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

Will PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X games be more expensive?

Signs point to yes

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Image source: Sony

Throughout the entire console versus PC debate, console gamers always had one thing going for them: the considerably cheaper price of hardware. Whereas PC gamers pay through the nose for a modern gaming rig, PS4 and Xbox One gamers pay only a fraction of that price for a console. However, amidst the price of hardware, console games are much more expensive. Current AAA games usually sell for US$ 59.99 or thereabouts.

Now, with the release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X imminent, everyone is waiting for the fate of their wallets. How much will the consoles retail for? How much will the games cost?

Currently, we already have an idea of how much the PlayStation 5 series will sell for, thanks to an accidental Amazon leak. If the leaks are true, the consoles won’t vary much from previous generations.

However, the price of PS5 games will likely bump up. As you might have heard, 2K Games finally announced the upcoming entry in the popular NBA 2K series, NBA 2K21. The new game will be the first one in the series to play on the next generation of consoles. As always, it comes in different packages, varying in in-game loot.

The standard edition (with Damian Lillard on the cover) will still retail for US$59.99 and will play on the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Stadia. However, the next-generation edition (with Zion Williamson) will retail for US$ 69.99 and will play exclusively on the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Both Mamba Forever editions will cost US$ 99.99. For a more in-depth look at what the different packages include, check out our breakdown here.

Plagued as it is with microtransactions, the NBA 2K series can definitely obscure how much a game really costs. We wouldn’t put it past them to bump up a price for themselves. However, the regular edition historically hovers around the industry’s current standard. There is no reason to discredit NBA 2K21‘s price as a potential standard. That said, are we looking at the price of the next generation?

Right now, the most popular PS4 games are already pricey, often much more expensive than PC variants. With a potential price bump on the horizon, becoming a console gamer might be much more painful for a budget. Though the console itself is affordable, the price of each game makes next-generation gaming more difficult to follow after each big release.

SEE ALSO: Sony announces huge list of games for the PS5

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Gaming

Kobe is the cover of NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition

For both current and next gen

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Give us a quick second as we wipe the tears off our faces. The third and final cover athlete for NBA 2K21 is Kobe Bryant. Instead of being called the Legend Edition, it will be aptly named Mamba Forever Edition.

The Mamba Forever Edition will be available in both current gen and next gen consoles. On the current gen cover, Kobe is shown wearing the No. 8 jersey displaying the peak of his athleticism. On the next gen cover, he’s seen wearing the No. 24 jersey in a scene during his final game where he scored 60 points.

2K says the covers are a celebration of the late athlete’s lifetime achievement and basketball excellence. He passed away in a tragic accident earlier in 2020 with his daughter Gigi Bryant and seven others.

Kobe was the cover athlete for NBA 2K10, the Legend Edition of NBA 2K17.

Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson were revealed as the covers for the current gen and next-gen standard editions respectively.

NBA 2K21 will feature MyTEAM Cross-Progression and a Shared VC Wallet within the same console family (PS4 to PS5, Xbox One to Xbox Series X).

MyTEAM Cross-Progression enables all MyTEAM Points, Tokens, cards and progress to be shared on both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21 in the same console family. Similarly, the Shared VC Wallet means any earned or purchased VC is accessible across both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21 in the same console family.

Pricing and availability

NBA 2K21 will be available on current-generation platforms on September 4, 2020 and is available for pre-order today. NBA 2K21 will be available for PhP 3,190 (US$59.99) on current-generation platforms.

It will also be available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X as a launch title this holiday. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X version of NBA 2K21 will be available for PhP 3,690 (US$ 69.99).

The NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition will be available for PhP 5,390 (US$ 99.99) for both current and next-generation platforms.

It includes dual-access where purchasing Mamba Forever Edition on either current or next-generation platforms provides a copy of the standard edition game on the other generation at no additional cost, within the same console family.

A full breakdown of pre-order details is available at NBA 2K’s website.

NBA 2K will release additional announcements and news about NBA 2K21 including the soundtrack reveal, first looks at gameplay and features for both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21, 2K Day celebration and much more.

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Dating

Pokémon launched Pikachu-themed wedding rings, but there’s something nasty about them

How big is your love?

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As of late, The Pokémon Company has increased its reach to a lot of other industries outside of gaming, including lifestyle apps and wireless earbuds. Now, the ubiquitous brand has expanded to the most precious catch of them all: wedding rings.

Partnered with Japanese jewelry company Ginza Tanaka, The Pokémon Company has officially launched Pikachu-themed engagement rings and wedding bands. The list of products includes simple platinum and gold wedding bands that come in a PokéBall-style box. Couples can also get their rings engraved with their own personal customizations. (However, the company rightly suggests a variation of “I choose you, [insert name here].”)

Meanwhile, the engagement rings are a bit more ostentatious. One design is a simple silhouette of Pikachu’s face, but the face’s center holds a diamond. Another design has two Pikachu tails holding the diamond in place. Like the wedding bands, they can come in either gold or platinum.

Cute as they are, there’s something awfully weird about them, as The Verge points out. In particular, the ears of the Pikachu rings look particularly nasty. Call us skeptical, but we don’t think Pikachu had *those* for ears. And yes, while they are part of the marriage process, we don’t know if you’d want them wrapped around your finger forever.

However, if you’re not bothered by them and think they’re perfectly innocent and fluffy Pikachu ears, they retail for JPY 346,500 (approximately US$ 3,225). Meanwhile, the wedding bands range between JPY 115,550 (approximately US$ 1,076) to JPY 121,000 (approximately US$ 1,126). The collection also has a keepsake photo frame selling for JPY 13,200 (approximately US$ 123).

SEE ALSO: Pokémon Unite is the very first Pokémon MOBA game

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