Asus, not long ago has announced a series of laptops with the latest gen processors, and the Vivobook S S14 (M433) is one in the lot. The Vivobook series is generally meant for its ultra-thin form factors along with portability, and the Vivobook S S14 is no exception. It’s a 14-inch laptop with AMD Ryzen 5000 series and Radeon graphics under the hood, which is in for review. I have used this laptop for a little over two weeks now. And, thus far, my experience with it has been good enough to share with you my thoughts with this full review.
Asus Vivobook S S14 (M433) — Design and Display
Asus says that this particular laptop is meant to comfort Gen Z, especially the younger audience when it comes to design. It has a lightweight chassis made of aluminium alloy that measures less than 16mm and weighs 1.4kg, on the whole, which is comfortable for a clamshell laptop. This portability had me move around instead of sticking to an office desk though we’re in a work from home scenario. I found myself using it across my home, be it on the couch, a dining table or a verandah, for that matter. With this convenience, I certainly think there wouldn’t be an issue in carrying along in a backpack, or as Asus says, a messenger backpack.
To make the design more appealing, again for the Gen Z customers, the Vivobook S S14 is offered in four colour variants: Resolute Red, Dreamy White, Indie Black, and Gia Green. Our review unit is a Dreamy White, which is hard to take care of; any other colour in the lot, however, would tackle that problem quite swiftly. That does not mean the variant which I have is disagreeable; I loved it. It looks clean (if kept clean); there’s Asus Vivobook branding up top, which is minimal.
Moving on to the sides, the ultra-thin laptop has significant ports overall. It equips two USB Type-A ports (USB 2.0) on the right coupled with a microSD card reader, a microphone, and a battery indicator. On the left, you can find a DC-in, another USB Type-A port (USB 3.2 Gen 1), an HDMI port, and USB Type-C port (USB 3.2 Gen 1), and lastly, a 3.5mm audio jack.
The Vivobook S S14 has a 14-inch FHD panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Asus says it’s a NanoEdge display, meaning you get significantly thinner bezels on three sides and a conventional bezel up top, equipping a web camera. The slimmer bezels have given me an immersive experience: the screen to body ratio of the display settles at 85%, and you have a 178-degree wide-viewing angle. I haven’t had any issue sharing the screen with a couple of others while watching content, nor any complaints from their end.
Speaking of immersive experience, the display on the Vivobook gets bright enough (up to 250 nits). I encountered using the display with minimal brightness indoors, which felt sufficient to me. And, with full brightness, the outdoor experience has also been relatively good as the anti-glare comes into play. The display is great to binge-watch content, be it YouTube or Netflix; the colour reproduction is decent enough on this bright display, for sure. Besides working on it like browsing or playing games, for instance, I caught myself at ease.
Under the display, you can find a full-sized keyboard enclosed in an aluminium chassis, which has a diamond-cut design throughout, wherein we have a somewhat shiny aluminium colour tone. The keyboard here is a backlit one with three different levels of brightness adjustment, which is handy given you end up in a darker working environment. The full-size keyboard has been a joy to type on. I found myself speed up in typing comparatively — thanks to the chiclet-style and ample amount of key travel. Since it’s meant for Gen Z’s again, Asus has added a yellow borderline for the ‘Enter’ key, it is not annoying, but it’s there. Under the power on/off button, the keyboard has incorporated separate keys for home/page up/page down/end keys; instead of cramping them into arrow keys.
Then there’s a trackpad, which also embraces a fingerprint sensor. It is fast, secure, and saves time logging into Windows 10 Home, which the Vivobook ships with out of the box. On the other hand, the trackpad is decent and works as anticipated, but I felt it was slightly cramped, which I think is still acceptable given the compact design the laptop offers.
All in all, the Vivobook S14 here features a sturdy build, portable form factor, a bright enough display, generous amount of ports, nicely functional trackpad with fingerprint sensor, and a well-built keyboard, an edgy design, which doesn’t get hard on the sides. Besides, if you’re into customising this laptop as per your taste, Asus also provides additional stickers, which can glue to the top. I haven’t used them as I was happy with a cleaner look.
