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Article updated on August 28, 2022 at 7:00 AM PDT

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (UM5302) Review: Superb Little Ultralight Laptop

The Zenbook S 13 OLED is a perfect traveling companion for getting work done anywhere... as long as you don't mind a warm lap.

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Written by 
Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
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8.5/ 10
SCORE

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (UM5302)

Pros

  • Ultralight design
  • Long battery life
  • Great-looking OLED display

Cons

  • Gets hot during use, as does its petite power adapter
  • 720p webcam
  • Currently in short supply

It is not easy to find an ultralight laptop that still feels sturdy but Asus pulls it off with the Zenbook S 13 OLED. At 1 kilogram (2.4 pounds), the 13.3-inch laptop is lighter than the MacBook Air (M1 and M2) -- ideal for tossing in a backpack or shoulder bag without a second thought. Despite its compact footprint, Asus squeezed in a spacious keyboard and a big touchpad that doubles as a number pad when you need it. The 2.8K-resolution OLED touch display is exquisite for productivity, entertainment and creative pursuits, too. And although OLED screens typically put a big hurt on battery life, that's not the case here with the Zenbook S 13 OLED getting more than 12 hours during our streaming video test. 

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Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UM5302 laptop open on a table.
Josh Goldman/CNET

Overall performance is strong from its AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor backed with 16GB of fast DDR5 memory and an equally speedy 1TB SSD, keeping it competitive with others in its class such as the MacBook Air M2, Dell XPS 13 Plus and Acer Swift 5. (Check out the benchmark test results at the end of this review.) The thing is these components put out a lot of heat when the laptop gets cranking. Even with the fans blowing full bore, the bottom of the Zenbook S 13 will roast your lap. When you need the laptop's full power, use it on a desk. 

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (UM5302)

Price as reviewed $1,300
Display size/resolution 13.3-inch 2,880x1,800 OLED touch display
CPU 2.7GHz AMD Ryzen 7 6800U
Memory 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM
Graphics 512MB AMD Radeon Graphics
Storage 1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
Connections USB-C (x3, USB 3.2 Gen 2), 3.5mm combo audio jack
Networking Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Windows 11 Pro 21H2

The ultralight magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis design, the OLED display and high-quality components mean the Zenbook S 13 isn't cheap; the configuration I tested is $1,300 (£1,300, AU$1,661). Consider the 14-inch HP Pavilion Plus if you don't mind trading some extra size, weight and less battery life to save a few hundred dollars. The bigger issue is that even if you want to spend the money for the Asus, you might not be able to find one. As of this review, the laptop is listed on Best Buy, Amazon and B&H but only the last one seems to have stock. 

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UM5302 laptop open on a table showing the keyboard and the touchpad with Asus Numberpad 2.0 feature.

Press the calculator icon in the upper right corner of the touchpad to turn on Asus' NumberPad 2.0 feature.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Asus always does a great job of packing some extra features into its laptops to help them stand out. You might be attracted to the brilliant and bright OLED, the 1kg weight and speedy components, but it's things like Asus' NumberPad 2.0 that make the difference. Tap on the calculator icon in the touchpad's upper right corner and a number pad appears on the touchpad so you can quickly input numbers or bang out a calculation or two. Plus, the software can tell the difference between entering numbers and using it as a touchpad, so you don't have to turn the feature on and off.

Then there's Asus' GlideX app, which mirrors or extends the Zenbook's display onto an Android tablet or phone, or an iPhone or iPad -- wired or wirelessly. Install the complementary Android or iOS app on your phone or tablet and after a simple setup, your mobile device is now an extra screen for the laptop. The mirroring option makes it possible to use mobile apps on the Zenbook's screen, too.

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UM5302 laptop open 180 degrees on a table.

The display opens 180 degrees and supports an Asus active pen. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

The Zenbook S 13 OLED also has function row hotkeys for taking screenshots and instantly killing the built-in mics and webcam to help protect privacy. Speaking of, the webcam is just 720p instead of the 1080p cams found in most premium laptops now. However, while it gives you less detail than a higher-resolution camera, the overall picture quality is quite good. The speakers sound surprisingly full, too, helped by Dolby Atmos. 

Other nice touches include a fingerprint reader built into the power, support for using Asus' active pen on the touchscreen and, though the laptop only has three high-speed USB-C, Asus includes a USB-C-to-USB-A adapter as well as a laptop sleeve. Even the ultracompact 65-watt USB-C fast-charge adapter is nice (though like the laptop it gets pretty hot while charging). 

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UM5302 laptop open on a table.
Josh Goldman/CNET

The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is just a superb little laptop. If you want something lighter than a MacBook Air with a wide color gamut display, good performance and battery life and a smattering of convenient features, it's an easy recommendation. Here's hoping Asus can get supply up so people can more easily find it. 

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How we test computers

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computerlike devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we're currently running on every compatible computer include Primate Labs Geekbench 6, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found on our How We Test Computers page. 

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Acer Swift 5 (SF514-56T-797T) 10026Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch, Gen 7) 9016Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2, 2022) 8592Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 8302Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 7649
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 CPU (multicore)

Acer Swift 5 (SF514-56T-797T) 10479Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 10344Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 10322Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch, Gen 7) 7716Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2, 2022) 6796
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro Edition

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 5833Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch, Gen 7) 5800Acer Swift 5 (SF514-56T-797T) 5502Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 4643
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2, 2022) 6803Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 4116Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch, Gen 7) 3903Acer Swift 5 (SF514-56T-797T) 3854Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 3233
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test (minutes)

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2, 2022) 1039Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 739Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch, Gen 7) 631Acer Swift 5 (SF514-56T-797T) 552Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 235
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED Windows 11 Pro; 2.7GHz AMD Ryzen 7 6800U; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz; 512MB AMD Radeon Graphics; 1TB SSD
Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 Windows 11 Home; 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-1280P; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 512GB SSD
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2, 2022) MacOS Monterey 12.4; Apple M2 8-core chip; 8GB RAM; Apple 10-core GPU; 256GB SSD
Acer Swift 5 (SF514-56T-797T) Windows 11 Home; 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-1280P; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 512GB SSD
Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch, Gen 7) Windows 11 Home; 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-1260P; 16GB DDR5 5.200GHz RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 512GB SSD
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