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ASUS Vivobook 14 X403 review: an efficient laptop with day-long battery life

There are three broad categories of laptops – ones that are bulky, powerful and gaming-specific, ones that are sleek, compact and aimed at professionals, and ones that are intended for students with basic specifications. However, with its Vivobook series of Notebooks, ASUS is aiming to offer laptops that will appeal to both students and professionals alike. The latest addition to this series is the Vivobook 14 and Vivobook 15. I have the former with me, and here’s my take on it.

Design and display

The Vivobook 14 X403 features a compact design and can withstand the grind of daily usage, thanks to its aluminium chassis with MIL-STD-810G rating. I didn’t push the laptop to its limits by dropping it or anything, but I can vouch that the Vivobook 14 has a solid build quality with negligible flex around the display.

I used the laptop for two weeks straight, opening and closing the lid multiple times and carrying it around in my backpack with another laptop, yet I didn’t spot a dent or nick on the body after my review period. The icing on the cake is that the laptop weighs just 1.3kg and is 16.5mm.

As for the display, the Vivobook 14 is equipped with a 14-inch FHD panel with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution. The screen has an impressive 87 percent screen to body ratio, thanks to the 4.1mm narrow bezel design. ASUS claims that the laptop is capable of producing life-like visuals, thanks to the with ASUS Tru2Life Video technology and custom algorithms to optimise sharpness and contrast. During my time with the laptop, the screen was sharp and offered excellent viewing angles too. However, I found the colours to be slightly on the muted side. The display features a matte anti-glare coating, which makes it easier to work on the laptop even in brightly lit environments. I personally prefer matte displays to glossy ones.

Impressively, despite being thin and compact, the Vivobook 14 doesn’t skimp on the ports and connectivity options. There is one USB 3.1 port, one USB 2.0 port, a combo headphone jack and an SD card slot. Keeping up with the changing times, the Vivobook 14 also flaunts a single USB Type-C port. Unfortunately, while I would have loved to see the Type-C port being used for charging, the Vivobook ships with a proprietary 45W charger.

Lastly, the ASUS Vivobook 14 has been equipped with a fingerprint scanner for security as well. The scanner itself is very fast and accurate, but I would suggest registering your digit the way you will usually touch the sensor, at an angle when your hand is lying on the palm rest. I made the mistake of registering it with my finger placed straight and it was an awkward ordeal trying to unlock the laptop.

Keyboard, trackpad and audio

The keyboard on the VivoBook 14 is the single area of plastic in the entire construction, but it is as sturdy as the rest of the laptop. The keys on the Vivobook 14 are chiclet-style, which means there is no indentation of any kind. There are three levels of backlighting to adjust according to your preference.

The travel distance (1.4mm) on the keys is sufficient enough to offer satisfying tactile feedback. Moreover, the full-sized keyboard is also well spaced out, which means typing on it is smooth sailing. I was also particularly impressed by the glass-clad trackpad, which is fairly sizeable and is pretty smooth as well.

Coming to the audio, the Vivobook 14 features built-in 2W stereo speakers with a digital array microphone. The speakers are accentuated by ASUS’ SonicMaster Audio technology, which has been lauded for being able to put out some serious audio output. Unfortunately, for some reason, ASUS decided to place the speakers on the underside of the laptop on each side. This means despite featuring good audio technology, the sound from the laptop is muffled when placed on a surface.

Performance and battery

The review unit that was sent to me was shipped with the Intel Core i5 8265U processor, which is backed by 4GB LPDDR3 SDRAM that can be expanded up to 16GB and 512GB PCIe 3.0 x 2 SSD for storage. For graphics, the laptop features built-in HD Graphics 620. There is also an option with an Intel Core i7 8565U chipset, for those who want more power and an Intel Core i3 8145U variant for those who are on a budget. In short, there is a Vivobook 14 model for buyers of all types.

I have been using the laptop for over a week now as my daily driver, and rest assured I am very content with the performance offered by the notebook. I have been using the laptop for my daily work, writing on Microsoft Word, browsing on Chrome, watching YouTube, doing a bit of photo editing and using WhatsApp web, for over eight hours every day. Seldom did I run into any kind of lag or freeze with multiple tabs open in Chrome, and a lot of other applications open in the background. You might experience a speed bump if you try running an intense gaming title on it, but then again Vivobook 14 is not built for gaming.

Having said that, I ran several synthetic benchmark applications on the laptops to gauge the actual performance of the Vivobook 14. The laptop managed to score 3,631 on PCMark 10 and 1,296 on the CineBench benchmarking applications, and both these numbers are pretty good for a machine running on an i5 processor. The SSD storage clocked impressive sequential read and write speed of 1,772.4MB/s and 979.7MB/s.

As for the battery, the laptop is equipped with a 72Wh lithium-polymer battery, which ASUS claims can provide up to 24 hours of backup. The keyword here is “up to”, which means the battery life will actually depend on how you use the laptop. During my time with the Vivobook 14, I could squeeze in two workdays spanning eight hours each, if I refrained from watching YouTube, and that’s 16 hours of battery backup, which is impressive.

Verdict

If I had to define the ASUS Vivobook 14 X403 in a single word, it would be “efficient”. The laptop is perfect for office work like writing, spreadsheets, WordPress, emails and basic photo editing. If your work is more demanding and requires regular use of software like Photoshop and Corel, you will be better off with Core i7 variant of the same model. Apart from this, you get a good display, rock solid build quality, comfortable keyboard and impressive battery life. With a starting price of Rs 54,990, the Vivobook 14 is an ideal laptop for students and professionals alike.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

Pros:

  • Gorgeous design
  • All-day battery life
  • Good performance
  • Durable chassis

Cons:

  • Bottom firing speakers
  • Muted colours on display

Photos by Raj Rout

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