Asus VivoBook S14 S432F: An Attractive Ultrabook, But Not Without Compromises

The Asus VivoBook S14 S432F is a mid-range ultrabook aimed primarily at students. It features a 14-inch IPS LCD screen in Full HD definition.

DESIGN

The Asus VivoBook S14 S432F is a mid-range ultrabook aimed primarily at students. As such, it does not offer all the features of a top-of-the-range ultrabook that we are more often used to seeing.

However, here we have a well-made ultrabook with a screen edge to edge, a mixed aluminum and plastic chassis, and a limited footprint: less than 2 cm thick for 1.4 kg on the scale. This Vivobook never looks “cheap” despite the use of plastic for part of the chassis.

We have tested here a grey version of the machine, but the VivoBook has the particularity of being offered in a variety of slightly bolder colours, with pink and green.

KEYBOARD AND SCREENPAD 2.0

The VivoBook features an ergo-lift hinge that Asus has made its specialty. It allows the back of the keyboard to be raised when the PC is opened, improving typing comfort and cooling the machine. The keyboard is also backlit. The stroke of the keys is quite pleasant and the manufacturing seems to be of good quality (only a long-term test could ensure this): the typing is clean and the keys are not soft to the touch. My main reproach comes rather from the layout of the keys. For example, the Enter key is reduced by half in height, and the PC power key is a bit too integrated to the rest of the keyboard: it is pressed instead of the “delete” key without realizing it.

Asus continues to push this idea of the ScreenPad, an IPS touchscreen that replaces the touchpad. We had already tested it on the ZenBook Pro 15 and this is an expanded version 2.0 that we’re allowed to use.

Unfortunately, the screen here is less well integrated than on the brand’s high-end devices. The touch screen is a bit too deep compared to the rest of the chassis, which turns its edges into a dust magnet. The Screenpad 2.0 is wide enough to be pleasant as a touchpad, and Asus continues to use a very finger-friendly matte coating that avoids the “smartphone screen” effect.

CONNECTIVITY

The Vivobook is a mid-range model, it does not have Thunderbolt 3, but it still has a USB-C 3.0 port. Asus also integrates an HDMI port, a micro SD card reader, a jack port, two USB Type-A 2.0 and one USB Type-A 3.0, the historical USB format.

Power is supplied by a proprietary charger, but Asus specifies 4 mm diameter, 19V and 2.47A (i.e. 45W) chargers; this will allow alternative chargers from other manufacturers to be found, as long as they meet these values. According to our tests, the computer cannot be charged via the USB-C port.

SCREEN

In its official specifications, Asus does not give much detail on the VivoBook screen. The brand simply announces a 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) backlit screen with 178-degree viewing angles.

It has a TFT-LCD panel with WLED backlighting that promises a brightness of 250 cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1000:1.

To the naked eye, you can quickly see that the matte display of the Vivobook suffers from quite low brightness. Colors also appear quite dull, and viewing angles are average compared to an IPS display.

Measurements with our colorimetric probe confirm that this is a low-end tile on this Vivobook. The tile covers only 60% of the sRGB color space for an average deltaE of 6.62 (an average deltaE of less than 3 indicates a difference that is invisible to the naked eye). The screen brightness is 291 cd/m² at a contrast ratio of 1300:1. The colour temperature saves the picture with 6700K, which is very close to the ideal (6500K is the temperature of white sunlight).

This screen is suitable for everyday use, but don’t rely on it for professional work that would require accurate colors.

SOFTWARE

The Vivobook runs on Windows 10 Family. By default, Asus again offers preinstalled applications that you can do without. While drivers and applications optimized for the ScreenPad are welcome, McAfee still has a trial version. The latter will not fail to remind you with regular pop-ups trying to alarm you about the danger you will run if you don’t pull out your credit card to pay for the full license. Luckily a quick uninstall allows you to recover Windows Defender, the free Windows 10 antivirus, which is more than enough for everyday use.

Asus offers two third-party applications for its ScreenPad: Evernote and Spotify. Both applications have been reworked to have a touch interface adapted to the small screen of the touchpad. Music service subscribers will be able to browse their playlists with great ease, without having to play with the main screen windows.

The PC also offers some small applications for its ScreenPad: Number Key to replace it with a number pad, or Quick Key which creates a series of easy access shortcuts. There are also extensions for Word, Excel and Powerpoint. They allow you to quickly change the font, for example, or insert a page break.

PERFORMANCE

The Vivobook we tested has an Intel Core i5-8265U processor supported by 8GB of RAM. It also features 256GB of NVMe SSD storage.

This is a classic configuration for an ultrabook that allows you to browse the web and Windows interface without ever slowing down. With such a machine, you’ll be able to use chrome tabs, streaming video, and word processing. For image editing, on the other hand, it will be necessary to stick to basic manipulations on images with limited definition.

A test under CineBench R20 displays a score of 1223 points, an honorable score for a machine at this price.

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 graphics chip will not be able to run 3D games properly. It will have to make do with technically unambitious 2D games or make a cross on video games.

POWER

The VivoBook features a small 42 Wh battery. However, the machine is equipped with two LCD screens to be powered, even though the processor is a low-power model. In the end, the Vivobook has a good battery, above the average of ultrabooks. With a fairly intensive use mixing many tabs under Edge (based on Chromium), video streaming on YouTube, Bluetooth sound and connection to an external screen, the PC lasted a little over 5 hours before falling below 20% battery power and activating the power saving mode.

Although the charger is proprietary, the PC can be recharged up to 60% in less than an hour.

THE VERDICT OF THE ASUS VIVOBOOK S14 S432F

Design

The VivoBook S14 is a well-designed mid-range ultraportable. Its mixed-plastic-aluminum chassis makes it look more high-end than it really is. It has a rich connectivity, even if the Thunderbolt 3 is missing. The keyboard is very nice and integrates backlighting. Finally, the touchpad is particularly pleasant. Not everything is perfect, but the essential is there.

Screen

The weak point of this computer. The slab chosen by Asus is simply not at the level of a machine launched in 2019. The color spectrum does not cover the sRGB and the colors are incorrectly represented. You should not rely on this screen for professional artwork.

Software

An updated version of Windows 10, with additions to make the best use of the Screenpad 2.0. One regrets on the other hand the installation of a trial version of McAfee instead of Microsoft Defender.

Performances

The integrated Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and NVMe SSD storage allows you to perform office or web tasks smoothly and seamlessly. As such, it does what you’d expect from an ultrabook. Forget complex photo and video editing or 3D gaming.

Battery

Battery is above average without being excellent. For its price, this VivoBook does well in this regard. It’s a pity that the laptop is not rechargeable via the USB port, but only via the proprietary charger.

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