Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: top tier gaming performance with style

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 impresses in most areas

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16
(Image credit: Asus)
T3 Verdict

The Asus ROG Zephyrus brings with it some very decent hardware specs and lots more besides: excellent audio, a very comfortable keyboard, and a top class screen. While it's not quite a perfect gaming laptop, it certainly has enough about it to attract our attention.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Excellent design

  • +

    Decent battery life

  • +

    Powerful specs

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not widescreen

  • -

    Slightly noisy

  • -

    Relatively pricey

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is a best gaming laptop contender from one of the best-known manufacturers and brands in gaming at the moment – so even before we switched this laptop on and booted it up our expectations were already set relatively high.

What follows is our full review of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16, which should answer all the questions you've got about whether this is the right gaming laptop for you. This is the GU603HR-KR007R, with an upgraded GPU compared to an earlier model we reviewed.

If you're interested in completing your gaming setup then we've got plenty of other useful buying guides for you to check out, including lists of the best gaming keyboards and the best gaming mice. For now though, we're going to concentrate on the Zephyrus M16.

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: design and screen

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 really stands out in terms of its design – it's one of the most well put together laptops we've seen recently. The matte, slightly rubberised finish on the top of the laptop chassis and the keyboard make it a real pleasure to use, and we like the colourful sparkle effect on the lid as well, courtesy of microdots filled with a prismatic film apparently. It's not often you can say a laptop looks good closed as well as open, but this one manages it.

The 16-inch screen is fantastic too: crisp and bright and with very narrow bezels (even though the top one hides a webcam) – Asus says there's a 94 percent screen-to-body ratio when it comes to the display. From games to movies, we never found ourselves disappointed with the pictures and video that the screen offered up: it comes with a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution, a 165 Hz refresh rate, and a 3 ms response time. Those are very decent specs for the price you're paying. Just above the display is a 720p webcam.

The 16:10 aspect ratio of the screen can make movies and games feel a little cramped, but it's great for fitting more of a document or a webpage on the display when you're not gaming. You get the usual Asus ROG RGB lighting effects on the keyboard, together with a software package that gives you a wealth of options when it comes to colour customization. Overall, it's a laptop you're going to want to pull out and show off in as many coffee shops as possible.

We should mention the ports you get here as well: one HDMI 2.0b port, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port (with support for DisplayPort and power), one Ethernet port, one microSD card reader, and one Thunderbolt 4 port (with support for DisplayPort and power). That's a decent selection, and there are also 6 on-board speakers here, capable of pumping out audio that's very much above average in terms of quality for a laptop like this.

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: performance and features

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16

(Image credit: Asus)

Several configurations of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 are available: our review model came with an 11th-gen Intel i9-11900H processor, 32GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, and 2TB of SSD storage. That all adds up to a score of 9,032 in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark – compare that with 5,730 for the average gaming laptop, 9,216 for the average gaming PC, and 11,085 for the average high-end gaming PC.

With graphics settings ramped all the way to the max, we were getting a minimum of 80-90 frames per second in GTA V (and often way over 100), and around 30 frames per second in the much more demanding Cyberpunk 2077. To get the very top frame rates on the latest and most intensive games, you're going to need to dial down the graphics quality a touch, but this will still run any game that you can throw at it.

The cooling system, which Asus seems to have put plenty of engineering effort into, does a very capable job of keeping the chassis cool while you're playing, but it does have a tendency to get rather noisy when the laptop is under pressure. Meanwhile, away from gaming, the laptop is a pleasure to type on, with soft and responsive keys and a fine trackpad too. We'd say it's better than most gaming laptops in regards to catering for everything that isn't gaming.

When it comes to battery life, gaming laptops aren't known for lasting a long time between charges, so we weren't expecting too much in this department. In a one-hour video streaming test – with the screen at maximum brightness and the volume set low – the laptop battery dropped 12 percentage points, which is about 8-9 hours of video playback in total. Dim the screen and you'll be able to get a bit extra, but intensive gaming will drain the battery significantly faster.

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: price and verdict

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 may not be the very best in class when it comes to a performance vs price assessment, but it's certainly in the conversation – and it has enough about it besides its gaming capabilities to push it near the top of your shortlist if you're in the market for a gaming laptop. It's absolutely worth considering if you want a gaming laptop that looks good without being overly flashy.

We did get a few glitches in terms of performance but overall the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 did very well in pushing out high frame rates on the latest titles. It's worth mentioning that the on-board software gives you plenty of flexibility when it comes to balancing performance, battery life, cooling and other elements, so you can decide what's most important to you at any time.

Aside from the raw hardware specs, the laptop has got an excellent screen, plenty of ports, and a keyboard that's a pleasure to type on. It's a well built computer as well, as you would expect from Asus, and it's competitively priced. Check the widgets embedded on this page for the latest online deals, which will vary depending on the configuration you go for.

Even the battery life is respectable, which isn't something you can say about every gaming laptop, and in a few of the less important areas – such as audio quality – this laptop does really well. While it doesn't quite do enough to blow the competition out of the water, we were very impressed with what the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 had to offer during our time with it, and it absolutely won't disappoint if you decide to pick one up.

David Nield
David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.