We’ve talked about the mid-2019 lineup of Asus ROG Zephyrus gaming ultraportables in several previous articles, and in this one, we’ll further take an in-depth look at the Zephyrus G GA502 subseries.
The Zephyrus G GA502 sits at the bottom of the line, beneath the Zephyrus S GX502 and Zephyrus M GU502 variants we’ve previously reviewed, as still a compact and light gaming ultraportable with similar design lines and particularities, but quite a few differences compared to the other variants: a mostly plastic construction, a 120 Hz screen, a hardware platform based on an AMD CPU and a lower power version (formerly known as Max-Q) of the Nvidia GTX 1660Ti GPU, a white backlit keyboard and a slower 1×1 wireless implementation, among others.
Of course, the Zephyrus G GA502DU has a significantly lower MSRP price in order to justify these cutbacks, starting at around $1100 at the time of this article, and after spending the last few weeks with it and analyzing the alternatives available out there, I know that this could be a good pick for those of you looking for a good balance between portability, performance, and price. However, if portability is not at the top of your list, there are better options in this budget, and will explain why in the article down below, where I’ve gathered my impressions of the ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU, with the strong points and the quirks.
The specs sheet as reviewed
|Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU-PB73 |
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 120 Hz, matte, Panda LM156LF-GL panel|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, quad-core|
|Video||Radeon RX Vega 10 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti 6GB 60W (GeForce 431.36)|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 2666 MHz (8 GB soldered, 1x DIMMs – up to 24 GB)|
|Storage||512 GB SSD (M.2 80 mm PCIe x2 – Intel 660p SSDPEKNW512G8) + 1 extra M.2 80 mm slot|
|Connectivity||Realtek 8821CE AC 1×1 WiFi with Bluetooth 5.0, Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit LAN|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2, 1x USB-C gen 2 with DP, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||76 Wh, 180 W power adapter|
|Size||360 mm or 14.17” (w) x 252 mm or 9.92” (d) x 20.4 mm or .79” (h)|
|Weight||2.08 kg (4.58 lb), .56 kg (1.23 lbs) power brick and cables, EU version|
|Extras||white backlit keyboard with per-key control, 2x bottom stereo speakers, FHD external webcam|
Our review unit was offered by Asus for the purpose of this review and is a final unit, identical to the ones available in retail, however, those might get different amounts of memory and storage. All of them are however based on the AMD Ryzen R7 3750H + Nvidia GTX 1660Ti 60W hardware, just as our unit.
Design and exterior
As mentioned earlier, the Zephyrus G maintains the design lines of the higher-tier Zephyrus M and S models. In fact, from the outside, it looks just the same, as it gets the same brushed-aluminum lid with the panel-lit ROG logo and boxy shape. On the inside, though, the magnesium main-deck has been replaced with a plastic shell, and plastic is also used for the underbelly.
It’s a good quality plastic, though, with a matte rugged texture, and the construction doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy in any way, even if the chassis bends a little easier when pressing hard in the middle of the keyboard deck. The plastic does show smudges easier than the magnesium finishing on the M and S lines, so you’ll have to wipe it clean more often. That aside, though, the interior keeps the rectangular shape with tapered edges and the annoying status LEDs and always-lit power button placed beneath the screen, but unlike the other variants, there’s an air-intake grill at the top of the keyboard, which suggests a redesigned thermal module, and we’ll get to talk about it in a further section.
As far as practicality goes, this Zephyrus G is still one of the sturdier units in its class, as well as one of the most compact and lightest, at just over 4.5 lbs, so it can be an excellent option for those interested in lugging their laptop to school or work every day. I still suggest using a protective sleeve though, as the lid is not as strong as the main chassis. Pressing on it doesn’t push ripples into the panel, but I’d rather be extra careful in order to prevent surprises.
Despite its compact form-factor, the laptop still gets a properly sized armrest and the blunt lips and corners make it comfortable to use every day. My only complaint is with the screen’s limited back angle, of about 120-130 degrees, which limits usability on the lap or in other cramped spaces. The hinges are otherwise well made, sturdy enough to keep the screen as set-up, but also smooth enough to allow to lift-up the screen and adjust it with a single hand.
