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6 best Asus laptops for 2021: Find the model that’s right for you

Whatever your needs and budget, the computer giant has a top-quality device to suit

David RS Taylor
Friday 03 December 2021 17:07
<p>Asus often delivers on specs and design, but it’s the brand’s crème de la crème that’s made the cut </p>

Asus often delivers on specs and design, but it’s the brand’s crème de la crème that’s made the cut

It’s quite confusing walking into a shop to look at the laptops. Unless it’s a branded store that looks more like a design studio, has about three products out on the shop floor and five employees to each of them, chances are that you’ve at some point become lost trying to navigate the brands and set-ups of the laptop world.

One of the brands that always seems to be in eyeshot is Asus. Started in 1989 from a coffee shop in Taipei, the company is now a leading global brand for motherboards, processors and all manner of computer hardware. Not just producing these for the market, Asus also crams as much technological knowhow into its own laptops as possible, becoming a top-three global brand for consumer notebooks. To paraphrase, when you’re in Currys, you’re never more than three feet away from an Asus.

Asus laptops, while offering fantastic specs and, on the whole, attractive design, can themselves be pretty confusing, with rafts of zenbook 14s and battalions of ROG strix set-ups for you to wade through. Below are some of the best laptops Asus produces, but remember that you can power up or down each product (processing, memory etc), depending on your needs.

How we tested

A laptop is usually one of our most used personal items, so we tested for longevity throughout. First, we looked to get a general impression of how each machine worked: was switching between windows a smooth and fast experience? How quick was boot-up? How hot did each laptop get after use? We then tested usability, from how tired our eyes were from looking at the screen, to how comfortable a prolonged period of use was for our necks and hands.

Finally, an important aspect of testing is how each product makes us feel: does the design excite us? How happy would we be taking it out of our bags at a café? This laptop is with you for the long haul, after all – you have to like the look of it.

Read more:

The best Asus laptops are:

  • Best overall – Asus zenbook duo 14: £1,299, Currys.co.uk
  • Best gaming laptop – Asus ROG strix SCAR 17: £1,999.99, Asus.com
  • Best mid-range Chromebook – Asus C434 Chromebook: £399.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best traditional mid-range laptop – Asus vivobook X413: £549.97, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best full-size Chromebook – Asus flip CX5 chromebook: £599.99, Argos.co.uk
  • Best lightweight laptop – Asus zenbook 14 (UX425EA): £849, Currys.co.uk
  • Best budget laptop – Asus E410: £199.99, Argos.co.uk

Asus zenbook duo 14

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7
  • OS:  Windows 11
  • Screen: 14in FHD touchscreen with 12.65in ScreenPad plus secondary touchscreen
  • Memory and storage: 16GB RAM; 512GB
  • Dimensions and weight (HxWxD): 16.9 mm x 324 mm x 222 mm; 1.6kg

The zenbook duo is a beautiful machine. It’s the sort of laptop you’d see the CEO of a mid-2100s tech company own in a Michael Bay film, although it really deserves a better comparison than that. The duo performs admirably in relation to its high-priced rivals, thanks to the 11th gen Intel Core processor and 32 GB RAM.

The backlit keyboard is also a stunner, but the duo’s USP is Asus’s “screenPad plus” secondary screen, stretching out the display in a simple and ergonomically-thoughtful way. It’s a feature that you didn’t ever think of needing, but once you experience, is something that seems bafflingly obvious for comfort and ease of use. The duo is an elegant, high-powered laptop that is surely leading the way for more considered laptop design.

Asus ROG strix SCAR 17

Best: Gaming laptop

Rating: 9/10

  • CPU:  Intel Core i5-1035G1
  • OS: Windows 11
  • Screen: 17.3in FHD
  • Memory and storage: From 8GB DDR4; 1TB
  • Dimensions and weight (HxWxD): 23.4 mm x 395 mm x 282 mm; 2.7kg

This gaming laptop, from Asus sister company Republic of Gamers, is a proper set up straight out of the box. While it’s more expensive than similar rivals, this is mainly due to the sheer amount of high-end components Asus has managed to cram inside a bulky yet sophisticated body, that gives off a heavy “grown-up gamer-that-has-a high-flying-job-but-is-secretly-thinking-about-Overwatch” vibe.

If you’re looking for one of the quickest gaming laptops on the market, this is the monster for the job. From the Nvidia-powered GeForce RTX graphics, to the AMD Ryzen processor, via the minimum-300Hz refresh rate of the meaty screen and fantastic multicoloured mechanical keyboard, you’ll be hard-pushed to find anything better. If you decide on a Strix, it’s worth forking out a little more for even higher specs and the most comprehensive gaming experience: just be prepared for a hit to the bank balance.

