Looks smooth but works well.
Asus VivoBook 14 (X412FJ) detailed review
As I finished reviewing one VivoBook laptop, another knocked on my door. I just finished reviewing the Asus VivoBook S14 (S406UA) just a few weeks ago, and I already got the VivoBook 14 (X412FJ) in my lap. How often Asus launches new laptop models in India, I am sure, is indicative. This is another 14-inch VivoBook from Asus but the Taiwanese electronics maker assures us that this is a brand new launch for India.
Our review unit is powered by a NVIDIA GeForce MX230 graphics card with VivoBook 14 (X412FJ), an Intel 8th Gen Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, and 2GB dedicated video RAM. In comparison, last year’s Lenovo IdeaPad 530S hired an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card with similar specs. The VivoBook 14 looks as big as an average 14-inch and weighs 1.5 kilograms. Let’s see how it goes in our review.
Construction and design
There is nothing particularly great about the build and design of the VivoBook 14. The laptop looks as interesting as an empty glass of spice tea. On the outside, the VivoBook 14 uses only matte plastic for the top cover and base panel and it shows up when you tap the surface of the laptop with your knuckles. Still, it looks a lot tougher than the VivoBook S14 (S406UA). Holding the lid tightly when it opens reveals signs of flex across the entire width of the display, which is a frustrating eye pain. On the plus side, not too much flex is observed on the keyboard island even when the keys are tapped tightly.
Opening the display reveals a 14-inch LCD screen with a matte finish and a fairly thin bezel around (5.7mm on the side, 8.8mm on the top and 11.4mm on the bottom). Asus claims that the laptop manages an 87-percent screen-to-body ratio. The color of the keyboard area and keys match the lid of the laptop. In the review unit, it was plain silver. In fact, only the bezel of the screen is matte black; Everything else is monotonous. The use of sharply colored accents or shades inside and out will greatly benefit the overall look of the laptop. The part around the keyboard gets a dotted finish, which gives the laptop a character. VivoBook 14 is quite annoying to watch otherwise.
Display, audio and IoT
The Asus VivoBook 14 has, as you can imagine, a 14-inch LCD panel with a full HD resolution and a claimed 178-degree horizontal maximum viewing angle. Whether you’re browsing the web, watching videos, or playing a game, the colors on the display are mostly washed and white. According to our test kit, the display is capable of reproducing 59 percent color in sRGB color space and 43 percent color in Adobe RGB color space. The VivoBook loses a lot of points for not being able to create more than 90 percent color in any color space, which is what any average laptop should. In comparison, the VivoBook S14’s display handles 93 percent sRGB and 72 percent Adobe RGB color. At 199 LUX, the maximum brightness is sufficient for indoor and outdoor use. The matte finish of the screen also helps reduce glare.
The sound of the two down-firing SonicMaster speakers on the VivoBook 14 is at best irresistible. Songs like The Weeknd’s Starboy and Ini Kamoze’s Here Comes the Hotstepper are blunt and flat at maximum volume. Although the medium and high sounds sound fairly accurate, the low ones do not reach the ears at all. The speakers aren’t too loud either. While they are loud enough for music and video calls in a quiet office cubicle, they are not suitable for open spaces with noisy colleagues. Better than you get a good headphone or a portable Bluetooth speaker with this 14-inch.
Asus VivoBook 14 is not ashamed to offer connectivity. On the left side of the body, it has a round-pin power port for charging, a full-size HDMI port, a USB-A 3.1 port, a USB-C 3.1 port, and a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset. On the right, we see a USB-A 2.0 port and a microSD card slot. We also see a Kensington lock slot and a few LED indicators for power and battery status. Another USB-A 3.1 port would not go wrong with the VivoBook 14, but most mainstream laptop users should have no reason to complain about either. The VivoBook 14 comes with a fingerprint scanner on the top right of the touchpad. The scanner works amazingly well and takes less than a second to authenticate through Windows Hello.
Keyboard and touchpad
The VivoBook 14 keyboard is one of the most delicately designed components of a laptop with some unparalleled features. But we must get that in a moment; Let’s talk about what’s good first. With a profile of 1.3 millimeters, the keys have the right amount of travel and resistance. Keycaps are well spaced and well sized. Typing, for the most part, is an absolute treat on VivoBook 14. In the review unit, I’ve seen very few mistakes or typing mistakes when writing my reviews and articles. When tapped, the keys on the VivoBook 14 keyboard land with a certain thud that feels reassuring and final. What helps with the typing experience is Asus’ ErgoLift hinge technology, which gives the keyboard a 2-degree tilt. This laptop is highly recommended for users who type a lot during the day.
The keyboard design of the VivoBook 14 is almost perfect without two notable flaws. The keyboard has no dedicated keys for page up, page down, home and end functions, which means that users who type a lot will be forced to rely on key combinations for that function. It’s a mild productivity-killer for writers like me. The delete key is placed next to the power button, which can cause unintentional sleep and hibernation. The review unit comes in a transparent silver color option, with a white keycap with transparent letters and letters on the keyboard. The color of the keyboard backlight was also আপনি you guessed it উ bright white. Thus, when the backlight was disabled, the keys could be easily identified. However, when the white backlight shone through the transparent letters on the white keycap, they looked like a large blob of white light. If you buy VivoBook 14 in any other color then you will not face this problem.
