ASUS ROG Zephyrus G (GA502) Review

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The so-called “budget” Zephyrus!

The Zephyrus line is steadily growing and this year is its biggest yet. We saw multiple variants enter the market, including the flagship Zephyrus S GX531 and refreshes of the Zephyrus M and last year’s S. Although, one particular release for this family is the so-called “budget” Zephy, the Zephyrus G. A model with the aim of providing the same thin and light goodness at a lower price. Does it truly provide the same quality and oomph the Zephy line is known for? Let’s find out in our Zephyrus G (GA502) Review.

Design and Build Quality

The Zephyrus G may be a more affordable machine than its brothers but it still holds its own in the build quality department. The laptop is surprisingly well-built and solid despite being a thin and light. There is minimal screen and keyboard flex and the hinges are strong enough to handle one-handed lid opening. Design-wise it takes after the signature two-tone lid of the Zephyrus line.

Apart from that though, we got a rather simple looking machine. There are no intricate linings or accents. The only notable design feature are the speaker grills located at the top of the keyboard. It may not be the flashiest of gaming laptops but it is discreet. Making it a perfect companion for sessions at cafés. Although, we do miss the gold accents we have with the Zephyrus S, which added a bit of elegance and sophistication.

Display and Audio

Display

The device is treated with a 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) 120hz IPS-level display. Viewing angles are good despite only being an IPS-level panel, though color accuracy and reproduction are a bit on the downside. Despite all that, however, we do get a 120hz screen, which is beneficial for fast-paced games and the like. You’d be able to hit over 60fps with most games thanks to the respectable GPU. Although, graphic settings may not be at the maximum.

Audio

Audio is surprisingly good on the Zephyrus G. It can get pretty loud with decent highs and mids and, surprisingly, noticeable lows. It’s certainly one of the better speakers for laptops we have out there. You have a few audio software at your disposal to further tweak the quality. Although, we still advise using your audio gear though, for the best experience.

Keyboard and Trackpad

Keyboard

Unlike it’s Zephyrus S brethren, the G is not using the awkward forwarded keyboard layout. Instead, we have the standard centered layout we are all familiar with. While that may be a relief for some, we do lose out on the colorful lighting options as the keyboard only has white backlighting. Yep, sadly, we can’t have our Christmas lights and we lose Aura Sync support. We do appreciate that the lighting is not red and is easier on the eyes during nighttime operations. Despite being a 15-incher, the laptop is without a Numpad. Key travel is short and feedback is amazing, making the keyboard a joy to type on and use.

Trackpad

Like the keyboard, the trackpad is back in familiar territory. Although, unlike the S, we no longer have a transforming trackpad. So sadly, we have no means of having a built-in Numpad. Experience-wise, we have mixed feelings about the surface texture. While it’s not matte, it’s also not fully smooth. This makes sliding along the surface quite hard, we even had some instances when our fingers stopped midway during a swipe. We also don’t have any separate physical click buttons, but the trackpad itself can be clicked quite easily.

Connectivity and I/O

Despite being a thin and light the Zephy G has an acceptable set of ports. On the right, we have two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports. Then on the left, we have the DC-in, RJ-45 Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. The Ethernet port is a welcome sight as the Zephy S was without one. Either way, we’ve got enough ports for most of our needs, except for an SD card slot. For connectivity, we have a basic 1×1 WiFi 5 module (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 5.0.

Software

Just like the Zephyrus S, the G also comes equipped with ROG essentials such as the Armoury Crate, Game First V, and Sonic Studio III (for a more in-depth explanation of these applications head on over here). On top of all that, we have the basic ASUS bloatware as well as Windows 10 and the ever-annoying McAfee anti-virus.

Performance

zephyrus G review

General Performance

Alright on to Performance. Powering the Zephyrus G is a rather unique CPU and GPU combo — the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. Then we are treated to 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. To test out the capabilities of the laptop we subjected it to a number of different benchmarks. This includes Cinebench R15, CrystalDiskMark, Unigine, 3DMark, and of course, gaming tests (more on this later).

Cinebench R15 & CrystalDiskMark

Despite the CPU being a Ryzen 7 variant, which in the desktop scene is performing quite admirably, performance was a bit on the downside. On Cinebench R15, the Ryzen 7 3750H only garnered a score of 787, placing it alongside the performances of 3rd and 4th generation Intel Desktop processors, which are half a decade old and more. Not only that, but we also noticed lower performance in games where it’s GPU counterpart, the 1660 Ti, should have been performing remarkably.

In comparison, the i7-9750H normally scores around 1,200-1,300 in Cinebench R15, almost double that of the 3750H. We also have a rather average 512GB SSD as it only got sequential read and write speeds of 1,424mb/s and 981mb/s, respectively. Not too shabby, yet not impressive numbers either. For storage purposes, that SSD capacity also won’t be enough and will surely be filled up in quite a short time. Especially now that games are getting bigger and bigger in file size.

Unigine

zephyrus G review

Unigine numbers are a little better and closer to what we expected with this kind of setup. On the Heaven benchmark, it reached almost 60fps on average, not the most impressive score but acceptable at this configuration. The same can be said for the results on Valley, it did get an average of 60fps and a respectable score of 2,596. Superposition is an entirely different story, reaching only an average fps of about 19 and a maximum of 22. The laptop didn’t even hit 30fps and got a score of only 2,663. Overall though, these are respectable numbers for its configuration. Yet we could now see that the bottleneck may be caused by the Ryzen 7’s subpar performance.

