19 July 2018 UPDATE: ASUS has replaced the 128GB SSD with a higher capacity 256GB without changing the price.
The ASUS VivoBook S14 is a thin and light consumer laptop. The 14-inch display has an ultra-thin bezel which makes the laptop appears like any other 13.3-inch models. There are two SKUs available for the Malaysian market, the one we have here is the i3-7100U variant while the other one is powered by i5-8250U.
Read on to find out if the VivoBook S14 (i3-7100) is the right choice for RM2355.
ASUS VivoBook S14 (S406U) Specs
- 14 inch Full HD 1080p IPS panel, Anti-glare coating
- Intel Core i3-7100U 2.4 GHz
- Intel HD Graphics 620
- 4 GB LPDDR3
- 128 GB M.2 SATA3 SSD
The lid of the VivoBook S14 is made of aluminium with brushed finishing. The soft gold colour makes the laptop looks even more elegant than its dark blue counterpart.
The rest of the laptop parts are mainly constructed with plastic components, and since the laptop is very thin, that explains why the chassis has some flexing room. So don’t compare it to the laptops with metal chassis.
The main purpose of that design is to make the laptop thin and light. At 1.2KG, this laptop is for those users who want to bring a laptop everywhere but leaving the weight behind. I even carried this laptop along to the Computex 2018, because of its lightweight nature.
Can you imagine walking through the convention show floor for a whole day with a heavy laptop?
Charging port, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A, micro HDMI, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type C, Activity LED
Micro SD card reader, 3.5mm combo jack, USB 2.0 Type A
We tested the built-in micro SD card reader and it could achieve a maximum transfer speed of somewhere around 35MB/s. We used the Transcend Ultimate 64GB microSDXC UHS-I card for the test.
There is no quick access hatch at the bottom. If you plan to upgrade any of the internal components, it would take quite a number of screws to remove the bottom chassis.
The 14-inch display has ultra-thin bezels (top, left, right). ASUS calls it the NanoEdge display. While the top bezel may be slightly thicker to accommodate the webcam but frankly speaking, I don’t mind with that decision.
The IPS panel has a native Full HD resolution (1080p). The viewing angle and colour reproduction are excellent. Just that the brightness and contrast ratio is not something I would say outstanding. For regular usage and non-critical photo/video editing, this IPS panel is still miles better than TN panels.
Besides, the display has an anti-glare coating which means you will be sacrificing some of the display sharpness to combat reflections. I believe this is very important for road warriors like us because we usually would work at outdoor coffee shops.
The stereo speakers are positioned under the laptop, facing down and outwards. With such configuration, the laptop is actually relying on the table surface to “amplify” the sound. For a laptop of this thinness, I am genuinely surprised that the sound produced is very detailed. The volume is just right, but don’t expect it to fill up the room.
Keyboard & Trackpad
The VivoBook S14 has a chiclet keyboard with white colour backlit. The keys are smooth and have reasonable travel distance. Most importantly, they are not mushy.
Since the whole keyboard panel is made of plastic, the keyboard section tend to “sink” a bit if you type hard enough, especially in the middle part. Unless you’re very sensitive with the sturdiness of the keyboard else it won’t pose any problem to the overall usage.
As for the touchpad, it has a reasonably large 10.5 x 7.3 cm (4.1 x 2.9 in) surface area and supports Windows Precision Touchpad. Hence it has smooth tracking and supports multitouch gesture input. I am fairly satisfied with the touchpad albeit the palm rejection could have been better to reduce unwanted clicks and cursor movements.
Meanwhile, at the top right corner of the touchpad is the fingerprint scanner that supports Windows Hello.
There is a couple of software that came as a bundle with the laptop. While we often would call them as bloatware, but at least ASUS has kept them to the minimal with the exception of the McAfee LiveSafe application and some other utilities:
- ASUS Hello
- ASUS Install
- ASUS Live Update
- Splendid Utility
- ASUS Battery Health Charging
- ASUS GIFTBOX
- ASUS Product Registration
Performance & Thermals
As we mentioned earlier in this article, the unit we received from ASUS has Intel Core i3-7100U CPU. Accompanying it is the Intel HD Graphics 620, 4GB LPDDR3 RAM and 128GB M.2 SATA3 storage. The VivoBook series has always been targeting general consumers who are looking for a lightweight, stylish and reasonably priced laptops. Thus, don’t expect top of the line components here.
There is another SKU with Intel Core i5-8250U CPU with 256GB SSD which you’ll need to fork out extra RM470 for that (SRP RM2825).
Nonetheless, is Core i3-7100U fits the bill? During my Computex 2018 trip, I used the machine to edit photos and videos. Performance-wise, Core i3 really struggles if your application usage is highly demanding. Real-time video & photo rendering would slow down the machine and the rendering wait time is as expected, painfully long.
For regular usage and web applications, it flies through them without any hiccups.
Thermals and cooling are pretty good with the VivoBook S14, part of it thanks to the low TDP Intel Core i3-7100U CPU. Most of the time the fan would stay idle hence making it a completely silent machine. When you fire up some YouTube videos or games, the fan would occasionally spin up yet keeping the noise low.
I had the chance to fully test out the ASUS VivoBook S14’s battery life during my working week in Taiwan. I would bring the laptop to the convention and would be working on the news story, at the same time edit photos for the article. While I won’t be using the laptop for a very long time at one go, but this kind of inconsistent usage usually would drain the battery faster. By the end of the day, I would still have around battery left when I reach the hotel.
For continuous web browsing usage, I would get somewhere around 7 hours of runtime at 30% screen brightness, balance power mode and disabled power saving option.
Looking at the competition, all the price below are suggested retail price (SRP):
- Acer Spin 3 at RM2259 (i3-7130, HD620, 4GB, 128GB SSD, 13.3″ FHD IPS touchscreen, 1.7KG)
- Pretty solid choice with the convertible design, heavier at 1.7KG
- Dell Inspiron 14 3000 (3476) at RM2359 (i5-8250, HD620, 4GB, 1TB HDD, 14″ HD, 1.95KG)
- The good, 8th gen i5.
- The bad, slow hard disk, 1366×768 non-IPS.
- Heavier at 1.95KG
- HP Pavilion x360 (14-ba063tx) at RM2358 (i3-7100U, NVIDIA 940MX, 4GB, 500GB HDD, 14″ HD SVA touchscreen, 1.63KG)
- Convertible design with touchscreen and stylus, almost similar weight as the Acer Spin 3.
- Has dedicated NVIDIA 940MX graphics, older generation than MX150.
- The bad, slow 500GB HDD, 1366×768 panel
- HP 15 at RM2310 (i5-8250U, NVIDIA MX110, 4GB, 1TB HDD, 15.6″ FHD SVA, 2.04KG)
- The good, 8th gen i5 and MX110 (about 15% faster than HD620)
- 15.6″ FHD VA panel
- The bad, slow 1TB HDD
- Heavier at 2.04KG
- Lenovo IdeaPad 330 at RM2389 (i5-8250, NVIDIA MX150, 4GB, 1TB HDD, 15.6″ FHD TN, 2.2KG)
- The good, 8th gen i5 and MX150 (about 155% faster than HD620)
- The bad, slow 1TB HDD, TN panel.
- Lenovo Yoga 520 at RM2357 (i3-7130U, HD620, 4GB, 128GB SSD, 14″ HD TN touchscreen, 1.73KG)
- The good, 128GB SSD, convertible design with a touchscreen.
- The bad, 1366×768 TN panel.
If you purchase a laptop looking ONLY at the specs sheet, I believe you already complain – “Why ASUS is selling this laptop with 7th Gen i3 at 2.3k?”
The answer is simple – ASUS VivoBook S14 comes in a slim and lightweight design (1.2KG). It has an IPS Full HD 1080p display with a NanoEdge ultra-thin bezel. It has a backlit keyboard and a promising long battery life. Still not convinced? Look back at the competition list and judge from there.
If you’re looking for a portable laptop that performs well at daily tasks yet reasonably priced (RM2355), the ASUS VivoBook S14 is for you.
- Thin and lightweight (1.2KG)
- Full HD IPS display with an ultra-thin bezel
- Comes with SSD as standard
- Good thermals and cooling
- Great battery life
- Good value
- Lack of raw performance
- No SD Card reader (comes with micro SD card reader)