Asus ZenBook Flip 14 UX461UN review: A sleek, solid 2-in-1 laptop that’s eclipsed by our favorite

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Peppy, slim, easy to look at and fun to type on, the $900 Asus ZenBook Flip 14 has a lot going for it. That said, it’s tough to recommend the Flip over our current favorite 2-in-1, the HP Spectre x360, which offers a more powerful CPU, a pair of speedy Thunderbolt 3 ports, and substantially better battery life, all for just $170 extra. Still, bargain hunters looking for a slightly larger display than the Spectre’s 13-inch screen may yet be swayed by the cheaper Flip 14.

Asus ZenBook Flip 14 specifications and price

We reviewed the $900 version of the ZenBook Flip 14, which boasts an Intel Core i5-8250U quad-core processor with integrated UHD 620 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. If you’ve got more money to burn, there’s a step-up model of the Flip 14 with an i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics chip.

Measuring 12.9 by 8.8 by 0.55 inches and weighing in at about 3.3 pounds, the Flip 14 feels thin but dense, as would be the case with pretty much any similarly sized laptop that weighs more than three pounds. Etched with Asus’s signature hairline concentric circles, the Flip 14’s lid looks fairly stylish, if not quite as eye-popping as the glossy lithographed lid of its smaller cousin, the ZenBook 13. Then again, the Flip 14’s lid doesn’t attract nearly as many fingerprints as the ZenBook 13’s lid does.

As usual with a 2-in-1 convertible laptop, the Flip 14 lets you swivel its display a full 360 degrees, allowing for a quartet of different form factors. Besides using the Flip as a standard laptop, you can tent it on a desk or tabletop, tilt the screen back and turn the keyboard surface into a stand, or swivel the display all the way around for tablet use.

One interesting and perhaps troublesome aspect of the Flip 14’s lid is that when you open it for standard laptop use, the very back of the lid juts out a tad, lifting the keyboard up slightly as it does so. Asus says this so-called “ErgoLift” hinge was designed to keep the keyboard at a comfortable typing angle. Nice, but the hinge also lifts the Flip 14’s rear rubber feet a few millimeters in the air, which allows the laptop to skate around your desktop with only the slightest nudge. To keep all four of the Flip 14’s feet securely on your workspace, you’ll need to adjust the screen so it’s nearly ramrod straight.

Asus ZenBook Flip 14 performance

Armed with a quad-core i5-8250U processor from Intel’s current 8th generation of CPUs, the reasonably fast ZenBook Flip 14 doesn’t harbor any surprises in the performance department. Peppy without breaking records, heat-conscious without playing it too safe, the Flip 14 sticks with the 8th-gen pack without ever quite leading it. Only in the battery-life department were we wishing for more.

Battery life

We test laptop battery life by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows 10 Movie and TV player, with screen brightness set between 250-260 nits (or about 90 percent on the ZenBook Flip 14) and with the volume set to 50 percent and headphones plugged in.  For example, the ZenBook 13 and its smaller 50Whr battery basically scored the same result in our battery drain test, while the runaway winner, the HP Spectre x360, managed to wring more than three hours of additional battery life from an only slightly larger 61Whr battery. The Flip 14’s more than nine hours of battery life is certainly respectable; indeed, I was able to use the Flip for most of a workday without plugging in its AC adapter. That said, we were hoping for more given the laptop’s relatively roomy 57Whr battery.

Conclusion

With its peppy performance, sleek design, sharp display and comfy keyboard, the $900 Asus ZenBook Flip 14 makes for a solid entry in the current crop of 8th-generation Intel-powered 2-in-1 notebooks. But you can do better if you can spend a tad more cash for the $1,070 HP Spectre x360, which remains our favorite convertible laptop.

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