ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 Review: The gaming laptop you should be buying this year
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, in my opinion, was the best laptop in 2020. It looked unique, had the right footprint, and the inclusion of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile series processors ensured excellent performance. ASUS has adopted the same philosophy for its larger sibling this year. The new ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 comes with a fairly slim chassis, clean aesthetics, and features the latest and best chipsets from AMD and NVIDIA. Rather than focusing completely on the gamer audience, the Zephyrus series strives to strike a balance between gaming and productivity. The company is doing that by maintaining a minimalistic approach when it comes to the looks but fire it up, and it should offer performance that can put most desktop PCs to shame.
The laptop has been getting a lot of positive feedback all over the internet, and I finally managed to get my hands on it. But before I share my experience, here’s a look at the specifications of the ROG Zephyrus G15.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15: Specifications
|Specification||ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charger||
About this review: ASUS India loaned me the ROG Zephyrus G15 for testing purposes only. The opinions are based on 10 days of regular use of the laptop. ASUS does not have any input into the contents of this article.
Design and Build: Hand-me-downs from a smaller sibling
There have been a lot of white laptops this year, and ASUS has mastered the art of making one that looks good.
I found the ‘Moonlight White’ to be quite attractive, but for those who want a darker hue, there’s the option of ‘Eclipse Gray’. These are the same color options that ASUS offers on the Zephyrus G14. In fact, the 2021 Zephyrus G15 borrows the same design from its smaller sibling, including the magnesium alloy construction right down to the perforated dotted pattern on the lid. You can’t have it with the fancy LED lights, though. Instead, there is prismatic film underneath all those 8,279 holes that bounces off light with a rainbow-like effect making it a unique design trait of the laptop.
The construction is solid despite feeling like plastic. ASUS reassures that the magnesium-aluminum build can take a few knocks and bumps. I love the implementation of the ‘Ergo-lift’ hinge design as well, as it ensures that there is some space at the bottom for the laptop to breathe. The laptop also includes two large slits on either side of the keyboard that house the top firing speakers.
In terms of I/O ports, the ROG Zephyrus G15 has plenty. There’s the standard barrel plug for the charger, a full-size HDMI 2.0, RJ45 ethernet, a full-size USB Type-A, two USB Type-C ports, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. You get another USB Type-A port, a Kensington lock port, and a microSD card reader on the right side. I’m not sure what the thought was behind incorporating a microSD card reader. In my opinion, a full-size SD card reader would have made sense, especially for someone like me who uses a DSLR for product shoots.
Both sides also include exhaust vents to blow out hot air. I never found them to be uncomfortable at any point, especially while using the laptop with a mouse. Overall, I think this is one of the most solid-looking laptops for 2021. Despite the fact it doesn’t have any RGB lighting or any crazy gaming design elements, it has a certain flair that draws you towards it.
Popping off the bottom panel is fairly easy, and you get access to the internals. I like the fact that ASUS has started applying a thermal pad on top of the SSD so that it doesn’t overheat. The motherboard offers the option of adding an extra M.2 SSD using the secondary slot. The RAM is in dual channel, but out of the total 16GB of memory, 8GB is soldered onto the board itself. The sole SODIMM is a standard DDR4 3200MHz unit, so it can be upgraded in the future as there is support for up to 48GB.
Display: QHD for the win
The Zephyrus G15 is one of the few laptops this year that features a QHD 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution display. You usually see laptops with either full-HD or 4K options, but with the kind of hardware that we have on the market today, I think a 2K display is the sweet spot, particularly for gaming. The panel comes with a 165Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time, which isn’t the fastest when compared to the competition, but I had absolutely no complaints.
It’s an anti-glare panel, so it vastly cuts down on reflections, and you get fairly thin bezels on the sides and top. Yet again, there is no built-in webcam. This is something that we’ve seen on other ASUS laptops; however, the unit I received included an external webcam. The company has confirmed that all units sold, at least in India, will ship with the same webcam. That’s not bad considering you don’t have to spend extra money, but it isn’t a practical solution for all types of users.
Other notable features include 100% coverage of DCI-P3 color gamut, and Pantone validation, essentially making it good enough for photo or video editing. It can render good colors and wide viewing angles, but I wasn’t entirely impressed with the blacks. Also, with a claimed peak brightness of 300-nits, it isn’t the most vibrant panel that I’ve seen on a laptop. Having said that, I think the display is more than good for day-to-day use.
Keyboard and Touchpad: Making best use of the space
The keyboard is very similar to the Zephyrus G14 from last year and I had a satisfying experience. It offers a nice 1.7mm of key travel, and the layout is well spaced out, making it comfortable to use. The hexagonal power button on the top right corner of the keyboard deck has an embedded fingerprint reader, which is fast and accurate. I also like how ASUS implements dedicated volume and microphone mute keys, which turned out to be very useful for me during my Apex Legends gaming sessions.
As for the touchpad, it’s one of the biggest ones I’ve seen in a long time. It feels almost as big as the one found on the MacBook Pro 16, which means that users who are into gestures are going to love this. However, both your hands are usually resting on it so you need to be careful. Thankfully, I didn’t have any issues with palm rejection and I absolutely loved the feedback on the smooth glass finish. I also noticed that it takes a day or two to get used to the left and right clicks.
The new Zephyrus G15 is powered by AMD’s latest Ryzen 5000 mobile CPUs, based on the 7nm Zen 3 architecture. The model that was sent to me included the octa-core Ryzen 9 5900HS which is a 35W CPU capable of going up to 4.5GHz and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 mobile graphics card featuring 6GB of DDR6 memory. The company also offers the laptop with the Ryzen 7 5800HS while graphics options can go up to the RTX 3080.
Performance is top-notch with the CPU highly capable of handling almost every single task with ease. As a day-to-day laptop, I didn’t see the laptop struggle at all. I was able to open over 50 Chrome tabs with ease and run Apex Legends at the same time, without any hiccups. As for my daily office work that involves a lot of typing, watching videos on YouTube, and editing some pictures on Photoshop, the performance was more than adequate.
Below are the gaming benchmark results and for good measure, I’ve compared them to the recently launched ASUS TUF Dash F15 with an RTX 3070 and Intel’s Tiger Lake-H processor I had reviewed a month back.
|Cinebench R20 CPU||Cinebench R15 CPU||Cinebench R15 OpenGL||Geekbench 5||PC Mark 10||3D Mark Time Spy Extreme||3D Mark Time Spy||3D Mark Firestrike Ultra||3D Mark Firestrike Extreme||3D Mark Firestrike||3D Mark Port Royale|
|ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15
||4789 | 551||2012 | 225||132.34fps||7255 | 1473||6288||3716||8089||5064||9490||18430||4417|
|ASUS TUF Dash F15||2538 | 578||1073 | 225||118.04fps||4730 | 1369||6247||3728||7577||NA||9796||17293||5000|
It is interesting to see that the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS not only beat the Intel Core i7-11370H, but the RTX 3060 on the Zephyrus G15 performs way better than the RTX 3070 on the TUF Dash F15. I know this isn’t a fair comparison since Intel’s new Tiger Lake-H series with octa-core processor options will soon make its way to several laptops. But my point here is that consumers need to be aware that not all RTX 30-series mobile GPUs are going to be the same, and you need to make sure that you are choosing the right option.
For thermals, the G15 comes with an intelligent cooling solution that includes new ‘Arc Flow’ fans that include 84-blades each, along with six heat pipes. The laptop also uses liquid metal-based thermal paste, which is said to improve temperatures by up to 10-degrees celsius compared to the regular thermal paste. Using the Armory Crate software or the quick key combo (Fn + F5), you can switch between performance profiles – Windows, Silent, Performance, Turbo, and Manual. The fans can automatically speed up or down depending on the profile you are using. Under stress, I did see the CPU touching as much as 98-degrees Celsius, but for most operations, including gaming, I noticed that the temperatures were well managed and didn’t go beyond the mid-80s. That’s actually really good for a laptop that can handle AAA-gaming titles at 1440p resolution. Speaking of gaming, here are some gaming benchmarks.
|1440p (Max settings)||1080p (Max settings)|
|Forza Horizon 4||82fps||100fps|
|Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order||78fps||90fps|
|Rise of Tomb Raider||67fps||77fps|
|Horizon Zero Dawn||50fps||60fps|
The RTX 3060 isn’t impressive when running games at 1440p but manages to churn out respectable performance. I think the RTX 3070 variant should fare better, especially if you are looking forward to gaming at 1440p. As for the RTX 3060 variant, I think you should have no issues playing most AAA titles at 1080p with all settings cranked to the max. The RTX 3060 can also deliver basic ray-tracing performance, which means you get good-looking lighting textures in games that support the feature.
The laptop came with a 1TB SK Hynix M.2 PCIe Gen 3 SSD, and in my testing, I found it offering peak speeds of 3588MBps sequential read and 3066MBps sequential write speeds on CrystalDiskMark 8. The SSD manages to keep things fast and snappy, and with the option of a secondary M.2 slot, ASUS has ensured that you don’t run out of internal storage space for your games.
For audio performance, ASUS has incorporated a six-speaker system that is backed up by Dolby Atmos. Two tweeters are placed on the front while two pairs of force-canceling woofers are underneath. The combination of the speakers offers a pleasant and balanced sound, and there is a nice thump of bass as well. However, it isn’t super loud. The volume is just enough to fill a medium-sized room, but overall, I was pleased with the audio capabilities. Additionally, the laptop offers 5.1 audio when hooked with a compatible wired headset.
Battery: Excellent for a gaming laptop
Another area where the G15 shines is battery life. I got over eight hours of usage with the performance mode set to Silent, and brightness pulled down to about 70%. That is pretty impressive, especially for a laptop that has enough raw power to run the most demanding games. In my Youtube video loop test, the laptop managed to stay up for seven hours and 52 minutes, which is again quite respectable. The laptop includes a 90Whr battery unit, while the charging brick is rated at 200W, which takes a little more than an hour to charge the battery fully. The laptop also supports USB Power Delivery charging of up to 100W. This is pretty useful when you don’t want to lug around the bundled charging brick in your backpack. ASUS says that you can utilize the discrete GPU with a USB PD charger but with limited power.
Conclusion: The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 gets you your money’s worth
The Zephyrus G15 is not a loud or flamboyant RGB-lit gaming laptop that you can show off, yet the subtle design makes you look at it twice. It can blend into your office meetings, and at the same time, it has the raw power to deliver an excellent gaming experience. If I had to nitpick, the lack of a built-in webcam and probably the display’s peak brightness would be the only faults I could point out on this laptop. Is this a recommended purchase? Definitely. It is perfect for gamers as well as creative professionals to some extent. The powerful chipsets on the inside, a sleek and minimalistic design, and excellent battery life make the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 one of the best gaming laptops to buy today.
The laptop is available at a starting price of about $1850 in the US for the base variant that includes the RTX 3070 GPU and the option of going further with an RTX 3080. In India, the laptop is available at a starting price of 1,37,990 for the base variant with RTX 3060 while an RTX 3070 variant will also be available for purchase.