If you’re chasing a new gaming laptop, there’s a lot of great choices on the market, but the one that makes it to the top of your list of considerations, it needs to offer the right blend of performance, battery life and features.
Asus’ ROG brand is well known among gamers and their Zphyrus G14 offers a great mix of the list above. The 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU combines with a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU to power the 14″ WQHD display at up to 120Hz.
These internals, along with great connectivity options, provide the necessary components for powerful gaming and productivity, while also being portable and offering decent battery life.
Now armed with Windows 11 (a choice when you first boot), the experience of living with the G14 really is a great one.
After having been part of my daily life for a couple of weeks now, it’s time to break down what’s great and what’s not in a detailed review.
A lid with a difference
This laptop features some aggressive styling to make sure you know it means business in terms of the performance that lies inside.
Let’s start with the very obvious external styling that is a real differentiator on this laptop. The lid of a laptop is really not something that’s typically a feature, often simply supporting the OEM logo to let anyone opposite you know which brand you bought and help them with some marketing.
Asus takes a complete 180 turn on this and offers the user control over what’s displayed to people around (or sitting across the table from you).
Asus has embedded a striking dot matrix design that consumes half of the lid, but is positioned on a 45-degree angle. This is created with a precision CNC milling process that creates 6,536 perfectly spaced perforations which are illuminated by 1,215 mini-LEDs which is known as the AniMe Matrix display.
This can be completely configured using the Asus software Armoury Create an application that can be launched using a dedicated hardware button above the F1-F12 keys. Once you launch into the AniMe Matrix section, you have an almost ridiculous level of customisation for the lid.
You can use the display in a few different modes including Animation Mode, System Mode and Audio Mode.
In System Mode, you can display system information like battery level and clock, or more useful notifications like Mail and even Calendar, but that is really just scratching the surface.
In Animation Mode, you really get some amazing configurability, with the ability to use animations from the ROG Gallery, you can also define as many as 6 rows of text which you could use to promote your gamertag, or social accounts, even a website to casual observers.
There’s configuration around font styles, size, and the speed of the animated text. You can even upload images that could be used to display company branding, but of course, they didn’t stop at just one, you can add multiple in almost a slideshow effect. This really is well done and while this is limited to white LEDs, it’s easy to imagine that future revisions move to a multi-coloured array.
The actual chassis has a really solid, robust and aggressive styling to it. The typing experience is a great one, with the keyboard resembling and feeling very close to what you’d get on a PC setup.
How does it perform ?
Inside the Eclipse Gray or pearlescent Moonlight White exterior, lies some serious mobile performance. On the CPU side, there’s an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS with Radeon Graphics 3.30GHz, but it’s the dedicated Nvidia RTX3060 GPU that’s the star of the show here.
Gaming on the 14″ display is something you may do occasionally, but I expect more commonly, owners will drop it on a desk, connect a USB-C dock and power 1 or more external displays.
Having a dedicated GPU with this much performance, enables some really amazing gameplay experiences and regardless of the type of games you’re personally into, it’ll serve you well to power high frame rates on great quality settings.
Personally I use the Samsung 49″ super ultrawide display and gaming on this means the device needs to push some serious pixels and do that many times per second. Whether it’s a round of PUBG, or a race of F1 2021, the laptop did a great job of delivering.
When you are gaming, you can expect the fans to run fast which isn’t exactly quiet, but there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll be wearing headphones, so this is unlikely to be an issue for most. When you’re not gaming or rendering video, they throttle down and are barely noticeable.
Also helping to power a slick user experience is 16GB DDR4-3200 RAM which comes in the form of 2x8GB modules, but is capable of expanding to a maximum capacity of 24GB.
When it comes to storage, ASUS has included a Samsung 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD which will be adequate for most, but those who want to load up multiple 100GB+ games, may want to consider upgrading to a 1-2TB SSD.
Stand out features of this device.
By way of features, it’s hard to go past that external lighting on the lid, but we spent enough time on that in the design section.
Other features include:
- Type-C charging
- Fingerprint power button
- Quad-speakers with Dolby Atmos support
- WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
- Ports – USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0b, 3.5mm audio, Kensignton lock
Not everything’s perfect
While there’s plenty to love about this laptop, not everything is perfect.
Those fans do ramp up when undergoing performance tasks and for some in quiet environments, that may be annoying. It is possible to set the performance mode and restrict this through software, so Asus has gone some way to addressing this.
I’m so used to devices having touchscreens in 2021, that I actually really missed it here. I don’t touch the screen every day, but there is the occasional dialog box that you may. Not having a touchscreen must only save a few dollars, so it seems like a strange omission.
Also missing is a webcam, which also means any Windows Hello face unlock is off the table, unless you BYO webcam. This is pretty disappointing given the price and the fact there’s plenty of room for it in the top bezel.
Finally I did miss a dedicated mute key, although pressing Fn+F1 isn’t the end of the world.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS G14 gaming laptop is available now from a number of familiar resellers, as well as ASUS online directly.
The price actually varies quite a lot between stores:
For these prices, it’s certainly on the upper end of the spectrum, but this reflects the performance and features. The expectations of laptops in this price range are high, so those items that are missing (like a webcam) are a big omission.
More information at ASUS.
The combination of design, features and performance that ASUS has assembled here, creates a seriously impressive laptop experience.
While it’s certainly not the perfect laptop for everyone, it will appeal to many and I really appreciate the effort that went into creating that really unique external light matrix on the lid.
This is one of those times where they didn’t need to, but we’re awfully glad they did. The laptop would be far less interesting without unique features like this.
For many years ultrabooks have really been my personal laptop of choice, but that acute focus on being thin and light really does mean a ratchet down on performance. After using the ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS G14, I really have reconsidered my position on this and far more willing to accept a larger and slightly heavier chassis, to gain access to this next level of performance.
From gaming to video editing on this laptop, it really never skipped a beat. In terms of portable performance, this is a really solid offering from ASUS and one that should definitely be near the top of your consideration list.
- No touchscreen
- No webcam
- Fan noise