Asus Zephyrus M GM501GS
THE ZEPHYRUS CLAIMS TO BE THE KING OF PERFORMANCE NOTEBOOKS. BUT IS IT?
Asus’ ROG Zephyrus was one of the first notebooks that was designed to be svelte in size but a beast when it came to gaming. This black beauty, with its sharp lines and glowing details sure looks great, although having ‘Republic of Gamers’ branding all over it will make boardroom brethren suspicious.
Opening the Zephyrus’ lid famously simultaneously opens up an exhaust port at the rear of the base for enhanced cooling. While this sounds cool, in reality a plastic flap opens to reveal a heatsink. If it doesn’t sit on flat surfaces it bends and distorts.
But is this a gaming beast? The latest version comes with a Coffee Lake hexa-core, Core i7-8750H which offers a 2.2GHz stock speed, 3.9GHz Turbo Boost (which can push to 4.1GHz on a single core). There’s a 512GB NVMe SSD, 16GB RAM and a 1TB hybrid hard disk for storage. Nvidia’s GTX 1070 GPU provides gaming grunt. This should amount to top-tier performance, but, compared to similarly-specified rivals, we were disappointed.
Firstly, you need to ensure the fans operate in ‘Overboost’ mode to achieve the best performance. However, even then the temperature can ramp up – especially the CPU. We torture-tested it with cryptomining and both CPU and GPU hit 78oC, which isn’t terrible, but the CPU shouldn’t get so hot when it’s hardly being used.
In 2D benchmarks it was 11 per cent slower than MSI’s Raider, which has a similar spec. This translated into games, too, where it was 5fps slower than MSI in Ghost Recon and several fps slower in Warhammer 2. It’s certainly quieter than the Raider but at full pelt the Zephyrus still emits a very-audible whoosh with a hint of high-pitched whine. The ROG Gaming Center monitors everything but noticeably offers no GPU overclocking ability – not surprising when it struggles to consistently hit stock speeds due to thermal throttling.
In terms of general usage, we’re big fans though. The keyboard is well-laid out, plus travel and stiffness approach perfection. There’s a number pad and everything has RGB backlighting; the trackpad feels good and responsive.
The speakers are superb; delivering well-rounded audio and punchiness to treble and bass-rich music alike. The speakers also point upwards, which counteracts muffling.
Connectivity is a mixed bag, though. There are four USB-A ports, one USB-C plus a 3.5mm audio jack. There is an HDMI port but neither a DisplayPort nor (and this is an issue for gamers) wired Ethernet.
The 15.6-inch screen is very crisp, uniformly lit and displays accurate colours. It’s also 144Hz for smooth gaming.
In terms of portability, we struggled to get it lasting more than 100 minutes under any task, which was disappointingly low. At least the 2.2KG weight is keeps it portable.
This ROG Zephyrus is almost a great notebook, but its thermal throttling performance issues are real no matter how impressive that exhaust looks. If you’re going to pay close to four grand for a notebook there shouldn’t be any limits but limiting is what this notebook’s performance is mostly about.
“The keyboard is well-laid out, plus travel and stiffness approach perfection”
Intel Core i7-8750H (up to 3.9GHz) • 144Hz IPS G-Sync screen • GTX 1070 8GB GPU • 256GB PCIe SSD + 1TB SSHD • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz • 1x HDMI, 1x Thunderbolt 4x USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen2), 1x USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen2) $3,599 • www.asus.com/au