Last year Asus launched the ROG Zephyrus M16 series as an Intel-exclusive thin-and-light all-purpose laptop with a 16-inch 16:10 display.
It shared many traits with the popular Zephyrus G15 lineup, but the Intel Tiger Lake hardware did not impress in either performance or efficiency, and that eventually hindered the M16’s popularity in 2021.
This year, the 2022 M16 has been updated with the more versatile Alder Lake Intel 12th gen hardware and more powerful and more capable RTX 3070Ti and 3080Ti graphics, as well as received a few other minor changes such as improved chassis strength and an updated camera with IR.
I’ve spent the last few weeks with the 2022 ROG Zephyrus M16, in what’s arguably the best-value configuration with the Core i9 processors and the RTX 3070Ti dGPU, and down below I’ve gathered all my thoughts and impressions on this series, aspects that potential users should be aware off before taking the plunge on this one.
Specs sheet as reviewed
||2022 ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603ZW
||16-inch, 16:10, non-touch, matte, AU Optronics B160QAN02.Q panel
QHD 2560 x 1600 px IPS, 165 Hz with 100% DCI-P3
||Intel 12th gen Alder Lake, up to Core i9-12900H, 6C+8c/20T
||Intel UHD + Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070Ti Laptop 8GB (up to 120W with Dynamic Boost)
with MUX and Adaptive Sync (no GSync on internal display)
||32 GB DDR5-4800 (16 GB onboard, 1x DIMM, up to 48 GB)
||2 TB SSD (Samsung PM9A1) – 2x M.2 PCI 4.0 x4 slots
||WiFi 6E (Intel AX211) 2×2 with Bluetooth 5.2, 2.5Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8125)
||2x USB-A 3.2 gen1, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone&mic, microSD card reader, Lock
1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 (via iGPU), 1x USB-C gen2 with data and video (via dGPU), but no charging
||90Wh, 240 W power adapter + USB-C charging up to 100W
||355 mm or 13.98” (w) x 243 mm or 9.57″ (d) x 19.9 mm or .78” (h)
||2.03 kg (4.47 lbs), .71 kg (1.56 lbs) power brick and cables, EU version
||single-zone RGB backlit keyboard, 6x speakers, HD IR webcam, no longer a finger-sensor in the power button
This is the better-value Zephryus M16 configuration available for 2022, pairing the Core i9 processor with the RTX 3070Ti and the QHD+ screen. Here are all the 2022 options:
- Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603ZX – Core i9, RTX 3080Ti 16GB 120W, 32 GB RAM (16 GB onboard), 1-2 TB SSD, QHD+ screen;
- Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603ZW – Core i9, RTX 3070Ti 8GB 120W, 16 or 32 GB RAM (8 or 16 GB onboard), 1 TB SSD, QHD+ screen;
- Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603ZM – Core i7 or i9, RTX 3060 8GB 120W, 16 GB RAM (8 GB onboard), 1 TB SSD, QHD+ or FHD+ screen;
- Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603ZE – Core i7 or i9, RTX 3050Ti 4GB 100W, 16 GB RAM (8 GB onboard), 1 TB SSD, QHD+ or FHD+ screen.
I might follow up with reviews of other GPU configurations in the next couple of weeks, if there’s enough interest.
Design and construction
The overall design and build of the M16 series haven’t changed from the original release, so I’ll point you towards my review from 2021 for my in-depth impressions of how this feels with everyday use.
In a few words, though, this is still a 16-inch chassis with an all-metal black design and a total weight of around 2 kilos.
The compact format is showcased by the tiny bezels around the display, with a barely noticeable chin and enough space at the top for a camera and microphones. This sort of screen-to-body ratio gives the laptop an exquisite feel, but it does come with a significant drawback, as a result of how this computer is designed: the hot air blows straight into the screen, causing the panel to reach high temperatures in the 50s Celsius. We’ll further touch on this in the Cooling section down below.
My other complaints with this Zephyrus lineup are the fact that the black materials are prone to showing smudges and fingerprints, the fact that the status LEDs are oversized and reflect into the bottom part of the display, as well as the fact that the majority of ports are squeezed together on the left-edge, towards the front of the laptop. Once more, this is a side-effect of the Ergolift hinge design, which leaves no room for ports on the back edge.
On the other hand, I like the way the laptop looks with its muted black lines and how the materials feel to the touch, especially since Asus have improved the chassis’ strength and addressed the squeaky noises that I experienced with the previous Zephyrus generation, both when picking up the laptop or on placing my hands over the arm-rest.
