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The best feature on this Asus laptop is the one you'll stare at the least

The Asus Vivobook S14 looks tough with its sharp, angular design. Yet it's easy on the hands thanks to a spectacular keyboard.
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer
Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

    • The $1,200 Asus Vivobook S14 boasts a striking, metallic design that houses a high-performing and comfortable keyboard.
    • In addition to the keyboard, this laptop sports great performance and an OLED display that can output a gorgeous array of colors.
    • The Vivobook S14 can run a little hot, despite Asus' best efforts.

I always appreciate laptop manufacturers that try something different. After all, it can be tough for computers to stand out in a sea of other great machines. The market has been flooded with high-end, 14-inch laptops. Asus' Vivobook S14 stands out by opting for a more aesthetically bold design than you might expect. And the laptop's sleek design is backed up by solid hardware performance and a fantastic keyboard.

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The Vivobook S14 OLED has a very angular form factor. The ports on the side are flush with the laptop's edge, and there is a noticeable dip separating the inputs. The keys have a blocky shape, with corners that are sharper than the chiclet-style keys you might see on other Chromebooks. Over in the corner of the keyboard, the bright orange ESC key stands out, contrasting with the matte black coloring of the body. The Asus Vivobook name juts out on a small ridge at the back of the display. 

Put everything together and you have a laptop with a strikingly sharp design. I personally like this look a lot, although I can see some people not being a fan of all the angles. 

View at Best Buy

As good as first impressions were, it's not enough for a laptop to walk the walk. It also needs to talk the talk, which means having the performance to back everything up -- and I can say with confidence that this machine certainly delivers. 

Asus has implemented an ErgoSense keyboard for the Vivobook S14, which provides several benefits. Each key cap has an indentation of 0.2mm, which guides your fingers directly to the contact point in the middle. The keys themselves have a travel distance of 1.4mm -- you don't have to press the keys with much force for the input to be read; a slight touch is all you need. Finally, the distance between the middle point of one key to the next is 19.05mm, which is the same as a full-sized keyboard. 

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Believe me when I say that a good keyboard makes a big difference. In the long run, you'll find that your hands aren't sore from typing for hours. Plus, the backlighting illuminates the keyboard well and comes with multiple levels of brightness.

Looking up, you have a gorgeous OLED screen that provides a 2880 x 1800 pixel resolution display. This high-quality screen is pushed further, thanks to the Vivobook S14's support of the entire DCI-P3 gamut, which results in lovely saturated colors. I watched a couple of animated moves on Disney Plus during testing and it was a feast for the eyes -- Coco had never looked so vibrant. 

Asus Vivobook S14 OLED
Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

Additionally, I really liked the fact that the bezels surrounding the screen were super thin, even at the top. This small feature can make a display seem larger than it is. And despite the small amount of room at the top, the webcam does not suffer -- it shoots video in 1080p resolution, so you'll always look your best in calls.

Under the hood, my review unit came equipped with a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900H processor and 16GB RAM for a great all-round performance. I never experienced a significant slowdown during my time with the Vivobook S14, not even when I had over 50 tabs open and multiple videos playing at once.

Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

To maintain performance and reduce heat, Asus has equipped the Vivobook S14 with its IceCool thermal technology, which consists of two heat pipes and an 87-blade fan. Vents are on the side and bottom of the laptop. The device also sits on a pair of rubber stands to ensure proper airflow. This setup works well, for the most part. The keyboard does get warm, especially at the bottom, since that's where two of the bigger vents are located. Having this device on your lap can feel pretty uncomfortable as your legs get blasted by the heat.

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Another thing to note is that the machine's battery life is just passable. I tested the laptop by running a non-stop YouTube video at 720p and 50% brightness until it died. The Vivobook S14 lasted about six hours before it went completely dark. So don't expect the laptop to last you through a full day of tasks without needing to charge it in between. I should mention that this test took place without Battery Saver. Having that feature turned on will extend the battery life, even if it's only by a little.

ZDNET's buying advice

I highly recommend the Asus Vivobook S14 OLED if you're looking for a new work laptop and typing comfort is a priority. The device delivers on multiple fronts, including its stunning OLED display, solid performance, and a keyboard that's easy on the hands. There isn't much in the way of configuration. You only get one processor and one color option -- midnight black. This shade looks nice, but I'd love to see other colors to further personalize the system.

You can purchase the Vivobook S14 off Best Buy for $1,200. You also have the option to buy the Vivobook S15, which is almost identical to the S14 model but has a bigger 15.6-inch display.

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