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.

Gaming

The biggest announcements from the final State of Play

New games, and a jam-packed DLC to boot

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2020 is just around the corner, and in PlayStation’s final State of Play for the year, they dropped huge news. From popular titles to new titles for next year, PlayStation wanted to wrap things up nicely for its 25th anniversary. Here are some of the biggest announcements from the final State of Play for 2019:

Untitled Goose Game arrives

You’ve heard of the Untitled Goose Game, right? That’s right, the game that allows you to vent all your frustrations towards the human race as a “vengeful” goose comes to the PlayStation 4 on December 17. Accomplish several tasks and achieve pure chaos, all while keeping yourself out of the humans’ reach. Honk your way to success at the expense of the human race.

Spellbreak enters the battle

Proletariat wants to add a new kind of battle royale game for the PlayStation 4. Spellbreak combines the typical battle royale-style gameplay with the hint of magic in it. While the broadcast did not reveal much on other game mechanics, it showed several battle areas such as towns and forests. The game is already available for the PC through the Epic Games store, but will make its way to the PlayStation 4 next year.

Explore a dreamlike ecosystem with Paper Beast

2020 will be the year that PlayStation beefs up its VR lineup. Pixel Reef has one such title added to that lineup in Paper Beast, an adventure-simulation game. The game mostly focuses on wildlife depicted in 2D-like structures. It is expected to launch some time within the first quarter of next year.

Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMind: the mind-boggling DLC

Finally, on January 23, 2020, one of the most popular games released in 2019 explores the forgotten in its latest DLC. Kingdom Hearts 3 welcomes a deeper dive into the events leading up to the game’s final battle scene  in ReMind. The expansion features several characters from the beloved Kingdom Hearts franchise while also marking the return of key figures in the Final Fantasy series. While the DLC drops early next year, Square Enix and PlayStation had opened pre-orders for it.

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Gaming

League of Legends launches an apparel line with Louis Vuitton

Costs up to US$ 5,650

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Image source: Louis Vuitton

How far will you go for League of Legends loot? Most gamers usually settle for in-game loot — cosmetic goodies to outfit your favorite characters. Some, however, buy into real-world merch — shirts, hoodies, stickers. Of course, both types of merchandise are legitimate ways to support the game. Regardless, there is always a way to go overboard.

Here’s your new way to splurge on the latest League of Legends merch! The iconic MOBA game has recently partnered up with luxury lifestyle brand Louis Vuitton. The newfound partnership has spawned a small line of League of Legends-themed apparel. As you might expect, the Louis Vuitton x League of Legends collection costs an arm and a leg.

For starters, the collection offers a minimalist black shirt with League of Legends character Qiyana. This particular item will cost you US$ 670. Again, this is just for starters. A similar t-shirt dress with the same character will cost you US$ 2,010.

Going towards the opposite side of the affordability spectrum, the collection also offers a hooded parka with blue and white accents for US$ 4,450. The most expensive item in the collection, a shimmering leather biker jacket, will cost US$ 5,650.

Outside of clothes, the partnership also has a set of accessories for sale. A Qiyana keychain/bag charm will cost US$ 515. A gold and white bucket hat will cost US$ 730. Finally, Louis Vuitton is offering a similarly designed Tambour Horizon smartwatch for US$ 3,050.

Before this extravagant partnership, both League of Legends and Louis Vuitton have partnered with complementary brands in the past. For one, Riot Games has recently partnered with OPPO for gaming content. Likewise, the luxury brand recently melded technology and lifestyle through AMOLED-paneled bags.

SEE ALSO: AMD announces faster 12-core Ryzen chips

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Gaming

PH team bags first Mobile Legends gold in SEA Games 2019

Defeats Indonesia in best-of-5 match

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Image from fb.com/SIBOLesports

The Philippines is enjoying a fruitful year at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. At the time of this writing, the country has 114 gold medals, breaking its former record of 112 gold medals from the 2005 event. Among the current accolades, however, one victory stands out — the Mobile Legends crown.

In a classic underdog tale, the Philippine team, Sibol Mobile Legends, defeated the Indonesian team by a narrow 3-2 victory.

Coached by Changrok Im, the Philippine team is composed of Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa, Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno, Carlito “Ribo” Ribo, Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon, Angelo Kyle “Pheww” Arcangel, Allan Sancio “Lusty” Castromayor, and Jason Rafael “Jay” Torculas. On the other side, the Indonesia team is filled by medaled champions from Southeast Asian and global tournaments — a veritable dream team.

Of note, the Philippines ended up in a lower bracket in the preliminary group stages, finishing only second to rivalling Indonesia in Group B.

The best-of-five match-up started with an emphatic win from Sibol, headlined by a flank play from Villa. From the onset, Sibol had the momentum going forward.

However, the next two games belonged to Indonesia, including an emphatic game 2 win and a comeback game 3 nail-biter. The rivaling team seemingly regained its champion form.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Sibol blew the game wide open, stealing a crucial game 4 to setup a decider in game 5. In that fourth outing, Indonesia surprisingly allowed the Philippine team to run Esmeralda, Nepomuceno’s ace hero. Naturally, Nepomuceno wreaked havoc, taking kill after kill.

After failing to complete the beating, Indonesia collapsed in the fifth and final frame, granting the Philippines the dominant win and the first esports medal for the country in the 2019 SEA Games.

SEE ALSO: EVOS Legends wins first ever Mobile Legends World Championship

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