Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review: Ryzen 4000 makes this thin, light laptop a winner

Its performance and battery life defy your expectations.

asus rog zephyrus g14
Asus

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At a Glance

We’ve tested the new ROG Zephyrus G14, which debuts with AMD’s stellar Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU, and we can safely say: Just give Asus your money. This laptop packs a stupid amount of performance into a stupidly small and stupidly light frame.

To give you an idea of just how impressive this 3.5-pound, Ryzen 4000-based laptop is, you’re talking about a weight class that typically gives you lower-power CPUs and GPUs. Yet the G14 can hang in CPU performance with laptops that weight 10 pounds. 

Obviously the star of the show is the Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU, which we review in detail separately. But the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 as a whole package is nearly as impressive, so keep reading to find out more.

asus rog zephyrus pcworld lid Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

Although our unit does not feature the Anime Matrix LED, it’s worth highlighting. Part of the lid essentially features embedded LEDs that let you scroll or flash messages on the laptop lid.

ROG Zephyrus G14 Specs and Features

The ROG Zephyrus G14 model we reviewed ($1,450 from Bestbuy.com) has the following configuration:

CPU: 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS

GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q

RAM: 16GB DDR4/3200 in dual-channel mode

SSD: 1TB Intel 660P NVMe SSD

Networking: Intel AX600 WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0

Display: 14-inch “IPS-like” Full HD (1920x1080) @120Hz, which we measured at 280 nits’ maximum brightness

The G14 gives you a decent array of ports. The right side features two USB-A ports and one USB-C, along with a Kensington lock port.

asus rog g14 6 Gordon Mah Ung

The right side of the ROG Zephyrus G14 features a USB-C port two USB-A ports and a Kensinton lock port.

The right side features a barrel plug for the 180-watt power brick, and a full-size HDMI 2.0b port (hooked to the CPU’s Radeon port). There’s also another USB-C port with support for DisplayPort (through the GeForce RTX card) and USB-PD (Power Delivery). While you can’t really run the laptop hard on a 100-watt USB-C charger, the idea is to give you a lighter-weight option than the included 180-watt brick when you’re on the road (and not pushing it hard).

Thunderbolt 3 and Gigabit ethernet are notably absent from the port array. While we understand why Thunderbolt 3 is more difficult to obtain (given that the technology emanates from rival Intel), it does feel like onboard ethernet is important.

asus rog g14 7 https://www.amazon.com/Nvidia-GEFORCE-GTX-1080-Ti/dp/B06XH5ZCLP

The left side features a barrel plug for the 180 watt power brick, an HDMI 2.0b and USB-C with support for Power Delivery. There’s also a 

The other glaring omission is the lack of an onboard webcam. You can see below where it should be, in the blank spot between the microphones. The rationale from Asus was apparently that you’ll be using your far superior dedicated webcam to become a Twitch star. But webcams have been standard issue on most laptops for many years, so on the ROG Zephyrus G14 it seems like a feature more conspicuous for its absence.

asus rog g14 8 Gordon Mah Ung

Asus’ decision to omit a built-in webcam may turn out to be a rude surprise for many users.

Upgrade options

Getting inside the ROG Zephyrus G14 is easy, if not quick. You’ll need a small Phillips-head screwdriver and the patience to remove a million screws. You then use a spudger or a thin piece of plastic, such as guitar pick, to nudge the case open carefully at the seam.

Like most thinner laptops these days, there isn’t much to do. There’s one M.2 PCIe slot that’s occupied by the Intel 660P SSD, and a single DDR4/3200 SO-DIMM. 

asus rog g14 1 Gordon Mah Ung

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with Ryzen 9 4900HS features seven heat pipes to keep the CPU and GPU cool.

The laptop we reviewed, with 16GB, comes with one 8GB module in place. The other  8GB is on the reverse side of the motherboard in a module. The good news is it’s dual-channel mode, so you won’t hit memory bandwidth issues that impact performance. The bad news is if you want to get at that second slot, you’ll have to pull out the motherboard.

asus rog g14 2 Gordon Mah Ung

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with Ryzen 9 4900HS

Keyboard and trackpad

We’d rate the keyboard and trackpad experience as generally good. There’s decent travel and no oddly placed keys. We could complain about the tiny cursor keys, but at least they’re in the traditional inverted-T style. The trackpad has slight metallic feel to it but works well and supports Microsoft’s Precision driver.

If we had to complain about the keyboard, we’d say the backlighting is pretty medicore. We’ve come to expect RGB in gaming laptops.Likely for power and space reasons, Asus sticks with boring white that’s neither particularly bright nor even.

ROG Zephyrus G14 Gordon Mah Ung

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 keyboard is a little stiff but has generous travel. There’s fixed function keys on top to let you access the Armoury Crate for changing system settings as well as volume keys and a dedicated mute button.

Since we’re talking abolut the keyboard deck, if you look at the picture above you’ll see two small grilles to the right and left of the trackpad. Those cutouts allow sound from the modest speaker drivers to project straight up and at you, rather than firing out the side or into the desk surface. The sound is fair overall and gets decently loud, which is about as good as it gets for most laptops.

Build Quality

Laptop build quality is usually in the eye of the beholder, but we’d rate the ROG Zephyrus G14’s as generally pretty good. The lid and keyboard deck are magnesium, while the bottom appears to be plastic. Overall it feels solid and can be held by one corner without feeling like it’s going to buckle. Does it have the built-like a tank feel of a Razer Blade? No, but it feels like a good compromise of performance-to-weight ratio.

Did someone say performance? Keep reading for benchmarks.

At a Glance
  • The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is the first laptop with AMD's Ryzen 4000 mobile CPU, and it sets a new standard for the performance you can expect from a thin and light laptop.

    Pros

    • Blistering 8-cores of Ryzen performance and RTX 2060 Max-Q too!
    • Impressively thin and light for the amount of performance you get
    • Reasonably priced

    Cons

    • No web cam? Really?
    • Keyboard backlight is weak
    • No Thunderbolt 3 support
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