3DMark

zephyrus G review

As with the Unigine benchmarks, we also got the results we were expecting 3DMark. Nothing too impressive but nothing too poor either.

Gaming Tests

zephyrus G review

With all the synthetic benchmarks done, let’s take a look at the Zephyrus G’s performance in games. To get proper and precise metrics, we played each title for about 30-60 minutes. Except for games with their own benchmarks such as Total War: Three Kingdoms, which was still cross-checked with FRAPS results. Settings were all cranked up to the maximum with V-Sync off. Results are a mixed bag when everything is maxed out. We have games that hit over 60fps, which will make use of that sweet 120hz display advantage. Then we have some hard-hitting triple-A titles that averaged below 60fps, with God Eater 3 not even hitting playable frame rates.

This is where we can see that we’re not getting the right numbers for the GTX 1660 Ti, which, theoretically, should be as powerful as the GTX 1070. This could only mean that we have a bottleneck on the CPU-side. So, in order to take full advantage of that high refresh rate display, graphics settings would have to be reduced to perhaps medium to high or with some advanced graphics tweaking. If you plan on playing in higher resolutions with an external monitor, then graphics settings will have to be further reduced or tweaked. We’re not saying the Zephyrus G is a poor performer, however, it just falls short of expectations. Don’t get us wrong either, the laptop is still in the above-average gaming spectrum and performed well.

Upgradeability

zephyrus G review

The variant we have right here is actually rocking close to the max configurations you can get for the laptop, which is 32GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The model we have right here has 16GB of RAM and that 512GB SSD. So there are still some options for upgrades, such as increasing the RAM to 32GB and changing the storage drive to maybe a 1 or 2TB SSD. Like any laptop though, the CPU and GPU are soldered in and cannot be changed. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to crack open the laptop to check out your access to these slots. However, the back panel does require a bit of work and doesn’t have an easy-access hatch.

Thermals

zephyrus G review

Thermals are on the good side, both internally and externally. During the solo stress tests both the CPU and GPU stayed below over dangerous temperatures. Though the Ryzen 7 did almost hit 90° in Prime95, which is still quite hot. The dangerous temp levels though, were reached during our combined stress testing, when we fired up both FurMark and Prime95, simultaneously. During these combined tests, we noticed that the CPU prioritized performance over cooling as it stayed well above its base clock of 2.3GHz, even though temps are already hitting well above 100°.

The GPU, on the other hand, thermal throttled hard to maintain cool temperatures, reaching frequencies of only 660MHz, a far cry from its 1140-1455 base clock. Of course, its quite hard to create this type of scenario in real world circumstances, even during heavy gaming. Speaking of gaming, temperatures during heavy sessions aren’t that bad and are actually controlled. The CPU and GPU reached comfortable temps of 81° and 77°, respectively, during our gaming session tests. So, suffice to say, ASUS did a good job with the G’s cooling.

zephyrus G review

External temps are also well maintained and are actually quite surprising. The only part of the laptop that heats up during heavy sessions are around the external intake area, above the keyboard. Even then, the heat isn’t much of a disturbance and the surface is only warm to the touch. Although, we still don’t recommend putting the laptop on your lap as the heat on the bottom can easily make your legs sweat.

Acoustics

zephyrus G review

Just like any thin and light, the Zephyrus G loves to make its fans roar during heavy sessions. At 6000-7000rpm the fans emit at most 48dB, which can’t easily be drowned by the laptop’s speakers. We highly recommend plugging in some audio gear, if you find the constant gush of wind from the exhausts irritating.

Verdict

zephyrus G review

The Zephyrus G is a welcome entry to the famous thin & light line. It offers gamers the chance to experience what the Zephyrus family is all about for a fraction of the price at just Php 84,995 (~$1,639). Although, that number is still nothing to sneeze at. For that price, we’re given a thin & light frame, an amazing keyboard, an acceptable amount of ports, a high refresh rate display, controlled thermals, and a surprisingly good set of speakers. However, while it shines in the multimedia department it underperforms a bit in it’s supposed task, which is gaming.

That’s sadly because of an underwhelming CPU. Although, again, don’t get us wrong, it’s still an above-average performer in this regard, it just fell short of expectations. So, despite its minor hiccup in the gaming department, the Zephyrus G is still a thin & light we never believed to be possible in this price point. After all, the rest of the competition are about twice the price away.

Reasons to Get

  • Thin & Light
  • Amazing keyboard
  • Good set of speakers
  • High Refresh Rate Display
  • Controlled Thermals
  • Respectable overall performance

Reasons not to Get

  • Underwhelming CPU
  • Loud fans
  • Missing SD Card Slot
  • Rather small storage capacity (512GB)

Specifications

SpecificationsASUS ROG Zephyrus G GA502
Processor- AMD Ryzen 7 3750H 2.3GHz Quad-core (4.0GHz Max Turbo Frequency)
Display- 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) 120hz, IPS-Level
- 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) 60hz, IPS-Level
GPU- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB)
Storage- 512GB SSD
RAM- 16GB DDR4 2,400MHz (Max up to 32GB)
Connectivity- 802.11ac 1x1 WiFi 5
- Bluetooth 5.0
I/O3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C w/ DisplayPort 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0
1x 3.5mm combo audio port
1x RJ-45 Ethernet Port
1x HMDI 2.0
1x Kensington lock
Audio- 2x 1W speakers w/ SmartAMP Technology
Battery4-Cell, 76 Whr
Dimensions and weight- 360 x 252 x 19.9.35 - 20.4mm
- 2.1kg
PricePhp 84,995 (~$1,639)
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