Asus ZenBook Flip S review

Asus ZenBook Flip S specs

Price: $1,449
CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD
Display: 13.3-inch, 4K
Battery: 8:07
Size: 12 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Asus knows how to make a splash. This time, the company is making waves with the Asus ZenBook Flip S, an absolutely bewitching 2-in-1 laptop. At $1,449, it’s one of the first laptops to feature Intel’s new 11th Gen processors and integrated GPUs, which offer better overall performance thanks to the new Intel Evo standards. Plus, you get Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. However, that beautiful 4K OLED touchscreen exacts a heavy toll on battery life, which might give some mobile professionals pause. But for those looking to be on the cutting edge of mobile technology, there’s no prettier way to do it than with the Flip S. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S pricing and configurations

As of press time, there’s only one model of the Asus ZenBook Flip S available. The laptop costs $1,449 and has a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD, Intel Iris Xe Graphics and a 13.3-inch 3840 x 2160-pixel OLED touch panel.

Asus ZenBook Flip S design

The ZenBook Flip is incredibly stylish and elegant. It’s the laptop I dream of pulling out of a gorgeous Silver & Riley bag in preparation for a high-pressure business meeting. But until then, the all-aluminum laptop looks amazing, whether I’m sitting on my couch or at my Jarvis standing desk. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The majority of the notebook is done in a color Asus is calling “Jade Black with Red Copper highlights.” The lid sports Asus’ signature concentric ring pattern that emanates from the gleaming logo in the center-left. The sides of the laptop have more of that sensational copper flair. It’s diamond-cut, so it can catch every little beam of light for that requisite sparkle. My only complaint is that the aluminum is a serious fingerprint magnet. Something this pretty shouldn’t be sullied with oily prints.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Flip’s interior offers a more subtle take on the lid’s presentation. The keyboard deck is made from Jade Black aluminum but has a matte finish. The copper-lined sides add some bling that culminates toward the top of the deck, showing off the pair of 360-degree hinges. The keyboard resides in a slightly recessed deck and the black keys have copper lettering to match the overall aesthetic. The palm rest is slightly raised and houses a massive touchpad.

I’m going to need Asus to work on shrinking the display bezels –– they look downright fat compared to Dell and HP’s efforts of late. Particularly the chin that Asus tried to pretty up with a glossy Asus ZenBook emblem.

But back to the 360-degree hinges. The pair allows the laptop to smoothly transform from a traditional clamshell to a tablet, to presentation mode and back. Asus also added its ErgoLift hinge to the design, which raises the keyboard deck up 3 degrees for a more comfortable typing experience. 

At 2.7 pounds, the 12 x 8.3 x 0.6-inch Flip weighs just as much as the 13-inch HP Spectre x360 (2.7 pounds, 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches). However, its lighter than both the Dell XPS 13 (2.8 pounds, 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches) and the MacBook Pro (3.1 pounds, 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches).

Asus ZenBook Flip S security

The Flip is a little light on the security front. The webcam is Windows Hello compliant for visual logins and the laptop includes a lock key for the Fn row. It’s not much, but it ensures that when the lock is enabled, no one can physically turn on your webcam. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S ports

With such a slim frame, the Flip doesn’t have a lot of room for ports but Asus made it work. On the right, you have a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port and the power button. On the left, you’ll find a full HDMI 1.4 port and two Thunderbolt 4 ports, making the Flip one of the first laptops to feature the new connectivity standard. 

Although Thunderbolt 4 has the same maximum speed as Thunderbolt 3 (40Gb/s), it has some notable improvements, such as support for full data speed on cables up to 6.5 feet. The new port can also support two 4K displays or one 8K monitor.

And now for the elephant in the room. This is one of the first laptops I’ve seen that does not have a headset jack. I’m really not sure what to make of this. I mean, yes, most of my headphones these days are Bluetooth, but I never thought I’d see the day when I couldn’t plug a pair of headphones into my laptop. It’s a seriously controversial move, and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S display

Is there anything better than an OLED display? Nope. The 13.3-inch, 4K display is the motherlode of color. It made watching the The Cuban trailer that much more enjoyable as I watched actor Louis Gossett Jr.’s dark-brown skin awash in a bright red spotlight, guitar in hand ready to electrify the crowd. Although I could only see some of the detail in his gold ring, every strip in his plaid suit was crisp and easily visible. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The OLED panel registered 113.1% on the DCI-P3 color gamut test. It’s much more colorful than the 83.5% premium laptop average. None of the competing systems could match it with the XPS 13, MacBook Pro and Spectre only notching 81.3%, 80.9% and 77.4%, respectively.

