In their early years, gaming laptops had been meant to be desktop replacements. The first Razer Blade, released in 2011, was almost seven pounds; the 2012 Blade was 6.6. Battery life was a laughing matter. (The 2017 Zephyrus had fair over two hours.) Gaming laptops had been pudgy and garish. They had been designed for gaming on a budget, no longer for gaming on the hump.
However the age of the ultraportable is right here. There’s now a 2.01-pound laptop with six cores, there’s a 3.3-pound laptop with a discrete GPU, and a 5-pound laptop is thought to be to be on the heavy facet. Each year, we’re expecting lighter notebooks that can carry out more — and as productiveness laptops transfer in that direction, so are the gaming machines.
That’s the place the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS comes in. For the past decade, the main argument for a Ryzen chip over an Intel chip centered on trace rather than performance. But AMD has released a CPU that may, for the first time in latest reminiscence, compete with Intel’s top-of-the-line mannequin. The 35W 4900HS, with 8 cores, 16 threads, and 3.0 GHz clock speeds that can boost up to 4.4 GHz, goes head to head with Intel’s Core i9-9880H; it’s meant to vitality desktop-class gaming and productiveness in portable laptops.
We’re getting our first gawk at the 4900HS in its quintessential utilize case: the $1,449 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. Somehow, Asus crammed a 4900HS and an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q into a 14-inch notebook that weighs fair over 3.5 pounds. It also has 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a 120Hz display. It’s unusual to stare such great hardware in such a small chassis: the G14 is the smallest Zephyrus gaming laptop AMD has ever made, and it’s also one in all the few 14-inch laptops to pair an H-collection processor with a discrete GPU.
(You can get the same mannequin with a Ryzen 7 4800HS, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, and the less-great GTX 1660 TI Max-Q for $1,299, or hump down to 8GB of RAM, a GTX 1650, and a 60Hz display screen for $1,049.)
I’m happy to say that the G14 delivers. The laptop is fantastic for productiveness, and it’s a lot of enjoyable to utilize. The 4900HS and 2060 Max-Q duo can handle demanding games appreciateRed Dead Redemption IIandShadow of the Tomb Raider. As with any gaming rig, you’ll make some trade-offs for that performance. But in the grand blueprint of things, the sacrifices that the G14 asks are small.
I’ll start by talking about the gaming abilities since that’s probably what you care most about whilst you clicked on this review. Fear no longer: it’s factual. It’s as factual as you’d question from an H-Sequence processor, a 2060 Max-Q, and a 120Hz display screen.
CS:GOaveraged 216fps on maximum settings, with a low of 49. Coast was soft, and I may stare individual mud particles and sparks flying from various things I shot. The more graphically intensiveShadow of the Tomb Raiderwas also playable on the ideal settings (with ray tracing off), averaging around 74fps with a minimum of 58. The play was also barely soft and surroundings, from vivid towns to dark jungles, regarded great.
On the ultimate take a look at,Red Dead Redemption IIcranked up to Ultra (with fast and multisample anti-aliasing off), the G14 delivered more of a console-appreciate abilities, achieving an average of 31fps and a low of 14. Rows of stores and trees had been a bit blurry as I galloped past them on horseback, and there was some stuttering in flurries of mud and snow. However the game was functional. Most folk will have a higher time on Excessive settings, nonetheless, the place the G14 hovered around 50fps.
I think cooling is holding the G14 back somewhat. The 4900HS bought fairly sizzling underneath demanding titles; it hit 98 degrees Celsius during my 80-minute session ofRed Dead,and 97 during my hour-prolonged session ofTomb Raider.That’s no longer unexpected from a 14-inch laptop running AAA titles, nonetheless a laptop with the same hardware nonetheless higher cooling would probably stare higher outcomes.
Now, for all the alternative stuff.
Asus has properly refined its retro aesthetic. If there have been laptops inBattlestar Galactica, they would gawk appreciate the G14. A dot matrix covers half of the lid — these can feature as an LED display that can display GIFS, the time, and other neat outcomes, nonetheless that mannequin received’t be available for a few more weeks. On the non-LED mannequin, they’re level-headed a frigid design.
Fancy many thinner laptops, the G14’s display screen folds underneath the deck whilst you happen to initiate it, lifting the keyboard a bit above the bottom. This, in idea, helps with cooling by allowing air to higher circulate, and it also hides a chunk of the display screen’s grand bottom bezel. Some folk find some of these hinge uncomfortable in their laps, nonetheless I had no situation with this one, which is blunt and rounded.
