Excellent battery life and performance but only 8GB RAM for life.
Asus launched the VivoBook 14 X403 just a few months after the VivoBook 14 X412. At first glance, the two may end up as the same product in terms of what they look like and what they offer on the inside, but a closer look reveals that there are quite a few differences. While the X412 is a typical Asus mid-range mainstream laptop offered in multiple variants, the X403 is a mid-range offer that only comes in one variant. But that’s only because it helps push the Asus X403’s USP: longer battery life.
Asus has equipped the VivoBook 14 X403 with a 72Wh internal battery. Other laptops in the same range of Rs 50,000, by contrast, pack a battery that delivers 35-50Wh depending on the make and model. The VivoBook 14 X412 which we reviewed a while ago packs a 37Wh unit, which in our review lasted 2 hours, 25 minutes on our standard battery benchmark test. So what about the new VivoBook 14 X403? Find out.
The only variant available in the Asus VivoBook 14 X403 is an Intel Core i5-8265U (Whiskey Lake) CPU with 8GB RAM and integrated graphics. Storage is taken care of by a 512GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. The spec sheet looks healthy for an Asus charge of Rs 54,990, there is one area of concern with the new Asus laptop: RAM cannot be simply upgraded as it is a soldered chip without any empty slots around the motherboard. So the X403 is for those customers who are confident enough that their current or future memory requirements will not exceed 8GB. Fortunately, the M.2 solid-state drive chip can be upgraded to a maximum of 1TB, although Asus warns that the battery is optimized for the bundled 512GB chip.
The review unit performed well on our CPU benchmark test but lost points on our GPU benchmark test. In PCMark 8’s Accelerated Creative Experiment, X403 got 3724 points, which is a little less than 3758 points obtained by X412. Because it lacks separate graphics, the X403 loses to the MX250-powered X412. In 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Cloud Gate, X403 scored 1175 and 9401 points, respectively. X412, by contrast, scored 2079 and 10065 points in the same two tests, respectively. The disk speed of the X403 was similar to that of the X412.
They are both neck and neck here
I’ve been able to open countless everyday applications like Chrome, File Explorer, Microsoft Store, Word, Excel, and WhatsApp for PC across multiple virtual desktops in the Review Unit. Opening a dozen instances of Chrome with multiple tabs open in each window makes it seem like there is no difference in the brightness of the laptop. I’m glad to know that the rapid and frequent changes between Windows and Virtual Desktop during the busy working day show no signs of delay or stuttering. Unfortunately, gaming could not be played on the X403 due to the lack of a dedicated graphics card. Both Doom and Metro: Last Light moves at an average frame rate of 16 frames per second in medium graphics settings (minimum to one level above).
The X403 loses to the MX250-powered X412 in GPU testing
The VivoBook 14 X403 packs a large 72Wh quad-cell lithium-ion polymer non-removable internal battery, which Asus claims is good for 24 hours of continuous local video playback. In our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit scored 6 hours, 16 minutes. Compared to the X412’s score on the same test, it’s an impressive three-fold jump. The only other laptop out of the mainstream X403 in our book is the 15-inch Microsoft Surface Book 2 with a score of 6 hours, 55 minutes.
A stunning 6 hours, 16 minutes on our benchmark test
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see how long the review unit could work from the wall socket. Enabling Wi-Fi + Bluetooth and setting the screen to about 70-80 percent brightness on the X403, I’ve written several documents, browsed in numerous Chrome windows, played music in the background, watched ten minutes of YouTube in full HD, downloaded files, And install some lightweight applications. Four hours after doing all this, I noticed that the battery dropped from 82 percent to 38 percent. In another run like this, I noticed that the battery dropped from 82 percent to 61 percent in about 2 hours, 45 minutes. As you can probably tell, the Asus VivoBook 14 X403 is definitely designed to keep users moving.
Windows tends to be over-optimistic with that time-left image
Construction and design
The VivoBook 14 X403 looks neat and presentable in an office environment but is not particularly attractive or distinctive. It is bound to get lost in the sea of mainstream laptops of the same price. Actually, I initially had some problems distinguishing it from the X412 but probably also because both models are offered in the same unwanted silver. That said, the X403’s construction is so much better than the X412’s that it employs an all-aluminum chassis certified to the MIL-STD 810G standard. In short, the VivoBook 14 X403 is firmly built for work and play. You can expect to pick it up yourself and take it with pride and confidence.
