Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 has finally arrived in India. The 14-inch gaming laptop has been called by several superlatives and garnered favorable reviews. The key ingredient in this hot sauce is AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU. This coupled with Nvidia RTX 2060 Max Q graphics is nothing less than a match made in heaven.
As such, when the laptop landed at my doorstep, I was excited, to say the least. Still, I did put a leash on my excitement and gave it third-degree testing. It went about for a fair length of time and here’s my experience.
You’re welcome —
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Specs
There are multiple variants of this laptop. The spec-sheet given below is of our review unit with model no. GA401IV and the AniMe Matrix lid.
|Model||Asus ROG Zephyrus G14|
|Display||14-inch WQHD (2560×1440) IPS-level, 60Hz, 100% sRGB, Pantone Validated color calibration, Adaptive-Sync|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS|
|Graphics||Nvidia RTX 2060 (Max-Q)|
|Storage||M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 up to 1TB SSD|
|Memory||DDR4 3200MHz SDRAM up to 16GB|
|Ports||1 x USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery
1 x USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C
2x USB3.2 Gen1 Type-A
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1x Kensington Lock
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0|
|Software||Windows 10 Home (64bit)|
|Battery and Charger||76whr
180W Power Adaptor
Plug Type: ø6.0 (mm)
Output: 20V DC, 9A, 180W
Input: 100~240V AC, 50/60Hz universal
|Audio||2x 2.5W speakers with Smart AMP technology
2x 0.7W tweeter, Array Microphone
With Dolby Atmos technology
|Keyboard and Trackpad||Backlit Chiclet Keyboard, N-key support, 1.7mm travel distance, 4
Hotkeys, Power key with Fingerprint
|Dimensions and Weight||32.4 (W) x 22.2 (D) x 1.79 (H) cm, 1.7kg|
|Colors||Moonlight White / Eclipse Grey|
Inside the box, you get the laptop, a charger, and a carry bag.
On with the review then —
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Review: Design and Build
The Zephyrus G14 looks poised in the silver-colored magnesium alloy chassis. The overall build is sturdy. However, thanks to that material, it enjoys a light profile, weighing around just 1.6 kg. It also meets AMD’s HS design standard (will cover it later on) with the 17.99mm thickness.
Our unit is decked up by the AniMe matrix LED light show on the lid. It is a party trick, agreed! But one that I would happily parade. It is easily customizable to ones liking. There are about 1215 LEDs within those tiny CNC holes.
The body is nearly smudge-resistant, which helps in maintaining that suave. However, if you don’t like the silver/grey finish, I’m afraid you’ll have hard luck finding good skins for it.
Even with the bonnet raised (which btw, you can do one-handedly), you’ll find the same poise and polish. The sturdy lid leans sufficiently and whilst doing so, the keyboard lifts up a bit (by 15mm). Asus calls this ErgoLift design, which offers better typing experience, room for cooling, and woofer output. Simply smart, I would say.
Rest, it has plenty of openings for heat dissipation, audio, and connectivity purposes. These will be covered in length in the following sections.
With that, lemme draw your attention to —
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Review: Display, Audio, and Keyboard
You get to choose between two display options – one with 2K resolution plus 60Hz refresh rate and the other one with a 1080p resolution plus 120Hz refresh rate. Ours is the former, which is hamstrung by the slower refresh._.
Rest, the fascia is a TN-panel with IPS-level picture quality. It has got Pantone-certified colors, with good viewing angles and high contrast ratio. I watched movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Tropic Thunder, Avatar, Gravity, and Interstellar, all in 4K resolution. The content gets downsampled to the 2K screen and the result is engrossing!
The experience is evenly matched by G14’s speakers. The laptop has got two tweeters (for treble) and two woofers (for bass). The combined output is hands off the best sound I’ve heard from a laptop.
ALSO READ: Asus ZenBook 14 2020 (UX425J) Review
Coming back to that display, it is engulfed by thin bezels and a broad chin. But the forehead isn’t that narrow to not have space for a webcam ._. Ya, the Zephyrus G14 lacks a webcam. Granted most webcams are pretty shoddy for streaming, but it would’ve been good to have one for casual video calls.
This also means the absence of facial unlocking. So you are left with a capacitive fingerprint reader, which also doubles as the power button. This allows for single sign-on functionality. That is — a single press boots the machine and shortly caches the fingerprint, which is then used to authenticate your identity during Windows log-in. That sounds cool, but it had a hard time recognizing my mostly-moist fingertips and I ended up using pin/password instead.
To the left of it, resides four dedicated hotkeys for volume up, volume down, mic off, and the Asus armory crate (more on it shortly). To the top-middle area lies the LED indicators for battery state and other things.
Moving downwards, there is a well-designed keypad. The keys are comfortably tactile with responsive yet quite quiet taps. Even the touchpad is impressively precise and smooth to slide upon.
All that said, here are some niggles I have with this setup:
- The tiny size of arrow keys
- The lack of Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys, which would’ve benefitted programmers.
- The illegible and uneven backlighting. Dear Asus, who came up with this brilliant idea to use white light with silver keys? 🤦♂️ I expect Asus to have fixed it in the retail units. Still, it would’ve been cooler to see RGB backlighting like on the Razer Blade Stealth 13.
Though the G14 misses out on a ritzy RGB lit keyboard, an area it stays ahead of the competition is —
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Review: Performance and Software
Our Zephyrus G14 unit bears the Ryzen 9 4900HS processor paired with 16GB of single-slot, dual-channel memory, a 1TB NVMe SSD storage, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics. It baffles me how the company managed to wedge in such an illustrious mix of specs.