At the same time, the Ergolift hinge design does push up the laptop and allows for improved airflow into the fans, and I appreciate the laptop’s good stability on a desk, even when sitting on its small rubber feet at the bottom of the screen. I also find the front lip and corners comfortable on the wrists.
Speaking of the screen, it can be easily picked up and adjusted with a single hand, and the design allows it to lean back flat to 180 degrees, resulting in excellent ergonomics in a multitude of situations.
Furthermore, I’ll have to once more acknowledge the awesome 16:10 display on this laptop, paired with excellent inputs and punchy audio through the 6x speaker system. We’ll further cover all these down below.
As for that IO, there’s pretty much everything you’ll need here, except for perhaps a full-size card reader, as the M16 only gets a micro SD card slot. Yes, the ports are mostly squeezed on the left edge, which means cables can clog up if you opt to hook-up multiple peripherals, but if you can look past this aspect, this laptop offers a functional set of ports.
As a novelty for this generation, the HDMI port hooks up into the Nvidia dGPU, and both the USB-C ports offer video output. The Thunderbolt 4 port is connected to the Intel iGPU, and allows for potential better runtimes when using the laptop on battery, while the other USB-C port hooks into the Nvidia dGPU and is the ideal option for connecting an external monitor, especially since the HDMI port is still only 2.0b, and not 2.1. The laptop can also be charged via the USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port.
All in all, the Zephyrus M16 has a lot of the right things going for it, but I will still complain about the overall Ergolit design idea on a compact performance laptop such as this one, as it causes the hot air to blow into the display and does not allow for ports to be placed on the back edge. I’d much preffer a more classic approach for this kind of a laptop, closer to the ROG Zephyrus M15 from 2020 and what the competition offer with the likes of the Gigabyte Aero 16, Razer Blade, or the Lenovo Legion Slim lineups.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Zephyrus M16 offers very good inputs, on par with the other ROG modern series, with a slight exception.
The layout is standard and minimalistic, without a NumPad or even an extra column of Function keys at the right, unlike on the older Zephyrus M15/S15 models. That’s because the space around the keyboard is reserved for the speakers on this series. You do get a set of media keys at the top-left, though, and Home/End/PgUp/PgDn functionality is binned as secondaries for the arrow keys. There’s also no dedicated PrintScreen key on this layout.
The keycaps do feel smooth and comfortable to the touch, and overall this is one of the better typers in its class, with quiet and fast actuations, and a well-balanced feedback.
The RGB control is that exception I was mentioning earlier, as Asus only implement single-zone RGB control here, and not per-key as on their other recent high-tier products.
The keys are averagely bright and mostly uniformly lit, but a lot of light creeps out from underneath the keycaps, something you will notice during casual use at night, especially since some of it also reflects into the screen. Somehow, this keyboard implementation is a little different than on the 2021 M16 I’ve reviewed in the past, which at the time came with a dimmer keyboard and without the same kind of pronounced light creep.
For mouse, the M16 offers a large glass clickpad with precision drivers, pretty much what Asus puts on all their Zephyrus notebooks these days. It’s spacious, smooth to the touch, and accurate. Furthermore, the surface doesn’t rattle with casual taps and even the physical presses are smooth and quiet, unlike on the previous generation.
For the biometrics, there’s now IR support with Hello included with the main camera at the top of the screen, but there’s no longer a finger-sensor integrated within the power button. For some reason, Asus ditched the fingerprint reader on all their 2022 Zephyrus models, despite the fact that they offered it with the 2021 models – I would have preferred if both IR and fingerprint would have been offered.
There’s a 16-inch 16:10 matte display on the Zephyrus M16 series, with options for either a 1600p or a 1080p panel. The majority of the 2022 Zephyrus M16 configurations are going to be offered with the 1600p “ROG Nebula” branded panel, which we also have on this review unit.
This is excellent for daily and professional use with the 500-nits of peak brightness and nearly 100% DCI-P3 color coverage. The black levels are only about average, though, and the contrast is only around 1150:1 to 1300:1 between the different brightness levels. The panel doesn’t get very dim either at the lowest brightness setting, which some of you that are using your devices in pitch black rooms might not appreciate. At least you don’t have to worry about PWM or flickering.
Other than that, this is one of the better laptop screens out there. It’s also ideal for gaming, with the fast refresh rate and response times, even if there’s only Adaptive Sync implemented to prevent tearing, and not GSync.
