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  • Soon Kai Hong

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED Review: AMD Ryzen 7 6800U Is A BIG Improvement

This right here is a really special laptop. It’s the Zenbook S 13 OLED from Asus. For those of you who are constantly keeping up with the latest in tech, you might already know what it is that makes this special.

Now Asus makes great laptops, especially their Zenbook lineup in the thin and light form factor. Add on the fact that they are now pushing OLED onto basically every model they can, it just makes for a really great user experience. This S 13 OLED is no exception and it has been a joy to use. The overall design, the display, the keyboard, amongst many other things.

But those are all things you can also find in pretty much any of the other Zenbook laptops. What is it that makes this special? You can tell just from these red stickers right here. This laptop packs the new Ryzen 7 6800U, which is built on the latest Zen3+ architecture featuring 8 cores and 16 threads. With that also comes support for new features such as DDR5 and more. But the CPU is but just the incremental upgrade from the 5000 series which was already pretty great. The more significant improvement actually comes from the integrated GPU side of things. For the 6000 series, gone is the old Vega graphics that couldn’t really compete with Intel’s integrated Iris Xe and it’s now been replaced with RDNA 2 graphics. For the Ryzen 6800U, that would be the Radeon 680M.

So let’s start by talking about performance because that is the special ingredient here. But before that, here are the specs. Ryzen 7 6800U with that integrated Radeon 680M, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 1TB of PCIe Gen 4 SSD.

We start off with Cinebench R23 as usual and as mentioned earlier, the new Zen3+ architecture is just a slight upgrade as compared to Zen3, but nevertheless, great to have. You can expect anywhere from a 10-15% improvement over the previous generation and it now goes toe to toe with the latest from Intel such as the Core i7-1260P.

We then talk about DaVinci Resolve and this is definitely quite the improvement and is now keeping up with the likes of Intel. If you’re using Premiere Pro, you’ll definitely see bigger gains but here in DaVinci Resolve where both the CPU and GPU are equally important, the uplift in performance thanks to the new Radeon 680M definitely makes a big difference. Of course, we still wouldn’t recommend using this to constantly work on 4K edits and the such, but the occasional 1080p edit will be fine.

But personally, the most exciting portion is about that new integrated graphics, the Radeon 680M. So let’s talk about gaming.

We tested our usual suite of games for laptops of this calibre at both the native resolution of 2880 x 1800 as well as the much more common 1920 x 1080. Goes without saying that at 1080p, gaming was certainly fantastic and this is one of the few thin and light laptops out there that we can confidently say is able to tackle 1080p high settings for the most popular of games such as Valorant, CS:Go and much more. You’re going to get a really enjoyable experience with frame rates well above 60 or even 100. At the native resolution, performance definitely drops a fair bit and that’s totally understandable. But even so, in games like Valorant, it is actually still very much playable and you can still achieve frame rates nearing 100. To top it off, thermals and noise levels are well under control under load. Temperatures barely hit 80 degree celsius no matter the workload and the fans, while audible, definitely aren’t loud at all. It’s really reasonable.

So you’ve seen the numbers. It really is pretty impressive. You’re getting all that performance in this light and thin chassis that you can easily lug around anywhere. It’s kind of crazy if you think about it. But to top that off, the battery life is also really good. Throughout our testing, we could achieve a solid 8 hours or more of battery life on the balanced profile with actual real-world usage. So we’re talking usage of Google Chrome, a little bit of YouTube, documents and more. It’s really solid.

So in essence, you’re not only getting really great performance, but you’re getting great battery life as well. Not a combo that happens that often. But of course, that all means nothing if the actual laptop itself, the Zenbook S 13 OLED isn’t great. So let’s talk about this.

Starting with the design, we’ve to say that it’s fantastic. It’s part of the new refreshed look that’s also being introduced to the rest of the Zenbook lineup. So you can get this new Ponder Blue color that looks stunning, alongside the new Asus monogram arrow logo on the lid which makes for a really clean aesthetic. It’s also really light, coming in at just about 1.1kg or about 2.43lbs. Despite the thin frame, you’re still going to get a webcam up top.

It’s only a HD webcam which means you’re only going to get a 720p image and so it may not look the best for sure, but it’s still definitely usable. Interestingly enough, the microphones were a pleasant surprise as they sounded really good. Your voice comes through with fullness, quite a bit of depth and clarity. Honestly, it sounds great. On that note however, the webcam does not support any form of authentication via Windows Hello so this is as barebones as it can get, albeit with a really good microphone.

But the best part about this laptop, apart from the specifications, would be the OLED display. Asus has gone ahead and increased the aspect ratio to 16:10 this time around, which is definitely a nice touch. So you’re getting a 13.3-inch 2.8K OLE display with a resolution of 2880 x 1800 at 60Hz, support for 10 bit color with 100% DCI-P3 with a Delta E of less than 2 and a 550 nits peak brightness. It is also HDR True Black 500 capable and PANTONE Validated. Basically, it’s a fantastic OLED display and you can really enjoy all your content on it. To that extent, creating content is equally as stellar.

As for the keyboard, it’s fine for the most part. Really comfortable to type on, it’s of a good size for a 13-inch laptop and the power button also acts as the fingerprint reader. The keyboard is great. As for the trackpad, it’s par for the course as with other Zenbooks and this also features the digital NumPad should you need one in a pinch. Speakers wise, they are located on the bottom and they fire off to the sides. They do sound all right, but nothing fantastic. It gets the job done. But now we have to talk about the things that aren’t that great, starting with the ports.

You only get 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports as well as the 3.5mm combo jack. That’s it. To add on, because this is an AMD powered laptop, those ports aren’t Thunderbolt 4 capable. Overall, a little bit of bummer. You’ll definitely have to bring around dongles and adapters with this laptop. The other downside would be upgradability. First of all, you’ll need to rip off the feet in order to get access to the screws, which isn’t great. And secondly, you can only really change the SSD and WiFi card. The rest is soldered on.

At this moment in time, we still don’t really have exact retail pricing per se, but this particular configuration should set you back roughly 1,500 US Dollars while the entry point with the Ryzen 5 should start at just about 1,000 US Dollars.

Overall however, we still have to say that this is a really really good laptop, fantastic even. If you’re looking for a thin and light laptop that has great performance, a fantastic display, good battery life and much more, this should definitely be a consideration.

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