Good laptops need not be expensive and since we are suffering from a global pandemic, getting one in this day and age is pretty much mandatory, especially for people who work from home.
That being said, I am going to review the Asus Zenbook 14 and this configuration comes with the Ryzen 7 4700U processor.
Does this have what it takes to make it a reasonable laptop to get in 2020?
Back in the day, when you look for ultraportable laptops, you would see yourself spending more than $1,000 for it. Well, that is no longer the case since Asus has made it known that you can actually get a thin and light laptop at a reasonable price.
The Asus Zenbook 14 is definitely a part of that demographic and I have to say that this is indeed one of the thinnest laptops I’ve seen this year.
Its dimensions are 12.5 x 8.21 x 0.56 inches and as you can see, it is really thin. It only weighs 2.62 lbs which means that you can lug it around anywhere you want. That is truly impressive.
There are a couple of different color options to choose from but I like the Pine Grey that I have because it just looks more premium, in my opinion.
On the sides, you will find a single USB Type-A port and two USB Type-C ports. People who want a MicroSD card reader will be happy to know that this thing comes with one as well.
Now, there is one omission that I didn’t really like here and that is the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Look, I get it, most people are using wireless headphones now and they are okay with it, but for an audiophile like me, I still feel that this laptop should have that in place.
The redeeming factor, though, is that Asus has included a USB-Type C dongle with a 3.5mm jack at the end. The problem with this is that if you charge the laptop (which uses a USB-C connection), you are left with only one more and if you are plugging another USB-powered peripheral, you will have no choice but to go wireless.
I would’ve been okay with this design decision if this were a more premium machine, but I just do not get it why you would omit something so important on a budget laptop.
The power button also acts as a fingerprint sensor so you can lock your device more securely than just relying on a password.
The Asus Zenbook 14 has a 14-inch IPS display. There are actually two versions of this in that the other one is a touch display and the other one is a normal screen; my review sample is the latter.
I am quite impressed that the display actually has a 95% sRGB color gamut, so you could do some light photo editing tasks on this thing while you are on the go.
It also scored 75% on both Adobe RGB and the DCI-P3 tests which I think is pretty respectable for a budget ultrabook.
It is worth mentioning that the screen doesn’t have an anti-glare coating, so using this outside, especially when the sun is up and shining, might prove to be a bit challenging. You probably need to go under shade or something to rectify this issue.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard of the Asus Zenbook 14 has a standard layout, albeit the arrow keys are a bit small and may prove to be challenging to use. I have large fingers so there are a couple of times that I’ve hit the down arrow instead of the up arrow, for example.
The keys are backlit though they are not as bright as other budget laptops. This shouldn’t be a problem if muscle memory has familiarized itself with the layout.
While the typing experience is okay, it is just a bit mushy for my tastes. You could still type documents with this thing without any problems, but for someone who has used a laptop with a mechanical keyboard, I just don’t like the overall experience.
The touchpad is a pretty neat one. It is a glass touchpad that is quite smooth to glide and registers gestures and your touch response really well.
On the upper right-hand corner, there is a toggle that reveals a touch Numpad that you can use on your documents. It is a really good implementation and I am really happy with it.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: AMD Renoir Ryzen 7 4700U
- GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 7
- RAM: 16GB DDR4-3733 LPDDR4X
- Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD (Intel 660p)
- Display: 14-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
- Ports: 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, microSD Card Reader, HDMI 2.0, USB-C to 3.5mm headphone dongle
- Battery: 67 Wh
The performance of the Asus Zenbook 14 is actually pretty good, but I think that it can further be improved.
It comes with the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U which is an 8-core/8-thread chip and because it only uses a maximum of 25W, it is powerful yet energy-efficient.
In productivity tasks, this thing can run through any tests without issues. In fact, if you put this against an Intel equivalent machine, this configuration would definitely win.
I do have to point out that if you are using any Adobe software that it favors Intel platforms more than AMD. Perhaps this will change in the future, but for now, this is something to keep in mind.
Now, I’ve said that the performance could have been improved because I feel that the processor is not really stressed enough to reach its limit.
I think this has something to do with the MyAsus app and BIOS- the former being responsible for the different performance modes of this machine.
