And now Asus has launched the world’s thinnest and lightest gaming laptop. Dubbed Asus Zephyrus S GX701, the powerful machine boasts of something called Advanced Aerodynamic System, Pantone validated display and latest generation processors.
Priced at Rs 2,99,999, the laptop is available in just one variant on offile and online retail stores across the country. We have been using this laptop from quite some time now and here’s what we have to say about the laptop.
Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review: Design
As we unboxed the laptop, looking at the footprint, the first question that came to our mind was, ‘Is it really a 17-inch laptop?’. The Asus GX701 packs a 17-inch display in a body size that we have seen majority of the 15.3-inch laptops in the market. This is courtesy the the 6.9mm super-narrow bezels across all the sides except the chin. The chin of the laptop is huge compared to the other three sides of the display. Another thing to note here is the company has also sacrificed the webcam to achieve that results. Having said that, mercifully there is a USB webcam that ships with the box. The dimensions of the laptop are 399 x 272 x 18.7mm and it weighs around 2.7 kilograms. With the given dimension, Asus claims that the laptop is around 23 per cent smaller and around 40 per cent slimmer compared to any normal gaming laptops.
The laptop comes with a total of 5 USB ports out of which three ports support 3.1 Gen2 speed, 1x LAN port, 1x HDMI 2.0 port, Thunderbolt port, headphone jack and Kensington Lock slot.
Towards the left, there’s the charging power socket, HDMI 2.0 port, USB-A 3.1 Gen2 port, USB-C 3.1 Gen2 port with support for DisplayPort 1.4, 3.5-mm headphone jack and at the right, two USB-A 3.0 ports, USB-C 3.0 port, Kensington Lock at placed at the right side of the laptop.
The only complaint here is the positioning of the ports including the charging port. Most of the ROG laptops used to have the charging port at the corner of either of the sides. In this case, the ports are shifted more towards the front which can be a bit annoying while using a charging cable or a mouse as both sides also feature a heat sink for better heat dissipation.
The ROG Zephyrus S GX701 comes with a chicklet styled keyboard with 1.4mm of key travel which is really good keeping in mind the overall thickness of the laptop. Also, to make room for the AAS cooling system, the company has moved the keyboard towards the front and repositioned the trackpad towards the right of the keyboard. The keys are silent and provide good feedback while pressed. The keyboard also comes with pre-key RGB backlighting and it also supports Asus Sync which means users can customise each key colour as per their need and also sync it with other Asus Sync supported devices.
Taking about the trackpad, the laptop uses Windows precision drivers and it has been some time since Asus has ditched any third party trackpad driver. This, in our opinion, is a good thing as it provides native gesture support and regular update via Windows 10 update. The tracking and gestures are smooth as expected from a gaming laptop. It is good to see two separate left and right-click buttons. The only complaint with the trackpad is its portrait alignment. As we all use our laptop in a landscape and having a trackpad in the same orientation gives the sense of the distance the pointer travels on the screen. The laptop also comes with a virtual number pad which can be activated by pressing the NUM key placed right above the trackpad alongside the ROG key, microphone mute button.
The different positioning of the keyboard and trackpad does affect the user experience. But it’s not that hard to get used to it. Also, considering it as a gaming laptop, most gamers prefer using t
heir own keyboard and mouse while playing games. So, this might not be a deal breaker for most gamers out there.
Build quality is another important factor for a laptop of this price range. The top of the laptop is metal and comes with a big ROG logo that has red colour backlit to it. From the top, the laptop feels solid and well built. However, the base of the laptop feels somewhat flimsy and not up to the Asus standards that we have seen in the past as it has some flex to it when pressed.
The hinge mechanism of the laptop is good and we had no issue while opening and closing the lid. Opening the lid lifts the entire laptop slightly to create more room for airflow just like every other Zephyrus laptop out there in the market.
Asus Zephyrus S GX701: Display
The laptop features a 17.3-inch full HD matte-finish IPS display. The GX701 also comes with Pantone certification which ensures better colour calibration and overall image quality of the display. But what does that mean in the real world and how does it makes the usages experience especially in terms of gaming better? We will discuss this later in the review.
Asus has been using IPS technology panel in their ROG laptops from quite some time and as per the IPS panel property, the laptop offers great viewing angles even while looking at it from the bottom. Being a matte-finish panel, the display minimises the reflection to a good extent and we didn’t face any issues while using the GX701 outdoors. Slightly better brightness levels could have further added to the experience. But there’s nothing to worry about as lower brightness let users get through a long gaming session without stressing their eyes out.
Moving to the panel’s image quality, the display is not among the best from the company in terms of Adobe RGB and sRGB coverage. But Pantone calibration never let that reflect in the output. The laptop produces vibrant, vivid and accurate colours. Content creators like photographers, video editors, etc will love this display. Gamers, on the other hand, will thank Asus for what they have done with the display as it delivers what they would generally need and a notch above than their expectations.
