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Asus’ new Zephyrus gaming laptop has me excited for the future

Finally, a gaming laptop that feels portable and won't stick out in the office

ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop.

As CES 2024 ramps up, Asus kicked things off with a new line of ROG Zephyrus gaming laptops that, much to my surprise, are thin and light enough to allow for easy portability.

I actually wrote this on the bigger of the two laptops, the Zephyrus G16, which Asus sent me ahead of the announcement to test out. Unfortunately, I can’t dig into performance and benchmarks yet (stay tuned for a full review in the coming weeks!), I can say it has me rethinking my staunch position on gaming laptops.

From my first impressions after using the Zephyrus G16 for a little over a week, Asus managed to offer a reasonably thin-and-light laptop while still boasting significant performance and gaming capabilities. Plus, the simple design looks vague MacBook-ish, meaning it shouldn’t stand out like the typically garish designs we see on gaming laptops. The Zephyrus sports a CNC-machined aluminum chassis, which helps with the weight. It’s also quite sturdy, with virtually no flex.

Obviously, the Zephyrus isn’t as thin or light as non-gaming laptops out there, but considering the internals this thing packs in, the size is still impressive. The power adapter is, unfortunately, proprietary and features a hefty brick, too, but since you can charge over USB-C as well, I can give the charger a pass. The included charger ended up being a mainstay in my home office, and while out with the laptop, I could use my wonderfully portable USB-C charger to top it off, albeit at a slower rate.

Slash Lighting is cool, but could be betterZephyrus G16 laptop's Slash Lighting feature.

The Zephyrus also sports what Asus calls ‘Slash Lighting.’ This refers to the large slash across the lid, which actually contains a series of lights that can light up in various patterns. I was initially not impressed with the feature because all of the animation patterns looked broken.

After playing around with the included ‘Armoury Crate’ app for customizing aspects of the laptop, like the Slash Lighting, I discovered that there were five themes for the light, each containing roughly five animation patterns to choose from (the default theme was ‘Glitch,’ hence the lighting looking broken). Once I found some I liked, I came around on the Slash Lighting. Beyond the animation that plays while using the laptop, the Slash Lightning also has distinct boot-up and shut-down animations, a Sleep animation pattern and more. These are all nice additions, but I never really saw them in typical use since they’re on the other side of the screen.

One thing I would like to see in the future is a way for the Slash Lighting to convert helpful information when the lid is closed. For example, if there was a way to have the lights indicate battery level while the laptop was closed.

Specs

Some other highlights include an excellent keyboard (with RGB backlighting, of course — it wouldn’t be a gaming laptop otherwise) and, I think, one of the biggest trackpads I’ve ever seen on a Windows laptop. Seriously, this thing is massive and felt great under my finger, thanks to the wonderfully smooth surface and solid, tactile click.

Okay, enough about the design. Let’s talk specs. The Zehpyrus comes in two variants: the 14-inch G14 and the 16-inch G16 (I tried the latter version). Both sport ‘ROG Nebula’ OLED panels with G-Sync, along with Nvidia 40-series GPUs. The G14 offers AMD CPUs, while the G16 runs on Intel’s latest Core Ultra 7 or Ultra 9. The laptops can sport up to 32GB of RAM, up to 2TB of SSD storage, and they have tons of ports and speakers.

Check out the full specs and pricing below

Zephyrus G14

  • AMD Ryzen 7 8845HS CPU, 16GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 4050 Laptop GPU, 512GB SSD – $2,199
  • AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS, 32GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 4060 Laptop GPU, 1TB SSD – $2,599
  • AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS, 32GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 4070 Laptop GPU, 1TB SSD – $2,999

Zephyrus G16

  • Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, 16GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 4060 Laptop GPU, 512GB SSD – $2,299
  • Intel Core Ultra 9 185H, 32GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 4070 Laptop GPU, 1TB SSD – $2,999
  • Intel Core Ultra 9 185H, 32GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 4090 Laptop GPU, 2TB SSD – $4,499

The Zephyrus laptops will be available starting in February 2024 on the Asus eShop and at select retail partners.

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