Setting this thing to Dynamic is the best thing that you can do because it is a relatively balanced profile with good performance and relatively quiet operation.
The fans never really exceeded 42 dBA under full load which is quite impressive for an ultraportable laptop.
If I were you, just visit the official webpage of this particular model as the company might release new improvements that can fully unleash what the processor can do.
Because AMD mobile chips are known for their energy efficiency, the Asus Zenbook 14 can last a really long time.
In my testing, I have no problems lasting 10-12 hours on moderate tasks and about 5 hours with gaming. That is truly impressive, especially considering that this is a thin and light machine.
The charger also has fast charging capabilities. It plugs into one of the laptop’s USB-C ports, so you can see my frustration with the omission of a headphone jack in favor of a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone dongle.
You can charge this thing from 0 to 60% in just under an hour thanks to its fast-charging mechanism.
I used to think that you can never get a good machine for under $1,000, but Asus has definitely made a point here.
For just $799, you get an ultraportable laptop that can do a lot of things. You can edit photos and videos, you can do some light rendering workloads, and you can even play some of your favorite games as well.
My only gripes with this thing are the omission of the headphone jack and the mushy feeling of the keyboard. Other than that, this thing is a beauty indeed.
Best Laptop Deals in October 2020
I think that at this point, Laptops have become an essential part of our lives. This is true especially during a time where most businesses let their employees work from home.
Because it is a necessity, I understand that not a lot of people have the money to buy the most expensive laptops out there. The good news is that there are plenty of affordable options to choose from and today, I am going to be providing you with the best laptops deals in October.
I have scoured the internet for the best deals in order for you to get one that is in line with your budget. Without further ado, let’s get on, shall we?
Best October Laptop Deals
1.Microsoft Surface Pro 7 w/ Type Cover Keyboard
Price: $699 (was $959) @Best Buy
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 may not be a ‘true’ laptop, per se, but this tablet is actually a 2-in-1 device wherein you could add its keyboard attachment and make use of its gorgeous display.
The beauty of a 2-in-1 device is that you can use the display for more portability but you can also choose to utilize the keyboard if you want to type documents or even play some games.
Its convenient kickstand allows you to look at your documents or watch your favorite movies and TV shows without any issues.
Although this deal is just a modest setup with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and just a 128GB SSD, the entire system is quite a steal, in my opinion, because it is now sold for only $699.
If you want a good laptop for productivity, I suggest that you take a look at the Surface Pro 7.
2.Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4K
Price: $549 (was $999) @Samsung
If you fancy a Chromebook, I highly recommend that you check the Galaxy Chromebook 4K right now because it is on a huge discount.
The beauty of Chromebooks is that the platform has become more diverse than ever before- allowing you to do a lot of things from making your documents to playing some Android games.
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook was one of our picks for the best Chromebooks because of its vivid display and really good specs.
Speaking of specs, this particular laptop is equipped with a 10th generation Intel Core i5-10210 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. Of course, you could choose to expand its storage by spending more money if you want to.
3.Asus Vivobook 15.6
Price: $479.99 (was $599.99) @Best Buy
A professional-looking machine with the specs to match its exuberance, the Asus Vivobook 15 is a laptop that I am sure a lot of people will love.
Here, you are looking for a machine that is built with a Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD which, for a laptop that is sold under $500, is a pretty good deal.
I understand that not a lot of people are familiar with AMD Ryzen processors, especially if they have come from using Intel machines, but I am here to tell you that the Ryzen 5 chip that this thing comes with should be more than enough for most use-cases.
I would also like to add that the display of this thing is quite vivid and punchy and it is definitely one that I would recommend for most people.
4.HP Pavilion x360 14t
Price: $590 (was $690) @HP
If you are fond of using laptops with a capacitive touch screen display, then the HP Pavilion x360 14t might tickle your fancy.
What I love about this thing is that not only does it have a pretty good display, but you can also utilize it as an amazing touch screen with an included multipoint pen as well.
If you are interested to know more about its specs, you will be getting a portable workhorse that has the 10th generation Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD.
Although its discount is not as high as the others on this list, this is still a pretty good purchase if you wish to buy this one.
