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.
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.
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