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Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Review: RTX Gaming on the Go – Digital Trends

Asus ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) review

They are saying limitations encourage creativity. Within the case of gaming laptops, the restrictions of chassis measurement and warmth administration have pushed producers in the direction of fascinating and weird designs. The Asus ROG Zephyrus S is a main instance.

A successor to the 15-inch ROG Zephyrus GX501VI, the 17-inch GX701 makes an attempt to include the facility of RTX-20 collection graphics inside its slim chassis. The end result? A unusually positioned keyboard and vents that open in sudden spots.

Does this design answer remedy the engineering puzzle it goals makes an attempt, or does it endure from the identical issues that plagued the unique?

Not your peculiar gaming laptop computer

The Zephyrus S is an odd duck. Aside from its 17-inch display, this new Zephyrus S is just like the 2017 mannequin. That doesn’t make it any much less unusual, although. The keyboard and have moved in the direction of you, the gamer, leaving nearly all of the keyboard deck clean, stylized solely with an outsized ROG emblem and a few dots.

I acquired loads of feedback from coworkers as they walked by. “What’s with that?” was often their first query, typically adopted by, “Is that a speaker?” However no, the highest a part of the keyboard deck isn’t a speaker — it’s simply empty area to maintain the recent elements away out of your palms. We’ll get to the impact this has on thermals later, however it’s a design quirk that definitely takes some adjustment.

Although odd, the Zephyrus S is strong. Its chassis is sturdy and freed from flexing, particularly within the keyboard deck. The lid has the standard brushed aluminum end discovered on many competing methods. Asus appears to like the look, however I might have most popular a unique aesthetic. As soon as opened, the Zephyrus S appears surprisingly modest. Elegant copper trim strains the show and a few exhaust vents.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S has a really unusual format.

I discovered a few design missteps, although.

The primary is the hinge, which is a bit too unfastened. Whereas it’s straightforward to raise open with one finger, it’s not tight sufficient to stay at sure angles. It may possibly slam shut by itself if the lid is simply barely open, and that’s not ideally suited.

The second drawback is the pop-up vent, situated under the keyboard deck. Whereas the chassis itself isn’t wedge-shaped, Asus makes use of this vent to boost the again finish of the gadget in a slight incline. The vent supplies further airflow to assist cool the internals, however it appears and feels flimsy, as if it wasn’t correctly screwed in. There’s vital flex on this panel, which is worrying contemplating the complete weight of the laptop computer rests on it.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) review Dan Baker/Digital Developments

The laptop computer weighs a hair underneath six kilos, which makes it one of many lighter 17-inch gaming laptop computer on the market. It additionally measures simply zero.74 inches thick, which is thinner than the 15-inch Razer Blade. Some laptops are lighter, nevertheless. The Alienware m17 beats it at 5.eight kilos, and the MSI GS75 takes the cake at simply 5 kilos of heft and a profile simply zero.7 inches thick.

The Zephyrus S has the essential ports coated. You’ll discover three USB-A, two USB-C, and an HDMI port. It does get a bit extra difficult than that, although. Solely the left-side USB-C port is a Gen2 Three.1 port, which supplies energy supply and exterior show help. The Gen1 Three.1 USB-C port on the suitable is just for knowledge. Neither port is suitable with Thunderbolt Three, so exterior GPUs are out of the query.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 In contrast To

An Ethernet port can also be lacking, which can flip off players on the lookout for a hardwire choice with out the necessity for a dongle. The Zephyrus additionally comes with a barrel plug for charging, a Kensington lock, and a Three.5mm headphone jack.

Nice for gaming, not a lot else

The Zephyrus S has a really unusual format. Set side-by-side, the keyboard and touchpad hug the underside of the deck. Meaning two issues for the typing expertise. First, your arms relaxation in your desk whereas typing, as an alternative of on the laptop computer’s inside. I solely wanted a number of hours to get used to the location, however by then my arms have been beginning to cramp up. Extra importantly, this format makes utilizing the laptop computer on, properly, your lap, very uncomfortable or, in lots of instances, inconceivable.

The Zephyrus S checks all of the bins for wonderful gaming on the go, and fast-paced video games like Battlefield V or Fortnite really feel amazingly clean.

Secondly, as a result of the inputs are side-by-side, Asus needed to make some sacrifices to the keyboard format. The keyboard is small, and the touchpad is taller than it’s broad. The important thing spacing is ok, however the measurement and placement of the arrow keys is bothersome. Not solely are they tiny, they’re additionally situated barely under the remainder of the row. The Razer Blade Professional, which additionally places the keyboard and touchpad side-by-side, has a greater keyboard format.

