Asus VivoBook Flip 14 2021
"The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 is a powerful budget laptop despite the disappointing display and build quality."
Outstanding productivity performance
Mostly attractive aesthetics
Active pen is included
Upgradable RAM and storage
Mediocre build quality
Below average battery life
Everyone likes a good budget laptop. They may not seem as exciting as the latest and greatest, but budget-conscious laptops have their place. Not everyone has the resources or the need for a laptop that costs well over $ 1,000, but everyone deserves great things. Finding a diamond in the rough can be a lot of fun.
Most manufacturers have a distinct budget lineup, and in Asus' case, that's the VivoBook. The company recently released the updated VivoBook Flip 14, an AMD-powered 360-degree convertible 2-in-1 designed to offer solid performance and an exciting experience at a low laptop price.
I checked the VivoBook Flip 14 configuration for $ 629 (if Asus offers it on their website, it will sell for $ 600) which has an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB -PCIe-SSD and a 14-inch IPS Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display in the increasingly old-fashioned 16: 9 aspect ratio. You can also get a version with a 256GB SSD for just $ 529. Attractive features for the price, but does the VivoBook Flip 14 keep its value proposition?
The VivoBook Flip 14 is mostly made of plastic, with the lid lined with an aluminum alloy. You don't have to buy plastic for this price, but it's not uncommon. Unfortunately, the build quality was not up to the usual Asus standard, with a lid that bends with too little force and can cause LCD distortion, quite a bit of flex in the keyboard deck and a case base that gives in to pressure. The similarly priced Acer Swift 3 is more solidly built, and for around $ 300 you can grab the HP Envy x360 13, which is also much better built – it's not surprising that both machines are on our list of the best budget laptops . You won't find many 14-inch 2-in-1s at this price level, so I can't think of a direct comparison that we tested.
Aesthetically, the VivoBook Flip 14 is a little more impressive, if a little strange at the same time. It comes in a “Bespoke Black” color scheme that covers 99% of the chassis. There's a bright silver logo on the lid and some chrome bars around the touchpad, but that's mostly it. What is strange is that the Enter key is outlined in lime green and labeled and stands out rather boldly – but I would say at the same time glaring. And it's the only element on the laptop that bears that color, so it's not part of a theme.
If you're usually struggling to find Enter, the bold color scheme helps, but I usually don't run into this predicament so the color scheme detracts from the aesthetic for me. Still, I think the VivoBook Flip 14 looks better than the Swift 3 and is on par with the Envy x360 13. In fact, it's as attractive as a more expensive notebook like the MSI Prestige 14 Evo and has a more distinctive look than the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 2-in-1, which is also about $ 300 more expensive.
The bezels are a bit big with a screen-to-body ratio of 82%. Premium laptops tend to be 90% or better, but the VivoBook Flip 14 isn't bad for a budget device. That makes the chassis a bit bigger and it's not the thinnest or lightest 14-inch laptop at 0.72 inches and 3.31 pounds. The Yoga 7i comes in at 0.69 inches and 3.09 pounds, while the MSI Prestige 14 is 0.63 inches thick and weighs 2.85 pounds.
The Acer Swift 5, another 14-inch clamshell, is just 0.59 inches thick and fairly light at 2.31 pounds – it's also twice as expensive. Looking at our budget competition, the Acer Swift 3 is 0.63 inches thick and weighs 2.65 pounds, and the HP Envy x360 13 is 0.65 inches thick and weighs 2.92 pounds. Obviously, the VivoBook Flip 14 doesn't win the battle for thin light.
Asus built its ErgoLift hinge into the VivoBook Flip 14, which is a nice touch considering the overall complexity of the 360-degree hinge. It works well, raises the keyboard deck to a more comfortable typing angle, and theoretically offers additional room for air to circulate – except there are no vents on the bottom of the laptop. Rather, the air is sucked in via the keyboard, so that the usual thermal advantages are not available. Anyway, the hinge is a bit stiff and the lid takes two hands to open, but it keeps the display in place in clamshell, tent, media, and tablet modes.
Asus has also built in some upgrade options. The SSD slot is easily accessible if you ever want to upgrade the memory, and of the test device's 8 GB of RAM, 4 GB is soldered to the motherboard and the other 4 GB is plugged in. So you can swap this for an 8 GB chip if necessary and increase your RAM to 12 GB. A maximum of 16 GB is available, which of course has to be configured when ordering the laptop.
Connectivity is good, with a USB-A 2.0 port, a USB-A 3.2 port, a USB-C Gen 2 port, a full-size HDMI 1.4 port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader. A proprietary connector provides power, and given the AMD chipset, there is no Thunderbolt support. Wireless connectivity is a bit behind the times with Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2.
The VivoBook Flip 14 featured the first six-core Ryzen 5 5500U CPU we tested, and I was curious to see how it compares to the various Tiger Lake variants from Intel and the Ryzen 7 series. I got away impressed.
It didn't dominate Geekbench 5, with the lower single-core score typical of AMD chips and the more competitive multi-core score. It landed in third place in the comparison group, behind the Asus ZenBook 13 UM325UA with an eight-core Ryzen 7 5800U, which dominated, and the MSI Prestige 14 Evo with its four-core Intel Core i7-1185G7. In PCMark 10, the VivoBook Flip 14 came second behind the ZenBook 13 and did particularly well in the content creation of this test. Accordingly, the Ryzen 5 5500U is competitive with Intel's Core i7 and significantly faster than the Core i5.
The VivoBook Flip 14 was particularly convincing in two particularly computationally intensive apps, Handbrake and Cinebench R23. In the Handbrake test, which encodes a 420 MB video as H.265, the Asus was 31 seconds faster than the Prestige 14 Evo and only seven seconds behind the ZenBook 13. The results in the demanding Cinebench R23 test were similar, where At least in multicore mode, the VivoBook Flip 14 took just second place behind the ZenBook 13 and was significantly faster than the Prestige 14 Evo. And the Ryzen 5 5500U is a real step up from the previous generation, making the VivoBook Flip 14 an impressive budget performer.
As with all current Ryzen laptops we tested, the VivoBook Flip 14 excels in CPU-intensive tasks and will go through the typical productivity workflow. It can handle creative applications as well, although its Radeon Graphics doesn't offer much in the way of enhancing applications that the GPU can take advantage of. Of course, this also applies to Intel's integrated Iris Xe graphics. In this comparison group, only the HP Envy 14 with its Nvidia GeForce GTX-1650 Ti brings real added value for these applications. Everywhere else, the VivoBook Flip 14 will do exceptionally well, especially given its $ 630 price tag.
|Underdog bench 5
(Single / multiple)
(Single / multiple)
|PCMark 10||3DMark time spy|
|Asus VivoBook Flip 14
(Ryzen 5 5500U)
|MSI Prestige 14 Evo (Core i7-1185G7)||1593/5904||162||1479/6680||4866||1465|
|Acer Swift 3 2020 (Ryzen7 4700U)||1120/4831||152||N / A||N / A||975|
|HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen 5 4500U)||1101/4485||176||N / A||N / A||902|
|Asus ZenBook 13 UM325UA
|HP Envy 14 2020 (Core i5-1135G7)||1398/4741||190||1343/5028||5178||3147|
One area that won't impress is gaming. The 3DMark Time Spy test result is nothing special, and the VivoBook Flip 14 performed poorly in Fortnite. It only managed 25 frames per second (fps) at 1080p and medium graphics, in line with laptops with Intel Iris Xe graphics. It reached 15 fps in epic graphics, which in turn corresponds to Intel's integrated GPU. Simply put, the VivoBook Flip 14 is not a gaming laptop at any cost.
Spend $ 630 on a laptop and you'll be giving up on something. There is usually a big tradeoff in display quality and the VivoBook Flip 14 is no exception.
First, it's not very bright at just 230 nits (we like to see 300 nits or more). This is almost identical to the 233 nits of the Acer Swift 3, and so the VivoBook Flip 14 is not alone among budget laptops with a weak display. The contrast is also poor at 720: 1, below the Swift 3's 770: 1 and well below our preferred threshold of 1000: 1. The Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 performs even worse at 690: 1, which shows that it is not only true budget laptops that suffer from poor contrast.
Next came the colors of the VivoBook Flip 14, which were incredibly narrow. The coverage of the Adobe RGB color space was only 50% and the sRGB color space was only 66%. That's well below the 70% and 95%, respectively, that we normally see minimums in mid-range and premium laptops – and the HP Envy x360 13, which is on our top budget list, scored 71% and 96%, which is much better is. I notice that the Swift 3 was in the same class as the Asus at 48% and 64%, respectively. The VivoBook Flip 14's color accuracy was better than the Swift 3's 4.76, with a Delta E of 2.62 (1.0 or less is considered excellent), while the Envy x360 13 scored a lower 2.26.
