Laptop Mag Verdict
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 has strong VR-ready graphics packed into a super-light design, but its CPU and display are lackluster.
Thin and light design
Solid graphics performance
Above-average battery life
Overall performance could be better
Dull and dim display
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It might seem ridiculous to think that you can get one of Asus' ROG Zephyrus gaming laptops for close to $1,000, but let me introduce you to the Zephyrus G GA502, the cheapest laptop with this ID to date. For $1,199, you get a strong GTX 1660 Ti GPU, long battery life and a solid pair of speakers - all packed into a sleek design. There are a couple of things stunting the Zephyrus G's growth, including a middling AMD processor and a super-dull display. But overall, the Zephyrus G is a solid gaming laptop for the price.
Asus Zephyrus G GA502 Price and Configuration Options
The Zephyrus G that I tested currently runs for $1,199; it comes outfitted with an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. There's a $1,099 model that Asus sells, which downgrades to 8GB of RAM.
While the Zephyrus G is technically in the budget tier of the Zephyrus line, it's still incredibly stylish. The aluminum hood is brushed vertically and diagonally, clashing halfway across the lid. The top half is home to a glossy ROG logo with red backlighting that just faintly lights up. There's a sleek cutout at the hinge that reveals the deck as well as three LED indicators.
Meanwhile, the interior of the chassis sports a similarly discreet design, with a normal keyboard layout and white-backlit keys, breaking away from the RGB madness and forward-facing keyboards of previous Zephyrus models. Above the keyboard are diagonal grooves carved into the chassis, next to the holes for the intake. The machine also has super-slim bezels and, funnily enough, no webcam.
At 4.5 pounds and 14.2 x 9.9 x 0.8 inches, the Zephyrus G is an incredibly light and thin mainstream gaming laptop, thinner and lighter than the Dell G5 15 SE (5.6 pounds, 14.3 x 10.8 x 1 inches) and the Lenovo Legion Y7000 (5.3 pounds, 14.2 x 10.5 x 1.1~0.9 inches). The MSI GF63 8RB (4.2 pounds, 14.1 x 10 x 0.9 inches) is the lightest of the bunch, but the Zephyrus G is still slimmer.
There's a decent number of ports on the Zephyrus G.
On the left, the chassis features the power jack, an RJ45 Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 port, one USB 3.1 port, one USB Type-C port (DisplayPort 1.4) and a headphone jack.
The right side provides two additional USB 3.1 ports.
The Zephyrus G's 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display is especially dull and dim, more so than an average affordable gaming laptop. But, on the bright side, the panel has a smooth 120Hz refresh rate.
In a clip for Dark Phoenix, the X-Men's black and yellow suits didn't pop and Mystique's red hair looked muted. I could barely see Jean Grey's surroundings as she stood at the entrance of the manor. However, the display was sharp enough to let me spot the stitching in Professor X's suit.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, while Lara and Jonah were setting up camp at night, it was difficult to spot the edges of the forest that surrounded them. The orange accent in Jonah's jacket and Lara's jade necklace looked relatively dull. Lara's hair, however, was incredibly defined, and I could see almost every strand coming out of her head.
According to our colorimeter, the Zephyrus G's panel covered a measly 71% of the sRGB color gamut, which is a decent ways below the 110% mainstream-gaming laptop average. The GF63 8RB (73%) barely did any better, but the G5 15 SE (154%) and the Legion Y7000 (153%) showed off true gaming-laptop displays.
At 240 nits, the Zephyrus G has the dimmest display of the bunch, falling short of the 271-nit average. The G5 15 SE (270 nits) and the Legion Y7000 (277 nits) were basically playing footsie with the average, and even though the GF63 8RB (246 nits) didn't make it, it's still better than the Zephyrus G.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Now that Asus has given the Zephyrus a normal keyboard layout, it's better, right? Well, yes and no. The new keyboard is more comfortable in that it has palm rests, and its keys do have a high required actuation force, but they are still too shallow; there's a lot of give and take.
I typed 71 words per minute on the 10FastFingers.com typing test, which is just over my 70 wpm average. The keys have a measly 0.8 millimeters of travel, which is far from our preferred 1.5- to 2.0-mm travel. However, the keys did required a whopping 80 grams of actuation force, which is well above our 60g minimum.
One thing I did appreciate from the previous layout was the touchpad, as it was ridiculously soft and its vertical design with discrete buttons made it more useful for gaming. The Zephyrus G's 4.1 x 2.8-inch touchpad is still soft and comfortable to use, but offers no discrete buttons. The pad does have Windows precision drivers, and Windows 10 gestures - like three-finger tabbing and two-finger scrolling - worked well.
The Zephyrus G's bottom-firing speakers managed to blast Missio's "I See You" across a small office, and the overall audio quality was solid. The opening vocals combined with the keyboard were bright and clear. Most of the percussion came off strong, except the heavier bass drums, which felt muted.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I ran around Lara's manor when she was a child; I was serenaded with lovely chirping birds accompanied by an adventurous tune that immersed me into the rich people experience. Lara's voice sounded crisp, and her footsteps were loud enough to overcome the Zephyrus G's blaring fan. And when she fell from the roof and onto her ass without a scratch on her, the thud that emanated from the stone floor was satisfying.
