In 2017, our website published a review of the ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) laptop — it was one of the first models equipped with NVIDIA graphics in Max-Q design. The laptop received a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics processor and a 4-core Core i7-7700HQ chip, but it turned out to be thinner than two centimeters. Then I called the appearance of such mobile computers a long-awaited evolution, because NVIDIA and its partners managed to create a powerful, but not bulky gaming laptop.
Model ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX), which will be discussed below, continues the glorious tradition of GX501. Only now, the laptop is 19mm thick with a 6-core CPU and GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics. Let’s see how this novelty will manifest itself in modern games.
⇡#Specifications, equipment and software
On sale, you will find three modifications of the ROG Zephyrus S: the GX701GX version uses the GeForce RTX 2080 in Max-Q design, the GX701GW uses the GeForce RTX 2070, and the GX701GV uses the GeForce RTX 2060. Otherwise, these models are very similar to each other. In particular, a 6-core Core i7-8750H processor and a 17.3-inch matrix that supports NVIDIA G-SYNC technology are used everywhere. The main characteristics of the updated ROG Zephyrus S are shown in the table below.
|ASUS ROG Zephyrus S|
|Display||17.3″, 1920 × 1080, IPS, matte|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8750H, 6/12 cores/threads, 2.2 (4.1) GHz, 45W|
|video card||GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q 8 GB
GeForce RTX 2070 8 GB
GeForce RTX 2060 6 GB
|RAM||Up to 24 GB, DDR4-2666, 2 channels|
|Installing Drives||M.2 in PCI Express x4 3.0 mode, 512 GB or 1 TB|
|Interfaces||2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
1 × USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A
1 x 3.5mm mini jack
1 x HDMI
|Built-in battery||76 Wh|
|External power supply||230 W|
|Notebook weight||2.7 kg|
|Operating system||Windows 10|
|Price in Russia according to Yandex.Market||From 170 000 rub.|
The most sophisticated version, the GX701GX, arrived at our editorial office: in addition to the RTX 2080, this laptop is equipped with 24 GB of DDR4-2666 RAM and a terabyte SSD. Unfortunately, I did not find this modification of the Zephyr for sale. The version with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD costs $2,420 on average in Moscow retail. Back in the ASUS ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704GW) review, I warned readers that it would not be possible to find laptops with RTX graphics at affordable prices.
All ROG series laptops are equipped with the Intel Wireless-AC 9560 wireless module, which supports IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac standards at 2.4 and 5 GHz with a maximum bandwidth of up to 1.73 Gbps, as well as Bluetooth 5.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX) came with an external power supply unit with a power of 230 W and a mass of about 600 g.
As always, along with the Windows 10 operating system, a lot of ASUS ROG proprietary utilities are preinstalled on the laptop, which are activated using the button of the same name — it is located above the keyboard.
ROG laptops with 8th generation Core processors are included in the Premium Pick Up and Return service program for a period of 2 years. This means that in the event of a problem, owners of new laptops will not have to go to a service center — the laptop will be picked up for free, repaired and returned as soon as possible.
⇡# Appearance and input devices
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX) has a recognizable appearance — these are strict, straight, contoured lines, and the body itself is made of brushed aluminum.
As I noted, the ROG Zephyrus S is only 19mm thin, but the laptop itself is a little bigger when compared to the previous generation model. First, the GX701GX uses a 17-inch IPS-matrix. True, due to the thin frames on the top and sides (only 6.9 mm), the new Zephyr is only 20 mm wider than the GX501 — and 10 mm longer. In general, I agree with the statement that ROG Zephyrus S is a 17-inch laptop assembled in a 15-inch form factor.
At the same time, the ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX) has become heavier and weighs 2.7 kg without an external power supply. However, basically the device will act as a substitute for a desktop PC, which, however, you can always take with you if you wish. That is, weight should not be a significant problem.
The lid of the ROG Zephyrus S opens up to about 130 degrees. The hinges on the laptop are tight, they clearly fix the screen and prevent it from hanging out during games or typing. I will note an interesting design feature of the laptop: when the lid is raised, the main part of the laptop also rises at the same time. As a result, slots are formed on the sides of the laptop, with the help of which the cooling system fans additionally suck in air. Already heated air leaves the case through the grilles on the back of the laptop.
