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.
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.
HP Omen 15 Review- A Competitive AMD Ryzen Gaming Laptop Under $1500
If you were to shop for a gaming laptop back then, you would have to choose one that is equipped with an Intel processor because they are clocked higher and they have a good reputation in the gaming department.
Fast forward to today and we now have new laptops that are packed with AMD’s Ryzen CPUs and the HP Omen 15 certainly has one of the best out there.
Today, I am going to be reviewing this thing. Find out why I think this is a really competitive AMD Ryzen gaming laptop under $1500.
In terms of aesthetics, the HP Omen 15 is not as ‘loud’ as the other gaming laptops on the market. It has a predominantly black chassis, though you will find that it is actually space gray when given ample lighting.
The lid has the Omen branding in the middle and the colorful diamond situated above the said word actually looks really nice. Other than that, it doesn’t have any other bling.
For the ports, you will find a USB Type-A Gen 3.2 port, an HDMI 2.01a port, an ethernet jack, a full-sized SD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack on the left.
On the right-hand side, you have two additional USB Type-A ports, a mini DisplayPort, and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port.
While most other gaming laptops in 2020 weigh less than 5 pounds, the Omen 15 weighs a bit more at 5.4 pounds. It is still lightweight but I think that this is worth mentioning, especially if you’ve tried the other laptops that were released this year.
It is still somewhat thin, though, at just 14.1 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches, so in terms of portability, you can still put this inside your backpack without any issues.
IPS panels have come a long way when it comes to performance and the HP Omen 15 comes equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS screen with a refresh rate of 144Hz. It is a 1080p screen which should be enough for most users.
The screen is vibrant and that is to be expected given the choice of the panel used. Keep in mind that, by default, the screen is set to 60Hz, so if you want to tap this thing’s full potential, you would have to manually set the refresh rate to its maximum.
The color accuracy of the display is pretty good at 90% sRGB and 71.8% DCI-P3 color gamut. In most games, you will definitely see the crisp images and because it is a relatively color accurate screen, you can do some light photo and video editing tasks on here as well.
There is a 720p webcam at the top-middle part of the display and I think that this is the right placement for such a thing. The camera quality is respectable, though the microphone volume could have been improved.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Omen 15’s keyboard has a standard layout without the full Numpad. I think that this is a better implementation considering that having the Numpad would cram the keys so much that it makes it hard to use.
My review unit only has the white LED backlighting and it is pretty bright. However, you can opt for the full RGB version, though you would have to decide if spending an additional $50 for RGB lighting would be the right thing to do or not.
The keys themselves are a bit mushy for my taste but I am glad that I can still type relatively fast on them. My only gripe with the layout is that the power button is situated directly above the backspace and if you have large fingers like me, you could potentially press the power button while you are typing which can be a pain.
For its touchpad, this laptop has a 2.9 x 4.5-inch matte touchpad. While I love its responsiveness, it would have been nice if it had a glass finish (but this is pretty much my personal preference).
It has plenty of surface area to work with and I am happy to report that you can make precise mouse movements just by simply using the touchpad. It doesn’t have physical buttons, but I think that this is a standard affair at this point.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
- GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660Ti
- RAM: 16GB DDR4-3200
- Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
- Display: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz Refresh Rate
- Connectivity: WiFi 6 (Intel AX 200), Bluetooth 5
- Battery: 71 WHr
- Weight: 5.4 Pounds
The configuration that I have comes with AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor. In terms of productivity tasks and some light rendering, this definitely beats any Intel equivalent chip out there.
For its gaming performance, you could set the game’s graphical settings to high or ultra in some titles, though for more demanding games such as Control, for example, you would have to set it to medium to get considerable frame rates.
I am okay with the 1080p resolution display simply because the GPU cannot produce more than 120Hz if the native resolution is higher.
Playing battle royale games shouldn’t be an issue since they are not too taxing on the laptop and you should be able to reach 144 frames per second comfortably.
I really love the fact that the 8-core/16-thread CPU on this thing can handle whatever workload you throw at it. This is not only a competitive gaming machine but it can certainly go above any Intel counterpart out there.
I do have to point out that if you are taxing the GPU and CPU too much, this machine is quite audible at 56 dBA. That is really loud, but considering that the fans are working as intended, the chassis didn’t go beyond 40C so it is quite okay to the touch.
In terms of thermals, the laptop didn’t go beyond 80C while gaming, and in rendering, it didn’t go above 85C which is indeed impressive. However, always remember that this thing can be really loud, so do bear that in mind.
Lastly, if you haven’t used an AMD Ryzen-powered PC or laptop before, the nature of the CPU ramps the fans up a little bit since the chip boosts quite frequently. This is normal behavior so if you are using this thing and you’ve noticed that the fans frequently go up and down in terms of fan speeds, now you know why.
While I like the performance of the HP Omen 15, it does suffer a little bit in the battery department. In my testing, you could get 6 hours easily doing light to moderate tasks. However, once you put this thing to its limits, you could only go as far as 3-4 hours of use.
The good thing is that you can bring the charger with you and it gives it enough juice in such a short amount of time.
I just wished that HP had beefed up the battery a little bit as the 71 WHr battery on this thing is a bit too low, in my opinion.