You can customize the audio via the Sonic Studio 3 app, which comes outfitted with presets for Music, Movie, Gaming and Communication. Within those presettings, you can adjust the treble, bass, voice clarity and even the reverb. The app also gives you access to a full equalizer; you can assign these settings to specific apps of your choosing.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
Armed with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM, the Zephyrus G blazed through Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Highest, 1080p) at 36 frames per second as I ran, sliced and shot my way through a jungle. The device stuttered occasionally, but it was solid overall.
On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Zephyrus G averaged 43 fps, which is roughly on par with the mainstream gaming laptop average (44 fps). It defeated the 37 fps from the G5 15 SE (GTX 1650) and the Legion Y7000 (GTX 1060), as well as the 27 fps from the GF63 8RB (GTX 1050 Ti).
The Zephyrus G did decently well on the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), hitting 73 fps. Even though it didn't make the category average (80 fps), it did beat the Legion Y7000 (70 fps) and the GF63 8RB (69 fps). However, the G5 15 SE (85 fps) ran the game better.
On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Zephyrus G took the reign back and crushed the competition with 57 fps. The mainstream gaming-laptop average (54 fps) is just behind the Zephyrus G, while the G5 15 SE (40 fps), the Legion Y7000 (46 fps) and the GF63 8RB (35 fps) all landed even farther from that speed.
Don't scoff at the Zephyrus G's GTX roots - this baby is more than ready for VR. The laptop scored 9.2 on the SteamVR Performance Test, which is above the category average (8.2). The G5 15 SE (5.6) and the Legion Y7000 (7) had a slightly worse time handling VR.
Underneath the Zephyrus G's thin chassis is the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor with 16GB of RAM, which seamlessly juggled 40 Google Chrome tabs and five 1080p-YouTube videos while Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran in the background. However, it didn't do as great on our benchmarks.
On the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the Zephyrus G scored 14,059, which can't compete with an average mainstream gaming laptop (20,539). The G5 15 SE's Core i5-9300H (16,744) did slightly better, and the Core i7-8750H processor crushed our tests in both the Legion Y7000 (22,474) and the GF63 8RB (21,811).
The Zephyrus G took 14 minutes and 23 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our HandBrake benchmark, which is nearly four minutes longer than the category average (10:40). To be fair, the G5 15 SE was even slower (14:31), but the Legion Y7000 (9:24) and the GF63 8RB (10:20) sped through the test like champions.
Asus' 512GB SSD copied 4.97GB of data in just 12 seconds, translating to 424 megabytes per second, which is just above the 382 MBps mainstream gaming laptop average. The laptop killed the 256GB SSD in the G5 15 SE (130 MBps) and the GF63 8RB (318 MBps), but the Legion Y7000's was still faster (636 MBps).
Even for a gaming laptop on the more affordable side, the Zephyrus G has a decently long battery life. After continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the battery lasted 4 hours and 48 minutes, which is longer than the average mainstream-gaming laptop (4:06). The device even outlasted the Legion Y7000 (4:28) and the GF63 8RB (3:30), but it couldn't outlive the G5 15 SE (6:53).
The Zephyrus G does not come outfitted with a webcam, but there are several great external webcams that you can pick up if you plan on streaming.
Unlike its siblings, the Zephyrus G does not use Asus' Active Aerodynamics System, which caused the underside to lift. Despite that, the Zephyrus G doesn't get too hot, though its fans can get incredibly loud.
After I played Shadow of the Tomb Raider for 15 minutes, the underside hit 108 degrees, which is above our 95-degree comfort zone. The center of the keyboard and touchpad hit 108 and 79 degrees, respectively. The hottest the machine got was 125 degrees, at the center of the vents on the underside.
On our normal heat test, in which we play a 15-minute 1080p video, the underside peaked at 89 degrees, while the keyboard measured at 86 degrees and the touchpad hit 75 degrees.
Software and Warranty
The most important software that the Zephyrus G has is the Armoury Crate, which lets you track your CPU, GPU and fan performance. There are several performance modes, including Windows, Silent, Balanced and Turbo. There's also a Manual mode, where you can go ham and customize the output yourself. You can create specific profiles for games and apps based on your mode.
You can use the GameVisual app to customize the color of your display. And while the Zephyrus G doesn't have any RGB lighting, you can use the Aura tab to sync and customize the lighting of compatible devices. The GameFirst V app can be used to manage your bandwidth.
There's also a flurry of Windows 10 apps, including Candy Crush Saga, Gardenscapes and Asphalt Street Storm Racing.
Asus' ROG Zephyrus G GA502 ($1,199) is a good gaming laptop if you're on a slightly flexible budget. You get strong graphics performance that's more than ready for VR, good battery life and a solid pair of speakers. Not to mention that all of that is packed into a super-light and thin design. Despite that, it's Ryzen processor can't compete with its Intel competitors, and the display is too dull and dim for gaming.
But for $1,099, you can get the Legion Y7000, which boasts a stronger processor, a brighter and more colorful display, and even on-par battery life. However, you will be sacrificing portability and even some graphics performance.
Overall, the Zephyrus G is a solid gaming laptop, and among the most portable that you can get for the price.
Credit: Laptop Mag
Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 Specs
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 3750H|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti|
|Hard Drive Size||512GB|
|Hard Drive Type||M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Highest Available Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI 2.0, Headphone/Mic, Kensington Lock, RJ-45, USB 3.1, USB Type-C|
|Size||14.2 x 9.9 x 0.8 inches|
|Touchpad Size||4.1 x 2.8-inch|
|Warranty/Support||One-year limited warranty|
Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.