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Asus ROG Zephyrus G Review

Asus ROG Zephyrus G Review

Asus Rog Zephyrus G 04The Asus ROG Zephyrus G (GA502DU-AL025T) is a rare thing – a gaming laptop that costs less than $1,099 and £999. We’re usually sceptical about such affordable notebooks, because a low price means that too much has to be compromised in order to bring the machine in under budget. Asus says that this machine is different, though – so read our Asus ROG Zephyrus G review to find out if this affordable gaming laptop does deliver.

Design

The affordable Asus ROG Zephyrus G doesn’t look cheap. Instead, it looks smart and stylish. The machine is made from matte black metal along with black plastic around the lid. The screen has slim bezels, there’s a smart speaker grille above the keyboard, and the base has clean lines and slick curves rather than the ridiculous angles and extras that can be found on many gaming laptops.

At the rear the most extravagant bit of design is the air vents, which have small slats, some extraneous lines and a Republic of Gamers logo. However, even this part is pretty subtle.

Asus Rog Zephyrus G 03In fact, the Asus looks more like a Razer Blade 15 than an affordable gaming laptop. That’s no bad thing, especially at this price.

Build quality is reasonable too. The wrist-rest only moves a little, and the screen feels sturdy – certainly stronger than many other laptops at this price. We’d always use a protective sleeve when taking any laptop out of the house – but the Zephyrus is strong enough to survive frequent travel.

This machine isn’t large or bulky either. It weighs 2.2kg and it’s 20mm thick. That’s barely any heavier or thicker than top-tier, light gaming laptops – the ones that make bold claims about their size and cost twice as much as the Asus. When this machine costs $1,099 and £999, that’s impressive.

The Asus has a lot going for it, but its exterior isn’t without issues.

The port selection, for instance, isn’t very good. You get three USB 3.1 ports and a Type-C connection, but the three full-size ports use USB 3.1 Gen 1 not Gen 2 – so speeds are reduced. There’s an HDMI output, but no DisplayPort. You only get one audio jack, and there’s no Thunderbolt and no card reader.

Components

Unsurprisingly, the affordable Asus ROG Zephyrus G uses mid-range graphics. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is deployed, and it’s the Max-Q version – which means its specification has been reduced to better suit laptops.

Asus Rog Zephyrus G 02And then there’s the fact that this 16-series chip is one of Nvidia’s more affordable releases – one that sits beneath the green team’s latest chips. That means you get the latest Turing architecture, but it also means that you don’t get dedicated cores for Ray-Tracing or DLSS. If you want to use those futuristic technologies, you’ll have to spend more on a machine with an RTX 2060.

The GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q has 1,536 stream processors and 6GB of GDDR6, just like the full-fat version of this core. However, Nvidia has reduced its boost clock from 1,770MHz to 1,335MHz in order to keep power consumption and electricity usage down.

The next step up in the Nvidia range is the RTX 2060. To get a laptop with that core, you’ll need to spend around $1,400 or £1,400. However, with that chip you do get 1,920 stream processors, higher clock speeds and Ray-Tracing and DLSS cores.

The mid-range GPU is joined by a mid-market processor. Unusually, for a laptop, the Asus uses AMD silicon.

The Ryzen 7 3750H is one of AMD’s better mobile chips, but it uses the Zen+ architecture – not Zen 2. That means you miss out on AMD’s recent, excellent move to 7nm manufacturing. You also don’t get AMD’s new, more effective ‘chiplet’ design or other architectural improvements.

The chip has four cores with multi-threading. It’s got base and boost speeds of 2.3GHz and 4GHz. It’s a perfectly solid chip, but Intel’s more popular Core i7-8750H and i7-9750H chips are better, with six cores and marginally quicker boost clock speeds.

The rest of the Asus’ specification is reasonable. There’s 16GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 and a 512GB Intel 660p SSD – all standard stuff. You’ve also got dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Gigabit Ethernet for connectivity.

Click here for all of our in-depth graphics card reviews – including the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080, RTX 2070 and RTX 2060!

Keyboard and Trackpad

The Asus ROG Zephyrus Gdoesn’t have a bad keyboard, but it’s certainly a little inconsistent and it’s not without issues.

Asus Rog Zephyrus G 07On the plus side, it has a fast, light typing action – it’s easy to glide your fingers over the buttons during competitive play, casual games and when typing. The fast-paced keys are paired with a function row packed with media and fan control options. You also get four extra buttons for controlling the volume, using the microphone and for launching the Asus Armory Crate application.

