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ASUS VivoBook X413EA review: a laptop for the new normal

On: March 23, 2021

ASUS VivoBook X413EA is a laptop made for the new normal. As I started writing the review of VivoBook X413EA, I saw my niece join her Zoom class on an iPad. At that time, I realized the privilege of having multiple devices at home. However, not everyone has multiple devices and in fact, a large number of kids are using smartphones to learn from home. That lack of laptops at most Indian homes becomes the raison d’etre of ASUS VivoBook X413EA.

Also Read: ASUS ExpertBook B9 review: a lightweight business laptop with excellent battery life

While consumers in India have begun upgrading their phones every year, computers do not have the same refresh cycle. For most consumers, a laptop is not an annual or bi-annual investment. It is meant to last for four or five years at the very least, and when you make such an investment, you might as well do it on a device that can survive that long. After using the VivoBook X413EA for more than three weeks, I can say it can survive the test of time. It is not perfect but comes very close. Here is my review.

Design and display

Asus VivoBook X413EA Review

Asus VivoBook X413EA has a 14-inch FHD display

With the VivoBook X413EA, ASUS has opted for a conventional design that does not go for any big experiments we see on the ZenNook lineup. That means you don’t get the ScreenPad feature or the Ergolift hinge. I personally like this traditional design where the keyboard lays (almost) flat with the surface. The build quality of this laptop is on par with what you would expect from a machine made by ASUS.

The chassis seems extremely rigid and I could not find any dent or flex anywhere. It also means there is no creaking noise when you open or close the laptop. Our review unit came in what ASUS calls a “Cobalt Blue” colour. While it is a departure from silver and black laptops in the market, the lid of the laptop is prone to catch fingerprints. So, I recommend you keep a microfiber cloth handy to keep this laptop clean at all times.

There is ASUS VivoBook branding centred and to the right on the lid. More ASUS VivoBook branding can be found underneath the display. There are also Intel stickers, which could come off if you put in some effort. One of the highlights of this design is the colour-blocked “Enter” key with a yellow accent. It brings freshness but feels like a half-hearted effort since that accent does not extend any further.

Asus VivoBook X413EA Review

On the right, there are two USB 2.0 Type-A ports and a microSD card reader

There is a fingerprint sensor integrated into the touchpad and it is really quick to unlock the laptop. On the left hand side, you will find the barrel plug for charging, HDMI port, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port and 3.5mm combo audio jack. On the right, there are two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, a microSD card reader and LED lights indicating the status of the machine.

Overall, we are looking at a compact laptop with a 14-inch FHD panel offering a rated brightness of 250 nits. While 250 nits of brightness might seem less, the laptop got plenty bright while working at home. I would have loved to check how this display fares under the harsh light of the office environment, but that’s not happening anytime soon. I mostly found myself using this machine at 50 percent brightness without any issue.

It is not a very colour accurate panel but it works fine for the target audience. It offers a functional design that is familiar out of the box and will work for years without any issue. Since it is aimed at those looking for a laptop for work for home or to learn from home needs, familiarity will win on any given day.

Hardware and battery life

Asus VivoBook X413EA Review

The laptop comes equipped with Core i5-1135G7, 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage

ASUS VivoBook X413EA is available with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 quad-core processor clocked at 2.4GHz. It is paired with 8GB RAM and 512GB NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD storage. As a result, you get a laptop that is remarkably quick. By quick, I mean it takes less than 10 seconds to boot, which is faster than my iPad. It handles most tasks without any issue.

The Intel Core i5-1135G7 is a capable CPU that brings a good balance between performance and battery life. When I ran benchmarks like CineBench, the laptop returned scores that were in the same ballpark as other laptops with the same processor. It’s not just about the CPU though. The onboard Iris Xe graphics is a marked improvement over its predecessor. Of course, you can play basic games on this laptop.

You can even push it to run video editing programs like Adobe Premiere Pro. When you do that, the fans start to spin and make a hissing noise, but it is proof that Intel has made progress with its new 11th gen platform. ASUS also deserves credit for its MyASUS app where you can change performance settings to extract more out of this device.

 

Asus VivoBook X413EA Review

MyASUS is a program where you can tune the performance and other hardware settings

Using ASUS Intelligent Performance Technology, you can choose between Performance, Balanced or Whisper mode. The performance mode is where you get the maximum performance with thermal parameters tuned for heavy workloads. While I could hear fan noise in Balanced mode, Whisper mode should be your choice for a quiet power-saving experience. This laptop is not meant to break any records but it does shine with its onboard graphics and instant boot features. It also includes WiFi 6, which brings access to faster speeds and makes it a solid proposition in this price point. However, the 720p webcam is a big let-down at a time when all of us are spending most of our time connecting via video calls.

While the performance is great for this product, the battery life is a mixed bag. With 50 brightness and running only office apps, Chrome, Spotify and Slack, the laptop lasted between four and a half and five hours. The 3-cell 42WHrs battery really falls short, and while ASUS recommended testing with Whisper mode, I did not see any difference. I would have liked to see all-day battery life but the 65W barrel plug supports quick charging and fully charges the laptop in around two hours.

Keyboard, trackpad and software

Asus VivoBook X413EA Review

The fingerprint reader is integrated into the trackpad

ASUS VivoBook X413EA’s keyboard hits the sweet spot as far as laptop keyboards go. It is not as comfortable to type on as the keyboard found on Surface Laptop or Surface Book. At the same time, it is not as bad as the Butterfly keyboard on older Macs. There is 1.4mm key travel, which I thought is plenty, but the keycaps themselves might feel a bit soft at times. That said,I never experienced any missed stroke and my typing speed remained constant.

However, the placement of the second Function at the bottom right corner and piping for backlit on the arrow keys are a disappointment. The trackpad is not the best that I have tried on a laptop in this price segment. While ASUS told me that it supports precision drivers and I tried re-installing the drivers, the gestures did not work as reliably as they do on other trackpads supporting precision drivers. It could be a unit issue, but my experience was far from perfect.

Asus VivoBook X413EA Review

One of the best sounding speakers on a laptop in this price segment

The ASUS VivoBook X413EA came with Windows 10 version 2004 out of the box. In the past week, it also received Windows 10 version 20H2 update. Windows 10 version 2004 has done a good job here of not loading this laptop with bloatware. The only additions are McAfee Personal Security and MyASUS utility tool. While the latter is useful, you can uninstall McAfee security tools. Windows 10 has improved a lot since its launch and it works well on this machine as well.

Bottomline

Asus VivoBook X413EA Review

The webcam is not good for Zoom calls

As people began working from home and students started learning from home, PC makers took that as a call to action and introduced laptops tailor-made for these needs. ASUS VivoBook X413EA, with its quick boot, lightweight design and bloatware free experience, delivers on that experience really well.

It does not have an excellent trackpad or a webcam that will make you stand out on those Zoom calls, but makes up for these pitfalls with the Harman Kardon tuned sound system and a software-based shutter for the camera. By including WiFi 6, ASUS has shown that this laptop is meant to last for several and years.

At Rs 54,990, the VivoBook X413EA gets a lot of things right but it does have competition. Xiaomi Mi Notebook (review) brings versatility to the table while LG Gram offers endurance. When these laptops launch with 11th gen Intel chips in India, ASUS might be on the backfoot but for now, it has the upper hand here.

Pricebaba’s rating: 7.5/10

What works

  • Bloatware-free Windows 10 experience
  • Lightweight, durable design
  • Fingerprint sensor for fast and secure login
  • Adequate performance

What doesn’t:

  • Webcam isn’t great for video calls
  • Below-average battery life
  • Trackpad is not versatile
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