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

Its performance and battery life defy your expectations.

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Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 CPU performance

We’ll keep most of our CPU performance talk over in the Ryzen 4000 CPU review, but we know you just want to see one number. Below is our basic Cinebench R15 result for multi-core performance.

The results speak for themselves: Despite being in a weight class typically left to low-power, lower performance “U”-class CPUs, the G14 is able to stand with Intel’s mighty Core i9-9980HK. And that’s when the Core i9-9980HK is running in a far larger and far heavier laptop.

Let’s just say if you want multi-core CPU performance in as light of a laptop as possible, it’ll be hard to beat the ROG Zephyrus G14 right now.

asus rog zephyrus g14 cinebench r15 nt IDG

Cinebench R15 results put the G14 in a class itself.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 GPU performance

The most important part of any gaming laptop is its GPU. In this case, it’s Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q chip with 6GB of GDDR6 memory. If you’ve never heard of the 2060 Max-Q, we haven’t either. Nvidia launched its Max-Q variants with only the 2080 and 2070 versions, but somewhere along the way it appears to have quietly introduced the RTX 2060 Max-Q (although again, this is the first laptop we’ve seen with it). Notebookcheck.com offers specs on the RTX 2060 Max-Q. It appears to be a 65-watt version vs. the standard RTX 2060’s 80 to 90 watts.

Gaming laptops being gaming laptops, we can tell you no matter how good a Ryzen 9 is, it won’t make a GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q into a GeForce RTX 2080. Still, it’s valuable to see just where it falls, so we tested it using 3DMark’s Time Spy Graphics subscore. The graphics subscore focuses solely GPU performance on DX12 workloads.

As you can see, a fast CPU won’t make the GPU go faster, and the higher-end GPUs rule. The RTX 2060 Max-Q holds up surprisingly well, though. Typically we’ve seen Max-Q laptops give up a lot of performance to run in thin and light laptops. In the ROG Zephyrus G14, the RTX 2060 Max-Q is basically dead-on with the standard RTX 2060 in the Dell G7 laptop.

asus rog zephyrus g14 3dmark timespy graphics IDG

The RTX 2060 Max-Q in the ROG Zephyrus G14 delivers a lot of performance despite the laptop’s thin and light design.

Certain games do rely on the CPU more than others. Using Rise of the Tomb Raider set to Very High and in DirectX11 mode, we’re seeing the ROG Zephyrus G14 outpace that standard RTX 2060 in the Dell G7.

asus rog zephyrus g14 rotr dx11 19x10 very high IDG

The RTX 2060 Max-Q in the G14 is an impressive looking GPU.

Switching to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, we see the standard RTX 2060 paired with a Core i7-9750H a hair faster than the Asus.

asus rog zephyrus g14 rotr dx11 19x10 shadows of mordor ultra 4k texture pack IDG

Obviously, the GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q and Ryzen 9 4900HS are just fine for gaming, but one issue thin-and-light laptops can suffer from is performance degradation as heat builds up inside the chassis. To check for it, we fired up PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and ran it for an almost two hours. We saw no signs of trouble. For the most part, the GPU was reportedly running above 1,500MHz with the CPU at 4.1GHz or higher. The laptop may still hit a wall at some point, but its anecdotal behavior is quite promising.

pubg 1 45 IDG

We checked for signs of throttling by running PUBG for 1:45 minutes. Although the fans howeled, we didn’t see GPU or CPU clocks appear to back off in performance heavily.

We also wanted to see if the laptop’s keyboard would get excessively hot, so we shot a thermal image near the end of our gaming workout. The laptop’s keyboard was fairly comfortable, with no sections climbing above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. 

g14 thermal Gordon Mah Ung

We ran PUBG for more than an hour before taking this FLIR thermal image of the laptop deck. Although the fan was busy, the keyboard wasn’t excessively hot.

We should also say that fan noise with the laptop set to Turbo mode under very heavy CPU loads was quite pleasant and almost hard to hear in a daytime home environment. Gaming, however, pushed the fans to very high speeds. While not offensive, it was borderline loud, so put on your gaming headset, folks.

ROG Zephyrus G14 battery life

Our last report covers all-important battery life. Your mileage will vary greatly depending on what you do, of course. Our rundown test involves loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app. We set the screen brightness to 250-260 nits, with airplane mode on and earbuds connected (with volume at midrange), much as you’d set the laptop while watching a movie on an airplane with the cabin lights on. For comparison we have a stack of gaming laptops, which ran from criminally bad to decent battery life.

We’d slot the ROG Zephyrus G14 right into very good—for a gaming laptop—with just over six hours of run time. Considering its smaller battery, that’s actually quite decent.

Obviously, if you play a game, expect maybe 90 minutes of life, if you’re lucky. Beat on the CPU harshly and you probably shouldn’t expect more than a couple of hours. Browsing will also likely cut life in half. The key message is there’s just enough staying power in the G14 to make it actually quite usable.

asus rog zephyrus g14 video run down IDG

Our video run down tests puts the Zephyrus G14 in range of decently good run time.

Conclusion: Can’t touch this

To close this out, we really think you need to understand the context of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. The context being, it’s a 3.5-pound laptop with real performance chops.

In the chart below we record the weight of various laptops we’ve tested, from the lightest to the heaviest. We also report the hardware inside. As you can see, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 weighs a little more than a Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, which features a quad-core CPU and no discrete graphics.

asus rog zephyrus g14 weight comparison IDG

The 3.5-pound Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 weighs about as much as a quad-core Surface Laptop 3, but can hang in CPU performance with laptops that weight 10 pounds.

While its weight puts it with mostly “U-class” laptops, it performs in line with much faster “H-class” laptops. Just to remind you, here’s the Cinebench R15 chart from earlier in the review, where you can see it actually outperforming a mob of larger and heavier laptops.

asus rog zephyrus g14 cinebench r15 nt IDG

The G13 can outperform an Intel Core i9-9980HK in a 10 lbs. laptop.

Is the ROG Zephyrus G14 without flaws? Certainly not (like that webcam move). But for someone who actually needs this kind of performance in as light a laptop as possible, we can think of no other laptop around that can touch it today.

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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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