I am pretty sure ‘M’ stands for Mature.
The original Zephyrus nailed it on the design front but the keyboard and trackpad positioning lost it a few points on practicality. Worst in this department was its rival - the Acer Predator Triton 700 with its obscure location for the trackpad. Both were form over function machines to some extent because of this, but the Zephy was a tad more usable.
This mature version comes in at half the price of the original and throws in practicality into the mix. It’s still a little precious at ₹1.5 lakhs, but does it justify that price?
The Zephyrus M looks quite identical to the original and you notice that not a lot has changed. It still is this sleek and sexy laptop that’s a joy to carry around and doesn’t take a lot of space in your backpack. The lid has that dual brushed aluminium design with the ROG logo glowing in red and we’re happy they didn’t change that.
The keyboard now rests in a more traditional layout rather than on the edge and the trackpad is below it. This makes a lot more sense now and typing and just generally working on the laptop feels normal and intuitive just like it should. We had a bit of an issue with the back panel feeling a bit flimsy, but on the new Zephyrus, it feels sturdy.
Even the underbelly lights appear to be more prominent and leave a cool halo around the back of the laptop. RGB lovers would have wanted more, especially when you consider the ROG Strix GL504GM Hero Edition’s ambient light that surrounds the laptop and looks quite stunning. We also liked the thinner display bezels on the Hero as the borders that surround the display on the Zephyrus make it look a bit less polished.
Our eyes are quite used to the Full HD panel used by Asus and it’s quite a performer. Colours appear natural and there isn’t any unnatural tint to it. It performs well even when things get really dark - say in games like State of Decay 2 and is adequately bright. The 144Hz refresh rate keeps things smooth, but the real winner here is G-Sync.
Playing a round of PUBG is absolute fun and there is almost no tearing or ghosting when the frame rate starts to drop in the busier end of the game. Even the Witcher 3’s vast landscape and mountains are portrayed beautifully and the colours are spot on. You will love this display even more if you like cinematic games like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice as they look absolutely amazing especially when you push the settings to max.
Keyboard and Audio
The keyboard layout is the familiar Asus chiclet that is pretty soft to type on and there’s hardly any noise from it. The keys are spaced apart well and your hand just assumes its ‘WASD’ position quite naturally. We like the extra real estate that is given to the spacebar as that tiny bit helps when you have to press the spacebar in a panic to jump or execute other commands in some MOBA games.
Dedicated keys for changing profiles and macros do not feature on the Zephyrus, but other essential shortcuts like a dedicated button for launching the Command Centre are provided. The Aura software is where you can have all the customisation fun with different RGB effects and the lot, while it also allows your laptop to talk to other Asus peripherals in your arsenal so that you can have one unified and synced ROG army (sure to petrify your enemies).
Once you’ve achieved total dominance through RGB in the gaming room, your opponents will whimper, but you won’t be able to hear it because of the brilliant speakers on this thin beast. It serves up audio with a dollop of tight bass and gunshots and explosions have some weight to them. But the noise from the fan when on full throttle can be a tad annoying and headphones are always the way to go.
Right off the bat, the Zephyrus M just feels quick and excited to get things done. It boots up in seconds and is ready to take on whatever you throw at it. The Intel Core-i7 8750H paired with 16GB of RAM clocked at 2666MHz handles heavy softwares with the braggadocio of a hormonal sixteen year old. It isn’t afraid of a bit of video editing either, but that display is meant for sterner stuff, like hard core gaming.
Starting with something light like Doom and as expected, the game ran above 70fps throughout with settings on max. Right, something a bit more taxing like the old and faithful Witcher 3 proved to be a bit of a challenge with average fps figures lingering around the 55-65 mark. Smaller games like PUBG and Fortnite ran butter-smooth and felt quite polished thanks to the magic of G-Sync.
We also loaded up GTA V and were surprised at how well the new Zephy managed to keep things above the 60fps mark, even with settings to the max. To be honest, we couldn’t find a fault in the Zephyrus’ performance, that’s until we had a look at the battery life. The laptop runs out of juice in about two hours. This is a compromise you might have to live with, but if you switch the Optimus mode on, you get an extra 44mins to an hour more of life.
Audio quality is pretty great too. The laptop manages to get quite loud without any undesirable distortions during explosions and fight sequences. It isn’t the last word in detail, but considering the dimensions of the laptop, audio quality is not bad at all.
So, the new Zephyrus manages to impress us quite a lot and the only problem we’ve had with it is the short battery life. It handles tasks like a king and undercuts rivals by a good ₹10-15k in terms of specs offered. If this variant is too much power for you, there is a lower specced variant that features the Nvidia GTX 1070 and will cost you ₹1.60 lakhs, ₹40,000 less than what you pay for this one.
So, if you’re in the market for a light and portable gaming beast, the Zephyrus M should be at the top of your list. However, if battery life is a major criteria for you, quite honestly, you shouldn’t be looking at a high-end gaming laptop in such a form factor to use as your daily machine. For the rest of you crazy gamers out there, this baby is sure to impress.