At the same time, the keyboard also rises at a slight angle, so that typing becomes a little more convenient. Not without a certain amount of embellishment — the ventilation slots of the ROG Zephyrus S are backlit.
The Zephyr has no interfaces on the front. Behind are grilles for blowing heated air and three activity indicators.
For obvious reasons, the 701 does not have large ports like RJ-45. On the left side there is a power supply connector, an HDMI output, two USB 3.1 Gen2 (A- and C-types, the latter is combined with a mini-DisplayPort) and a combined 3.5 mm mini-jack for a headset. On the right side of the laptop there are two more USB 3.1 Gen1 A-type, USB 3.1 Gen1 C-type and a Kensington lock slot. There are almost no questions about the layout and quantitative composition of the ports — for the complete happiness of ROG Zephyrus S, perhaps, only a card reader is missing.
The keyboard of the ROG Zephyrus S is unusual, although the exact same one was used in the 501st model. This is a design move, because the matte plastic area above the keyboard is also part of the cooling system. If you look closely, you can see perforation on it.
Due to the peculiarities of the keyboard, working with Zephyr will take some time to get used to. Key travel is small. The design uses a scissor mechanism. It is more convenient to place the laptop away from you, because the keyboard is closer to the user. It is even more convenient to put something under the wrist. The touchpad is located on the right, not in the center. I’m left-handed, and it took me a couple of days to adjust to this design find by ASUS engineers. On the other hand, a gamer will probably use a computer mouse almost all the time, and then the touchpad will not get in the way at hand.
Otherwise, I had no problems with the ROG Zephyrus S. On the top left there is an analog wheel with which you can adjust the volume level. On the right is a button with the Republic of Gamers logo, which, when pressed, opens the Armory Crate application, the Gaming Center program changer. I note that each key has an individual RGB backlight with three levels of brightness.
And yes, ASUS engineers and marketers, thanks for bringing back the Print Screen button, it was sorely missed in the GX501!
Let’s go back to the touchpad. It seems that it is here only because it should be in a laptop. It is small, but with support for Windows multi-touch gestures and handwriting, as is now common practice. The buttons are pressed very easily, but there is a slight backlash. And the touchpad is equipped with a numeric keypad — ASUS calls it virtual, as it is activated by pressing a special key.
Finally… No, not like that. FINALLY, at least one of the manufacturers of gaming laptops thought of getting rid of a useless webcam! It’s a shame to see a 720p 30Hz matrix in a laptop costing over $100 or even over $2000. Streaming is now very popular among PC players, so the ROG Zephyrus S comes with a great external webcam that supports Full HD resolution with a vertical refresh rate of 60 Hz. The quality of its image is a cut above what is offered in other gaming laptops. The laptop does not have a built-in webcam.
⇡ # Internal device and upgrade options
Getting to the components of the laptop is quite problematic. In order to replace, for example, a solid state drive, you need to unscrew a few Torx screws on the bottom and remove the keyboard.
At the same time, ROG Zephyrus S has a removable panel on the bottom. It can — and should — be dismantled for only one purpose: to clean the fans over time.
The cooling system, by the way, uses two 12-volt turntables. AeroAccelerator technology delivers efficient airflow through the thin body of the notebook. Special aluminum shrouds on the vents, according to the manufacturer, help the fans draw in more cold air. The fan blades are made from liquid crystal polymer, which allows, according to ASUS, to reduce their thickness by 33% compared to traditional ones. As a result, each fan received 83 blades — their airflow increased by 15%.
To remove heat from the GPU and CPU, five heat pipes and four radiators are used, located on the sides of the case. Each such radiator consists of copper fins with a thickness of only 0.1 mm. Now there are 250 of them.
Eight gigabytes of RAM is already soldered on the motherboard of the laptop. On sale you will find versions with 16 GB of RAM — this means that an 8 GB DDR4-2666 card is additionally installed in the only SO-DIMM slot. In our case, Zephyr boasts 24 GB of RAM.
As for the storage device, the motherboard has a 1TB Samsung MZVLB1T0HALR M.2 drive. In general, there is no need to disassemble and upgrade this version of the ROG Zephyrus S.
