ROG Zephyrus G14 - GA401IAED 6,999
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is a deep dive from ASUS into the world of Ryzen. A thin and light gaming laptop that is poised to knock your socks off. Get ready for a thrilling ride that will leave you wanting more and more.
ASUS makes some compromises, but maybe, just maybe, we are ok with it given they have put the money where it’s worth.
The specific model we have got for the review was GA401I, let’s get something out of the way. This spec is a more “creative” user focused laptop rather than being more gamer focused, so do keep that in mind.
Our experience with the G14 got us hoping that more gaming laptops will Ryzen to the occasion. ( I deserve an award for restricting myself to only one Ryzen pun)
Design & Build
The design of the Zephyrus G14 is on the absolute middle setting of mild. Not bland, but not a flaming bag of hot cheetos either. As far as gaming laptops go, this is a safe-ish design. You get the ROG style space bar, the laptop lid has a textured design and a lovely metallic plaque, and that’s about it. The rest of it is a pretty “square” design (it’s a rectangular shape, but you know what I mean). I will give them props for the design of the air vents hidden away around the hinge, with the zephyrus name which you can only really see when the laptop is closed. That is brilliant design, in my opinion.
A rather funny quirk is the power button. Maybe it was not intended, but the button looks like the side profile of the Alienware Area 51 gaming PC. Apparently the power button can double as a finger-print SSO button. However this is an optional add-on, not sure who this is targeted towards.
The speakers are also nicely implemented in the laptop, considering they are top firing! Yes we have more to say about it later.
The Zephyrus G14 is definitely built really well. While typing on the laptop there is almost no flex. You might notice it a bit, but it’s negligible.
The screen has very noticeable flex, but it’s expected in order to keep the laptop thin and light. The body of the laptop itself doesn’t flex all that much giving us lots of confidence in lugging it around anywhere.
The laptop is lapable, and you can use it for a decent amount of time with comfort. But at some point it is simply too small. Thats expected, I feel like ASUS has done whatever they can to make this a comfortable couch laptop.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 has a few configuration options. The model we have here is the GA401I, which is more creator focused.
The specific specs of the unit we had was:
- AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q (with 6GB GDDR6 RAM)
- 16GB DDR4 RAM at 1,600 MHz
- 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD
No, we did not make a mistake here. What you are seeing is actually correct. So let’s break this down. Starting with the RAM. 16GB is hardly enough RAM these days, and for a laptop poised to be your next long-term beast costing a pretty hefty sum, having 16GB is sad.
But the interesting thing is, you can actually very easily upgrade the RAM. The way the G14’s internals are built, you actually have two RAM slots, only one of which is actually easily accessible.
If you pop off the back of the laptop you will see the second RAM slow, empty and ready to be populated. However the other RAM slot is actually on the other side of the motherboard, under the keyboard. Which is very hard to get to. It’s a design choice ASUS, presumably, had to make to save space and implement that dual channel setup. So while you are paying a decent amount for this laptop, you would have been paying a whole lot more. And this upgrade can be done a few months down the road when/if you feel like you really would need it.
That brings me to the second point, ASUS is putting all their eggs in a tiny, miniscule, 7nm basket. That is to say, the AMD Ryzen 9. Oh what a beautiful, jaw dropping basket it is.
Anything you might have heard about this beautiful processor, this CPU from the underdog gods of AMD, is absolutely true. I would go so far as to say, today if you bought an intel by choice, you made a mistake.
This Ryzen 9 4600HS is the bees knees! This processor is super punchy and you will not be disappointed.
The GPU being a Max-Q and a 2060 is also a bit disappointing, especially given the display, but precisely for that reason it makes sense. Did I lose you there?
The monitor is QHD, so it needs more processing power for all those pixels. But a 2060 is ample powerful and it is also more forgiving on the battery. Thus the compromise. You get great performance for the least possible battery degradation. Key words: least possible. More on the display and battery later.
The thing that upsets me the most about this Zephrus G14 is both the thermals and the noise. While there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of thermal throttling, probably thanks to the ergo-lift design, good on you ASUS. But the laptop does get hellishly hot. In normal day to day use, the laptop runs cool and relatively silent. Relative only to the shouty, the sound of a thousand bees, noise that it puts out when even slightly pushed.
When you start gaming, however, it’s like ASUS has decided to punish the tips of your fingers (on the keyboard) with fires from the depths of hell! (or what we call peak dubai summer). It’s quite hot and unbearable at times. I couldn’t play for longer than a couple of hours, because my fingers would synge and I would lose my fingerprints. How ASUS manages to push this computer without thermal throttling is beyond me. Maybe it’s just that you will give up before the laptop will.
The fan noise is also another problem, even on silent mode this laptop is a bit noisy. But when you push it, boy this thing can scream! I understand that it must do this in order to get rid of the heat, but wow it’s noisy.
For daily use I would stick only to the “Silent” mode, and use “Turbo” only when I have noise canceling headphones. The performance mode is decent, but still quite loud.
Something strange to point out is that you can’t swiftly move between modes. You are forced to wait for the graphic for the mode to disappear before moving on to the next mode. A bit annoying, I hope it’s something that ASUS fixes with a software update.
Since we know you want them, are the benchmark tests we ran on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14:
Screen & Battery
The monitor on this Zephrus G14 is a QHD 60Hz display.