However, being the most colorful doesn’t equate to being the brightest as the Flip only averaged 375 nits, missing the 382-nit category average. It was, however, brighter than the
Spectre (369 nits) but not the XPS 13 (417 nits) or the MacBook Pro (485 nits).

Asus also included its Splendid utility which allows you to adjust the panel’s color temperature by offering several presets, such as Normal, Vivid, Manual, and Eye Care modes. I prefer Vivid as it delivers the deepest hues.

I really wish Asus would think about including a stylus with its touchscreen laptops. It’s really a shame to mess up such a lovely screen with fingerprints and smudges. Nonetheless, the 10-point capacitive screen kept pace with my multitouch gestures as well as when I drew a picture of a flower in Paint. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S audio

I’m normally not a fan of bottom-mounted speakers, but the Flip really impressed me. They’re just loud enough to fill my small living and dining room. And when I used the diminutive notebook in my lap, my comfy sweatpants didn’t muffle the sound. When I listened to Leela James’ cover of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” I could hear every guitar strum and twang as well the tinkling bells that signified the transition to the bridge. I even heard the tiny crackles and pops mimicking an old-school vinyl recording. But most importantly, James’ soulful vocals were front and center, taking the song places Gwen Stefani could only dream of. 

Asus preinstalled DTS Audio Processing software which has four presets: Music, Movies, Games and Custom Audio. I found that Music gave the best performance whether I was watching movies or listening to songs on Tidal. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S keyboard

I really enjoyed typing on the Flip’s island-style keyboard. The keys are large with generous spacing and a surprising amount of feedback for such a skinny system.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I had no problems matching my 70 word-per-minute average on the 10fastfingers typing test. Despite the copper coloring of the letters on the keys, the backlighting made everything easy to see, even in a darkened workspace.

Asus ZenBook Flip S NumberPad 2.0

For such a tiny laptop, the Flip has a massive touchpad. Measuring 5.1 x 2.6 inches, the glass panel pulls double duty as a touchpad, seamlessly performing multitouch Windows 10 gestures, such as pinch-zoom, two-finger scroll and three-finger tap. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

But for those cases when you need a calculator or a Num Pad, tapping the icon in the top-right corner turns the touchpad into Asus’ NumberPad 2.0. The LED-lit device gives you a full number pad complete with mathematical symbols. The lighting has two brightness levels that can be adjusted via an icon in the top-left corner. A left-sided swipe from that icon will also launch the calculator. 

It’s a cool little add-on for people who have a lot of numbers to crunch. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S performance

So long Ice and Comet Lake, it’s time to meet Intel’s newest processor, Tiger Lake. Similar to Ice Lake, Tiger Lake is a 10-nanometer chip. However, where Ice Lake uses Intel’s Sunny Cove architecture, Tiger Lake is built on the new Willow Lake architecture, a chip layout designed to improve power efficiency and performance. Using Intel’s new SuperFin process, the company has successfully introduced higher clock speeds that Intel claims will translate into 20% better performance. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Our first introduction to Tiger Lake comes by way of the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, which has four cores, a base clock speed of 2.8 gigahertz and a max speed of 4.7GHz. For the real-world test, I launched 30 Google Chrome tabs and ran a variety of streaming services, including Netflix, Twitch, Hulu and YouTube, as well as some tabs with TweetDeck, Google Analytics and a few other work-related tools. Combined with its 16GB of RAM, the ZenBook Flip S pushed through without any noticeable latency.

However, the chip left a lot to be desired during our synthetic tests. It scored only 3,880 on Geekbench 5.0, an overall performance test, failing to match the 4,017 premium laptop average. Armed with Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPUs, the XPS 13 and Spectre got scores of 4,648 and 4,074, respectively. The MacBook Pro and its Intel Core i5 processor delivered 4,399. 

