Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) review

Refinement of a modern classic

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A lot of credit has to be given to ASUS for pushing gaming laptop designs forward. Back in 2017, the original ROG Zephyrus paved the way for a new category of high-powered laptops that didn’t weigh a ton.

Since then, we’ve seen different variations of the Zephyrus that either upped the power or modified the original look. That evolution eventually led to the Zephyrus S (GX701) I’m currently reviewing.


With the some of the latest components and refinements based on previous generations, this Zephyrus already seems like a winner in my book. The question is: Does it have enough oomph to compete against the laptop brands that have caught up?

It all starts with the design

Once again, it’s the overall makeup that makes the Zephyrus S stand out. Every design cue was placed not just to make the magnesium-alloy body look sleek, but to improve airflow and cut as many grams as possible.

For one, ASUS managed to cram a 17.3-inch screen within a body normally reserved for 15-inch laptops. On top of that, its height tops out at 18.7mm and weighs about 2.7kg. That’s larger than what we’re used to from the Zephyrus line, but this beats every other high-end machine with equal specs.

Back as well is the Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) which lifts the bottom panel for more air intake. It sounds similar to ASUS’ ErgoLift on its ZenBooks, but the implementation here is more performance-centric, and unfortunately, not comfortable on a lap.

However, AAS is still the key to better cooling while staying slim. It’s complemented by two 12V fans and five sets of heatpipes to get as much heat away from the high-powered components. The only tradeoff is the awkwardly placed keyboard and trackpad; the former sits really low with no palm rest while the latter takes getting used to in its rightmost spot.

What I loved was the placement of the volume roller to the upper-left of the keyboard. It makes adjusting the two 2.5W speakers so easy. Pressing the roller mutes them. Less vital, but greatly appreciated, is how far the power button is from everything — safe from accidental touches.

To the side, we’re treated to two USB-C ports (one of which is capable of DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery for charging), three USB-A, one HDMI 2.0, and a 3.5mm audio port. There’s no mention of Thunderbolt 3 which is a bummer at this price range.

The features we actually want

ASUS definitely went for the no-compromise approach when creating the Zephyrus S. On top of all the features mentioned above, the specs are a collection of the must-haves and great-to-haves in both gaming and content creation.

The screen in particular, while only 1080p in resolution, owns a refresh rate of 144Hz with a 3ms response time and NVIDIA’s G-Sync tech for smoother visuals. Even more interesting: the panel has a Pantone color certification for 100 percent sRGB coverage — ideal for creators who value color accuracy.

On the software side, Armoury Crate is a pleasantly comprehensive piece of software that allows you to monitor CPU and GPU frequencies, temperatures and voltages, and how much work the fans are putting in.

In addition, the program lets you change settings such as the RGB lighting of the keyboard and bundled mouse. But what makes the software so intuitive is that it can be accessed anytime by pressing the ROG button above the trackpad and monitored through a smartphone. I’ve always loathed non-stock Windows apps, but Armoury Crate is definitely an exception.

One more cool feature is the ability to charge the Zephyrus S using any PD-certified adapter or powerbank. Chances are you’ll always have its lightweight power supply on you, but for the few instances you don’t, this is a lifesaver considering how below-average the battery life is.

The one feature that’s missing is a built-in webcam. ASUS decided to leave it out in favor of slimmer bezels around the display. This might be a downer to some; at the same time, this opens the opportunity for folks to use an external webcam which would be far superior to the low-end cameras most laptops these days come with.

Performance you’d expect

It goes without saying that raw performance is what the Zephyrus S excels at most. From the Core i7-8750H and GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q to the 24GB of RAM and 1TB M.2 PCIe storage, there’s no shortage of power in this machine.

Since the panel is of the 144Hz kind, you really feel these specs push the laptop to what it’s truly capable of. I’ve used gaming notebooks with a 4K display stuck at 60Hz, and I never felt that their high-end components were maximized to their full potential.

Personally, I find the 1080p resolution with a 144Hz refresh rate and G-Sync support to be the best-possible combination. After all, I honestly can’t tell the difference going any higher in pixel count on a 17.3-inch monitor. This is the sweet spot, and the Zeph nails it.

Here are a few benchmark numbers:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: 95fps (1080p, Highest preset)

Unigine Superposition: 4858 (1080p Extreme)

Cinebench R15: 112.19fps (OpenGL), 1176cb (CPU)

Truth be told, the results only speak for a small portion of the big picture. Having an 8th-gen Core i7 chip and RTX 2080 (even if it’s a slightly slower Max-Q variant) should instantly signal that AAA game are no problem for this setup.

Even though we’re seeing silicon manufacturers pushing out newer, faster chipsets than ever before, rest assured the configuration we have here will run through games for years to come. We’ve reached a point wherein the next generation of games will stop being so demanding on hardware and instead focus on optimizing for current-gen processors.

