ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501G Gaming Laptop Review
Published: 4th July 2018 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501G Gaming laptop gets a huge amount right and is sure to have a certain section of the market absolutely drooling.
It's impossible to begin without discussing the chassis. It is by no means the first chassis that we've seen which has been aimed squarely at those of you who like your laptops as thin as possible, but we think it's probably the best solution we've seen so far. It is made of high quality materials throughout, with no flex at all either in the body or the screen. Utilising a touch pad/number pad combination makes the keyboard area much more compact without compromising functionality. Having the screen hinges physically lift the entire laptop off of the base creates a large exhaust area to help keep the components cool whilst neatly side-stepping the problem certain designs that exhaust underneath can have. It is a laptop designed for your lap after all. Yes we know most people place them on their desk, but you tell that to people on trains or in parks.
Employing the very latest Intel 8th Generation CPU provides the Zephyrus with huge amounts of CPU horsepower. Indeed the Zephyrus was the highest scoring Intel based laptop we've tested, with only the 8 core Ryzen 7 out-performing it in calculation heavy benchmarks. In some tests when the Intel architecture outperforms the AMD option it was the fastest of all. Clearly if you pair a 6/12 CPU with a GTX 1080 and back it up with a decent amount of RAM and a seriously fast NVMe drive you get an awful lot of capability in nearly every task. The display is a particular highlight as at only 15 inches the GX501G is kept compact - in keeping with its thin ethos - yet ASUS have eschewed the temptation to go for a stupid resolution just for marketing reasons and instead kept the display at a usable 1920x1080 whilst also endowing it with 144 Hz refresh rate and GSYNC technology for the smoothest, ghost-free image. It isn't quite as crisp as the panel we saw on the HP Omen X, but neither has it any obvious flaws.
The decision to place the keyboard right at the front of the chassis is a curious one, as it means you have to carry the wrist rest around with you which somewhat negates the benefits of such a thin chassis. Either that or accept that in time your wrists wont be as pain free as they currently are. It all works well, just takes a little bit of getting used to. On the subject of that thin chassis, this is where my opinion usually deviates from the masses. I'd rather have a laptop one centimetre thicker but that had great cooling and long battery life, than one as thin as this in which the cooling is pretty poor and the battery life positively woeful. After all, it's not as if thickness is the main problem when it comes to portability but the diagonal size that limits where you can place it. As we saw on our gaming graphs the GTX 1070 in the HP Omen X has much better cooling which enables the nVidia GPU Boost technology to clock it like a lunatic, whereas the GTX 1080 in the Zephyrus hardly ever overclocks because of the thermal limitations. There is enough architectural benefit to overcome the clock speed deficit, but you're not making the most of the hardware this way.
The panel in front of the keyboard might look like the perfect spot to rest something whilst you're using the Zephyrus, but believe us when we say it gets so hot that it's almost too hot to touch, almost, so we definitely wouldn't want to stick a Mars Bar or anything else heat sensitive on it. Equally the thin chassis limits the sound quality which is okay, but a little bit lacking in the bass department. It's more akin to a Motown song than dubstep. The battery life has absolutely no asterisks to save it though. It is risible. The downside of such a thin chassis.
If you want a thin, light, high performance laptop and value that sleek styling above almost anything else - including being able to watch more than one movie before it goes flat - then there is a huge amount to love about the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501G from the included headset and mouse through the performance to those amazing looks. For us, the battery life issue and thermal limitations that mean you can't extract the maximum from the hardware make it a tougher thing to recommend with our heads rather than our hearts.