You get a backlight, too, with adjustable brightness – although at this price it’s just a white backlight, not an RGB LED unit.

The keyboard’s light, fast action is great for some gaming situations, but in other scenarios this lightweight chiclet design doesn’t match up.

The light action means that the keys don’t have the weight or travel to support more serious games and more serious players. The base doesn’t help, either, because it moves too much. If you want a crisper, weightier and more rigid typing action then you’ll have to invest in a pricier portable.

The layout isn’t perfect either. There’s no numberpad, the Return key is single-height, and the Cursor buttons are too small.

The trackpad is solid – its surface is smooth and its buttons aren’t bad. However they still push down too far, so anyone who wants to enjoy their gaming – no matter the genre – should use a USB mouse.

Here’s Our Guide to the Best PCs for Work, Play and Everything In Between

Asus ROG Zephyrus G Review – Gaming Performance

The GTX 1660 Ti is not a powerhouse, but it’s still fine for 1080p gaming.

In rattled through Battlefield 1 and Crysis 3 with averages of 87fps, for instance, and it zipped through Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor at 100fps. Its weakest score in our standard gaming benchmarks came in Fallout 4, but here it still ran at 64fps.

Those results bode well, especially because all of those games were tested at their highest quality levels.

It means that you’ve got enough speed to run today’s top single-player games at easily playable framerates – and a little bit of headroom for the future. It also means that esports games, which are less graphically demanding, will run at more than 100fps – so they can be played smoothly and quickly on the 120Hz panel.

The GTX 1660 Ti handled tougher titles well, too. It played Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 68fps and Battlefield V at 70fps. It even played the tricky Total War: Warhammer II at 48fps.

It’s a good slate of results, although it’s not a clean bill of health. Take those tough single-player games – they run at playable framerates, sure, but a lot of them won’t get near 100fps unless you dial back the graphics settings. So if you want to play tough titles using the 120Hz screen, you’ll have to reduce graphical fidelity.

There’s not really enough power here to handle outputting to higher resolutions or to VR headsets, either. And, of course, you don’t get Ray-Tracing on this GPU.

Theoretical benchmarks demonstrate the GTX 1660 Ti’s reasonable pace – but also where other GPUs are far better.

In the 3D Mark Fire Strike test, for instance, the Asus and its GTX 1660 Ti scored 10,850 points. That’s a fine result, but laptops with an RTX 2060 are around 4,000 points quicker. With an RTX 2060 you’ll get more pace now, more speed in the future, and Ray-Tracing potential.

The GTX 1660 Ti is a solid 1080p gaming chip. It’ll handle any esports title at a great framerate, and it’ll play single-player games at 60fps or beyond. However, an RTX 2060 machine will deliver better framerates for longer – so you get more speed and more future versatility.

Head Here for our full guide to AMD Ryzen 3000 and AMD X570 motherboards

Asus ROG Zephyrus G Review – Application Performance

The quad-core AMD chip in the Asus ROG Zephyrus G gaming laptop is a decent piece of silicon, but it can’t really compare with Intel when it comes to performance.

In Geekbench’s single- and multi-core tests, for instance, the Ryzen 3 3750H scored 3,810 and 12,033 points. The first result is around 1,000 points behind the Intel Core i7-8750H and i7-9750H chips. However, the second score is around 8,000 points behind Intel’s silicon.

That’s not really a surprise. Intel’s chips are generally faster in single-threaded tasks, but they also have six cores rather than four. They also have slightly better Turbo scores.

Other benchmark results highlight this pattern. The AMD chip inside the Asus scored 779cb in Cinebench, but Intel’s more popular chips are around 200cb quicker. In PC Mark 8 the Asus laptop scored 3,593 points – but Intel systems often get beyond 4,000 points.

The SSD, too, is only middling. Its read and write speeds of 1,415MB/s and 988MB/s are fine. The former result is about three times as quick as a SATA SSD, and the latter is twice as fast. And, unsurprisingly, both scores are way better than any hard disk.

However, pricier laptops will have SSDs that offer twice as much speed. The Asus laptop always feels responsive, with decent boot and application loading times, but a better SSD will make a more expensive laptop feel even snappier.

The affordable Asus and its AMD chip can’t compete with Intel when it comes to computing power, especially in multi-threaded tasks. That means the Asus won’t be particularly good when it comes to handling more intensive productivity tools. However, in day-to-day Office applications, web browsers and gaming you won’t notice the difference. The Zephyrus is still easily good enough for those conventional scenarios.

