Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus Review: So thin, so powerful

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How thin can a high-end gaming laptop get? Looking at the ROG Zephyrus of ASUS, we have a pretty solid answer.

The Zephyrus (GX501) is based on NVIDIA’s recently introduced Max-Q design, which cuts down the size of graphics chips in favor of thinner notebooks without compromising too much power. But wait — haven’t manufacturers been doing this for a while already?

Yes and no. While brands have been striving for that oh-so-slim gaming laptop for ages, it’s only now with NVIDIA’s help that it’s possible to fit a top-of-the-line GeForce GTX 1080 GPU into a frame that’s less than 18mm thick.

In this case, the 15.6-inch Zephyrus has that GTX 1080 within an approximately 17mm, 2.25kg chassis. Here’s how it fares.

It definitely looks and feels like a regular laptop

This is one of the few gaming laptops I’d actually allow on top of my lap. My only qualm is in the way the cooling system was built.

ASUS uses this technology called the Active Aerodynamic System, which lifts the rear end of the body when you open the lid for greater air distribution.

While I can attest to the efficiency of the cooling system — not once did it burn my legs or howl like a large washing machine — the design means the bottom plate is somewhat flimsy unless it’s placed on a flat surface.

But that’s fine, since the Zephyrus isn’t designed for traveling writers without a stable workplace; gamers who want to settle down in a LAN party or hotel room will appreciate this form factor.

The hands-on experience may be weird at first

Just look at it: By shoving all the internal components to the upper half, the keyboard had to be pushed to the bottom with the touchpad awkwardly placed to the right.

The abrupt cutoff of the keyboard’s bottom edge, shallowness of the keys themselves, and vertical trackpad have a really steep learning curve. One week of everyday use wasn’t enough to master this setup, and that may be a bad thing.

You must do several practice runs on Overwatch or your preferred MOBA before jumping into competitive play. ASUS bundles a rubber palm rest (as pictured above) to help ease you into the compromised part of the design, but it’s purely for table-top use since it doesn’t attach to the unit itself.

There’s some trackpad magic

By pressing the button pointed at above, you can transform the trackpad into a fully functional numpad.

If you use the bundled optical mouse — which I found to be quite delightful to use, by the way — you’re better off just ignoring the trackpad altogether in favor of this traditional keyboard-numpad-mouse-palm rest setup.

Actually, this should be the only setup you should consider, especially if you take gaming seriously. Just be sure to take the palm rest and mouse with you, and never leave them behind by accident, which happened to me a couple of times.

Comes with performance that matches a much bulkier PC

I feel like it’s justified to spend half of this review on the design alone, since this is what the Max-Q philosophy stands for, but this wouldn’t be a gaming article without talking about performance.

There’s no getting around it; the Zephyrus ticks every box for a gaming laptop. The variant we reviewed has the following: An Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, 24GB of memory, 1TB SSD storage, and of course, a full-fledged GTX 1080 — none of that “mobile version” terminology attached to it.

It’s a given this machine can run through the latest games. Titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider and the latest DOOM can be maxed out on the laptop’s native 1080p resolution with frame rates consistently exceeding 60fps.

To be specific, I got an average of 98.14fps and 58.2fps on the benchmark tests of Rise of the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided respectively on Ultra settings and DirectX 12. The maximum temperatures reached during these stress tests were 71 degrees Celsius for the CPU and 70 degrees for the GPU.

More importantly, the Zephyrus we tested has NVIDIA’s G-Sync enabled on the LED-backlit panel to prevent unwanted tearing and stuttering during fast-paced games.

Coupled with the 120Hz refresh rate, this is a godsend for games like CS:GO and Overwatch. Not once did I feel like the Zephyrus held me back during intense gaming with lots of action going on.

Here are closer looks at the finer details

The ROG button opens up ASUS’ own command center for tweaking performance settings and the keyboard’s colors

Yes, the left shift key is narrow, really narrow. Every other key is well sized, especially the space bar.

The stereo speakers face upwards and are loud, but not deep in bass. Headphones during gaming are a must.

Two full-sized USB 3.0 ports and a Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C port are found on the right side.

The left side contains two more USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio port, HDMI, and power port.

Those who are into first-person shooters may choose to highlight the WASD keys like this.

What else is there to know?

With the exception of the somewhat uncomfortable keyboard-trackpad combo and flimsy bottom plate, the Zephyrus seems like it’s about to reach the finish line without any deal-breakers. But wait — I found something!

No matter how many optimization tricks I tried or useless software I uninstalled, I couldn’t for the life of me get this thing to last more than two hours on a single charge.

It turns out that cramming so much high-powered hardware in such a slim profile leads to atrocious battery life. I was never confident enough to unplug the Zephyrus from a wall socket to work or game on the move for more than an hour.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

That’s a tough question. As innovative and well-rounded as the Zephyrus is, its target market is as slim as the laptop itself.

