Asus Vivobook S 14X review: Beautiful display, disappointing performance

Asus Vivobook S 14X front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.

Asus Vivobook S 14X

MSRP $1.00

“The Asus Vivobook S 14X has disappointing performance and battery life, offsetting the incredible 120Hz OLED display.”

Pros

  • Solid productivity performance
  • Spectacular 120Hz OLED display
  • Good keyboard and touchpad
  • Conservative good looks

Cons

  • Inconsistent performance overall
  • Poor battery life
  • Build quality is subpar

OLED laptops are not only becoming more common, they’re now even getting faster.

The new Vivobook S 14X (S5402) from Asus is the first OLED laptop to include a blistering 120Hz refresh rate. That’s pretty noteworthy, especially for a laptop in Asus’ budget to mid-range line.

I reviewed the high-end Vivobook S 14X configuration, $1,100 for a Core i7-12700H CPU and a 14.5-inch 2.8K (2,880 x 1,800) 120Hz OLED display. It’s an odd machine in that it features a fast, 45-watt CPU without a corresponding discrete GPU, relying instead on the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. The display is indeed spectacular, but my enthusiasm was tempered by this Vivobook’s inconsistent performance and cooling.

Design

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Simple lines and a minimalist aesthetic. That seems to describe so many laptops lately that I feel like I could cut and paste from one review to another. The Vivobook S 14X fits that description as well, with just a few exceptions. Its chassis is one solid color, with no chrome accents and only a new, more elaborate Vivobook logo adorning the lid. Color choices include Midnight Black (my review unit), Sand Grey, and Solar Silver.

The keyboards are color-matched, which is a nice look, and a vent along the left-hand side lends some aggressiveness to the design. Otherwise, the angles are pedestrian, and overall, the aesthetic is quite conservative. Two other touches stand out on the keyboard, namely a red Esc key and white stripes along the bottom of the Enter key — although frankly, those look odd and unnecessary. The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon is another simply designed 14-inch laptop, while the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 stands out with a rounded and much more stylish look.

The 14.5-inch display is an unusual size, making the Vivobook S 14X slightly larger than others.

The Vivobook S 14X is constructed entirely of aluminum except for plastic display bezels that stand out as less than premium. There’s some bending in the lid and flexing in the keyboard deck, making the chassis feel less than rigid. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 is a much more solid laptop, as is the Yoga 9i Gen 7, but of course, both of those are significantly more expensive than the Vivobook. And it’s not that the Asus feels cheap; it’s just not as solid as I like to see in a laptop over $1,000.

The 14.5-inch display is an unusual size, making the Vivobook S 14X slightly larger than other 14-inch class laptops. Its bezels are small on the sides and on top, but the bottom chin is large and that adds some size as well. For example, it’s about half an inch wider and taller than the IdeaPad Sim 7 Carbon while being thicker at 0.70 inches versus 0.59 inches and heavier at 3.53 pounds versus 2.4 pounds. The IdeaPad is a very thin and light 14-inch laptop, though, so let’s compare it to the Yoga 9i Gen 7.

In that case, the Vivobook is again about half an inch wider and taller, and the Yoga 9i Gen 7 is 0.60 inches thick and weighs 3.09 pounds. The Vivobook S 14X isn’t the smallest, lightest, or thinnest laptop in its class, but even so, it doesn’t feel overly large or heavy.

Ports

The Vivobook S 14X enjoys a solid selection of modern and legacy ports. On the left-hand side is a single USB-A 2.0 port. On the right-hand side are two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The only glaring omission is an SD card reader, which would have been welcome.

Wireless connectivity is up to date with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

Performance

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Up to now, every laptop we’ve reviewed with the 45-watt, 14-core (6 Performance and 8 Efficient), 20-thread Intel Core i7-12700H has been equipped with a discrete GPU. The Vivobook S 14X is the first we’ve seen that relies exclusively on integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. At the same time, every other thin-and-light 14-inch Intel 12th-gen laptop we’ve looked at has used the 28-watt, 12-core (4 Performance and 8 Efficient), 16-thread Core i7-1260P. That makes the Vivobook an outlier on a couple of fronts.

I can imagine what Asus was trying to do: Provide a faster CPU for tasks that can utilize it while minimizing power and heat by skipping a discrete GPU. The problem is that despite its IceCool thermal technology with dual fans and heat pipes, the Core i7-12700H throttled during every benchmark with temperatures reaching as high as 97 degrees C (still less than the chip’s 100 degrees C maximum) and CPU frequencies often dipping down below 1GHz. As a result, the Vivobook S 14X’s performance was inconsistent and, in some cases, downright bad for the class of CPU.

For example, it was the slowest laptop in our comparison group running Geekbench 5, with only the Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED being slower in single-core mode with its 8-core/16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 6800U. In fact, the Vivobook was much slower than even the Core i7-1260P laptops in the table below. I’ll also note that the Asus thermal tuning utility wasn’t terribly effective, with performance mode offering only modest increases over balanced mode but with very loud fans. I’ve reported results from both modes.

The powerful, 45-watt chip seemed wasted on the Vivobook S 14X.

In our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, the Vivobook S 14X was slower than the other Core i7-12700H machines and more in line with those running the Core i7-1260P. Its Cinebench R23 score was faster, still behind the other laptops with the same CPU but at least within the same range. And then, it scored a little low on the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark that tests a variety of productivity, multimedia, and creative tasks. Only the Dell XPS 15 9520 was slower (an unusually low score for that laptop).

Finally, I ran the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that uses a live version of Adobe Premiere Pro. That benchmark leverages discrete GPUs, so we don’t typically test machines with integrated graphics. But I was interested to see how the Vivobook would perform. In a word, its performance was abysmal. It scored just 190 in balanced mode and dropped significantly to 137 in performance mode. That compares to the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 with a Core i7-1260P and Iris Xe graphics that scored 265 in balanced mode and 332 in performance mode. Laptops with discrete GPUs tend to score 700 or more in this benchmark. It seemed like the Vivobook was severely throttled in this real-world test.

Overall, the 45-watt chip seemed wasted on the Vivobook S 14X. Yes, its Cinebench scores were decent, but its Handbrake scores were mediocre and its Pugetbench results were terrible. It’s a fast enough laptop for productivity workloads, but it’s not a creator’s laptop. And as we’ll see below, there was a price to pay in efficiency.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Complete
Asus Vivobook S 14X
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,595 / 6,692
Perf: 1,681 / 7,175
Bal: 113
Perf: 102
Bal: 1,757 / 10,339
Perf: 1,792 / 12,051
5,378
Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,699 / 12,042
Perf: N/A
Bal: 94
Perf: 82
Bal: 1,793 / 12,045
Perf: N/A
6,242
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,470 / 9,952
Perf: 1,714 / 11,053
Bal: 100
Perf: 77
Bal: 1,509 / 11,578
Perf: 1,806 / 13,313
4,940
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
1,650 / 8,080
Perf: 1,621 / 8,544
116
Perf: 120
1,587 / 7,682
Perf: 1,611 / 8,078
5,537
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7

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