⇡ # Testing methodology
Since the laptop has one of the most productive graphic solutions, it makes sense to use only the maximum or close to them graphics quality settings.
|API||Quality||Full screen anti-aliasing|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Novigrad and surroundings||DirectX 11||Max. quality||AA|
|GTA V, built-in benchmark||Max. quality||4 × MSAA + FXAA|
|FarCry 5, built-in benchmark||Max. quality, HD textures off.||TAA|
|Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, built-in benchmark||The highest||high|
|Dota 2 match recording||Max. quality||Without anti-aliasing|
|World of Tanks 1.0, EnCore benchmark||Max. quality||TSSAA HQ|
|Battlefield V, The Last Tiger Mission||DirectX 12||Ultra||TAA|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider, built-in benchmark||Max. quality||SMAAT2x|
|Metro Exodus, Volga||Extreme, NVIDIA HairWorks on, Physics off|
|Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Utulek Complex||Maximum quality||MSSA × 2|
Gaming performance was measured using the well-known FRAPS program. With it, we get the rendering time of each frame. Then, using the FRAFS Bench Viewer utility, not only the average FPS is calculated, but also the 99th percentile. The use of the 99th percentile instead of the minimum frames per second is due to the desire to clean up the results from random bursts of performance that were provoked by reasons not directly related to the operation of the main components of the platform.
CPU and memory performance was measured using the following software:
- Corona 1.3. Testing rendering speed using the renderer of the same name. Measures the build speed of the standard BTR scene used to measure performance.
- WinRAR 5.40. Archiving a folder of 11 GB with various data in RAR5 format and with the maximum degree of compression.
- Blender 2.79. Determination of the final rendering speed in one of the popular free packages for creating three-dimensional graphics. The duration of building the final model from Blender Cycles Benchmark rev4 is measured.
- x264 FHD Benchmark. Testing the speed of video transcoding to H.264/AVC format.
- x265 HD Benchmark. Testing the speed of video transcoding to H.265/HEVC format.
- CINEBENCH R15. Performance measurement of photorealistic 3D rendering in CINEMA 4D animation package, CPU test.
- Fritz 9 Chess Benchmarks. Testing the speed of a popular chess engine.
Display testing is performed using the X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter and the HCFR application.
The laptop battery life is checked in three modes. The first load option — web surfing — involves alternately opening and closing the tabs of the 3DNews.ru, Computeruniverse.ru and Unsplash.com sites with an interval of 30 seconds. This test uses the Google Chrome browser with the «Block data and cookies from third-party sites» and «Do not allow sites to save data» options enabled. In the second mode, x265 (HEVC) video is played in a standard Windows 10 player with the repeat function activated. The third type of load is running the Unigine Heaven benchmark at maximum graphics quality settings in full screen mode. In all three cases, the same display brightness was set to 200 cd / m2.
In games and other applications, the results of the following laptops are considered:
|ASUS ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704GM)||17.3″, 1920×1080, IPS||Intel Core i7-8750H, 6/12 cores/threads, 2.2 (4.1) GHz, 45W||32GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6||SSHD, 1TB, 5400rpm + SSD, 256GB, PCI Express x4 3.0||There is no data|
|ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX)||17.3″, 1920×1080, IPS||Intel Core i7-8750H, 6/12 cores/threads, 2.2 (4.1) GHz, 45W||24GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6||SSD, 1 TB, PCI Express x4 3.0||76 Wh|
|ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501)||15.6″, 1920×1080, IPS||Intel Core i7-7700HQ, 4/8 cores/threads, 2.8 (3.8) GHz, 45W||16 GB DDR4-2400 dual channel||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Q-Max 8 GB GDDR5X||SSD, 512 GB, PCI Express x4 3.0||50 Wh|
⇡ # Display and sound
All 17-inch ROG Zephyrus S models use the AUO AUO409D IPS panel with a matte finish. The main features of the display are the 144 Hz refresh rate and 3 ms response time. Exactly the same matrix is installed in ASUS ROG Strix SCAR II laptops.
The accuracy of the display settings for a particular laptop model is at a good level. On the positive side, I would like to note a good range of screen brightness: the maximum value of white luminosity reaches 294 cd/m2and the minimum is 16 cd/m2 — The laptop is convenient to use in any weather and in any light. The contrast ratio is 1318:1 and the gamma is 2.17, which is slightly below the reference value of 2.2, but not that far away. Watching movies and playing games on this laptop is very comfortable and pleasant.
