Asus seeks the perfect compromise with the Zephyrus G14. The spearhead of its ROG range, the computer wants to offer a certain power in play in a chassis the size of that of an ultra-portable. The manufacturer delivers us here one of its best products, despite obvious concessions made because of its size.
The Asus Zephyrus range brings the best of the manufacturer to the gaming segment. The new G14 is part of that logic. This laptop features a small chassis with its 14″ screen and 324 x 222 x 1.9 mm dimensions, even less than the 15-inch Zephyrus S, but making no concessions on power.
Our Special Edition consists of a Ryzen 9 4900H AMD processor accompanied by a Nvidia GeForce 2060 graphics card (6GB of memory) Max-Q design. A solid setup for the game in 1080p. Note that this is a high-end model and that Asus offers the G14 with a Ryzen 5 or 7 (or even an Intel processor) and a minimum GTX 1650 graphics card. The cheapest model is thus sold for less than 1500 euros, while the one we tested is around 2500 euros. However, a good PC is not limited to its components.
Technical fact sheet
|Asus ROG Zephyrus G14|
|Screen||14″ LCD IPS 60 Hz 1920 x 1080|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS (8 cores, 16 threads, boost to 4.3 Ghz)|
|Gpu||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max Q Design (6GB)|
|Internal memory||SSD 512GB NVMe|
|Connection||– 1x Audio Jack
– 2x USB-A 3.0
– 2x USB-C
– 1x HDMI 2.0
– 1x port area
|Size||-Large: 324 mm
-Length: 222 mm
-Thick: 1.79 mm
The ROG Zephyrus G14 has a very sober design, moving away from the usual guns of gaming PCs with their aggressive lines and frames embellished with LEDs. It could almost pass for a working PC. The aluminium and plastic chassis is white and grey on our model, but the PC is also available in black. It is also very strong, not cracking or bending under the fingers.
The top cover is studded with small perforations on an entire half. These are actually LEDs that the user can activate to display drawings or texts via provided software. Unfortunately, it is not possible to turn on these LEDs in France and more widely in Europe and these holes are therefore useless. We also notice an aluminum plate with the manufacturer’s acronym, which spares us a huge ostentatious logo on this hood.
Once the PC is opened, you notice that the keyboard part rises slightly. It is based on the base of the screen. A technique widely used by Asus on its ROG computers (like the Zephyrus S). This design trick has two objectives. The first is to tilt the keyboard slightly to bring more comfort. The second is to allow the chassis to suck fresh air from below. The hot air is expelled via the grid located in the hinge and therefore does not interfere with the user. An excellent thing, many manufacturers still prefer to expel the air from the sides, which results in blowing hot on the hand in mouse use.
The connector of the Zephyrus G14 suffers from some shortcomings. On its slices, we find two USB 3.1 Type-C ports (not Thunderbolt 3 compatible), two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, one Jack port and one HDMI port. To this must be added a power port to recharge the PC. It is located on the left and therefore does not bother the user using a mouse… provided he’s right-handed.
We regret, however, that the absence of an Ethernet port, always useful on a computer dedicated to games. Similarly, the presence of a third USB Type-A port would not have been too much, just like an SD card reader.
Asus G14 packs the software named Armoury Crate. Thought to be a HUB for your computer, it can determine the frequency of the processor, temperature and fan speed. The application even makes it very easy to adjust the color calibration as well as the temperature of the slab. It is up to the user to change this aspect as needed.
Note that there are registerable profiles as well as an app on Android and iOS that allows you to manage your PC remotely and import your preferences to another Asus machine. Armoury Crate is an interesting application which allows you to have some hand on your computer. Those who do not like to tamper too much in the performance of their PC choose from four pre-established profiles (Windows, silent, performance or turbo), but for others, manual mode allows you to find the perfect balance between noise and heat. As well Armoury Crate gives the ability to overclock its GPU, choose fan speed and processor maximum temperature. It’s up to everyone to make their adjustments.
Note that the Zephyrus G14 does not have an RGB keyboard. So the part of the software that is usually dedicated to color LED settings is inaccessible.
Note that the PC is equipped with Windows 10 Family, not Windows 10 Pro (lack of Bitlocker for example), which could hinder those wishing to use their machine for work
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard offers keys with a short run, despite a feeling of softness a little unpleasant in the first hours of use. The chassis does not bend when striking. Small format obliges, the digital pad is not present. We don’t take it into account given its size.
We appreciate the space key with a bulge on the lower part for better comfort (a habit at Asus) as well as a white backlight only on four levels. On the other hand, little regret for the key Entry, on one level only, which often merges with the keys or Maj right.
Above the keyboard, we find four function keys that allow you to adjust the volume, activate or mute the microphone, and launch the Armoury Crate software. Very practical. The others are located on the f line and its activatable via the Fn command in a very classic way.
Note that the computer ignition button, located on the front, also serves as a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint sensor. Unfortunately, we have experienced some recognition concerns during our test. The key does not necessarily recognize the finger the first time and you have to insist or go through a PIN to unlock your PC faster. A concern that persisted after reconfiguration and that we found on several people.
