MANILA - Designing gaming laptops has always been a balancing act between power and portability.
Because games demand a lot of processing power, laptop makers have to choose between cramming the fastest CPUs, GPUs memory, and batteries into their devices or cutting back on the bells and whistles so that gamers don’t break their backs while lugging around a supposedly portable device.
But that was until Asus introduced its ROG Zephyrus notebook in 2017. Asus broke the mold by keeping the Zephyrus slim and sleek, but still packing it with enough power to do the very heavy lifting demanded by the latest games. And as it only weighs 2.1 kilograms, users literally don’t need to do any heavy lifting.
While a lot of gaming laptops are akin to The Hulk, the ROG Zephyrus is more like Capt. Marvel--packing a massive punch without the bulk.
When the Zephyrus was first unveiled in Taipei during Computex 2017, it made a lot of jaws drop among hardcore gamers in the audience. In the gaming community, it was almost akin to when Steve Jobs revealed the iPad.
The latest version of the ROG Zephyrus, dubbed the GX531, builds on the success of the first model, but updates some of the specs for even better performance.
It is easy to mistake the GX531 as a normal or business laptop when you first look at it. At only 16.15mm thick, it is as thin as an ultrabook that wouldn’t be out of place in a board room or a studio.
But open the lid and there’s no mistaking that this device is meant for gaming. The keys glow with a soft RGB light that’s become part of the gaming vibe itself.
Non-gamers like myself however, will need to get used to the layout of the keyboard. The keys are way up front, meaning you’ll probably need wrist pads to comfortably type on this machine. The trackpad is also placed on the right side, which makes the keyboard feel a bit cramped.
For gaming, this keyboard layout makes a lot of sense because gamers use control keys on the left side of the keyboard, while the trackpad’s placement on the right makes it easier for the right hand to swipe and slide for mouse-like control.
The most commonly used “WASD” control keys are also distinctly backlit.
If you’re crunching numbers, you’ll be glad to know though that the trackpad also functions as a lit numeric keypad.
But for normal everyday use, the keyboard layout can be a bit uncomfortable. I frequently found myself looking at the keys or mistyping.
Power up the laptop and a gorgeous 15.6-inch 1080p screen stares back at you. With a refresh rate of 144Hz and a 3ms response time, this screen can run circles around a lot of high-end desktop monitors when it comes to gaming.
Since it supports 100 percent sRGB, the screen is also good for a lot of professional applications, except when you need the most accurate colors.
Underneath the hood, this thing is a gnarly beast. It packs an 8th generation Core i7 8750H processor running at 2.2 GHz and can be pushed up to 3.9GHz. It also has an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with 6GB of memory, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid state drive.
It is amazing how Asus was able to pack all that muscle into such a slim device.
Equally impressive is how they can keep such a small device from overheating with all those electrons firing. Most of the laptop’s power hungry components, which tend to get warm, are at the back of the device.
When you lift up the screen, a hidden scissor-door hinge at the back opens. This allows more air to circulate and cool down the device. This results in a 20-percent increase in cooling performance, Asus said.
The Zephyrus also has plenty of ports for power users: two USB-C ports, one USB-3 port, two USB-2 ports, an HDMI port, and a headphone and mic combo jack. The speakers on the Zephyrus were also pretty decent.
ROG or Republic of Gamers is Asus’ premier gaming brand, which is highly regarded in the gaming community. Thus, it comes as no surprise that this machine delivers on the gaming end.
You can set your favorite games on the highest frame rates and Zephyrus will just shrug off the load.
A possible deal breaker, however, is the price. The cheapest GX531 variant on Lazada costs P119,995 while another model with better specs runs up to P159,995.
But the Zephyrus isn't really gunning for everyday users. This device targets the hardest of hardcore gamers who want the best possible gadget for the best gaming experience.
PC sales have been flatlining for several years now, as smartphones take over functions that used to be reserved for notebooks and desktops.
The only PC segment that has been seeing significant growth is the high-end gaming segment, where Asus holds a formidable market share.