Asus ZenBook 14 UM425 review (UM425IA

This here is the 2020 Asus ZenBook 14 UM425 in its UM425IA configuration based on the AMD Ryzen 4000 + Radeon Vega hardware platform.

Currently, this ZenBook is one of the most interesting ultrabooks for less than 1000 EUR here in Europe (and probably less than 800 US dollars in the US, if available) and a cheaper and more powerful alternative to the Intel Ice Lake ZenBook 14 UX425 variant. The two lineups share most of their features, such as the all-metal constructions, competent entrances, fine I / O, efficient 1W screen options, and large 67Wh batteries.

However, the UM425 impresses with multithreaded CPU and graphics performance, works more efficiently and costs less, while the Intel UX425 version offers a superior keyboard, Thunderbolt 3 support and a better basic display on its side.

We’ve gathered all of our thoughts and impressions on the ZenBook 14 UM425 below with the positives and quirks. This article will prove extremely useful if you are purchasing this type of laptop in the months to come.

Technical data as checked – Asus ZenBook 14 UM425IA

Asus ZenBook 14 UM425IA
screen 14.0 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels, IPS, matt, non-contact
2.5 W 250 nits (CEC PA LM140LF-3L03) or 1 W 400 nits panel options
processor AMD Renoir Ryzen 7 4700U, 8C / 8T
Video AMD Radeon Vega 7, 7 CUs, 1.6 GHz
memory up to 32 GB LPDDR4X 3733 MHz (soldered)
camp 1 TB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD (Intel 660p)
Connectivity Wireless 6 (Intel AX200), Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen1, 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen2, HDMI 2.0, microSD card reader, 3.5 mm socket with USB-C adapter
battery 67 Wh, 65 W USB-C charger with fast charge
size 319 mm or 12.5 in (W) x 210 mm or 8.21 in (D) x 14.3 mm or 0.56 in (H)
Weight 1.19 kg (2.62 lbs) + 0.21 kg (45 lbs) charger, U.S. version
Extras white backlit keyboard, glass NumberPad, HD + IR webcam with Hello, stereo floor speaker, optional cover, available in Pine Gray or Lilac Mist

Asus offers the UM425 series in different configurations with different RAM (8-32 GB) and storage (up to 2 TB and Intel Optane) as well as two types of AMD Ryzen processors (Ryzen 5 4500U, Ryzen 7 4700U). but also two screen variants, either with a standard IPS panel with 250 nits or a more efficient 1W option with 400 nits, both with a contrast of 1000+: 1 and a color coverage of almost 100% sRGB.

If you are interested in our other test reports on Asus ZenBook product series, you can find them here. Our expanded coverage of the best ultra-portable laptops currently available can be found here.

Design and construction

Outwardly, the ZenBook 14 UM425 is identical to the UX425 series, which we discussed in detail in an earlier article. I therefore refer you to it for all my thoughts and details.

In a few words, this is an all-metal laptop with a dark gray color scheme and a compact form factor. It’s also light for a 14-inch device, at just over 2.6 pounds, and pretty well built. The main case or lid isn’t very flexible, but I still noticed a creak as I picked it up from the desk.

Similar to all newer ZenBooks, it implements an Ergolift hinge design that lifts the laptop off the desk for better typing and cooling. The hot air is still blown into the screen’s chin, but the panel itself doesn’t run as hot as it did on the previous ZenBook 14 models, as a combination of a limited performance profile and a slightly thicker plastic chin takes the chin off the brunt of the exhausted heat.

The IO is both a positive and a controversial point of this laptop. On the positive side, the laptop has two USB-C Gen2 ports, a full-size USB-A Gen1 port, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a micro SD card reader exclusively on USB-C. The USB-C ports support data, DisplayPort, and power, but not Thunderbolt 3, which only contains the Intel-based model.

On the negative side, there is no 3.5mm jack on this series. For what it’s worth, Asus is offering a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box, but that’s not a decision I support and I would assume this would be for some of the You might be a deal breaker. Thoughts?