Here’s what we got in our tests of this QHD panel, with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUOC199 (B160QAN02.Q);
- Coverage: 99.8% sRGB, 85.2% AdobeRGB, 98.9% DCI-P3;
- Type: 8-bit SDR, with Dolby Vision support;
- Measured gamma: 2.14;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 505.80 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 28.37 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1145:1;
- White point: 6800 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.44 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
- Response: ~5ms GtG.
The panel comes well pre-calibrated out of the box, with a Pantone certification, and there’s little to improve on the Gamma and White Point from the default profile. We also measured good luminosity uniformity levels on our sample and little light bleeding.
However, we got some serious DeltaE color variations across the different quadrants, especially in the top-right corner. This will most likely vary between units, so I’d make sure to test for any issues with your unit, especially if you plan to use this for color-accurate work.
Update: Some buyers are reporting stuck/dead pixels on this display. Mine is OK, but make sure to properly check yours for any, and make sure to get this laptop from places that allow returns, just in case you end up with a dud. Looks like the QC is problematic with this panel, at least with the first batches that are shipping as of March 2022.
That aside, I’ll also add that an FHD+ (WUXGA) 144Hz panel option will also be available for the lower-tier M16 2022 configurations, with 3050Ti and 3060 graphics. This panel is about 300-nits of brightness and 100% sRGB color coverage, but still a fair daily-use option with good gaming capabilities.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a higher-specced configuration of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16, code name GU603ZW, built on an Intel Core i9-12900H processor, 32 GB of DDR5-4800 memory in dual channel, 2 TB of very fast SSD storage, and dual graphics: the Nvidia RTX 3070Ti dGPU with 8 GB of vRAM and the Iris Xe iGPU integrated within the Intel processor.
Disclaimer: Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit was sent over by Asus and it runs on the software available as of mid-March 2022 (BIOS 308, Armoury Crate 18.104.22.168, GeForce 511.79 drivers). Some aspects might change with later software.
Spec-wise, the 2022 ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is built on the latest Intel and Nvidia hardware available to date. The Core i9-12900H is an Intel Alder Lake 12th-gen processor, with 14 Cores and 20 Threads. It is a hybrid design with 6 High-Performance HyperThreaded Cores and 8 extra Efficiency cores, working together or separate based on demand. The design of this Zephyrus M16 allows the processor to run at up to 90W of sustained power in demanding CPU loads, on the Turbo profile.
For the GPU, the 2022 M16 series is available with RTX 3000 and RTX 3000 Ti graphics chips. What we have on this sample is the RTX 3070Ti running at up to 120W with Dynamic Boost in supported games and applications.
For the RAM and storage options, the laptop still comes with partially soldered memory, 16 GB on the higher tier models and only 8 GB on the lower tier configurations, plus an extra DDR5 DIMM slot. That means 32 GB of memory is only possible on some of the 3070 and 3080 class configurations, and there are no options for 64 GB configurations.
The storage slots are both PCI gen4 and our unit shipped with a fast high-tier Samsung PM9A1 SSD – there’s no guarantee that’s what you’ll be getting with the retail units, though.
Accessing the components requires popping up the back panel, which is held in place by a couple of Philips screws. Careful that they’re of different sizes, and the three of them in the middle of the laptop are hidden under rubber caps. Inside you’ll find the 2x SSD and the single RAM slot, the wifi module, the thermal module, the 90W battery, and the audio system. Everything is packed up tightly, making good use of the limited space.
Specs aside, Asus offer the standard four power profiles in the Armoury Crate control app for this laptop: Silent, Performance, Turbo, and Manual, with various power settings and fan profiles between them:
- Silent – quite fan-noise at under 35 dB, limited CPU/GPU speeds and power;
- Performance – balanced profile with stock CPU/GPU settings and 46 dB max fan noise, 110W combined CPU + GPU package power;
- Turbo – High-Performance profile with increased CPU power allocation, faster-spinning fans at up to 52 dB, and overclocked GPU (+50 MHz Core/+100 MHz Memory, up to 120W TGP), 140W combined CPU+GPU package power.
- Manual – like Turbo, but with the ability to custom tweak the CPU’s PL1/PL2 power levels and GPU’s power/clocks, plus create custom fan profiles based on temperature limits.
Turbo is only available with the laptop plugged into the wall and is meant for gaming and other demanding loads. Performance is a jack-of-all-trades, while Silent is made for light daily use. The system is able to idle the fans on the Silent profile with very light use.
Here’s what to expect in terms of performance and temperatures with everyday multitasking, browsing, and video.
Performance and benchmarks
On to more demanding loads, we start by testing the CPU’s performance by running the Cinebench R15 test for 15+ times in a loop, with a 1-2 seconds delay between each run.
