ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501 Review | Great Performance While Staying Light and Portable

That AAS
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus caught the eyes of many with its cooling mechanism that ASUS calls the Active Aerodynamic System (AAS). It operates by lifting itself off the table when the laptop is opened, creating a gap for better air flow. The gaming laptop boasts an Intel Core i7-7700HQ and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, promising desktop-like performance in a tiny body but at a hefty price tag of S$4,898. Let's find out how well it performs, gimmicks and all.


Build


The Zephyrus features a two-toned brushed aluminum cover, which in combination with its sturdy build, adds to the premium feel for this product. Not to mention, it only weighs at a considerate 2.2 kg, which is surprising for a device with a desktop class GTX 1080 GPU.

Cooling the GTX 1080 Max-Q is no easy task, and the humongous space that the Zephyrus reserves to this task is makes this clear. This design decision meant that other components will be affected, specifically the keyboard and touchpad.
Touchpad can double as a numeric keypad
The touchpad is now located at the keyboard's right. This can be quite awkward as many would be used to it being located below the keyboard. However, this placement feels quite natural for a right-handed person. A typical setup sees the mouse being located at the right of laptop, but now the touchpad is conveniently accessible on the right. Not to mention, this reduces the strain that comes with bending the wrist while a touchpad with a normal location is being used.

Although the keys feel crisp and nice to type on, the layout is a little tight with keys being closer to one another than usual. Additionally, due to the concave design, the user also would not have any space to rest their wrists. Thankfully, ASUS included a wrist rest in the box that negates this flaw.


Due to the keys being close to one another, there are instances where accidentally pressing the Windows key will happen. To solve this issue, ASUS includes the ROG Gaming Center software which allows for the customization of gaming profiles. You can disable the specific keys when entering games, switch the display's color profile and even switch the RGB layout to your liking.




Driving The 120Hz FHD G-Sync Display

To answer the question of how well the GTX 1080 Max-Q performs - it does as well as advertised. The full desktop GTX 1080 Max-Q chip manages to perform at an average of 150 FPS in Dota 2, with every setting maxed out. Even after several hours of gaming continuously in a controlled environment (with air conditioning), the AAS is able to keep the Zephyrus cool and performance stable. Although it should be mentioned that the fans do ramp up and get quite audible, the speakers are able to drown the fan noise out.
Say goodbye to bulky laptop cooling stands
The Zephyrus comes with a 120Hz 1920x1080 G-Sync display, with 100% sRGB for color accuracy. In most popular e-sports gaming titles, the Zephyrus will definitely be able to hit 120 FPS to make full use of the screen. Furthermore, due to the high refresh rate, motion in games feel a lot smoother, with every action being a lot more visible to the eyes. This can help in e-sports gaming in general, where vision and reaction are extremely important. Colors were not too saturated nor dull as well, with lower than typical eye strain than when using other typical desktop monitors.

When it comes to other more demanding titles, it manages to perform decently, with FPS averaging around 80 at the highest preset. You can also lower the settings to make full use of the 120Hz G-Sync display. The benchmark results can be seen below.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III (Ultra Preset)
Assassin's Creed Origins (Ultra Preset)
Total War: WARHAMMER (Ultra Preset)
Loading duration is also ridiculously fast, with games taking only seconds to load. There are also zero noticeable stutters in games that requires textures to be loaded in and out of memory. Even some SATA SSDs struggling to keep up, but the 512GB Samsung SSD M.2 NVMe PCIe manages to perform better than expected.

Here are some benchmark results.



Conclusion


Together with the i7-7700HQ and the GTX 1080 Max-Q, the Zephyrus is able to provide a near perfect 1080p gaming experience. It is able to breeze through many game titles, all the while being extremely portable. There is indeed a premium tag attached to the Zephyrus (S$4,898), but those with the cash to splurge will find that the money is pretty well spent.

FactorDescriptionScore
Innovation+ Integration of the Active Aerodynamic System (AAS)8/10
Design+ Premium feel with two-toned brushed aluminum cover
+ Plenty of I/O ports
+ Keys feel crisp and nice to type on
+ Portable at 2.2kg
= New placement of the touchpad
- Compact keyboard layout
8/10
Value+ Comes with a wrist rest
+ ROG Gaming Center for further customization
+ ROG GameFirst IV for network prioritization of games
+ 120Hz G-Sync FHD display with 100% sRGB
- Priced at S$4,898
7/10
Performance+ Great performance and portability with the i7-7700HQ and the GTX 1080 Max-Q
+ Kept itself cool throughout a long gaming session
+ Ridiculously fast SSD
+ Speakers were loud and pretty decent for its size
9/10
Final Score
8/10

Specifications

IPS Display
15.6-inch FHD (1920x1080) 120Hz, Anti-glare / Wide-view Panel, 100% sRGB with NVIDIA G-SYNC

Processor Options & PCH
Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ
Intel® HM175 Chipset
Up to 24GB of 2400MHz DDR4 memory (8GB pre-installed + 1
SO-DIMM slot available)

Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB (with Max-Q Design)

Storage Options
Up to 1TB M.2 PCI-E x4 SSD M.2

Networking with GameFirst technology
Gigabit Ethernet
802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth

Red Backlit Keyboard
Low-profile 1.4mm travel scissor switch keys
AURA RGB
Highlighted WASD keys
30-key rollover

Cooling
ROG Active Aerodynamic System (AAS)

Ports
1x USB 3.1 Type-C / Thunderbolt 3
4x USB 3.0 Type-A
1x HDMI 2.0
1x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet (via USB dongle)
1x Xbox controller set (optional)
1x Palm Rest

Camera
Front: HD camera (1280 x 720P @ 30fps)

Weight
2.2KG

Battery
50Whr (Embedded)

Dimensions
37.9(W) x 26.2(D) x 1.69(H) cm

AC Power Adapter
230W

Operating System
Windows 10, 64 bit


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