In this review of Vivobook vs Zenbook, I will be assessing two different product lines from the portable computer company. Throughout this investigation, I will be seeing how the system specifications and pros and cons of several devices in each line stack up.
I will be taking four examples of different products from each line respectively, checking over the size, weight, power, performance, and extra features of each one. After that, I will check the pros and cons of each, and then decide at the end which is the best product for consumers (in terms of price and quality).
Both the Vivobook and Zenbook products come from ASUS, a well-established personal computing company. As of July 2020, ASUS was the sixth-largest computer company according to units sold in the entire world. It was founded in Taipei, Taiwan, by four people: T.H. Tung, Ted Hsu, Wayne Hsieh, and M.T. Liao. All four of these founders began as hardware engineers in rival company Acer (a company that currently sits just in front of ASUS as the world’s fifth-largest computer corporation).
Since its founding in 1989 by these four hardware engineers, ASUS has expanded out to desktop, mobile, and laptop hardware production, including other computing accessories like monitors, graphics cards, and optical storage devices. It has kept its hardware production strong when other companies like Acer have diversified and turned to focus more on design rather than production.
This concept seems to be working well, as it topped the 2008 Taiwanese Top Ten Brands Survey with a $1.3 billion value. Since that time, this dollar value has risen to total revenue of $354.2 billion (as of 2018) with over 5,667 different employees worldwide, all reporting back to a central headquarters in Taipei’s Beitou District.
Two of ASUS’s most profitable product lines, Vivobook and Zenbook, are the company’s offering in the rapidly expanding netbook market, and in this review, I will be finding out which product stands out the most from these new and popular products. Netbooks are aimed at those who want a cheaper, efficient, lightweight, and “legacy-free” personal computer. “Legacy-free” simply means that it lacks a floppy drive, hard disk, and old port support (like VGA ports for old SCART connections) so that the PC can be much easier to transport, use and store.
Netbooks were pioneered back in 2007, and its market declined somewhat in 2012 with the rise of iPads and larger mobile tablets. The Chromebook has put this type of personal computer back into fashion, and ASUS has done very well in adapting to meet this re-emerging market. There are several different types of each product, the main difference coming from the internal hardware supplied to each one. Since that time, this model of the highly portable, ultra-thin, and light laptop computer has become known as a “notebook computer”.
ASUS’s Vivobook products are intended to push the boundaries of the notebook laptop to the limit, minimizing weight, size, and any extra clunkiness as much as possible. ASUS sells it on the company website as “daring to be bold” – and with some of the new, smaller tech that companies can fit within netbooks, that might be true. Some of the newer Vivobook items have some surprisingly potent pieces of hardware inside, allowing for powerful operations to be undertaken by users of the laptop.
These machines are advertised primarily towards young people, adolescents, and in particular “content creators” of those specific ages. The specs seem to check out if you are one of these demographics, at least with the newer models.
In this next section, I will be examining four different Vivobooks and the respective pros and cons of each.
The Flip’s eponymous feature also allows you to switch the computer’s form, changing the alignment of the keyboard and screen in whatever way you want. This lets you use your computer wherever and whenever you want.
The ASUS Vivobook Flip 14 Series comes installed with Windows 10 Home Professional, a contemporary and potent operating system that a lot of different laptops tend to use. This is a more premium version of the Windows 10 Operating System, adding a couple of extra security and efficiency tools to the system itself.
This product also contains an impressive set of hardware specifications. In terms of processors, the 14 series comes as standard with an AMD Ryzen™ 7 4700 mobile processor. The Ryzen 7 series processor is meant to sit on par with Intel’s i7 processor, the current top tier processor being the most modern Intel i9 processors (which currently retail for nearly 500 dollars!).
The AMD Ryzen 7 4700 mobile graphics card contains some good value for money relative to Intel’s alternative offering. With 8 core processing and multiple thread utility, it can run a lot of different processes at the same time, making it a valuable feature to have within a netbook like this – it allows for “octopus-like flexibility” according to AMD’s website.
Within the ASUS Vivobook 14 Series Flip, there also sits some very powerful memory specs. Consumers can order this laptop with up to 1 terabyte of SSD storage, a very impressive statistic. A terabyte is 1,024 gigabytes, and to be made up of SSD is good for the hard drive of a machine. Solid State Drives do not degrade as quickly as hard disks, and they also boot up much, much quicker than the HDD alternatives.