The Core i9-12900H processor stabilizes at ~90W of sustained power on the Turbo setting, which translates in frequencies of 3.2+ GHz on the P Cores, temperatures of 92-97 C, and scores of ~2650 points. The fans spin at ~51 dB at head-level in this mode. The CPU runs at even higher power close to its 135W PL1 setting for a very short while in this test, but thermal and power throttling gradually kick in, leading to the stabilized sustained power of 90W.
For what is worth, the Turbo stock profile pushes the fans at 100% of their rpms, so there’s no way to manually increase the fan speeds.
There’s also no undervolting option in the BIOS and voltage control is locked with both XTU and Throttlestop, so there’s no way to tweak the CPU at this point.
Switching over to the Performance profile translates in the CPU bizarrely fluctuating between 65 and 30W, with the fans spinning at sub 35 dB at head-level. In other CPU tests, the i9 runs at around 60W on Performance, with the fans at 40 dB and temperatures in the high 80s. If the processor would behave the same in this loop test, it would return scores of around 2100-2200 points.
The Silent profile caps the processor at 35W sustained, with the fans running at sub 30 dB and temperatures in the low 70s. The i9 ends up scoring 1550+ points in this Cinebench test, about 55-60% of the Turbo performance.
Finally, the CPU runs at ~40 W on battery on the Performance profile, with scores of 1850+ points. Details below.
To put these in perspective, here’s how this Core i9-12900H platform fares against other portable and full-size implementations in this test, both Intel and AMD. It ends up about 5% slower than the higher-power i9 implementation in the ROG Scar 15, but significantly faster than the previous-gen Intel/AMD processors. Compared to the 2021 i9-11900H M16, this 2022 model outscores it by about 40% in this CPU-heavy test.
We also ran the 3DMark CPU test on the Turbo, Performance, and Silent profiles.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the more taxing Cinebench R23 loop test and Blender – Classroom, which resulted in some differences in power findings for the Silent and Performance profiles, but similar results for the Turbo mode, where the CPU stabilizes at around 85-90W sustained power once the heat builds up.
Finally, we ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook. 3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit failed it by a minor margin, which means that the performance slightly degrades with longer-duration sustained loads, once the heat builds up, but not in a significant way. We’ll further cover this aspect in the gaming section down below.
Next, we ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks, on the stock Turbo profile in Armoury Crate, the MUX set on Hybrid mode, and on FHD screen resolution for consistency with our other tests.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 23708 (Graphics – 27222, Physics – 29954, Combined – 10395);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 6250;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 10210 (Graphics – 10167, CPU – 10464);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 6618;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 19842;
- Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 64.68 average fps;
- PassMark 10: Rating: 6322 (CPU mark: 27396, 3D Graphics Mark: 19699, Disk Mark: 42800);
- PCMark 10: 7588 (Essentials – 10290, Productivity – 9983, Digital Content Creation – 11539);
- GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1870, Multi-core: 13993;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 2894 cb, CPU Single Core 249 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 6371 cb, CPU Single Core 687 cb;
- CineBench R23: CPU 18169 cb (best single run), CPU 17880 cb (10 min run), CPU Single Core 1891 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 23.14 s.
Compared to the i9 + RTX 3070Ti 150W configuration in the thicker and better-cooled ROG Scar 17, this 2022 M16 ends up within 2-10% slower in both the CPU and the GPU high-load sustained tests.
At the same time, compared to the 2021 i9 + 3070 Zephyrus M16, the 2022 model is about 5-10% faster in single-core CPU tests, up 20-40% faster in multi-core CPU tests, and about 5-10% faster in the GPU benchmarks.
A direct comparison with the 2022 Ryzen 9 + RTX 3070Ti Zephyrus G15 would also be interesting here, but we’ve yet to review the new G15, so I’ll update later on.
Nest, here are some workstation benchmarks, on the same Turbo profile:
- Blender 2.93 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 2m 15s (Turbo);
- Blender 2.93 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute: 33s (CUDA), 19s (Optix);
- Blender 2.93 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 6m 16s (Turbo);
- Blender 2.93 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 2m 23s (CUDA), 1m 3s (Optix);
- Blender 3.01 – BMW scene – CPU Compute: 2m 14s (Turbo);
- Blender 3.01 – BMW scene – GPU Compute: 22s (CUDA), 12s (Optix);
- Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 5m 11s (Turbo);
- Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 42s (CUDA), 26s (Optix);
- Pugetbench – DaVinvi Resolve: 1100;
- Pugetbench – Adobe Afert Effects: 999;
- Pugetbench – Adobe Photoshop: 1181;
- Pugetbench – Adobe Premiere: 966;
- SPECviewperf 2020 – 3DSMax: 99.82 (Turbo);
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Catia: 65.54 (Turbo);
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Creo: 96.71 (Turbo);
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Energy: 23.03 (Turbo);
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Maya: 317.22 (Turbo);
- SPECviewperf 2020 – Medical: 29.89 (Turbo);
- SPECviewperf 2020 – SNX: 20.82 (Turbo);
- SPECviewperf 2020 – SW: 212.02 (Turbo).
