ASUS ROG GX501 Zephyrus
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Extremely thin and powerful, this Max-Q poster boy redenes design and style for dedicated gaming laptops.
What does it take to make an extreme gaming laptop that isn’t built with the thickness of a Subway sandwich and quiet enough to run Overwatch next to a sleeping baby? Apparently, NVIDIA’s unique Max-Q design approach.
At 16.9mm thick and 2.2kg, the ASUS ROG GX501 Zephyrus looks anorexic compared to its ROG siblings. . And yet, our test model comes fully decked out with a 7th-gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ Q CPU (clocked at 2.8GHz), 24GB of memory, a 512GB SSD and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GPU. That’s some serious repower.
Its “Active Aerodynamic System” is a unique cooling design where a section of the bottom opens when you open the lid. ASUS claims a 32 percent increase in cooling performance. While hard to quantify, I can say that it measured just 10.6dBA on my sound level meter even at maximum load—that’s about as noisy as a pin dropping.
Unfortunately, this design comes back to haunt it for literally anything other than gaming. You see, the cooling design means that the hottest components—the CPU and GPU—are loaded at the back of the laptop, while the keyboard and trackpad are moved right to the bottom edge. This makes typing simply uncomfortable, even with the supplied wrist rest. The trackpad is also shoehorned to the right of the keyboard, rather than below. Sorry lefties.
Connectivity shouldn’t be a problem though with four traditional USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C port, HDMI, and a headphone jack. You also get a USB-toEthernet and wireless Xbox controller dongles bundled.
Its 15.6-inch display supports all gaming niceties such as NVIDIA G-Sync and a 120Hz refresh rate, though maximum native resolution is pegged to 1,920 x 1,080. I had expected a more respectable 2,560 x 1,440 with such hardware. Still, the resolution cap ensured that the Zephyrus performed fantastically at everything I threw at it, averaging between 90 to 100fps and above for every game.
Unsurprisingly, battery life is a disappointment, scoring just 98 minutes in our PCMark 8 run. I held out hope that the Max-Q design would have helped, evidently, you’ll have to keep it plugged in.
The Zephyrus is a high tech marvel compared to regular DTR laptops. It has all the performance, with none of the bulk, but there’s no hiding the fact its design considerations mean it’s not made for average mundane tasks outside of gaming.
When you open the laptop’s lid, the bottom extends as well, to provide additional cooling ventilation to the Zypherus.