It’s a disgrace, as a result of the keys are snug to sort on. The 1.4mm of journey is greater than sufficient, and actuation feels snappy for fast and exact typing. Even the touchpad is high-quality. Monitoring feels super-precise and the contact floor’s portrait orientation makes two-finger gestures, like scrolling, simpler.

The Zephyrus S makes unusual selections, however they began to make sense once I fired up a recreation. Putting the keyboard removed from the show feels pure, simulating a desktop gaming expertise. The keyboard has per-key RGB lighting, customizable inside Asus’ proprietary software program. The digital numpad, which might be toggled on and off on the touchpad, is correct and responsive.

No webcam? It’s an issue

The Zephyrus S has one other shock up its sleeve; it doesn’t have a webcam, or any sort of biometric authentication. To chop down the dimensions of the bezel across the prime, the webcam has been eliminated totally, which means you’ll have to purchase an exterior one in the event you want it.

We’d wish to see no less than a fingerprint reader on the keyboard deck, however as an alternative, you’ll should depend on old style passwords and PINs to unlock the system.

An excellent-fast show with audio system to match

The 17.Three-inch show is a 1080p matte panel that’s good for gaming. You’ll be able to select pixels for those who lean in a bit, however you gained’t do this as a result of the keyboard encourages you to take a seat additional again than regular. The Zephyrus follows the development of selecting greater refresh charges over excessive decision.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) review Dan Baker/Digital Developments

To that finish, the show presents a 144Hz refresh price, G-Sync compatibility, and a three-millisecond response time. It checks all of the bins for wonderful gaming on the go, and fast-paced video games like Battlefield V or Fortnite really feel amazingly clean. In contrast to each different G-Sync laptop computer, the Zephyrus S consists of help for each G-Sync and Intel Optimus. Meaning you get tear-free gameplay whenever you need it, and higher battery life whenever you’re doing different issues.

I attached our Spyder5 colorimeter and was impressed with the outcomes. It beats out a lot of the competitors in distinction and shade accuracy, delivering near 1000:1 distinction ratio and a mean colour error of simply 1.78. The times of crappy gaming laptop computer screens are over. Maxing out at 297 nits, the brightness could possibly be higher, however the matte end means display glare isn’t a problem.

The audio system sound nice, too. They provide clear sound that’s loud sufficient to overpower even whirring laptop computer followers. We are likely to depend on headphones whereas gaming on a laptop computer, however we recognize Asus’ makes an attempt to make the Zephyrus’ onboard audio an choice, too.

Good thermals make for good efficiency

The eccentricities of the Zephyrus S could seem loopy however, because the benchmarks show, there’s undoubtedly a way to the insanity.

Our evaluate unit got here with an Intel Core i7-8750H. It’s a six-core processor able to overclocking, which makes it good for gaming. The CPU was supported by 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD. Asus gives a number of configurations, nevertheless, with extra RAM or exhausting drive area.

We started our processor exams with Geekbench. In multi-core efficiency, the Zephyrus is neck-and-neck with the Predator Helios 500’s rather more costly Core i9 chip. The Zephyrus S is, nevertheless, a bit behind in single-core, because of the Core i9’s greater base and turbo clock velocity.

Actual-life checks are much more favorable to the Zephyrus. The machine set a document for laptops in our Handbrake encoding check. It encoded a 420MB 4K video clip to H.265 in two minutes and 18 seconds. That beats all of the Core i9 laptops we’ve examined, together with the Predator Helios 500 and the Alienware 17 R5. The pop-out vents serve their objective.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) review Dan Baker/Digital Developments

We criticized the 15-inch Zephyrus for its exterior warmth, and the GX701 has the identical issues. The area above the keyboard turns into very heat throughout gameplay, as does the underside of the laptop computer. Fortuitously, your fingers are all the time a protected distance away, and nobody goes to recreation with the Zephyrus of their lap.

It’s no shock to see ultra-fast storage included with the Zephyrus S. The Samsung SSD was ultra-fast in each learn and write speeds, each of which have been over nicely 1000 megabytes per second. Our evaluate unit additionally had room for 2 m.2 slots, each of which can be found for upgrades sooner or later.

No matter you play, the Zephyrus can deal with it

With all of the concessions made for the thermal answer, quite a bit rides on gam efficiency. Fortuitously, the Zephyrus S is a winner.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) review Dan Baker/Digital Developments

The RTX 2080 strut its stuff in 3DMark Hearth Strike, the place the Zephyrus S simply beats the Nvidia GTX 1080 within the Alienware 17 R5. It additionally provides a 19 % improve over final yr’s 15-inch Zephyrus, which was one of many only a few techniques to supply a Nvidia GTX 1080 Max-Q.