The trackpad, relatively small given the size of the PC, reacts well to the user’s interactions. It will be enough for work, but for the game, plugging in a mouse or a controller will prove essential. Note that while Asus sometimes provides them in its ROG computers, this is not the case here.
Four speakers are present on the frame of the ordinateur. We find two under the keyboard, an unwise placement the sound being muffled if the PC is placed on an absorbent material, such as a tablecloth or duvet. The other two speakers on the front are correcting this problem by bringing a balance, despite a certain lack of power. The sound is pleasing to the ear without doing a miracle. Dolby software is pre-installed on the computer. We recommend leaving it on with the default settings, the sound is already perfectly balanced.
On the Zephyrus G14, Asus offers us a 14″ matte screen with thin edges of six millimeters. This allows it to gain even more size at the chassis, which is similar to that of a PC with 13″ screen. Our model is equipped with an IPS LCD slab with a definition of 2560 x 1440 pixels with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Asus offers several variations of its computer and it is quite possible to opt for a 1080p slab with a refresh rate 120 Hz.
The colors displayed on the screen sometimes leave to desired and we noticed a slightly low temperature. On a blank page, we see that the slab pulls very slightly towards the red. A data that can be adjusted via Armoury Crate software. The contrast is it from 1200: 1, which is very decent for a laptop. The maximum brightness is 350 cd/m2. Average score. In outdoor use with a little sun, visibility is compromised.
The big feature of the screen is not in the slab per se, since it is the absence of webcam. Asus has made the choice, to gain finesse at the edges, to do without this accessory outright. A weak point for a computer that is as well intended for leisure and work. Video meetings are therefore prohibited unless an external camera is available. The streamers, on the other hand, would not have been content with a webcam in 720p anyway. Overall, the Zephyrus G14’s screen remains very good, although we won’t be too good at going to a model with a 120 Hz slab for comfort in play.
Our test model features the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS processor with 8 cores, 16 threads and a bost frequency of up to 4.3 Ghz. In addition, 16GB of dual channel RAM (two 8GB RAM bars), a dedicated Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 MaxQ graphics card (6GB of VRAM) and a 512GB SSD. The AMD Ryzen 9 processor is a power monster, and allows the user to run all the most resource-intensive applications. In our benchmark tests, it placed slightly above the Intel Core i9-9980HK, one of the most powerful in the mobile PC market. At stake, the G14 is doing very well. We did a thirty-minute session on the game Gears Tactics, which uses the Unreal Engine 4, well optimized. With all the graphics options put to the maximum as well as the screen-adjusted definition (2560 x 1440 pixels), the game remained stable at 60 frames per second.
We did the same test on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, more resource-intensive. With the maximum graphics and the definition set in 2560 x 1440 pixels, we found an average of 48 frames per second over a long play session, which is average. By putting the game in 1080p, it rises to 56 frames per second.
Forza Horizon 4, under the same conditions (max graphics and native resolution) averaged 64 frames per second in the race, more than the screen can display. By putting the game in 1080p, you climb up to 71 frames per second. Good to know if you plan to connect your Zephyrus to an external screen with a higher refresh rate.
Finally, we did the test on a game much less greedy, namely Overwatch. Here we reach 87 frames per second with the graphics set to the maximum.
Note that the RTX 2060 graphics card supports ray-tracing compatible games, such as Battlefield V, Metro 2033 or even Control. However, it is not advisable to activate this option if it is present, since it drastically reduces the number of frames per second.
It was during the gaming sessions that we met the PC’s big weakness: its noise. When fans start blowing at their maximum power, they reach an average of 48 decibels, which is far too much (while the processor is at 74 degrees). A test conducted on performance mode in Armoury Crate, which relies on power. By choosing the mode Turbo, which seeks a better compromise between noise and heat, the processor rises to 84 degrees, while the noise peaks at 46 decibels.
If the user can overcome this aspect by putting a headset on the ears, his entourage should endure the dull and unpleasant breath of his play sessions. Finally, it should be noted that the PC releases heat on the lower edge of the screen and therefore does not bother the user, as we said above. Similarly, most of the heat is well concentrated at the back of the chassis and the place where the player’s left wrist (to the left of the trackpad) is placed on the right side of the game remains cool.
Autonomy and mobility
The Asus PC is designed for players, but still wants to bring an ultra-mobile dimension with its small chassis. On the scale, The computer is only 1.6 kilos, which is very light for a PC of this type (ultra-portables are usually between 1 and 1.4 kilos). It is also fine for its category, making no 18 mm thick. So it slips easily into a bag. But added to this 540 grams of food you will still have to take with you, as the PC is not focused on autonomy. When playing video on Netflix, it lasts just over four hours. We also carried out a more conventional test with office use and web browsing. Here, the result is more encouraging, since we had to plug in the power supply after 6 hours and 30 minutes of use. So it’s complicated to take the Zephyrus G14 a whole day by leaving the charger at home.
Finally, it should be noted that the Asus computer is not designed to be easy to upgrade. Once opened, we find that there is only one SSD location in M.2 format, already occupied by the SSD 512GB installed by default. However, it is possible to recall this. Similarly, a single 8GB RAM bar can be changed out of the 16GB in total, the other being welded to the motherboard, which is a shame. This will require keeping this starting configuration for the entire life of the computer.