How about the Asus vivobook S14 laptop
Asus VivoBook S14 (S433F) in the test: happy at second glance
Conclusion: Not great, but better than top devices in some points
Asus does a lot of things right in the VivoBook S14 S433F. The anti-glare full HD display is easy on the eyes, the fan is almost never heard, the keyboard and touchpad are easy to work with, the workmanship is extremely solid, the processor, graphics and memory are completely sufficient for everyday tasks. Those looking for a lot of connections will also get their money's worth in the notebook. It is details that initially spoil the joy a little; Asus could do better.
Asus VivoBook S14 S433F: The highlights
Let's start with what Asus does well in the VivoBook S14 S433F, because these are often supposed little things that we take for granted. But they are not.
- Solid workmanship in a sturdy aluminum housing
- An anti-reflective 14-inch display in an eye-friendly 16: 9 form factor
- Thin display bezels, both above and below (Asus states a screen-to-body ratio of 85 percent)
- A keyboard with a soft typing feel, equally sized keys for each character and enough space between them
- Free-standing and blindly palpable arrow keys
- A trackpad over which the finger glides easily and which at the same time is not a fingerprint magnet
- Ground edges on which the wrist rests without damage
- A ventilation system that not only hides itself well, but that can hardly be heard, and when it does, it is very quiet.
- Lots of connections, without the flat design looking shot through.
- Even when closed, a relatively compact device (1.59 cm high) and a reasonably light weight (1.4 kg)
- In the configuration with an Intel Core i7, a dedicated Nvidia MX graphics, SSD storage and Intel Optane, it is not the most high-performance machine, but it is a reliable machine
If you like, you can also find the Asus VivoBook S14 S433F pretty. We liked the white back in our test device (red, green and black would also be possible), although we didn't find the “work front” in silver and black particularly outstanding.
New in the Asus VivoBook S14 S433F in the 2020 version
The VivoBook S14 S433F in our test is the 2020 model. At first glance, Asus hasn't changed much compared to the look of the previous version, only added another row of keys on the right. At least in the configuration of our model, Asus has said goodbye to the then newly tested screenpad (a touchscreen where the touchpad is otherwise). The same goes for the Ergolift, the slight lifting of the keyboard when the device is opened. Somewhat higher feet now provide the necessary space for air circulation. This time there are more connections. And of course there is the update to the 10th Intel Core generation and WiFi 6 (WiFi 5 in some configurations).
VivoBook S14 S433F: There is still room for improvement here
The key bar, which Asus has introduced on the right, at first brought us to despair. It is not for nothing that notebook manufacturers usually install the Enter and Backspace keys on the far right and make them a little larger, as these are two of the keys that users need most frequently when typing. In the beginning, we repeatedly accidentally hit the newly introduced Home or Page Down keys. In general, we couldn't get rid of the feeling that this new line slightly shifts the keyboard in relation to the case and touchpad into the un ergonomic.
Asus has placed the speakers developed together with Harman / Kardon on the underside of the VivoBook S14 S433F. The sound itself is very decent. Test videos on YouTube and Netflix had good sound with both speech and music or action scenes. At most, the maximum volume is quite low.
A clinking of the rather bass-heavy loudspeakers could not be heard, not even with our demanding standard test song "Night Call" by London Grammar. But even lifting the device reveals that the sound could sound much better with speakers attached above. In our opinion, Asus had solved this better in the ExpertBook B9.
Plenty of connections, but only 1x USB-C
It is not very clear to us why Asus is installing 3 USB-A ports in a notebook in 2020, but only 1 of the more modern USB-C. It is also a shame that this USB-C interface cannot be used to charge the device in an emergency. Asus uses a proprietary DC-in connector instead. We wouldn't criticize that anyway, because Asus was generally very generous with the connections. In addition to the 4 USB interfaces mentioned (including USB 3.2 Gen 1 for the USB-A and USB-C interfaces on the left), there is also 1 HDMI output, 1x 3.5 mm jack and 1 slot for a micro SD card.
Asus installs a SATA SSD with 512 GB in our configuration, which is still supported by 32 GB Intel Optan memory (a kind of fast hybrid of fixed and volatile memory). That always seemed fast enough in practice, but modern NVMe SSD storage is still faster. After all: you can replace the SSD and, if you wish, also include the three-cell lithium polymer battery with 50 Wh.
It's just a shame that the rather small 8 GB RAM are firmly soldered to the board and cannot be upgraded. The fingerprint sensor is set up quickly and reacts quickly, but does not want to recognize the right index finger of the testing editor after the first restart. (Later it often works, but by no means always.) Unlocking via face recognition is not provided for in the device.
First impression clouded
And that brings us right in the middle of our main criticism: Unfortunately, the Asus VivoBook S14 S433F messes up the first impression. One might blame Microsoft for the fact that the setup process is painfully slow. Windows 10 guides you through no less than 25 setup steps. After every second or third question, the system needs a few seconds to apply the setting and leaves the user (s) waiting in annoyance. Something like this is simply no longer up-to-date in 2020, especially since all Windows alternatives (macOS, iPadOS, Android, Chrome OS or Ubuntu are mentioned as examples) ask far fewer questions at this point.