Asus C434 Chromebook

Best: Mid-range Chromebook

Rating: 8/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8500Y dual core/ i5-8200Y dual core/m3-8100Y dual core
  • OS:  Google Chrome
  • Screen: 14in FHD
  • Memory and storage: 4GB/8GB LPDDR3; 32GB (up to 128GB) with one-year subscription to Google One 100GB
  • Dimensions and weight (HxWxD): 15.7mm x 321mm x 202mm; 1.45kg

The C434 has a charge port on both sides of the body, which we now expect on every laptop. This might sound like a flippant aspect to concentrate on, but it’s what should be an obvious design point. After all, how many times have you been slightly annoyed by having to change position on the sofa because you need to charge your laptop and the charging port is on the wrong side for the nearest plug?

Besides this hill that we’re now willing to die on, the C434’s Chrome OS works seamlessly. The NanoEdge 14in display touchscreen is a level up from many Chromebooks, offering a supremely clean, attractive picture. The screen size is slightly squat, meaning there’s a widescreen feel to the laptop, but this shouldn’t be a problem for most people and actually works nicely when you flip it round on its hinges to use as a tablet. A flexible, good-looking machine.

Asus vivobook X413

Best: Traditional mid-range laptop 

Rating: 8/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1
  • OS:  Windows 10
  • Screen: 14in FHD
  • Memory and storage:  8GB DDR4; 256GB
  • Dimensions and weight (HxWxD): 19.1mm x 324 mm x 215mm; 1.4kg

The vivobook X413 is one of the best laptops you can buy at this price. The quality is obvious from the moment you switch it on. It’s lightweight but feels sturdy, and the backlit keyboard is a pleasure to use. The audio is comprehensive, especially when playing full, rich music. The screen uses Asus NanoEdge display, with minimal colour drain or contrast issues, and general processing is fast and effortless. There are slightly less powerful versions of the X413 available for as little as £399.

Asus flip CX5 chromebook

Best: Full-size Chromebook

  • Rating: 7.5/10
  • CPU:  Intel Core i3-1115G4
  • OS: Google Chrome
  • Screen: 15.6in FHD touchscreen convertible
  • Memory and storage: 8GB RAM; 128GB
  • Dimensions and weight (HxWxD): 18.5 mm x 357.6 mm x 240.6 mm; 1.9kg

Chromebooks are a great invention, but many look little more than a trumped-up touchpad. This works for the most part, but for something a little more traditional with all the modern benefits, the CX5 is a solid option. It’s a proper-looking laptop, with a crisp, bright 14 inch screen and sturdy, fixed, full-size keyboard.

However, the “flip” part of the name isn’t just for show: the screen can fold over, creating a huge touchscreen tablet mode, perfect for presentations or streaming video – streaming is also helped by the screen’s bezels being a mere 5mm thick. The USB-C ports are handily multi-use, good for charging, hooking up to an external display, or transferring data. The CX5 manages to stay lightweight while offering a more old-school silhouette and strong frame, and performs all Chromebook tasks with speed and ease. It’s a machine that should last you a long time.

Asus zenbook 14 (UX425EA)

Best: Lightweight laptop

Rating: 7.5/10

  • CPU:  Intel Core i5-1135G7
  • OS:  Windows 11
  • Screen: 14in FHD
  • Memory and storage:  8GB RAM; 512GB
  • Dimensions and weight (HxWxD): 13.9 mm x 304 mm x 203 mm; 1.17kg

At just over a kilogram, the zenbook 14 is almost disconcertingly light and thin, but retains a compact strength and still manages to pack in a HDMI, USB-C and USB-A ports and a MicroSD reader. Zenbook 14s have been accused of prioritising portability over performance, and that’s true in the main, as this laptop is certainly one that would appeal to someone more on-the-go than stay-at-home. However, the 11th gen Intel processor in this particular zenbook (the UX425EA) makes sure the machine runs smoothly and swiftly, at a good level for this price range.

Asus E410

Best: Budget laptop

Rating: 7/10

  • CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 dual-core
  • OS:  Windows 10
  • Screen: 14in HD (1366 x 768)
  • Memory and storage:  4GB DDR4; 64GB
  • Dimensions and weight (HxWxD): 18mm x 325mm x 217mm; 1.3kg

Asus brings the fight to the budget laptop game with the E410. A good entry-level laptop, it’s lightweight and offers the nice design touches that you expect from Asus. The yellow enter key, for instance, or nifty NumberPad included on the main trackpad, are handy for any financial work or trying rude words on a calculator. It doesn’t have the best screen, with contrast issues at different angles, and isn’t the quickest, but offers 1TB of cloud storage and a good twelve hour battery life. It’s not a world beater, but you’d expect to pay more for it.

The verdict: Asus laptops

Asus is a quiet major player in laptops, producing products with high-quality components and sophisticated design elements. All of this is present in the zenbook duo 14, an elegant and powerful machine that offers a new approach to laptop design efficiency.

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