The HP Envy 13 and Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 want to do the same thing: Deliver excellent performance, build quality, and battery life for around $1,000. They hit a sweet spot between price and performance, packing the specs of an ultrabook like Dell’s XPS 13 for a slightly lower price. Between them, though, which should you choose?
Asus has moved on from the ZenBook 13 UX333, focusing on newer models like the 14-inch UX425. HP, on the other hand, is sticking with the Envy 13, updating the range for 2021 with Intel’s latest mobile processors. The Envy 13 is a better option based solely on performance, but more than specs separate these two machines.
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, two USB-A 3.2 ports, a USB-C 3.2 port, and a full-size HDMI port. The Envy 13 has one Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) port and two USB-A ports. Both have MicroSD card readers, a microphone/headphone combo jack, Wireless AC (Wi-Fi 6), and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
The ZenBook 13 comes with up to an i7-10510U processor, an eight-core part that can turbo up to 4.9GHz. Although a solid processor for a 13-inch laptop, the Envy 13 features one of Intel’s newer Tiger Lake processors — in particular, the i7-1165G7. Beyond the CPU, you can configure both laptops with up to 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB PCIe SSD. HP offers the Envy 13 with up to 32GB of Intel Optane memory, too.
The machines split when it comes to graphics. For the ZenBook 13, you have the choice between Intel’s onboard UHD 620 graphics or Nvidia’s MX250 mobile GPU. You can configure the Envy 13 slightly higher with a Nvidia MX450, but you shouldn’t need to. The 1165G7 comes with Intel’s new Iris Xe integrated graphics. A dedicated GPU is better, but Iris Xe still provides solid performance for light gaming.
Next, the ZenBook 13 has a surprisingly good 13.3-inch IPS Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) panel with exceptional contrast at 1,360:1, 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.
There’s a clear winner outside of the display, though. Almost by default, the Envy 13 is a better option. You can configure it with a slightly better GPU and it features one of Intel’s latest mobile processors.
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 51 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.
The HP Envy 13 ekes out a win
The Envy 13 starts at $800 with an i5-1135G7, a 256GB SSD, and 16GB of RAM (oddly, some more expensive configurations only come with 8GB). The ZenBook 13 UX333 is, well, unavailable as of early 2021.
That doesn’t make too much of a difference because the Envy 13 is a better option simply because it has newer hardware, and it’s still fairly inexpensive. Asus’ ZenBook 13 UX325 — a similar, more readily available variant of the ZenBook 13 — runs $900 for an i7-1065G7, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Configured similarly, the Envy 13 is only $80 more.
If you like the specs of the Envy 13 and the look of the ZenBook 13, you may want to consider the slightly larger. It comes with a Tiger Lake processor and a dedicated GPU option, though it’s slightly more expensive than the Envy 13.