Adding to the gaming experience is the 3ms response time and 144Hz refresh rate that enhances the response reaction time and reduces pixel blur in fast-moving scenes while gaming.
The display also comes with G-Sync support.
Asus Zephyrus S GX701: Performance
The addition of 9th-generation CPU and RTX GPU is like icing on the cake as it ensures that the buyers don’t have to be worried about its performance for years. The laptop comes with 32GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB SSD drive paired to the Intel Core i7 hexa-core processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card.
Starting with the processor, the 9th-generation Intel processors are designed to consume less power compared to previous generations and also deliver significantly better performance. Well, in this case, rest assured that the processor is capable of handling day-to-day tasks like browsing, watching videos, etc without breaking a sweat.
Moving to the gaming performance, the CPU handles that as well, thanks to Intel’s Turbo Boost feature that boosts the single-core base clock speed of 2.2GHz all the way up to 4.1GHz. Though moving to the multi-core, the maximum clock speed reduces to 3.9GHz which is again not a bad speed to go with.
Graphics performance as mentioned above is handled by latest Nvidia’s 20 series graphics card. We had an urge of asking this question since the beginning of this review and this is the perfect time to put that, why Max-Q processor? Well, Max-Q graphics cards are designed to consume less power and also produce relatively less heat compared to the desktop-class RTX 2080 card. However, all this results in a slight decrease in performance. The RTX 2080 Max-Q sits comfortably between the RTX 2080 and RTX 2070 in performance benchmark. This makes them the best companion for thin and light gaming laptops. Since at the moment being the world’s slimmest and thinnest gaming laptop, Asus has gone with the RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card.
Well, enough of theoretical knowledge, let’s talk practical. On paper, RTX 2080 Max-Q is a pretty powerful processor and thankfully Asus has not reduced the TDP to keep it cool and instead opted to add an overclocking software to further boost the performance. We played several popular titles like PlayersUnknown Battlegrounds, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V. ROG Zephyrus GX701 handled them really well. PlayersUnknown Battlegrounds delivers over 60fps even at ultra-graphics settings. Battlefield V and Call of Duty Black Ops 4, gave almost similar results with Battlefield V being a ray tracing supported game, it did use the new rendering engine to deliver some crazy good looking details, shadows, and colours. Both the games delivered over 70-80 fps on high settings without thermal throttling.
Talking about thermal solutions, we have often seen such a thin and light gaming laptops throttle under heavy load, hence a reduction in the overall performance of the system. Asus has used its patented AAS technology that lifts the laptop from the bottom making more room for air to flow with the help of a high-power dual fan and three heat sink setup. This solution seems to be working for the company compared to MSI’s three fan system. The laptop did not have any issues maintaining high clock speed for several hours under heavy load.
Asus has also added a dedicated button to boost the fan speed manually and choose between Silent, Boost and Auto. The Auto mode here is the ideal option to go with as it automatically manages the fan speed as per the load and keeps the GX701’s temperature in check.
Speakers on this laptop have another story to tell. Asus has incorporated a stereo speaker setup of 2.5 watts speakers with Smart AMP technology and there’s no subwoofer in the laptop. However, the audio output is bassier than what we expected from it. It might not be as good as Apple MacBook Pro’s speakers but it is nothing to scoff at either. The only complaint we have is in terms of loudness.
Asus Republic of Gamers laptops can set a record of putting maximum bloatware, but that changes with GX701. The laptop comes with minimum possible bloatware and the one we can remember and happens to be a necessity than bloatware is Asus Armoury Crate. Armoury Crate is a collage of all the other software in one such as Asus Aura Sync, Sonic Studio, Asus Game Visual, G-Sync controls and more. Another software that comes pre-installed is the GPU overclocking app.
Asus Zephyrus S GX701: Battery
The laptop is backed by a 76-Wh battery which seems to be a quite decent battery size as per the laptop’s footprint. As it is a gaming laptop, we were not expecting any magic to happen. But during our test, the laptop managed to last around 4.5 hours on minimum load and 50% brightness. Gaming on battery is out of the question but it did manage to reach one hour mark which can be considered as an acceptable result.
Asus Zephyrus S GX701: Verdict
Gamers need three things from their laptop or gaming machine. First, a good and well-calibrated responsive display; second: performance, and at last a little ‘show-off’ attitude from the device. Well, Asus Zephyrus S GX701 ticks all the boxes without any doubt. The laptop has a G-Sync enabled Pantone calibrated display with 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time making it one of the fastest displays on laptop in the market. The laptop comes with the latest generation Intel processor and RTX series graphics card results in more than enough performance than required and third, the show-off attitude, well, that’s subjective, but the chunky ROG logo at the lid, individually lit RGB backlit in keyboard, AAS vent and that thin profile of the laptop gives it enough appeal as well. Those looking for a thin and powerful gaming laptop that does not make you look awkward even at public places, Asus Zephyrus S GX701 is not going to disappoint you.