The port alternative is serviceable: two USB-C, two USB-A, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The G14 can charge via USB-C, nonetheless there’s also a jack for Asus’ 180W adaptor whilst you don’t want to take up a port. There’s no Thunderbolt 3, unsurprisingly, since that’s Intel’s proprietary standard. That is an unfortunate downside of using an AMD gadget for the time being, although the G14’s HDMI and DisplayPort capabilities offer you other alternate ideas for connecting to peripherals.
This probably received’t surprise you whilst you’ve owned a smaller gaming laptop prior to, nonetheless whilst you plan to utilize the G14 for browsing and productiveness, the largest trade-off you’re making is display screen quality. The notebook has a 1920 x 1080 display screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is par for the path with smaller gaming machines. You’re no longer going to stare many 14-inch 120Hz panels at any greater resolution, and a 4K panel can be a colossal ask of the 2060 Max-Q.
That means the G14’s display screen is amazing for gaming, and it’s no longer bad for video-watching both. It’s matte and kicks back almost no glare. Dark scenes fromAltered Carbonregarded great, even in vivid rooms. Some lighter tones (such as a wedding gown and Joel Kinnaman’s skin) had a greenish tint to them, nonetheless it’s no longer noticeable whilst you’re no longer looking for it. (The display screen covers 100 percent of the SRGB spectrum and 75.35 percent of Adobe RGB.) I saw a lot more glare initiate air, nonetheless it’s usable there in a pinch.
The downside is that whilst you plan on doing a lot of browsing or productiveness work, you’ll be more cramped than you may well possibly on a 3:2 display such as that of Huawei’s MateBook 13. I had to zoom out to 70 to 80 percent to comfortably work two windows facet by facet.
The 2d drawback is the fans. The G14 does an spectacular job keeping itself frigid, given the vitality of the hardware it’s packing into a 3.5-pound chassis. Whereas you’re using this machine on its default fan settings for multitasking, you’re probably to hear a constant whine. It’s loud satisfactory that your workplace neighbors will hear it. I bought ancient to this fairly like a flash, nonetheless it’s a fact rate noting whilst you’re choosy about fan noise.
You can also switch to Asus’ “Soundless” profile, which makes the fans inaudible. I was timid that muffling the fans would cause the 4900HS to fry itself, nonetheless browsing in this profile was level-headed very doable. You received’t want to utilize this mode for intensive gaming, with out a doubt, nonetheless even whereas running several Chrome tabs and a preference of alternative programs, including Slack, Spotify, and a couple of benchmarks, the G14 was downright frosty in my lap, and the CPU didn’t pass 35 degrees Celsius.
Speaking of the touchpad and keyboard, they are each great. The Windows Precision Trackpad is a factual measurement and very easy to press. The keys are clicky with respectable travel, with out being loud satisfactory to annoy officemates. The deck is sturdy, with diminutive or no flex. The labels carry out retain Asus’ sci-fi font that appears to be like to be appreciate it belongs in a Johnny Rockets restaurant; you can take your contain view on that design preference. I also appreciate that the G14 has a separate panel containing the quantity controls and a key that mutes or unmutes the microphone, as well as a fair a diminutive less worthwhile button that opens Asus’ management panel.
I never thought I’d be saying this about a gaming laptop, nonetheless the battery life is also very factual. During my normal workday of swapping between a dozen Chrome tabs, running Slack, and occasionally streaming Netflix or Spotify at 50 percent brightness and a balanced battery profile, I bought around 8 hours and 50 minutes of juice. That means the G14 can make it via a workday on battery and can handle a prolonged bus or plane plod as well. The tool took 41 minutes to charge up to 60 percent on Asus’ drag and 53 minutes to carry out the same via USB-C.
Unquestionably, don’t question to be doing considerable gaming on battery.Red Deadon high settings ran around 18 to 20fps when the G14 wasn’t plugged in, dropping down to the low kids at around 40 percent, and the low single digits at 10 percent. I bought an hour and 38 minutes of gaming on a charge.
At the finish of the day, the Zephyrus G14 can handle the multitasking you wish it to. The keyboard, touchpad, and battery life are amazing. Whereas you don’t mind a low-resolution display screen and fans that you can hear, you’ll be happy with the G14 as your primary tool. (If these are deal-breakers for you, although, you’ll need something else for browsing and work.)
But mainly, Asus and AMD have successfully put Intel on gawk. Last year’s Core i7-powered Blade Stealth 13 was the first 13-inch machine that came with a GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. The most demanding game it may handle was whatEngadgetcalled “a stutteryDestiny 2abilities.” Peaceful, many gamers hailed it as a triumph for being a 3.24-pound laptop that may go that title at all.
The Ryzen-powered G14 weighs fair a bit more than the Stealth GTX and it games higher. I stare no reason to opt the Stealth GTX or any pricier gaming ultraportable when this laptop exists. AMD has rewritten the rules of what a gaming laptop can be.
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