5.Asus Zenbook S
Price: $1,099 (was $1,499) @Best Buy
If having a 4K screen is really something that you want in a laptop, I recommend that you look at the Asus Zenbook S 4K.
It’s got a really nice 4K display and I am quite surprised by how Asus has crammed a lot of amazing things inside a laptop with a relatively slim form factor.
Aside from its suave looks, you are looking into a portable machine that comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. If you ask me, this is a pretty good deal.
6.Dell XPS 13
Price: $749.99 (was $858) @Dell
The Dell XPS 13 is one of my most favorite ultrabooks in 2020. It is lightweight but it definitely packs enough punch to handle almost any workload you can imagine.
Here, you are getting a laptop that has the 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD. Even though you are only getting a small amount of storage right off the bat, the good thing is that you can actually choose to expand it either by paying a little bit more or spending some money to get your own NVMe SSD.
Seriously, I am glad that Dell has given you the chance to get this thing because it is really that good.
7.Lenovo ThinkPad E15
Price: $729 (was $850) @Newegg
Lenovo’s Thinkpad line of laptops has always been known to be great productivity machines and the Lenovo ThinkPad E15 is no different.
It packs some punch because it is built with an Intel Core i5 10th generation processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB of storage. This processing package should give you enough oomph to handle any workload you throw at it.
If there is one complaint that I have about this laptop, it would be its plastic chassis. It doesn’t feel as premium as the others on this list.
Still, I can recommend this in a heartbeat, especially if you are looking for a productivity machine that can do a lot of things.
8.Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED
Price: $1,589 (was $1,899)
The Gigabyte Aero 15 is one of those laptops that truly amazing displays. So much so that if you are a creative content creator, I suggest that you put this into consideration because it is really good for such workloads.
Here, you are getting a laptop with an Intel Core u7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1660ti GPU which is good enough for both gaming and creative needs.
Because of the fact that it is built with an OLED display, you can expect impressive visuals at a relatively affordable price.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review- A Great Business Laptop Under $1,000
Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops are made specifically for office use and because of the Covid-19 situation we are in, getting a laptop in this day and age is considered a must.
Having said that, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is made for business professionals that want a fairly light laptop that they can bring with them anywhere they need it.
Today, I am going to review the said laptop. Find out why I think it is a great business laptop under $2,000 by reading further.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a 13-inch laptop that has all of the bells and whistles that business professionals would love in a portable machine.
You have the ability to tilt the screen 180-degrees and its minimalistic design fits right in. It has a pure matte black aesthetic which I think is a great idea because it doesn’t attract too much attention, especially if you are in an office setting.
Most people want to feel secure and the good thing is that this laptop comes with a fingerprint scanner which is situated slightly to the right of the trackpad. It is fairly accurate and it can readily scan your fingerprint in a matter of seconds.
Although this is a 13-inch laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a bit heftier than its counterparts. It is still incredibly lightweight at only 2.8 lbs though, so I wouldn’t make too much of a fuss about it.
While most laptops have their ports scattered on both sides (and some even on the back), the ThinkPad X13 has all of its ports situated on the left side of the unit.
Here, you will find a single USB Type-A port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The inclusion of two Thunderbolt 3.0 ports is great because you can also use it to power up another display if you want to.
This particular machine comes with a 13.3-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. In most cases, the screen is fairly accurate, though the colors do not pop out too much, at least, when compared to other 13-inch laptops that you can find on the market.
I am also surprised that the viewing angles aren’t that great compared to most IPS display panels out there. But, this is not to say that the ThinkPad X13’s screen is bad; it is just that it could have been better.
I am also not impressed with the color accuracy of this thing, as well as its peak brightness. Using a colorimeter, this thing only scored 72.3% on the DCI-P3 color spectrum and it only averaged 278 nits of brightness.
Now, the colors are fairly accurate, but it just doesn’t pop out. This means that this laptop is not meant for creative workloads, but it is more than enough for productivity tasks and typical office workloads.
There is also a 720p webcam on the top-middle portion of the display that provides a clear output, which is nice considering that most people work from home nowadays.
Keyboard and Touchpad
While most laptops out there use fairly flat chiclet-style keycaps, the keyboard on the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 actually has more concave keycaps. To my surprise, I was able to type better with this style compared to what you can find on other laptops in the market.
