Tuesday , 15 October 2019

ASUS ROG GX701 Review: Still The King

We review the ROG GX701!

What once was a single gaming PC that you could take anywhere (without breaking your back) ASUS has expanded the Zephyrus line to include a whole assortment of lightweight and not so lightweight models. The 2019 refresh of the Zephyrus line saw a number of new SKUs, screen sizes and hardware, with the Zephyrus S GX701 being the biggest physically.

Despite the evolution, the new models still have the same design mantra as the original: offer top-tier gaming hardware in a package that you can easily take with you.

A monolithic slab of power

ASUS hasn’t changed the overall design of the Zephyrus line at all. The GX701 still features straight lines and mainly industrial design with its many corners and angles.

When the lid is closed, the GX701 looks like a giant slab of black anodized metal. ASUS’ ROG logo sits on the right side of the lid (when you’re looking at it the right way) and is backlit by a red LED.

Overall build quality looks and feels fantastic, and with the magnesium alloy body offering very little flex.

The largely square chassis feels just as assuring as the lid. The sides are chamfered with a copper finish to give it a little bit of visual pop, but for the most part, the chassis of the GX701 is colored black.

The GX701 still uses the same Active Aerodynamic System that debuted on the first Zephyrus, which lifts the keys at an angle when the lid is opened which allows for better ventilation when you’re gaming.

17-inch display in a 15-inch form factor

ASUS has a penchant for reducing the bezels of their gaming machines so that they’re smaller than they ought to be, which makes them smaller than notebooks that have thicker bezels. The GX701’s side and top bezels are just 6.9mm thin, shrinking the overall size of the notebook to a comparable 15-inch notebook.

As for the display itself, it’s pretty much everything that a gamer can ask for. The display is a 17.3-inch IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time with G-Sync. The display also covers 100% of the sRGB spectrum and is Pantone Validated, meaning it has very accurate colors out of the factory, important for people who need a color-accurate display for work.

Unorthodox placement of keys makes it a little hard to adjust

Like other notebooks in the Zephyrus lineup, the GX701 has a weird keyboard layout that’s quite unlike most notebooks nowadays. The keyboard is positioned on the lower half of the chassis with most of the important bits (GPU, CPU, and fan) on the top. This makes the GX701 a little harder to type on than most notebooks since you don’t have a natural spot to place your wrist. ASUS includes a wrist rest exactly for that purpose, but it’s not something you’ll be bringing along with you when you’re moving around with the notebook.

Just like ASUS’ other gaming notebooks, the GX701’s keyboard is backlit, and since it’s infused with the brand’s Sync RGB tech you’ll be able to customize its RGB effects to your heart’s content.

As for performance, the keyboard on the Zephyrus GX701 is alright – key travel is pretty generous, there’s per-key-RGB lighting available here as well as N-key rollover. I’m pretty spoiled with my mechanical keyboard at home which is incidentally what I usually plug into the GX701 when I’m not outside, though for mobile gaming the keyboard is good enough.

There’s also a volume wheel on the upper left of the keyboard that just looks so out of place with the entire design like it was placed there at the last minute. While I appreciate the ability to have a physical key for adjusting volume, the placement and design of the thing are just baffling.

There are enough connectivity options on the notebook to satisfy most people, with the Zephyrus GX701 coming with two USB Type-C ports on the left and right, HDMI 2.0b out, DisplayPort 1.4, three USB 3.1 ports along with a 3.5mm jack.

Hard-hitting performance

The GX701 comes in a number of configurations and GPU choices, with our review unit being specced with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, NVIDIA’s new RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM, as well as 16GB of RAM and a 500GB of M.2 PCIe SSD storage.

There are versions of the GX701 with RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 GPUs of course, though you’d obviously be paying more money for those.

That being said, let’s move to the benchmarks:

The GX701’s impressive hardware managed to produce high framerates in games that we tested it with, which pretty much guarantees that the notebook will be able to handle most new and upcoming games without much issue. The addition of NVIDIA’s RTX-capable 2060 GPU also means you’ll be able to take advantage of ray tracing in games when the tech becomes more prevalent in the next few months as well.

The speakers on the GX701 are fantastic, easily capable of producing great audio that doesn’t sound like it’s coming from a notebook’s speakers.

Unfortunately, that great sound quality is oftentimes drowned by the notebook’s sound going full tilt. Like seriously, these fans are LOUD.

Battery life is mediocre, at best

No matter how thin or portable manufacturers make gaming notebooks, battery life will always be a big issue. High-performance parts gobble up power like there’s no tomorrow, and the ones in the GX701 is no exception here.

On a battery loop test where we ran a YouTube video on fullscreen until the battery ran dead, we only managed to get 3 hours and 20 minutes before the notebook ran out of battery. The sad fact of the matter is that you’ll have to stay glued to the wall socket if you want to game.

Verdict: One of the best gaming notebooks on sale, but it ain’t cheap

ASUS has again delivered one of the best notebooks that you can buy today. The RTX 2060 GPU is good enough for most games out today and paired with Intel’s beefy CPU, the notebook can easily handle a diverse range of games without breaking a sweat.

But you’ll be paying top peso for a gaming notebook like this, with ASUS pricing our particular configuration at Php 139,995. You can go even higher though, with the RTX 2080 variant going for Php 199,995.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Specs

  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H processor
  • 16GB/24GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM
  • NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU 6GB GDDR5 RAM / NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8GB GDDR5 RAM
  • 17.3-inch Full HD IPS-level Display, 144Hz Refresh Rate, 3ms Response Time, 100% sRGB
  • 512GB/1TB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD
  • Combo headphone jack, 1x HDMI, 2x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, 1x USB-A 3.1 Gen 2, 1x USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, 1x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery
  • 4-cell 76WHr battery
  • Windows 10

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