We first caught a glimpse of the latest Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 at CES 2019, where the Taiwanese company presented some excellent Asus laptops. We were impressed by how Asus seemed to package the latest gaming hardware in the sleek and light design that we ‘are used to from Zephyrus products. And today, we are here with our Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review. The Zephyrus line has proven that powerful gaming laptops do not have to be large and bulky and can instead challenge thin Ultrabooks in the style department, and this model is no different.
The Asus’ ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is one of the best Asus laptops we have had the chance to test. It comes with brand new Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics with the Max-Q design, configurable to an RTX 2080 with 8 GB GDDR6 VRAM. Together with an 8th generation Intel’s Core i7-8750H six-core processor with a turbo clock speed of 4.1 GHz and up to 24 GB RAM, and we now have one to test it properly.
Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review – Design
As we said earlier, the range of Asus Zephyrus gaming laptops has been made as thin and light as possible, making their larger, larger competitors look positively dated in comparison. This has continued with the ROG Zephyrus S GX701, which, according to Asus, is the most compact 17-inch gaming laptop in the world. The idea is that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 gets a 17-inch screen, but its body dimensions are more similar to those on a 15-inch laptop. With aspects of 399 x 272 x 18.7 mm, it is approximately 23% smaller and 40% thinner than average 17-inch gaming laptops.
Compared to the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, an older generation Zephyrus laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, the dimensions of the Zephyrus S GX701 are only slightly larger – which is impressive considering the larger screen. This smaller and larger screen is made possible, mainly thanks to the incredibly narrow edges around the screen. With a thickness of only 6.9 mm, the top and sides provide a screen-body ratio of 81%, which means that there is very little wasted space.
Port-wise, the ROG Zephyrus S GX701 comes with a good selection. On the left are the power connection, an HDMI 2.0 port, a Type-A USB 3.1 port, a USB 3.1 Type-C port with DisplayPort 1.4, power supply, and a 3.5 mm audio connection. On the right side, there is a USB 3.1 Type-C port and two standard USB 3.1 ports. While the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 has a standard DC charger, it can also be powered by USB-C.
Connecting the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 to a USB-C charger (or power pack) does not charge the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 – because it does not provide enough power for the hungry internal parts of the GX701. However, it stops the Asus ROG Zephyrus The battery of the S GX701 runs out. It’s a nice feature that means that if you find yourself without the DC charger of the GX701, if you can get a generic USB-C charger, at least you can still use the laptop.
Keyboard and TouchPad
Because the keyboard is located on the front of the laptop, this means that the trackpad cannot stand in its traditional place underneath. Instead, Asus has placed it on the right side of the keyboard, where you would expect a numeric keypad on a conventional keyboard. It doesn’t take me too long to get used to this new placement for the touchpad, and for gaming, you probably use a good mouse.
The keyboard itself is excellent, with large keys and Asus’s Aura RGB lighting. However, the travel of the keys is very shallow due to the thinness of the laptop. Again, most people will find this a valuable exchange for the thin design. Still, it does mean that the keyboard is not as satisfying to use a mechanical keyboard – which many of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701’s competitors now include.
A new addition to the ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is a scroll wheel at the top of the keyboard that can be used to adjust the volume. It is a nice touch, and the RGB LEDs of the laptop also emphasize it.
Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review – Display
While the components that control games are the most important considerations when buying a gaming laptop as such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, the quality of the screen is a good second. If the gaming laptop doesn’t have a display that does justice to the graphic representation of a game, you may be paying for hardware that you are not taking full advantage of.
The good news is that Asus has put a lot of care and attention into the screen. As we said before, this is a 17-inch screen, which is quite large for a gaming laptop and comes with a refresh rate of 144Hz, which means that games feel smooth and fluid, while G-Sync technology means that the screen does not tear either. Response times are 3 ms, which is very good, and there is no noticeable delay between you controlling a game, and it appears on the screen, and there is also no disturbing blur during fast action.
The screen is also calibrated at the factory, and it is Pantone validated with 100% sRGB color gamut. Essentially, this means that the display looks great right out of the box. Still, it also means that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is a suitable laptop for digital creatives, such as photo and video editors, where color accuracy is paramount. With the power behind the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, it provides a formidable workstation.
The resolution of 1080p is excellent for a 17-inch screen, but it means that even with the most recent games, the RTX 2080 is not particularly burdened. That, of course, means that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 will be future-proof for many, many years, and if you want to give the RTX 2080 a real workout, you can connect it to an external 4K monitor or TV to see what the GPU does is capable of.
Sound is processed by two speakers on either side of the laptop powered by “smart amplifier technology,” said Asus, meaning that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is capable of much fuller sound than the blank speakers that are often built into laptops. According to Asus, the speakers of the GX701 can again handle 2.5x the volume, 1.6x the bass, and 1.5x the dynamic range. The speakers are also capable of virtual 7.1 surround sound, which hopefully means that they offer a more immersive experience while playing. We will give the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 a good test of its audio capabilities later.
Graphics and Gaming
Asus has not saved any costs by fitting the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 with some of the newest and most potent components currently on the market. The star of the show is undoubtedly the graphics card, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, with Max-Q design. This makes it one of the first gaming laptops to take advantage of the advanced mobile graphics card from NVIDIA, with the Max-Q design with lower clock speeds, reducing power consumption, and placing the GPU in thinner laptops.
