This model in the new lineup from Asus aims to hit that sweet spot between gaming and portability. This laptop tries to make the best of both worlds but can it stand up to the challenge?
The Specs of the Review Unit :
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080, IPS, 144 HZ, matte|
|Processor||Intel Coffee Lake-R Core i7-9750H, six-core|
|Video||Intel UHD 630 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti 6GB|
|Memory||16 GB soldered, 1 free slot|
|Storage||512 GB SSD|
|Weight||1.90 kg, .80 kg power brick and cables|
|Battery||76 Wh, 230 W power adapter, 65W USB-C adapter included in some regions|
|Size||360 mm or 14.17” (w) x 252 mm or 9.92” (d) x 18.9 mm or .74” (h)|
The laptop has an industrial and understated design aside from the big red ROG logo on the back of the lid. Since it’s lit up by the backlight of the screen, there is no option to turn this off. The palmrest has a soft touch feel which does not attract fingerprints and is quite good to the touch. It feels better than the metallic finish that most other all-metal gaming laptops have to offer. It maintains a consistent thickness throughout the length and breadth of the laptop.The lid has a brushed metal finish and the edges are chamfered giving a sleek look to the laptop.
The chassis is made out of a Magnesium-Aluminium Alloy making the laptop lightweight while retaining durability. The interior of the panels are of a honeycomb design giving structural integrity to the base of the laptop. It weighs in just shy of 2 kgs. The screen has minimal flex and seems to be sturdy. The hinges are tight enough for the screen to not move at all during use and loose enough that it can be opened and closed with ease.
The speakers are downward firing and thus relying on a hard surface to reflect them back to you. It will sound muffled if used on the lap or the bed. Although this laptop boasts of a DAC BY ESS, it still gives middling sound quality. The speakers go loud and there is negligible distortions but the lows are severely lacking. So much so that it is difficult to listen to dialogues even in maximum volumes. If there’s a soft spoken character in your favourite tv show, you will need to turn on the subtitles.
The chiclet style keyboard comes sans the numpad. Though the laptop is supposed to support per-key RGB customisation, it does not as of now. “ Highlight key controls for different games and workflows with per-key RGB customization*, and coordinate colors and visual effects across all of your compatible. You should be able to customise per-key RGB and create your own custom visual effects with the Aura Creator app which will be available sometime later this year. At present, there are eight preset modes for the keyboard, ranging from a rainbow to one which changes according to the music played. The keyboard also has N-key rollover.
The keyboard has a sufficient enough amount of travel that can be expected from an ultrabook. It’s comfortable to type on and the curved chassis means a comfortable typing experience as compared to laptops which have much sharper edges. It has four hotkeys, two for controlling the volume, one for the mic and for activating the Armoury Crate.
The touchpad works satisfactorily out of the box and uses Windows Precision Drivers. It is clicky but a bit on the loud side.
The laptop has a 76whr battery. Asus advertises a 6hr battery life during normal usage – web browsing and the like. In real life usage we touched around 4-5 hours of screen time. It comes with a 230Wh adapter which weighs in at around 0.8 kgs, including the cords. It takes around two hours to completely charge. Charging via a 65W USB C adapter is also possible but it’ll only provide enough juice to handle light tasks, not gaming. Though, it would save your from lugging an 800 gram power brick around. Asus is going to bundle a Type C adapter in some regions though it’s not clear if it will be provided in India. The review unit did not come with one.
The review unit has a 144 Hz screen. The screen is a full 15.6-inch Full HD IPS panel. Viewing angles are as expected of a premium IPS panel. The response time is 3ms and the screen supports 100% sRGB. It’s also Pantone Validated and therefore is color accurate out of the box. The Pantone certification ensures that this laptop is a good choice for creative professionals who value colour accuracy very highly. The brightness goes up to 300 nits and is sufficient for gaming indoors. Rather than going for a bottom webcam solution, Asus has ditched the webcam entirely and is supposedly going to bundle an external one in the box. The screen falls back to a 60hz refresh rate while on battery power to maximise the time between charge cycles.
The laptop has two fans and four vents to cool the internals. Two vents at the back and two at the side. The rubber feet at the back are raised to aid cooling and suck in air more efficiently. This could potentially affect your mouse placement since the laptop throws out hot air in the sides during intense gamingThis Zephyrus version ditches the AAS (Active Aerodynamic Solution) which is present in its counterparts. One, this increases the longevity of the laptop since the hinge separation mechanism adds one more moving part that could wear out and break. Second, the RBG which used to shine through the open vent is also eliminated which helps this laptop to retain the professional look it aims to have. While the laptop is in silent mode (via armoury crate), the fans touch a minimum of 25 dbA and reach a maximum of
This app comes preinstalled and can help change and set different profiles for the laptop. It also controls the RBG keyboard for now, at least till Aura Creator is launched. It gives all the important vitals of the laptop at a glance, like the current clock speeds of both the GPU and CPU, the temperatures, etc. It has four profiles, Windows, Silent, Balanced and Turbo. You can also make your own custom profile via which you can set the speed for both the fans and offset the clock speeds of the GPU. The CPU can’t be under/overclocked via Armoury Crate. Armoury Crate has a mobile companion app which can check and control the PC settings.
The review unit is fitted with a 1660ti and an i7-9750H @ 2.6GHz. It has a 16 GB RAM soldered on and one more RAM slot is available to up it to 32GB dual channel DDR4. Two NVMe SSDs can be added in the RAID0 configuration giving you a potential read/write speed of around 6000 MB/S.
GTA V played at around 60-70 fps, never dropping below 60. It was on turbo mode with all settings on High and FXAA on and MSAA off. The fans whirred at a 50-53db but the temperatures never reached higher than 80 in both the CPU and GPU.
CSGO ran on a consistent 200+ frames with all the settings maxed. Given that CSGO touched 200, this lets the game take advantage of the 144Hz screen giving fluid gameplay and smooth visuals.
Fortnite hovered around 100 with all settings on high but it’s possible to push up the framerates by lowering some settings, the Anti Aliasing, etc. to maximise the 144Hz screen’s potential.
Rise of the Tomb Raider ran at around 74 fps at the Very High Preset and FXAA enabled.
The Balanced Profile counterintuitively returned better results as opposed to the turbo since this limits the clock speed of the CPU thereby restricting some of the thermal throttling which it is susceptible to. The Balanced Profile has another added advantage, the sound levels are much better at 46db and headphones are not much of a necessity as they are at the 53db of the Turbo Mode.
The Zephyrus M sets a high target, juggle the roles of an office-ultrabook and a gaming laptop. Does it succeed? Well, kind of. It has a pretty understated aesthetic as gaming laptops go, to the point where it could easily be mistaken for a normal laptop, except that the logo only glows red for now but for which there is an update in the works. The RGB keyboard can be set to white and a 65W Type-C power brick can be taken for the office. It packs in an i7 and a 1660Ti which makes it capable of playing AAA titles at 60 for at least a few years. This, then, ideally is the perfect office companion and gaming laptop. But, you’re paying a premium for the dual role this laptop aims to play. Since this is one of the first entries of the 1660ti/i7 configuration in the Indian market, it would be wise to wait and watch for other brands like Acer(Nitro 7), Dell(G7) and Lenovo. This laptop has got its build quality and form factor going for it. The final decision rests on if the added portability is worth the higher premium for you.