However, the color gamut of the matrix does not fully comply with the sRGB standard — there is a slight displacement of the triangle. Measurements showed that the average deviation of DeltaE on a gray scale is 2.46, the maximum is 3.28. The average score in the ColorChecker24 test also reached 2.46 with a maximum deviation of 5.1. The color temperature is kept at around 6500 K. In general, the stability of grayscale is at a good level.
The glow effect, like most IPS matrices, is present, but it appears mainly on a black field. The AUO screen has excellent viewing angles both vertically and horizontally. Finally, the matrix used belongs to the category of Flicker-Free solutions in the entire working range of brightness.
The sound of the ROG Zephyrus S turned out to be better than that of the 501st model, but still there are not enough stars from the sky. Two speakers with a total power of 5 W are located on the sides of the keyboard. The sound is not so flat, plus the volume margin of the speakers is quite decent. At maximum volume, there are no wheezing or artifacts.
⇡#Laptop performance in resource-intensive applications
For a long time, the factor that determines the performance of any laptop is the efficiency of its cooling system. This dependence became especially critical with the advent of 6-core Coffee Lake processors. Starting this year, I decided to study in more detail the capabilities of the laptop cooling system, as well as to identify the dependence of the level of performance of the CPU, GPU and RAM on the quality of the cooler used in the system. In particular, from now on, testing takes place not only in the default mode, but also after manual tuning in the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility program. But soon Intel will also introduce 8-core laptop chips …
Programs of the caliber LinX and Prime95 are the litmus test of modern laptops based on Coffee Lake chips. As you know, the clock speed of the Core i7-8750H is 2.2 GHz, but in Turbo Boost mode, when all six cores are loaded, it can increase to 3.9 GHz. Only now the TDP level of this chip is 45 W, and in some cases this power limit is not enough for the mobile CPU to work to its fullest.
So, the 6-core ROG Zephyrus S resets the frequency from 3.9 to 2.7 GHz — and this, by the way, is an excellent result. The maximum temperature of the hottest core rose to 85 degrees Celsius, and the noise level, measured from a distance of 30 cm, was 39.1 dBA. We can safely say that in such conditions, «Zephyr» works quite quietly.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that testing was carried out in the «Balance» mode. There is no point in using the «Turbo» preset, in which the cooling system fans spin up to the maximum frequency.
Perhaps the test sample ROG Zephyrus S uses a very successful central processor. I managed to further reduce the supply voltage of the 6-core by 0.065 V — in such conditions, the frequency of the Core i7-8750H began to drop in LinX only to 2.8 GHz. The noise level and the Core Max score have not changed.
In other resource-intensive applications, the frequency of the central processor periodically dropped to 3.6 GHz. As you can see, Turbo Boost was not working at full capacity, which caused a drop in performance under continuous load. Reducing VCore solved this problem, and the Core i7-8750H started working everywhere and always at a frequency of 3.9 GHz (the cooling system copes, power consumption does not go beyond TDP). Naturally, the results of the laptop have also improved, which can be seen in the graphs below.
⇡#Laptop performance in games
The use of GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics in the GX701GX modification is perhaps the most “piquant” feature of the ROG Zephyrus S. In theory, we are dealing with the second fastest GPU today. The first, of course, is the full-fledged mobile version of the GeForce RTX 2080. However, much here depends on the laptop itself: how efficiently the cooling system works and what GPU settings the developers have set.
In the «Balance» mode, the frequency of the Zephyr GPU varies in the range from 1380 to 1835 MHz. As you can see, the frequency of the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q sags quite seriously. The temperature of the GPU at the same time rose to 79 degrees Celsius, and the noise level, measured from a distance of 30 cm, was 44.5 dBA — in games, the ROG Zephyrus S is quite loud. True, the overall picture is «corrected» by the nature of the noise — it is low-frequency, and therefore less intrusive. The hottest CPU core reached 90 degrees Celsius.
In the «Turbo» mode, the GPU frequency dropped to 1485 MHz, but at the same time the noise level increased to 49 dBA — this is a completely uncomfortable indicator. But the temperature of the GPU dropped to 72 degrees Celsius, and the Core Max was 86 degrees Celsius.
ROG Zephyrus S was tested in Turbo mode. Unfortunately, this is only the second laptop with mobile RTX graphics that has been in our test lab. Therefore, it is possible to compare the Zephyr only with the ASUS ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704GW), which has a full-fledged GeForce RTX 2070 laptop graphics. For example, in the 3DMrk Time Spy test, in the Graphics subtest, ROG Zephyrus S is faster than its “relative” by 6%. In principle, a logical result, since we are dealing with Max-Q graphics. However, in the Port Royal test using ray tracing, the Zephyr, which scored 4507 points, is already 11% ahead of the ROG Strix SCAR II. The GeForce RTX 2080 has a larger number of RT cores.
