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ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 Review
Review By @ 03:00pm 08/09/21

Product: ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603H
Type: Gaming Laptop
Price: from $2899 AUD
Availability: Out Now
Link: rog.asus.com/laptops/rog-zephyrus/2021-rog-zephyrus-m16-series/

There are a number of factors that go into sizing up a new gaming laptop, from in-game performance through to the accuracy of the display and even the feel of the keyboard. The latter is often overlooked by many, at least at first glance. When everything comes together though, as it does in the excellent 2021 ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16, the experience shines. Literally, thanks to the impressive and vibrant 16:10 165Hz panel, and figuratively because ASUS’s overall design here is as technically on point as it is stylish.

And in case you’re wondering, it has a wonderfully tactile keyboard.

In 2021 the idea of gaming laptops has evolved to the point where we’re now well and truly beyond the simple measure of comparing a portable bit of tech to a standalone desktop. With the arrival of NVIDIA’s Ampere range in the laptop space, the line between what a gaming laptop can do versus a standalone desktop is blurring. More importantly, it’s the arrival of the forward thinking feature set that is Max-Q (which includes DLSS, Dynamic Boost 2.0, WhisperMode 2.0, and more) that results in the ability to game without sitting there listening to the equivalent of an tiny jet engine doing its best to cool it all.

That’s not to say the cooling in the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is inefficient, the liquid cooling paired with a raised chassis is something of a master stroke for air-flow. But, being able to game with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 with WhisperMode 2.0 enabled, and still get great performance -- yeah, that sits nicely alongside the robust and sleek package that is the latest ASUS ROG Zephyrus offering.

Look and Feel




From a design and performance perspective the display here is exceptional. You get the taller 16:10 aspect ratio at the QHD resolution of 2560x1600 which provides a crisp and more detailed image than a 1080p display. You also get it at 16-inches, in a near bezel-free 15-inch package in what ASUS has confirmed to be a 94% screen-to-body ratio. And with that there’s just something about an edge-to-edge image that is pleasing to look at, an almost ‘floating in space’ feel that’s hard to quantify.


When everything comes together though, as it does in the excellent 2021 ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16, the experience shines.



It’s not essential by any means but it speaks to the focus on style and aesthetics that has always been a part of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus range. The hits don’t stop there, as not only does the display support a 165Hz refresh-rate with a low 3ms response time, but it manages to hit a peak brightness of 500-nits in addition to supporting 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space. There’s also support and calibration for Dolby Vision. Which means the image quality, depth, and clarity, is one of the first things you’ll notice when firing up the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16. And it only gets better when playing a game like Horizon Zero Dawn or DOOM Eternal.


Taking a broader look at the form-factor, the 16-inch display hasn’t affected the overall size or thickness of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16. In fact, as far as gaming laptops are concerned what you get here is thin, light (it weighs in at under 2kg), and stylish. And versatile too with all manner of ports readily available on the left and right sides -- from USB to Thunderbolt to full-sized HDMI and Ethernet ports.

It’s a looker, and the modern almost-minimal Zephyrus style is cool in a way gaming brands usually aren’t. The led-like flourish on the top panel is as much an artistic statement as it is the sort of garnish you’d expect to find on a ROG gaming laptop. It’s a seemingly non-stop parade of great touches, the matte finish for the inside panel has an exceptional feel, and the default raised orientation via large rubberised grips is a step in the right direction for cooling a slim piece of kit.

Under the Lid




Naturally, when testing the latest from ASUS we’ve done so using the highest-end model. The hardware maker also offers a 16:10 1200p version with a lesser specced CPU. Here the pairing of the 11th Gen Intel i9-11900H with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU, alongside the stellar display, offers up immediate productivity and gaming benefits.


From a design and performance perspective the display here is exceptional. You get the taller 16:10 aspect ratio at the QHD resolution of 2560x1600 which provides a crisp and more detailed image than a 1080p display. You also get it at 16-inches, in a near bezel-free 15-inch package in what ASUS has confirmed to be a 94% screen-to-body ratio.



