Asus ROG Zephyrus review (GX501)

Ultra-thin, as well as remarkably quiet and benchmark-crushingly powerful, the Asus ROG Zephyrus is one hell of a gaming laptop

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T3 Verdict

A superbly engineered new benchmark for premium gaming laptops. The Asus ROG Zephyrus is insanely fast, remarkably quiet and ridiculously thin. It also boasts a genuinely innovative design.

Reasons to buy

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    Massive power

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    Innovative, modern design

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    Amazingly quiet cooling system

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    Ultra-thin Max-Q build

Reasons to avoid

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    Cramped keyboard

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    Poor battery life

Let's cut straight to the chase: here at T3 we think the Asus ROG Zephyrus is currently the best gaming laptop in the world. If you want a premium, future-proofed gaming laptop that has both the looks and technical specs to kill, then the current king of our best gaming laptop buying guide is definitely for you.

With its ultra-thin Nvidia Max-Q design, massive benchmark scores (see below boxout), and crisp anti-glare screen, the Asus ROG Zephyrus makes playing even the most demanding modern AAA games a no-compromise joy. How much of a joy? Read on for the details.

But first, why not get hype with the Asus ROG Zephyrus' official reveal trailer:

Asus ROG Zephyrus - specs and hardware

Asus ROG Zephyrus review

Asus ROG Zephyrus - 3DMark scores

Time Spy: 5,576

Fire Strike: 13,929

Fire Strike Ultra: 4,031

Sky Diver: 30,844

While the specs of the Asus ROG Zephyrus are only part of the story here, they are impressive to behold. The system comes packing an Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad Core CPU capable of operating up to 3.8GHz, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU with 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM, 16GB of DDR4 (2,400MHz) system RAM, a 512GB M.2 SSD, and a 15.6-inch, Full HD (1,920x1,080) anti-glare wide-view panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync.

You also get a variety of ports, including a Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C), and a HD webcam. Total weight rests at a very portable 2.2kg (4.85 pounds), while the Zephyrus' total dimensions come in at a ultra-thin 14.9 x 10.3 x 0.66-0.7 inches (W x D x H).

And it really is those dimensions that begin to tell you the full story of the Asus ROG Zephyrus, as the specs on their own become less remarkable when you remove design and form-factor out of the equation. The truth is that Asus has managed to squeeze all those high-end components into an incredibly streamlined and attractive case, with Nvidia's Max-Q tech allowing core components to be up to three times thinner than ever before.

 Asus ROG Zephyrus - design and features

Asus ROG Zephyrus review

And that thinness makes for an incredibly modern and stylish design. The Zephyrus is cool to the touch, thanks to a lush squared-off metal chassis, and looks beautifully understated and classy thanks to an all-black exterior with copper highlights. The brushed aluminium-style screen lid also just radiates quality and, for once, a maker didn't ruin their system's lid by splashing their name all over it. Here instead we simply get the ROG logo inlaid with a chrome finish, as well "Republic of Gamers" printed small at the lid's base. Class.

Asus ROG Zephyrus review

The Zephyrus' innovative drop down cooling panel

Arguably the most classy element of the Asus ROG Zephyrus' design though is its new innovative cooling system, which sees the bottom panel of the system neatly drop down when the system is in use to enhance airflow. This hinged base automatically drops in sync with the system's screen opening, creating a 6mm gap, which in partnership with the system's internal high-air chamber means that the Zephyrus runs remarkably quiet, even when pushing serious pixels.

 Asus ROG Zephyrus - gaming performance 

Asus ROG Zephyrus review

Oh boy, and pushing pixels is something that the Asus ROG Zephyrus just excels at. Not only did it lodge some seriously impressive gaming laptop benchmark scores in 3DMark (see above boxout), but it also absolutely crushed T3's series of test games too.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was first up and we lost no time turning up all the settings to "Uber". The result? Absolutely butter smooth gameplay that suffered from zero slowdown. Naturally, with textures and post-processing effects turned up to maximum levels, blowing Nazis away was an incredibly high-fidelity and immersive experience.

What was really amazing though was that the Zephyrus ran Wolfenstein II at max settings and with a liquid fast frame rate and you felt the system had plenty more to offer.

Asus ROG Zephyrus review

The Zephyrus is remarkably thin

Another highlight of the test suite was playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. Again, after whacking all of its settings up as far as they would go, we ran the game's internal benchmark and it returned a eye searingly fast 101.15 fps. And that benchmark didn't lie, with our experience playing the game equally smooth and pleasurable. The exotic lush environments Lara explores in the game really popped running on the Zephyrus and the action, when it came, was dynamic and suffered zero slowdown.

We rounded off our testing with a spell on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Previous mid-range Asus systems we had reviewed at T3 Towers had done a pretty good job with this largely un-optimised DirectX 12 title and, as such, we were expecting the Zephyrus to really impress. And we weren't disappointed. The game ran absolutely lightning fast, even in the super crunchy rainy outdoors city environments, making sneaking around taking down baddies with our crazy augmented powers lots of fun and, with no slowdown, easier than ever.

 Asus ROG Zephyrus - verdict

Asus ROG Zephyrus review

We review a lot of gaming laptops here at T3 Towers, so when we say that we feel the Asus ROG Zephyrus is something genuinely new and special we really mean it, as the market is stuffed to bursting with me-too products that simply iterate slightly on pre-existing hardware specs.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus is genuinely unique though and, without doubt, it sets a new benchmark in gaming laptop production. The Nvidia Max-Q design is, for those used to the beefy chunk inherent in most gaming laptops, remarkable to behold, with its thinness and lightness combining stunningly with its premium metal casing.

Asus ROG Zephyrus official image gallery

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Asus ROG Zephyrus official image gallery

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Asus ROG Zephyrus official image gallery

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Asus ROG Zephyrus official image gallery

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Asus ROG Zephyrus official image gallery

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And when it comes to the actual main event, playing graphically demanding PC games, the system just handles anything you throw at it with aplomb, with maxed-out settings crushed by a combination of Intel Core i7-7700HQ, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and 16GB of DDR4 (2,400MHz) RAM. As mentioned above, Rise of the Tomb Raider returned a benchmark score of 101.15 FPS, and those sort of liquid fast experiences are standard for the Zephyrus.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus is simply a fabulous piece of gaming technology and few other systems come close to matching its performance and understated style. Hugely recommended.