After the installation is complete, the device continues to annoy: The time is (again) completely wrong, notifications pop up minute by minute, the Edge browser needs to be set up, the miserable, pre-installed McAfee AntiVirus reports with warnings and offers. The Wi-Fi failed three times in the first two hours of our test, and the screen scaling seems much too high with a preset 150 percent.
And we would have liked to have tested the integrated webcam for this test, but it simply didn't work in our test sample. In addition, there is the annoyance with the shifted keyboard layout and the unreliable fingerprint sensor. All of this is put into perspective after a few settings and a few days of practice with the device, but overall it could have been much more pleasant.
Keyboard in the VivoBook S14 S433F
Asus uses a keyboard in the VivoBook S14 S433F with a somewhat soft typing feel, i.e. a little play in the keys, which should be a matter of taste. In relation to the overall layout and the trackpad, the arrangement of the buttons seems slightly shifted. Asus has chosen silver keys with a black print, which makes some keys difficult to see when the keyboard light is switched on, depending on the viewing angle. The yellow Enter key is an exception; a smart detail, even if we would have preferred a two-line, right-most and thus blindly palpable enter key.
The finger glides easily over the narrow trackpad, which is about 1 mm deep in the case and hardly leaves any fingerprints. The pressure point of the left and right mouse buttons is also good. Asus does without the VivoBook S14 S433 in our test sampleF. on the number pads or screen pads used in other models. The fingerprint sensor is integrated in the trackpad and, as already described above, it is fast, but unfortunately not particularly reliable.
Our test device VivoBook S14 S433F transmits with the current Wi-Fi 6 (WLAN ax GIG +) and Bluetooth 5.0. The WLAN failed every now and then (especially "gladly" after waking up the laptop). The Intel Core i7-10510U has 8 GB of RAM on board as well as 512 GB SSD and 32 GB Intel Optane hybrid memory. The integrated webcam has a resolution of 1280 x 720 px or 0.9 megapixels. A sliding cover is missing. As mentioned above, unfortunately we weren't able to try them out.
On paper, a Core i7 processor and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card sound like cutting edge. Benchmarks and our own impression, however, leave us with less enthusiasm. The 10th generation Core i7-10510U is far from the top of the mobile notebook processors and only achieves average values in the User Benchmark. The Cinebench R15 only shows a quarter of the points achieved by an Intel Xeon X5650. The Nvidia MX 250 achieved slightly better values in Cinebench R15.
In practice, we never had problems with normal screen work with a browser, Office and some other programs, even under full load. Open and close browser tabs without delay.
A test with the shooter Modern Combat 5 succeeds. The game runs, jerks can be clearly heard, but the performance would be sufficient for occasional gaming. The machinery is completely overwhelmed with our second test game, Forza Horizon 4. While the graphics are less jerky than expected, the colors at most appear a bit pale, the sound in particular "jerks" here. It seems like the processor is having more problems than the GPU. If you lose your life, the screen stays black for a few seconds.
The 8GB RAM, which is already small, is half loaded even when it is almost idle; 7 of the 8 GB are there with 10 open apps and 30 open Firefox tabs as a test.
Asus has opted for an anti-glare variant for the screen. Even in the glaring sunlight we can still see something well.
Despite the 16: 9 form factor, the large “nano-edge display” does not appear excessively wide. Asus left it with a Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080px). Although it doesn't look as detailed as the higher-resolution displays of the competition, the VivoBook S14 S433F's battery lasts for a good 8 hours. And that is by no means a matter of course in 2020 either.
Battery life in reality: that's a joke!
As noted above, however, the colors look pretty pale. The graphics unit of the VivoBook S14 S433F cannot keep up with displaying the colors vividly in demanding graphics, such as in our test game Forza Horizon 4.
Asus describes the 1.4 kilograms of the VivoBook S14 S433F as a "light design". Still under the impression of the Dynabook Portégé X30L-G, which weighs 900 grams, or the Asus ExpertBook B9, which weighs 1.0 kg, the name is borderline. In 2020, notebooks around or under 1 kg will be considered lightweights, as there are now some models from LG and Samsung. The 400 grams more that the VivoBook weighs are definitely noticeable.
Fortunately, we didn't hear or see much of the cooler during the entire test, even if it was late summer with 30 degrees and more at the time of the test. It works quietly in the background and only reported a few times during our gaming tests under load, but remained calm even there.
Asus VivoBook S14 S433F: price and performance
Finally comes the real highlight: The Asus VivoBook S14 S433F costs 799 euros in the configuration with an Intel Core i7 of the 10th generation and a dedicated GeForce MX graphics card. Big names don't make a good computer. The performance and speed of the CPU, GPU and the overall machinery are upper middle class - no more, but also no less. That the 8GB RAM cannot be upgraded is a little disappointing.
Asus ExpertBook B9 in the test: Business as unusual
You can hardly get a notebook with this configuration that cheaply today. We would therefore ignore the smaller disadvantages and make a clear recommendation for the otherwise reliable VivoBook S14.
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