As for the feeling in everyday use, I appreciate the spacious armrest and its smooth surface, even if the front lip is a little sharp for my taste and the surfaces have a little stains. The lighter Lilac Mist version of this laptop should better hide this, but for me this isn’t an option as it gets a silver keyboard. Aside from that, Asus put grippy feet on this laptop and implemented a screen that can be easily adjusted with one hand, but only goes back to about 145 degrees on the back and not quite flat like the ExpertBook B9 series.

Keyboard and trackpad

I was disappointed to find out that the UM425 doesn’t have the keyboard that I experienced on the Intel-based UX425.

They’re identical in terms of layout and size, with full-sized buttons, a wider set of buttons on the right, wider arrows, and an additional column of function buttons with dedicated Home, PgUp, PgDn, and End, but the one of those AMD- Model is a little darker in color (which doesn’t matter) and feels squishier in everyday use (which is very important).

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad guy, but it’s not as reliable, comfortable, or just like the keyboard Asus used on the UX425 examples I tested. It just doesn’t stand out and feels like a standard ultrabook keyboard.

Part of me is still hoping something is wrong with this implementation of this early test model, and the final retail UM425 models will get the same keyboard as the UX425. It makes little sense to me to have two different keyboards on the same case and I am waiting for more clarification from Asus on the matter.

Apart from the feedback, this keyboard is illuminated with white LEDs and three intensity levels as well as a special display for CapsLock. Some light creeps out from under the keycaps, but the keys light up evenly overall.

At the bottom, centered on the case, Asus implemented a spacious glass ClickPad with precision drivers and secondary NumberPad functions that also apply to the ExpertBook series. It is a smooth, reliable and robust surface with good gesture support and palm rejection, and I have nothing to complain about.

In terms of biometry, there is no finger sensor on the Zenbook UM425, but there is an IR camera with Windows Hello support at the top of the screen.

screen

Asus offers two display options for the ZenBook 14 UM425 series. Both are 14-inch matte non-contact IPS panels with FHD resolution, but one is a standard option with a maximum of 250 nits of maximum brightness and the other is this newer and more efficient 1W panel with 400 nits of maximum brightness.

Our test unit received the standard panel, but most retail variants come with a 1W screen instead, which makes the laptop more versatile in brighter lighting conditions and has a positive effect on battery life in a normal room.

Apart from that, the Chi Mei panel is not implemented in the basic version of the UX425 in this ZenBook UM425, but a slightly lower CEC PA panel, which Asus also implements in the inexpensive VivoBook S14 series. For an affordable laptop with almost 100% sRGB color coverage and good contrast, it’s still fine, but with more limited viewing angles and maximum brightness, which are not enough in brighter enviro
nments.

Here’s what we got in our tests with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:

  • Panel HardwareID: CEC PA LM140LF-3L03;
  • Coverage: 95.5% sRGB, 69.7% Adobe RGB, 72.2% DCI-P3;
  • Measured gamma: 2.31;
  • Maximum brightness in the center of the screen: 277.50 cd / m2 with power supply;
  • Min. Brightness in the center of the screen: 17.43 cd / m2 with power supply;
  • Contrast at maximum brightness: 1154: 1;
  • White point: 7600 K;
  • Black at maximum brightness: 0.24 cd / m2;
  • PWM: No.

Our device was calibrated pretty badly after calibration. After calibration, the maximum brightness falls below 250 nits and in the lower area of ​​the panel. The panel is evenly illuminated and shows little or no light bleeding on a dark background.

However, our tests found problems with color uniformity in the corners and on the right side of the control panel. Keep this in mind if you plan to use this for occasional photo edits and other color accurate activities. However, these problems happen randomly with modern panels and all you need to do is test them on your device. For comparison, it turned out that exactly the same panel in the previously tested VivoBook S14 was accurate and uniform.

However, most ZenBook 14 UM425 models come with the 1W 400-nits parent panel. We haven’t tested it yet and I will update this section if / if we do.