- V-Ray Benchmark: CPU – 12588 vsamples, GPU CUDA – 1180 vpaths, GPU RTX – 1489 vpaths;
In these tests, the higher-power 150W RTX 3070Ti Scar 17 has an advantage, but in the Adobe and CPU tests, the Zephyrus M16 is competitive and even faster in some test, most likely thanks to the updated software and BIOS compared to the earlier sample of the Scar.
As for the 2021 Zephyrus M16, the 2022 update ends up about 30% faster in the Blender CPU runs, 5% faster in the Blender CUDA/Optix runs, and somewhere between 3-25% faster in the SPEC workloads.
With these out of the way, let’s discuss the situations when you might prefer sacrificing the performance of this 2022 Zephyrus M16 in order to lower than fan noise, as the noise levels go up to 52 dB on Turbo. Here’s how the laptop performs on the Performance profile, which limits the fans to around 46 dB at head level (a higher level than on other ROG laptops).
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 20021 (Graphics – 23118, Physics – 22735, Combined – 9169);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8936 (Graphics – 8833, CPU – 9569);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 15355;
- GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1697, Multi-core: 10644;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 5568 cb, CPU Single Core 663 cb.
Both the CPU and the GPU take a 15-20% performance hit on this mode compared to the Turbo profile. That’s a significant toll, and up to you when or if it would be worth going with this profile, considering that at 46 dB, the fans are still rather loud.
You can also opt for the Silent profile, in which case the fans will run at around 35 dB. Here’s what we got in this case:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 13380 (Graphics – 13790, Physics – 18847, Combined – 8072);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 5469 (Graphics – 5071, CPU – 9864);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 8799;
- GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1636, Multi-core: 10434;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 5183 cb, CPU Single Core 658 cb.
The CPU still runs at about 70-80% of its full potential, but the GPU is aggressively limited and ends up at about 50% of what it can do at max power. At the same time, the laptop runs much quieter and the internal temperatures are kept within reasonable limits on this Silent mode even with games and demanding loads, so I expect this Silent profile to be useful in certain situations, even with the limiting capabilities.
As a member of the ROG – Republic of Gamers family of laptops and with the updated GPU, higher-power GPU settings, and the MUX, many of you will be interested in the gaming abilities of this 2022 Zephyrus M16.
We tested several games at QHD+ and FHD+ resolution on Ultra settings, on the stock Turbo and Performance profiles. I’ve also included Silent mode in the tables, for a better understanding of what to expect from a quiet gaming experience.
Here are the raw numbers, all these with the MUX set on the Discrete GPU mode:
|Intel Core i9-12900H
+ RTX 3070Ti 80-120W
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|107 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
||90 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
||138 fps (65 fps – 1% low)
||60 fps (55 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|41 fps (32 fps – 1% low)
||60 fps (49 fps – 1% low)
(Vulkan, Ultra Preset)
|145 fps (84 fps – 1% low)
||121 fps (77 fps – 1% low)
||219 fps (126 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 6
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, TAA, DXR OFF)
|71 fps (46 fps – 1% low)
||62 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
||92 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
||57 fps (40 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)
|97 fps (70 fps – 1% low)
||84 fps (71 fps – 1% low)
||128 fps (99 fps – 1% low)
||60 fps (57 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|58 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
||75 fps (44 fps – 1% low)
|Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)
|73 fps (52 fps – 1% low)
||100 fps (69 fps – 1% low)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)
|84 fps (62 fps – 1% low)
||72 fps (53 fps – 1% low)
||118 fps (72 fps – 1% low)
||47 fps (43 fps – 1% low)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)
|92 fps (71 fps – 1% low)
||78 fps (62 fps – 1% low)
||122 fps (76 fps – 1% low)
||60 fps (53 fps – 1% low)
- Battlefield V, Cyberpunk, Doom, Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, 6, Metro, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
- Red Dead Redemption 2 Optimized profile based on these settings.
