many posts (the edge included) have heralded this year’s MacBooks as the best laptops you can buy today. For many users, they will be.
But some surprisingly compelling Windows-based alternatives have been emerging in Asus’ high-end Zenbook lineup, offering the build quality, display, and performance to match Apple’s best. The 13-inch Zenbook 13S OLED option has proven to be a worthy competitor to the MacBook Air M2, and eyes have been on the 14-inch Zenbook 14X OLED (and, in particular, the high-powered Space Edition) as a possible option. rival to the fan-equipped MacBook Pro M2.
I took an early look at a preview of the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition back in January, and this week I got to test the performance and battery life of a real, finished unit. The Zenbook actually beats the MacBook in several important areas, but it loses out in one crucial category.
The Zenbook and the MacBook are very, very similar in size. The Zenbook weighs 3.09 pounds, while the MacBook weighs three pounds. The Zenbook is 0.62 inches thick, while the MacBook is 0.61 inches thick.
I will say, from my extensive experience carrying both, that the Zenbook feels noticeably heavier, especially when lifted with one arm. But both are fairly thin and light devices for the power they offer.
The Zenbook is slightly cheaper than the MacBook Pro, although I don’t think the difference will be very significant for most buyers.
There is only one configuration of the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition: it includes a Core i9-12900H processor, 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. it has a price of $1,999 on the Asus sitethough some retailers currently has it listed for $1,979.99.
If you wanted to buy a 13-inch MacBook Pro with 24GB of RAM (the maximum available) and 1TB of storage, you’ll pay $2,099, a $100 premium. While neither the Zenbook nor the MacBook M2 are cheap, they’re both in the range of what consumer ultraportables cost. A 32GB/1TB version of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (including base CPU option) it would be $2,599.99.
Now, Yes If you’re someone whose workload won’t take full advantage of the 1TB/32GB the Zenbook offers, you’re better off buying, say, a $1,699 MacBook Pro with 16GB memory and 512GB storage and save several hundred dollars. dollars compared to the Zenbook. That will come down to what your daily needs are.
It’s also true that the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro is often on sale these days (you can currently get a 16GB / 512GB model for $1,599). If you can get by with 512GB of storage and don’t mind a little extra weight (the 14-inch is around 3.5 pounds), that’s the model to go for.
Sorry Apple, but no MacBook can compare here. Both laptops are very sturdy, well built, and hard to squeeze. But when it comes to looks, the M2 Pro still has the same boring, gray, big-bezel design that MacBook Pro models have had since 2016. The 14-inch device has an updated design, but all things considered, it still looks, well, MacBook-y.
The Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition, on the other hand, looks like a spacecraft. Design elements on the lid and keyboard deck evoke a shuttle and a cockpit, and apparently, there’s Morse code hidden in them if you feel like sitting down and decoding. Clearly, this is subjective, but I would always go with the style of the Zenbook.
The Zenbook 14X also wins when it comes to display. The Zenbook has a 14-inch 16:10 OLED touch panel with a 2880 x 1800 resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has a slightly smaller 13.3-inch display with a resolution of lower (2560 x 1600) and a lower refresh rate (60 Hz). While the MacBook’s display is certainly good, I’d pick up the Zenbook any day: it’s sharp and vibrant, and I’m always here for those deep OLED blacks.
The Zenbook also has what’s called the ZenVision display on its lid, a 3.5-inch OLED panel that can display your music, the time, battery percentage or other stats, a business card, the text you choose, or cute astronaut animations. (I’m guessing it’s supposed to be the spaceship window.) The MacBook Pro has a touchscreen Touch Bar on its deck, while the Zenbook has a row of physical features, but I personally find the ZenVision display much cooler.
The Zenbook also has the ErgoLift hinge, a feature you’ll find on all sorts of Asus laptops. This hinge folds down slightly under the keyboard deck and raises it a few degrees off the ground to improve airflow, and it digs into your legs when using the Zenbook on your lap. It’s not super sharp, but it’s something you have to deal with that the MacBook doesn’t have.
a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white md:text-30″>Zenbook 14X vs. MacBook Pro: Performance
If you’re looking for a Windows laptop that can beat Apple’s silicon on CPU-intensive tasks, the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition is your bet. It has offered some of the best performance I have seen on a laptop of this size this year. I don’t think you will have a problem with the general office workload.
As you can see, the Zenbook is quite powerful for its size and did better than the MacBook M2 and M1 Pro in many of our CPU benchmarks. However, both Apple products are way ahead when it comes to graphics performance, including gaming and video work in Premiere Pro. If your work is graphics-heavy, the MacBook is a better buy for you. (Oh, and in case this isn’t self-evident, the gaming benchmarks are for testing purposes only – if you’re going to be gaming a lot, skip all these models and get something like the Zephyrus G14.)
The MacBook’s unplugged performance is also better. That machine gets identical scores when running benchmarks on battery. But that’s not the case with the Zenbook: scores dropped when it went offline. Its Geekbench Compute score, for example, dropped to 20,675 on battery power.
a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white md:text-30″>Zenbook 14X vs. MacBook Pro: Battery Life
Unfortunately for Asus, the MacBook leaves the Zenbook in the dust here.
The MacBook Pro M2 lasted me over 16 1/2 hours of constant use at medium brightness. The 14-inch M1 Pro gave me around 10 hours. Even with battery saver turned on and the screen dipped to 60Hz, the Zenbook only lasted me about a quarter as long with the same workload and brightness settings. I averaged four hours and 35 minutes on this machine, and that was a consistent result across multiple tests.
For many people, the extra hours of the MacBook are probably worth the extra money, that’s a very big difference. Even if you’re on a budget, it may be worth upgrading to a lower-spec MacBook Pro to get that extra time.
Intel really needs to fix the efficiency issue that their processors seem to have. The staggering gap between these two similar competitors should illustrate just how unacceptable a 4:35 lifespan is in today’s market. It’s one of the worst results I’ve seen on any non-gaming laptop this year, and I’d really like to see at least seven hours from a device at this price point. It even loses out to some dedicated gaming machines: The AMD-powered ROG Zephyrus G14 lasts me almost twice as long.
a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white md:text-30″>Which one should you buy?
The disappointing battery life of the Zenbook makes a very good case for the MacBook Pro as the best buy for most people. Even if you love the 14X’s futuristic design, it comes at a hefty price tag. Especially if you’re looking for a portable device to take on the go, the extra hours of freedom from a power outlet that the MacBook gives you should be worth it for an uglier computer. For those willing to compromise on RAM, storage, and a few hours of battery life, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is also a great alternative, and can be had for less than the Zenbook if you find it on sale.
If you’re looking for a Windows alternative to the MacBook Pro and you don’t care about battery life at all, this Zenbook is competitive in basically every other way. It’s incredibly well built and powerful with an outstanding screen, and its vibrant design is fun like no Apple laptop has ever been. It’s really a shame that Asus didn’t put an AMD chip inside.