Sometimes a laptop will come along and feel like a premium product without the premium price. A great example is the Asus ZenBook 13. The UX333 model offers excellent build quality, reliable performance, and a superior display for a budget-friendly price.
Asus released a newer version, the UX334, that adds its proprietary ScreenPad 2.0 technology. However, we’re not the biggest fans of the LCD-based touchpad. Instead, we prefer the UX333 with its more straightforward numeric keypad embedded in the touchpad. We also love the UX333’s slightly smaller frame.
Meanwhile, HP’s Envy 13 also aims to provide a premium product at a not-so-premium price. It does just that, garnering a robust review and recommendation. But does it offer enough to take on the ZenBook 13? We pitted these two laptops against each other in a head-to-head comparison to see which comes out on top.
When considering their aesthetics, both laptops are far more striking than the usual budget options.
The ZenBook 13 has the high-end Royal Blue color scheme with stunning gold trim and iconic ZenBook swirl on the lid that adorns its more expensive cousins. The Envy 13 is also a looker, with a choice of Natural Silver and Pale Gold colors to customize its modern chassis that’s angled in all the right places, though color upgrades are available if desired.
Design-wise, the biggest difference between these two is their relative bezel sizes. The ZenBook 13’s bezels are much smaller, falling into the “tiny bezel” category and making it thinner than the Envy 13.
The ZenBook 13 dimensions come in at 11.89 x 7.44 x 0.67 inches, while the Envy 13 is 12.07 x 7.66 x 0.67 inches. The Envy 13 isn’t exactly huge, but the ZenBook 13’s chassis is notably smaller. Both are almost equally heavy at 2.88 pounds (Envy) versus 2.62 pounds (ZenBook).
The ZenBook 13 also benefits from Asus’s commitment to build quality. Tested to MIL-STD-810g military standards for robustness, it exhibits no bending or flexing in the lid, keyboard deck, or chassis bottom. The Envy 13 has a bit more give in the lid and keyboard deck, meaning that while you won’t worry about it falling apart, it doesn’t exude quite the same confidence as the Asus model.
Input options are similar between these two laptops. Both have keyboards with good travel and snappy, precise keys, and both have Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers for flawless Windows 10 multitouch gesture support. Interestingly, both also have hinges that prop up the keyboards at an angle for increased comfort and airflow.
Where the laptops differ is in the ZenBook 13’s LED inlay that provides a useful virtual numeric keypad. If you enter a lot of numbers, then you’ll find the inlay to be a helpful feature.
Finally, both laptops have a better legacy than future peripheral support. The ZenBook 13 has a USB-A 2.0 port, a USB-A 3.1 port, a USB-C 3.1 Gen2 port, and a full-size HDMI port. The Envy 13 has one Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port and two USB-A ports. Both have MicroSD card readers, Wireless AC (Wi-Fi 5), and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
Winner: Asus ZenBook 13. It simply has a more robust build, better connectivity, and a handy virtual numeric keypad.
The ZenBook 13 is available with Intel’s 8th Gen Core i5-8265U “Whiskey Lake” quad-core CPU, which is surprisingly quick and very efficient. For the Envy 13, you can configure it with the newer 10th Gen Core i7-1065G7 or the Core i7-10510U, giving HP the upper hand in performance, as either is an excellent choice for anyone with typical productivity tasks.
While the ZenBook 13 has a variant with the entry-level Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU, it’s only available in the U.S. with integrated Intel UHD 620. That gives the Envy 13 an advantage with its GeForce MX250 GPU. The newer GPU offers no significant increase in performance but still makes for a better entry-level gaming platform — at 1080p, at least, with details turned down.
Next, the ZenBook 13 has a surprisingly good 13.3-inch IPS Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) panel with exceptional contrast at 1360:1, higher-than-average AdobeRGB colors at 77%, and excellent color accuracy at 1.68. You don’t typically find such a good display on a budget-priced laptop.
The Envy 13 has a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) micro-edge, WLED-backlit, multi-touch option that we found to be bright and of average (but still respectable) colors and contrast. There’s also a Full HD option available for better battery life — you can’t go wrong with the displays on either of these laptops.
Winner: HP Envy 13. Its discrete GPU option is more readily available.
While the ZenBook 13 is smaller than the Envy 13, it’s slightly thicker. However, neither are difficult to carry or fit into tight spaces.
The ZenBook 13 is an outstanding performer in battery thanks to its efficient CPU and Full HD display. Comparing it to the Envy 13 is difficult, however, given we tested HP’s laptop packing a power-hungry 4K display. The Envy 13 has a 52 watt-hour battery compared to the ZenBook 13’s 50 watt-hour version, and so we suspect that they’d perform similarly with the same Core i5 and Full HD panel.
Winner: It’s a tie. These are two very portable laptops, but if battery life matters, then make sure you choose a lower-resolution display.
The HP Envy 13 ekes out a win
Currently, the ZenBook 13 is attractively priced at $895 for an 8th Gen Core i5-8265U, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The Envy 13 sells at a similar price for a near-identical configuration packing newer 10th Gen CPUs. It’s often on sale, making it a great buy.
The ZenBook 13 is a little more solidly built and has a nice LED numeric keypad in the touchpad, but the Envy 13 can be configured with faster components and a higher-resolution display. That flexibility gives HP a narrow win, especially if you can pick it up while it’s on sale.
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