Those above are rasterization tests, and here are some results for RTX titles.
|Intel Core i9-12900H
+ RTX 3070Ti 80-120W
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF)
|68 fps (45 fps – 1% low)
||93 fps (53 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS ON)
|74 fps (49 fps – 1% low)
||101 fps (65 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, no DLSS)
|18 fps (13 fps – 1% low)
||34 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, DLSS Balanced)
|42 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
||61 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS Quality)
|128 fps (104 fps – 1% low)
||192 fps (129 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 6
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + DXR reflections / shadows)
|59 fps (35 fps – 1% low)
||76 fps (51 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 6
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + DXR reflections / shadows,
FidelityFX CAS and Shading)
|59 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
||76 fps (50 fps – 1% low)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA, RTX Ultra)
|51 fps (32 fps – 1% low)
||74 fps (46 fps – 1% low)
This is more difficult to compare with the ROG Scar series, as those are available with smaller 16:9 displays that have about 10% fewer pixels to push out at comparing resolutions (1600p vs 1440p, etc). Nonetheless, we measured a 5-20% difference in framerates between this 3070Ti 120W M16 and the 3070Ti 150W in the Scar 17 at similar-tier resolutions. So if you’re looking for the best frame rates in games, the higher-power ROG Strix and Scar laptops with the 16:9 panels are the way to go.
That being said, the majority of the available modern games will run fine on this laptop even at QHD+ resolution and Ultra settings, with or without Ray Tracing activated. Of course, DLSS helps a whole bunch with the RT performance.
As for the comparison to the 2021 Zephyrus M16, the 2022 M16 update is capable of 5-15% higher framerates at QHD+ resolution and 7-18% higher at FHD+, with variations between the tested titles.
Let’s go over some performance and temperatures logs.
With the laptop sitting on the desk and on the stock Turbo mode, the GPU averages at about 115-120W of power in titles that properly support Dynamic Boost 2.0, such as Witcher 3 or Cyberpunk, and only around 105-110W in those that don’t, such as Far Cry 5 and 6. At the same time, we measured GPU temperatures in the 80-82 degrees Celsius in the tested games.
The CPU, on the other hand, runs at 75-82 degrees, and that means both components are running at solid temperatures here, considering the thin-and-light format. That’s happening because the system adjusts the CPU and GPU power with Dynamic Boost around a combined CPU+GPU package power of 140W on this mode.
Next in our tests, I bumped up the back of the laptop from the desk, in order to improve the airflow into the fans. This doesn’t lead to any noticeable effect over the internal temperatures and performance, as the airflow is already fine with this design while the laptop sits on the desk, thanks to the Ergolift hinge that leaves about .7 cm of space underneath the laptop with the normal-use screen position.
I also created a Manual fan profile in Armory Crate, limiting the CPU’s PL1 at 35W in order to force Dynamic Boost support in Far Cry 5, and pushing both the CPU and GPU fans to their max rpms.
This allows the GPU to run at higher sustained clocks and power in Far Cry 5, but has no impact over the other titles or the internal temperatures. That’s because the fans are already running close to their maximum rpms on the Turbo mode, as proven by eh fact that we measured similar noise levels at around 52 dB on both the Turbo-stock and Manual with 100% fans profiles.
One other aspect this Manual mode allows is to set a GPU thermal limit and the system will adjust the frequency and power to make sure the chip doesn’t go above that. Opting for an 80 degrees Celsius limit won’t make much of a difference here, because the GPU already runs at around 80 degrees on Turbo/Manual without any limitation.
All these are solid results, but with the 50+ dB noise levels, you’ll need good headphones to cover up that kind of noise. Opting for the Performance or the Silent mode will allow you to run games with quieter fans.
On Performance, the GPU runs at 75-90W between the tested titles, with somewhat quieter fans at around 46 dB – I’d still need headphones to cover this up. The framerates take a 15-20% toll compared to the Turbo mode, and the internal temperatures vary between high-60s to low-80s on the CPU and low to mid-70s on the GPU. These are excellent internal thermal readings, but at 46 dB, you’ll still hear the fans.
That leaves you with the Silent profile, which aggressively limits the GPU’s power and caps the framerates at 60 fps with Whisper Mode. Modern games won’t run at 60 fps at FHD+ and Ultra on this Silent mode, not to mentioned QHD+ resolution, though.
The temperatures are still fine in this case, somewhere between mid-70s to mid-80sC, and the fan noise drops under 35dB, so you’ll want to consider this mode for lighter titles if you crave the silent gaming experience. Up to you if the performance toll is acceptable, or not.