Still, it’s more interesting, in my opinion, to compare the GX701GX model with another «Marshmallow» — the very first version of the GX501, which has GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q graphics installed. In the 3DMark Time Spy test (Graphics line), more modern laptops are already 42% faster. Now that’s a really impressive difference!
I think you have long noticed one very important feature of all ROG Zephyrus S — on sale you will find models exclusively with FHD screens. In my opinion, ASUS made the right decision, although the graphics of the GeForce RTX 2080 caliber are already consistent in Ultra HD resolution. This GPU provides comfortable FPS in all modern games. The proof is presented in the table below.
|ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX)|
|AVG FPS||MIN FPS|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Novigrad and surroundings||one hundred||63|
|GTA V, built-in benchmark||75||55|
|FarCry 5, built-in benchmark||97||68|
|Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, built-in benchmark||60||48|
|Dota 2 match recording||122||70|
|Battlefield V, The Last Tiger Mission||one hundred||60|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider, built-in benchmark||75||68|
|Metro Exodus, Volga||75||52|
|World of Tanks 1.0, EnCore benchmark||168||115|
|Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Utulek Complex||69||49|
In all games, the GX701GX is faster than the GX501 modification — on average, the superiority of the RTX laptop is 25-30%. It seems to me that in Full HD resolution there is an effect of processor dependence. Still, the Core i7-8750H is not some Core i7-9700K or even a Core i7-8700K.
⇡#Performance of the disk subsystem
The SSD in the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is very fast. The Samsung MZVLB1T0HALR model belongs to the PM981 series. I am sure you are familiar with this drive — the Korean manufacturer retails it under the name 970 EVO. This means that the Samsung MZVLB1T0HALR uses 64-layer TLC 3D V-NAND, which is controlled by an eight-channel Samsung Phoenix controller. A detailed review of the Samsung 970 EVO can be found here.
The laptop comes with a 76Wh 4-cell battery. The laptop allows you to switch the display between the integrated graphics core and a discrete graphics card, but even in this case, the battery life of the ROG Zephyrus S cannot be called long. So, at a screen brightness of ~200 cd/m2 the laptop lasted less than three hours in web surfing mode. On the other hand, the battery life of the new Zephyr is better than that of the 501st model.
ROG Zephyrus S can also be charged via USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C, for example, using an external battery or a small 65W power adapter. This saves you the hassle of lugging around a 230-watt PSU, though you won’t be able to run games properly without one. In addition, this USB connector can be used to quickly charge mobile gadgets with a current of up to 3A.
|Battery life, 200 cd/m2|
|Web (opening tabs in Google Chrome)||2 h 48 min|
|Video viewing (4K, x265, HEVC)||2 h 32 min|
|Games (UNIGINE Heaven, max settings)||57 min|
In this review, you met a good, productive and interesting laptop. It is very difficult for me to find fault with the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX), because such parameters as, for example, short battery life, cannot be called the disadvantages of any 17-inch gaming laptop. In addition, the novelty supports an interesting charging function using an external battery (I wish there was some kind of Power bank for 10-20 thousand mAh in the kit). But for a separate and good webcam that supports the 1080p@60 format, I express special gratitude to ASUS.
I see no reason to scold the keyboard. I already foresee the indignation of skeptics, but you get used to this arrangement of buttons and touchpad very quickly. Playing on ROG Zephyrus S is quite comfortable. Finally, the tested Zephyr turned out to have a very high-quality cooling system that can cope with far from the coldest components. I also like the IPS-matrix used in Zephyr — well-tuned.
The disadvantages of the design include the complexity of disassembling the device. In the case of our version of the ROG Zephyrus S, this is not a tragedy, but if you take a laptop with 16 GB of RAM and a small SSD, then in 2-3 years, some difficulties may arise with its upgrade. Whether the fabulous price at which laptops with GeForce RTX graphics are now sold belongs to the obvious shortcomings of the device, decide for yourself. Obviously, only a few of our readers will be able to pay $2420 for the ROG Zephyrus S (GX701GX).