As far as the IO goes, the Zephyrus G GA502 inherits it from the other lineups, with 3x USB-A slots, one USB-C with DP, HDMI and LAN, with most of the ports lined up on the left edge. There’s no Thunderbolt 3 support (of course, given that this is an AMD-powered laptop) or card-reader, and USB-C charging is not supported on this model, something you’ll get with the Zephyrus M and S variants.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is another aspect shared between the mid-2019 Zephyrus lineups, however, the G only gets white backlighting and not the per-key RGB illumination from the M and S models. You can still choose between three intensity levels and the LEDs get quite bright at the higher setting, but at the same time, there’s a fair bit of light creeping from beneath the keycaps with this implementation, noticeable from a standard use angle.
That aside, though, this still gets a pretty good layout and it’s a quick and friendly typer.
The main deck consists of properly spaced and sized 15 x 15 mm keys, slightly smaller function keys at the top and rather small arrows, slightly spaced out from the keys around. There’s also an extra column of Function keys at the right, again spaced out from the main deck, as well as some multimedia keys at the top that allow to quickly adjust the volume, control the microphone and launch Armoury Crate.
This is nonetheless a fairly shallow keyboard with low-travel keys, something I’m accustomed to coming from an ultraportable, but at the same time, something those of you coming from older laptops or from a desktop keyboard will need to adapt to. Once you do, you’ll find this to be a quick typer, but fairly unforgiving. As far as I know, the keyboard is identical between the Zephyrus models, but for some reason, it actually felt even mushier on this unit and my accuracy struggled more here, barely poking above 90% at fast speeds, so perhaps there’s a level of variation between implementations.
Bottom point, this is a decent typer and in line with what you should expect from a thin laptop these days. It’s also fairly quiet, except for the rather squeaky space key.
The clickpad is an averagely sized smooth plastic surface, with Elan hardware and Precision drivers, just like on the other Zephyrus lines. It performs well with everyday use, taps and gestures, but you might want to increase the sensitivity from the settings, I found it a bit slow out-of-the-box. Its texture is also not as glidy as the glass implementations out there, but that didn’t bother me in any way. I also haven’t noticed any sluggishness, stuttering, skipping or other issues during my time with the laptop, but make sure to give yours a proper test, Asus have had issues with Elan touchpads in the past.
The clicks are integrated within the surface and they’re clicky, and not as clunky and loud on this sample as on the GX502 tested in the past. The surface still rattles when tapped firmer on the bottom half, but again not as much as on the GX502, which suggests a degree of QC randomness in this segment as well.
Lastly, I’ll add that there are not biometrics on this laptop.
This is where the Zephyrus G GA502DU falls behind the M and S variants. It still gets a 15.6-inch matte IPS panel, but a lower quality Panda LM156LF-GL model, with poorer brightness, contrast and color reproduction, as well as slower response time and a refresh rate of only 120 Hz.
It’s also worth adding that Asus offers the Zephyrus G GA502 with an FHD 60 Hz screen in some regions, on the base-level configurations, which is even dimmer, as you can see from this article.
Back to the 120 Hz panel, in all fairness, you’re not going to notice the drop from 144 to 120 Hz, but competitive gamers will notice the reduced response time, while regular users will notice the middling max brightness when using the laptop outdoors or in other bright environments, as well as the limited gamut coverage. At 250 nits, though, this panel is good enough for indoor use, but the 51% AdobeRGB coverage is barely OK for daily use in this day and age and definitely not optimal for those interested in performing any sort of color-calibrated work.
Here’s what we got on our unit, with our Spyder4 sensor:
- Panel Hardware ID: Panda LM156LF-GL;
- Coverage: 68% sRGB, 49% NTSC, 51% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 252 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 770:1;
- White point: 7600 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.33 cd/m2;
- PWM: No;
- Response time: 3 ms advertised, ~27 ms BTW.
The panel can use some calibration out of the box, and you can do it yourselves or use our profile over here to address the White Point and gray-levels imbalances.
We’ve only got a small degree of light-bleeding on our sample, but make sure to look for it on your unit, this is a random issue that affects most modern laptops these days in different amounts. The sensor did spot a significant drop in brightness in the bottom mid part of the panel, yet it’s not something I could notice with the naked eye, not even when watching movies in ultra-wide formats flanked by black bars.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a higher-end configuration of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU, with the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor, 16 GB of DRR4 2666 MHz RAM (8 GB soldered, and an extra 8 GB DIMM) in dual channel, a single Intel 660p M.2 PCIe SSD and dual graphics, with the 60W version of the Nvidia GTX 1660Ti graphics chip alongside the AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 chip within the CPU.