Hardware and performance

Our test model is a first-class configuration of the Asus ZenBook 14 UM425IA with an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor and AMD Radeon Vega 7 graphics, 16 GB LPDDR4x 3200 MHz memory and a medium-weight 1 TB Intel 660p PCIe x4 SSD.

Before we continue, remember that I tested a pre-release example of the ZenBook 14 UM425IA sent by Asus with the software (BIOS 302, MyAsus 2.2.27.0 app) available from early August 2020. It has evolved from the retail models as expected, but some aspects may change with future software updates.

This is based in particular on the AMD Renoir Ryzen U APU 2020. The Ryzen 7 4700U has an 8C / 8T processor, which is very fast for single-core tasks and extremely competent for multitasking, especially when it comes to higher TDP settings demanding loads may be carried out. By default, this is a 15 W platform, but the better products can be operated stably at 25 + W. Not in this ZenBook, at least not under sustained stress, as you’ll see below.

The graphics are processed by the integrated AMD Radeon Vega 7 chip with 7 processing units and frequencies of up to 1.6 GHz. Our configurations also have 16 GB LPDDR4x 3733 MHz RAM in dual-channel format and an Intel 660p PCIe x4 SSD on the middle tier. In comparison, the Intel-based UX425 models we tested came with a faster Samsung PM981 SSD and also offer Intel Optane storage options. Even so, the Intel 660p should be fast enough for everyday use and can be upgraded with faster PCIe x4 drives if that’s convenient for you.

To do this, you need to remove the back panel, hold it in place with a couple of visible Torx screws and two additional screws that are hidden behind the rear rubber feet.

The CPU and memory are soldered to the motherboard and cannot be updated. Inside, you’ll find that most of the internal storage space is being used by the battery, so a small motherboard is sent over the SSD right next to the CPU platter. I was afraid that the heat could easily spread from the CPU to the SSD, but that wasn’t a problem with this laptop because the SSD didn’t do great with gaming until the mid-1940s.

In terms of software, the standard MyAsus app is provided which allows you to control the power profiles, battery and screen settings, updates, etc. while controlling the sound in the AudioWizard.

There are two power / heat profiles to choose from:

  • Dynamic – Allows the CPU to run at 15 + W, with fans spinning up to 40dB during heavy loads and gaming.
  • Whisper – Limits the CPU to 7W for less fan noise.

I kept the laptop in Dynamic for the most part. It’s a balanced profile that keeps the fan barely audible during light use and quiet during heavier loads without affecting performance. The laptop feels snappy even with daily multitasking, video streaming, text editing, and the like.

Similar to the Intel-based UX425 models, however, this implementation isn’t particularly difficult, and that’s because Asus has limited performance settings and a quiet fan profile, as you’ll find in the next section of this review.

We start testing CPU performance in task taxation by running the Cinebench R15 benchmark more than 15 times in a loop with a 2-3 second delay between runs in dynamic mode.

The AMD Ryzen 7 processor runs at higher clocks and higher power for the first 1-2 loop, but then gradually drops to 15 W, with temperatures between mid and high 70 degrees Celsius. In this test, the fan increases to around 38 to 39 dB at head height, and the laptop delivers values ​​of around 900 points.

Switching to Whisper mode limits the CPU to 7 + W, with quieter fans and lower values ​​of around 500-550 points.

We also performed the same test with the laptop not connected, and surprisingly in this case the CPU runs consistently at around 17 to 18Wall and delivers slightly higher values ​​and lower temperatures than when the laptop was connected after more than 10 runs. This is unusual and nothing I can explain.

To put these results in perspective, this ZenBook 14 UM425 clearly outperforms the Intel IceLake-based models ZenBook 14 UX425 and 13 UX325 in this test.

And so it is with some other ultraportable AMD and Intel notebooks.