Thanks to NVIDIA’s Max-Q and Intel’s own advances what you get is something of a studio and gaming hybrid, in that the excellent display nets you graphic designer levels of clarity on top of the grunt needed to run modern games with detail settings cranked. And features like real-time ray-tracing turned on.
Processor: 11th Gen. Intel i9-11900H
Display: 16” 16:10, IPS WQXGA(2560x1600) 165Hz, 3ms DCI-P3 100%, 500nits, Pantone validated
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU with ROG Boost up to 1390MHz at 80W (100W with Dynamic Boost)
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces: 1 x Thunderbolt 3 with USB3.2 Gen 2 and DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery 3.0, 2 x USB3.2 Gen1 Type A (right side), 1 x USB3.2 Gen2 Type A (left side), 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 2 x Audio jack: headset & mic-in, 1 x Kensington Lock, 1 x RJ45

In addition to the above, the memory speed coming in at around 3000 Mhz in addition to the SSD storage hitting PCIe 4.0 speeds results in a responsive and smooth experience no matter the activity. This thing is, well, fast. Of course all of this has an impact on battery-life, but even with regular day-to-day usage we were about to get at least 8-hours without a charge.

Gaming Performance




The sheer number of NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series laptop GPUs out there goes beyond the fairly straight forward line-up of RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080. With Max-Q tech now a part of the entire range, the needs of different makes and models covering such a wide spectrum means that the power-rating is the additional identifier needed to get a picture of potential performance.

On that note the lower 80W rated (which can go up to 100W thanks to Dynamic Boost) RTX 3070 inside the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 isn’t so much a surprise or letdown as it is expected. Considering the small form factor and focus on efficiency over raw power, it’s the right choice. And thanks to Dynamic Boost the impact isn’t as pronounced as you’d think.

With the QHD 2560x1600 resolution display we decided to benchmark using the standard 1080p and 1440p combo. One to bring it more in line with benchmarks applicable to a wide range of laptop options, and second to offer-up a decent all-around look at how the mobile RTX 3070 performs.




And on that note it performs great across a wide range of games with or without RTX ray-tracing and NVIDIA’s DLSS rendering.

When gaming on the 16-inch display you can tell the difference between the two resolutions though it’s not quite as pronounced as say, regular browser usage or a graphic heavy application. Seeing QHD show up more and more is a definite step forward for high-end gaming laptops, though it’s understandable as to why the transition took as long as it did. You basically need something like an RTX 3070 to make the most of it.


Seeing QHD show up more and more is a definite step forward for high-end gaming laptops, though it’s understandable as to why the transition took as long as it did. You basically need something like an RTX 3070 to make the most of it.



Outside of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16’s stunning picture quality the overall picture is clear, gaming on the native 16:10 QHD resolution and hitting a high frame-rate is not only doable but a given. Which is always remarkable when you’re talking about a gaming laptop. With everything pushed to the limit the cooling, as impressive as it is, does that usual thin laptop thing of being loud but with NVIDIA’s WhisperMode most games can be played in a near silent mode and still hit 60-fps.

In the end there are some draw-backs, the chassis can get warm after extended use and the overall WiFi performance isn’t up to par with what we’ve seen in other laptops. 1080p performance could be better too, as it seemingly fluctuates between what you’d expect from an RTX 3060 versus an RTX 3070. That said, these are minor drawbacks in what is a true performer -- the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 pairs a vibrant and impressive display with excellent build quality, a stylish look, and great game and app performance.
What we liked
Stylish, robust, and portable design
A brilliant QHD near bezel-free display that is not only bright but accurate and fast
Excellent pairing of GeForce RTX 3070 and 11th Gen Intel CPU
Fast storage
Handy ports covering the spectrum
What we didn't like
1080p performance a little lacking when gaming
WiFi signal is weaker than expected
Noisy when under full load (which is thankfully mitigated by enabling NVIDIA's WhisperMode feature)
We gave it:
9.0
OUT OF 10
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