Asus Vivobook S S14 (M433) — Performance
As mentioned earlier, the Vivobook S S14 unit comes equipped with AMD Ryzen 5 5500U 2.1GHz processor with promised boost speeds of up to 4.1GHz. It is accompanied by AMD Radeon integrated graphics. Besides, the laptop’s got 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a generous 1TB PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD. My regular workload as a writer includes continuous browsing throughout the day with at least 10-15 Chrome tabs running in the background. Then there would be the utilisation of Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Teams, and all day.
Moreover, I am used to most web apps, be it WhatsApp, Telegram or photo editing apps. Over the weekend, I have used the laptop regularly to binge-watch on OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime video around the house — again, thanks to its portability. The Vivobook S S14 handled these tasks without breaking any sweat.
However, not everything is captivating on this laptop. For example, the Vivobook did get heated up with a little over occasional gaming. Again, not any higher-end titles but casual games like Asphalt. With the integrated graphics, the gameplay, however, has been smooth. Besides, there is this tool named ‘MyAsus’ wherein you can find the system stats, info, and a couple of other tweaks like ASUS Intelligent Performance Technology: with which you can choose the laptop how to tackle based on either performance/balance/whisper mode. Selecting either one of them would customise the thermals, power parameters and optimise the performance based on your needs.
Users have to bear in mind this might vary in battery backup based on the options you select. I caught up using whisper mode and balance more often for my workload, which worked quite effortlessly. The tool also offers customisations for the laptop connectivity, audio, including power & performance tweaks.
For connectivity, apart from the generous I/O mentioned above, it features Wi-Fi 6 and supports Bluetooth 5.0. I haven’t noticed any problems in terms of connectivity, but I often shift to a Bluetooth Logitech mouse whenever I feel the trackpad is cramped or for convenience in general. During the initial testing period, I found the connectivity with the external mouse struggling a bit even after pairing, especially when the laptop wakes up from sleep. This, however, has stopped after I manually updated the integrated Intel’s Bluetooth drivers.
The Vivobook S S14 features speakers with Harman/ Kardon certification, placed underneath the laptop on either side. The audio quality has been great in a mildly quiet room or sometimes outdoors too. Their placement would have been ideal if they were on top or either side of the keyboard.
Because the audio output was only loud and clear when placed on a proper flat desk, and chances of getting muted or muffled were often witnessed when using it in a relaxed state such as on a couch, lap or bed, during a binge-watch. The integrated microphone can be considered good quality as I haven’t faced any issues during my regular team conference calls sessions.
Speaking of calls, there’s a 720p HD camera built-in on the top bezel, which is serviceable for conference calls with a team or casual calls with family/friends. Having a privacy shutter button would be beneficial for those who are concerned about their privacy.
The Vivobook S S14 laptop ships with a mediocre 50Wh 3-cell battery underneath. Again, it offered me a good 6-7 hours of battery life for my use case. This is quite fair considering the form factor. Another good thing I would say is the ability to quickly charge the battery up to 60% in less than an hour (<50 minutes), which would easily last a day for lighter use. The MyAsus further provides customisations on charging your battery based on full capacity or balanced or maximum lifespan mode.
So, the Asus Vivobook S S14 (M433), who is it for? It retails at Rs 65,990 in India. For the price, you get a premium looking laptop, which is portable enough to carry around, does all the professional work; battery lasts you a day of working hours with lighter use like browsing, editing docs/sheets and content streaming; has a decent typing experience, fingerprint authentication.
So, the laptop is recommended for working professionals who often rely on these tasks throughout the day. It can easily be suggested for students who are unfortunately bound to online classes due to the pandemic. It can be a burden for them as the price is on a heftier side; nonetheless, it would be a good investment for the long term ❑