On the downside, the battery life is lackluster as usual. When not plugged in to a wall socket, I’m lucky to get 2.5 hours out of this thing with a balanced workload consisting of web browsing and Photoshop usage. It’s expected out of any gaming laptop at this point and should be anticipated by any potential buyer.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Even though gaming laptops are becoming increasingly common and more affordable in some cases, beasts like the Zephyrus S deserve the distinction of pushing the category to new heights. The model I reviewed here retails for PhP 199,995 or around US$ 3,835. It’s a heavy price to pay, but you’re getting top-notch hardware in return.

While this is certainly too much for mainstream users, creators and hardcore gamers will see the value in its top-notch components and attention to detail. ASUS has taken the Zephyrus line to yet another level, which is a major achievement considering how great the series had been to begin with.


The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is available in ROG Megamall and ROG Concept Stores in the Philippines.

Features

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang roles and the best ones

A quick guide, in case you’re just starting out

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Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB/ML) is a mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) developed by Moonton. There are roles or classes in Mobile Legends that have their own distinct specialty. This ultimately affects the effectiveness and functionality of the team you and your teammates construct.


A role or class is a category that your hero plays throughout a game of MLBB. There are a total of 85 heroes you can choose from six roles: Tank, Fighter, Assassin, Mage, Marksman and Support. Some of these heroes fall into two roles sometimes; each of them having their own unique abilities, skills, and stats that work to both their advantages and disadvantages. It depends from hero to hero.

How well you can manage a hero and their role as well as their specialty depends on your familiarity to the hero as well as your capacity to be willing to learn to play other heroes, the more you play ML.

As mentioned before, heroes have their own set of skills, abilities, and stats that inevitably help a team win a game. Think of roles as the basic facets your hero has and through it, you can determine your hero’s specialties and limitations.

Tank

Tanks are naturally bulkier. What I mean by bulky is that they have higher Health Points (HP), armor, and magic resistance. On the other hand, their attacks don’t hurt as much on their own.

If you like being buff and beefy, then try the tank role. They’re the walking shield of your team. They can take a beating from the enemy team so other roles can do the wrecking for them. Tanks can do Crowd Control (CC) with stuns, slows, hooks, and barriers which help save teammates and trap enemies.

Sometimes having a tank in your team can make or break a game. Most other roles have attacks that hit harder but if all of your teammates have naturally lower HP, it won’t take long for the opposing team to target you one by one and wipe your team out.

If we’re being realistic though, if you’re the person who prefers sticking to the meta and everyone picks marksmen, you’re the kind soul that worked on getting good at playing this role and probably more. Tanks are essentially the guys and gals who protecc, while his/her team attacc. Yes, with two c’s because remember, tanks and crowd control.

Fighter

Fighters are melee heroes who have a good balance of HP, armor, magic resistance and attack damage. They usually attack by jumping into and out of enemy range.

Fighters are semi-tanks. They have significant attack damage while racking up a good amount of magic resistance, HP, and armor. This role often takes the jungle and can single-handedly accomplish objectives within the game.

Not every team needs a fighter, but it can help to have someone who has a good balance between attack damage and the damage they can take. It can be a little daunting to play fighter if you’re non-confrontational since they’re melee heroes.

If you think being tank is a little too tough since the role relies on teammates for damage, you can take the fighter role. Basically, if you like hitting hard, surviving hits, and also dealing significant damage yourself, use a fighter.

Assassin

Assassins are pretty much the role you’d think an assassin would take. They’re quick and deal a painful amount of damage. Assassins normally roam and jungle, but they essentially take marksmen and mages down when they linger with low HP or overextend.

As the name of the role would imply, they like to catch people off-guard by sneaking and roaming around the map and making sure they punish any overextensions, secure kills and maybe sometimes steal skills from other teammates. Assassins are often equipped with multiple blinks and flashes — sticking true to their name and their role.

Remember: Assassins have mobility, stealth and damage at their advantage, but they can falter with not as much armor, magic resistance, and HP.

If you like roaming around the map, dealing significant damage to enemies, and sneaking in and out of clashes to execute the killing blow or prevent yourself from dying, play the assassin role. They’re slippery heroes that are tough to deal with.

Marksman

This is the role you’re taught to play from the get go. ML let’s you play Layla, a marksman, to learn the basic mechanics of the game so it doesn’t seem to be a difficult role to place. But what does a marksman have over other roles? Marksmen have high attack damage, high changes of critical hits, and range.

Marksmen are similar to Assassins with damage and attack speed but the marksman has range and skills with an Area of Effect (AoE). These default abilities and skills for heroes under this type enable them to hit hard, fast, and from far.

Marksmen are often referred to as Attack Damage Carry (ADC) heroes. They’re heroes that hit hard which, by default, allow them to rack up a good number of kills in the game. Although they do stack up a ton of damage, marksmen can be soft.