The touchpad of the VivoBook 14 is a precise unit of regular size. This means that if you do not move away from the bundled Windows 10 operating system, it supports multi-finger tap and swipe locally. You do not need to install any third party drivers or utilities to get the most out of your touchpad. The buttons at the bottom of the touchpad surface are fairly easy to click, and the touchpad pointer works well for moving and dragging files. The VivoBook 14 scores the top number in the Input Devices category.
Performance and gaming
The unit we got for review is powered by an NVIDIA GeForce MX230 graphics card with an Intel Core i5-8265U (1.60GHz watch), 8GB RAM and 2GB dedicated GDDR5 video RAM. Storage was powered by an Intel 660P series PCIe NVMe solid-state drive with a capacity of 512GB. According to the review guide provided by Asus, some variants of the VivoBook 14 will feature 1TB hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm instead of solid-state drives. By comparison, the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S shares the same CPU, SSD, and RAM capacity but has an older NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card with 2GB of dedicated video RAM.
Classified as a mainstream laptop in our books, the review unit scored quite well on the CPU and GPU benchmark tests. In PCMark 8’s Accelerated Creative Test, VivoBook scored 14 3758 points. In comparison, the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S scored 4351 in the same test. In 3DMark’s Cloud Gate and Sky Diver, the VivoBook 14 scored 10065 and 6296, respectively. By comparison, the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S scored 9950 and 9113 in the same two tests, respectively. A higher score of VivoBook 14 at 3DMark’s Cloud Gate may suggest better DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 performance.
In everyday use situations, the performance of the VivoBook 14 review unit was up to the mark. I’ve been able to easily multitask in everyday applications. Applications opened across multiple virtual desktops are numerous examples of WhatsApp for Chrome, OneNote, Word, Excel, Steam, File Explorer and PC. The laptop was able to handle browsing, background file transfer and background downloads simultaneously without breaking a sweat. According to CrystalDiskMark, the Intel Solid-State Drive chip has a score of 1709.2 MB / s and 986.1 MB / s, respectively, in a series of reading and writing tests. By comparison, the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S scored 3246.5 MB / s and 1912.9 MB / s in the same two tests, respectively.
Gaming in the review unit took place in an understandably stressful manner. The Doom Ultra runs in a review unit in full HD resolution (maximum graphics setting possible) Average frame rate 14 frames per second. When the setting is lowered to the middle (two grooves below) the average frame rate is almost doubled. Metro: Last Light, on the other hand, runs at a very high (maximum graphics setting possible) full HD resolution at an average frame rate of 21 frames per second. By lowering it to the middle (two grooves below) the average frame rate climbs to 46 frames per second.
Playing any game on Ultra / Very High almost kills the laptop. Stutters and lags were easily visible. Medium worked better for both games, which means you should do this if you plan to play games on VivoBook 14. Sadly, there was a tendency to tear the screen while playing both games in any setting, even “adapted” with vertical sync. In short, VivoBook 14 is not only great for playing new and popular titles but also not disgusting. If your coworkers are talking about a popular but slightly dated game at work (like Metro 2033) and you want to play it, VivoBook 14 should do the job. The same goes for lightweight image- and video-editing tasks.
The VivoBook 14 ships with a dual-cell 37Whr lithium-ion polymer battery. In our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit scored extremely low in 2 hours, 25 minutes. In comparison, the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S lasted just 22 minutes longer on the same test. In everyday use situations, the VivoBook 14 review unit has done quite well. Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the screen is set to 70 percent brightness, the laptop’s battery charge is halved in two and a half hours. During that time, I ran multiple instances of Chrome, worked with locally stored files, and played music for about twenty minutes at maximum volume through speakers. It took about two and a half hours to charge from 11 percent to 100 percent. Despite the very low benchmark test score, the VivoBook 14 lasts four to five hours on a single charge, which is decent but nothing to write home.
The last row
The Asus VivoBook 14 is an ideal candidate if you are looking for a lightweight mainstream laptop that can help you with everyday computing tasks, including writing, web browsing, number crunching and light image editing. It can even take the titles of some popular games if it is not asked to run in the highest graphics settings available. What’s more, its comfortable keyboard and touchpad combo add to the overall pleasant computing experience.
So where does VivoBook 14 fall short? Its audio setup isn’t great for music and movie playback, especially when you need to entertain a small crowd around you. Its display is also not very rich in terms of color. Also, the laptop looks terribly simple and exciting for a VivoBook, especially in transparent white. It can come with a long battery life. Despite its imperfections, the Asus VivoBook 14 (X412FJ) is an excellent workhorse for modern day laptop users.
Note: Asus did not release the price of Asus VivoBook 14 before the Asus launch. Please read the launch and laptop prices here.
The Asus VivoBook 14 price is as follows:
– Asus VivoBook 14 with Intel Core i3-7020U processor = Rs 33,990
– Asus VivoBook 14 with 8th generation Intel Core i5-8265U = Rs 54,990
– 2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX230 = Asus VivoBook 14 with Rs 59,990.