Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus Review: So thin, so powerful

Published

on

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

Razer holds first ever SEA Games bootcamp for esports teams

Held in partnership with one of the best eSports teams in the world

Published

on

Image from fb.com/razer

Preparations for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games are underway, especially with eSports now added to the competition. Razer, the official eSports partner for the SEA Games has an idea on how to make preparations more interesting. The global gaming lifestyle brand wants to bring esports teams from all participating countries to train them by learning from the best players in the world.

Razer officially rolls out the Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp, a two-day training camp for eSports teams participating in the Dota 2 tournament for the SEA Games. The bootcamp will feature a series of mentorship sessions and practice games for all the competing teams from Singapore (Team X) , Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia (PG.Barracx), and the Philippines (Sibol). With the inclusion of eSports in this year’s SEA Games, Razer’s Global Sports Director David Tse hopes to “bring eSports to the next level.”


To guide these teams to success, Razer taps upon a global eSports powerhouse in the Evil Geniuses. EG’s Dota 2 coach, Sam “Bulba” Sosale will mentor the five participating teams to compete at the highest level for the upcoming tournament.

“Evil Geniuses is excited to help some of the best players in Southeast Asia prepare for it,” Sosale said. As of writing, members of the EG’s Dota 2 team are competing in the Upper Bracket semifinal round of The International 9 in Shanghai.

The Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp will run from September 2 to 3, 2019 in Singapore. As a treat, Evil Geniuses is hosting their first ever meet-and-greet in Southeast Asia on September 1. Fans will have a chance to get up close with members from EG’s Dota 2 team: Arteezy, SumaiL and s4, along with Bulba. Fans will also get a chance to win signed jerseys from their favorite players.

Continue Reading

Gaming

NVIDIA GeForce Now will bring PC games to Android devices

Taking on Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud

Published

on

Cloud gaming is a recent trend in the industry which aims to revolutionize gaming in the future. In the past few years, industry giants have launched their own cloud gaming platforms: Google announced Stadia, while Microsoft announced xCloud. Soon, they will be joined by NVIDIA with its own GeForce Now which will be available to Android devices soon.

GeForce Now is NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform that has been in beta for PC, Mac, and NVIDIA Shield TVs. With this recent announcement, GeForce Now will finally come to Android devices. More people will be able to play AAA PC games from their Android devices, regardless of specs. NVIDIA’s platform also has the advantage of streaming PC gaming titles from Steam, UPlay, and other digital stores. In comparison, titles available to Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud is more limited.


NVIDIA is improving the GeForce Now — as such, the platform will remain in beta phase for the foreseeable future. It is free for everyone to try. Those willing will need a compatible Bluetooth gamepad, since some games are unplayable through touch controls alone.

There is no exact date when the GeForce Now will be available to the public. There are also no details yet as to how much the platform will cost as of the moment.

NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is part of the industry’s push towards cloud gaming. Cloud gaming works by streaming a whole game through the internet so people can play their favorite games anytime, anywhere. However, it remains to be seen if people will welcome the technology with open arms — after all, it requires a fast and stable internet connection.

Continue Reading

Gaming

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has a release date!

So soon yet, not soon enough!

Published

on

After our heartstrings were played with by the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered teaser, fans have swarmed with tons of memes predicting and wondering how specific scenes would appear with stunning new visuals. Well, our memes and dreams are about to either come true or get shut down because Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is getting released on September 3, 2019!

Final Fantasy VIII and why fans love it

Final Fantasy VIII was a game that plotted itself in a fantasy world while digging into an emotional story-line of war and love. The game focuses on a group of young mercenaries led by Squall Leonhart. They’re adventure begins with a striking conflict: Ultimecia. Ultimecia is a sorceress from the future who possesses Edea and wants to compress time. In this quest, Squall encounters friends who inevitably join his quest to keep the world in its balance.


Final Fantasy VIII was the first of its series to reinvent the active time battle wheel without ignoring its roots. The game allowed more customization which ultimately allowed players to work around weaponry, armor, and summons that drastically affected characters’ combat style. These seemingly small tweaks in gameplay gave players breathing room to pick how they wanted to play the game making it all the more immersive.

While its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII, had 3-dimensional models, it didn’t significantly refine designs as much as Final Fantasy VIII. Every element in the game expressed more detail with as much accessible technology as Square could get their hands on. From the planet that showed a level of meticulous detail we hadn’t seen in the series before, to the hilarious “you’re the best looking guy here” memes, Final Fantasy VIII was weirdly ahead with visuals at the time.

What’s new with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered?

First, and obviously, enhanced visuals. The announcement trailer that was revealed in E3 this year made it loud and clear that each element of the game — characters, enemies, objects, and summons — were all refined and enhanced.

Second, battle assists. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered allows you to activate a booster to max out health points (HP) and active time battle (ATB) bars that trigger limit breaks at any point players need. Regardless, you will lose HP when you get hit with a critical attack that renders more damage than your HP, or by lethal damage.

Third, turning off encounters. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has setting you can use to allow you to turn off random encounters. This is incredibly useful when you’re out of potions, phoenix downs, and need to run to the nearest shop. This doesn’t apply for event battles that need to be done to further the game’s plot.

Fourth, battle speed boosts. The game lets you accelerate time by a factor of three. If you want to breeze through easy battles or rush through level grinding, this feature is useful. This feature isn’t applicable for certain scenes and movies.

Continue Reading

Trending