Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M (GM501) hands-on review

Still thin and powerful

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ASUS definitely set standards last year when it came to gaming laptops with really thin profiles. Being one of the first to use NVIDIA’s Max-Q design to squeeze a top-tier GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chip into the ROG Zephyrus was a feat in itself, but it came with certain drawbacks.

Earlier this year, the Taiwanese company announced an update to its high-end gaming laptop, and it’s called the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M (GM 501). It seems like they heard the collective groans of gamers so they shuffled things around, while still keeping the Zephyrus DNA intact.


Starting from its lid, the new Zephyrus M has that brushed metal finish previously seen on its predecessor. Even the segmented design has made its way here to clearly convey it’s from the same series.

Even the chassis is built with the same polycarbonate material with a familiar Active Aerodynamic System. More on that later.

Just like the first model, there’s no mistaking you’re wielding a Republic of Gamers laptop with this glowing emblem slapped on its lid.

While the new Zephyrus M is thinner than most laptops at 19.9mm, the sizable bezels are still there and could use some trimming.

More branding is seen just below the display.

Connectivity-wise, it has a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack, four USB-A 3.1 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and one USB-C 3.1 port. We’re not fans of the power port situated in the middle of the rear chassis, but one thing that has been conveniently relocated is the entire keyboard.

Last year’s ROG Zephyrus

With the first Zephyrus packing most of its internals at the top part of the chassis, the keyboard was squeezed at the bottom and had to sit side-by-side with the trackpad. This presented a steep learning curve, so we’re glad things are more traditional now.

The trackpad is now back to where we’re used to. It’s a bit small for our liking, but if you’re using it to play games, you’d end up using a mouse either way.

It’s a lot easier to type on the Zephyrus M, not only because of its more comfortable relocation, but also due to the backlit keys having more travel in them than the previous model.

As mentioned earlier, it keeps the same Active Aerodynamic System that aids in keeping the laptop well-ventilated. This works by using a special mechanism which lifts a portion of the chassis up once the lid is opened.

Since there’s better air flow than on other gaming laptops, the temperature is reduced during long usage and demanding tasks. And yes, the mechanism still looks cool in motion.

Edges are chamfered and accented by a colored strip to break the monochromatic approach of the body.

The 15.6-inch Full HD screen of the Zephyrus M is backed by a 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time, which is an upgrade from last year’s model. It should display faster and smoother movement, especially in intense games. Additionally, since G-Sync is also supported, screen tearing and freezing are kept to a minimum.

Inside, an Intel Core i7-8750H runs the show with up to 32GB RAM. Its software also allows users to switch between two different GPU modes depending on the situation. There’s the Optimus power-saving mode if you don’t have your charger around, while its G-Sync mode unleashes all the capabilities of your graphics unit.

Buyers now have the option to choose a variant with either NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 GPU depending on their budget and needs, whereas the first Zephyrus only came with a GTX 1080.

This means the Zephyrus M is a more affordable option that doesn’t skimp on features and still packs a punch (in addition to being more ergonomically sound). The variant with a GTX 1060 is priced at US$ 1,899 while the GTX 1070 option will go for US$ 2,199. For comparison, the Zephyrus last year started at a heftier US$ 2,700.

Gaming

Taiwan Excellence is holding its first esports cup in the Philippines

With a prize pool of P360,000

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Esports continue to grow in the Philippines thanks to the help from both organizations and major brands. The latest to make its mark in the local competitive scene is Taiwan Excellence, which will be holding an esports cup in Manila beginning in July.

With the help of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT), there’ll be a PhP 360,000 prize pool for the expected 2,000 participants from across the country. The featured games are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends (LOL).


Registration for the tournament begins on June 15. The first phase of the competition will start on July 6 for CS:GO and August 3 for LOL. The grand finals will happen from October 4 to 5 at SM North EDSA The Block, Quezon City. Taiwan Excellence’s esports cup was previously held in Malaysia and Thailand.

“Taiwan is known for its breakthrough electronics industry, with renowned innovations and quality products being developed for global distribution. Now with esports, we take pride in sharing that industry-leading brands are from Taiwan, with Filipino gamers,” said C.T. Wu, director of the Strategic Marketing Dept. at TAITRA.

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E3 2019

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel is on its way

Following up the Switch’s best game

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Leave it to Nintendo to make the announcements that are worthy of closing the pre-E3 keynotes.

During Nintendo’s keynote, the company announced that a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in the works. A trailer was provided but didn’t show anything in terms of gameplay.


Instead, we see main characters Link and Zelda exploring a cave, seemingly continuing where they left off from the first game, and finding a ghastly corpse that awakens.

You can watch it here:

Breath of the Wild is considered by many to be the best game on the Switch (along with Super Mario Odyssey), as well as the highest-rated entry in the long-running series, so any mention of a sequel is fantastic news.

Sadly, Nintendo didn’t provide a release date or any other details. All we know for sure is that this will be another Switch-exclusive.

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E3 2019

Final Fantasy VIII is getting the remaster it deserves

It’s not a remake though

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At long last, Final Fantasy VIII is releasing on newer consoles. It had been notably absent when Square Enix launched fellow FF-series games lately. Somehow, they got their shit together for this.

Unfortunately, it isn’t a remake like what we’re getting out of Final Fantasy VII for the PS4. Rather, this is only a remaster of the classic PlayStation title with the same gameplay mechanics and slightly improved graphics.


This is the official trailer:

“Coming 2019” is all we have for a release schedule. The good news is we’ll see it on the PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and Steam — no mobile version, however. Previously, a vanilla version of FFVIII arrived on PC in late 2013.

For context, the original game came out in 1999. It’s time for younger millennials to get a taste of emo protagonists from the 90s.

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