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Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 Gaming Laptop: Review

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 Gaming Laptop (GU502) is an outstanding mid-range gaming laptop that offers reliable gaming output in a beautifully thin and light design despite not being the most powerful computer.

Quick Review: Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 Gaming Laptop

In Asus’ much-vaunted ROG Zephyrus lineup of stylishly thin and light gaming laptops, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 is the newest computer that challenges the notion that such devices must be massive, voluminous, and with a battery life that disappears in the blink of an eye.

The latest Intel Comet Lake-H processor is probably the most notable addition to the Zephyrus M15. These 10th-generation mobile chips have been developed by Intel to power laptops that promise to deliver excellent performance alongside long battery life, even when unplugged.

Essentially, the Holy Grail of gaming laptops is to achieve the combination of efficiency and portability, but does the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) succeed?

It does, in our opinion, but with some caveats. Asus has once again crafted a thin and light gaming laptop that is sleek and understated, without sacrificing (too much) on the hardware inside, as with previous ROG Zephyrus laptops. The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) proves this is not always the case for anyone who still feels that gaming laptops are tall, bulky brutes. It’s an instance of what a gaming laptop might look like in 2020.

Thanks to dimensions of 360x252x18.9 mm and a weight of 1.9 kg, without too much effort, this is a gaming laptop you can take around with you all day. Right now, it’s one of the most stylish gaming laptops on the market, but that comes at a cost.

The model we got for review costs $1,299 (about £ 1,000, AU$ 1,800), and while it has a recent Intel Comet Lake Core i7-10750H processor, that mind-blowing is not the rest of the specs. The 512 GB (SSD) will fill up with games reasonably quickly, and it is not possible that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU will play the latest games with settings whacked up to complete. In a way, to get something so trendy at this price, it feels like you’re taking a hit on specs. This would be a fair trade-off for others. It would be a compromise too much for others.

However, even at higher settings, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 does a good job playing even graphically intensive games like Metro Exodus. With a bit of tuning, given the price, you’ll get some decent performance.

However, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) is an excellent choice for less challenging games that are frantic and fast-paced, such as Fortnite and CS: GO, mainly thanks to its 240Hz Full HD display. It’s not the brightest or most vivid screen, but the fast refresh rate provides super-quick, smooth, and sensitive gameplay.

Another field where the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) surpasses expectations is battery life. It justifies that you do not have to put up pitiful battery life on a new gaming laptop, lasting a long nine hours in the PCMark 10 benchmark tests.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) is an impressive mid-range gaming laptop that will envy many of its rivals, combining sleek design, strong gaming performance, and a competitive price.

Specifications:

  • CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-10750H
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB GDDR6)
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 (3,200MHz)
  • Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD
  • Storage: 512GB SSD (PCIe)
  • Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, HDMI 2.0b, headphone, mic
  • Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Gigabit Ethernet
  • Weight: 4.2 pounds (1.9kg)
  • Size: 14.2 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches (360x252x19 mm)

Price and Availability – See on Amazon

With an Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 we received for review comes with an Intel Core i7-10750H processor and costs $1,299. The exact specification is tough to find in the UK, so we’ve used estimated rates outside the US.

A variant with the same CPU, 1 TB SSD, and 16 GB of RAM is much easier to find in the UK, plus a 4 K screen and a more powerful Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU. This gives you a more advanced graphics card and a screen with a higher resolution, but the price jump is significant.

In some other configurations, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 is available, which should mean you can pick up a laptop that gives your budget the right balance between price and efficiency.

The price of the model we tested brings it up against the likes of the older components of the MSI GS65 Stealth and the AMD-powered Asus Zephyrus G14, both of which are some of the world’s best gaming laptops.

Check out: Asus Zephyrus G14 Gaming Laptop: Review

Design: Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 Gaming Laptop

Many who have seen a Zephyrus laptop before will be familiar with the style of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502. With dimensions of 360x252x18.9mm and a weight of 1.9kg, although it is far from the thinnest or lightest laptop globally, it is impressively slim for a gaming laptop.

Asus says it’s 25 percent smaller and 45 percent lighter than typical 15-inch laptops, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 comfortably beats it in the portability stakes when it comes to the likes of the HP Omen 15.

Right off the bat, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 is well worth considering if you’re searching for a gaming laptop that is easy to take around with you.

The laptop has a rectangular design that might look pretty heavy, but we like it quite slightly. Without being over-bright or over the top, it looks like a gaming device. If you wanted the best gaming laptop that doubles as a work machine, it would not look out of place in the office.

On the front, the metal chassis has a dual design. One half is brushed aluminum; the other half is lovely, what Asus calls a ‘prismatic dot pattern.’ It sparkles in distinct colors in some lighting, a clever slight nod to the laptop’s gaming origins, without distracting RGB lighting.