Programs saved to Solid-State Drives also run much quicker, and as such the use of SSD here is beneficial. A lot of laptops will often hybridize between SSD and HDD drives to increase boot speed, but the use of full SSD here increases the value of the product a lot.
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The S15 series S530UA packs a bunch of great tools from the series I mentioned above. It also comes installed with Windows 10 Home Professional, and also sits below 20mm in width. The screen to body ratio is also similar, with a very thin bevel meaning that 86% of the body is taken up by the screen (this is relative to the 85% screen to body ratio offered by the S14 series laptop). ASUS argues that this allows for much better immersion, and a complete lack of plastic or metal cluttering your screen.
This model of the S15 series includes a couple of great features that set it apart from the other Vivobook and Zenbooks offered by ASUS. One of these excellent features is the use of the “ergo lift” design in the S530UA. This is a slight indent in the back of the machine, which means when the laptop is folded out for usage that it sits slightly elevated from the surface it is placed upon. The aim of this is twofold.
Firstly, the “ergo lift” creates a more natural typing surface, emulating the typical form of a desktop PC keyboard. A sloped typing surface is much more ergonomic for end-users, and as such it will speed up and optimize the consumer’s computer use.
Secondly, this ergo lifts technology gives the laptop’s base a 3.5-degree elevation, which vastly increases airflow and cooling fan efficiency. This effect cuts down both computer overheating and will also reduce the noise of the machine, as the fans have to work a lot less hard to provide cooling for the whole machine. Overall, an excellent tool for making a portable computer better for the end-user.
The S15 series has a larger storage space than the S14 before it, with the main storage solution being a terabyte of HDD storage. This differs from the S14 with a return to a Hard Disk Drive as a primary storage space as opposed to a Solid State Disk. The S15 S530UA utilizes a hybrid of SSD and HDD storage, using a smaller reserve of SDD memory to speed up boot times and run some programs faster.
Hybridization of SSD and HDD is a much more common feature among portable computing solutions nowadays, and it makes sense for the Vivobook to continue this tradition.
It is the biggest notebook that is offered in the Vivobook product range but still conforms to the design sensibilities of the ASUS notebooks – sleek, lightweight aesthetics coupled with decent hardware.
Not only does the Vivobook 17″ notebook have a larger screen, but it also boasts a much larger storage space and battery life than the other computers in this lineup.
The VivoBook 17 X 705MA follows the S15’s tradition of blending HDD and SSD storage solutions to increase both how much consumers can put on their laptops and also how quickly they can access and run what they have installed. The 17 X 705MA has 2 terabytes of hard disk space available, coupled with a 256 gigabyte SSD. This totals over 2256 gigabytes of storage space, a fifth of which is hyper-fast solid state disk space, for faster boot times, installation, and loading of more taxing applications and processes.
This Vivobook does not advertise its screen to body ratio like the S15 mentioned previously, but the company website does discuss the ASUS Tru2Life Video technology in its screen that optimizes each pixel of each frame of video for contrast and saturation.
It also advertises the power-saving technology, which allows for a charge to 60% battery from the notion in just 40 minutes. On average, this power-saving technology can increase the battery life of an ASUS Vivobook 17 by up to three times its normal rate!
While the Vivobook markets itself to younger consumers with less disposable income on offer to splash on personal computers, ASUS’s Zenbook series is aimed at customers who are willing to pay a larger premium for more exciting hardware.
As part of this higher price point, buyers will obviously expect higher quality and efficiency in the hardware placed within the machine. On that note, ASUS’s Zenbooks certainly deliver.
Ergo lift technology has been mentioned several times in this article, and its use here is particularly prominent. This is a 360-degree ergo lift configuration that allows users to change the form of the machine entirely, having just the screen present, the screen with a stand, or with a keyboard. The ergo lift allows for better airflow and ergonomic typing.
The Zenbook 13 series is incredibly lightweight, clocking in at only 1.3 kilograms and at only 13mm thick. This is much, much thinner than the industry standard, but still manages to fit in a few different USB and HDMI slots for a few types of connection.
In just 49 minutes, a consumer can charge this Zenbook up to 60% battery. A full charge of the machine’s battery will last the average end-user an incredible 16 hours, meaning the typical on-the-go businessperson will not have to be tied down by charging cables and power ports. It also supports USB-C easy charging, making the occasional charge the notebook will need much easier.
