Does Max-Q Deliver?

The Asus ROG Zephyrus is an excellent example of great engineering. The ability to take a powerful GPU like the GeForce GTX 1080 and slot it into a laptop chassis previously restricted to GTX 1060s, while hitting reasonable thermals and outstanding noise targets, is a huge step forward for gaming laptops.

Anyone who purchases a Zephyrus should be very happy with the product, and I can’t wait to see what other Max-Q products we get in the future.

Obviously the big drawback to a laptop like this is the size. We’re talking about a 15.6-inch display, 2.3 kg (5.07 lbs) of weight and just a 1.78mm thin body. Typical GTX 1080 laptops are 17-inch monstrosities, but the Zephyrus is comfortably the size of slim GTX 1060 systems like the Razer Blade and MSI GS63VR. The mostly-metal design looks fantastic as well, certainly better than most other ROG laptops.

There are some trade-offs however. The keyboard has moved to the front of the laptop, which is a little awkward, though the typing experience isn’t bad. The trackpad on the side of the keyboard doesn’t bother me but is not typical either, though gamers will certainly use a mouse and Asus includes an external mouse for gaming as part of the package, which is a nice touch.

Performance has also been somewhat compromised as Max-Q constraints don’t allow for the full performance potential. Slotting almost exactly between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, it's not terrible. A beefier GTX 1080 laptop will be around 10 percent faster, but we haven’t even seen GTX 1070 levels of performance in a chassis like this before.

The display is fantastic for the hardware inside, providing 1080p resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate and G-Sync. The GTX 1080 often pushes frame rates above 60 FPS, so the extra refresh rate is certainly appreciated. As for productivity performance, the Core i7-7700HQ inside is basically identical in performance to other laptops I’ve reviewed with this CPU.

The Asus Zephyrus with a GTX 1080 inside, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD will set you back $2,700. That's more expensive than mid-tier GTX 1070 laptops, but cheaper than other GTX 1080 laptops by several hundred dollars.

Shopping shortcuts:

There’s no doubt the Zephyrus is an expensive laptop, but for what it provides, it’s hard to think of a better product on the market right now.

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Pros: Performance never seen before in such a slim chassis. It’s pretty quiet under full load. Great 1080p 120Hz G-Sync display.

Cons: It has a GTX 1080 inside, but you’re not getting full GTX 1080 performance. Somewhat awkward keyboard and trackpad