And, as ever, don’t expect great battery life. With the screen at half brightness and with a basic application test running the Zephyrus lasted for just over four hours. In a gaming test with the screen at reduced brightness we managed a couple of hours. With the screen ramped up that time dropped to around ninety minutes.

In short, keep the Asus plugged in if you want to enjoy a lengthy gaming session.

Happily, the Asus was a reasonable thermal performer. Its CPU peaked at a temperature of 89°C, which is just about acceptable. The GPU topped out with a totally fine temperature of 79°C. Most of the exterior panels remained cool throughout stress-tests, and the noise level is fine – there’s certainly fan noise present on this machine, but a headset will easily drown it out.

Click here for our huge guide on 4K monitors – from finding the best features to picking the right panel!

Screen and Sound

Asus Rog Zephyrus G 05The screen’s specification bodes well for gaming. The 1080p resolution is solid across a 15.6in diagonal – it matches the rest of the market and it’s high enough to deliver crisp gaming without taxing the GPU.

The screen has a 120Hz refresh rate, too, which is good at this price. However, there’s no Nvidia or AMD syncing technology on this panel. Laptops with G-Sync or FreeSync generally have 144Hz refresh rates and are a little smoother still.

It’s a good specification for a laptop at this price, though, and it should ensure that games look crisp and run smoothly.

The contrast ratio of 1,074:1 is a high point. That’s a good figure, and it’s created with a peak brightness level of 290cd/m2 and a black point of 0.27cd/m2. The overall contrast figure is easily good enough for gaming. It means that colours will be punchy, vibrant and display good variation across the entire range.

That brightness level is fine for indoor play, and the black point is decent too – it means that darker areas in games will be rendered with the right amount of depth.

Get beyond the good contrast, though, and the Asus gaming laptop falters. Its Delta E of 4.65 is mediocre, and it means colours aren’t particularly accurate. And the screen only rendered 57.5% of the sRGB colour gamut – so the panel can’t actually produce nearly half of the colours that better screens can manage. The end result is a screen that can only render a relatively narrow band of shades – and poorly, at that.

The Asus’ panel is still good enough for mainstream and casual gaming, but spending only a little more will get you a far better screen with a wider range of colours.

The speakers, meanwhile, are fine – they’ve got good clarity and surprising bass punch. The mid-range is muddy, but they’re perfectly usable.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G Review – Conclusion

We said at the start of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G review that affordable gaming laptops sometimes suffer due to the amount of compromise required to build machines at this price.

Asus Rog Zephyrus G 06The Asus ROG Zephyrus G is another gaming machine that has been impacted by compromised design in some areas. The screen, for instance, has poor colours, and the keyboard is light and breezy. It’s fine for casual gaming and for esports, but not for serious players.

On the inside, the GTX 1660 Ti is good for 1080p gaming but nothing more. Similarly, the AMD CPU is fast enough for gaming and for day-to-day tasks. However, it’s noticeably slower than equivalent Intel parts. Elsewhere, there’s middling storage, memory and connectivity.

There’s plenty of compromise here, then, but still plenty to like about this gaming laptop. The internals are still easily fast enough to handle single-screen gaming for the foreseeable future, and the screen is still acceptable for mainstream use. The keyboard is solid enough for mainstream gaming. It looks great, too, with an exterior design that’s sturdy, good-looking and relatively svelte.

A gaming laptop at this price will always involve compromise, but the Asus ROG Zephyrus G maintains its low cost while delivering a design and components that are still up to the task of 1080p gaming – and it looks good while doing it. If you don’t want to splash out loads of money on a gaming notebook then the Asus ROG Zephyrus G is a superb budget offering.

The machine in our Asus ROG Zephyrus G review costs £999 in the UK and $1,099 in the US. Discuss our Asus ROG Zephyrus G review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading our Asus ROG Zephyrus G review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The Good

  • Solid 1080p and esports gaming power
  • Attractive, good exterior design
  • Very affordable

The Bad

  • Screen is disappointing
  • Light, shallow keyboard
  • AMD CPU lags behind Intel

The Specs

CPU: 2.3GHz AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
Memory: 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q 6GB
Screen: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS 120Hz
Dimensions: 360 x 252 x 20mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 2.2kg
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5
Ports 3 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x HDMI 2.0, C, 1 x audio jack, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Storage: 512GB Intel 660p M.2 SSD
Warranty: 1yr RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Asus ROG Zephyrus G

About Author

Mike Jennings

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