In addition to a plentiful provide of recent gaming screens to coo over this week, this yr’s CES tech bonanza has additionally introduced us dozens of recent gaming laptops, together with the world’s strongest 14in laptop computer, the Asus Zephyrus G14. But it surely’s not a lot the G14’s souped up innards which have me all aflutter (though its 4th Gen AMD Ryzen CPU and RTX 2060 Max-Q combo is definitely engaging). As an alternative, it’s the laptop computer’s dinky proportions, which measure simply 17.9mm thick and weigh in at a mere 1.6kg. That, and the actual fact it’s received a wierd LED matrix show on the again of the lid can wink at strangers throughout the desk from me.
This (fortunately) optionally available LED-encrusted lid gained’t be to everybody’s tastes, after all, however if you happen to’re the kind who likes to plaster their laptop computer in cool, arty-looking stickers, then the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 might be proper up your road. Nonetheless, earlier than you set free that inevitable groan of pointlessness I can hear brewing in your vocal cords, I’ll have you recognize that it’s not the rainbow colored Skittle fest you may anticipate contemplating Asus’ long-standing obsession with multi-coloured lights. Dubbed the AniMe Matrix (AniMe, not anime, though you’ll be able to definitely see it getting used to painting the latter virtually solely), this 1215-strong LED matrix will solely ever emit a easy white mild from the numerous dozens of pin prick-sized holes overlaying simply over half of its white or black lid, making it fairly probably essentially the most restrained use of LED lighting I’ve ever seen on any sort of Asus product.
It’s, in a phrase, a baffling sort of characteristic to incorporate on any type laptop computer gaming or in any other case, and I need to admit I used to be actually fairly flummoxed by it after I first noticed it within the flesh. It appears to be yet one more basic case of ‘we did it as a result of we are able to’, however over the course of my demo session with it I did turn into more and more keen on it. Whereas I can’t see myself making a lot use of it, it does make a refreshing change from the standard ROG eye emblem you usually get hogging the again of Asus gaming laptops. Plus, when the LED matrix is turned off the Zephyrus G14 might be mistaken for an atypical on a regular basis laptop computer, which, once more, is a blessed reduction from the standard college of try-hard gamer design.
In addition to static photographs, the LED matrix can even be capable to show imported GIFs or different graphics of your individual concoction, and also you’ll additionally be capable to construct your individual frame-by-frame animations or have it react to no matter music you’re presently enjoying, giving fellow espresso store goers their very own silent disco to stare at. If all that sounds a bit too fanciful, although, you too can use it to show extra smart issues akin to e-mail notifications, the date, time and battery stage. These, I can see being vaguely helpful, particularly in the event that they work when the laptop computer’s shut and doesn’t drain an excessive amount of of its 10-hour battery life throughout the day.
Nonetheless, although there’s a big a part of me that is still sceptical about its general usefulness, I used to be however impressed by what it will probably do. For starters, there’s completely no mild bleed throughout all of the totally different pin holes you see on the lid (a feat that apparently took 15 iterations to excellent, in keeping with Asus), and there’s sufficient differentiation between its 256 brightness ranges to create legible photographs with a number of element in them.
For essentially the most half, although, the lid is probably going going to be a take it or go away it characteristic. As an alternative, it’s the tiddly footprint of the Zephyrus G14 that has me most excited, because it falls precisely into the sort of dimension vs efficiency candy spot I’ve been on the lookout for ever since my beloved XPS 13 bit the mud on the finish of 2018. That laptop computer was small and slim and excellent for travelling with, however its gaming chops have been non-existent. Alas, Dell nonetheless hasn’t made an XPS 14 but, so when it was time to lastly get a brand new laptop computer I opted for his or her bigger XPS 15. It’s much more highly effective than my outdated XPS 13, boasting its personal devoted graphics chip for a teensy little bit of gaming on the transfer, and it doesn’t really feel fairly so cramped after I’m typing. Over the course of a yr, nonetheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s actually a bit too massive and hulking to be lugging spherical occasions and commerce exhibits for work on a regular basis, and it’s an absolute killer on my outdated shoulders.