The Ryzen 7 3750H is a quad-core eight-thread CPU with a max TDP of 35 W, Turbo Boost speeds of up to 4.0 GHz and the ability to clock down with basic chores in order to save on battery. It’s been implemented on a handfull of mid and lower-tier gaming laptops in recent months, and it’s a decent performer. In very few words, this is a proper alternative for the Core i5 8300H/9300H CPUs in Intel’s camp, with some benefits in intensive loads and drawbacks with gaming, but it can’t match the performance of the modern six-core i7s. This AMD CPU is also highly dependant on fast dual-channel memory, so keep in mind that you’ll absolutely have to put a stick in that available DIMM slot if you opt to get a configuration with just 8 GB of RAM out-of-the-box.
As far as the GPU comes, the GA502 gets a snipped version of the 1660Ti chip, with a TDP of 60 W and reduced speeds and performance when compared to the standard 80W 1660Ti variant available in the Zephyrus M GU502 and many other 15-inch laptops in the $1000-$1400 price range. We’ll get to talk about both the CPU’s and GPU’s performance in a bit.
In the meantime, I’ll also add that the included SSD will most likely differ from region to region, but the Intel 660p on our sample is a rather slow QLC SSD. However, while I complained about it on the Zephyrus M, it’s not a bad option at this lower price-point, although you will find faster drives with some of the other full-size alternatives. There are two M.2 slots inside, and they share a PCIe x4 connection, so although PCIe x4 SSDs are compatible, they’re not going to run at full speed on this laptop.
Getting to the components is fairly easy, as the laptop opens from underneath and the bottom panel is held in place by a handful of Phillips screws, all clearly visible. Inside you’ll find the single RAM slot, the two SSD slots, the battery, speakers and a simpler thermal module than on the 1660Ti Zephyrus M.
Before we proceed to talk about our review unit’s behavior and performance you should know that it is a production model with mature drivers from Nvidia (GeForce 431.36).
While Asus advertises the ROG Zephyrus G as an ultra-slim gaming laptop, I for one rather consider it a well-balanced allrounder with gaming abilities, good enough for mundane tasks like browsing and text-editing and streaming video, but also capable enough to tackle most recent games at the end of the school//work day.
We’ll get to gaming down below, but first, you should know that this handles everyday chores smoothly, while running coolly and quietly. Asus offers three power profiles in the Armoury Crate app: Silent, Balanced and Turbo. You can keep the laptop on Silent with basic use, but that limits the performance, so you’ll most likely want to switch to Balance for everyday multitasking, or Turbo for demanding loads and games. The logs below show what to expect in terms of performance and inner temperatures with everyday tasks.
On to more demanding tasks, we’ll start by testing the CPU’s performance in 100% loads, and we do that by running Cinebench R15 for 10+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run. We’ve tested our sample on Balanced and Turbo, since Silent caps the performance and favors low noise levels instead.
However, unlike with the Intel-based models reviewed in the past, switching between these two modes didn’t have any impact on the CPU’s performance in the Cinebench loop test. The Ryzen 7 3750H processor settled for clock speeds of 3.7+ GHz, temperatures of around 86-88 degrees Celsius and scores of 770+ points, with a reported TDP of 18.5 W. That’s most likely an error with Hwinfo though, as its exactly half the designed 35 W TDP.
There are no methods of undervolting or tweaking this CPU, at least none that I know of, so we had to settle with what we could get with out-of-the-box settings.
On battery, our sample returned better performance than other R7 3750H laptops tested in the past. On Balanced, as Turbo is disabled on battery, the CPU stabilizes at 3.1+ GHz, which translates in scores of 630+ points and temperatures of around 62-64 degrees Celsius.
Next, we’ve included a set of benchmarks, for those of you interested in numbers. We ran them on the default Turbo profile first, and here’s what we got:
- 3DMark 11: 13553 (Graphics – 17618, Physics – 8160);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 10995 (Graphics – 13060, Physics – 11502);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 4729 (Graphics – 4990, CPU – 3651);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 2829;
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 4151, Multi-core: 14300;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 779 cb, CPU Single Core 147 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 1750 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 154.34 fps, Pass 2 –46.58 fps.
We also ran a few more tests on what we’ll further call the OC profile, with the CPU on Turbo and default settings, but the GPU overclocked in the Asus GPU Tweak II app at +150 MHz Core and + 1000 MHz memory (further OC lead to instability).
