Asus ZenBook Flip S 13 review: an eye-catching 2-in-1 laptop

Read T3's Asus ZenBook Flip S 13 review now to see if this is the ideal laptop for you

Asus ZenBook Flip S 2020 review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Asus ZenBook Flip S has a lot going for it, namely its 4K OLED touchscreen display, its much-touted ‘Tiger Lake’ processor and an eye-catching build that doubles down on thinness and sleek angles. That display is a vibrant triumph, but its CPU fails to match many 10th Gen laptops in the same bracket and its battery isn’t tough enough for that gorgeous screen.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Striking 4K OLED touchscreen

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    Deluxe chassis & build

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    Neat Touchpad NumPad

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    11th Gen CPU underwhelms

  • -

    No dedicated headphone jack

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    Battery life isn’t amazing

Introducing the Asus ZenBook Flip S, the latest addition to its growing portfolio of premium 2-in-1 laptops. Asus has a long history as one of the most the most active and innovative manufactures in the world of portable computing as of late – just take the recent VivoBook S15 for another slice of sleek & powerful goodness – and it’s continuing that trend with the eye-catching Asus ZenBook Flip S.

Despite its slim form factor, the Asus ZenBook Flip S features a very capable 11th Gen ‘Tiger Lake’ processor – one of the first to feature Intel’s ‘Evo’ mark of quality – and an absolutely gorgeous 4K OLED display that’s perfect for a little light gaming and all your favourite apps and streaming services.

Our full Asus ZenBook Flip S review will give you everything you could possibly need to decide whether or not this is the best 2-in-1 laptop for you: find out what it’s been to use over the time that we’ve had it, and what we think its strengths and weaknesses are.

ASUS ZENBOOK FLIP S 13 REVIEW: SCREEN AND DESIGN

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Asus ZenBook Flip S 2020 review

(Image credit: Future)
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Asus ZenBook Flip S 2020 review

(Image credit: Future)

Our review unit features a fantastic 13.3-inch 3840 x 2160 4K UHD resolution display, and with an ultra-vivid Pantone validated colour accuracy and a super-vibrant 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut. It’s one of the best displays we’ve tested this year, with everything from deep blacks (bolstered by VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black) to TÜV Rheinland-certified eye care for longer work from home sessions.

Right out of the box, you’ve also got a slew of different modes and pre-sets that are ideally suited to different uses and different settings (as well as affecting the panel’s colour style). It’s not the brightest screens available in the 2-in-1 market – even at this price point – but it outstrips every other hybrid machine for colour accuracy and on-screen detail.

That OLED display really makes a difference as soon as you boot it up, especially when compared to other 2-in-1s that still rely on a traditional IPS screen. It’s one of the more expensive features in the laptop world – having 4K on a portable computer comes at a premium at the moment – but it’s impossible to ignore how striking it is when it comes to brightness and contrast.

That gorgeous screen is complemented by its design, with smaller bezels (a mere 3.9mm on the sides), and an overall weight of just 1.2kg and a super-slim thickness of only 13.9mm. It’s clearly a device that’s been built with its 4K display as its centrepiece, but when it looks this good, it’s hard to argue that line of thinking.

As its name suggest, the Asus ZenBook Flip S really does ‘flip’, enabling you to fold the screen back completely for use in tablet mode, or tented for easy internet browsing and Netflix streaming. There’s plenty of resistance in the hinge so it never feels like its going to collapse- in fact, we noted the hinges were a little too tight to begin with, but we imagine they’d loosen up a little with continued use.

The Asus ZenBook Flip S supports 10-point capacitive touch, so it’s ideal for a little light gaming and we find it highly responsive, especially when sweeping through apps and flipping between tabs when web browsing. It’s a shame it’s not packed with a stylus for graphics design/sketching apps as both the screen and the casing of this 2-in-1 shows fingerprints with the lightest of touches.

ASUS ZENBOOK FLIP S 13 REVIEW: PERFORMANCE AND FEATURES

Asus ZenBook Flip S 2020 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus ZenBook Flip S comes with an 11th Gen Core i7 Intel processor, one of the first to feature Intel’s new ‘Tiger Lake’ CPUs and you can really feel the difference the moment you start using it. Designed to optimised power efficiency and overall performance, the Tiger Lake translates into improved clock speeds and improved performance overall when compared to hybrid machines utilising the 10th Gen i7 CPU.

To be more specific, the Asus ZenBook Flip S boasts an i7 1165G7 processor, with a max speed of 4,7GHz and a 2.8 GHz clock speed. It’s an impressive set of specs on paper, but how does it hold up in the confines of this Asus 2-in-1? Our Geekbench 5.0 testing scored 3,831 which was surprisingly low for an 11th Gen processor – especially so when that core score falls below what we’ve seen with other 2-in-1 laptops at a similar price point that boast 10th Gen CPUs.

Benchmark figures only tell you part of the story – so how does it hold up to practical tasks? While it’s not going to run demanding video games or other highly graphics intensive programs, the Asus ZenBook Flip S is an incredibly fast and responsive laptop experience. Even with multiple apps running and myriad tabs open in your choice of browser, this machine rarely ever feels like its struggling to perform.

In terms of graphics, the Asus ZenBook Flip S features a new integrated Iris Xe chip, a component which Asus promises will deliver double the performance of the previous generation’s chip. In reality, that means you can play pretty much any game that isn’t too GPU intensive, so the likes of Minecraft runs buttery smooth - just don't expect it run the likes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at top specs.

In the audio department, Asus’ own Golden Ear Team has teamed up with Harman Kardon to produce an impressive set of high-quality stereo speakers with promised surround sound. We’ve often seen (or should that be ‘heard’) plenty of hybrid laptops fail on the speaker front, but the Asus ZenBook Flip S really excels with a rich sound that doesn’t sound like its emanating from a slim form factor machine.

Considering its thinness, the Asus ZenBook Flip S doesn't have a huge selection of ports, sporting a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, a HDMI 1.4 port and a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports. You also get another neat little feature in the form of ScreenPad 2.0, which turns your trackpad into a NumPad when you press an icon in the corner of the trackpad. This illuminated pad is really useful, especially if you're using an external mouse as well.

However, the Asus ZenBook Flip S comes with another noticeable compromise: its battery. The 67Wh battery would usually put in a decent shift on most other models, but that 4K OLED display gives it a real kicking and we managed just under eight-a-half-hours on a full charge with its display running at top settings. Of course, you could switch up the display settings, but that would sort of defeat the point of paying more for portable 4K. This is below other models at this price point, but it should be noted it's not that far behind considering its running at 4K.

ASUS ZENBOOK FLIP S 13 REVIEW: PRICE AND VERDICT

Asus ZenBook Flip S 2020 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus ZenBook Flip S sits right at the top end of the 2-in1 market. Of course, with a display this good and a much-anticipated Tiger Lake processor to its name, that means you’re paying premium bucks to own one. 

You’ll be looking at around £1,500 or more, which puts it close to the very comparable Spectre x360. It usually comes in a little cheaper than the HP model, doesn’t quite have the battery life of the Spectre, and its CPU oddly doesn’t perform as well when pushed to its limits, but if you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop with a stunning screen for normal computing tasks, the Asus ZenBook Flip S is worth the extra dosh.

While the Asus ZenBook Flip S doesn’t quite live up to its own hype in a few key areas – mainly that CPU that doesn’t reach its potential and the less than ideal battery life – those sins can be somewhat forgiven by the fantastic build quality and the absolutely mouth-watering 4K OLED screen. From Netflix streaming to photo editing, there are few laptops out there that will make your computing tasks look as good as this.