Asus has released a gaming laptop that’s nearly as thin as Apple’s latest MacBook Pro, but is cheaper and much, much more powerful.
It’s called the ROG Zephyrus, and it’s a beautifully-designed machine with a clever trick to keep itself from overheating when you’re playing graphics-intensive video games.
Now, I’m not exactly comparing the flagship $3,600 Zephyrus to the $3,500 MacBook Pro, as the two laptops are designed with different users in mind. And the MacBook Pro has features that the Zephyrus doesn’t, which could help account for the MacBook Pro’s higher price tag despite its comparatively lesser power.
Still, the Zephyrus is a force to be reckoned with: It combines a sleek, slim design with powerful performance and the quiet operation that’s coveted among the gaming community.
Gaming laptops are normally large, chunky things that you'd only want to carry around if you absolutely had to. They often come with at least one compromise, whether it be size, performance, or quiet operation.
It's 16.9mm thick compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro's 15.5mm depth, which is thin even for a regular, non-gaming laptop.
The Zephyrus is also 2.1kg, which is a bit heavier than the 15-inch MacBook Pro's 1.8kg. Still, the Zephyrus is lighter and slimmer than most gaming laptops, which can weigh anywhere from 2.4kg to 9kg, like the Acer Predator 21X.
The part that makes the Zephyrus so much more powerful -- and better for gaming -- than the MacBook Pro is the Nvidia GTX1080 graphics card, which has been condensed so it can fit in the incredibly thin Zephyrus.
The GTX1080 graphics card in the Zephyrus is the 'Max-Q' version, which isn't quite as powerful as a full-size GTX1080 you'd find in a desktop, or even some chunkier laptops. Still, it's one of the most powerful graphics cards that can fit inside a laptop.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro has an AMD Radeon Pro 555 or 560 graphics card, depending on the model, which isn't anywhere near as powerful as the GTX1080 Max-Q. Then again, the MacBook Pro isn't designed with gaming in mind.
The graphics card is also the reason why the Zephyrus can play intensive games more quietly than regular gaming laptops.
The parts that make the most noise in a gaming laptop, or any laptop, are the fans that try to keep a laptop's internals cool. Indeed, electronics hate heat, and they don't perform at their best when they're hot.
The 'Max-Q' version of the Zephyrus' graphics card uses up less power than the full size versions. In turn, it produces less heat, so the Zephyrus' fans don't have to turn as quickly and loudly as they do on laptops that have the full size version of a graphics card.
To help keep the graphics card and processor cool, the back of Zephyrus props up slightly when you open the screen to improve airflow.
YouTube/NCIX Tech Tips
It runs on the Intel Core i7 7700HQ and has 16GB of the latest DDR4 RAM compared to the MacBook Pro's last-generation DDR3 RAM.
Unlike most laptops, the Zephyrus' keyboard is up front and much closer to the user, rather than being back closer to the screen.
The Zephyrus' screen is only 1080p resolution, which isn't as sharp as the MacBook Pro's 1800p Retina display, but there's a good reason why that's the case.
If the Zephyrus' display had a higher resolution, it might not be able to play games quite as smoothly.
The Zephyrus' display has a 120-hertz refresh rate and it includes Nvidia's G-Sync technology, both of which make for ultra-smooth gameplay. With that in mind, using a 1080p display has its benefits, as the GTX1080 'Max-Q' would let you play graphically intensive games at a smooth, high frame-rate. Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips says the Zephyrus can 'crush games' at the 1080p resolution.
Despite its portable design, you probably wouldn't want to use the Zephyrus as a laptop you can take anywhere.
Linus Tech Tips found the Zephyrus' battery life to be 'abominable,' which is unfortunate. If you often work away from your laptop's power supply, the Zephyrus probably isn't for you.