We’ve reviewed most thin-and-light performance laptops with RTX graphics in the last few months, and out of the existing options, Asus were the only ones to stick with an inverted design in their ROG Zephyrus S GX531 line. That came with several sacrifices, though, that’s why the GX531 scored lower than the competition in our review.
Luckily, that’s changing with the new ROG Zephyrus M GU502 and Zephyrus S GX502 (there’s also a Zephyrus G lineup, and yes, Asus have a neck for making everything very confusing).
Unlike the Zephyrus S models, the Zephyrus M uses a standard form-factor, with the keyboard placed on top of an arm-rest and the hardware underneath. Asus kept the premium metallic build, but the GU502s are shorter than the GX531 models, thus more compact and lighter, and despite that, they incorporate improved hardware, more RAM, 2x storage SSDs and a larger 76 Wh battery, as well as an optional 240 Hz display.
There is one catch, though: as of right now, Asus only announced GTX 1660Ti and RTX 2060 variants of the Zephyrus M GU502. Whether a higher-tier GPU will make it inside this frame remains unknown, but I’d reckon it won’t, for two reasons: the cooling might not be able to handle a higher-tier GPU, and Asus will probably want to separate the Zephyrus lines, keeping the S at the top, with RTX 2070 and 2080 Max-Q variants.
The article below tells you what to expect from the Zephyrus M GU502 series, how it compares to the Zephyrus S line and touches on some of the potential concerns that need to be vetted in a future review (which should be available in the following weeks), before concluding whether this can take on the Razer Blade 15, the most balanced option in this niche as of April 2019.
Specifikacije koje su pregledane
|Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502||Asus ROG Zephyrus GX531|
|ekran||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, 144 / 240 Hz, 3 ms, Pantone potvrđeno, bez dodira, mat||15.6 inča, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, 144 Hz, 3 ms, Pantone potvrđeno, bez dodira, mat|
|procesor||sve do Intel Coffee Lake-H Core i7-9750H CPU||Intel Coffee Lake-H Core i7-8750H CPU|
|video||Intel HD 630 + Nvidia 1660 Ti 6 GB ili RTX 2060 6 GB (90W)||Intel HD 630 + do Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q 8 GB (90 W)|
|memorija||do 32 GB DDR4 2666 MHz (2x DIMM)||do 24 GB DDR4 2666 MHz (8GB lemljeni + 1x DIMM)|
|skladištenje||2x M.2 NVMe 80 mm slot sa podrškom za RAID 0||Prorez 1x M.2 NVMe 80 mm|
|povezivanje||Bežični AC (Intel AC 9560, 2 × 2), Bluetooth 5.0||Bežični AC (Intel AC 9560, 2 × 2), Bluetooth 5.0|
|Luke||2x USB-A 3.1 gen 1, 1x USB-A 3.1 gen 2, 1x USB-C gen 2 sa DP 1.4 i PowerDelivery, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, mikrofon / slušalice, Kensington Lock||1x USB-A 3.1, 2x USB-A 2.0, 1x USB-C gen 2 sa DP i PowerDelivery, 1x USB-C gen 1, HDMI 2.0, mikrofon / slušalica, Kensington Lock|
|baterija||76 Wh, opeka 230 W.||60 Wh, opeka 230 W.|
|veličina||360 mm ili 14.17 ”(w) x 252 mm ili 9.92 (d) x 18.9 mm ili .74” (h)||360 mm ili 14.17 ”(w) x 268 mm ili 10.55 (d) x 16.2 mm ili .63” (h)|
|Težina||4.2 lbs (1.9 kg) + 1.72 lbs (.78 kg) power brick, EU model||4.58 lbs (2.08 kg) + 1.72 lbs (.78 kg) power brick, EU model|
|Dodaci||per-key RGB backlit keyboard, external webcam (?), 2x speakers, ESS Sabre Hi-Fi DAC||4-zone RGB tastatura sa pozadinskim osvetljenjem, HD web kamera, 2x 2W prednji zvučnici, ESS Sabre Hi-Fi DAC|
Glavne prodajne tačke
The Zephryus M GU502 is smaller and lighter than the Zephyrus S models, and pretty close to competitors like the Razer Blade 15 ili MSI GS65 Stealth Pro. It no longer gets a hump at the back, the screen is framed by narrow bezels and even the chin at the bottom is a little thinner than on the Zephyrus S variants, which lead to the smaller footprint. That also translates in a loss in weight, combined with the use of magnesium and aluminum alloys for the construction.
Asus mentions honeycomb structures used to reinforce the chassis, so hopefully, the M inherits the excellent build quality of the S models. It seems to inherit those sharp, unforgiving, edges, as well.
The design lines are otherwise consistent with the rest of the Zephyrus line-up, with brushed metal used for the hood, matte metal for the interior and underside, and a big red ROG logo on the lid-cover, most likely backlit by the screen’s panel.
Speaking of the screens, Asus offers two FHD IPS matte panel options for the GU502 models, with either 144 or 240 Hz refresh rates. There’s no GSync support as far as I can tell, but that’s hardly going to be missed on such fast screens, and the alternative of implementing Optimus should translate in pretty good battery life with daily use, especially with the inclusion of a 76 Wh battery. That’s still smaller than what you can get with the competition, but only within 10% this time around, not within 30+% as on the Zephyrus S. Asus could still offer the switchable Optimus/GSync mode available in the Zephyrus S GX701, but there’s no word about it, for now, and to truth is I’d rather expect that on the updated S GX502 than on this mid-tier member on the lineup.
