Technically, the P6300 was the first Asus laptop to boldly go where not many laptops had gone before. The P6300, which was also its first laptop, had famously spent 600 days in orbit on the Mir space station. This was in 1997. Mir served as a microgravity research lab while stationed in the low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001. It would eventually be succeeded by the International Space Station (ISS). It is said that the P6300 had returned from its out of the world expedition, unscathed. The ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition we are reviewing today is an ode to that achievement. To be clear, it hasn’t gone to space yet, but it represents one of the best-case scenarios of how a laptop destined for it would probably look like, in 2022. Alternatively, it’s a collector’s item for space nerds.
DESIGN & DISPLAY
Asus says the design of the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition (we will call it Space Edition hereon to keep things simple) is inspired from the “Mir space station, the control deck of a shuttle and pop culture.” That, honestly, opens up a wormhole of possibilities to choose from. Asus has tried to please both camps. There’s a little something for those who like understated minimalism and a little something for those who like it borderline tacky, too. All this is connected to the central theme, so well, you can’t help but appreciate the brains behind a product like this. Asus makes so many cool laptops and yet somehow, keeps making more of them, time and time again.
The Space Edition has an aluminium chassis and comes in a single Zero-G Titanium colourway. There are arched lines replete with clever easter eggs on the lid to replicate the look of a space capsule. The lid also features a customisable 3.5-inch OLED screen, called ZenVision, which is inspired from a spaceship datasheet and can be programmed to flash notifications, pre-defined animations, or custom text. It appears to have been borrowed from Asus’s recent ROG phones. The keyboard deck has the same design scheme. The left portion is indicative of the schematic of the Mir space station while the right side resembles a cockpit.Also Read
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The dimensions are similar to the ZenBook 14 Flip OLED we reviewed recently— 1.4kg/15.9mm. The laptop is easy to lug around in the hand or inside a backpack. The Space Edition is both MIL-STD 810H military-grade and SMC-S-016A standard Space-Grade tests certified, which is to say, it’s designed for the long haul to take a beating.
The packaging, too, deserves a mention. Being a collector’s item and all, special emphasis has been given to the in-box styling. The laptop box draws inspiration from a spaceship door and has a window that gives you a sneak peek of the ZenVision mini display even before you open it. The box of the bundled charging brick can be neatly folded into a handy laptop stand. Asus also ships a tad gaudy looking cover sleeve for the laptop in the box.
The Space Edition has virtually the same screen as the ZenBook 14 Flip OLED (review). It’s a 14-inch high-quality OLED touchscreen with a 2.8K or 2880 x 1800p resolution, tall 16:10 aspect ratio, and HDR support. It gets plenty bright at up to 550nits. It supports 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut, is Pantone validated, TÜV Rheinland Eye Care-certified, and can refresh at up to 90 times per second.
HARDWARE, PERFORMANCE & BATTERY LIFE
The top-of-the-line model that we have for review, packs a 12th Generation Intel Core i9-12900H processor. This is paired with 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM which is soldered and not user replaceable alongside 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD. It will set you back by Rs 1,69,990.
The i9-12900H is a 14-core chip (Alder Lake series) with 6 performance cores (Golden Cove CPU cores) and 8 efficient cores (Gracemont) with a base clock speed of 2.5GHz (P-cores)/1.8GHz (E-cores) and boost speeds of up to 5GHz (P-cores)/3.8GHz (E-cores), with HyperThreading. The chip consumes up to 45W of TDP. You get Intel Iris Xe graphics by default.
The i9-1290H is one of the fastest mobile CPUs around at the time of writing and it performs like one inside the Space Edition be it in benchmarks or real-world use. Asus has worked out the internals well, mostly. There are enough vents, dual heat pipes and two 84-blade fans, to keep temperature from soaring. Overall, the thermals are good, and there was no perceivable throttling during our testing. The system keeps silent mostly, too, unless you are stress testing it. The laptop can play some light casual games but obviously, it’s not designed to play high-end AAA titles.
Battery life is not good. You get a 63Wh battery inside this laptop. We were able to get up to 6-7 hours on mixed use which is respectable, but far from ideal at this price. You get 100W USB Type-C fast charging, which is nice.
Port selection is generous. The Space Edition has 2 x Thunderbolt 4.0 (data, display, power), 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A), HDMI 2.0b, 3.5mm combo jack, and micro-SD card slot. Wi-Fi 6E is also supported.
The keyboard, too, offers great value proposition considering the form factor. The individual keys are nice and spacious. They have good travel – 1.4mm. Typing doesn’t feel cramped. Asus also managed to put a fingerprint reader– this is on top of the power button. You also get its signature NumberPad 2.0 which is basically an LED- illuminated numeric keypad integrated into the trackpad, which itself is generously sized.
The Harman/Kardon-tuned speaker setup could be better. The 720p webcam is also barely serviceable. It has a useful electronic privacy shutter, which is nice, though.
ASUS ZENBOOK 14X OLED SPACE EDITIOON | SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
The Space Edition is available with either a 12th Generation Intel Core i9-12900H, i7-12700H, or i5-12500H processor with price in India starting at Rs 1,14,990. There is no denying that the pricing is on the higher side. Some of Asus’s own laptops can give you a better value proposition, at even more affordable prices. But that is not to say that the Space Edition is overpriced.
This is not a mass-market product but a collector’s item. Could it have been better? Yes. It is hard to understand why a laptop of this class even ships with a 720p webcam, today, or doesn’t have better sounding speakers. The abysmal battery life, too, leaves a lot to be desired. But none of this is potentially a deal-breaker big enough to not come out impressed with the Space Edition and its unflinching focus on trying to deliver something new and different to those who want it. That group maybe small but Asus’s scale of innovation just keeps getting bigger and bigger, each day.
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