Sure, the Ryzen platforms are a significant step up from Intel’s 10th generation hardware in terms of these types of multithreaded requirements, but it’s important to note that this Ryzen 7 UM425 beats the Ryzen 7 in the ZenBook 14 UM433 at around 15 Leaves up to 18% behind in this test and is also surpassed by the Ryzen 5 4500U in the Lenovo IdeaPad 5, as both of the CPUs run with higher performance. With the 15 W power cap, the Ryzen 7 APU in this ZenBook 14 UM425 implementation is a bottleneck and only runs at around 80% of its potential under continuous load. This won’t matter in day-to-day use, but you may find yourself performing demanding CPU tasks on this computer. Additionally, the 15W power cap also affects the combined performance of the CPU and GPU, as you’ll see in a moment.

But first we checked our results in the more demanding Cinebench R20 test and the cruel Prime 95 test.

We also ran our combined CPU + GPU stress tests on this notebook with the same dynamic profile.

3DMark Stress loops the same test 20 times, looking for fluctuations and deteriorations in performance over time. This device failed it. Luxmark 3.1 fully loads both the CPU and GPU at the same time and also shows wh
at we already noticed in our other tests: the CPU package runs at high performance for the first minute or two, but also at fairly high temperatures and drops then off and stabilize at around 13-15 W at limited CPU frequencies, but the GPU is constantly running at its intended maximum speed of 1.6 GHz.

We then ran the full set of tests and benchmarks on the standard dynamic profile. We have the following:

  • 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 2890 (graphic – 3209, physics – 11821, combined – 1004);
  • 3DMark 13 – Night Raid: 11955 (graphics – 12831, CPU – 8623);
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1064 (graphics – 940, CPU – 4288);
  • AIDA64 memory test: Write: 41430 MB / s, Read: 43691 MB / s, Latency: 115.8;
  • Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 1994;
  • Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p coding): 32.75 average fps;
  • Minimum score: Rating: 4533 (CPU Brand: 15279, 3D Graphics Brand: 2551, Disk Brand: 13811);
  • PCMark 10: 4970 (Essentials – 9095, Productivity – 7287, Digital Content Creation – 5029);
  • GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-core: 4877, multi-core: 23426;
  • GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-core: 1120, multi-core: 5794;
  • CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1137 cb, CPU single core 175 cb;
  • CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2616 cb, CPU single core 455 cb;
  • x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 197.12 fps, Pass 2 – 59.96 fps;
  • x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 51.37 s.

We also ran some workstation-related loads on the same dynamic profile:

  • Blender 2.82 – BMW car scene – CPU Compute: 6 m 15 s (car);
  • Blender 2.82 – Classroom Scene – CPU Compute: 20 m 10 s (car);
  • Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs Score: – AMD APU is not supported.

Again, these are not bad results for an AMD Ryzen 7 implementation, but the CPU scores are slightly limited in the heavier tests such as Blender, Handbrake or 3DMark, as this hardly surpasses a 25 W implementation of the 6C / 6T Ryzen 5 4500U . By comparison, a 25 W implementation of the Ryzen 7 4700U APU would do 10 to 20% better in some of these tests. However, this is not possible with this design, where less noise and thermals are preferred to performance.

The 15 W power limit not only affects synthetic results, but also affects performance in real control / school applications or games by 10 to 20%.

We ran some DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles for the Dynamic Best Performance profile and Low / Lowest graphics settings. We have the following:

