Asus ROG Zephyrus

At Computex 2017, Asus unveiled its latest gaming laptop in the Republic of Gamers brand: the ROG Zephyrus. Thanks to an incredibly svelte design and highly efficient Nvidia Max-Q technology that crams in a mighty GTX 1080 graphics card, this is a machine that really is both a beauty and a beast.

In many ways the Asus Rog Zephyrus is a culmination of a number of things we've already seen at Computex 2017. At its initial keynote, Asus showed us that it has what it takes to make some seriously slim and powerful laptops when it announced the likes of the Asus ZenBook Flip S and the Asus ZenBook Pro.

Meanwhile, at Nvidia's keynote, the graphics powerhouse revealed all about its Max-Q platform, which brings extensive customization of its existing graphics hardware to help create extremely thin and very powerful gaming laptops.

With Nvidia's CEO Jensen Huang joining Asus chairman Jonney Shih on stage to help announce the ROG Zephyrus, it was clear that the close collaboration between the two companies could create something very special indeed – which our early hands on time with the Zephyrus indicates it has.

Asus ROG Zephyrus release date and price

While Asus was keen to show off the ROG Zephyrus, it was less enthusiastic about disclosing the price, as we're still not clear how much the laptop will cost.

This may be an oversight, or perhaps Asus haven't decided on a final price. Maybe it will be so expensive Asus doesn't want an enormous price tag to overshadow the hype surrounding its unveiling.

We've reached out to Asus for clarification on the price, and will update this review when we find out how light it will make our wallets.

Meanwhile, it's safe to assume that this will be a pretty pricey gaming laptop considering the design and specs – so you may want to start saving up now.

How long do we have to save up for the ROG Zephyrus? Well, the release date is another key fact that Asus has omitted from telling us, though at its keynote, Nvidia said the first wave of Max-Q laptops will arrive by June 27 – so it could be as soon as that.

Asus ROG Zephyrus design

The design of the ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop is one of its most compelling features thanks to Asus' quality engineering, along with its collaboration with Nvidia to bring one of the first gaming laptops to use its Max-Q platform.

This has resulted in an ultra-thin profile that, when closed, measures just 17.9mm at its thickest end, and tapering to just 16.9mm.

That's a far cry from the bulky gaming laptops we've come to know, such as the Asus ROG Strix GL502, which has a thickness of 30.48mm – and that's considered one of the slimmer gaming laptops.

This thinness also gives the ROG Zephyrus a light weight of just 2.2kg. Holding it in our hands, we were very impressed with how light it was – meaning that this can easily be taken with you when you travel – or for bringing to a LAN party.

You can also easily hold it in one hand – not something we'd usually be able to do with past gaming laptops!

While the Asus ROG Zephyrus is impressively thin and light, it also feels pretty sturdy – though an interesting feature did give us a shock at first, and makes the laptop feel a bit delicate. When the screen is lifted up to open the laptop, a part of the bottom of the laptop's body flexes open slightly. While this looks like a manufacturing error – or even that the chassis is damaged – it actually does it on purpose to increase airflow into the body of the laptop to keep the components cool.

We're a bit worried this opening may be a point of weakness for the Zephyrus, and we look forward to taking a closer look when we fully review this machine.

Having a gaming laptop with such powerful components – that normally run hot – in such a small body was always going to require some outside-of-the-box thinking when it comes to cooling solutions, so this may be the price we pay for such a gorgeously slim gaming laptop. An exclusive Active Aerodynamic System (ASS) is used to keep the Zephyrus cool, guiding airflow over the components in an intelligent way.

We'll find out how good this system works in our full review, but during our hands on time we didn't hear any annoying fan noise whilst it was playing some demanding games – including virtual reality titles.

The cooling considerations mean that the keyboard is placed at the bottom of the chassis, rather than the top. This leaves a lot of empty space above the keyboard, but at least it doesn't feel too uncomfortable.

While the keyboard isn't mechanical (unlike some high end gaming laptops), and the keys are rather flat (to keep the design as slim as possible) and without much key travel, it still left comfortable enough to use when typing and playing games.

The keys are backlit with Asus' Aura RGB lighting system, which can be tweaked using the software that comes preinstalled.

With the keyboard shifted to the bottom of the body, the touchpad is moved to the right of the keyboard, and includes a 10-key function that can be toggled with a hot key. 

The position of the touchpad may be difficult to get used to for some, but we quite like it, as we're often accidentally hitting our traditionally-positioned trackpad with our wrist or palm when we type rigorously.

Of course, when you're gaming you'll likely want a proper mouse, so the position of the trackpad probably won't be an issue.

The included display is also a stunner, as it's a 15.6-inch full HD display with a 120Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync support. This means game play is silky-smooth – and it's really worth seeing in person if you can to fully appreciate the benefits of G-Sync.

The screen also features wide viewing angles and anti-glare coating, along with a 100% sRGB color gamut for fantastic color accuracy and image quality. While Nvidia is showing off G-Sync monitors with HDR support, there's none of that here, but even in the less ideal environment of the launch event (held in a shopping mall in Taipei) we could tell this was a very fine screen indeed.

Despite the slim design of the body, the ROG Zephyrus comes with a USB C port, four USB 3.1 ports, a HDMI and 3.5 headphone and mic combo jack.

Asus ROG Zephyrus specs

As slim and light as the Asus Zephyrus is, the specs are also incredibly impressive. It features an Intel Core i7 7700HQ CPU, along with an Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU – one of the most powerful graphics cards in the world, and until now only really found in desktop machines,.

It also supports DDR4 RAM up to 24GB, and has four M.2 PCI ports for super fast SSD storage, as well as support for up to 1TB storage on a standard SSD.

Basically, this is an absolute beast of a machine that will handle pretty much all of the latest games at high settings – and of course it's also VR ready. This is the machine that Nvidia's Jensen Huang said was 60% more powerful than a PlayStation Pro 4 – though it's likely to be over 60% more expensive.

We can't wait to get our hands on the ROG Zephyrus to really put it through its paces with some of today's most demanding games, as well as benchmarking the hell out of it. We did see games running on the machine though, such as Forza 3, and they looked brilliant, without any noticeable hitches or dropped frames – the G-Sync screen surely helping out there as well.

Early verdict

The Asus ROG Zephyrus looks set to be the pinnacle of Asus' already impressive line of ROG gaming laptops, being a culmination of years of design and hardware innovation.

Thanks to a close partnership with Nvidia to bring the Max-Q platform to this machine, the Zephyrus is incredibly slim, lightweight and beautifully designed.

The fact that it holds such impressive components means you're not making any compromises when it comes to raw gaming power.  

One compromise you will have to make is likely price – while we don't know the exact cost of the ROG Zephyrus just yet, it's unlikely to be cheap. Expect a premium price tag for such a premium gaming laptop.

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