Asus ROG Zephyrus M, Review: ultra-fine, this Gaming laptop is not far from the faultless

Announced at the launch of the latest wave of eighth-generation Intel processors, the Zephyrus M – codenamed GM501G – is Asus’ new 15.6-inch gaming computer. A little less prestigious than his big brother – the Zephyrus GX501, released last year at the time of Computex 2017, he is inspired a lot. And, like its predecessor, the “M” meets Nvidia’s Max-Q standard.

The version we received in the review is not sold as is. It has been equipped with 32 GB of memory while commercial models are limited to 16 GB. We have removed a memory module of our Zephyrus to ensure, in our tests, that the configuration is the same as that stamped “EI004T“. A model announced more than ₹ 3,09,990 (!!). Know that the other versions of the GM501 are, they, sold from ₹ 2,36,000 approximately.

Just out of the box, a fact is obvious: the Asus Zephyrus M and his big brother look like two drops of water. The new case retains a beautiful dark metal finish, highlighted by a fine bronze edging on the lower part, the one that hosts the keyboard.

The angles and curves are all in the same place, or almost so, so we clearly have to be in the presence of the old model. Asus even keeps the hatch under the machine, which opens as soon as the screen is in the vertical position. A hatch that allows the ventilation to do its task (silently as we will see later) and which slightly tilts the machine forward.

But, make no mistake, there are many differences between the two editions of the Zephyrus. For example, the connection is not the same and its layout has changed a little. Thus, on the left side, the Zephyrus M offers a USB 3.0 socket more than its predecessor (3 instead of 2) but retains the HDMI output and headphone jack. On the right side is now a USB Type-C compatible Thunderbolt 3 socket and a conventional USB while the former Zephyrus offered him two USB full format.

Enormous case (2.2 cm), Asus continues to ignore the wired network, so we have to be satisfied with the Wi-Fi module n / ac embedded for connections to the web, which, from our point of view, is not ideal. Finally, photographers and videographers will be upset: the SD player is still not at the rendezvous. Using this powerful machine for editing or editing requires an external memory card reader.

The exotic ergonomics are stored in the closet and that’s good

Hardly screen deployed, there too, we see that there is change. Remember, on the first Zephyrus, the keyboard was placed on the front of the inner tray and there was no palm rest. A gap that Asus had tried to fill by providing an external and removable model, similar to the ones that keyboard builders for desktop PCs deliver with their input device.

The touchpad, for its part, was on the right side of the keyboard and served as both a pointing tool and touchpad. By pressing a single key, we went from one function to another, according to the needs. A layout and choices that Asus had to operate because of the embedded GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q we had explained at the time.

On the Zephyrus M, everyone has found his place. Phew! Probably because the machine embarks “only a GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q”. The keyboard even gets a classic keypad. However, there are four shortcut keys for volume, activation of the onboard microphone and quick access to the ROG Center home software.

It is also via the latter that one can adjust the color of the keys of the keyboard, a multitude of colors being available. It is also through the ROG Center that you can take a look at the speed of the processor, the graphics card but also on the temperatures of the latter.

The typical configuration of ultrafine gaming, vintage 2018

The new edition of Zephyrus adopts the new eighth generation Intel chips, and more particularly the Core i7-8750H. Running at 2.2 GHz base and up to 4.1 GHz in Turbo mode, it is equipped with six cores, twelve threads and is part of the current high-end processors. As we mentioned in the introduction, our review unit had 32 GB of memory but we divided this quantity by two to get closer to the configurations currently on sale. And besides, having 16 GB or 32 GB on this type of machine does it really change?

The answer is no. If we rely on our tests, equipping the machine with so much memory does not increase its capabilities. And this, whether in games or in our evaluation software (PC Mark, 3D Mark, etc.). At best, we observed variations of a few hundred points. But these differences could – almost – pass for the margin of error generally found between two passages of the same evaluation.

For viewing the games on the refreshed 144 Hz Full HD matte display, you can count on Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q. This 3D chip remains, remember, less powerful than its counterpart “no Max-Q” because it aims to integrate more fine gaming machines and must, therefore, temper its ardor.

To do this, the GPU designer has therefore restrained. Despite the missing megahertz, this card is fully able to display the video games of the moment, without having to cut corners on the number of graphic details.

Finally, to ensure storage, Asus relies on a comfortable 512 GB SSD and a conventional hard drive hybrid 1 TB.

Asus – MSI: little-improvised match!

The Zephyrus M being the second 15.6-inch ultra-thin new generation laptop to pass through our hands, we had fun comparing it to the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin, received a few weeks ago.

  • Housing and connectors:

Externally, the Zephyrus M is better finished. Its case is more robust, the metal is present which necessarily affects the weight: 2.5 kg against 1.8 kg for the GS. Same observation on the side of the AC adapter which, placed on the scale, accuses a mass of 800 grams against “only” 548 grams for that of the MSI laptop. Asus marks his first point.

