Shopping for a brand new gaming laptop computer is like making an attempt to resolve what take-out to order from Caviar. A seemingly countless array of choices, all practically similar however subtly completely different, can depart you feeling paralyzed. You already know one is healthier than the remaining. However which one?
Asus’ Zephyrus M needs to be the one, but it surely doesn’t do a lot to make your choice simpler. Our evaluation unit, bearing the mannequin title GU502GV, is accessible for $1,850 via Finest Purchase (and is typically on sale for much less). It’s a mid-range laptop computer, but not a price chief. It serves up Nvidia’s RTX 2060. That’s a good GPU, however probably the most inexpensive laptops with it may be had for a number of hundred much less.
Why ought to avid gamers purchase the Zephyrus M as a substitute of Dell’s G7 Gaming, HP’s Omen 15, and MSI’s GL63? Let’s take a better look.
After I develop up, I wish to be a Razer Blade
The Zephyrus M is a transparent try and edge in on the rising universe of gaming laptops that may additionally move as moveable workstations. Although it does have a big ROG brand on its led, there’s little else that makes the laptop computer stand out from the gang. It’s like a ThinkPad and a Razer Blade had a toddler after which joined a global espionage ring, forcing them to discreetly ship the wee lad off to a distant orphanage. You received’t discover ‘Asus’ anyplace on the laptop computer besides its FCC compliance label.
And…I prefer it. It’s an unremarkable however good-looking laptop computer with the precise proportions and a hefty, dependable look. That’s to not say the laptop computer totally lacks persona. The keyboard backlight pulses pink whereas the laptop computer is in sleep mode, as if it’s respiratory, and booting the laptop computer prompts ROG’s signature race-car sound chunk. In any other case, although, it’s a easy and approachable laptop computer.
It seems to be fashionable, with skinny show bezels on three edges (the underside remains to be fairly giant) and a chassis that’s simply seven-tenths of an inch thick. Although clad largely in plastic, other than an aluminum lid cowl, the Zephyrus M feels rock stable. It doesn’t creak, moan, or noticeably flex even when held by a nook or picked up from the highest of the show. You’ll ultimately discover flex in case you mash the keyboard with all of your power however, effectively, cease that! You’re not the Unimaginable Hulk.
Connectivity is powerful, with three USB-A three.1 (one Gen2, two Gen 1) flanked by one USB-C three.1 port that additionally helps DisplayPort 1.four and energy supply. HDMI 2.zero is accessible for devoted video output. Audio choices embrace a three.5mm audio jack, an audio mic-in, and an Ethernet port. Whereas the USB-C port helps energy supply, it may possibly solely deal with as much as 65 watts, so the 230-watt energy adapter will often nonetheless be required.
The spacebar has a chin. That’s cool.
Open the Zephyrus M and also you’ll discover a spacious keyboard with a traditional format. Every particular person secret’s giant, flat, and sq., which suggests contact typists can simply speed up to over 100 phrases per minute.
The format has a number of oddities, just like the spacebar’s unusual chin, further perform keys above the perform row, and a column of keys on the left aspect that add choices like Dwelling and Web page Down. None of those take away from typing, nevertheless, as a result of they’re all on the edges of the keyboard and don’t reduce into its usable house.
It’s an unremarkable however good-looking laptop computer with the precise proportions and a hefty, dependable look.
Per-key RGB backlighting is included, and it does what you’d anticipate. You possibly can change the backlight to any of tens of millions of colours or use results to fade between colours, flash, pulse like a boombox, and extra. The backlighting doesn’t embrace any new or distinctive capabilities, and the bundled software program is somewhat complicated to make use of, but it surely permits the customization you’d anticipate.
The touchpad is on the small aspect in comparison with a Razer Blade, however not horrible for the class. Importantly, it provides a clean and responsive floor. Home windows Precision Touchpad drivers are supported, and multi-touch gestures work effectively. Gaming laptops have a tendency in direction of below-average touchpads so the Zephyrus M’s contact floor, whereas not distinctive, is healthier than rivals just like the MSI GL63.
15.6 inches of meh
Our evaluation unit got here with a 15.6-inch 1080p panel that boasts a 144Hz refresh charge, the only alternative for the Zephyrus M GU502GV. It appears an affordable display screen on paper, however a number of errors make for an aggressively common viewing expertise.
It begins with the refresh charge. The laptop computer helps a refresh charge of as much as 144Hz and quotes a response time of three milliseconds, but it surely doesn’t help G-Sync. You may even see the frequent jagged, flickering sample that happens when a recreation’s framerate poorly matches the refresh charge. V-Sync will repair that, but it surely additionally doubtlessly lowers framerate and responsiveness, discarding some benefits of getting a 144Hz panel. The excessive refresh charge is good, however I favor to see it paired with body synchronization, and I’d all the time take G-Sync over a 144Hz panel if I had to decide on between the 2.