Because of how the keys are shaped, you can easily discern if you’ve changed to an entirely different key. This helps typists to type really fast without having to constantly look at the keyboard.
I also like the fact that it has a fairly good key travel and tactile feel. It is not a mechanical keyboard, but I still love how it feels every time I type.
For the touchpad, you are getting a 3.9 x 2.5-inch precision glass trackpad that has a relatively good feel and performance as well. It is smooth enough for better scrolling and it can register multiple taps at once which can be really helpful in some tasks.
While most laptops have ditched the two physical buttons that are supposed to be for the left and right mouse buttons, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 still has them, albeit they are positioned at the top of the trackpad and not at the bottom.
The placement is not intuitive in my opinion, but for people that still want to use mouse buttons when they are using the touchpad, then I guess this is still a welcome addition.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U
- GPU: Integrated Radeon Graphics
- RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200
- Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
- Display: 13.3-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 Resolution
- Connectivity: 802.11AX Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
- Battery: 48 WHr
- Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches
- Weight: 2.8 lbs
I am glad that a lot of laptops that you can find in 2020 are already equipped with AMD’s Ryzen mobile processors. The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is packed with the AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U and an integrated Radeon graphics solution.
While you cannot play games on this thing (technically you can, albeit with very low frame rates), the ThinkPad X13 is actually a pretty good productivity machine.
The processor is more than capable enough of doing some rendering tasks, as well as the usual office workloads that you normally would do on a business laptop.
As configured, the storage could have been improved. Fortunately, you can spend a bit more to get higher storage capacities. Furthermore, if you know how to pry open a laptop safely, you can actually upgrade with another SSD as well if the current storage option is not enough for you.
I am pretty impressed with the performance package of this thing. Even though it is considered a modest machine, it still performed admirably in most business workloads, though I wouldn’t use this machine for creative workloads like photo or video editing mainly because of the underpowered specs, as well as a less than stellar display.
Normally, laptops for professionals should last the entire day because you will never know when you’re going to need it.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 lasted 7 hours and 53 minutes in my battery of tests, which includes some web browsing, watching movies, and doing some usual office tasks.
Its battery life is respectable, though the MacBook Pro and other 13-inch laptops fared better in this regard.
Affordable laptops are highly sought after nowadays because most of us work from home. But, despite the fact that this event will pass, you will still need a relatively good laptop that can handle your office and productivity tasks.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a competitive portable machine that is priced under $1,000 and I can highly recommend this for people that want a laptop that they can rely on in these trying times.
This thing costs $975 but you can have some components upgraded at an increased cost.
HP Envy 15 (2020) Review- A Great Laptop for Creatives
Are you a professional photographer, video renderer, photo editor, or any profession that involves creative work? If so, you’re probably looking for a portable laptop that you can bring with you for a quick edit and I can highly recommend the HP Envy 15.
Read further to find out why the HP Envy 15 is a great laptop for creative professionals.
You are probably thinking about a flashy portable machine since I am talking about a laptop for creative professionals, right? But, even though this thing can handle any creative workload, it is best that the chassis itself remains subtle and that is what HP delivers.
The HP Envy 15 has an all-aluminum chassis that looks tame but professional. Here, you get a silver build that looks and feels premium- so much so that this laptop weighs 4.7 pounds. It is a bit heftier than other laptops of this type on the market, but this should just tell you that this thing is robust in terms of build quality and reliability.
On the lid, you will find the company’s logo which is presented with lines that have off-angles which I think is done for aesthetic appeal.
On the sides, you will find some air vents alongside some USB-A and USB-C ports, a microSD card reader, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The USB-C ports have Thunderbolt 3 support which is pretty nice.
Unlike most of the laptops that you find on the market, the HP Envy 15 is actually equipped with an AMOLED display that is quite similar to some flagship phones that you can find on the market.
Because of the said panel, you get vivid and punchy colors with amazing contrast and brightness. Creating content on this thing is a dream thanks to the display’s color prowess.
After using my colorimeter, I got a 100% sRGB rating, 97% Adobe RGB, and an impressive 142% DCI-P3 color gamut rating which is truly superior to others. Now you know why HP is marketing this as a great laptop for creative professionals.
It is worth mentioning that the HP Envy 15 also supports true HDR which means that you can watch any HDR content online and enjoy it on its 15.6-inch AMOLED display.
You can also use the company’s dedicated touch pen on the screen itself and it is pretty accurate as well. Just remember that the said accessory is not included in the box, so you will have to spend a bit more money just to get one.
There is also a 720p webcam at the top which produces good quality images, albeit on its color is a bit on the cooler side. It does have a privacy shutter that you can use to hide the camera when you are not using any application that warrants its usage.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I am more of a typist than a creative type but I have to say that this laptop has an amazing keyboard. It has a good feeling on every keypress and its tactile feedback is on point. It doesn’t have any backlighting whatsoever, but I think that is a fair compromise.
I find the keyboard’s layout a bit odd considering that there is a lot of real estate that can be used here. I think that has something to do with the speaker grilles that are found on both sides of the keyboard, but I would’ve wanted the company to go the usual route and have a layout that is used by many laptop manufacturers out there.
I just do not like that some keys are in line with each other. For instance, the page up and page down keys are in line with the delete key, which you will find pretty annoying when you are used to the regular layout. This also means that the power button is not on its usual placement on the side, which can be a turn off for some people (no pun intended).
The touchpad has a glass surface. It measures 4.5 x 2.7 inches and I consider it to be respectable enough for most users. Because of the said surface, it is pretty easy to glide your fingers to make gestures, make accurate drawings, etc. It also supports Windows precision drivers as well, so you will know that the company has got you covered if you decide to go all creative on this laptop.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
- GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Max-Q
- RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933MHz
- Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD +32GB Intel Optane
- Display: 15.6-inch 3840 x 2160 AMOLED
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Intel WiFi 6 AX 201
- Ports: HDMI 2.0a, 2x USB-C (w/ Thunderbolt 3.0 support), 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
- Battery: 86 WHr
- Weight: 4.7 lbs
The HP Envy 15 has some pretty respectable specs. It comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and is coupled with Nvidia’s RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU.
Its performance is pretty good, especially if you are doing some photo editing or even some video rendering workloads. Although it is not as fast as some AMD Ryzen-powered laptops on this front, you still get a fast laptop nonetheless.
Although this thing is marketed as a laptop for creative professionals, its RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU can handle PC games really well. In my testing with the 4K model, it is best that you set the graphical settings to just medium to get anywhere between 45-60 fps depending on the game that you want to play.
I can imagine that you get even more performance on the 1080p model, but 45-60 fps is already quite playable.
You can use the HP Command Center to set the different operating modes depending on your usage. Setting it to Performance mode ekes out every last bit of performance which is great if you really need a powerful system for games and creative workloads. Its balanced profile should be used in most cases.
If there is one downside to this otherwise great laptop, it would be its battery life. The HP Envy 15 is equipped with an 86 WHr battery which, on paper, should be adequate for this kind of machine, right? Well, not exactly.
You see, the 4K AMOLED screen sucks out more battery than an IPS display of the same resolution. Yes, you get better visual fidelity with an AMOLED panel but that is at the cost of battery life.
In my testing, you could get only 2 hours and 36 minutes of effective runtime before you need to reach for the charger. That means that any taxing workload- may it be professional use-cases or playing games- can truly drain the battery really quickly.
You will have to bring the charger with you anywhere you go if you want to continually use this laptop when you are outside, but its hefty power brick can be a bummer to bring for people that want maximum portability.
The HP Envy 15 is definitely a pretty good laptop for creative individuals. Its 4K AMOLED display produces vibrant colors with amazing contrast and its pretty impressive dynamic range sets it apart from most of the laptops on the market.
Even though this is not a true gaming laptop, you can still play any games that you want on this thing, albeit you may have to tone down some graphical settings here and there to get good enough frame rates.
The downside to this otherwise amazing portable machine is its battery life. That has something to do with the display panel used as AMOLED screens are generally power-hungrier than their IPS counterparts.
But, if you are okay with the fact that you need to bring the laptop’s charger with you at all times, then the HP Envy 15 is a pretty impressive choice for creative professionals.
The HP Envy 15, as reviewed, costs $1,600.
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