The Zephyrus G14, alternatively, feels prefer it might be the proper antidote to my XPS woes. Whereas its chassis is roughly the identical thickness because the 17mm XPS 15, its magnesium aluminium alloy chassis is noticeably lighter within the fingers, making it simpler to pop in a bag and carry round all day. The honeycomb construction inside its chassis makes it really feel strong, too. I couldn’t detect any flex in the principle physique after I was lifting it up and down, for instance, and even the lid felt noticeably firmer than different gaming laptops I’ve examined previously due to the added presence of the LED matrix. Plus, it has a fingerprint resistant end so it doesn’t get grubby the second you are taking it out of the field.
It’s additionally received the gaming prowess to match lots of its bigger 15in rivals, too, together with Asus’s personal Zephyrus G15. Inside, you’ll not solely discover one in all AMD’s brand-new 4th Gen Ryzen 7 4800HS CPUs and as much as 32GB of RAM clocked at a nippy 3200MHz, however you additionally get an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics chip to energy its 120Hz 1920×1080 show. That ought to be greater than sufficient to play most of in the present day’s video games at 60fps on max settings at this decision (or Medium-Excessive if you wish to hit the total 120fps provided by its excessive refresh fee), though it will likely be accessible with a 60Hz 1920×1080 and a 60Hz 2560×1440 show as effectively if you happen to choose. Both means, it’s undoubtedly much more succesful than my GTX 1050 Ti-powered XPS 15.
No matter which decision or refresh fee you go for, although, each mannequin comes with an IPS panel that’s been validated by the color boffins over at Pantone to make sure high notch color accuracy, with Asus claiming it ought to be capable to cowl a full 100% of the sRGB color gamut. I’ll have to attend till overview samples can be found earlier than I can see if that determine holds up in observe or not, however based mostly by myself temporary eyeballing of it, I can affirm it seems each bit like a high-end gaming laptop computer.
In contrast to virtually each different high-end gaming laptop computer on the market, although, the G14 gained’t drive you to lug round a giant fats energy adapter all day if don’t need to. You’ll nonetheless must make use of its 180W energy brick if you wish to play some video games, however for the events while you’re simply doing the odd bit of labor out and about, the G14 additionally comes with a USB-C charger, permitting you to chop down on much more bulk while you’re on the transfer. That’s so rattling beneficiant and thoughtful for folks like myself who often must lug their laptop computer about with them for work, and I want extra laptops provided this type of flexibility.
In addition to USB-C, the Zephyrus G14 additionally comes with a good number of different ports and connections, together with an HDMI 2.0b enter for connecting it as much as an exterior show, two common USB three.2 ports, a mixed headphone and microphone jack and Wi-Fi 6 help (also referred to as the 802.11ax commonplace) for wi-fi speeds of as much as 2.4Gbps when it’s related to a appropriate router. Its energy button additionally doubles up as a fingerprint reader, and its pretty, tactile keyboard has N-key rollover help, too.
All in all, a really promising trying gaming laptop computer certainly. The one potential stumbling block, after all, is how a lot it’s going to value. Asus haven’t given any indication on how a lot of a dent it’s going to make on our financial institution accounts simply but, however given their GTX 1660 Ti-powered Zephyrus G GA502 value simply over a grand when it got here out final yr, I wouldn’t be shocked if we have been trying someplace nearer to the £1500-2000 / $1500-2000 mark for the entry-level 60Hz 1920×1080 mannequin. Nonetheless, with a launch window set for someday in late March, we hopefully gained’t have to attend lengthy to seek out out.
Both means, even when the Zephyrus G14 finally ends up being ludicrously costly, I do hope this new sort of understated design makes its means onto different Asus gaming laptops in 2020, as I a lot choose its plain black and silver (or simply plain black) seems to the go-faster stripes and rainbow-coloured whizzbangs you get on a number of different laptops today. I simply desire a laptop computer that appears like a laptop computer. None of this cyberpunk stealthmobile nonsense that makes it appear to be it’s fallen out of the identical hellish future the place the Acer Thronos reigns supreme. I simply need one thing easy that can let me stick with it enjoying Outer Wilds whereas I’m away for work and gained’t immediately make me really feel embarrassed as quickly as I take it out of my bag – and proper now, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 seems prefer it might be simply the ticket – offered its LED matrix doesn’t come pre-loaded with a winking anime ROG eye on it, after all. As a result of that would be bizarre.
For extra information from this yr’s CES, take a look at our CES 2020 tag.