For far too long, gaming laptops have always been viewed as gargantuan beasts with power bricks the size of… well, bricks. Although portable gaming laptops would not be considered an anomaly, it is still quite rare to find gaming laptops that are both high in performance while still maintaining its lightweight and compact design. With the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501, you can now have the best of both worlds.
That Design Though
Sleek, slim and stylish, the ROG Zephyrus GX501 brings out the very best in terms of design and innovation into a gaming laptop. It also features a brand-new airflow design that is unseen in any other ROG gaming laptop called Active Aerodynamic System. Simply flip the screen open and the bottom cover opens ever so slightly, giving itself better airflow circulation. The ventilation on the Zephyrus GX501 is also on point, with a total of three different ventilation outputs to keep the laptop cool. This kept the laptop at cool temperatures, even during intense gaming sessions in the middle of the night with voices yelling over the speakers.
Even the back panel of the display has a different design compared to previous ASUS ROG gaming laptops. While adopting a familiar brushed metal material, the Zephyrus GX501 has just one diagonal line separating two different brushed metal surfaces. This gives it a nice subtle look rather than looking like a menacing gaming laptop outright, which is something many gaming brands love to do.
It weighs just 2.2kg so the Zephyrus GX501 can double as your standard workstation laptop. It is also the slimmest gaming laptop so far with a height of 16.9 mm when closed. How can one say no to that?
That Keyboard Though
This was a constant annoyance at best. While the keyboard layout of the Zephyrus GX501 was indeed different, it sure takes some getting used to. Most laptops, whether gaming or not, features a standard layout with the keyboard and numpad on the upper part of the body. ASUS ROG takes a different approach, placing the keyboard all the way at the other end of the body.
Sure, it is innovative, but at the expense of comfort and usability. Instead of having the usual palm rest, you’re forced to rest the heel of your palm on the edge of the laptop or on your table. If you’re a desktop gamer looking for a gaming laptop, this should be no problem for you but if you’re a diehard gaming laptop user, this will cause some annoyance and aches.
If you’re into RGB lighting, the keyboard is a plus point solely through the ASUS Aura RGB lighting. It allows you to customise the entire keyboard with your own preference of colours and set the usual WASD and QWER keys to adapt to MOBA, FPS or MMO games. In terms of typing and gaming daily, the keyboard is a hit-and-miss; it ultimately comes down to your preference when it comes to actuation, travel time and the type of switches.
What I found to be really cool was the trackpad, which will also take some getting used to. Instead of its usual central position, ASUS throws its trackpad to the right side of the keyboard. Located right next to the backspace key, you can switch between the trackpad and numpad. How amazing is that!
Overall, the design of the keyboard was done in such a way to accommodate for better cooling of the internal components. As mentioned earlier, it’ll take some getting used to and it will also be about personal preference.
That Performance Though
One of the main selling points of the Zephyrus GX501 was not only because of its design and its size, but also the use of NVIDIA’s Max-Q design. With a GTX 1080 GPU alongside 24GB of DDR4 memory, the Zephyrus GX501 can handle anything you throw at it (but please don’t literally throw anything at it.)
Even on high graphics, Dota 2 capped out at 162 fps while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds capped out between 100 to 110 fps. Unfortunately, I could not get a screenshot of it as I was too busy running for my life from being run over by a jerk in a four-wheel drive.
Overall gameplay on the Zephyrus GX501 was smooth with no issue of lag or screen tearing and stuttering. The 15.6-inch Full HD display comes with G-Sync and a 120Hz refresh rate. Fluid and easy on the eyes, the Zephyrus GX501 outdoes itself when it comes to high-intensity gaming.
Speed is also of the essence when it comes to the Zephyrus GX501. Its 1TB PCIe HyperDrive SSD loads up games and apps in record time. Booting up and shutting down is quick and snappy and in a matter of seconds while transferring files to and from the laptop is a cinch. This is with the help of four USB 3.1 USB ports and one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C Thunderbolt port.
There is also a HDMI 2.0 port, which allows you to connect the Zephyrus GX501 to external monitors or even 4K TV. I would test it out on a 4K TV, if I had one!
That Audio Though
With no subwoofer, the audio quality on the Zephyrus GX501 is surprisingly loud and clear. It has two speakers located on both sides of the keyboard. Sadly, it does tend to sound slightly garbled and croaky when the volume level is set to the maximum so it’s best to keep the volume at a reasonable level.
Them Final Thoughts Though
From its design to its performance and its somewhat innovative keyboard layout, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501 hits all the right notes with a few misses here and there. However, the key feature of this laptop is its price.
At RM15,999, this is one of the most expensive gaming laptops to date. Your only reason for buying it is if you have way too much money to burn and probably don’t mind spending RM16,000 on a gaming laptop.
This may sound like a jealous rant and to a certain extent, you might be right. I could never dream of owning a gaming laptop this gorgeous and I probably never will. But if you do have the chance to purchase it, do it and don’t look back.
A gaming laptop I would illegally sell my kidney for.