Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 - Full Review with Pros and Cons
The Zephyrus line of gaming laptops from Asus’ ROG brand is well known for powerful yet portable gaming laptops. The G14 is the latest addition to the series and has created quite some hype after its initial showcasing at CES 2020. This laptop targets people who want portability in their gaming machine but cannot compromise on the performance. It is a 14 inch gaming laptop and claims to be the most powerful in its category. It is also one of the first laptops to come with AMD’s new Ryzen 4000 series CPUs. Another interesting feature of the laptop is the AniMe LED display matrix on the lid which features several programmable LEDs and can be used to display text, animations and graphics.
The laptop is available in three processor variants, two GPU variants and three display variants. The one in this review has a Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU with Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics and a FHD 120Hz display.
Build and Quality
On first sight, the Zephyrus G14 does not look like a gaming laptop at all. It comes in a white finish which makes it look more like a business oriented laptop. The build is make of magnesium-aluminium and feels premium to the touch. The finish is slightly roughened to prevent fingerprint buildup. Overall build quality is good and the laptop feels sturdy thanks in part to the materials used.
The lid contains the AniMe matrix display which houses 1215 white LED with adjustable brightness inside the small perforations. These can be customised with Asus’s included software and can display text, animations and graphics.
The hinge has an ergo-lift design prevalent in the Zenbook lineup which lifts the base up by a bit when the hinge is opened. This helps cool the laptop by improving the airflow as well as make the typing experience a bit better by slanting the keyboard.
The 14 inch form factor is something rare for a gaming laptop these days. This helps the laptop be compact and portable. It weighs in at just 1.7 kgs with the AniMe matrix lid and 1.6 kgs without it.
Ports, I/O and Connectivity
The Zephyrus G14 has a conventional I/O layout. On the left there are the charging jack, HDMI 2.0b, USB Type-C Gen. 2 3.2 w/ DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery and 3.5 mm combo audio ports. To the right there are USB Type-C Gen. 2 3.2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen. 1 Type-A and a Kensington Lock slot. There are no port on the back of the laptop. The USB Type-C port, sadly, is not Thunderbolt enabled.
The laptop comes with a Intel AX200 WLAN module which offers Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. As a result transfer rates over Wifi are significantly faster than previous standards.
Getting into the laptop is relatively easy. By just removing 14 screws from the bottom panel and popping it off, one gets access to the 1x SODIMM, M.2 SSD, WLAN module and the battery. The laptop has 8GB of soldered RAM and a 8GB SODIMM for a total of 16GB 3200MHz dual-channel memory.
Keyboard – The keyboard on the Zephyrus G14 has the same layout as other larger Zephyrus laptops. The keys have better travel and tactile feedback when compared to slimmer laptops like those on the Zenbook series. One issue here is that the grey font on the white keycaps can make the keys difficult to recognize becuse of the low contrast. The keys have white backlighting but it would have been better if we had per-key RGB backlighting especially considering the price point.
Touchpad – The trackpad is of decent size, comparable to other 14 inch laptops and has a smooth glide to it. This makes cursor control easy which is visible on the 120Hz display. The trackpad is of a clickpad design and the clicks feel a bit shallow, making tasks like drag-and-drop difficult.
The Zephyrus G14 comes with three different display configurations. These include a FHD 60Hz, a FHD 120 Hz and a 1440p WQHD 60Hz display. All of these are advertised as having 100% sRGB with Pantone Validation. The FHD 120Hz is the option most gamers would go with while the WQHD is better suited for content creators.
The laptop in review has the FHD 120Hz option. It supports AMD FreeSync to prevent screen-tearing while gaming and has a peak brightness of 320 nits. One major gripe here is the response times which are rather high for a gaming laptop. The average is about 35 ms which is nowhere near the 3ms response times for a typical gaming laptop at this price range.
All options are IPS panels and thus have great viewing angles and contrast. One must note that the Zephyrus G14 does not have a webcam.
The laptop comes with two different CPU options as of now, the Ryzen 7 4800HS and the Ryzen 9 4900HS. Both of these are special 35 Watt TDP variants of the H series chips. The best thing about them is the core count. Both of them are 8-core/16-thread processors which would put them on par with Intel i9 mobile processors. The model in review has the Ryzen 9 4900HS processor. In benchmarks, the CPU trades blows with the Core i9 in most cases even in single-core benchmarks, which used to be Intel’s strength for a long time now. The CPU scores 5343 in the single-core and 29920 in the multi-core GeekBench v4 benchmarks.
The GPU comes in two options, Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 and Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660Ti. The RTX 2060 has a 65 Watt TDP while the 1660Ti has a 60 Watt TDP so they are the Max-Q versions. The model in review has an RTX 2060. As expected from the GPU, one can get over 60 FPS on ultra setting on most AAA titles. To make full use of the 120Hz one can drop the settings a bit to get 120+ FPS.
The laptop does run on the hotter side though. This is partly due to the use of high performance components in such a small chassis but it is nothing to be worried about.
This particular configuration has a 1TB NVMe Intel SSD. Read/write speeds are upto NVMe standards and load times for games are very fast. There is no extra M.2 slot or 2.5 inch drive bay so to upgrade the storage, one has to replace the existing SSD.
The Zephyrus G14 comes with a quad speaker arrangement with dual 2.5 W main speakers paired with dual 0.7W tweeters. The main speaker are bottom facing present at the front corners while the tweeters are top facing. The maximum volume does not get loud enough though and the speakers are not comparable to those found on a 13 inch Macbook.
The Zephyrus G14 has a 76 Wh battery which is the same size as the larger GA502DU model. Inspite of the large battery, battery life is nothing exceptional. This is partly due to the use of high wattage HS series processors instead of the more efficient and less powerful U series. Battery life lasts upto 4 hours on light loads. The laptop does not have fast charging support but supports USB-C charging.