ASUS claims it has the thinnest bezels around, measuring 2.5mm thick. They're certainly slim, though Dell's latest XPS 13 is a fraction of an inch thinner, and it has the advantage of a Dolby Vision display option. There's a slightly raised notch at the top of the S13's screen to fit in the webcam. It gives the laptop a unique silhouette that I dig, but I've heard from plenty of people who find it ugly. That notch also gives you an easy way to open up the S13, but it seems like you're just asking for fingerprint smudges on the camera.
Unfortunately, the webcam stinks when it actually comes to capturing video and taking photos. Everything just looks muddy and lifeless, with very little detail. If you actually care about the quality of your video chats, you'll want to invest in a separate webcam here.
What's really exciting about this laptop, though, is ASUS managed to cram in dedicated NVIDIA graphics. It's not the powerful GTX and RTX hardware we're seeing on true gaming laptops, but the MX150 GPU in the S13 is a huge leap over integrated graphics found on Intel's CPUs, which can barely play any games.
The MX150 has been showing up in notebooks since it launched in 2017, including last year's Zenbook 13 and Razer Blade Stealth. But those machines all weighed closer to 3 pounds -- while the S13 is only a bit lighter, it's still a notable achievement for ASUS.
While playing Overwatch in 1080p, I saw between 40 and 50 frames per second with medium graphics. And when I dropped the graphics down to a lower quality setting, the framerate jumped up to between 60 and 70 FPS. I eventually settled on a slightly lower 1600 x 900 resolution with medium settings for the best balance performance and graphics quality and saw a steady 70FPS -- it looked good and played smoothly. Overwatch is so well optimized that it's playable even with integrated graphics, but not nearly as well as the S13.
Of course, most gaming notebooks these days can get you upwards of 100 FPS in Overwatch at 1080p, but they all weigh upwards of four and a half pounds. The ZenBook S13 clocks in at about half that weight. It's a solid choice for anyone looking for a light machine that can still give them a frag fix. The system choked a bit on more complex games, though. I only saw between 24 to 30 FPS in Forza Horizon 4 at 720p, no matter the graphics settings. In Destiny 2, it was more playable, reaching 35 to 50 FPS in 720p. Still, if it's fast enough for Overwatch, the S13 should be more than enough for less demanding titles like The Sims 4.
| ||PCMark 7 ||PCMark 8 (Creative Accelerated) ||3DMark (Sky Diver) ||ATTO (top reads/writes) |
|ASUS ZenBook S13 (Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA MX150) ||6,428 ||5,218 ||9,099 ||1.6 GB/s / 1.3 GB/s |
|HP Spectre Folio (Core i7-8500Y, Intel UHD 615) ||4,852 ||3,550 ||2,236 ||1.4 GB/s / 601 MB/s |
|Surface Laptop 2 (Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD 620) ||5,856 ||4,367 ||3,977 ||1.5 GB/s / 781 MB/s |
|Dell XPS 13 (2018, Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD 620) ||6,438 ||4,918 ||2,446 ||3.1 GB/s / 527 MB/s |
|Alienware m15 (2018) (2.2GHz - 4.1Ghz Intel i7-8750H, NVIDIA GTX 1070 Max-Q) ||6,276 ||5,293 ||35,991 ||2.56GB/s / 432MB/s |
Since the Zenbook S13 handled some games easily, it had no trouble dealing with my usual workflow. That involves juggling dozens of Chrome and Edge tabs, editing huge photos, and streaming either Netflix or Spotify. Our review unit featured an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD, so it's pretty capable even without the NVIDIA GPU. Across all of our benchmarks, the S13 easily kept up with the XPS 13 and Surface Laptop 2, but thanks to the MX150 GPU it scored two to three times higher in 3DMark. (It's also clear to see just how far that graphics card lags behind the more powerful GTX 1070.)