Going for the 144Hz panel brings with it a major sacrifice in picture high quality. My testing recorded a most distinction ratio of 450:1, and that’s not nice. The Acer Predator Triton 500 scored a most ratio of 910:1, whereas the Lenovo Legion Y740 15-inch hit 630:1. The Zephyrus M’s decrease distinction interprets to an absence of depth which makes video games look flatter and fewer vibrant than on different laptops.
I noticed a median shade error of three.74 (decrease is healthier on this take a look at) which, once more, isn’t splendid. Most gaming laptops have a median shade error worth below two, and the Acer Predator Triton 500 delivered a rating of 1.eight. The colour error merely means the picture you see is a bit off from what’s meant. To my eyes, it takes on a cool, sterile forged, and colours skew in direction of a vivid, neon look when they need to be deep and wealthy.
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Brightness got here in at a most of 277 nits, which once more is decrease than what I wish to see. A worth of 300 or increased is preferable. However there’s excellent news. The Zephyrus M makes use of a non-gloss panel, so glare will not be an issue. Whereas the panel is a bit dim, it doesn’t compete as a lot with ambient lighting, so it usually seems to be brighter than it truly is.
That’s not sufficient to avoid wasting the show, nevertheless. It’s a disappointing effort, although not stunning given the Zephyrus M GU502GV’s $1,850 price ticket. Mid-range laptops are choosing 144Hz panels in any respect prices as a result of, with regards to advertising, a 144Hz panel seems to be nice. It’s a better quantity! Sadly, trade-off in high quality aren’t all the time worthwhile – and that’s definitely the case right here.
Whereas the display screen is lackluster, the audio system are nice. They ship sturdy, full-body sound with affordable bass. Distortion will not be a serious downside even at most quantity and the laptop computer’s tight chassis doesn’t rattle or hum. Exterior audio system will sound higher, in fact, however I can’t complain concerning the sound supplied right here.
Intel’s Core i7-9750H is quick, however not an improve
The Asus Zephyrus M may be mid-range, but it surely has a notable piece of latest – Intel’s Core i7-9750H. Successor to the Core i7-8750H, the Core i7-9750H ups the bottom clock from 2.2GHz to 2.6GHz and ups the utmost Turbo Enhance clock from four.1GHz to four.5GHz. The SmartCache can be elevated, from 9MB to 12MB.
So, what does this imply for efficiency? Not a lot.
Regardless of the improve, the Zephyrus M doesn’t honest higher or worse than would a typical Core i7-8750H laptop computer. It’s decidedly mid-pack in each Geekbench four single-core and multi-core exams, in addition to the Handbrake take a look at, which instances how lengthy it takes to transcode a 4K film trailer from h.264 to h.265.
It’s disappointing to see a brand new processor produce no noticeable upswing in efficiency and, because it’s early within the Core i7-9750H’s life, I can’t say for positive whether or not it will change into a development. On the plus aspect, nevertheless, the Core i7-9750H continues to its predecessor’s legacy of extraordinarily sturdy all-around efficiency. This processor is lower than 10 p.c behind a median Core i7-8700Ok desktop in each Geekbench four exams. That’s spectacular.
The Core i7-9750H isn’t the one new piece of Intel know-how inside this Asus. It additionally has an Intel Optane H10 laborious drive, which mixes an Optane cache with a one terabyte standard stable state drive.
Once more, the story is certainly one of sturdy but disappointing efficiency. The Optane H10 hits common learn and write speeds in our exams. It does feels snappy in day-to-day use, booting inside seconds and loading most applications in a blink. Nevertheless, you’ll find higher efficiency. The quickest solid-state drives exceed learn and write speeds of two gigabytes per second.
The Optane H10’s biggest power isn’t velocity, however dimension. A one terabyte stable state drive is huge and never generally present in laptops offered close to the Zephyrus M GU502GV’s $1,850 value. Most rivals both have a single 512GB stable state drive or pair a smaller SSD, often 256GB, with a 1TB mechanical disk.
That’s an vital level. PC video games might be giant. Fortnite is nearing a 50GB set up dimension, whereas Future 2 is approaching 100GB. A 512GB SSD can refill shortly. The Optane H10 isn’t the quickest, however it may possibly deal with a a lot bigger recreation library.
Quick for a Fortnite, slower to embark on an Odyssey
Intel’s flip as much as bat has resulted in a whiff. Now it’s time for Nvidia to avoid wasting the day. My Asus Zephyrus M evaluation unit had the RTX 2060 graphics chip with 8GB of GDDR6 reminiscence. Can it play your favourite video games at wonderful framerates? Let’s begin with 3DMark.
This can be a effective begin. Whereas the Zephyrus M scores decrease than different gaming laptops we’ve lately examined, it’s the only mannequin with an RTX 2060 graphics chip. The RTX 2070 is extra highly effective on paper, but it surely’s solely 10 to 13 p.c faster in 3DMark Time Spy. Quite a lot of avid gamers might resolve that bump in efficiency isn’t well worth the value.
That’s just one benchmark, nevertheless. Let’s see how the Zephyrus M and RTX 2060 stack up in real-world gaming.
