ASUS went with ceramic for its new Zenbook 14X OLED laptop

The optional finish promises to be more durable and fingerprint resistant, while Intel's 13th-gen chips should deliver improved performance.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

This year at CES ASUS has an updated version of its bread and butter ultraportable in the Zenbook 14X OLED. But for 2023, in addition to revamped specs, ASUS is trying out a fancy new ceramic coating on the laptop’s lid.

The process used to create the coating is called PEO, or plasma electrolytic oxidation. This allows ASUS to add a lightweight but durable finish that’s not only harder than traditional anodized aluminum, because it doesn’t require any strong acids or heavy metals during manufacturing, it’s also more environmentally friendly.

In person, the Zenbook 14X’s ceramic finish feels great. It reminds me of the magnesium chassis Microsoft used on old Surfaces, except that it’s even smoother and better at resisting fingerprints. The downside is that because this is the first time ASUS is using this process, the ceramic coating is only available in one color: sandstone. On the bright side, if you want something a bit more traditional, there’s also a cheaper model with an aluminum finish in Inkwell gray.

Other updates on the Zenbook 14X include a slightly larger 14.5-inch OLED touchscreen, a faster 120Hz refresh rate and a taller 16:10 aspect ratio. And of course, performance is also getting a bump thanks to new 13th-gen Intel CPUs, support for up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and even an optional RTX 3050 GPU from NVIDIA. ASUS is also adding faster Wi-Fi 6E connectivity and with a slightly larger 70-watt hour battery, I’m hoping we see a small boost in longevity too.

Like a lot of other new laptops for Asus in 2023, the Zenbook 14X features a vivid OLED display.
Like a lot of other new laptops for Asus in 2023, the Zenbook 14X features a vivid OLED display.

Port selection looks solid as well with two Thunderbolt 4 connectors. And when it comes to making video calls, there’s a new full HD webcam (which is up from the 720p on last year’s model) with support for windows hello and dual mics with AI noise cancellation, so you should look and sound better during meetings.

Now I know some of you might be disappointed that ASUS didn’t find room for Nvidia’s newest 40-series mobile graphics cards. But considering that the Zenbook 14X weighs barely more than four pounds and isn’t meant to be your main gaming machine, it’s hard to be too upset.

Connectivity on the Zenbook 14X is pretty solid with support for dual Thunderbolt 4 ports and a full-size HDMI connector.
Connectivity on the Zenbook 14X is pretty solid with support for dual Thunderbolt 4 ports and a full-size HDMI connector.

All told, between the new ceramic coating, the slightly larger display and revamped components, the Zenbook 14X is shaping up to be a pretty well-equipped and stylish notebook. I just hope other people like it too, because I’d love to see ASUS expand the color options for the ceramic coating to more shades than just sandstone. Of course, just how much of a premium you have to pay for it may play a role in its success. ASUS has not yet released pricing for the Zenbook 14X OLED, though it is slated to go on sale sometime in Q2 2023.