The new design also leads to a slightly better selection of ports. The novelty is the addition of an RJ45 Lan port, but there’s still no card-reader and no Thunderbolt 3, which we’ll touch in the next section. The barrel power-plug is still placed on the middle of the left edge, which some might find a little inconvenient.
Just like the other 2019 Zephryus lines, the M GU502s can charge via USB-C, at up to 65W. Of course, you’ll still need to plug-in the beefy 230 W included charger for performance work and gaming, but you can use a much smaller USB-C charger (not included) or a power-bank if you need to juice this up while on the go.
Specs wise, the Zephyrus M addresses most of my complaints about the S models. It gets two memory slots and two M.2 storage slots with support for RAID0, and the hardware should hopefully be much easier to access and upgrade, given the simpler design without the mechanical raiser on the underbelly. That, however, is something we’ll have to look for in the final review, where we’ll also touch on performance.
Asus bundles the M GU502s with a 9th gen Coffee Lake R Core i7-9750H processor, which is still a 6-core 12-thread CPU just like the i7-8750H, but with the ability to run at higher clocks speeds if allowed by the thermal implementation. I wouldn’t, however, expect more than 5-10% gains between the two generations, and perhaps even smaller in this kind of ultraportable designs. The Zephyrus S was, nonetheless, an excellent performer in our Cinebench loop test, and I’d expect the Ms to at least match that.
As for graphics, two variants of the Zephyrus M have been announced to date, with either GTX 1660 Ti 6 GB or RTX 2060 60 GB graphics. Asus mentions that a 90W variant of the RTX 2060 chip is included on the GU502GV variant, just like on the ROG Scar GL504, but doesn’t give any further details on the 1660 Ti option. As far as we know right now, the GTX 1660 Ti chips should come close to the RTX 2060 in most games, but with a lower TDP (probably around 80W in this implementation) and no RayTracing or Tensor cores. Nvidia also advertises up to 1.5x the performance of a GTX 1060 implementation, which is mostly in line with what the existing 2060 variants offer.
Quirks and potential concerns
We’ll touch on the IO first. There’s still no Thunderbolt 3 on the Zephyrus M, unlike on pretty much all the other competitors, and I’m looking forward to finding why Asus insists on not including support for Thunderbolt 3 on their gaming devices.
You do get DP and power-delivery and charging via the existing USB-C gen2 port, but the transfer speeds are still limited to 10 Mbps and there’s no possibility to connect an external GPU enclosure, something a lot of buyers might want to on an RTX 2060 configuration.
There’s also no card-reader, which professional users might want.
That aside, Asus didn’t mention anything about the keyboard’s lighting system, thus my expectations are towards a 4-zone system, like on the Zephyrus S. The image below does suggest zone illumination and separate control over the WASD keys, so we’ll update this section once we know more.
Update: Both the Zephyrus M GU502 and Zephyrus S GX502 lines get per-key illumination control, so I’d expect these keyboards to perform and feel much like the keyboard on the Zephyrus GX701 model.
The addition of dedicated multimedia keys and that extra row of Function keys at the right will surely enhance the overall experience, compared to the Zephyrus S, though. I sure hope those multimedia keys can be switched off and are not permanently lit, although the experience of watching a movie in a dark room is going to be impacted by that lit power button and the status LEDs placed just beneath the screen. Oh, and while we’re on this matter, that backlit ROG logo on the lid is still there.
While I’m mostly nitpicking in the lines above, the thermal implementation is definitely going to make or break the Zephyrus M GU502 series. We’ll have to wait for the review unit to draw any conclusions, but Asus talks extensively about it in the initial press-release, emphasizing on the two high-cfm fans with thin fins and anti-dust tunnels, as well as on the complex system of heatpipes and radiators that cover the CPU and GPU.
It’s worth noting that the Zephyrus M lineups no longer get the mechanical foot implemented on the Zephyrus S, so the bottom is no longer pushed-up in order to help with fresh-air intake. Construction wise, that makes that whole design simpler and sturdier (also cleaner, since the LEDs within the system are dumped), but it might have an impact on thermals and even on performance.
Fan noise is another important aspect to check out in the detailed review. Given that the GU502 models don’t get Nvidia Max-Q graphics, they don’t have to adhere to the theoretical 40 dB noise-limit imposed by the Max-Q standard. It’s not like the Zephyrus S models did though, as their fans ramp up to as high as 55 dB at head-level in the higher-performance Turbo mode.
Finally, I’ll also add that the Zephyrus M lacks any sort of biometric login options, whether a finger-sensor or IR cameras, and as far as I can tell right now, doesn’t get front-facing speakers either, all of these being features offered by the Razer Blade 15. We’ll have to confirm on the audio implementation though; right now, it looks like the speakers were sent to the bottom, but they might also be placed behind that grilled mesh at the top of the keyboard.
Oh, and there’s no camera at the top of the screen, so I’d reckon an external webcam is included, like on the Zephyrus S GX701 model.
Prices and availability
Availability and pricing details on the 2019 Zephyrus M update are still unknown at the time of the article, but I’d expect around $1800-$2000 as a starting price for the RTX models, based on the price of the existing RTX 2060 configurations of the Zephyrus S GX531, and a little lower for the GTX 1660 Ti variants.
Ažurirati ćemo ovaj odeljak kada saznamo više.
That’s about it for now on the Asus Zephyrus M GU502. We’ll spend more time with the new Asus ROG notebooks in the next few days and meet up with some of the Asus officials, so we’ll hopefully have answers to some of the questions above. We’ll also have our reviews up in the weeks to come, and we’ll update the article once those are published.
In the meantime, if you have any feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch in the comments section below.