The Zephyrus M that Asus sent us packed a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM (Expandable to 32GB) and an M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 512GB SSD.
The build quality on this device is pretty solid sporting a brushed aluminium lid with a red Zephyrus logo on the side. Asus has used a combination of magnesium and aluminium alloys on the chassis, ensuring a light form factor.
The palm rest hides honeycomb reinforcements to ensure zero flex and a stiff frame. Asus confirmed that the GU502 is 14 percent smaller in volume and 22 percent lighter than the previous Zephyrus M.
The Zephyrus M series ditches the famed Zephyrus design that shifts the keyboard to the bottom and trackpad to the side, opting for a more traditional user layout, and is far more comfortable than the Zephyrus GX501.
The keyboard doesn't get a Numpad but it is particularly nice for typing and gaming; there's a little tactile feel when pressing down on a key and the spacing between each key is quite adequate. The glass trackpad on the bottom features Windows Precision drivers and excellent button mechanics.
The more usual position of the keyboard means the space on either side of the keyboard doubles up like a palm rest. The new Zephyrus M's keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting, which can be configured with Asus' Aura Sync software.
This gaming laptop is also one of the slimmest we've seen at this price point. The Zephyrus M GU502 also looks and feels like a premium notebook. The minimalistic design on this laptop makes it an excellent pick for gamers and professionals. The keyboard isn't particularly great but handles typing and gaming pretty well.
Connectivity is a strong area for the Zephyrus M GU502. This mobile gaming machine is packed with an excellent assortment of ports. Three USB Type-A ports that can be used to attach external devices like a mouse, headset or gamepad, while the USB-C port can be used for universal charging or DP display output.
Despite the slim chassis, Asus has still managed to include an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port for wired gaming. The two display outputs allow users to connect two 4K HDR monitors –HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.4 (via USB Type-C connection).
The Zephyrus M GU502 integrates ESS 9118 Saber Hi-Fi Audio for excellent sound quality and a greater audio range with less noise and distortion. Asus claims, "Compared to typical notebook sound chips, the ESS 9118 can generate an 8-fold increase in range of sound, 92% less in distortion." Additionally, the speakers also feature Smart AMP technology.
We found bass and dynamic range really strong on the Zephyrus M, making it great for binge-watching shows. However, the fans run loud when running at full speed, and the speakers simply weren't enough while gaming, especially on the AAA titles.
The Zephyrus M GU502 is equipped with a 15.6-inch FHD IPS panel with a 3ms response time and 144Hz refresh rate. The biggest let down on this panel is the lack of G-Sync support. But what the screen lacks in G-Sync support it more than makes up for in colour accuracy.
The new ROG Zephyrus M covers the colour gamut really well with 100 percent sRGB, and a factory-calibrated Pantone Validated screen. This makes it arguably one of the best laptops for content creators by day and gamers by night at this price point.
The screen on this sleek gaming machine gets a thick chin and slim bezels on three sides with an 81 percent screen-to-body ratio. However, Asus hasn't incorporated a webcam on the device, saying, "integrated webcams often yield poor quality results and are not independently adjustable, which does not reflect the premium quality elsewhere".
Despite the lack of G-Sync support, the screen on the Zephyrus M GU502 is nothing short of exceptional. The panel is perfect for video editing and graphic design and is better than most laptop displays we've seen at this price point.
Equipped with the latest six-core Intel CPU and 16GB of RAM, the Zephyrus M doesn't really compromise on performance. While we ran games on the best settings possible, we'd recommend lowering settings on multiplayer titles to get better frame rates to take advantage of the 144Hz display.
An Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics card compliments all that Core i7 horsepower. Running games on this machine is going to be an absolute breeze. We ran several E-sports and AAA titles with excellent results. We cranked up Heroes of the Storm (MOBA) and Overwatch (FPS) to 'Extreme' settings with the former averaging at 81 frames per second, while the latter hitting 75 frames per second on an average.
