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ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 review – All flash?

There’s no denying the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is flashy. The AnimeMatrix display that takes up half of the shell is rather striking but the more we used this notebook the more we asked ourselves why this flash existed in the first place.

That’s because, despite the flashing shell, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is an incredibly competent machine for content creators and gamers alike.

In short there is enough performance to handle some rather intense rendering and gaming while the battery handles power draw like a champ.

Let’s dive deeper.

Spec sheet

Inside the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is an AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS running at 3GHz though this hits 4.3 – 4.4GHz depending on the task presented.

This is paired with 16GB of DDR4 memory at 3200MHz which satisfies the Ryzen’s appetite for fast memory.

Storage is handled by a 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD.

Unfortunately, there aren’t ports for additional M.2 storage drives, or older 2.5inch SSDs and mechanical storage so if you want to upgrade you’ll be replacing parts.

The GPU here is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with MaxQ design.

The battery is a 76Wh affair and it charges up unbelievably quickly with the included 180W power adapter.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 can be equipped with three displays – our review unit had a 2560x1440p IPS panel running at 60Hz. There is also an option for a 1920x1080p IPS panel running at 120Hz which we would have preferred as we favour frame rates over fidelity, but it’s nice to know you have options. There is also a 1920x1080p option running at 60Hz but that display is Pantone Validated.

In terms of sound there are two 2.5W speakers and the sound quality is impressive. There is a nice mix of low, mid and high end tones and we were impressed that there was no distortion of the speakers even at max volume.

Unfortunately there is not any room for expansion here.

Performance

In a world of Intel powered notebooks it’s good to see AMD making in-roads into the mobile space.

Even more comforting is how well this CPU performs.

In Cinebench R20’s multi-core benchmark we scored 3933 points though the single-core score is the metric worth looking at.

With a single core score of 477 points this notebook out performs an Intel Core i7-7700K. Sure, that is an older CPU but the fact that the Ryzen in this notebook is beating a desktop processor is nothing to scoff at.

There are a bevy of port options for gamers and content creators alike.

Average temperatures remain stable at the 80 degree Celsius mark under load and most impressive is how quiet the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is when pushed, compared to other notebooks we’ve tested.

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with MaxQ design runs at 1395MHz for the most part though we did note it hitting the 1800MHz mark during our testing. That 1800MHz mark isn’t sustained however so don’t expect it to run at that mark much.

The GDDR6 memory here runs at 1375MHz.

But what does this mean for gaming? In short, you can expect a smooth 60fps, most of the time.

In Unigine’s Heaven benchmark we noted lows of 8fps but this appears to be the only title where we saw benchmarks as low as this.

For all titles we opted to run benchmarks at the second highest setting as we felt this was more indicative of the experience you might expect from this notebook.

For Destiny 2 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider we noted lows of 45fps in each title though the overall experience is enjoyable.

In CPU intensive titles such as Civilization VI, frames stuck at 60fps only going as low as 56fps.

Speaking frankly the 2560x1440p display pushes the GPU to the brink and while it can handle the task, we are of the opinion that a 1080p display will result in a better experience across a more diverse mix of titles.

As for temperatures, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 never went above 83 degrees (which we hit during a stress test) and the notebook remains rather quiet compared to other notebooks we’ve tested recently.

Our gaming benchmarks follow below.

Battery life

As mentioned the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 sports a 76Wh battery and considering the display is a tiny 14 inches, we were expecting good things.

And good things we found. With the AnimeMatrix display switched off we enjoyed 12 hours of battery life.

With the AnimeMatrix display on, this drops to 10 hours which is still impressive.

The one gripe we have is the positioning of the charging port but we can understand why it’s there. That reason is that this notebook is wall-to-wall tech and there is not even enough space for a fly to get caught so the charging port is directly in-line with the battery.

The location of the charging port is a bit uncomfortable when using the notebook.

 

About that dot-matrix display

Yeah look, the dot matrix, sorry, AnimeMatrix display is cool but like, when are you going to see it? We don’t foresee gamers propping up a mirror to see the cool animations ASUS has created so we don’t quite see the point.

You can show others what genre of game you might be playing and how low your battery is but once again, why would you do this.

It is a very cool feature and rather striking but ultimately, its a pointless feature that adds nothing to gaming or productivity.

It does degenerate battery life though as we outlined above. Our advise is to turn this feature off and only use it to show off to your mates.

Conclusion

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is a fantastic little notebook that combines the speed and performance of AMD CPUs with the graphics processing power of NVIDIA into a tiny package that we are still stunned by.

The keyboard has a lovely feel to it and we’d go so far as to say it’s akin to a mechanical keyboard but not exactly the same.

There is however no webcam in this device though we didn’t miss this to be honest.

What you will miss is the lack of an upgrade path. Should you want to replace RAM or your storage, it will be a swap out rather than an add-in which stings a bit and the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 loses points there.

While you won’t be playing games at 4K on the highest settings, you will be enjoying a smooth gaming experience and that’s what we feel is the most important factor here. Most importantly, if you are a content creator your days of waiting hours for a render are gone (depending on the size of the render of course) and the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is a great work horse.

The R41 999 price tag is high but there are several notebook at this price point that offer significantly less than the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 does and we feel that this notebook hits a sweet spot.

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