I am really happy and impressed with the HP Omen 15. Finally, we have a pretty competitive gaming laptop that is priced under $1,500. With the configuration that I have, it only costs you $1,299 which is pretty insane.
Do keep in mind that you can also get the highest spec version of this laptop which comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, but that thing costs $1,800 (which is still pretty good).
However, if you are okay with the mid-range performance, the HP Omen 15 with the Ryzen 7 4800H chip is a pretty good gaming laptop.
Huawei Matebook 13 Review- Ryzen Needs More Power
Getting a decently priced laptop that can do a lot of things is quite common nowadays, especially since people are forced to work remotely due to the Covid-19 virus.
The Huawei Matebook 13 is a pretty good laptop, though the version I am reviewing today is a bit of a letdown compared to its Intel counterpart.
Read further to find out why.
The Huawei Matebook 13 is a sleek laptop that has an all-metal chassis. It looks and feels premium and although it is an all-metal build, it still remains lightweight at just 2.9 pounds which is quite impressive.
On the right, you will find a USB-C port and on the left, you will find another USB port and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack and that’s pretty much what you’re going to get.
If you are wondering where the ethernet port is, well, the Huawei Matebook 13 doesn’t have one. Instead, you are going to have to rely on your router as it uses 2.4GHz or 5GHz WiFi connections. This can be a deal-breaker for some, but I think that most people are okay with the omission.
Now, if two USB-C ports are not enough for you, you can buy its separate USB-C adapter that allows you to plug in an HDMI-compatible device, a slew of USB-A ports for your peripherals, and even a VGA connection.
It is also worth mentioning that if you are to charge this laptop, you will have to use the left USB-C port as it is both for charging and data transfers. The one on the right is solely used for transferring data.
Here, you will get a 13-inch IPS touchscreen display with an sRGB rating of 80% using my monitor calibration tool. If you are going to do some editing or video rendering on this laptop, you can certainly do so because the display is somewhat accurate for such use-cases.
The screen also has slim bezels to provide you with a lot of screen real estate that you can use for your documents and creative tasks.
Although the laptop is relatively thin, I am surprised that you cannot open this thing with just one hand because the base is not heavy enough to stay on the desk. It is easy to open with both hands though, so I don’t think this would be a huge issue.
Keyboard and Trackpad
If you are going to look at the layout of the keyboard and trackpad, you will find that it is quite similar to the Macbook Air. I think that this is one of the biggest compliments that Apple can receive since it is really almost identical.
Although the keyboard itself looks Apple-esque, I’d have to say that I am a bit disappointed. The keys feel heavier to type on and as a typist and writer, this can prove to be a bit challenging compared to other laptops. Perhaps your mileage may vary though because I may have been accustomed to mechanical keyboards so this could have been the issue here and not with the actual laptop’s keyboard.
As for the trackpad, it is a bit larger to allow for easy mouse glide and precision tracking. Gesture-based actions are also possible with the touchpad and I am pleased with it.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
- GPU: AMD Radeon RX Vega 8
- RAM: 8GB Samsung LPDDR4 2400MHz
- Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
- Display: 13-inch IPS touchscreen display, 2160 x 1440 resolution
- Battery: 41.8 WHr
- Weight 2.9 Pounds
It is important for you to know that there are two versions of this laptop. One has an Intel processor and this review unit has the AMD Ryzen chip. To summarize its performance, it is lackluster, though it is really good for productivity and general everyday tasks.
If you are into some photo editing work and you also do some light rendering tasks, the Ryzen CPU that is inside this thing can pretty much handle those workloads.
However, it is pretty disappointing that the AMD Ryzen CPU runs hotter here and as a result, you can experience severe throttling issues when the chip is under full load.
I’ve asked other reviews who’ve had the Intel version and they say that they didn’t experience similar issues at all. I think that this is only true for the AMD version and I am really disappointed here.
You can do some light gaming on the side, especially those steam games that are not really graphics intensive, but you shouldn’t expect groundbreaking performance here.
All in all, I am disappointed with the performance package. I don’t know if there is a fault with my review unit but if how this performs on my end is similar to other units with the AMD chip, then you might want to consider the Intel version instead.
Because this is just a thin and light laptop, you can expect that there are some compromises that have to be made, especially in the battery department.
And, true enough, the Huawei Matebook 13’s 41.8 Wh battery is not as good as the other 13-inch laptops out there.
With moderate use (everyday tasks, watching online content, and web browsing), I was only able to get roughly 7 hours from full battery down to 0%.
This is not the same as the Intel version, however, as you can comfortably see 9-10 hours of screen on time with it.
I am disappointed with the AMD version of the Huawei Matebook 13. Its performance is okay when it comes to multi-core workloads, but its battery life and how it performs in games (at least when compared to the Intel version) leave much to be desired.
I do like its chassis and its lightweight form factor, but the omission of an ethernet port and the fact that this thing doesn’t have USB-A ports right off the bat might deter you from getting this thing.
What is worth noting, though, is that the AMD version of this laptop only costs $899 compared to the Intel version that costs $1,199. The price disparity could lead you to buy this one instead.
But for me personally, I wouldn’t recommend the AMD version, so you should turn your attention to its Intel counterpart if you are really going to buy the Huawei Matebook 13.
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