Here’s what we got in this case:
- 3DMark 11: 13585 (Graphics – 17750, Physics – 8161);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 10998 (Graphics – 13214, Physics – 11358;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 4713 (Graphics – 5016, CPU – 3513);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 2878;
- PCMark 10: 4217 (Essentials – 7322, Productivity – 5644, Digital Content Creation – 4925);
- PassMark: Rating: 3735, CPU mark: 9414, 3D Graphics Mark: 7966.
As expected, the OC profile doesn’t have any impact on the CPU results, but it doesn’t affect the GPU scores in a significant way either, which most likely means that the GPU is already tweaked to deliver as much as possible within its 60 W TDP limits. Comparing the results above with those of the Asus TUF FX705 (R7 3750 + 1660Ti 80W), you’ll see that the Zephyrus G comes close to the out-of-the-box performance of the TUF, but then the TUF can be further overclocked and ends up scoring 15-20% better in 3Dmark scores and in actual games.
Given this behavior and the lack of CPU undervolting options, the OC profile doesn’t have any significant impact over the CPU/GPU temperatures in demanding loads, as you can see in the following 3DMark logs, as well as down below, in the gaming performance section.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some gaming results. We ran a couple of games representative for DX11 and DX12 architectures on the Standard Turbo profile, as well as on the OC Turbo profile (with the overclocked GPU). Here’s what we got:
|FHD Turbo||FHD Turbo OC||FHD Balanced OC||FHD Silent OC|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||66-72 fps||64-72 fps||62-72 fps||38-50 fps|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||63 fps||64 fps||60 fps||36 fps|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||83 fps||86 fps||79 fps||66 fps|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||57 fps||59 fps||54 fps||48 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||53 fps||53 fps||52 fps||41 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||48-72 fps||50-74 fps||46-72 fps||38-52 fps|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities.
We also ran the same titles on an external 4K monitor, hooked up to the laptop via the HDMI 2.0 port. This section of our reviews and is sponsored by Acer, who supplied us with their Nitro XV273K 4K 144 Hz gaming monitor (follow this link for more details).
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Medium Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||30-38 fps|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Normal Preset, SMAA)||27 fps|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Medium Preset)||47 fps|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Medium Preset, FXAA)||23 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Medium Preset, SMAA)||24 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Medium Preset, Hairworks Low – 0)||28-33 fps|
It comes to no surprise that gaming at 4K is not really possible with this kind of hardware, unless you’re running an older title and willing to sacrifice on the graphics details.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Battlefield V and Witcher 3 on the Default Turbo profile, which keeps the fans running at 6500+ rpm and noise levels of 48-49 dB at head level on our review unit.
As already explained above, overclocking the GPU has a minor impact on the GPU’s average clock speed, allowing it to run at an average of 50-80 MHz higher in most titles, with a slight increase in CPU and GPU temperatures.
Switching to Balanced has no impact over the fans and only causes a slight drop in GPU speed and temperature, so I don’t see why you’d want to opt for this mode here.
On Silent, the fans keep at about 36 dB, which makes them barely audible even in a quiet room. However, while gaming on the Silent profile is possible, it’s at reduced performance, as both the CPU and GPU clock to lower frequencies (1.4 GHz – CPU, 1.25 GHz GPU in Witcher 3), and with increased interior and exterior temperatures, so it’s not something we’d recommend.
Gaming on battery is possible though, as both the CPU and GPU run fairly well in this case, but the GPU is limited at 30W and you won’t be able to do game for more than an hour and a half, though.
In conclusion, this AMD/Nvidia based platform can still run most games and doesn’t get extremely noisy, but the inner components do reach high temperatures, with the CPU averaging 86-88 degrees C in the tested titles, and the GPU averaging 78-82 degrees C.
Now, in order to draw final conclusions on this notebook’s gaming abilities, we will compare our results with some of the same-class models with GTX 1660Ti graphics we’ve tested earlier. Down below I’ve added the Acer Nitro 5 17, the Asus Zephyrus M GU502 and the MSI GL63, all based on a Core i7/1660Ti 80 W platform, as well as the Asus TUF Gaming FX705 built on an R7 3750/1660Ti 80W hardware.
|Zephyrus G GA502||FX705DU Tweaked||Zephyrus M GU502||Nitro 5 Tweaked||GL63 Tweaked|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||66-72 fps||68-90 fps||76-92 fps||82-94 fps||78-94 fps|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||64 fps||75 fps||83 fps||86 fps||89 fps|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||86 fps||112 fps||141 fps||156 fps||115 fps|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||59 fps||59 fps||75 fps||82 fps||59 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||53 fps||61 fps||68 fps||75 fps||74 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||52-72 fps||52-84 fps||68-96 fps||56-84 fps||58-88 fps|
And here’s how these compare in terms of speeds and temperatures in Witcher 3, all on the Tweaked profiles.