Clear, slate-like metallic top cover
The silver metal top cover of the X403 is smooth and grippy to the touch. At 16.5 mm thick and weighing 1.35 kg, the X403 is comfortably compact for a 14-inch model. Opening (or closing) the lid with one hand does not show any signs of flex. Inside, we see a matte display surrounded by a fairly thin (4.1 mm) matte black bezel. The color of the keyboard island (including the keyboard’s touchpad and keys) matches the rest of the laptop, which, in my opinion, makes the overall look of the laptop very simple. This can certainly be done with a little more variety in the color scheme of the VivoBook.
Slim bezel around the display
Display, audio and IoT
The display of the Asus VivoBook 14 X403 is presumably a 14-inch LED-backlit LCD panel with a full HD resolution. Asus notes that it is capable of reproducing 45 percent of the color in place of the NTSC color. In my experience, the unit is bright and colorful for everyday browsing and video playback. The screen is bright enough and works well in a conference room with a sunlight veranda and bright light directly above the laptop. The anti-glare finish makes a huge positive difference in the overall readability of the text in the browser window. In other words, this screen is perfect for users who want to read and browse a lot.
14-inch LCD screen clear and colorful
The two bottom-firing speakers on the VivoBook 14 X403 work well for casual music playback and quick video calls in a quiet office cubicle but are replaced by an accurate set of external speakers in noisy spaces. The high and medium high volumes make it without excessive shaking or distorted sound, leaving the lower ones to express better. Like most Asus products, a small notification asks you if you have switched to a different audio output source each time you plug in a pair of headphones. It can be a bit annoying to use headphones frequently
The speakers are firing the bottom as usual
I’m glad to say that the VivoBook 14 X403 has no shortage of IO ports. On the left side of the laptop, we see a few status indicators, including a round-pin power port, a full-size HDMI 1.4 port, a USB-A 3.1 port, and a USB-C 3.1 port. On the right, we see a USB-A 2.0 port, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset. A small quick-to-read fingerprint reader finds itself on the top-right of the laptop’s touchpad.
Port on the left
Port on the right
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard of Asus VivoBook 14 X403 is comfortable for typing long documents and emails. Like the X412, the X403’s keys have the right amount of travel and resistance. It seems that Asus has finally realized the key to its latest VivoBook series. That said, the keyboard layout itself could make some improvements.
For example, the Home, End, Page Up and Page Down keys are combined with the function keys in the top row. Users who need them and function keys will be forced to use the Fn key. What’s more, the power button can be kept away from the delete key to avoid accidental sleep or hibernation.
Comfortable keyboard despite some minor layout issues
In addition, Asus may choose a slightly darker color for the X403 keys while holding the silver base, as the white backlight under the silver keycap often reduces the contrast when viewing the letters on the keys. In other words, it’s like viewing white text on a white background-illegal and therefore useless.
The X403’s touchpad is a perfect unit, meaning multi-finger taps and swipes work directly out of the box in Windows 10 without the need for a third-party utility or driver. The surface is smooth yet grippy, making it easy to tap, click and swipe. The left and right mouse buttons at the bottom of the touchpad are a bit hard to press, but in the long run they shouldn’t bother you. In short, the touchpad on the X403 is perfect for everyday use.
Smooth touchpad with a quick fingerprint reader
The last row
Asus VivoBook 14 X403 is a finely engineered product with many special qualities. The comfortable compact fourteen-inch provides a significantly longer battery life, making it ideal for users whose work extends, forcing them to stay away from wall sockets for many hours. It provides top-notch performance for users hoping to edit long documents, work in spreadsheets, browse too much and watch videos online. That said, it’s not good for anyone who wants to play video games.
You can’t go wrong with this Asus laptop
Although the VivoBook 14 X403 comes with many pluses, its single and perhaps biggest minus creates a painful deal-breaker for users who want to upgrade memory in the future. As mentioned earlier, the X403 is for those customers who are sure that their current or future soldering requirements will not exceed 8GB. Excluding those single key limitations, the Asus VivoBook 14 X403 proved to be a fine mainstream laptop at Rs 54,990.