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Superlight Asus ZenBook S 13 unveiled

At 1kg in weight and 1cm thick the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is one of the lightest laptops around, but it’s pricey

Asus has taken the wraps off its latest premium ultrabook offering – the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED – a laptop that aims to take on the M2 MacBook Air in more ways than one.

The headline is how thin and light the laptop is, at 1kg and 1cm thin when closed, but there’s plenty else to like about the new machine, including an all-new Plasma Ceramic finish and impressive-on-paper 2.8K 120Hz OLED display.

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Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED: Specifications, price and release date

  • 13.3in, 16:10, 120Hz 2,880 x 1,800 resolution OLED display with 100% DCI-P3 and Dolby Vision certification
  • 13th Gen Intel Core i7-1355U or Core i5-1335U CPU
  • Up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM
  • Up to 1TB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
  • 63Wh battery
  • 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, 1x 3.5mm headset jack
  • Magnesium alloy chassis
  • Weight: 1kg
  • Dimensions: 296 x 216 x 10mm (WDH) when closed
  • Price: From £1,500
  • Availability: Q2 2023 

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED: Key features and first impressions

The highlight of the Zenbook S13 OLED looks to be Asus’ latest generation of “Lumina” OLED displays.

The Lumina OLED display on this machine certainly looks good on paper. It has a sharp resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 pixels and full coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut, a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and an impressive peak brightness of 550cd/m², along with support for Dolby Vision.

And with Samsung currently holding the title of best screen we’ve ever seen on a laptop with the Galaxy Book3 Ultra, it’s good to see that Asus is calibrating the display on the new Zenbook in the factory. Indeed, it says the screen delivers an average Delta E of less than one across sRGB, DCI-P3 and Display P3 colour modes — an impressive feat.

Despite slim dimensions that undercut the M2 MacBook Air by quite some margin, the Zenbook S 13 OLED hosts a generous-looking selection of ports and sockets around its perimeter. Somehow, Asus has managed to squeeze in a full-size HDMI 2.1 output here, alongside two Thunderbolt 4 ports and one USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 connection for legacy devices, as well as a 3.5mm headset jack.

There’s also a 63Wh battery squeezed in here – again, that’s impressively large for such a slim and light laptop, although I would be surprised if it matched the MacBook Air for stamina.

Asus was keen to promote its new-fangled Plasma Ceramic finish at the launch event. Instead of a plating, this is a chemical process that alters the properties of the exterior surfaces so they mimic the look and feel of ceramic.

Asus says the process leads to improved wear durability, increased hardness and better resistance to corrosion. It also claims the process uses less energy and resources than a coating would. This year’s Zenbook S 13 OLED also makes use of more recycled materials than last year’s laptop, reducing the machine’s carbon footprint by a claimed 50%.

Inside the chassis, meanwhile, there’s the expected upgrade to 13th gen Intel silicon with the choice of either the Core i5-1335U or Core i7-1355U CPUs, up to 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. Interestingly, although these are low-power 15W CPUs, Asus says they can run at up to 20W in performance mode thanks to an improved cooling system that incorporates an extra fan over last year’s model.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts performance over the standard CPUs in other lightweight laptops, but don’t expect performance to match the 28W CPUs featured in laptops such as the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best laptops to buy in the UK today

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED: Early verdict

If the Zenbook S 13 OLED can live up to its promise, it looks an impressive machine on paper. That display could rival the very best, the number of ports gives it a practicality rarely seen on such ultraportable laptops, and I’m keen to see how that ceramic finish looks and feels in the metal.

The only two concerns I have are over the relatively low-power CPUs (although Asus has attempted to mitigate this with its 20W performance mode and improved thermal design) and relatively high prices, which start at £1,500.

The Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED will be available from Q2 2023. Watch this space for the full review.

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