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Asus Zenbook S13 OLED 2023 (UX5304) review: Weightless wonder

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1600
inc VAT

The Asus Zenbook S13 OLED is a lightweight Windows machine with a glorious 2.8k display and an impressively thin and light chassis


  • Light and slim
  • Gorgeous 2.8K OLED display
  • Decent battery life


  • Slightly underwhelming performance
  • Middling keyboard and touchpad

Lightweight laptops like the latest Asus Zenbook S13 OLED usually give something away in return. They either feel thin and flimsy or their performance suffers significantly.

Not this laptop. Not only is it incredibly thin and light, it feels more robust than a brick outhouse, has a fantastic OLED display and impressive battery life, as well.

The world of Windows laptops has been searching for a worthy competitor to the Apple MacBook Air since the M1 machine was launched a few years back; this is the closest anything has got yet.

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Asus Zenbook S13 OLED review: What you need to know

At its core, the S13 OLED is a 13in laptop, just like the M2 MacBook Air, and the M1 before it. But it forges ahead of its macOS counterpart in many ways. For starters, it comes with a sharper, more vivid OLED display.

Its screen is a little smaller than the MacBook Air’s at 13.3in across the diagonal but its 2.8K resolution (2,880 x 1,800) delivers a pixel density of 255ppi versus the MacBook’s 225ppi, and the OLED panel is more vivid yet retains impressive colour accuracy.

The S13 OLED is also lighter and slimmer than its Apple counterpart and just as attractive in its own way and, despite its delicate dimensions, plays host to a far more practical selection of physical ports and sockets.

Asus Zenbook S13 OLED review: Price and competition

Configuration reviewed: Intel Core i7-1355U CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, 1TB M.2 SSD

There was only one configuration available at the time of writing and this comes with a 13th Gen Intel Core i7-1355U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a generous 1TB SSD. This costs £1,600, which stacks up reasonably well against rival manufacturers of premium ultralight laptops.

The Apple 13.6in MacBook Air (M2, 2022) – our favourite ultraportable – comes with a decidedly more humdrum IPS display, is slightly heavier than the Zenbook S13 OLED and will set you back £1,749 for an equivalent specification. You can, of course, specify the MacBook with less storage and RAM and save yourself a good deal of cash. The base model is £1,349.

On the Windows side of things, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro is the key competitor for the Zenbook and, again, it’s a bit more expensive for a roughly equivalent specification. I say roughly because the Galaxy Book 3 Pro is only available with a 512GB SSD which, accompanied by 16GB of RAM and a Core i7-1360P CPU, will set you back £1,649 from the Samsung website. We tested the Core i5 model but that’s only available with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

If you don’t mind going a bit more budget with the chassis, then the Acer Swift 3 OLED is a great alternative. It’s insanely good value, beats the Asus Zenbook S13 OLED for performance (if you buy the Intel Core i7-12700H model), and matches its 2.8K OLED display for vibrancy, if not colour accuracy, for a mere £1,099.

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Asus Zenbook S13 OLED review: Design and key features

To say the Zenbook S13 OLED is a thin and light laptop would be to do it a disservice. It’s so skinny that when I showed it to a colleague on a video call he initially thought I was holding up a mouse mat.

It has a slightly wedge-shaped profile so it’s skinnier at the front than the rear so bear that in mind when you read its specs on the Asus website. In actual fact, it measures 11.8mm at the rear and 10.9mm at the front; that’s thicker than the M2 MacBook at the rear but thinner than it at the front.

Still, when you pick it up, you’ll be in no doubt about which is the lighter machine. The Zenbook weighed precisely 1.05kg when dropped onto our lab scales and the compact 65W power supply only adds another 332g. The M2 MacBook Air is around 200g heavier.

What’s perhaps more impressive than this, however, is that, despite the slim chassis, Asus provides a selection of ports and sockets more commonly seen on larger workstations and gaming laptops.

On the left edge are two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C sockets that each support data, video output and power delivery, along with a full-size HDMI 2.1 output; on the right edge, you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack next to a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port for legacy connections and data transfer speeds up to 10Gbits/sec. Given this generous selection, I was slightly surprised there was no SD card or microSD card slot for memory expansion but it seems churlish to complain when there’s so much else on offer.

Looks-wise, the Asus Zenbok S13 OLED will be divisive. I rather like the “Basalt Gray” finish, with its geometric lines and matte finish – it looks fresh and different and it lends the laptop a smart, tailored look.