- ROG Zephyrus G GA502 – Tweaked profile (standard CPU – Turbo mode, GPU +150 MHz Clock/ +1000 MHz Memory, fans – 48-49 dB): CPU: ~3.5 GHz, 87 C; GPU: ~1.41 GHz, 80 C.
- TUF FX705 – Tweaked profile (standard CPU – Turbo mode, GPU +150 MHz Clock/ +1000 MHz Memory, fans – 46-47 dB): CPU: ~3.8 GHz, 88 C; GPU: ~1.74 GHz, 84 C.
- Nitro 5 – Tweaked profile (-150 mV undervolted CPU, GPU +200 MHz Clock/ +1000 MHz Memory, fans – 52-53 dB): CPU: ~3.9 GHz, 82 C; GPU: ~1.76 GHz, 71 C.
- ROG Zephyrus M GU502 – Tweaked profile (-50 mV undervolted CPU, GPU +200 MHz Clock/ +1000 MHz Memory, fans – 6400+ rpm, 52-53 dB): CPU: ~4.0 GHz, 82 C; GPU: ~1.74 GHz, 72 C.
- GL63 – OC Profile with CoolerBoost (Turbo Shift, -150 mV undervolted CPU, GPU, +200 MHz Clock/ +350 MHz Memory, fans – 50-52 dB): CPU: ~3.9 GHz, 69 C; GPU: ~1.9 GHz, 65 C.
In conclusion, the ROG Zephyrus G GA502 runs fairly hot, both on the inside and on the outside, as you’ll actually see down below as well, and falls short of most other 1660Ti implementations on the market, due to the fact that it bundles a 60W Max-Q variant of that chip and the lack of CPU undervolting and tweaking options, unlike what’s available with the Intel options.
Potential buyers should consider whether this sacrifice in performance is worth it for the lower price and the portable form-factor. If you don’t need both, then something like the Acer Nitro 5 and Asus TUF FX505 built on the same Ryzen platform and 1660Ti 80W graphics might be the better deal here, while if budget is not a limitation, there are definitely better options for you out there.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
This ROG Zephyrus G GA502 gets a more basic thermal module than the ones on the M and S variants, which I totally expected from a lower-priced unit and explains the thermal findings in the previous section.
One other explanation would be the fact that the grills on top of the fans were covered on our sample, unlike on the Zephyrus M and G which kept them open, and while that prevents dust from gathering into the blades, I’m pretty sure also has an impact on the thermals. I don’t know if that’s the case with all units or it’s just a culprit of ours. The fans seem to be the same and have dust-busting channels, just like on the other Zephyrus models, so I can’t explain why Asus went with this approach, but I’m curious on the impact of removing that cover in order to allow air to get inside.
The chassis gets fairly hot with games as well, not just the components inside, with several parts reaching temperatures in the mid-50s, and the WASD keys averaging a barely comfortable 40+ C. The fans spin fairly loudly as well, at 48-49 dB at head-level, although not as loud as on the Zephyrus M and most of the other laptops out there. Even if a few dB quieter, you’ll still need headphones to cover them up.
Switching to Balanced doesn’t have any impact on the fans’ behavior, unlike on the Zephyrus M and S models, and while on Silent they’re barely audible at 36-38 dB, gaming on Silent is not really an option, as it leads to decreased performance and even higher inner and outer shell temperatures.
The laptop runs quietly with daily use as well, both on the Silent and the Balanced profiles. The fans remain active all the time, but spin quietly at around 33-35 dB at head-level (30 dB ambient noise level in a quiet room), which only makes them audible in a completely silent environment. We haven’t noticed any electronic noise on our sample, yet that’s not a guarantee you won’t encounter any on yours.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, fans at 36-38 dB
*Load Tweaked Turbo– playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 6500+ rpm, 48-49 dB
*Load Tweaked Silent – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 3700+ rpm, 36-38 dB
For connectivity, there’s Gigabit Lan and Wireless AC through Realtek chips on this laptop, as well as Bluetooth 5.0. We’ve mostly used our sample on wireless, and Asus went with a basic 1×1 implementation that results in much lower performance than on the standard 2019 gaming notebook, both near the router and at 30+ feet. We didn’t run into any drop or sluggishness, but if you need fast transfer speeds or a large coverage, this is not going to be the laptop for you.
