The budget laptop market has never been an easy one to navigate. There are plenty of cheap laptops that ring attractive price tags, but for this year, the Asus VivoBook 14 (F1402ZA-AB31 model) seems like a true winner. Of course, in the sub-$500 price range you have the Asus VivoBook 15s, Acer Aspire 5, and the Lenovo IdeaPads, but not all of them live up to their advertised features and performance.
On the other hand, Asus has remained consistent with its offering of affordable but incredibly powerful VivoBook 15 laptops for school and office work. The Asus VivoBook 15, for instance, has been our favorite budget last for two years in a row, and even with newer entry-level notebooks in the market, it still tops the charts. With the VivoBook 14, Asus is targeting the budget shopper looking for a portable, yet premium-looking laptop that will get the job done and still remain portable for daily commute.
Our review unit is the F1402ZA-AB31 model which packs a strong feature set at a very reasonable price. Budget laptops, as you might already know, often seem like they’re too good to be true, and the idea that you can get solid performance to carry you through a few years at a bargain is quite enticing.
In the case of the latest refresh of the Asus VivoBook 14, you’re paying less money for decent performance, almost all-day battery life, and a premium-like aesthetic. Well, the 12th Gen Intel Core i3-1215U chip with 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD storage may not sound like much, but they’ll be better than what you get from Chromebooks and other budget notebooks with underwhelming Celeron processors.
Asus VivoBook 14 Specs
- CPU: Intel Core i3-1215U
- GPU: Intel UHD
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128GB SSD
- Display: 14.0-inch, 1920 x 1080
- Size: 12.79 x 8.42 x 0.78 inches
- Weight: 3.09 pounds
Design and Features
The Asus VivoBook 14 features a sleek design with a plastic chassis that’s “Quiet Blue”, though this one stands out from the preceding Asus VivoBook that had a dull black chassis. The Blue look continues into the deck, with a decent-sized keyboard that features ErgoSense backlighting and a touchpad with a fingerprint sensor activated via Windows Hello. It’s not common to see a backlit keyboard at this price range, but with Asus, you can expect lots of extras, the price notwithstanding.
One thing you’ll notice is, with its Quiet Blue chassis, the Asus F1402ZA-AB31 doesn’t look like a budget laptop, and despite its plastic build and relative lightness – just 3.09 lbs and 0.78 inches thick, it’s lighter than the Acer Aspire 5 and HP 15 (3.8 pounds and 4.4 pounds, respectively) – it feels well put together in its overall design and construction.
On the inside, the VivoBook 14 gets a backlit chiclet keyboard that’s fitted to the rest of the laptop just like you’d find on Asus’s premium models. The large trackpad sits flush on the wrist without being too obtrusive, and it even has the already-mentioned fingerprint scanner for locking up your system.
As with all recent Asus notebooks, the VivoBook 14 features the signature ErgoLift Hinge that angles the keyboard so that it’s raised a bit for more comfortable typing when seated on a desk, and the 180-degree hinge allows for seamless screen sharing with colleagues. ErgoLift is a feature carried over from some Asus ROG gaming laptops and does a good job of increasing ergonomics on the go. It’s nice to see that the company opted to implement it into its budget-level laptops.
Port selection is excellent for a budget laptop, and you’ll conveniently dock most of your devices. The left side has a single USB 2.0 port plus a status indicator light. The right side has the rest of the ports: a proprietary power jack, two USB 3.2, a USB 3.2 Type-C, HDMI 1.4, and a 3.5mm Combo Audio jack. Wireless connectivity comes via Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.
The VivoBook 14’s 14.0-inch, 1920 x 1080 NanoEdge display has thin bezels on either side, with a bit more at the top to accommodate the webcam with a manual privacy shutter. But beyond the fairly widescreen look, the display’s dim color profile (250 nits rated) and unwieldy viewing angles make it an underwhelming device for consuming online video.
It’s not very bright, typical of budget systems, but the Acer Aspire 5 looks a bit brighter at 259 nits; still, both models are below the industry average of 268 nits. The viewing angles, too, are very tight, so you’ll have to look at the laptop at an exact angle – about 100 degrees – to see the display without shadows.
This affects dark colors, especially black and gray, and if you attempt to use it in dark mode, the issue is hard to ignore within most apps. Whichever way we try to shake it up, the VivoBook 14 F1402ZA-AB31 isn’t simply meant for your cinemas and movies. While you can stream your YouTube movies and watch some Netflix episodes, it still lacks the cinematic experience of the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED or other top-tier 4K laptops out there.
The Asus VivoBook 14 features a 12th generation Intel Core i3-1215U CPU, 4GB RAM, and 128GB SSD, alongside Intel UHD graphics. A basic feature set, but it will allow you to sift through dozens of Google Chrome tabs, shuffle through your cloud-based files and stream online videos with ease.
In that regard, it stands out as a decent laptop for college tasks including typing away essays and can be used at the office as well for basic productivity tasks. The intel UHD graphics, on the other hand, can only play casual games at low settings, anything more will hit a snag.
It seems you can do a lot with the VivoBook 14, but most of these budget laptops initially feel this way. The Intel Core i3-1215U is a mid-range mobile CPU based on the Alder Lake architecture and has 2 performance cores and 4 efficient cores. Its clock rate ranges from 1.2 to 4.4GHz and it scores 1859 on single-core and 4896 on multi-core Geekbench 6 CPU benchmark tests. That’s well below the industry average of 2,986 but much more acceptable for a budget laptop.
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- 【Screen】15.6" HD Touchscreen (1366 x 768) Display
Most budget laptops can last well over eight hours on a single charge of the battery, but the VivoBook 14 struggles to hit this mark. It lasts only 6 hours and 39 minutes through continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. While it beats out the Acer Aspire 5 (6:13) and the HP 15 (4:58), it’s still below the industry average of other budget laptops (6:41).
With the newer CPUs, battery life for laptops has greatly improved, we’ve seen even gaming laptops last over 8 hours on a single charge, something that was never possible a few years before. Again, as more manufacturers jump into Intel’s project Athena which requires laptops must deliver 9 hours of real-world battery life, using your laptop away from a power source for long hours will be finally achievable.
Asus VivoBook 14 Review – Verdict
On a workday, if I was caught up on a day that I needed an inexpensive laptop to perform a few quick deeds, the Asus VivoBook 14 would most certainly carry me through. It has enough power to run basic tasks, and enough battery life to complete a college essay or office report away from a power source. But as this Asus VivoBook 15 review showed, performance is impressive, provided you keep your expectations at reasonable levels.
And, it offers plenty of ports, so if the VivoBook 14 is the only choice you have within reach, an external monitor, a set of speakers, and a mouse will help with some of its quirks. But if you can swing it, at least consider spending a few hundred more on the Core-i5 version of the Asus VivoBook 14 (F1502ZA-DS52 model) for a little more power in the processor.
Asus VivoBook 14 F1402ZA-AB31
The Asus VivoBook 14 F1402ZA-AB31 is an affordable laptop that packs the latest hardware, a generous port selection, and a comfortable backlit keyboard but its screen isn’t overly colorful.
ASUS VivoBook 14 Slim Laptop, 14" FHD Display, Intel Core i3-1215U CPU, Intel UHD Graphics, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, Fingerprint Sensor, Windows 11 Home, Quiet Blue, F1402ZA-AB31
- Lightweight build
- Comfortable, backlit keyboard
- Decent performance from a Core i3
- Display isn’t overly colorful
- Only 128GB SSD storage
Last update on 2024-02-25 at 17:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API