With a starting price of $2,700, it’s way more expensive than building an equally capable desktop PC rig of your own, but it isn’t crazy pricey like some of the behemoths we’ve covered recently.

Our particular model was provided by ASUS Philippines, and it costs slightly more at PhP 179,995 (roughly US$ 3,550) since it has the best-possible configuration.

I often found myself taking a break in between work and gaming sessions to reflect on how far we’ve come since the impractical “mobile” PCs of the past. Those massive machines still exist, but they’re no longer the standard by which all gaming laptops must follow.

At the same time, there are drawbacks to slimming down a computing monster: The chassis loses its sturdy build, the keyboard and trackpad are relegated to awkward spots, and most of all, battery life takes a dive.

I’d say those are weaknesses you can ignore; keep the Zephyrus on a desk, insert the bundled mouse and wrist rest, and stay plugged in. Have to move to a new location? You can easily slide everything into a medium-sized backpack and bring them with you.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone AR review

[irp posts=”15440″ name=”ASUS ZenFone AR review”]

 

Gaming

Gran Turismo 7 might get a PC port

According to the creator

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Between last year’s Forza Horizon 5 and the upcoming Need for Speed Unbound, it’s a great time to be a racing gamer. Now, if you prefer playing on the PC, you’re likely getting another title to fuel your racing ambitions. According to the creator himself, Gran Turismo 7 might make a pitstop for PC.

Speaking to GTPlanet, Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi is “looking into” a PC port for the latest entry to the series. Released back in March, Gran Turismo 7 became the quintessential racing simulator for the PlayStation 5 (and the PlayStation 4, too).

That’s no surprise, though. If the “7” in the name of its latest entry hasn’t given it away, the Gran Turismo series has (usually) wowed gamers for years using the top-of-the-line hardware packed inside the most recent PlayStation console. It highlights and underlines the “simulator” in the car simulator genre.

However, amid all the hype, the series had a major flaw: You need a PlayStation. Now, as more former exclusives are making their way to the PC, the racing simulator might join in, adding another playable title for PC gamers. If the title makes the jump, it will join illustrious names like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Days Gone, and Uncharted. In fact, more are likely on the way. Sony is now fine with exclusive titles making the jump.

SEE ALSO: Gran Turismo 7: For car enthusiasts

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Genshin Impact v. 3.3 to arrive on December 7

First trading card game also announced

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Genshin Impact v. 3.3

Version 3.3 of global gaming sensation Genshin Impact, called All Sense Clear, All Existence Void will finally be available on December 7.

There will be a new season of events, and two new playable allies in the powerful Wanderer and Faruzan to surprise players with more stories, fun, and challenges.

The trailer for version 3.3 may be viewed here:

Trading card game announced

Genshin Impact v. 3.3

On top of this, HoYoverse announced its first trading card game — Genius Invokation TCG. With it,  players will soon be able to duel NPCs, friends, and others online.

This combines the fun of Genshin Impact’s element-based combat system with strategy development, as players compete against each other with their collection of cards.

More wins here equal more redeemable cards and Dynamic Skins from the Card Shop.

Wander in the Archon Quest interlude chapter

After being defeated in the Archon Quest main story, Scaramouche is now the Wanderer in the interlude chapter called Inversion of Genesis.

Here, players will head to Irminsul with the Wanderer to discover how the story unfolds. The character is playable as a five-star Anemo catalyst wielder, and can hover and attack in mid-air.

The other character, Faruzan, will be a four-star Anemo archer. She’s an ageless Akademiya genius in mechanics. The character also wields a bow as a weapon and supports teammates with Anemo DMG Bonus effects.

There will also be more challenges as the new seasonal special “Akitsu Kimodameshi” is set to arrive. Players will meet with Arataki Itto to master a series of “brick-breaker” mini-games.

Another special event, “Across the Wilderness” will require players to collect Wilderness Balloons.

Windtrace and Misty Dungeon shall likewise return with new updates.

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Gaming

Bardock backstory revealed in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot DLC trailer

More from Goku’s father

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Bardock

The trailer for Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s upcoming DLC, “Bardock- Alone Against Fate”, has been released by Bandai Namco.

The gameplay video features a first glimpse of Bardock in action in the game, as well as thrilling battles in the planet of Kanassa.

The scene also shows more details into the adventures of Goku’s father, who serves as a member of Frieza’s planetary invasion force. His journey to Planet Vegeta was also teased.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions to be released on January 12 and 13, 2023, respectively.

Speaking of which, pre-orders for the physical editions for PS5 and Xbox Series are now available here.

There will also be a Special Edition which comes with additional DLC episodes currently available on other platforms, including “New Power Awakens – Part 1 & Part 2” and “-Trunks- Warrior of Hope”.

Meanwhile, players who already own the game for previous consoles may upgrade for an additional fee to enjoy better graphics and smoother gameplay.

SEE ALSO: Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot review: Super fan service

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