Subjectively, the display of the VivoBook Flip 14 wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It's enough for web browsing and productivity apps, but that's about it. Even viewing media on the 2-in-1 was not a terrible experience despite the poor colors and contrast.
Two downward facing speakers provide audio with Harman Kardon tuning. The speakers get loud, but also distorted, with crackling at any volume above 80%. Treble was blown out and mids muffled, which resulted in a tinny sound. Of course there was no question of bass. You'll be fine with system sounds and the occasional YouTube videos, but anything else requires headphones or a pair of bluetooth speakers.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard on the VivoBook Flip 14 is eerily reminiscent of HP's Specter keyboard, which is purposely a good choice. It offers good spacing, large keys with attractive and easy-to-read lettering and a number of Home, PgUp, PgDn, End and Fn keys on the far right. Unfortunately, although it looks like a Specter keyboard, it doesn't feel like it. There's a lot of travel and a nice click to the switches, but the ground motion is too abrupt. There's no crisp jump like HP, and the overall typing experience isn't nearly as comfortable. I would rate this keyboard a few steps behind the Specter and Dell XPS keyboards and way behind Apple's Magic Keyboard on the latest MacBooks. I will notice that the three-level backlight is even and useful.
To be very clear, the touchpad is way too small. There's still plenty of room on the keyboard deck for a larger version, and the small size is made worse by the fingerprint reader in the right corner. The touchpad is a Microsoft Precision version, so it works fine with good support for Windows 10 multi-touch gestures, but it's tiny.
The display is of course touch-enabled, as it is a 2-in-1, and an Asus active pen is included. It supports Windows 10 inking well, with smooth strokes and precise response.
The fingerprint reader mentioned above has Windows 10 Hello support for passwordless login. It was quick and accurate during my tests, and it was welcome on such an inexpensive laptop.
Asus only put 42 watt hours of battery into the VivoBook Flip 14, which is not much for a 14-inch display even with Full HD resolution and a powerful CPU. I wasn't expecting great battery life.
Starting with our web browser test that ran through a number of popular websites, the VivoBook Flip 14 lasted nine hours. That's a little less than average for this class of machine, but not a terrible result. The Acer Swift 3 managed just eight hours, while the HP Envy x360 13 managed a little over nine hours. In our video test, which plays a Full HD Avengers trailer until the battery runs out, the VivoBook Flip 14 lasted 12 hours, again slightly less than average, but not too much compared to the Swift 3's 10 hours disappointing. The Envy x360 13 beats both with 13 hours.
The VivoBook Flip 14 lasted just over two hours in the PCMark 10 gaming test, which stresses the CPU and GPU, which is average for the test. The Lenovo Yoga 7i managed just over 2.5 hours, and we didn't test the Swift 3 or the Envy x360 13 with this benchmark. In the PCMark 10 Applications test, which is the best indicator for battery life, the VivoBook Flip was again below average with just over nine hours. That still beats the 8.5 hours of the Yoga 7i.
Overall, the VivoBook Flip 14 was only a hair behind the pack in terms of battery life. It will likely take a full working day if you don't put too much stress on the CPU, but it definitely suffers from the small battery. However, this is again a budget laptop, and so the results are pretty good if you keep the price in mind.
The VivoBook Flip 14 is really very fast for a $ 630 laptop. Its build isn't the best, its battery life is slower, and its keyboard isn't one of my favorites. But a laptop that works like this for so little money shouldn't be overlooked.
If you have a demanding productivity workflow or occasionally use creative applications, the VivoBook Flip 14 will give you the performance you are looking for. And nothing else is so bad about the laptop that you shouldn't think twice about it.
Are there alternatives?
I'll start with the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED UM325UA. It's not a 2-in-1, but it costs just $ 170 more for a color-accurate OLED display, a faster AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive. If your budget isn't that tight and you don't really need a 2-in-1, then the ZenBook 13 is a great option.
If you need a 2-in-1 and your budget is limited, the HP Envy x360 13 is a solid alternative. It's also a little more expensive, but you get better performance, better battery life, and a better display. What do you dislike?
How long it will take?
The VivoBook Flip 14 isn't the most solid notebook we've tested, but it's not bad for a budget device. It won't withstand extreme abuse, but with normal wear and tear at home and in the office, it should last for several years. You won't be surprised by the one-year limited warranty.
Should you buy it?
Yes, if you don't need a color-accurate display and you are short of money. The outstanding performance of the VivoBook Flip 14 makes up for many of its weaknesses.