ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 – Hands-on and First Impressions

It’s RTX on for ASUS’s entire ROG line-up as we get hands-on with the RTX 2080 Max-Q equipped model of the big daddy: The 17-inch Zephyrus S GX701. It’s not all big guns and rampaging horses with this gaming laptop because being a Zephyrus model, it’s impressively thin as well.

 GX701GVGX701GX
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8750HIntel Core i7-8750H
GraphicsNvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6
RAM16GB DDR4 2666MHz 32GB DDR4 2666MHz
SSDM.2 NVMe PCIE 512GB SSDM.2 NVMe PCIE 1TB SSD
Display17.3-inch Non-glare FullHD (1920x1080) IPS-level TN panel, 144Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB17.3-inch Non-glare FullHD (1920x1080) IPS-level TN panel, 144Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB
KeyboardIndividually RGB backlit chiclet keyboard with 1.4mm travel distance
Touchpad-integrated numpad
Individually RGB backlit chiclet keyboard with 1.4mm travel distance
Touchpad-integrated numpad
Audio2x 2.5W speaker with Smart AMP technology
Array Microphones
2x 2.5W speaker with Smart AMP technology
Array Microphones
Ports1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-C) w/ DP 1.4 and Power Delivery
1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C)
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-A)
2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-A)
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x 3.5mm combo jack
1x Kensington lock
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-C) w/ DP 1.4 and Power Delivery
1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C)
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-A)
2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-A)
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x 3.5mm combo jack
1x Kensington lock
Wi-Fi/BluetoothIntel 802.11ac (2x2) Gigabit Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Intel 802.11ac (2x2) Gigabit Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Power230W Power Adaptor230W Power Adaptor
Weight & DimensionsW: 39.9 cm
D: 27.2 cm
H: 1.87 cm
Weight: 2.7kg
W: 39.9 cm
D: 27.2 cm
H: 1.87 cm
Weight: 2.7kg
PriceP139,995P209,995

AESTHETIC AND BUILD QUALITY

One word: solid. ASUS has done a good job of making the recent Strix and Zephyruses (Zephyri?) feel like solid slabs of pure gaming metal. There’s no overly major change here from the previous Zephyrus models and it pretty much follows the latest ROG design language of brushed metal, squarish shape, a few ROG eyes here and there, and plenty of RGB.

As a 17-inch gaming laptop, it does have a large surface area, but not as much as you’d think. Thanks to the thin bezels of the display, less space is wasted and earns you a little more wiggle room in your bag.

KEYBOARD

The polarizing keyboard makes its return here. The keyboard itself feels good to use during gaming, but the placement makes it a bit awkward to use on your lap. The extra above the keyboard is dedicated to cooling the heavy-hitters that is the hexa-core Intel Core i7-8750H and the Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q.

The per-key backlit keyboard enables users to fully customize the look to their taste. There are presets in the Aura Core software if you just want to set it and forget it. One cool feature that the Zephyrus S shares with its ZenBook cousins is the numpad integrated into the right-side touchpad.

DISPLAY

As with the Strix GL704, the display is an IPS-level 1080p 144hz display. Note that ASUS calls this “IPS-level” but it’s still actually a TN panel. That honestly doesn’t bother us as much as it sounds, since color reproduction and viewing angles are great, for a TN panel.

For content creation, it’s not going to be the best. But for gaming, it felt very responsive and fluid enough that I couldn’t blame my noob performance in APEX: Legends on the Zephyrus S.

PERFORMANCE

Nor could I blame it on the overall game performance. Thanks to the RTX 2080 Max-Q and Core i7-8750H, the Zephyrus S can really stretch its legs in 1080p gaming. APEX: Legends was able to take advantage of the 144Hz display and average 123 fps during online gameplay on maximum settings.

 SettingMinimumMaximumAverage
APEX: LegendsMaximum85 fps146 fps123 fps
Resident Evil 2 (2019)Graphics Priority86 fps205 fps120 fps
The Witcher 3: Wild HuntUltra62 fps104 fps80 fps
High83 fps112 fps103 fps
Rise of the Tomb RaiderVery High48 fps134 fps80 fps
High58 fps155 fps99 fps
Ashes of the SingularityCrazy41 fps101 fps62 fps
Extreme41 fps105 fps71 fps

Above 60 fps performance in 1080p makes the GX701GX the perfect gaming laptop. For synthetic benchmarks, the Zephyrus S scored a healthy 7,638 on 3DMark Time Spy (7,812 on its best run) and 5,437 on PCMark 10. On 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra and Extreme, it achieved scores of 5,139 and 9,782 respectively

The cooling is also quite impressive. The dual 12V fans were audible during graphical intensive scenes, but not intolerable. More importantly, the GX701 didn’t exhibit and thermal throttling and sudden framerate drops no matter which game we threw at it.

REMOVE THE FAT, KEEP THE NECESSARY

It’s no secret that we love the Zephyrus models. The slim profile, but top-of-the-line specs gamers unprecedented levels of portability and performance. If there are compromises on the GX701, it’s what’s been deemed unnecessary. Starting with what’s not immediately obvious: the webcam, there is none. There’s a clip-on webcam available in other markets, but it’s not available here. But let’s face it, if you’re using an external webcam anyway, you’d want something pretty high end for your streaming needs anyway.

If the GX701 is a tad too big for you, there’s also the excellent 15.6-inch GX531 model and it even comes with a built-in webcam. But with the actual size and weight difference between them not being that far apart, the larger 17.3-inch display and better cooling capacity on the GX701 really makes the on-the-go gaming experience all the better.

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