The speakers on this unit seem identical to the ones on the other Zephyrus models; there’s a set of them firing through cuts on the lateral sides of the underbelly, and they’re about average in quality. This time around we were able to install the Audio Wizard app on this laptop and we measured maximum volumes of around 86-88 dB, much punchier than on the M and S. The sound still lacked bass, but it’s otherwise pretty good and loud, although you’ll most likely want to lower the volume in order to limit distortions and the vibrations that are being sent into the chassis at high levels.
There’s no internal webcam on the Zephyrus G GA502, instead, Asus bundles an external FHD webcam instead (in some regions, not everywhere), which offers better image quality. You do get a pair of microphones just beneath the screen.
The Zephyrus G gets the same 76 Wh from the Zephyrus M and S models, which is actually larger than what’s available on most other laptops in the $1200 price segment, so it can deliver decent battery life, since Optimus is part of the mix.
Here’s what we got on our sample, with the screen set at 50%, roughly 120-nits of brightness.
- 11.5 W (~6 h 30 min of use) – text editing in Google Drive in Firefox, Silent Power Profile, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.5 W (~6 h of use) – 1080p Youtube fullscreen in Edge, Silent Power Profile, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.5 W (~6 h 30 min of use) – 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Edge, Silent Power Profile, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 23 W (~3 h 30 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced Power Profile, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 58 W (~1 h 15 min of use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, Balanced Power Profile, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON.
Asus pairs this configuration with a 180 Wh power brick. It’s averagely sized and weighs around 1.23 lbs (.56 kg) for the European version, including cables. The laptop charges slowly though, with a full charge taking around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
A particularity of the Zephyrus models is their ability to charge via USB-C, but that’s not supported by the Zephyrus G as well, I’ve tested with a power bank and a 65W USB-C charger.
Price and availability
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 is already available in stores around the world in the GA502DU variant reviewed here, with the Ryzen 7 3750H processor, Nvidia GTX 1660Ti 60 W GPU, 8 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD and the 120Hz screen, with an MSRP of $1099 in the US, 1200 GBP in the UK and around 1400 EUR in Europe. A 16 GB variant is also available for 100 USD/EUR more.
The US and UK pricing is competitive, but keep in mind that the base variant comes with single-channel memory and you’ll absolutely need to add an extra stick of RAM to match the performance in this review.
Follow this link for updated prices and configurations at the time you’re reading the article.
Vs the Competition
While that’s a topic we’ll mostly cover in another article, let’s quickly touch on the competition here as well.
As already mentioned several times throughout this article, with this laptop you’re sacrificing on performance and some features (RGB keyboard, fast wireless, 144 Hz screen) for a compact and light form-factor at an affordable price, and that means you’ll find better devices in the same price-point if you’re willing to look at something a little larger and perhaps not as nicely built.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 and the Lenovo Legion Y540 come to mind as the slightly higher priced alternatives, all built on Intel 9th gen i7s and GTX 1660Ti 80W platforms and with better quality 144 Hz screens, but heavier and with smaller batteries.
On the other hand, the Asus TUF Gaming FX505 and the Acer Nitro 5 are options that sell for less and still outmatch the Zephyrus G in terms of performance, but lose some points in the build, battery life, keyboard and screen departments.
On that note, the Zephyrus G GA502 is a competent multi-purpose laptop. At roughly $1200, it’s compact and light and fast enough for daily chores and some gaming, lasts longer than the competition on a charge and is arguably the nicer looking and the nicer made option in its price-segment, despite the fact that it drops the fancy craftsmanship details on the higher-tier Zephyrus lineups.
Even so, there’s no doubt you’re going to sacrifice on the screen quality and performance compared to other laptops in the same price-segment, and you’d be lacking features that you might want, like an RGB keyboard, fast wireless or an SD card-reader, among others.
That wraps up our review of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G Ga502DU, but the comments section below awaits your feedback, impressions, and questions, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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