This mobile version of the RTX 2080 in the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 has a trade-off compared to the desktop and standard laptop versions of the RTX 2080. So while a standard laptop RTX 2080 GPU has a clock speed of 1515 MHz and a boost clock of 1,710 MHz, the RTX 2080 Max-Q has a primary clock of 735 MHz and a boost of 1,095 MHz. That means the RTX 2080 Max-Q is not as powerful as its other variants, but it is still easily one of the most potent GPUs that you can get in a laptop, and for many people, the sleek design of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 worth the small hit in performance.
Moreover, let’s not forget that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 has a 1080p screen, which means that the RTX 2080 Max-Q is more than capable of displaying the latest games with all their graphic bells and whistles. Games look and play great here. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is simply stunning at the highest graphic settings, with even busy scenes that stay above 60 frames per second (fps) and often go over 100 fps.
You can also easily change the energy settings with the ROG Armory Crate software (which can be accessed by pressing a special button on the keyboard) so that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 can direct more power to its components. Switching between “Balanced” and “Turbo” led to an improvement in performance (and slightly higher benchmark scores), as well as more fan noise.
Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review – Performance
Our test model is the high-quality configuration of the ROG Zephyrus S GX701GX, with the Core i7-8750H processor, 24 GB RAM, the RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics chip and a 1 TB NVMe SSD. The GX701 has a few hardware details. It only supports up to 24 GB of RAM, with 8 GB soldered to the motherboard and an additional memory DIMM, but the memory still works in dual channel. It also gets two NVMe disks, and according to the specifications, only one is connected to a PCIe 4x connection, and the other is a slower PCIe 2x.
We started our processor tests with Geekbench. In terms of multi-core performance, the Zephyrus is neck-and-neck with the much more expensive Core i9 chip of the Predator Helios 500. However, the Zephyrus S is slightly behind in single-core, thanks to the higher base of the Core i9 and the turbo clock speed.
Real-life tests are even more favorable for the Zephyrus. The machine has set a record for laptops in our Handbrake coding test. It encoded a 420MB 4K video clip to H.265 in two minutes and 18 seconds. That beats all Core i9 laptops that we have tested, including the Predator Helios 500 and the Alienware 17 R5. The folding vents serve their purpose.
It is no surprise to see ultra-fast storage at the Zephyrus S. The Samsung SSD was ultra-fast in both reading and writing speeds, both of which were more than 1000 megabytes per second. Our assessment unit also had room for two m.2 slots, both of which are available for future upgrades.
The housing temperatures are typical of a sleek gaming notebook. During our heat test, the temperatures at the top of the chassis reached 127.4° F, and the bottom of the chassis rose to 122° F. Internal components also did not get overheated. The CPU reached a maximum of 134.6 ° F, which is quite high but not critical. The GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q only reached 145.2 ° F. If the notebook is not used for a more extended period, the surface temperatures are pleasantly cool. With inactivity, the surface temperatures fluctuate between 77-86 ° F.
Gaming laptops rarely go off for more than a few hours, and the GX701 is no different. The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 had performed a battery life test, in which a 1080p video with a screen brightness of 50% is played, just under three hours before it had to be charged. On our battery life test, which emulates more intensive (but still rather tame) workloads, such as web browsing and video conferencing, the battery lasted only two hours and 12 minutes.
So this is a laptop that you won’t use without a power outlet, and should instead be considered a desktop replacement. It is not a surprise given the powerful components offered here, along with the reputation of gaming laptops – especially previous Zephyrus models – with limited battery life. It is a pity that it seems that we are still stuck with the compromise of short battery life for powerful performance. Asus has tried at least a few things to extend the battery life on the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 as long as possible.
When you disconnect the laptop, it switches to “On battery” mode, which lowers the performance of the GX701 to achieve more battery life. Using the innovative “Optimus Mode” from Nvidia, the GX701 turns off the discrete GPU on battery instead of using the integrated graphics card with lower power.
The reduction in performance will not be noticeable when using Windows 10 for daily tasks, but we saw a significant decrease in the performance of games in battery mode. Given that you do not get too much battery life, we recommend that you realize that you are not using the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 without being connected.
Price and Configuration Options
As with previous Zephyrus gaming laptops, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is not a cheap device. With this performance level combined with such a slim design, the high price tag of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 should not be that surprising, but it is undeniable that this is a gaming laptop that is aimed at enthusiasts with deep pockets. The price of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 starts at $3,299, and this gives you a model with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card, Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD and a 17.3-inch 1080p screen with Nvidia G-Sync.
There should be other models with different graphics cards that will lower the price, and there is the option of configuring it with more RAM, which will increase the price. We follow Asus to find the exact prices for these different models. But do not hope that they are radically cheaper.
Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review – Conclusion
Thanks to some of the newest and most potent gaming technology, together with an impressively thin and light design, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is easily one of the best gaming laptops available today. The addition of an RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card and a powerful Intel processor means that you can play the latest games with their graphics settings high. The 1080p screen is beautiful and large, although the full HD resolution will not disturb the GPU too much.
However, it is not perfect. The lack of Ethernet is a disappointment, and the battery life is very low. It is also undeniable that this is an expensive laptop. If you can afford the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, there is no doubt that you will love the laptop. The performance and design are ahead of its competitors. If money didn’t play a role, we would recommend this laptop to everyone.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is one of the best gaming laptops ever made, but the high-performance level and the beautifully thin and light design have a very high price, making it unaffordable for many people.
- Brilliant performance
- Gorgeous design
- Easy to carry
- Fantastic 17-inch screen
- Very expensive
- Short battery life