Flip it over, however, and it’s a different picture entirely: the underside of the Zenbook is a mess of vents, compliance labels and exposed screw heads, topped off with two ugly rubber feet running the full length of the laptop at the front and rear.

Of course, the advantage of exposed screw heads is that the insides are fairly easy to access. Once the 11 T5 screws have been removed, the base is easy to pry off and although there isn’t much you can do once inside – the only upgradeable component is the SSD – you can at least replace the battery if it goes bad and clean out the fans when they get dusty.

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Asus Zenbook S13 OLED (2023) review: Keyboard, touchpad, webcam and speakers

At first glance, the keyboard doesn’t look particularly appealing either, its black surround and chiclet keycaps adopting a fairly bog-standard look. They are backlit, however, and the key action is reasonably pleasant. I’m not a huge fan of the half-height Enter and arrow keys but the layout is largely sensible.

The touchpad, too, is a mixture of the good and the mediocre. It’s usable and large, with a smooth surface, but the click action isn’t the best I’ve come across – it feels a bit bouncy and isn’t particularly well-damped.

This rather middling experience stretches to the 1080p webcam, which produces sharp but heavily compressed images, although it does support Windows Hello biometric login. And the same goes for the speakers, which sound fine but don’t go particularly loud and lack bass and body. They’re fine for listening to podcasts and watching the odd TV show but you’ll want to switch to headphones for music or movie watching.

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Asus Zenbook S13 OLED (2023) review: Display

The Asus Zenbook S13 OLED’s display, however, is far from middling. It measures 13.3in across the diagonal, has a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 and it performs brilliantly across the board.

In normal use, brightness peaks at 380cd/m2 outside of HDR mode, a figure that increases to around 400cd/m2 with HDR enabled and a very impressive 625cd/m2 when playing HDR video. Colour accuracy across its DCI-P3, Display P3 and sRGB colour modes is exceptional, too, with average Delta E colour variance scores of 1.06, 0.96 and 0.89. These are impressive numbers and the screen looks amazing when you’re viewing HDR content.

To give it a workout, I fired up the HDR Channel on YouTube and skipped through a few of the clips and it looks absolutely stunning. Most of the clips on the channel are designed to show off the abilities of top-of-the-line TVs so they’re a good place to start to give you an idea of what HDR looks like on a laptop.

Moving onto real-world TV streaming, I fired up an episode of The Witcher series 3 on Netflix and the Zenbook S13 OLED looks just as good, pulling out all the detail you’d expect in darker scenes and reproducing bright highlights and splashes of colour with convincing vibrancy.

Asus Zenbook S13 OLED (2023) review: Performance

Performance is acceptable for a compact ultraportable but among its peers, the Asus Zenbook S13 OLED is a little underwhelming. In our video and image conversion benchmark, its 10-core, 12-thread Intel Core i7-1355U processor put in the slowest performance – slower than the M2 MacBook Air, the Core i5 Galaxy Book3 Pro and the Core i7-12700H-based Acer Swift 3 OLED as well.

It’s worth noting that the results below were achieved with the fans going on full chat – the results in our 4K benchmarks were significantly lower with the fans turned down.

Graphics performance is a little better, though, with the Zenbook edging in front of the Galaxy Book3 Pro in the GFXBench Car Chase benchmarks, and the SSD scores are pretty good, too, particularly for sequential reads. App launching should be speedy as a result.

The Asus Zenbook S13 OLED’s strongest suit, however, is its battery life. It lasted 10hrs 34mins in our video playback test, ahead of the Samsung Galaxy Book3 and Acer Swift 3 OLED by a considerable margin. However, if it’s long battery life you want, the only laptop you should be considering is the M2 13.6in MacBook Air, which lasted an astonishing 17 hours in the same test.

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Asus Zenbook S13 OLED (2023) review: Verdict

The Asus Zenbook S13 OLED is a lovely lightweight laptop. It’s built beautifully, comparatively easy to repair and service, looks great (from above) and it has one of the best displays on any portable. Battery life is impressive for a Windows machine and you’re getting a generous amount of storage and RAM for the money – more than Apple and Samsung will give you.

Performance isn’t quite up there with the competition and the webcam, keyboard and touchpad are only okay, but those are my only gripes. The Asus Zenbook S13 OLED is, overall, a superb lightweight laptop that’s well worth your consideration.

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