ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701
Function and form are two parts of modern technology that don’t always go hand in hand. For every sleek and modern looking sound package or even slimline all-in-one desktop with Scandinavian design flourishes and ergonomic curvature - often the output is far less than reference or what you might consider premium quality. The new ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 (also available in a 15.6-inch GX531 revision) not only attempts to blend form and function but does so with relative ease.
From the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 that powers its visual performance to the exceptional and vibrant high-refresh-rate display, to the sleek ultra-thin metallic design that looks like something you might find if you were walking the streets of Blade Runner 2049. And sure, all of this comes at a price, especially when looking at the larger 17.3-inch display model. But it’s hard not to be floored by what the designers at ASUS have managed to put together here. A thin, relatively lightweight powerhouse.
One that looks unlike anything else in the market, with a design that stands out without looking or feeling over-the-top.
Look and Feel
This isn’t the first version of the Zephyrus that we’ve tested
at AusGamers, with this new model also featuring the Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) cooling that results in the back of the Zephyrus raising to create a vent for additional airflow. A fancy term for what desktop gamers call ‘opening the case to let some air in’. Here though it not only looks cool and futuristic, but it has a practical use too. Where the new model excels is with the new almost bezel-free design and 18.7mm thickness, resulting in a gaming laptop that we were able to fit into a carry bag designed for 15-inch displays.
There are also a couple of stand-out, odd, or different, design choices. With this being the second laptop we’ve tested where the keyboard sits on the lower half of the frame. Naturally, moving the keyboard to the lower-half does take some getting used too, but after a while the slightly raised angle that comes from the advanced cooling gives it a more desktop-like feel that’s great when placed on a flat surface. Sitting on your lap though, it can feel a little awkward until gotten used to. The other major difference with the new Zephyrus S GX701 comes from the touchpad and keypad in one combo, where like magic you can press a button and the touchpad situated on the right-side of the keyboard turns into a keypad. It’s a neat and functional feature that adds to the overall picture. An ultralight gaming laptop with exceptional build quality and components.
Under the Lid
Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H
Display: 17.3-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS-level panel, 144Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB, Pantone Validated
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (Max-Q) 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
Memory: 24GB DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM
Storage: M.2 NVMe PCIE 3.0 1TB SSD
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces: 1 x USB3.1 Gen2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.2 and Power Delivery, 1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type C, 1x USB3.1 Gen2 Type A, 2x USB 2.0 Type A, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack, 1x Kensington Lock
At this point you can probably put money on a premium gaming laptop featuring the 8th Gen Intel Core i7 8750H processor and a sizable stack of DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM – with the GX701 opting for 24GB in that department. This combination, in addition to M.2 NVMe storage results in fast and reliable everyday use. That is, anything that isn’t considered playing a game. And for battery life the Optimus mode that comes as part of the in-built ASUS software turns off discrete graphics to conserve and extend mobile life.
Bringing it all together is the truly impressive display, which is listed as being ‘Pantone Validated’. A term that we hadn’t even heard of until this review, but in our tests the 17.3-inch IPS panel provided some of the best image quality we’ve ever seen from a laptop display. From the 100% sRGB colour-output to the brightness and contrast to the wider-than-expected viewing angle it’s commendable that ASUS were able to not only create a sleek and stylish looking ultrathin gaming laptop, but also pair it up with a vibrant display that matches.
Where it gets interesting though is with the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701’s discrete graphics option. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (with Max-Q design) comes from the NVIDIA’s most recent line of RTX cards that offer up real-time ray-tracing in modern high-end games in addition to the usual performance boost over the previous generation. A line, the GTX 10 series, that has been a staple part of the gaming laptop market for a couple of years now. With RTX-powered laptops now popping up, getting to see the RTX 2080 in action on a thin, portable, and impressive laptop was as they say, ‘of great interest’.
With the 1080p and 144Hz display proving to be the perfect choice for the 17.3-inch display area it didn’t come as a surprise that all the games in our current test line-up turned in impressive results. With frame-rates almost always in the realm of 100 frames-per-second and with settings cranked all the way up. What was surprising was that the overall temperature of the GeForce RTX 2080 remained in the 60-65-degree (Celsius) range. In fact, throughout all the benchmarks we ran the Core i7-8750H ran noticeably hotter.
A fun side note, now onto the numbers!
As per above and as with all things in the world of PC gaming, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on max settings continues to push hardware to its limits – with the RTX 2080 being the first laptop we’ve seen push that game further than 60 frames-per-second. And as it’s the first test we run, it set the scene for a tale about a mythical gaming laptop able to perform visual feats previously unseen. Ahem.
The same can be said of the 3D Mark tests, which includes the real-time ray-tracing DXR Port Royal test that returned results that shows that the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 could easily handle Battlefield V, Metro Exodus, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider with RTX features turned on. With numbers here well into the high-end desktop range.
Even though it carries a rather high price tag, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is more than simply a high-powered gaming laptop. It’s a design feat that blends modern and futuristic touches with cutting edge technology. A thin, sleek, and sturdy build with one-of-a-kind cooling that makes it all possible. A vibrant display that seamlessly blends with it all that also benefits from a near bezel-free look. Then there’s the option to charge via USB-C, and high-quality camera that connects and mounts via USB, to enough ports to connect any number of devices. And all whilst keeping the overall size and weight down to an impressive 2.7kg.
For some function comes before form, for those looking for design to match performance then the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 more than lives up to its promise. The only real downside, outside of the price-tag that makes it more of a dream than reality - and something we’ve seen with a few 17-inch gaming laptops - is that under load the battery only has a few hours before it’s time to charge. That said, it’s a far cry from being completely inefficient and the Max Q 2080 offers up excellent performance with an efficient power-drain of 90W. Still, something worth mentioning none the less.