Our calipers are formal: both machines are as thick as each other. MSI, however, managed to implement a wired network jack and an audio DAC, very valuable when playing the headphones. It also offers a mini DisplayPort output in addition to HDMI. On the Zephyrus M, connecting a DisplayPort screen can only be done using the USB Type-C and, as we mentioned, the network plug is missing. Not to mention the DAC.

The Zephyrus, however, was able to position its power outlet in the right place, that is to say, on its left flank. No chance of hitting it with the eventual external gaming mouse positioned to the right. Little consolation? Not so much from our point of view. MSI also scored a point, but narrowly.

  • Performances:

In terms of pure performance, we have drawn up comparative graphs, taking the main scores recorded by the two machines in our usual tests.

Not surprisingly, the two protagonists are neck and neck since they have the same components Intel and Nvidia. The differences in results on the games are explained, in our experience, by the presence of non-standard Nvidia drivers on the MSI machine. Drivers that can not be updated and probably optimized for the MSI platform.

The presence of 32 GB on the motherboard of the GS65? Yes, it can also work at the margin although, as we explained above, on the Asus machine, going from 32 GB to 16 GB had changed almost nothing.

On the paper, only the available storage capacity Asus manages to stand out because the Zephyrus M combines both hybrid hard drive and SSD while the MSI, it is only on the SSD. Overall assessment: equality between our two protagonists.

  • Quality of display:

Asus or MSI, it does not matter, the two machines embark a panel IPS Full HD, whose coating is matte and with the refresh rate of 144 Hz, an asset for the gamers in search of the fluidity of display.

However, from a purely aesthetic point of view, the edges of the MSI screen are much thinner than those of the Asus and visually we prefer. This choice is more in line with the “high-end ultrafine” side openly claimed by these machines.

On the technical side, the G-Sync technology is inviting on the Zephyrus M while it is absent from the MSI. Players will appreciate that with a GTX 1070, the interest of G-Sync can be debated. The fact remains that its presence must be credited to the Asus, one more point for the latter.

According to our probe, the average maximum brightness of the Asus is higher than that of the MSI: 307 cd / m2 here against 270 cd / m2. The contrast ratio, in turn, exceeds 1500: 1 on the Zephyrus M GM501G and caps 1107: 1 on the Stealth. In both cases, it is clearly insufficient for machines of this price.

On the other hand, the color fidelity of the slab on the Asus site is not very good. In games, we observe that blue and green are clearly omnipresent. This will not bother neophytes but purists will probably notice quickly.

The MSI, for its part, offers a more balanced and we would even be tempted to say that the GS65 has a very slight advantage, ultimately. Better brightness and contrast for Asus, screen edges and colorimetry more just for the GS65 of MSI. One point each.

  • Consumption, throttling, noise, and temperature:

Impossible for the Zephyrus M to evade our heat gun, our sound level meter or our wattmeter.

We found a maximum of 38 °C under the machine, while mercury rose to over 62.5 °C at the same spot on the MSI. It should be noted, however, that the hatch underneath the Zephyrus M probably serves as a protective screen and that the temperature could be higher … It remains nonetheless Asus returns to the score.

What about throttling? The Core i7 processor of Zephyrus M is not affected. Whether at play or during our intense stress phases. It manages to maintain its frequencies between 2.3 and 2.5 GHz, slightly above the standard 2.2 GHz. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the model in the MSI. As a reminder, it caps at 2.2 GHz in play and, as soon as it is stressed to the maximum, it drastically lowers its frequencies (between 1.5 and 2.1 GHz) and keeps changing them for avoid the heat stroke. One more point for Asus.

In terms of noise, the MSI laptop is noisier than the Asus during intense stress. The GS65 is up to more than 45.2 dB when the Asus spurns (strongly) at 42.8 dB. In absolute terms, in both cases, the measurements are high. But for gaming machines as fine, it is almost acceptable. However, we note that the MSI has three fans against two only on the Asus machine, which probably explains this delta. On the scoreboard, Asus takes the tangent.

Let’s finish with greed for the catch. The Asus is much more voracious than the MSI model since it engulfs more than 210 watts when the entire platform is involved. For the record, the GS65 manages to stay below the bar of 180 watts. MSI goes back to the score. Still, Asus retains the advantage, current score: 6 to 4.

  • Endurance:

Let’s finish with the battery abilities of Zephyrus M. We will specify in advance that, despite the presence of G-Sync technology, the Nvidia Optimus is also present here. Normally, it is either one or the other. However, Asus has found the parade and offers, with one click in the ROG Center, to activate one of two technologies. However, it is necessary to restart the machine so that the activation process is taken into account.

However, we did our endurance tests with Optimus activated, to get an idea of the maximum endurance of the Zephyrus M. On average, the machine is between 2:30 and 3 hours maximum while the MSI, he managed to exceed 6 hours maximum, without the slightest worry. MSI comes back a little but not enough to take the advantage.

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Vaibhav Mishra

Fan of new technologies and player since small, I do not move without at least one smartphone in the pocket to always stay connected ... and keep some games at hand.