In the sea of laptops, desktops and wannabe desktops, gaming laptops have really matured from being heavy machinery to legit portable gaming beasts. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is on the top of the food chain as a laptop that can put most desktops to shame with its performance.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is a rather unique gaming laptop where it offers top of the line specs with an RTX 2080 GPU while being the most compact 17-inch laptop. It’s an engineering marvel in terms of what ASUS has been able to achieve in a chassis this size. There are quite some interesting design choices in tow to achieve that, some of which are genius, while others are borderline uncomfortable.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Design
As with most gaming laptops, this one doesn’t look subtle or professional by any means with ventilation grills on both sides with copper accents. You get this big black heavy metal slab and can sprain a few wrists. It’s built like a tank with no chassis or keyboard flex but is too cuboidal in shape. I mean, the edges have little space to slide your fingers underneath to pick it up so run-and-gun with this block is not the easiest. One little thing that we take for granted on most other laptops.
ASUS’ iconic Active Aerodynamic System is also present here which raises the keyboard at the angle when the lid is opened to improve the air circulation. There’s RGB lighting in there as well.
The hinge is perfectly tense and is reassuring to open, and because of the sheer weight of the bottom half, one finger opening is pretty doable. The laptop is just about 18mm thick, which is actually pretty reasonable for all the stuff it packs. The back has a big ROG logo that also lights up and looks cool. On the front though, you will notice how the keyboard and the trackpad are not in their usual positions.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Keyboard
The entire top half of the bottom is devoid of anything, presumably to fit the large graphics card while leaving space for air circulation, which pushes the keyboard to the bottom edge and the trackpad to the right.
It took me much longer than expected to get used to this layout. Firstly, I had to make a lot of room on my desk to be able to push the laptop and thus the keyboard to a more comfortable distance. Even after that, the proximity of the keyboard to the bottom edge meant that there would be no space for resting your wrists while typing. The keys themselves are pretty tactile and just a tad shallower than what one would like from a big laptop. And of course, the keyboard has RGB. In fact, every keycap is individually lit and the patterns can be customised from the ASUS Armoury app.
Similarly, getting used to the trackpad was a little difficult as I usually use both my hands to scroll across the user interface. It is smooth enough to feel premium and large enough for most tasks, but for the way we use Windows, a horizontal trackpad just makes more sense. Thankfully, the trackpad can become a capacitive NumPad with the click of a button. Not only is this a cool party trick, but also very functional. I expected the experience to feel like using the calculator on your smartphone (which is terrible if you want to be fast) but it was admittedly much better.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Display
Moving on from the keyboard, we get a 17.3-inch display with very narrow bezels, helping this laptop achieve the small footprint it has. If you notice, there’s no webcam on the top or the bottom. This must be a conscious choice for gamers who may not really need one. But don’t worry, for all you streamers, an attachable webcam is included with the laptop which is much better than what any inbuilt camera can offer, with a sharp 1080p stream and the ability to record at 60 fps.
The display itself tops out at a FullHD resolution but has a refresh rate of 144Hz! Gamers prefer refresh rate over resolution anyway, so this seems like a good decision. This IPS panel has very high colour accuracy(100% sRGB coverage) and maximum brightness, and is also PANTONE certified.
The viewing angles are great, and there’s barely any light leak when using in dark environments. The matte coating helps get rid of excess refelctions and the higher refresh rate is very noticeable in games where you can achieve those. Absolutely no complaints in the display department.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Performance
The real reason to get a gaming laptop over a desktop is to get an uncompromised portable performance machine and the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 was up to our expectations in this regard. With a hexa-core Core i7 processor and an RTX 2080 MaxQ, it’s backed to the brim with enough power to run anything you throw at it.
We tried a lot of moderately heavy video editing on a 1080p 60fps timeline, and the laptop kept up with all the transitions, effects and scrubbing we did. Render times were very respectable too.
As for gaming, we primarily tested heavy titles such as FarCry 5 on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701, and the framerates were consistently around 80-90 on low settings. Pushing the graphics to the max, the fps was a little more inconsistent but averaged at over 60.
However, this being an RTX card, the true test of this laptop lies in games that are hardcoded to make use of Ray Tracing. Basically, ray tracing is a new kind of rendering images where dynamic lighting determines each pixel. Currently, only a handful of games support this such as Battlefield V, but the differences in image quality is real.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Speaker and Audio
Adding to that great multimedia experience, this laptop has two front firing speaker on either side of the keyboard. Not only do they throw sound towards you, but are very loud and clear. Can be used for content consumption or even gaming.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Battery life
The battery life on gaming laptops is never great, and the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is no exception. During extremely light usage of web browsing, the laptop lasted me for about 3-4 hours. But as with any gaming laptop, they are best used while plugged in. This lets the processor function at a higher clock speed, which is what you’d want from a beast like this. Having said that, this laptop turns into an oven quite often. Would not recommend using it on your lap.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Verdict
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is a very cool laptop and is unmatched in terms of muscle, but how practical is it? For the asking price of around INR 3 lacs, most users will be better off with a desktop. But for the most serious of esports players that don’t mind lugging around a brick like this, and have a budget this big, I see few other options that justify the price tag like this. Having said that, ray tracing is still far from mainstream, and opting for something like a GTX 1080-series GPU will be a much smarter decision.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming laptop Review: Specifications
Display: 17.3-inch, Full HD (1,920×1,080), 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time
Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H, 6 cores @2.2Ghz, Turbo @4.10Ghz
Graphics: NVidia RTX 2080 Max-Q, 8GB GDDR6
RAM: 24GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Port selection: 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C (with DisplayPort 1.4), 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, 3x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x 3.5mm combo audio jack
Speakers: Dual 2.5W speakers
Weight: 2.7 kg
Images: Dhawal Bhanushali and Aakash Jhaveri / Mashable India