UM425 – AMD R7 + Vega 7 UX425 – Intel i7 + Iris Pro IdeaPad 5 – AMD R5 + Vega 6 UM433 – Ryzen 7 + MX350 UX434 – Intel i7 + MX250
Bioshock Infinite (DX 11, low preset) 66 fps (50 fps – 1% low) 40 fps (22 fps – 1% low) 63 fps (50 fps – 1% low) 97 fps (45 fps – 1% low) 76 fps (39 fps – 1% low)
Dota 2 (DX 11, best looking preset) 39 fps (28 fps – 1% low) 34 fps (20 fps – 1% low) – – 74 fps (39 fps – 1% low) 47 fps (20 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Low Preset, no AA) 21 fps (17 fps – 1% low) 12 fps (10 fps – 1% low) 21 fps (18 fps – 1% low) 35 fps (32 fps – 1% low) 25 fps (21 fps – 1% low)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, lowest preset) 45 fps (36 fps – 1% low) 32 fps (22 fps – 1% low) 41 fps (30 fps – 1% low) 65 fps (48 fps – 1% low) 31 fps (18 fps – 1% low)
NFS: Most Wanted (DX 11, lowest default) 56 fps (34 fps – 1% low) 42 fps (25 fps – 1% low) – – – – – –
Rise of the Tomb Raiders (DX 12, lowest preset, no AA) 28 fps (22 fps – 1% low) 16 fps (3 fps – 1% low) 33 fps (20 fps – 1% low) 45 fps 39 fps
Shadow of Tomb Raider (volcano, lowest preset, no AA) 27 fps (16 fps – 1% low) 17 fps (12 fps – 1% low) 28 fps (20 fps – 1% low) 40 fps (35 fps – 1% low) 29 fps (25 fps – 1% low)
Strange Brigade (Vulkan, Low Preset) 37 fps (32 fps – 1% low) 21 fps (7 fps – 1% low) 33 fps (27 fps – 1% low) 44 fps 35 fps
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, low preset, Hairworks Off) 21 fps (14 fps – 1% low) – – 21 fps (16 fps – 1% low) 29 fps on average (18 fps – 1% low) Average 24 fps (10 fps – 1% low)
  • Battlefield V, The Witcher 3, Dota 2, NFS – captured with MSI Afterburner in game mode;
  • Bioshock Far Cry 5, Middle-earth, Strange Brigade, Tomb Raider games – recorded using the included benchmark utilities;

For comparison, I’ve added a few other configurations, all of which are ultra-portable and available within the same segment and price range. Additionally, in this article, you should take an additional look at what the Ryzen 7 + Vega 7 hardware can deliver in superior designs that allow them to run at higher levels of performance. TLDR, approximately 5-15% improved frame rates between the tested titles.

Even with the energy shortage that affects both the CPU and the GPU, as you can see in the following HWinfo logs, older and simpler titles run flawlessly on this ZenBook 14 UM425 with FHD settings and low graphics settings.

In summary, the ZenBook 14 UM425 is a versatile ultrabook and a more competent alternative for the Intel IceLake UX425 versions for demanding loads. However, both the Intel and AMD models come with power limitation in this ZenBook 14 case. This favors a lower thermal and a lower noise level compared to the performance. So if you are looking for the top performing Ryzen 7 that is ultra portable for video editing, programming, or other types of strenuous tasks, this is not the one you get.

Noise, heat, connectivity, speakers and others

Asus used a basic thermal module here, with a single heat pipe and fan, as we’ve seen on most previous ZenBook, VivoBook, and ExpertBook models.

The software was also developed to minimize fan noise. As a result, the fan stays idle most of the time with light daily use, spins around 35 to 37dB when connected with multitasking, and spins to around 39 to 40dB when running games and other combined CPUs at head height + GPU is charging.

The internal temperatures are kept in check. However, this is mainly due to the fact that the hardware package has only limited performance in terms of taxing loads, with the already mentioned performance losses being recorded.

As it is, our Zephyrus UM425 sample ran cool with daily use (and remember that this is mainly with passive cooling) and average hot at high loads. We measured temperatures in the very low 40s on the keyboard deck and in the low 50s below, but also in the high 40s on the chin of the screen right next to the exhaust. As explained in a previous section, this thicker chin absorbs most of the exhaust heat and the actual panel doesn’t run as hot as the ZenBook UX434.

* Daily use – stream Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, whisper mode, fan at 0-35 dB
* Gaming – Dynamic Mode – Play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 39-40 dB

For connectivity, this laptop has WiFi 6 of the latest generation with an Intel AX20 module. It went well with our setup and the signal and power stayed at 30 feet, with obstacles in between.

Audio is processed by a series of stereo speakers triggered by grilles on the bottom. The angled shape of the D-panel allows the sound to bounce off the table without distortion, and I didn’t notice any vibrations in the armrest even at higher volumes.

