ASUS wants you to “expand your creative vision” with their new ZenBook 14 UM431. It is aimed towards creators and multimedia consumers, that happen to also be AMD lovers. Yes, guys, this device comes with the latest (by the time of writing this review) low-voltage AMD Ryzen processors.
We would quite comfortably say that this laptop is very similar to the ZenBook 14 UX433 and UX434, however, it has a slightly thicker bezel. In the review to follow, you are going to understand what are trade-offs and the positive outcomes of this. As a self-respecting ZenBook – the UM431 features the ErgoLift hinge and an optional NumberPad touchpad.
You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/asus-zenbook-14-um431/
ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431 - Specs
What’s in the box?
Expectedly, we received the ZenBook 14 UM431 in a fancy retail box. It features a teeny weeny 45Wh power brick, as well as the laptop itself and some paper manuals. Additionally, there is the optional sleeve, that ZenBooks are traditionally offered with.
Design and construction
At first glance, this laptop takes a lot of the design features from the ZenBook 14 UX434 and S13 UX392. However, when you take a more in-depth look you can notice some differences. We can describe its color as silver with a blue tint, while ASUS call it with the more euphonious “Utopia Blue”. The laptop, itself, weighs around 1.39 kg (3.06 lbs) and is 15.9 mm thick.
Clearly, the ErgoLift hinge has played its part of that, as it enables the laptop to breathe more fresh air by lifting the backside of the device by a couple of millimeters. Again, it opens extremely easy with a single hand and has its camera placed at its orthodox position – above the display.
If we take a look at the base, we are going to see a brushed finish on the material. What is more interesting are the two sizeable grills on either side of the keyboard. They hide Harman/Kardon speakers that produce sound with very dynamic qualities. As of the keyboard, itself, it has a familiar layout with fairly big keycaps. Additionally, they have a good key travel and clicky feedback.
Further below is the centered touchpad. In our case it houses a fingerprint reader, however, some iterations of the device come with a NumberPad embedded into it. We were happy with the accuracy and the speed of the touchpad, which has a glass cover on top of it.
On the left side of the laptop you are going to see the power plug, an HDMI connector, followed by a USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) port and a USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen. 1) port. Then on the right, there is a Medieval USB Type-A 2.0 port, an audio jack, and an SD card reader.
Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance
Thankfully, this ZenBook also lacks the signature hidden screws we all hated on these devices. Instead, it only has 7 Torx-head screws that hold the motherboard in place. After you unscrew them you only need to pry the panel off with a plastic tool and you are good to go.
Since we have already disassembled a very similar device – the ZenBook 14 UX434, we were expecting to see something familiar on the inside. That was not the case, however – the laptop is cooled by a relatively thin heat pipe, which transfers the heat towards a fairly long heat spreader.
Sadly, you won’t be able to upgrade the memory of this laptop as all of the RAM modules are soldered to the motherboard. On the bright side – there is the M.2 PCIe SSD, that is at your disposal.
Last, but not least, there is the 47Wh battery pack, that comprises only two, yet rather big, cells.
ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431 has a Full HD display, model number LM140LF-3L03 (NCP0035). Its diagonal is 14″ (35.56 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 157 ppi, their pitch – 0.161 x 0.161 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 56 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).
Its viewing angles are excellent. We have provided images at 45 degrees to evaluate quality.
The maximum measured brightness is 285 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 270 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 10%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 7200K (average) – colder than the 6500K optimum for sRGB. The average color temperature through the grey scale before profiling is 7030K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective.
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is very good – 1300:1 (1130:1 after profiling).
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
The yellow dotted line shows ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431’s color gamut coverage.
Its display covers 92% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.
Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
Below you can compare the scores of ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).
The next figure shows how well the display can reproduce dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.
Response time (Gaming capabilities)
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 23 ms
Health impact – PWM / Blue Light
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431’s display uses PWM to adjust its brightness up until 80 nits. Furthermore, the frequency of the pulsations is high enough, so it doesn’t present any harm in this aspect.
Blue light emissions
Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431’s IPS panel has a Full HD resolution, good contrast ratio, comfortable viewing angles and covers 92% of sRGB. Additionally, it doesn’t use aggressive PWM for brightness adjustment and with the help of our Gaming and Web design profile, it becomes appropriate for Web design use.
Buy our profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431 configurations with 14.0″ LM140LF-3L03 (NCP0035) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS panel.
