Function and form
For most of my life, I never really considered a gaming laptop. I would have a gaming PC at home and a laptop for school/work needs—keeping business and pleasure strictly exclusive from each other. Additionally, gaming laptops were (in my mind) anything but portable. While you could bring around gaming rig, something about lugging around some seven or eight pounds of hardware did not sound fun. Not to mention the charger, accessories and whatever paperwork you’d need for the day.
My days of being a pack mule and carrying over 10 pounds ended in grade school.
So imagine my surprise when ASUS sent over the ROG Zephyrus G14: a tiny little thing, weighing in only a little more than three pounds, already smaller than my current laptop. My prejudice gave me some sort of skepticism towards it.
Design and connectivity
The first thing that struck me was how clean it looked; most gaming peripherals would tout obnoxious and loud RGB led lights wherever possible—just to make it “gaming.” A stark contrast for the G14, the keyboard and back panel (which we’ll get into later) are lit by a very mellow white light for a clean look that I very much appreciate.
The 14-inch screen is a little small for my liking, even if it is a 1080p panel. Squeezing that many pixels into a small screen might mean some adjustments for some people, and those that like to run multiple windows on the screen may have a rather difficult time with that small a reading room. However, the color quality of the panel is bright; you can easily work outdoors with minimal glare and it makes for a comfortable Netflix experience, too.
Circling back to the back panel, the grid of dots you see above, dubbed the Anime Matrix, is a fun LED display that is controlled by the ROG armory software, which you can customize however you like. There are pre-installed graphics that feature the ROG logo and other effects, but you’re welcome to play around with it by adding your own text. However, it gets really interesting when you start finding animated gifs you can display on the back panel. I started playing around and putting my favorite Pokémon characters.
It may or may not grow old, but it’s sure to impress anyone sitting across you—it might even start a conversation or two.
As for the inputs, the ROG Zephyrus G14 has a pretty standard array: one HDMI output, two USB-C ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Nothing much here, although I would have preferred if there were at least one or two more USB 3.0 ports. As much as possible, I’d like to use a mouse over the touchpad and having only two ports limits potential usage.
I guess the G14 is prepped for a world of USB-C ports and waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.
You might notice that the G14 is lacking a built-in webcam, a standard that laptops usually have. It was rather strange to see such a premium item missing something so basic. However, they did include an external webcam, which can sit on the top of your screen as most webcams do. The ROG eye is capable of capturing images at 1080p at 60FPS, pretty solid even for a streaming setup. It’s powered by a micro-USB cable, taking up another of the available slots—it might have been a smarter move if the webcam ran on the USB-C cable instead.
Specs for days, usage for hours
Looking into the spec sheet, I was pretty blown away. A Ryzen 9 4900xHS, working with up to 8 cores and 16 threads, 16GB DDR4 3200MHz SDRAM and paired with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics processor. Somehow, they were able to stick all that in such a tiny form factor—mindblowing. AMD’s new laptop processor boasts both performance and efficiency, with up to 10.7 hours of video playback and 9.5 hours of web browsing (as shown on their websites).
While I did not go all out and spend 10 hours on Netflix to try and disprove the claim (though I know plenty who might attempt to), I did use the ROG Zephyrus G14 as my daily driver for a while, doing some web browsing, working on spreadsheets and documents, watching a video or two. On average, I’d spend two or three hours of real usage on it each day and it lasted three days on a single charge. In contrast to my older laptop, which would pretty much need a charge within two hours of light usage.
Working on the unit is a delight as well. A 14-inch 1920×1080 screen isn’t uncommon nowadays, but a 14-inch laptop with a 120Hz panel is a rarity—and one that I am glad to have experienced. This is where that powerful RTX 2060 comes into play.
I ran some benchmarks on some games I had, ranging from the newer ones such as Borderlands 3 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, as well as Valorant.
Borderlands 3 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ran pretty smoothly even on the highest settings, breaking the 60FPS border by ranging between 65-80FPS, depending on what was going on in the screen. There were some FPS dropping towards the 50s in Borderlands when the screen started to fill with more enemies shooting at you and the mayhem intensifies. However, its overall run was very smooth.
At this point, you may be thinking, “What is the point of a 120Hz panel if it can’t even reach the 100 FPS range?”
Enter: Valorant, the amalgamation of CS:GO and Overwatch that blew my expectations immensely. On max settings and G-Sync on, it ran at a constant 120FPS, never wavering under 100FPS, thus giving way for buttery-smooth gameplay. I even turned G-Sync off as a fun experiment to see how far we could take it, and it was pushing way above 140FPS—a number any gamer would love to see.
One thing to note is that the Nvidia software hard locks the FPS for games when unplugged to 30FPS (probably to save on battery). However, you’re free to disable that lock in the Nvidia settings—though that just locks that FPS to 60, meaning the batter simply can’t provide sufficient power to the system for it to be able to run at its best.
Overall, the ROG Zephyrus G14 gives a delightful experience. Personally, the bare minimum I would like to enjoy my games on is to have them run at 60FPS, and to see this tiny machine doing so ticks all the boxes.
However, the tiny form factor is a boon and a bane for its cause. Due to it having so much tech packed in, thermals are sure to be a problem in the long run. And while ASUS solves this by using fans, they’re very loud. Another nit I’d like to pick is that the vents blow directly to where your mouse usually is, and having warm air constantly vented on your hand and wrist can get annoying—not that any of these are game breaking.
Ultimately, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is a great gaming laptop, capable of running the latest games without struggling. The form factor and weight make it perfect for bringing your games along without weighing you down. It might be lacking in one way or another, but the performance more than makes up for it (especially when it runs better than many full-sized computers).
Click here to get your hands on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, prices below:
|ROG Zephyrus G14||14-inch FHD
|AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS||NVIDIA RTX 2060||16GB (8GB x 2)||1TB PCIe SSD||PHP 109,995|
|ROG Zephyrus G14||14-inch FHD
|AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS||NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti||8GB||1TB PCIe SSD||PHP 99,995|
|ROG Zephyrus G14 (Non-AniME
Matrix LED variant)
|AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS||NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti||8GB||1TB PCIe SSD||PHP 89,995|
|ROG Zephyrus G14(Non-AniME
Matrix LED variant)
|AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS||NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti||8GB||512GB PCIe SSD||PHP 74,995|
Words Myles Cheang
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver