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Article updated on October 10, 2023 at 9:00 AM PDT

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (UX5304) Review: A Commuter's Delight

Want a quick little laptop for getting work done anywhere? We strongly recommend giving Asus' ultralight 13-inch OLED laptop a look.

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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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8.4/ 10
SCORE

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (UX5304)

Pros

  • Extraordinarily thin and light
  • Competitive performance
  • Excellent OLED display

Cons

  • Bottom can get warm
  • No touchscreen

It isn't easy to find an ultralight laptop that still feels sturdy, but the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED does. At 1 kilogram (2.2 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 comfortable keyboard and a big touchpad. 

The 2.8K-resolution OLED display is exquisite for productivity and entertainment. And although OLED screens typically hurt battery life, that's not the case here. While the Zenbook S 13 OLED's performance was on target for its components, the design, extra features and its nice-looking OLED display are the big attractions. 

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 13-inch laptop open on a table.

Open for business.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Configuration as tested

Price as reviewed $1,400
Display size/resolution 13.3-inch 2,880x1,800 OLED 
CPU 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1355U
Memory 32GB 5,200MHz LPDDR5 RAM
Graphics 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Storage 1TB M.2 NVM PCIe 4.0 Performance SSD
Networking Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3 
Connections Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (x2), USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, HDMI 2.1 (TMDS), 3.5mm combo audio jack
Operating system Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 22H2

The Zenbook S 13 OLED comes in one configuration for $1,400. (It's not readily available in the UK or Australia, but the US price converts to £1,150 and AU$2,200, respectively.) With 32GB of memory and a 1TB solid-state drive, not to mention an OLED display, you're getting what you pay for. A similarly configured M2 MacBook Air 13, for instance, is $1,900. A Dell XPS 13 Plus is about $1,600, while a 14-inch Samsung Galaxy Book 3 with half the memory and storage of the Asus is $1,450 (though both use a faster Intel Core i7 P-series processor). The $1,550 HP Dragonfly Pro is another option, though its display doesn't compare to the Asus. Lenovo's Yoga 9i comes closest at $1,400 (and it beat the Asus by a bit on performance, but not battery life, in our tests) but again has half the RAM and storage. All of these are heavier than this Asus too. Basically, there's nothing quite like the Zenbook S 13 OLED at its price.

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 13-inch laptop open on a window sill.

The Zenbook S 13 OLED is nearly all screen when you lift the lid.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Performance and battery life

The Intel Core U-series processor is designed for thin ultraportables like the Zenbook S 13 OLED. It's a power-sipping chip compared with Intel's P- and H-series processors, and as such, comes up short on performance compared with competitors using the latter. The Zenbook's performance is neither disappointing nor extraordinary; it's simply in line with its specs. 

What this means is the Zenbook S 13 is plenty quick for productivity tasks -- word processing, spreadsheets, creating slide presentations -- and light photo and video edits. The best part is that it's up and ready to work almost as soon as you lift the lid. Battery life is more than respectable too, coming in at exactly 11 hours on our streaming video test. Plus, it supports quick charging that can fill the battery 70% in about 50 minutes.  

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 13-inch laptop open on a table.

The lid hinge angles the rear of the laptop up to help with heat and make typing a bit more comfortable.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Keeping a laptop this thin from heating up isn't easy, though, and that's the biggest issue: If you're doing anything intensive, including streaming video or a long video chat, the bottom can get uncomfortably hot. 

The heat is concentrated in the center at the back, so it can be mostly avoided when it's on your lap. But for those who like to rest a laptop on bare legs while binging Netflix, this probably isn't the laptop for you. I used it daily on a train commute, and the heat, while noticeable, never bothered me. When you need the laptop's full power, use it on a desk.

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 13-inch laptop open on the cushion of a red chair.

It's a comfortable keyboard despite its shallow body.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Design and features

Aside from the heat, the Zenbook S 13 OLED is a perfect little travel companion. The body is thin, so it's easy to slide out of a bag in a hurry. It's so incredibly light you might forget it's in your bag when you slip it back in. 

