Laptop Mag Verdict
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 is a great gaming laptop thanks to its affordable price, long-lasting battery life and quality performance.
Solid battery life
Runs very hot
Display could be brighter
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The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 is a great gaming laptop for those looking to run the most demanding titles. With solid performance from a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, great battery life and a competitive price of $1,579, the laptop is sure to satisfy most gamers. Unfortunately, its mediocre speakers and scalding heat are a few things to be wary of if you're considering gaming on the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 price and configurations
Our Zephyrus M GU502 is decked out with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM, an Intel i7-10750H CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. It has a 15.6-inch, 1080p, 240Hz display and is available for $1,579 on Best Buy.
There’s also a cheaper option available with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM, an AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU and a 1TB SSD. It has a 1080p, 120Hz panel and can also be purchased from Best Buy for $1,349 after a $100 discount.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 design
The Zephyrus M GU502 boasts a slick design with its magnesium-alloy chassis and “Brushed Black” tint finish. The lid possesses a half-smooth surface while the other half is occupied by a dotted pattern that beautifully reflects light to create an impressive rainbow effect. There’s also a silver Republic of Gamers logo that stylishly shines in the right lighting.
The laptop’s speakers peek out the rear of the machine when the lid is closed, along with three status indicators. From left to right, there are indicators for power, battery charge and hard disk access.
Opening the lid reveals the same “Brushed Black'' tint with a smooth palmrest flanking a sizable touchpad. It’s clear that the laptop evokes a sleek, modern aesthetic with its oddly shaped space bar and keys adorned with a futuristic font. The hexagonal power button resides in the lower-right corner of the speaker grille, which sits above the keyboard.
The Zephyrus measures 14.2 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches and weighs 4.3 pounds, making it lighter than most of its competitors. The 4.6-pound, 14 x 9.8 x 0.7-inch Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic boasts similar dimensions. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (3.5 pounds, 12.8 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches) is the lightest of the bunch while the 15.9 x 11.2 x 0.8-inch HP Omen 17 (2019) is the heaviest by far at 7.1 pounds.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 ports
The Zephyrus M15 GU502 has enough ports to mostly satisfy my gaming needs.
On the left side, there’s an RJ45 port, HDMI port, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, a mic input port and an audio jack.
With all these ports, it was easy for me to connect my headphones, mouse, keyboard and microphone to the laptop. However, I did have to switch between my keyboard and DualShock 4 controller once in a while, so I wish there was at least one more USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 display
The Zephyrus M15 GU502’s 15.6-inch, 1080p display with a 240Hz refresh rate does a good job of representing a varied spectrum of colors, but the screen isn’t as bright as it could be.
While watching the latest No Time To Die trailer, the pastel pink and purple of the setting sun reflected on the glass of a skyscraper made for a gorgeous moment. The subtle differences in color were also captured quite well as the shot overlooks a phenomenal icy tundra. However, the darker parts of the trailer were a bit difficult to see. The laptop isn’t necessarily dim, but many of its competitors have it beat in brightness.
From its rocky plains, the vast ocean of reflective blue perfectly contrasts the light orange tinge of a sandy landscape. I was impressed by how beautifully different corners of Horizon Zero Dawn’s world popped. And when the blistering sun lowered from the sky, the moon shined on every overgrown vine, ravaged machine and haphazard wooden structure, wrapping me in the warmth of a bright night. These scenes explode in vibrancy thanks to the GU502’s colorful display.
Most importantly, the GU502’s display has a 240-Hertz refresh rate. This allows for the display panel to refresh at a far greater speed, greatly reducing latency and smoothening graphical performance. I launched osu!, a game that allowed me to reach that number easily. The smoothness of each prompt was impressive, and at every moment I felt high responsiveness from the display.