In what seems to be the standard of Zenbook machines offered by ASUS, this 13 series uses a terabyte of SSD storage, the most efficient and fast type possible. This SSD storage is also accompanied by a really powerful 16 gigabyte RAM, allowing for a fantastic level of multitasking even on this, one of the thinnest notebooks on the market.
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While it may not have the same level of tech as the Zenbook 15 Pro that is up next for review, it does manage to optimize its tech to maintain an impressive 1.19kg weight.
The Zenbook 14 series bring an interesting innovation to the mousepad of notebooks. The “Screenpad” is a new interactive touch screen located where a mousepad usually is, allowing for much more efficient use of several different apps. This includes programs like Microsoft Office, where you can use the mousepad to quickly change font size, type, and text style reflexively as you type.
Like the S15 Vivobook earlier in this review, ASUS’s Zenbook 14 uses “ergo lift technology” that elevates and slopes the laptop when it is unfolded for typing. Not only does this provide a 3-degree slope, but also elevates the fans on the machine for better airflow. This feature differs from the earlier Vivobook by a slightly less elevation (0.5-degree elevation loss), but that makes sense with the sleeker design one pays for with the Zenbook Series.
Another feature that differentiates the 14 series Zenbook from its Vivobook counterparts is the use of “bac-guard” tech, which is intended to sanitize the keyboard. The keyboard is the most common contact point on a laptop or notebook, so keeping that regularly clean is a great feature, especially in the current health crisis.
One interesting feature that separates this Zenbook from the others offered by ASUS is that it is only offered in one color, which is “pine grey” – a sleek, dark silver. Most ASUS laptops advertise different, vibrant colors on offer for their systems, but this one does not.
It again comes with the standard Windows 10 Home Professional, an 11th generation Intel i7 processor, and Iris X integrated graphics. There is a terabyte of pure SSD storage, alongside 16GB of RAM, which is essential for quick and optimized multi-tasking.
ASUS’s Zenbook Pro 15 packs some serious hardware. Stacked with top tier processors and graphics cards from industry leaders like Intel and NVidia, the Pro 15 is capable of giving a decent mid-tier desktop PC a run for its money.
One of the most powerful tools included in the S15 Pro is the product’s eight-generation i9 processor. The i9 is Intel’s most up to date processor and appears as a mainstay in a lot of powerful desktop PCs as well as in ASUS’s Vivobook S15 Pro. i9 processors boast the first 6 cores and 12 threads within an Intel mobile CPU, allowing for efficient multitasking on the laptop. It also allows for a “turbo boost” of up to 4.59GHz (compared to the 3GHz seen usually in laptops of this size) – putting the S15 Pro at 1.07 times faster than 2018’s MacBook Pro 15″, and up to 1.3 times faster than ASUS’s previous S15 model.
The S15 Pro also contains something most others in the new netbook market do not – a dedicated graphics card. Two products listed here from the Vivobook line have used the internal graphics contained within the processors they come with, the S14 keying off AMD’s inbuilt Ryzen graphics, and the other S15 we have considered uses the onboard Intel graphics processing unit.
The S15 Pro UX580GD series comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, a graphics card that performs nearly twice as fast as the previous standard for laptop gaming, the GeForce 930M. What we see here is the Vivobook products having lower-end hardware components than the Zenbook line.
Having tried different machines with both models of a graphics card, I can attest that the difference is night and day. The GTX 1050 not only allows for flawless processing and display of modern gaming titles like The Outer Worlds and No Man’s Sky, but it also allows for far better optimization of video, audio, and 3D graphics editing and rendering. If you are a content creator on the go, having a tool like this is essential in a laptop.
There is no one clear “winner” in the comparison between these two product lines. However, if we consider the main point of a notebook laptop: a compromise between the best hardware you can get for a smaller, lighter machine, then I would argue that the much higher tier of quality available at the slightly higher premium of the Zenbook range is worth the money.
Although the 15 Series Pro has by far and away from the most impressive specifications of the Zenbook range, I would recommend the ASUS Zenbook 14 UX435EA. For me, this model strikes the best balance between price, size, weight, and performance, with a few pieces of extra technology that make it even more worth the price.
In conclusion, this review has found that the Zenbook 14 stands out the most among the other products in ASUS’s range. This is due to how it strikes the perfect balance that seems to be the overall aim and ethos of notebook laptops, making it this review’s number 1 choice.
On the other hand, the Vivobook line offers some excellent budget solutions for the problems that the notebook market attempts to solve in the portable computer scene.
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