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ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 Review
Review By @ 04:27pm 10/08/20

Product: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 GA401IV
Type: Gaming Laptop
Price: ~ $2799.00
Availability: Out Now

It’s rare that you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to a new laptop’s features. Often that something new is a minor nip and tuck over here or a bit of improved silicon over there – maybe a design update to fit in some extra RGB because you can never have enough in the way of superfluous lighting. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is different in that everything here is new, the design, the look and feel, the fact that it features the latest in AMD Ryzen mobile technology. It’s also a tiny, ultrathin that features a 1440p screen. Plus, the AniMe Matrix on the lid lets you program funky text like some sort of hacked side-of-the-freeway traffic update in Neo Tokyo. It’s awesome.

So, it’s no wonder that the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 has been one of the most talked about gaming laptops this year – it’s like a fresh take on an old concept. That concept, the portable gaming rig. In many ways it’s a success, a stylish bit of kit that not only draws a gaze, but has you covered when and where it counts too – performance. But, it also feels a little rushed – as impressive as the new mobile AMD Ryzen processors are (we love the desktop Ryzen) it’s a little concerning to see CPU temperatures hit and hover around 96-degrees Celsius under load. Plus, it’s loud too.

Look and Feel

The G14 of the name refers to the form-factor, a 14-inch display that keeps the entire package thin, relatively light, and focused on making sure it’s as portable and on-the-go as can be. And in terms of form this is one of the best-looking laptops we’ve seen in a long time. As a long-time fan of the ROG STRIX series from ASUS, it’s use of subtle angular changes and a look that is minimal yet distinct enough to make itself known, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is pure, well, awesome. The shape itself, the rectangle looks cool. The way the body’s sitting-angle raises alongside the lid, also cool. The sleek black/grey tone and metallic finish, cool. The AniMe Matrix lighting, bodacious.

"The AniMe Matrix on the lid lets you program funky text like some sort of hacked side-of-the-freeway traffic update in Neo Tokyo ss awesome.”

It’s a build that we hope ASUS keeps and refines for a few years at least, and even something that may seem like pure gimmick -- the AniMe Matrix lighting adds personality in a way that is often missing in gaming laptops. And it does more for ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14’s look than RGB lighting (which isn’t missed to be perfectly honest) ever could.

Under the Lid

Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS
Display: 14-inch Non-glare WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS-level panel, 60Hz, 100% sRGB
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
Memory: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz SDRAM
Storage: M.2 NVMe PCIE 512GB SSD
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack, 1 x Kensington lock

Right so the big thing here is the fact that this is powered by a AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS mobile processor paired with a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 mobile GPU – and if you skip to the next section, Gaming Performance, you’ll notice that AMD has just entered the laptop game in a way that feels similar to its recent successes in the desktop realm. But as the intro highlights, AMD’s offering (at least here in the Zephyrus G14) runs warm – as in above 93-degrees for most of our time benchmarking and gaming. Peaking at 96.8. Paired with loud fans and some serious heat being pumped out of the side-exhausts, it extends to the keyboard too. On what is a relatively small 14-inch rig, it’s disappointing.

"AMD’s offering (at least here in the Zephyrus G14) runs warm – as in above 93-degrees for most of our time benchmarking and gaming. Peaking at 96.8.”

It isn’t possible to dissipate and exhaust heat entirely, so the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 when gaming is unfortunately very-warm to touch. Hot even. Which is a shame as it’s the one area where it goes from ‘brilliant’ to ‘good’. Outside of that though this is something of an overachiever – especially for a gaming laptop in its price range. Not only do you get a crisp 1440p display that supports 100% sRGB, but you also get DDR4 memory at the blisteringly fast 3200MHz and enough ports for this to become a solid all-in-one.

Plus, when in productivity mode (stuff that doesn’t require the cooling to go full bolt) the battery life is exceptional and what you’d hope for in a smaller 14-inch package.

Gaming Performance

It’s something we’ve been wondering for quite some time, why don’t gaming laptops – especially those with higher end NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics – go 1440p instead of 1080p. In the desktop space the QHD resolution of 2560x1440 is the sweet spot and across the board most gaming laptops out there opt for 1080p displays with or without high 144Hz refresh rates. In fact, it’s something we’ve lamented on more than once occasion, thinking that a gaming laptop might have been improved with a crisper QHD display.

The Zephyrus G14 review here has a 14-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) IPS-level panel rated at 60Hz – something we thought we’d be celebrating (especially with the excellent 100% sRGB colour) – but quickly realised that 14-inches is small enough where QHD doesn’t make a big difference when gaming. Outside of performance that is – here the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 shows that it’s more suitable to 1080p.

The good thing being, a 1080p version of the Zephyrus G14 is also available.

Even with the lower 1440p frame-rate numbers, the performance here – in a 14-inch package no less – is impressive. But again, the cost is heat in the form of the CPU running hot. Even for a gaming laptop, where CPU temps often overtake GPU temperatures under load, 93-96-degrees on average across an extended gaming session means the last place you’d want the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is on your lap. We even saw the temperature get uncomfortably close to 100-degrees.

"Even with the lower 1440p frame-rate numbers, the performance here – in a 14-inch package no less – is impressive.”

For non-gaming use the Zephyrus G14 feels a lot more portable and something to take on-the-go and fire up wherever. The design is stunning, and the mobile Ryzen is a bit of tech to keep an eye on. In the end though, even with cooling and temp issues we were still smitten with the Zephyrus G14 – so much so that we hope ASUS keep refining it and bring it back in the months and years to come.
What we liked
Mobile Ryzen is powerful
Sleek modern design
AniMe Matrix cover is cool and adds personality
Robust and sturdy build quality
Crisp 14-inch QHD display
What we didn't like
1440p game performance is lacking (1080p option is better there)
Runs really hot, with CPU hit 90-plus temps under load
Warm to touch, loud, and generates a lot of heat
We gave it: