The very first ROG Zephyrus released by ASUS was a true game-changer in the gaming laptop industry. Since then, the quest to building the perfect thin gaming notebook has been the core focus of most manufacturers. Each brand has its approach in the mixture of how thickness and raw power. ASUS continued its ROG Zephyrus formula using the highly noted Active Aerodynamic System. At our labs today is the latest iteration of the line-up, the ROG Zephyrus S GX502 featuring both the Intel Core i7-9750H and Nvidia RTX 2070. Let’s see what tiny changes Asus implement to keep up with the market.
SPECS AND PRICE TABLE
|ROG Zephyrus S GX502 Configurations||ROG Zephyrus S GX502GV||ROG Zephyrus S GX502GW|
|Processor||Intel Core i7 9750H||Intel Core i7 9750H|
|RAM||16GB 2666Mhz DDR4||16GB 2666Mhz DDR4|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070|
|Storage||1TB PCIe SSD||1TB PCIe SSD|
|Display||15.6″ 1080p, 240Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB, Pantone Validated, G-SYNC||15.6″ 1080p, 240Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB, Pantone Validated, G-SYNC|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro||Windows 10 Pro|
|Price||Php 129,999||Php 159,995|
A CLOSER LOOK
The launch of the very first ROG Zephyrus marked the redesign of ROG gaming laptops moving forward. The Zephyrus S GX502 sports the signature 2-toned brushed metal design of the laptop lid. Its boxy design is what differentiates it from other ROG laptops, such as the ROG Strix and TUF series.
As of writing, ASUS is the only brand to use an Active Aerodynamic System. When opened, the bottom part of the laptop lifts ,which becomes a vent increasing airflow by 22 percent. Dust should not be worried about it as its the fourth generation of the ROG Zephyrus. There have been no reports of awful dust buildup due to the AAS.
At 18.9mm, ASUS is able to pack a ton of I/O in the Zephyrus S. The left side sport a power jack, ethernet port, HDMI 2.0b port, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, and audio ports. On the other side are two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports and a Type-C port that supports DP input and PD. Unfortunately, Thunderbolt is not supported, but frankly, PD support is more important to complement the overall portability of the ROG Zephyrus S.
The Zephyrus S GX502 inherited the ROG Strix Scar III’s keyboard layout. ASUS’ decision to veer away from the OG Zephyrus’ keyboard and the right-side trackpad is a smart move. ASUS Aura RGB lighting is a cherry on top paired with an excellent font choice.
The Scar III’s keyboard, now the GX502’s, is one of the best keyboards in gaming laptops. There’s an ample amount of key size, spacing, and travel. The typing experience is also a delight except for the slightly wiggly nature of the keys, especially when pressed on the corners.
Instead of opting for extra macro keys, ASUS went for three media buttons and an ROG key that launches their control center. The inclusion of dedicated media buttons is a must-have for gaming laptops these days.
At 15.6-inches, you’re probably looking at that small trackpad area. While it is indeed small for the chassis’ size, it’s just at the right size and side to avoid misclicks when gaming. As seen in the second photo, my thumb barely reaches the upper left corner of the trackpad.
The Zephyrus S GX502 is a gaming laptop, and therefore, the camera is opted out in favor of a bigger screen real estate. ASUS is able to achieve an 81% screen to body ratio with thin bezels thanks to the removal of the built-in camera.
Some would argue that Asus can fit the camera at the bottom part of the laptop. Instead, ASUS included an ROG GC21 standalone camera, similar to their ROG eye streaming webcam. This is a welcomed move as the gamer has the ability to position it to his/her liking. Gone are the days with nostril cameras if more laptop manufacturers follow ASUS ROG’s implementation.
One of the ROG Zephyrus S’ jaw-dropping feature is its display. It packs a 15.6″ 1080p 240Hz G-sync panel with 3ms response time. Its speed is also matched with great visuals thanks to the 100% sRGB Pantone-calibration.
The display of the ROG Zephyrus S is further examined and quantified using our SpyderX Pro tool from Datacolor. Color Gamut tells us the entire range of colors available on a particular display. 98% sRGB and 74% AdobeRGB is already impressive for a gaming notebook, let alone the fact that it is one of the first 240Hz panels on a laptop.
Our particular review unit sports a 9th gen Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, and an RTX 2070. Cooling is the number one challenge that ASUS faces with the ROG Zephyrus S. Early synthetic benchmark test shows the CPU performing well without any signs of thermal throttling.
The ROG Zephyrus S GX502 uses a 1TB Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD, the same SSD used on the Zenbook Pro Duo. Samsung’s PM981 is simply one of the fastest SSDs that you can get in a preconfigured setup. Our benchmarks show the SSD reaching its rated read and write speeds of 3,200MB/s and 2400MB/s, respectively.
3DMark is the go-to benchmark for gamers because of the ability to share and compare results online. We used Time Spy DX 12 benchmark, Fire Strike DX 11 benchmark, and Port Royal as well as their 4K resolution counterparts.
Dota 2 is one of the most popular games globally; that said, chances are you’ll be playing one of the popular F2P titles. Our benchmark sequence is based on a replay of OG vs. Liquid in the TI9 grand finals from the team fight that happened on 28:30 to 29:30.
Far Cry 5
FarCry 5 is an FPS game published by Ubisoft and uses the Dunia engine. It heavily relies on and takes advantage of DirectX 11 to render a realistic environment that makes it taxing to both the CPU and GPU.
Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Seige is one of the few popular AAA games that’s still popular in 2019 due to its competitive gameplay mechanics. R6S uses the AnvilNext game engine, which is developed by the game’s publisher, Ubisoft.
Apex Legends is a character-based Free-to-play battle royale game developed by Respawn Entertainment, the makers of Titanfall and Titanfall 2. It utilizes a modified version of Valve’s Source Engine.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is arguably the most anticipated game of 2019. It’s the first cross-play compatible game title of the franchise. COD: MW, developed by Infinity Ward, is using a new IW engine and published by Activision. The game uses DX 12 by default, which makes it an excellent choice to include in our benchmark suite.
Battlefield is a longstanding franchise which has been using the Frostbite engine that’s known to render almost life-like graphics. Battlefield V, set in WW1, is the latest installment in the franchise developed by DICE and published by EA. It’s also the first game to incorporate DX 12, Ray Tracing, and DLSS making it a great choice in our game bench library.
Battery Life and Thermals
Thermals are a serious matter for thin and light gaming laptops. Cooling makes or breaks the gaming experience and ties together the overall value of the gaming laptop. During our time Zephyrus S, the i7 9750H always peaks at 99 degrees on extreme workloads with a max all-core clocks of 4.2 GHz. Clearly, ASUS squeezed every bit of performance they could by waiting for the CPU to reach the 99c mark before it throttles itself down – Just 1 degree before it reaches the T Junction.
Seeing both 99c on the CPU and 88c is very unsettling for most gamers. Idle temps are not something to be proud of as well. But considering the laptop’s thickness at only18.9mm, ASUS did a fair job with their own performance formula.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is ASUS’ theme for the ROG Zephyrus S GX502. Though it’s not to say that there isn’t something wrong with the OG Zephyrus. Using Scar III’s keyboard instead of the old implementation is a night and day difference. The extra thickness of the Zephyrus S (vs. the original) allowed Asus to pack in more power in a relatively small form factor. A boxier design might dismay some, but the limited edition glacier blue model will surely win you back.
The GX502 is a more premium GU502, with the main difference being G-Sync. For some, G-Sync isn’t enough to be a selling point, considering that there’s a vanilla model at a cheaper cost. However, the extra price of G-Sync ensures a longer lifespan if you want a smooth gaming experience without the sacrifice of graphics quality.
The compact nature seems to limit both the CPU and GPU, yet ASUS still managed to enable both hardware and even injects cherry-on-top features such as a 240Hz panel with G-Sync support. All the features that seem impractical for a gaming laptop to have are actually what makes the ROG Zephyrus S GX502 a suitable desktop replacement. At a price of Php 129,995 for the RTX 2060 and Php 159,995 for the RTX 2070 variant, the Zephyrus GX502 gaming laptop is not for everyone. But what you’re getting is simply one of the best thin-and-light gaming laptops available in the market.