We couldn’t get the audio wizard to work on this sample, and surprisingly, in our tests, the speakers peaked at 76-78 dB at head height, a significantly higher rate than the UX425. The audio quality is still about average you should expect from this class, good for movies and music, but by no means impressive.

The same applies to the HD camera at the top of the screen. It’s fine for occasional calls, but the quality is still washed out.

Battery life

The ZenBook UM425 comes with a 67 Wh battery, which is larger than what you typically get on a 14-inch notebook. This notebook is validated by the efficient implementation and screen of the AMD hardware and should have a reasonable lifespan. Asus mentions up to 22 hours with the 1W panel, but we only tested the standard panel version and are far from those numbers.

We got the following: The screen brightness is around 120 nits (~ 70 brightness).

  • 7.2 W (~ 9 +) h of use) – Text editing in Google Drive, Dynamic + Better Battery Mode, screen at 70%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 5.7 W (~ 12 h use) – 1080p full screen video on Youtube in Edge, Dynamic + Better Battery Mode, screen at 70%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 5.3 W (~ 12 + h usage time) – Netflix full screen in Edge, Dynamic + Better Battery mode, screen at 70%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 11 W (~ 6-7 h use) – Surf in Edge, Dynamic + Better Performance Mode, screen at 70%, Wi-Fi ON.

This 1 W display is said to consume around 1.75 W of electricity with a brightness of 150 nits. I look forward to testing it out too.

Compared to the Intel IceLake UX425, this Ryzen 7 UM425 ran more efficiently in our tests.

The laptop comes with a compact 65W charger that can be connected via USB-C. It’s a one-piece design with a compact brick and a long and thick cord. It takes about 2 hours to fully charge. Fast charging can fill it up to 60% in less than an hour.

Price and availability

The ZenBook 14 UM425 is listed in stores around the world at the time of this writing.

In Germany it currently starts at just over 900 EUR for the i5 model with 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage and the 1 W screen with 400 nits, which is around 200 EUR less than the similarly specified ZenBook UX425.

Lower-priced configurations start at around EUR 650 in the Netherlands and around £ 800 in the UK. Availability is planned for August to September. Not a word about it in the US or Canada at the moment.

We’ll update as soon as we know more. In the meantime, follow this link to get updated prices and configurations in your area.

Final thoughts

This ZenBook 14 UM425 could be one of the most popular lightweight all-round laptops for the next few months.

It’s well made and feels top notch, it’s compact and portable, it doesn’t compromise on inputs, I / O or screen quality, it works well in everyday use and occasional games, it stays charged for a long time thanks to its large battery . It charges via USB-C, and all of this is packaged into one pretty affordable package.

Compared to the Intel-based ZenBook 14 UX425, this is around 200 EUR cheaper here in Europe for similar medium specifications. The UX425 has Thunderbolt 3 support on the side, a brighter and more uniform display at the base level, and a nicer and more reliable keyboard based on our findings, but it’s also inconsistent with the UM425 in terms of performance for demanding loads and light gaming as well as efficiency.

To be honest, both the Intel and AMD models come with power limiting in this case, which offers only a basic cooling module and is supposed to favor lower thermal and quieter noise levels over performance. Even so, the restricted Ryzen platform significantly outperforms the restricted IceLake implementation in taxing tasks, while both running quickly and quietly on everyday tasks.

While the ZenBook 14 UM425 feels like the more versatile choice in this 2020 ZenBook 14 lineup and deserves our recommendation, it’s ultimately not the obvious choice for everyone over the Intel-based UX425 model, which continues to be one of my favorite writers Niche and offers Thunderbolt 3 as a potential differentiator. Additionally, this limited-performance implementation of AMD hardware could lead those of you looking for the best performer in this type of form factor to some of the more capable Ryzen 7 4700U and Ryzen 7 4800U options.

This completes our test of the ZenBook 14 UM425IA, but I would love to hear your thoughts. Please get in touch in the comments section below.

Asus ZenBook 14 UM425IA review

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Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I have been dealing with mobile computers since the 2000s. Here on the website you will find mostly reviews and detailed guides that I have written.

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