While measuring color reproduction, the GU502 hit 107% of the sRGB color gamut, which is slightly higher than the HP Omen 17 (104%) and moderately better than the mainstream gaming laptop average (98%). Unfortunately, it falls short compared to the Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic and Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which both tied at 117%.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 averages 283 nits of brightness, which is higher than Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic (246 nits). However, it scores lower than the mainstream gaming laptop average (292), the HP Omen 17 (368 nits) and Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (323 nits).
ROG Game Visual lets you change the color temperature of the display in a slider between blue to red. Or you can just use one of the eight preset colors modes: default, racing, scenery, RTS/RPG, FPS, cinema, eyecare and vivid. Vivid is my favorite, as it makes things a bit brighter, allowing for colors to pop.
With Intel Graphics Command Center, you can change many display settings, including resolution, refresh rate, brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and sharpness. There are also options for noise reduction, film mode detection, skin tone enhancement, contrast enhancement and total color correction.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 audio
The Zephyrus M15 GU502’s weakest attribute are its speakers, which occupy the entire space above the keyboard.
I decided to test these speakers with a few songs from Hamilton, starting with “Satisfied.” The opening piano melody was a bit muffled and difficult to hear. This issue remained throughout the entirety of the track, with large vocal portions being drowned out by the harp, strings and piano. In general, the speaker volume is far too low. Even with my ear pressed close to the laptop, it only sounded half as loud as other speakers we’ve tested.
I then tested Naeem by Bon Iver, which did the track a great disservice. Many of the song’s subtle details, including its complex layering of instruments and background vocals, are completely lost. Furthermore, the tense build up and satisfying release don’t carry enough weight due to an unfortunate combination of low volume, muffled audio and certain aural details getting drowned out by other elements within the track.
These speakers didn’t do well when I played Horizon Zero Dawn, as many complex sound effects were difficult to hear and the dialogue was unintelligible at times. The roaring and stomping of machines came with little bass, mostly hampering the immersion. Additionally, the game’s great soundtrack didn’t blend well with the gusts of wind and crunching of leaves underneath Aloy’s boots.
The laptop comes with Asus Sonic Studio III, which is activated by default. This allows you to fix some of the laptop's audio issues. If you activate Smart Volume, set it to Extreme, and slide the volume bar all the way to the right, the audio comes through at a greater volume. Additionally, if you increase Treble Boost to 100% and leave Voice Clarity and Bass Boost at 30%, the audio is far more dynamic. The audio is still a bit muffled, but these changes greatly increased the laptop’s sound quality.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 keyboard and touchpad
I usually use a large mechanical keyboard, making it somewhat difficult to transition to a laptop. But I easily got used to the GU502 thanks to its moderately sized keyboard and responsive keys, which are satisfying to type on.
I took the 10fastfingers typing test on the mechanical keyboard I’ve been using for a month now and got 121 words per minute with a 99% accuracy. With Zephyrus’ keyboard, I managed 107 words per minute with a 92% accuracy. While taking the test, there were a few moments where the keyboard was a bit cramped, but overall it felt good to use.
I’m quite impressed by how the F1-F12 defaults to their alternate uses, allowing for easier gaming without needing to press the function key to perform certain commands. However, it would’ve been nice if the keyboard had a function lock key so I could easily swap between gaming and casual use more easily.
If you want to customize individual key colors or create macros, there’s Aura Creator, which allows you to edit how your keyboard lights up in captivating detail. My favorite is the Rainbow preset since you can change the pattern to create more appealing color spectrums.