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
THealth-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431’s speakers produce a clear sound with good quality. They are tuned by Harman Kardon and their low, mid and high tones are clear of deviations.
You can find all of the drivers and utilities available for this device here: https://www.asus.com/Laptops/ASUS-ZenBook-14-UM431DA/HelpDesk_Download/
Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. ASUS has given the ZenBook 14 UM431 a 47Wh battery pack.
With it, the laptop managed to get more than 9 hours of Web browsing and video playback.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
The ZenBook 14 UM431 is available with two different CPUs. They are both parts of the latest AMD lineup of mobile processors – the Ryzen 5 3500U and the Ryzen 7 3700U.
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)
Respectively, they are featured with the Radeon RX Vega 8 and the RX Vega 10.
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Temperatures and comfort
Max CPU load
In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.
Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.
|AMD Ryzen 5 3500U (15W TDP)||0:02 – 0:10 sec||0:15 – 0:30 sec||10:00 – 15:00 min|
|Lenovo IdeaPad S540 (14″)||3.24 GHz (B+54%) @ 60°C||3.08 GHz (B+47%) @ 66°C||2.95 GHz (B+40%) @ 72°C|
|ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431||2.95 GHz (B+40%) @ 65°C||2.92 GHz (B+39%) @ 68°C||2.24 GHz (B+7%) @ 56°C|
As you can see from the table above, neither of the devices had particularly difficult job cooling this processor. However, for some reason, ASUS has picked a rather conservative thermal curve, which doesn’t let the ZenBook 14 UM431 take advantage of the full potential of the Ryzen 5 3500U.
Comfort during full load
Not only the laptop was extremely cool on the outside, but the maximum temperature we measured was below 36C, which is lower than the human body temperature (even lower than that of the Camel, which is around 36.3C).
With the last couple of models, we tested from the ZenBook series it became clear that ASUS is setting a standard for good all-rounders in the league of ultrabooks. While the ZenBook 14 UX434 can claim an innovations award thanks to its ScreenPad and good performance capabilities, the ZenBook S13 UX392 is one of the easiest laptops to carry around, plus – it looks stunning.
However, if we look outside of the ASUS family there is one particular device that we think of – the Lenovo Ideapad S540. It is available with the same choices of CPUs, however, it delivers a little bit better performance. Nevertheless, the performance was not a problem for the ZenBook 14 UM431, as well. Plus, the Ryzen processors happened to be pretty energy efficient, as we were able to extract more than 9 hours of Web browsing and video playback from the 47Wh battery pack.
ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431’s IPS panel (LM140LF-3L03 (NCP0035)) has a Full HD resolution, good contrast ratio, comfortable viewing angles and covers 92% of sRGB. Additionally, it doesn’t use aggressive PWM for brightness adjustment and with the help of our Gaming and Web design profile, it becomes appropriate for Web design use.
Inevitably, there are some downsides. Some are courtesy of the design, while others are as a result of cost-cutting measures. First, there is the soldered memory, that leaves you with whatever you buy at the beginning. It is petty to not be able to upgrade such an important part of the machine. Especially if you are using this laptop to create some sort of content.
Secondly, there are the I/O ports. It is annoying that ASUS only gives you up to USB 3.1 (Gen. 1) speeds with this machine. In translation, you are only going to get up to 5 Gbps from the USB. Not to mention the USB Type-A 2.0 that is archaic, and in our case had some problems of not being able to connect every time. Just to make the statement clearer, USB 3.1 (Gen. 2) can reach 10 Gbps (two times more), while Thunderbolt 3 connections go up to 40 Gbps (eight times more!). On the bright side, the laptop features the all-important for photographers SD card reader.
So, basically, this is it. If you are not going to need any peripherals, or your work is not memory-dependent, there is no need to worry over this laptop. However, if any of the aforementioned is part of your daily routine, you might find it a problem.
- Great price for the build quality
- Backlit keyboard
- Loud speakers
- Good input devices
- Decent battery life
- Covers 92% of sRGB and with our Gaming and Web design it can be used for Web design (LM140LF-3L03 (NCP0035))
- Doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust its brightness (LM140LF-3L03 (NCP0035))
- USB ports are limited to 3.0 speeds
- Its RAM is soldered
- No Type-C charging
You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/asus-zenbook-14-um431/