They have the advantage or range, but if someone gets up close, they don’t have that much HP, magic resistance, and mobility to often save themselves alone. If you’re the type to push and deal a ton of damage yet have the capacity to feel out when you’re being targeted and stay reasonably cautious, play marksman.

Mage

Mages are ranged heroes like marksmen but, instead of physical damage, they deal a painful amount of magic damage. They are similar to a marksman with their disadvantages: mobility and low HP.

They do find their strengths in the same category: attack damage or for mages, magic damage. On top of that, instead of solely magic damage, mages have a variety of spells, stuns, and slows that cripple both selected enemy targets and any area of effect they cast their spells on. Their spells depend on mana so mages preserve mana until they can burst spells down on an enemy target.

A fair warning though: if anyone so much as sneezes your way, you are absolutely done for. Mages hit hard but are soft. They are also significantly slow. Almost anything that can chase mages down and nibble at its HP is it’s kryptonite.

They are good at crowd control and mages do well when asserting their dominance by consistently harassing their opponents and by bursting them down with spells.

Support

Supports are often healers. Think of them as medics in your team. They help heroes heal, as well as increase their chances of survivability in a fight. Their varied skills can often stun, slow down, and throw targets back but unlike mages, supports don’t often prioritize their attack damage.

Support roles efficiently partner with roles that are disadvantaged with HP, magic resistance, and mobility to help heroes farm and take kills.

Supports are an essential part of team dynamics, but they aren’t necessarily crippled of attack damage or magic damage. Many supports are capable of tanking kills. Although it isn’t their primary objective, they can still take kills and rack up quite a number themselves.

If working around your teammates, cheering them on, and healing them is what you’d like to do, play a hero under the support role.

What is the best role to play in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang?

That’s a trick question. The answer is all of them and none of them. If you and your teammates work on synergy, cooperation and teamwork, all of the roles are the best. A game like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang can foster the importance of diversity in teamwork when working towards winning.

Each role has its strengths and weaknesses but that is ultimately why it’s important to have a healthy mix of different roles in your team. If your team were to play the same role, you’ll find the role’s and their heroes default weaknesses become amplified — making it easy for enemy teams to win.

If you’re just starting out playing Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, ease into one role and maybe expand your skill set little by little. It’ll help you grasp the significance of each role and what they can give to the larger objective of the game: teamwork, fun, and practice.

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less

Striking a balance between performance and affordability

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We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.

Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.


It’s done with a polycarbonate body

Instead, goes for a more premium metallic shell

ROG DNA is present

Makes the overall aesthetics look edgier

Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display

Also with slim side and top bezels

Keyboard is backlit

Although this one has RGB color going on

There are distinct WASD keycaps as well

Still emphasizing its gaming origin

Loudspeakers are located at the bottom

Equipped with DTS Studio Sound

Spacious trackpad

Ergonomically placed, too

All the ports remain on the left

Leaves space when using a mouse on the right

A little subtle on the design, but…

The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.

Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.

There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.

Play wherever you go

Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.

It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.

We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.

The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.

With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.

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Deals

Sony has new PS4 Pro bundles featuring God of War

The best time to play is now with a new PS4 Pro bundle featuring two popular gaming titles

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Sony has new PlayStation 4 Pro bundles that is too hard to ignore, especially if you’ve been dying to get your hands on a PS4 Pro. It will include two popular gaming titles from Sony itself.

From August 16 to September 8, Sony is bundling the PS4 Pro with popular game titles The Last of Us (Remastered) and God of War. It will be available on all PlayStation authorized dealers. The PS4 Pro bundle will come with two DualShock 4 wireless controllers. All in all, the bundle is worth PhP 24,990, which is a considerable markdown from its regular price of PhP 32,718.


All PS4 Pro will come in a jet black color and 1TB of HDD. There is also 2 years of warranty for every gamer’s peace of mind.

Other PS4 Pro bundles on offer

Apart from this bundle, Sony will also offer these PS4 Pro bundles:

  • PS4 Pro God of War Bundle (1TB HDD) with free Marvel’s Spider-Man (worth PhP 2,349) and free mini messenger bag — PhP 23,990
  • PS4 NBA2K19 Bundle Pack (500GB HDD) with free DualShock 4 Wireless Controller (worth PhP 2,990), free Marvel’s Spider-Man (worth PhP 2,349) and free mini messenger bag — PhP 19,990

The bundled mini messenger bag is a sling bag featuring the motifs of the iconic PlayStation shapes and the PlayStation family logo. It is only available while stocks last.

All the bundles are purchasable in all PlayStation authorized dealers.

The PlayStation 4 Pro is a gaming console released by Sony in 2016. It is a follow up to the popular PlayStation 4, featuring a much refined gameplay. It comes in either 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB of HDD storage.

SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

 

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