Despite being very small, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) still offers a good range of ports. An audio jack on the left, a 3.5mm audio jack (with an ESS Hi-Fi DAC), a USB 3.2 port, a full-sized HDMI 2.0b port, an Ethernet port, and a power supply plug-in port.

You can find two USB 3.1 Type-A ports and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port on the right side. This is an excellent collection of ports, including some rarely seen on laptops these days, such as Ethernet and HDMI but remains incredibly relevant for gamers.

There’s a decent-sized keyboard when the laptop opens up. The buttons are big to reach easily and reliably, and you can quickly press a key repeatedly with a complete N-Key rollover. It will be registered correctly, an important feature for gamers, again.

The keyboard also comes with near-compulsory RGB lighting, which is calibrated through Asus Aura Sync, of course, so that it matches other compatible devices.

Remember, however, that the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 Brushed Black edition features per-key LEDs; the backlighting is just a single zone in the Prism Gray and Prism Black editions (with those as mentioned above ‘prismatic dot design’). Therefore, you will not adjust the colors of individual keys in the last two versions, and there will be minimal lighting effects. For the rest, this is unlikely to be a deal-breaker, but it’s worth remembering. The concept behind this is that the ‘Prism’ gadgets are for more ‘grown-up’ tastes and uses, we believe.

Check out: Alienware M15 R3 Gaming Laptop: Review

You can also find physical buttons for volume control, muting and unmuting the mic, and launching Asus’ Armoury Crate program, which allows you to customize the laptop’s output. The power button sits above the keyboard and is simple to locate.

The trackpad under the keyboard is not gigantic, but it is large enough to be used efficiently and does the job well enough. However, for gaming, we will suggest the use of an external mouse.

There are two choices when it comes to the projector. The first is a 1080p display with a refresh rate of 240Hz and a response time of 3ms. For gamers who want to play quick-paced games, this fast and responsive screen is perfect, and the 1080p resolution ensures that the GTX 1660 Ti graphics card is not put under too much pressure.

This screen also provides 100 percent support for the color gamut of sRGB, meaning that it can display precise and varied colors. It was this screen we checked that came with the laptop, and it did a good job. The 1080p resolution isn’t the best, but we have here for the price and specifications; it is a decent compromise.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) with a 4K display and 100 percent Adobe RGB can also be purchased. We might suggest that this model will better fit digital creatives looking for an inexpensive workstation rather than a gaming laptop, as the laptop would still struggle with gaming at 4K even with the mightier RTX 2060, so you will still need to turn the resolution down.

Performance: Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 Gaming Laptop

Holding on the screen for a while, we have to admit that we weren’t blown away by the show regarding pure picture quality. We’ve seen more colorful laptop screens, but they’re usually quite a bit more costly, admittedly.

Where the screen impresses, however, is in terms of pace and responsiveness. The 240Hz refresh rate is perfect for fast-paced competitive games, as we mentioned earlier. Playing Fortnite or even frantic single-player games like Doom Eternal is an absolute pleasure at high frames per second and is easily one of the best things about the Asus ROG show Zephyrus M15 GU502.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 performs well in actual gaming results; as long as you are conscious that with their settings whacked up to their highest levels, you are improbable to be able to play modern games and still get reasonable frame rates. It doesn’t do poorly, however, even in such cases. For example, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 managed an average of 41.6fps with Metro Exodus, a graphically challenging game, with everything set to “Ultra.”

That may be well below the 60 fps we like to see in PC games and doesn’t use the laptop’s high refresh rates, but at this price point, it is not a bad demonstration for a laptop. You also get improved graphics and a higher frame rate than the consoles of the last generation. Reducing the graphical settings to ‘low’ also helps the laptop reach 130.11fps, which shows plenty of wiggle space to customize games to have a decent mix of high frame rates and graphical flair.

Check out: The 6 Best Gaming Laptops to Buy in 2021

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 Gaming Laptop (GU502) performs very well for everyday use in Windows 10. With its understated nature and the fact that it is relatively small and compact, it is a gaming laptop that you can easily use either in the office or at school in a work capacity.

Battery Performance

In addition to the Intel Comet Lake-H series of processors running them, one of the most arousing things about devices such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop (GU502) is that they kill the idea that a gaming laptop would have pitiful battery life.

There was a period when gaming laptops frequently gave fewer than four hours of juice away from the mains. Still, in our 1080p video test, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 lasted almost eight hours, playing a looped video until the battery was drained.

Impressively, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 made it through a very impressive nine hours and 10 minutes in the PCMark 10 battery life test, which mirrored everyday activities such as web browsing and video calls. This is fantastic for a gaming PC, and it ensures that this laptop should be able to do it comfortably on a single charge over an entire work or school day (and a long commute). Of course, battery life is likely to deteriorate faster when playing games, but we love this new gaming PC trend that does not shut down after a few hours away from a power supply.

Check out: Asus Rog Strix Scar 15:  A Powerful Gaming Laptop

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