Finally, this laptop can also game on battery mode, with Whisper Mode enabled. It’s going to do 60 fps at FHD+ in most titles, but don’t expect more than about an hour of gameplay in this case. It can last longer if you’re using the Battery Optimization settings in GeForce experience or if you’re willing to cap the framerates at 45 or 30 fps.
All in all, the 2022 Zephyrus M16 is a solid performer in the thin-and-light category, within 5-20% of the capabilities of thicker and higher power models out there at similar-tier specs. It’s also a significant update in performance from the previous generation, mostly in the multi-core CPU loads where the 12th-gen Intel platform is able to show its strength, but also in the combined demanding loads, thanks to the updated hardware and the increased power allocations.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
Asus have minimally updated the thermal module for the 2022 Zephyrus M16. We’re still looking at two high-capacity fans and a multitude of heatpipes, as well as un-obstructed air intakes on the bottom. There are also high-quality VRMs on this series, as well as liquid metal on the CPU – it’s the same liquid metal compound used before, and not the upgraded versions available in the ROG Scar series. Regular thermal paste is still used for the GPU.
This cooling module does a solid job at taming the components in this Zephyrus M16 with demanding loads and games.
The fans run loud, though, at 51+ dB on Turbo and 46+ dB on Performance. I can understand the fans being that loud on Turbo, but I’d prefer the Performance profile at a lower level around 40-42 dB, like on the other ROG laptops. For what is worth, sub-35 dB gaming is possible on the Silent profile, but with a significant loss in performance that not everyone will accept.
On the other hand, the fans rest idly with basic use on the Silent profile. They do occasionally kick on with multitasking, but are mostly inaudible even in this case. Despite the rather passive implementation, the laptop only runs warm with daily use, with the warmest areas reaching high-30s around the S, V, B keys.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Silent profile, fans at 0 dB
The exterior temperatures rise up with demanding loads and games.
On Turbo, we’re looking at good temps around the arrows and WASD keys, thanks to the way the fans are positioned on the chassis, and still fair temperatures in the high-40s in the middle of the laptop. However, the hottest areas are around the exhaust and the bottom chin of the screen, where the hot air is expelled. This is by far my biggest gripe with this design, as the bottom bezel reaches temperatures in the mid to high-50s C here, and the panel itself heats up to low to mid-50s C.
I’ve complained about this aspect in our previous Zephyrus reviews, but the impact is even greater on this M16, because this gets the thinnest bottom bezel and thus puts the panel within only 2-3 cm away from the exhausts.
It’s important to add up that Asus and AUO mention that these temperatures are fine per their tests. At the same time, this design has been available in stores since last year and I haven’t seen any user complaints about the heat causing any issues.
Nonetheless, I’m not a fan of this approach and I think potential buyers should carefully consider whether they find these panel temperatures acceptable or not, especially those of you who plan to run games or demanding loads for hours each day on this computer.
As far as the Performance and Silent profiles go, these do allow for lower internal temperatures that also translate in a slight decrease at the case levels, and on the bottom panel side, but with still some serious hotspots around the radiators and at the bottom of the screen.
*Gaming – Silent – playing Cyberpunk 2077 for 30 minutes, fans at ~35 dB
*Gaming – Performance – playing Cyberpunk 2077 for 30 minutes, fans at ~46 dB
*Gaming – Turbo, on desk – playing Cyberpunk 2077 for 30 minutes, fans at ~52 dB
For connectivity, there’s Wireless 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 through the latest-gen Intel AX211 chip on this unit, as well as 2.5E Gigabit Lan, both a slight update from the previous generation. I do hope the retail units will ship with the same Intel chip, given the current shortage situation. Our review unit performed very well on WiFi.
The audio system includes 6 speakers, just like on the Zephyrus G15, with two woofers on the bottom and 4 tweeters firing through the grills surrounding the keyboard. Both the quality and volumes are excellent here, with even some decent bass. I’d still check the Enhanced Audio option under Speakers, in Windows 11.
As a head’s up, there’s have been some reports of blown speakers on the early 2021 models, so make sure to test your unit for any surprises. Hopefully, Asus figured out this QC issue by now.
One final aspect to mention here is the camera. the image quality isn’t much, as this is just an HD shooter, but it does the jab in fair lighting and is placed at the right place, at the top of the screen, flanked by microphones. IR functionality is also baked in, with support for Hello for quickly logging into Windows.
There’s a 90Wh battery inside all the 2022 ROG Scar models, including this Zephyrus M16.