Precise recreation efficiency, although, is what issues, and once more the Zephyrus S impressed.

We ran the laptop computer by means of a big suite of video games together with Battlefield I, Battlefield V, Fortnite, Civilization VI, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Murderer’s Creed: Odyssey. What did we discover? Quick, clean 1080p gameplay throughout each title. We’re speaking nicely over 100 FPS (frames per second) within the Battlefields and Fortnite, and round 95 in Civilization VI.

The Zephyrus performs nicely in harder video games too. It pulled in over 60 in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. That’s with settings at Extremely element. Murderer’s Creed was the one recreation that suffered a bit, because the Zephyrus cranked out solely 48 FPS at Extremely. However once we pulled the settings right down to Excessive, it reached again above 60 once more. Turbo Mode didn’t appear to assist considerably, past a couple of frames right here or there.

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We additionally plugged the laptop computer right into a 4K monitor to see the way it dealt with greater resolutions, and that’s the place the RTX 2080 actually confirmed its power. The Zephyrus speeds previous the Predator Helios 500 in Battlefield 1, pushing as much as 85 FPS on Extremely in 1440p. It’s playable in 4K too, although you’ll have to show down the element a bit to see over 60 FPS.

Video games look nice and play easily. Nevertheless, the efficiency numbers don’t beat one of the best we’ve seen. The Alienware 17 R5, the Razer Blade Professional, and even the older Zephyrus S outperform it in some video games. These RTX Max-Q playing cards usually are not as a lot about pushing gaming laptop computer efficiency past what it was earlier than. It’s about doing it extra effectively, and in a smaller type issue. And hey, as soon as we see extra titles than truly use DLSS and ray tracing, the Zephyrus S shall be able to deal with these, too.

Battery life units all of the flawed data

Trendy gaming laptops can obtain affordable battery life. Nonetheless, it’s all the time going to be a much bigger drawback for a 17-inch gaming laptop computer. Because of G-Sync and the power-sucking GPU inside, the Zephyrus S suffers battery life that’s worse than dangerous. It’s atrocious.

In Basemark, our heaviest battery check, the Zephyrus S solely lasted solely an hour. Ouch. In our mild net shopping check, which cycles via some web sites till the battery dies, the Zephyrus lasted an hour and twenty minutes. Our video loop killed the Zephyrus in an hour and 40 minutes. These are among the many worst outcomes we’ve seen.

The Zephyrus S has a G-Sync panel, which seems nice in video games however doesn’t permit the system to modify between built-in and discrete graphics. That’s one of many most important explanation why the battery life tanks. However Asus knew that. That’s why the Zephyrus S GX701 consists of help for each G-Sync and Intel Optimus. That method you possibly can have G-Sync whereas gaming and use Optimus for every part else.

Nevertheless, this implies flipping the “Graphics Mode” change to “Optimus Mode” in Asus’ Armoury Crate management panel. You then need to restart the laptop computer. It’s an answer that Asus says it engineered itself and is presently unique to its laptops.

Turning on Optimus improves the Zephyrus’ battery life from horrendous to merely dangerous. Our net shopping check gave us 2 hours and 10 minutes of battery life. Although our laptop computer got here with G-Sync switched on, Asus says retail variations will ship with Optimus Mode on by default.

Our Take

The Zephyrus S is a superb gaming laptop computer in some respects. With an RTX 2080 inside and superior thermals to help it, the Zephyrus delivers clean gameplay it doesn’t matter what you’re enjoying. It additionally has a killer show, full with a excessive refresh-rate and G-Sync help.

But these advantages include an uncomfortable typing expertise, poor battery life, and a lacking webcam. The Zephyrus S could be moveable, however it’s extra like a cellular desktop than a real laptop computer.

Are they any options?

Nvidia’s RTX-20 collection graphics launched with forty gaming laptops. Forty. Most of them have comparable specs to the Zephyrus S, so there’s loads of options.

Standouts embrace the Razer Blade, which continues to be one of the best gaming laptop computer that may move for a standard laptop computer. When you’re set on a 17-inch laptop computer, an fascinating various is the MSI GS75, which is even thinner and lighter than the Zephyrus. The Razer Blade Professional is intriguing, nevertheless it hasn’t been up to date since 2017, and is beginning to present its age.

If you wish to go all-out on a real “desktop alternative” laptop computer, check out the Alienware Space-51m, which has a desktop processor and upgradable elements.

Do you have to purchase it?

No. I applaud Asus’ willingness to attempt one thing new, however the Zephyrus hasn’t satisfied me the positives of its distinctive design are well worth the issues.

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