The star of the show is definitely the AMD Ryzen 4900 HS silicon based on the 7nm Zen 2 architecture (code-named ‘Renoir’). This new CPU design warrants both better single-threaded and multi-threaded gain from the available 8 cores and 16 threads. Asus has worked closely with AMD to achieve the latter’s HS design standard. Thus you get the high-end power of AMD’s ‘H’ series chips in a slim trim (which is what that ‘S’ appendix stands for).
Such sheer power means the device doesn’t bog down a bit in day-to-day multi-tasking. The cadence is reflected in everything from cold boots to switching tens of tabs in Chrome, app loading, and games.
Here are a few benchmark scores for a finer clinical analysis —
|3DMark Firestrike Ultra||3368|
|3DMark Time Spy||5709|
|CrystalDiskMark Seq Read Speed||1738.03 MB/s|
|CrystalDiskMark Seq Write Speed||1761.92 MB/s|
|CrystalDiskMark Random Read Speed||669.99 MB/s|
|CrystalDiskMark Random Write Speed||912.84 MB/s|
|Geekbench 5 Single-Core (CPU)||1193|
|Geekbench 5 Multi-Core (CPU)||7480|
|Geekbench 5 Compute OpenCL (GPU)||67564|
|PCMark 8 (Creative accelerated)||6616|
As for the main purpose you’d be mostly buying this laptop, ie, Gaming — here too, any AAA title you throw at it, runs like poetry in motion. You would enjoy every in-game slash, splash, crash, flash (I hope you get my point). Although AMD’s FreeSync takes care of visual tearing, you would notice some ghosting while playing demanding titles on this 60Hz TN panel. The 120Hz would’ve been rather sweet!
Anyhoo, here’s how it fared (average) FPS-wise in the games I played (at turbo profile):
- GTA-5 (highest settings): 51 FPS
- Control (w/ ray tracing): 49 FPS
- Batman Arkham Night: 53 FPS
- Watch Dogs 2 (very high settings): 58 FPS
ALSO READ: ROG Phone 3 Review
On the software side, you have the Windows 10 Home Edition, which runs without a hiccup. You won’t feel the incessant urge to hit that right-click and refresh command. My only gripe is with the bundled bloatware. I’ve ranted about it in my Asus Zenbook 14 review too. Not that it has an evident impact on this monster, but without all the clutter and background services, the system will run even smoother and efficient. If you wish, you can follow this guide to fine-tune the software and improve battery life.
Before we jump to battery performance, let’s have a look at Asus’s Armory Crate app. This has an overwhelming number of options to tweak and control the performance profiles, cooling, battery, fan noise, calibrate visuals, customize AniMe Matrix settings, etc. For instance, for a no holds barred peak performance, you may choose the Turbo mode. This, however, comes at a cost of heat, and louder whirring sound. Even in the default performance mode, the base of the laptop does get warm and you’d want it off your lap. Still and all, I must appreciate Asus for its respectable job in the thermal department.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: Battery and Connectivity
The Zephyrus G14 is carrying a 76Whr battery inside. In my usage which comprised watching 4K video, browsing and coding (with 100% brightness, Performance mode, Battery Saver off, keyboard backlighting off) I could eke 4 hours worth of juice. And when I was watching 4K movie, the lappy would die at a 3hr 15min mark. Even the PCMark 8 (Creative accelerated) test score presents a similar result.
Now, that’s not as amazing as other reviewers might have got from their units. I wonder if that’s possible by following certain parameters or making tweaks to the default configuration. Anyways when it asks for the charge, the supplied 180W adapter (weighs 0.522 Kg) takes more than 2 hours to refill. Additionally, there is support for 65W USB-C charging. There is no Thunderbolt 3 here though as it’s Intel property.
Asus has bestowed a healthy selection of peripherals on the Zephyrus G14. To the left, you have a power socket, an HDMI 2.0b port, one USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4, and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack.
Switch to the other side and you have got a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C and two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A slots. Oh, and there is a Kensington Lock. But, no SD card slot.
And so, it’s time to bring it to a close.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Review Verdict: Should you buy it?
Zephyrus G14 might be one of the most ambitious devices by the company till date. It feels unfair to single out individual positives of this machine, as it’s remarkable throughout — soup to nuts! The compromises, in comparison, are negligible.
The star of the show, as I’ve mentioned already, is the AMD Ryzen 4900HS processor, which warrants an unprecedented performance in a 14-inch footprint. The red team does clearly squelch Intel this time and this makes the future of computing exciting for PC fanboys.
Meanwhile, the G14 is very promising on the graphics front too. After all, it’s a gaming laptop. However, to make the best of it, definitely go with the 120Hz model. Also, if you don’t fancy an LED show, you’re better off with the non-AniMe Matrix edition (Psst, you’d save some money). You see the:
- Zephyrus G14 with AniMe Matrix variant starts from ₹98,990 (available at Amazon/Retail Partners/Large Format Retail)
- Zephyrus G14 without AniMe Matrix version starts from ₹80,990 (available at Amazon/Retail Partners/Large Format Retail)
Speaking of options, there’s no doubt that there are potent laptops with much higher refresh rates, faster speeds, better performance, and graphics power. But, what makes this one important is the ergonomics. It sports a functional form factor and is the coveted “gaming on the go” laptop. So, if you’re on the prowl for such a thing, go grab the Zephyrus G14.
- Awesome performance in a light and compact size
- Stylish and sturdy build
- Gorgeous display
- Surprisingly good speakers
- Decent port choices
- Great typing and touchpad feel
- Missing webcam
- Dull keyboard backlighting
- Iffy fingerprint reader
- Relatively slower display response times for a gaming machine