Popular battle royale, Apex Legends also fared pretty well on 'Very-High' settings, giving us an average of 83 frames per second. Fortnite did particularly well on Ultra settings, averaging out at around 97 fps. Playing PUBG on high settings got us past the 80 frames per second mark on average, 85 to be precise.
The dip in frame rates for Anthem was quite evident; we saw a meagre 25 average fps on Medium settings. Battlefield V, on the other hand, did far better offering an average of 63 fps in single-player mode and 55 fps in multiplayer mode on Medium settings.
Titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Metro: Last Light and GTA V all managed to average at about 60 fps. Average frame rates dropped below 50 while playing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Ultra settings.
Apart from gaming, the ROG Zephyrus M recorded a 2,785 CPU score on the Cinebench R20 test, while scoring 1,195 CPU score on Cinebench's R15 test. GPU benchmarks were conducted on 3D Mark's Port Royal and Time Spy tests, yielding scores of 1,451 and 5,616, respectively. The GU502 also managed an overall score of 6,073 on PCMark 10 Extended benchmark test.
The new Zephyrus M is an excellent pick for e-sports players. We'd have to say that in terms of performance the new Zephyrus M certainly gets the job done.
The Zephyrus M GU502 combines Asus' intelligent cooling solution with innovative thermal tech and software control to maintain an excellent balance of power and performance. However, the top of the laptop can get pretty hot while gaming in Turbo mode, reaching upwards of 80 degrees Celsius, but Asus has done a great job of ensuring none of that heat seeps into the keyboard area.
While the area above the speaker grille does get fairly hot, the keyboard and palm rest area aren't really affected. It's also worth noting that the temperature only flared up while playing AAA titles. We'd also recommend using a headset while gaming as the fans can run pretty loud on Turbo mode, drowning out the audio from the speakers.
The last thing to look for in a gaming laptop is the battery life, but the Zephyrus M does reasonably well. In our tests, the Zephyrus M delivered little over five and a half hours on a single full charge. In our web browsing test, the Zephyrus M ran for 5 hours and 21 minutes, while using battery saving mode and reducing screen brightness to 30 percent.
It is easy to forget that the Zephyrus M GU502 is a gaming laptop and not an ultrabook. By gaming laptop standards, the five and a half hours you get on the GU502 is quite impressive. This is undoubtedly the best battery we've seen on a gaming laptop.
Optimus Mode is an excellent feature that automatically preserves battery life by switching the graphics output from GPU to CPU when the laptop isn't charging. Although you can switch it off in the settings, gaming on the backup battery will give you less than an hour of gameplay and drop average frame rates.
The Zephyrus sports a 76Wh battery that accepts USB Type-C power delivery when battery dips below 10 percent.
The Zephyrus M GU502 costs a whopping Rs 1,50,000, which is a hefty price considering the lack of an RTX graphics card. Both HP and MSI offer gaming laptops with similar specs for about Rs 15,000 less than Zephyrus M GU502.
But looking beyond the spec sheets, Asus offers more than just a versatile gaming laptop. The five and a half hours of battery life on the new ROG Zephyrus M is something you just don’t see on gaming laptops.
Then there’s the improved cooling system, which keeps throttling down to a minimum. Additionally, the colour accurate, factory-calibrated Pantone Validated display, which also puts it in content creators’ ballpark. Lastly, you get a sleek laptop that perfectly balances power and portability.
We believe the additional benefits that the Zephyrus M GU502 brings to the table outweighs the extra Rs 15,000 premium you shell out on this machine.
The new Zephyrus M GU502 isn't the most over-the-top gaming laptop you'll find, but there's definitely more to it than just metal and chips. Despite packing a faster processor than the previous Zephyrus M, the ROG GU502 still manages to deliver great battery life. What you're getting is a powerful gaming laptop that doubles as a productivity notebook with an impressive screen and sleek design.
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