Even a fast look at these outcomes tells an unsurprising story. The RTX 2060 is okay. It performed Fortnite, Civilization VI, and Battlefield V at 60 frames per second or higher, with decision set to 1080p and all the main points ramped up. That’s not dangerous! It exhibits this laptop computer can sort out nearly something you throw at it.
Nearly. Murderer’s Creed: Odyssey throws a wrench within the works, because it so usually does. The Zephyrus M solely averaged 38 FPS at 1080p and Extremely Excessive element. Even turning element right down to Excessive (which is the sport’s center setting) ends in a median of 44 FPS. Playable? Completely. However it’s not the 60 FPS that PC avid gamers aspire to.
Nevertheless, the identical is true of different laptops we’ve examined. Even the Acer Predator Triton 500, with its RTX 2080 Max-Q, averaged 57 FPS. Murderer’s Creed: Odyssey is rather more demanding than different video games, together with lovely titles like Battlefield V.
I feel avid gamers will probably be proud of the RTX 2060’s efficiency. Keep in mind, the worth tag is $1,850. That’s mid-range for a gaming laptop computer. Just a few sacrifices might be anticipated.
Don’t stray removed from residence
The Asus Zephyrus M is skinny and lightweight sufficient to tote round all day with out situation. It’ll slip into many laptop computer baggage and might be misplaced in a big backpack. The battery lasts lengthy sufficient to work a number of hours away from residence however, like many fashionable gaming laptops, you’ll be able to’t spend quite a lot of hours away from a socket.
Basemark’s net shopping benchmark ate a full cost in 177 minutes. Yep, lower than three hours. A 1080p video loop prolonged life to a shade over 5 hours, which is extra encouraging, although it additionally represents light-duty use.
Basemark’s net shopping benchmark ate a full cost in 114 minutes. Yep, lower than two hours.
The Asus Zephyrus M seems to be like a do-it-all laptop computer. You possibly can play video games, however it’s also possible to take it to class, code the following killer app, or hearth up Photoshop. Nevertheless, the battery life doesn’t reside as much as these aspirations. You should utilize it away from residence for a number of hours, but it surely’s not going to final via a cross nation flight or deal with a full day of conferences.
It’s not all dangerous information. The outcomes aren’t superb, however they do beat extra highly effective gaming laptops just like the Lenovo Legion Y740 15-inch and Acer Predator Triton 500. These rivals are hopeless away from an influence socket. Razer’s Blade 15 does last more than the Asus Zephyrus M, but it surely’s additionally dearer.
Nonetheless, I’d prefer to see higher battery life. The Zephyrus M could possibly be your on a regular basis laptop computer, however its lackluster portability is an impediment.
The software program is a multitude
A number of of the laptop computer’s particular capabilities, together with the keyboard backlight, CPU/GPU clocks, and the race-car sound that performs when the laptop computer boots, might be modified via the ROG Armoury Crate software program. There’s even a devoted button. Launching Armoury Crate is straightforward. That’s the place the benefit ends, and the difficulty begins.
The software program’s interface is unnecessary. The format jogs my memory of the Xbox 360’s blade interface. Besides…vertical. I assume. Many menu objects are represented by indescribable, unlabeled icons. Navigation is a matter of trial and error.
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In some areas, you’ll see what seems to be like a scroll bar on the underside of the menu. Besides it’s not. As a substitute, it’s a set of three diamond icons. Click on on one to the left, and the web page scrolls left. Click on proper, and it scrolls proper.
Right here’s the excellent news. You possibly can largely ignore Armoury Crate. It isn’t mandatory for something other than customizing the keyboard backlight.
The Asus Zephyrus M can recreation. There’s little doubt about that. It’s not an awesome worth, nevertheless, and its harried by a number of severe issues. Show high quality is modest, battery life is poor, and the bundled software program is a chore to make use of.
Is there a greater different?
Sure. The Asus Zephyrus M has many rivals, and it may possibly’t fend all of them off.
The MSI GE63 has an older Core i7-8750H processor, however that doesn’t appear to be an issue in our exams. The MSI GE63 is usually obtainable for $1,500 or much less, so it’s an awesome worth.
Lenovo’s Legion Y740 and Dell’s Inspiron G7 15 Gaming provide comparable , a extra enticing value, and a barely lower cost. They’re a sensible choice if you’d like a much less refined, but extra refined, decide.
Our favourite decide on this value vary, nevertheless, is Acer’s Predator Triton 500. It’s enticing, highly effective, slim, and barely inexpensive. You can even purchase upgraded fashions with as much as an RTX 2080 Max-Q, in case you’d like.
How lengthy will it final?
The Asus’ Zephyrus M has the most recent and feels sturdy, so it ought to final at the least a number of years. The mid-range Nvidia RTX 2060 will really feel out of date inside three years, however the processor will probably be mighty for at the least 5 years.
Do you have to purchase it?
No. The Zephyrus M makes impression, however my frustrations mounted because the weeks glided by. Opponents provide extra refined laptops for a similar value, and generally much less.