Back in CES 2019, ASUS announced A LOT of devices including its gaming laptop line for this year. One of which is the company’s most popular powerhouse, the Zephyrus S, but this time, it comes with the latest NVIDIA RTX graphics that offers better gaming performance over its predecessors. Check out our review of this gaming beast below.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
The Zephyrus S GX701 doesn’t stray away from its predecessors’ sleek and portable design as it has the same magnesium alloy body with a brushed aluminum finish. Getting up close and personal with this gaming laptop and just looking at it from afar makes me want to keep it all to myself. It has a premium and stylish design thanks to its large ROG logo on the lid and the copper accents covering the body.
I can quickly open the lid with one finger which is great because it indicates a sturdy and durable structure. It also doesn’t flex a lot when I tried moving the corners of the screen.
Our unit comes with a large 17.3-inch display with a Full HD resolution IPS-level panel. What’s good here is that it features a 144Hz refresh rate with 3ms of response time, support for G-Sync, and it is Pantone Validated. Surrounding the display are three slim side bezels except for the bottom part. It doesn’t have a built-in webcam, though, which is a small trade-off for having those thin bezels.
Looking to the left will show you the exhaust vent, HDMI 2.0 port (with 4K UHD 60fps display support), a USB Gen 2 Type A port, a USB Type C port which is capable of Power Delivery charging, the charging port, and the 3.5mm audio port.
Situated at the right is another vent along with two other USB Type-A ports, another Type-C port, and a Kensington Lock. What I don’t like here is that ASUS didn’t include an SD card reader which could’ve been advantageous especially for people who are into photography and videography.
Usually, you wouldn’t notice one of the Zephyrus S GX701’s unique feature located at the back. No, it is not the other two exhaust vents, but underneath it is a gap when the lid is open. This kind of set up helps the device when it comes to heat dissipation and prevents it from overheating.
Moving to its main body will show you the signature design of Zephyrus S laptops. As you can see, the lower half has the forward keyboard position while the upper half contains venting holes. ASUS did a good job in this aspect as they thought of a way to reduce the temperature of this gaming laptop even further. You’ll also see the dual 2.5W top-firing speakers on both ends. On the upper half, you’ll also see an Aura Sync-enabled RGB-lit ROG logo which looks cool when you boot up the device.
The keyboard layout is a bit cramped up as each key’s spacing is so little that I often mistype other buttons. Regardless, it is sturdy and has good tactility which I enjoyed a lot. Comparing this with my Acer Helios 300 keyboard, I prefer typing my articles with the Zephyrus S more. Above the keyboard is a volume wheel which is a new addition and also comes with RGB lighting. This component is where you can adjust the volume of your laptop and pressing it will automatically mute the device.
The trackpad on the right is quite small, and it is awkward navigating through it. The surface is smooth, but I can feel little resistance as I slide my fingers across it. I expected that the left and right buttons below it are mushy, but to my surprise, they are quite clicky. There’s a hidden function of this trackpad, and if you press one of the buttons above it, it will show a virtual numpad on the surface which is a great addition given that it doesn’t have a physical one. Unlike with the latest Zenbook that has the same feature, this device can’t use the mouse pointer while the numpad is enabled. I feel that this kind of design could be a problem in the future though due to wear and tear.
This gaming laptop sure is large and sexy, but its mass is relatively dense. You can hold this 2.7KG beast with only one hand, but make sure that you have your arm as a support as you might accidentally drop it. I suggest that you hold it with two hands to provide to be sure. Overall, it feels like you’re holding a sturdy and very durable gadget. I like how its design gives me that confidence to boast and show the Zephyrus S on public especially that it doesn’t stick to the traditional All-red color that shouts “GAMING” on the laptop.
Display and Multimedia
As mentioned earlier, this 17-inch device comes with a 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. Overall, this kind of configuration never ceases to amaze me given that I’m used to 60Hz. This set up is possible thanks to its IPS-level panel which is not quite IPS yet, but it’s a high-tier TN panel. The display is fast, responsive, crisp, and clear while the color reproduction is excellent and accurate. Doing creative works such as photo editing and video editing are also viable since we get 100% sRGB coverage.
The Zephyrus S line up is also known for its audio as its 2.5W speakers with Smart AMP technology provides excellent sound quality. I was not disappointed given that it has great highs, mids, and even lows. Even at the maximum volume, the music does not distort and has excellent clarity. It’s not that perfect, but for a gaming laptop, it’s not bad.