Again, and true to Intel's Evo laptop promise, this Zenbook is up and ready for work almost immediately after you lift its lid (there's an IR camera for fast sign-ins with facial recognition). And it connects to a hotspot or other network instantly. For me, being able to quickly start and stop working is what's most important with an ultraportable like the Zenbook S 13 OLED. That, and being small, light and sturdy, which this Asus nails too. 

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 13-inch laptop closed on a table.

Asus includes a laptop sleeve, but the laptop is sturdy on its own. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

The laptop feels great in your hands, partly because of the ceramic-like treatment on its aluminum lid. The lid is stiff also, so flex isn't a concern, and the same can be said about the keyboard deck. The laptop is tested to meet US MIL-STD-810H military standards for durability, Asus says.  

Although there's not much key travel (the body is quite thin, after all), it's an overall comfortable typing experience. There are shortcut keys for screen captures, muting the mic and blocking the camera, as well as one for the MyAsus control center for adjusting everything from fan speed to sound modes to the display's color performance. The laptop's 1080p webcam and mics delivered a good video chat experience. There's intelligent noise cancellation for the mics and a handful of tools to improve video, such as motion tracking and lighting correction to help even out shadows. 

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED 13-inch laptop closed on the cushion of a red chair.

It's just a sliver of a laptop.

Josh Goldman/CNET

The OLED display is great to work on, with overall excellent color and contrast. Its max brightness tested at 375 nits, although turning on HDR drives peak brightness over 600 nits. Using a Datacolor Spyder X colorimeter for measurements, the display covered 89% of Adobe RGB and 100% DCI-P3 color gamuts. The only thing that's remotely disappointing is that it's not a touchscreen. 

For those times when you want a larger display, there's an HDMI output as well as two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports; they're both on the left side, so you're limited to charging from that side. A combo audio jack and USB-A port are on the right. The laptop's speakers can push out clear audio, aided by Dolby Atmos processing -- fine for video calls and listening to background music.

The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX 5304 is a delight to commute and travel with. 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. 

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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)

HP Dragonfly Pro 9146Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) 8809Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) 8592Lenovo Yoga Book 9i 8070Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 7999Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 7520
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 6 (multicore)

HP Dragonfly Pro 9322Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) 9303Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 8491Lenovo Yoga Book 9i 8452Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 7817
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

JetStream2 (JavaScript and WebAssembly benchmark) in Chrome

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 279.064Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) 273.275Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) 267Lenovo Yoga Book 9i 264.262Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 248.191HP Dragonfly Pro 210.031
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

HP Dragonfly Pro 12696Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) 9476Lenovo Yoga Book 9i 9393Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) 6796Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 6793Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 5348
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) 6803HP Dragonfly Pro 3790Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 3780Lenovo Yoga Book 9i 3764Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) 3736Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 3633
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro

HP Dragonfly Pro 6085Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) 5988Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 5858Lenovo Yoga Book 9i 5715Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 5093
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online video streaming battery drain test

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) 1039Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) 820Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 739Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 660Lenovo Yoga Book 9i 535HP Dragonfly Pro 449
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UX5304 Microsoft Windows 11 Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1355U; 32GB DDR5-5200; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 1TB SSD
Lenovo Yoga 7i (16-inch) Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1355U; 16GB DDR5-6400; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 512GB SSD
Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA Microsoft Windows 11 Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1255U; 116GB DDR5-6400; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 1TB SSD
HP Dragonfly Pro Windows 11 Home; 2.7GHz AMD Ryzen 7 7736U; 16GB DDR5-6400; 512MB AMD Radeon Graphics; 512GB SSD
Apple MacBook Air M2 (13-inch, 2022) Apple MacOS Monterey 12.4; Apple M2 8-core chip; 8GB LPDDR-6400; Apple 10-core GPU; 512GB SSD
Lenovo Yoga Book 9i Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-1360P; 16GB DDR5-6400; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 512GB SSD