Tech Review: Asus Zenbook Flip 14 UX461: Pretty on the inside

“In search of incredible,” reads Asus’ current company tagline. Incredible isn’t really the word one reaches for when pulling the Asus Zenbook Flip 14 from its box — its the same brushed metal shell Asus have come to favour among the laptops that make up their professional kit. Where the Flip 14 really excels is in what it has under the hood. Its rather bland exterior belies a machine I’ve rather fallen in love with.

It would be pretty easy to write the Flip 14 off as yet another convertable laptop PC in a market already crowded beyond the point of saturation. We know how they work by now. In the year of our lord 2018, they’re everywhere. Folding the screen backward or tilting it up lets you use the Flip 14 as a very solid laptop or as a Windows 10 tablet that could be charitably described as a Beefcake

Like every other convertible laptop, it also packs a stylus into the box in case you’d like to use it as an artist’s tablet. I struggle to put words on a page without the benefit of a keyboard and so am probably not the best person to ask about using a stylus. I can tell you that trying it out here revealed it to be a workable but not overly desirable way to use the machine. Also, there’s no way to keep the stylus and the laptop together, no port you can slot the stylus into while you’re using it so make peace with the idea that the stylus is going to go missing at some point and you’ll never find it again.

Anyway, back to the aforementioned point which was that it’s what is inside that counts.

The UX 461 lets you choose your own adventure with one of two chipsets — Core i5-8250U or Core i7-8550U. Really, choosing either of these will provide you with more than enough grunt to handle most workday tasks. To make good and sure of this, Asus have also dropped in 16GB worth of LPDDR3 memory and a 512GB SSD via an M.2 slot. For those who don’t speak tech spec, that’s pretty crazy performance potential for a laptop in this price range.

If this model has a weak point among its hardware cluster, its the graphics chip. My review unit, the same one available at retail here in Aus, was only pulling Intel 620 integrated graphics while the same unit in the US has the option of a dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX150 laptop GPU. This means the laptop doesn’t display in 4K, now generally the standard in this league of convertible laptop, which puts Asus a bit behind the 8-ball. Given how upright and proud the rest of these specs are, its a shame to see Asus play themselves like this in the Australian market.

On top of the graphics disappointment, the local price point might be enough to ward interested parties away too. RRP on a model with the specs outlined above and a 256GB SSD is about $1800AUD. The same machine sells in the States for $900 USD (or, as it stands at the time of writing, a bit over $1100 AUD). As a result, I can see grey importers doing a roaring trade on this one.

Even if you’re not fussed and keen to pick a Flip 14 up from a local retailer, its still a pretty attractive price point even at $2000 AUD. Similar spec among competitors routinely gets up toward the $3000 mark so even if you do go with Aus retail on this one, you might still be coming out ahead in the spec arms race.

For the handful of issues I have with with it, as I said earlier, I’ve kind of fallen in love with the little guy. It’s a nimble PC that is extremely comfortable to write on (this might not be important for you but it’s paramount for me) and it’s remarkably lightweight for its size considering the glass touchscreen. My own laptop is a 13″ and its surprising what a difference that extra inch of screen real estate makes in readability.

In the end, while I have my problems with the Australian version of the Flip 14, if you’re looking for a work machine with a whole lot of power behind it but aren’t fussed about graphics then this is the machine you need.

Score: 8.0 out of 10
Highlights: Great spec; Greed speed; Great size
Lowlights: Not the same model as the gruntier US equivalent
Manufacturer: Asus
Price: $1799 AUD
Available: Now

Reviewed conducted on a loaned retail unit provided by the manufacturer.