OS, UI, and Storage
This gaming laptop runs on the standard Windows 10 operating system. It comes with a Mcafee antivirus software, pre-installed ASUS ROG apps such as Armoury Crate (comes with 14 different RGB lighting modes such as Static, Breathing, Strobing, Color Cycle, Rainbow, Comet, Flash & Dash, Star, Rain, Reactive, Laser, Ripple, Music, Smart). It also has MyASUS, Gamefirst V which optimizes the network, Sonic Studio III which handles the audio of the laptop, and Sonic Radar III that calculates the game sound direction as long as the game supports 5.1-channel sound.
This device has a 1TB SSD for its storage which is great because it only takes 5 seconds to boot (including the ROG boot animation) while the games launch fast as well.
Performance, Benchmarks, and Battery Life
Powering this gaming laptop beast is an Intel Core i7-8750H Hexa-Core processor with 24GB (16GB + 8GB onboard) of 2666MHz of RAM, and the most powerful variant in the series so far, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q design. Like with our previous review with the Zephyrus S GX531, It’s great to have the H-series processor instead of the U one.
Daily tasks such as social media browsing, file transfers, Streaming movies, photo editing, video editing, and even multi-tasking are no problem with this laptop. One thing to note, however, is that I somehow get the infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) from time to time. Majority of the error came from NVIDIA, and some are from the video memory.
Given its new graphics card, I’ve tested it in various benchmarks including some AAA games and Esports titles. Check them out.
As you can see, I can play all the games with ease even at the highest settings, and the fps plays around 80 to 120 with the highest settings. You may have to adjust the graphics if I’m playing games such as Battlefield V due to its resource-hungry Ray-Tracing functionality. For now, the RTX 2080 with Max-Q design is not worth it for now, but when the time comes for the new games to integrate the ray-tracing technology, this device will be ready for that.
As for its battery life, it took 3 Hours and 40 Minutes before it drains its battery in our video loop test (1080p movie, 50% brightness, 50% sound, airplane mode, w/ earphones, 2nd to the last battery mode).
I’ve been mentioning the numerous exhaust vents of the Zephyrus S and how its design helps dissipate heat from the laptop. Its thermals are excellent thanks to its Active Aerodynamic System which also comes with a dual 12V fans that can handle fast and more powerful airflow overall. It also has the Anti-Dust Cooling design which lessens the build-up of dust inside the device.
I tested it in various thermal stress tests such as Prime 95 (CPU) and Furmark (GPU) and all the while I’m also playing to max out the gaming laptop’s process. So far the graphics only reached 70°C while the CPU got 88°C. These temperatures are pretty low considering that it’s a gaming laptop that carries the new graphics card — props to ASUS ROG for this.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is by far, the best gaming laptop that I’ve ever reviewed. It has a great design, solid build quality, and 144Hz display. It also provides excellent performance especially with games while its thermals are very good to the point that it can handle massive process without having to throttle. The keyboard is somewhat awkward at first given the key’s spacing from each other while the trackpad placement is also small. However, you’ll get used to this quickly thanks to its great tactility.
I have some issues to this laptop especially the BSOD experience. It’s not good when your device suddenly crashes but we’re optimistic that it is fixable with software updates. I can’t also use put it on my lap as it’s a portable oven toaster given the large amount of heat that it dissipates. Overall, I enjoyed using this gaming beast, and if ever you have the budget given its expensive price tag, I’ll recommend this one for you.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) specs:
- 17.3” FHD (1920×1080) IPS-level panel, 144Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB, Optimus, G-SYNC, Pantone Validated
- Intel Core i7-8750H processor
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design
- 24GB DDR4 (16GB + 8GB onboard)
- M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 1TB SSD
- Windows 10/Home Pro
- Intel 802.11ac (2×2) Gigabit Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 2 x 2W speakers with Smart AMP technology
- 1 x USB3.1 Gen2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery
- 1 x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type C
- 1 x USB3.1 Gen2 Type A
- 2 x USB 2.0 Type A
- 1x HDMI 2.0b
- 230W Power Adaptor
- 39.9 (W) x 27.2 (D) x 18.7 (H) cm
- 2.7 kg
What I like:
- Functional, beautiful design
- 144Hz screen
- G-Sync support
- Great audio quality
- Nice RGB lighting
- Powerful graphics
- Great performance
- Good thermals
What I didn’t
- BSOD from time to time
- Very pricey
- Cannot be used on your laps (due to heat)
Check out the ASUS Zephyrus S GX701 variants, price, and freebies below:
- ROG Zephyrus S GX701GV (16GB DDR4/512GB/RTX 2060) – PHP 139,995
- ROG Zephyrus S GX701GW ( 16GB/512GB/RTX 2070) – PHP 169,995
- ROG Zephyrus S GX701GX (24GB/1TB/RTX 2080 Max-Q) – PHP 209,995
- ASUS ROG Bag
- ASUS ROG Gladius II mouse