The Zephyrus trackpad was a bit too sensitive when performing advanced Windows gestures; the three-finger flick activated with the slightest motion, forcing me to move very cautiously when using it. However, the trackpad is responsive and easy to use otherwise.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 gaming and graphics
In our Shadow of the Tomb Raider test (Very High,1080p), the laptop managed 55 fps. This is slightly better than the mainstream gaming laptop average (53 fps) and it beat the Zephyrus G14 (49 fps, RTX 2060 Max-Q). However, it falls short of the Omen 17 (64 fps, RTX 2070 Max-Q) and Aero 15 (57 fps, RTX 2070 Max-Q)
When we tested the GU502 on Grand Theft Auto V, it hit 73 fps. That surpassed the 65-fps mainstream gaming laptop average and the Omen 17, which only hit 60 fps. However, it could not match the Aero 15 (75 fps) and it came nowhere near the Zephyrus G14, which demolished it with 115 fps.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 performance
The Zephyrus M15 GU502 is equipped with an Intel i7-10750H CPU and 16GB of RAM, allowing it to complete most standard tasks without much difficulty. It loaded 20 Google Chrome tabs which ran YouTube, Twitch and Gmail effortlessly. Even when opening a dozen or so tabs, the laptop ran fast.
On the Geekbench 4.3 synthetic overall performance test, the GU502 scored 25,421, which is higher than the mainstream gaming laptop average (22,412), the Omen 17 (23,803, Intel Core i7-9750H) and the Aero 15 (23,522, Intel Core i7-9750H). However, it didn’t do as well as the Zephyrus G14, which scored a 30,181 with its AMD Ryzen 9-4900HS CPU.
When we ran the Handbrake Video Editing test, the Zephyrus M15 GU502 took 8 minutes and 30 seconds to transcode a 4K video into 1080p. This is slightly quicker than the mainstream gaming laptop average (9:15) and much speedier than the Aero 15 (10:04) and Omen 17 (10:16). However, the Zephyrus G14 has it beat at 6 minutes and 59 seconds.
During the File Transfer Test, the GU502 took 8.1 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files for a transfer rate of 629 megabytes per second. This is lower than the mainstream gaming laptop average of 675 megabytes per second and worse than all of its competitors. The HP Omen 17, Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic and Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 managed transfer rates of 636 MBps, 727 MBps and 1131 MBps, respectively.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 battery life
The Zephyrus M15 GU502 has a battery life of 8 hours and 23 minutes based on the Laptop Mag Battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness). It’s a much longer time than the 6:32 gaming mainstream laptop average, and the Omen 17 (2:14). But the Aero 15 clocked in at 6:58 and the Zephyrus G14 tapped out at 11:32.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 heat
When we ran our gaming heat test, (five loops of the Metro: Exodus benchmark), the right side of the GU502’s undercarriage warmed to150 degrees Fahrenheit. That is well above our 95-degree comfort threshold. In this same test, the touchpad (78 degrees), middle of the keyboard (110 degrees) and underside (126 degrees) were far lower. It’s recommended that you keep the Zephyrus M15 GU502 far away from your lap while gaming.
The temperatures weren’t so intense during our video test where we stream a 1080p YouTube video for 15 minutes. The touchpad maintained 78 degrees, the middle was 92 degrees, and the underside hit 107 degrees.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 webcam
Similar to many of Asus’ gaming laptops, the Zephyrus M15 GU502 does not come with an integrated camera. That said, most integrated cameras on gaming laptops won’t satisfy your needs anyway.
This is especially true for those who intend to stream, as laptop webcams are notoriously bad. If you’re in need of a webcam, here are the best ones you can buy.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 software and warranty
The ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 comes installed with quite a bit of software that can heighten or modify their experience. Asus’ Armoury Crate and Aura Creator are standard fare with Asus gaming laptops, allowing the user to modify their experiences in significant ways.
AURA Creator allows you to customize your keyboard lighting while Armoury Crate lets you check the status of your CPU, memory and storage. You can also adjust fan speeds and modify display presets with it.
The laptop also comes with traditional Windows bloatware like McAfee Personal Security, Microsoft Solitaire Collection and the Your Phone app.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 is a great gaming laptop for a competitive price. For $1,579, you get long battery life, a colorful display with high refresh rate, and a powerful graphics card that can run demanding games.
But if you’re looking for strong speakers and superior performance, the $1,449 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is worth checking out. Overall, the Zephyrus M15 GU502 is a great laptop with plenty of compelling qualities.
Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.