ASUS VivoBook X403 Review: Endurance Over Performance

by Duey Guison  August 6, 2019

We review ASUS’ budget ultrabook offering!

If you are a digital nomad who is looking for an affordable ultrabook with long battery life, ASUS’ new VivoBook X403 is a notebook that you should consider. This sleek budget ultrabook has a compact footprint that is ideal for working in coffee shops and airplane seats and has the endurance to match.

With a generous 72wHr battery that ASUS claims can last up to 24 hours on a full charge, the X403 looks, on paper, as the best option for people that are always on the go. Does it live up to its claims? Let’s find out:

Very compact and handy

Thanks to the X403’s NanoEdge bezels, ASUS managed to fit a 14-inch Full HD display on a footprint that is typical of 12-inch notebooks. Even with an impressive 87% screen-to-body ratio, ASUS managed to tuck in a webcam on top of the X403’s display—no need to worry about awkward camera angles with this laptop.

Like the same design from the fruit brand, the X403’s vents are located behind the hinge, dissipating heat out of the laptop during heavy loads.

As for the case, the X403’s MIL-STD 810G certified aluminum case has a solid build with barely any flexing every time we open the lid. Its anodized silver finish makes it resistant to smudges and tough against scratches. The overall design reminds us of the 2017 ZenBook 14, and we’re glad that ASUS is bringing these premium design cues to the more affordable VivoBook line.

The display is ideal for TV series marathons

The X403’s display has good color reproduction and decent viewing angles, making it ideal for viewing and editing photos and watching videos on Netflix and YouTube. For its brightness, the X403’s optimal brightness setting is somewhere around the 70-80% range. Paired with a large internal battery (more on that later), the X403 is a great choice for those who want to enjoy TV series marathons after work.

As for the speakers, the X403’s dual speakers have a low output and tend to have tinny sound when we try to crank up the volume. We recommend using your trusty pair of cans if you intend to use the X403 for watching videos.

Key travel is lower than usual, but the trackpad is decent

You still get the usual notebook keyboard with the X403, complete with a white backlight to keep you productive in dimly-lit places. However, the key travel is lower than usual, and it takes a while to get used to it. We typed this review on the X403—along with several articles—while working on a coffee shop, and it gets the job done.

The trackpad is clicky and responsive, though scrolling can be glitchy at times–something a software update can easily fix. The X403 also has a built-in fingerprint scanner on the trackpad for secure logins.

Despite being a small laptop, the X403 covers almost all the essential ports every digital nomad will need: two USB-A ports, a full-sized SD card slot, HDMI port, USB-C port, combo headphone jack, and an AC port.

If there are three things ASUS can improve on the X403, these include adding support for Power Delivery for its USB-C port, relocating the combo headphone jack to the left side, and having two USB 3.0 ports instead of only one (the USB port on the left side is only USB 2.0).

Internals are underwhelming in spite of having an NVMe SSD

The X403 has relatively modest internals with a Core i3-8145U processor paired with 4GB RAM and 512GB NVMe SSD. While the RAM is rather small, the X403’s NVMe SSD tries to make up for it.

You are stuck with the said RAM and storage configuration, as the X403 is not upgradable.

While the X403’s specs are suitable for word processing, web browsing, and binge-watching videos, it struggles through more intensive tasks like photo editing. We edited a bunch of photos with the X403 using Adobe Lightroom, and the X403 crawls through a bit due to its Core i3 processor and 4GB RAM. While you can edit photos with the X403, don’t expect lightning-fast speeds–its internals is meant only for quick edits like color adjustment and cropping.

Forget about the thought of playing games with the X403, as it only comes with a UHD 620 integrated GPU that is designed more for productivity and not for graphics-intensive tasks.

The good thing with the X403 is that it comes with a 512GB NVMe SSD storage, which helped in improving bootup times and in launching programs.

Still far from the claimed 24-hour battery life

The X403’s main bragging rights is its large 72Wh hour battery that ASUS claims can last up to 24 hours. While we only got around nine and a half hours with our video loop test (Youtube video streaming, autoplay on, 50% brightness, 50% volume), we managed to squeeze around 16 hours on the X403’s battery on actual usage. While it is far from the claimed 24-hour usage, the X403 can be used for up to two 9-hour workdays before you will need to plug it to an outlet.

Juicing the X403 is done using a proprietary 45w power brick. Like what we mentioned earlier, the X403 could have been better if ASUS added Power Delivery support to its USB-C port.

Verdict: Meant for a specific market

At Php 39,995, the X403’s asking price is on the higher end of the spectrum considering it only uses a Core i3 processor and that it cannot be upgraded further.

While there are a bunch of things that can make the X403 stand out—512GB NVMe SSD, and 72Wh battery, and aluminum build—it will face tough competition against its rivals who offer a Core i5 Processor at roughly the same price.

The X403 is aimed at a specific market: not to those who are into content creation, but more towards digital professionals who are always on the go and have to deal with tons of emails, documents, and presentations on a daily basis.

ASUS VivoBook X403 Specs

  • Intel Core i3-8145U processor
  • 4GB DDR3 2133MHz SDRAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 620 Integrated GPU
  • 14-inch 16:9 Full HD display
  • 512GB PCIe 3.0 x2 SSD
  • HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB-C, Combo headphone jack, SD card slot
  • Fingerprint scanner, backlit keyboard, MIL-STD-810G certified
  • 4-cell 72Wh battery

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