The system automatically switches the screen’s refresh to 60 Hz when using the laptop on battery, to increase efficiency, which explains the quick screen flicker when you disconnect the laptop from the wall. Also, if you’re looking to maximize runtimes, make sure you’re using the laptop with the MUX set in the Hybrid mode and not on discrete GPU.
Here’s what we got on our review unit in terms of battery life, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness) and on Hybrid mode.
- 15 W (~5-6 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, WiFi ON;
- 12.5 W (~7+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, WiFi ON;
- 11 W (~8+ h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, WiFi ON;
- 23 W (~4-5 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Performance Mode, screen at 60%, WiFi ON;
- 85 W (~1+ h of use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, Performance Mode, screen at 60%, WiFi ON, no fps limit.
These are findings are better than what we got on the previous 12th gen Core i9 platforms tested so far, especially with light use and streaming, most likely thanks to the more recent software updates available on this unit.
In comparison, last year’s M16 drew more power with multitasking, but ran more efficiently with streaming:
- 20 W (~4-5 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 16 W (~6+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13 W (~7+ h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 28 W (~3-4 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 80 W (~1+ h of use) – Gaming – Cyberpunk 2077, Performance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON, no fps limit.
I’ll also add that the laptop ships with a 240W power brick, fairly compact for what it is. The battery fills up in 2+ hours, with fast charging for the first half an hour, and USB-C charging is supported, up to 100W.
You won’t be able to use the laptop on Turbo/Manual while hooked over USB-C, but that’s enough for everyday multitasking and occasional heavy workloads on Performance, in case you don’t want to bring along the heavier main brick when on the go. The 100W ROG USB-C charger is not included in the box with this model, but Asus says you will be able to find it in stores at some point.
Price and availability- 2022 ASUS Zephyrus M16
The 2022 Asus Zephyrus M16 is available in stores in most regions at the time of this article.
In the US, this is mostly available for now in an i9 + 16 GB of RAM + RTX 3070Ti + QHD screen configuration, at $2149 MSRP. This variant comes with 16 GB of total RAM and 8 GB of those as onboard memory, so you can’t get 32 GB in dual-channel installed. Hopefully, 32 GB configurations will also be available in due time – I can find them over here in Europe, at around 2500 EUR for the same specs.
That aside, the M16 series ranges from i7 + 3050Ti + FHD configurations starting at around 1600 USD/EUR, up to i9 + RTX 3080Ti models at over 3000 USD/EUR. In fact, the latter Zephyrus M16 GU603ZX 3080Ti model is available over here at around 4000 EUR, with 32 GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage. That’s expensive!
The availability of the various configurations will differ between regions, so make sure to follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region at the time you’re reading this article.
Final thoughts- 2022 ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 review
If you considered the Zephyrus M16 before, you’ll appreciate the 2022 update even more.
It’s the same chassis and design, but sturdier made and with some updates in the IO, connectivity, and biometrics. The major selling points of the series remain the portable format and the 16:10 display with 500-nits of brightness and 100% DCI-P3 color coverage, alongside the powerful specs, with the move towards the 12th gen Intel hardware and the updated RTX 3000Ti GPUs now running at higher power and helped out by a MUX.
In real life, the 2022 generation is 5-20% more powerful in games and combined workloads, with a more significant generational leap in the CPU-heavy loads. Furthermore, the 2022 generation is capable of more efficient runtimes on battery than before, and all these combined should put the Zephyrus M16 on more maps as a proper alternative to the AMD-based Zephyrus G15.
However, the G15 is also receiving a hardware bump, the higher-power graphics, and the MUX. Sure, Ryzen 6000 is about 20% slower than the Intel Alder Lake hardware in CPU-heavy loads, but it still keeps the battery-life advantage, with the refined efficiency of the 2022 AMD platform.
So, as a multi-purpose portable laptop, the Zephyrus G15 might still make the most sense out of the two, especially given that it is also the more affordable option (by $150 for the 3070Ti configuration, at this time). We’ll know more once we get to properly review it, in the next couple of weeks. Nonetheless, if the performance is crucial for you in this format and you can live with the shorter runtimes on battery, the Zephyrus M16 would be the way to go.
Aside from what’s available in the Asus lineup camp, potential buyers should also look over the alternative thin-and-light performance laptops offered by the other OEMs, such as the 16-inch Acer Predator Triton 500 and Gigabyte Aero 16, or 15-inch 16:9 options such as the Razer Blade 15 or the MSI GS66 Stealth, each with their advantages and their quirks.
Anyway, that’s pretty much my review of the 2022 Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 ZW model. Looking for your thoughts, feedback, and questions on the series in the comments section down below.
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