It took the Flip 22 minutes and 5 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. It’s a slower time than the 18:48 category average. The Spectre x360, XPS 13 and MacBook Pro were all faster with times of 21:13, 15:40 and 12:43, respectively. 

We also ran the PugetBench Photoshop benchmark, which loops through 21 different photoshop tasks three times per run. The Flip cruised past the 593 category average and the MacBook Pro’s 569. However, it was just short of the Spectre’s 657.

The Flip’s 1TB M.2 3.0 SSD produced a transfer rate of 1,296.2 megabytes per second, crushing the 723.2MBps average and earning itself some redemption. It also shot past the XPS 13 (512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD) and Spectre (1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD), which reached 642.5 and 312.2MBps, respectively. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S graphics

Along with the snazzy new processor, Intel also introduced a new integrated graphics chip: Iris Xe. With this new component, Intel is promising gamers can play more games at 1080p by doubling the performance of the previous generation chip.

I decided to put the claims to the test and downloaded Control. I was pleasantly surprised that the game ran, even though I was relegated to keeping the settings on low at 1080p. That meant I encountered a lot of disorienting motion blur as I made my way around the Oldest House exterminating Hiss. At the end of my run, I learned that the Flip only averaged 17 frames per second, which is below our 30-fps playability average. 

The Flip scored 16 fps on the Sid Meyer’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm 1080p benchmark, well below the 26-fps premium laptop average. With their Intel Iris Plus GPUs, the XPS 13 and MacBook Pro reached 19 and 18 fps, respectively. 

When I played Hades, the less-demanding roguelike, the notebook achieved 32 fps. 

During the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, the Flip attained 3,351, dusting the XPS 13 (2,837) and the Spectre (2,615). 

Asus ZenBook Flip S battery life

New processors typically mean better battery life. However, a 4K OLED panel is never the way to showcase that newfound longevity. The Asus ZenBook Flip S lasted 8 hours and 7 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness). That time is well short of the 9:59 premium laptop average. 

The MacBook Pro gave us a time of 10:21 while the XPS 13 tapped out at 12:39. The Spectre was the last laptop standing with a time of 13:19. Keep in mind that none of these laptops have 4K panels.

Asus ZenBook Flip S heat

The ZenBook Flip S keeps its cool…for the most part. It can get a little hot and bothered at certain points. We ran a fullscreen video for 15 minutes and then measured strategic areas of the notebook. The touchpad and center measured 83 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the bottom surpassed our 95-degree comfort threshold at 100 degrees. 

Asus ZenBook Flip S webcam

The ZenBook Flip S’ 720p camera is one of the better-integrated shooters I’ve used on a laptop. That’s thanks in part to the new ultrathin camera module with its four-element lens as well as Asus’ camera algorithm, which delivers sharper images and automatically corrects the exposure and color balance so your selfies always look well-lit. 

I was impressed with how well the webcam captured my skin tone and my orange locs, which are badly in need of some dye. The camera also did a great job of capturing the blue and white gradients in my shirt as well as the lilac of the facemask in the background.

Asus ZenBook Flip S software and warranty

The ZenBook Flip S is blissfully free of bloatware. Asus even found a way to avoid putting Candy Crush on the system. Instead, you get MyAsus where you can adjust settings for the display, battery, as well as run system diagnostics and contact tech support. The hub also includes the new ClearVoice Mic function that filters out ambient noise using four modes: Normal, Balance, Single presenter or Multi-presenter.

The laptop also ships with McAfee Personal Security in case you need extra protection against malware and the like. 

See how Asus fared on Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands our annual special reports. 

Bottom line

The $1,449 Asus ZenBook Flip S is a good showing for the future of computing according to Intel. Good, not great. Don’t get me wrong, with its stunning 4K OLED display and sublime, lightweight design, the Flip is an absolute head-turner. It’s got surprisingly powerful audio, a comfortable keyboard and solid performance. And that’s the problem. Thanks to the 4K panel and Asus going with a mid-level 11th Gen processor instead of one of the flagships, the Flip doesn’t get the chance to really shine the way you want it to against its peers. It’s a solid system for work, but with looks like this, you want more than solid. 

If you want more power and longer battery life, we recommend the Dell XPS 13. But if you want an extremely good-looking laptop with most of the bells and whistles Intel Evo has to offer, the Asus ZenBook Flip S is a good choice.



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