Yes, again that’s not a mistake. As I mentioned earlier, this laptop is more focused around the creatives and people who are bound to consume more media. Or those gamers who play for the visuals and story, rather than multiplayer dominance.
The display is a 2160 x 1440 monitor with 221 pixels per inch, so you get some really really good visuals on this thing. Watching Netflix or YouTube on 4K is amazing. The screen is absolutely stunning.
The display also get’s plenty bright and the 60Hz is not a big deal to me. For the average gamer, this laptop is perfect. If you wanna go a step further towards pro, then this is not the laptop for you.
As mentioned earlier, the 2060 Max-Q is a very good choice on ASUS’s part. It gives you the best of both worlds. Great performance while also ensuring good battery life.
The battery is a 76Whr 8-cell Lithium-polymer battery. If you run this laptop in silent mode, primary for office tasks, I have no doubt this would last you 6-8 hours. I would be more than comfortable leaving the house with this laptop for a full day of work ahead. If you play your cards right you could even get more, upto 10 hours in some cases.
When you push this laptop, it can give you a respectable 2-3 hours of gameplay or top-notch performance.
If somehow you are in a pinch, you can even use the Type-C port to charge this laptop with up to 65W.
Kudos to ASUS you knocked this out of the park.
Keyboard and Mouse
Both the keyboard and mouse on the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 are really really good. In terms of typing experience of the keyboard, this is up there amongst the best. And for the mouse, in terms of scrolling feel and tracking performance, again almost as good as the MacBook Pros of today. But they are not without fault.
Due to the tiny footprint and form factor, the keyboard is a bit tiny and I do miss the home and end keys. Still not big of a deal. The key travel and key press feel makes up for most issues. Except the back button, for some reason that is very noisy and uncharacteristic of the rest of the keyboard. This also applies to the “\”, enter and shift keys, though not as bad as the backspace key. Very strange
The thing that irks me the most, however, is the backlight. It is so bad, then I would have rather they left it out. Maybe it’s the choice of colour, or the bleed because of the high key travel or maybe it’s the uneven way in which the light shines through the keys. I just disliked it, even though I gave it a honest try, I still couldn’t get used to it. In a pinch, it comes in handy, but my advice is keep it off.
The trackpad also has a couple of issues. The click on the trackpad is very noisy, and for me didn’t feel “natural”. I never really knew where the click would happen or if it would happen at all, and if you tap on the trackpad it’s very un-satisfying. This is because the trackpad seems to move, it doesn’t seem bolted on. It just feels weird.
Still I would rate this trackpad and keyboard experience above most other windows laptops out there.
The speakers on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14! Oh how beautiful is thine sound!
Honestly, I was so blown away by these speakers that I would prefer to use these speakers over my home theatre system. Ok, not really, but DAMN these are good! You can hear the full depth of sound, you can hear every note, every vocal chord, every musical instrument, even bass thump, every string with the utmost clarity. The speakers get pretty loud too.
Part of the reason is probably from the fact that these speakers are facing up. That and the Voodoo Wizardry from the chaps at Dolby makes this one of the most gratifying audio experiences on a laptop. Absolutely brilliant.
Now if only I could listen to the speakers over the sound of the fans on Turbo! Still totally absolutely blissful!
Anything I can say about these speakers is pointless, go have a listen by yourself, you will not be disappointed.
Dolby does have the Dolby Access app which you can use to fine turn the sound to your liking. I would just leave it to Dynamic and go make an offering to the sound gods!
Ports and What’s in the box
You get a satisfactory selection of ports with the Zephyrus G14:
- 1 x USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery
- 1 x USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C
- 2 x USB 3.2 Type-A Gen 2
- 1 x Full-size HDMI 2.0b
- 1 x headphone/mic jack – Powered by Dolby Atmos
- Kensington lock
As has become commonplace with the Zephyrus, there is no Ethernet post. Hope you have taken permanent residence into dongle life. This is the way!
The G14 does come with the Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 enabled Intel AX200 wireless card. For my testing it performed well and I would say that it is more than suitable for most people.
If you noticed in the review above, I haven’t mentioned the webcam. That’s because it doesn’t have one. The idea is that if you are a gamer, you already have a better camera. Sure, but as a business professional and/or creative and/or casual gamer, I don’t. Also, in the world of #WFH and self isolation, this laptop has missed a major point. Every laptop should have a webcam, even if it’s a shitty 720p camera that’s zoomed in at your nose hair follicles. This could be a deal breaker for some.
A rather unfortunate choice is that the power port is positioned in the middle of the left side of the laptop. Not a fan, but I can understand why.
That’s really about it. You get the laptop, the charger and a carry case. Nothing more to show for your dirhams. Still not that bad overall.
A cool thing that ASUS is offering right now is the Free 2 year warranty upgrade. It is an Upgrade, so you have to take some steps. You can register on http://asusme.com/2year. (Don’t forget to read their terms and conditions)
Mix work in with some video watching and light hearted gaming, you are looking at a very worthy choice for your next laptop.
While there are some strange omissions, like the webcam and a full 32GB of RAM. There are cheap fixes or upgrades that you can do yourself.
As an extremely casual gamer, this laptop serves my needs. Thanks to the long battery life, superb form factor, rigid body, great screen, amazing processor and beautiful speakers, it all sounds perfect.