The proverb states that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for mine, the Asus Flip 14 is not a device that will cause love at first sight based on its looks.
But when you realise what lies beneath the typical Asus brushed metal appearance, and the attractive price point it sits at, then you might come to adore this machine.
Aesthetically, the Flip 14 is yet another convertible PC, and where once we would have considered the four different modes of use, it’s enough in 2018 to say that they exist, and it has the option to be one of the beefiest and chunkiest Windows 10 tablets going around.
Into the same basket I put the accompanying stylus. I am far from being an artistic person at the best of times, and I don’t use styli; however, I will state that I think this one lags behind the competition, but ultimately it is left as an exercise to the reader. Also keep in mind that there does not appear to be a handy way to keep the stylus and the Flip together, so you are ultimately going to lose the stylus at some point.
Where the Flip excels is in the componentry Asus has chosen for it.
Straight up, the UX461 arrives with two chip choices: Either a Core i7-8550U, or an i5-8250U. So having enough cores and grunt for the vast majority of workloads shouldn’t be an issue, and when coupled with 16GB of LPDDR3 memory and its 512GB of SSD storage connected via an M.2 slot, the performance is certainly up the higher end of the scale.
For the unit we tested, and the model that is available in Australia, there is a significant chink in its armour, and that is the graphics chip. Our unit used Intel 620 integrated graphics, whereas in America, there is the option of having a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU. Given the specs on the rest of the silicon, it’s disappointing that antipodean customers cannot receive the best package without resorting to grey importing.
Another reason why international customers might eye off a grey import is the price. In Australia, a Flip 14 with 16GB of RAM, an i7-8550U, and 256GB of storage is being sold for AU$2,000; meanwhile, the recommended retail price in the US starts at $900, which converts to around AU$1,100 at the time of writing. So that leaves around AU$900 in headroom for the cost of the i7 and extra 8G of RAM, and I cannot see those upgrades costing that much coin.
In fact, the price shown on the top of this review is $1,300 for the model including the discrete graphics chip from US Amazon.
That said, even with the Australian caveat, the price of the Flip 14 remains attractive. Among its competitors, looking at machines with a Core i7 and 16GB of memory, the cost will most likely break the AU$3,000 barrier, and those machines are using processors now one generation old.
Before we get too excited, though, it is worth pointing out that the monitor is a mere Full HD 1920×1080 display, and in an age of 4K output, it leaves the Flip lacking.
Taken together, despite the above gripes, there’s a lot to like about the package that Asus has put together — for developers, this machine ticks a lot of boxes. With a discrete GPU, it would tick a lot more.
If you need a grunty work machine, and do not have a need for discrete graphics, you’ll go a long way before you’ll get more silicon for your buck.
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