everyone else, this is an incredibly dynamic and extremely portable device that brings some punchy specs to boot.

The Asus Zenbook S 16 (2023) model is available from Asus South Africa and priced at R32,999.

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