In the gaming laptop market, Asus is one of the few brands (or probably the only one) that keeps on refining its laptops endlessly within a short span of time. So far in 2019, we have seen two major updates to the ROG series laptops, offering the latest processor and graphics card options across various price points. However, a few months ago, Asus revamped its ROG lineup and this time, it was more than just upgrading the graphics or the processor. The entire ROG series got meaningful upgrades everywhere as we saw earlier with the Strix Scar 3.
I loved the Strix Scar 3 for its intentions to offer a grand user experience with its amazing lighting effects and unbeatable performance. However, despite being a gamer, there were times I needed to use it for regular 'laptop' work and that is where its gaming credentials were not at home with my demands. Asus caters to everyone and hence, it also launched the Zephyrus M GU502GU in the ROG lineup. It starts at Rs 1,39,990 and if you know about Asus' Zephyrus lineup, then you must have got an idea that this is meant to be portal.
Hence, I swapped the Strix Scar 3 for the Zephyrus M GU502GU for a few weeks and at the end of my time with it, I wanted to see this formula of slim and light on every gaming laptop.
Asus keeps perfecting its perfect designs in laptops
I have reviewed a dozen of ROG gaming laptops from Asus in my career and all of them have been grabbing eyeballs of onlookers around me with their striking designs. The Zephyrus M GU502GU is not part of that breed. In fact, this the first ROG laptop I have used that looks civilized.
The Zephyrus M GU502GU has been on my office desk for a while now and for the most part, it has been stealthy. Just ignore the illuminated ROG logo and there's not much to suggest that this is a gaming laptop. It looks like any other premium laptop. Asus' trademark dual-tone brushed aluminium finish on the lid is present but in a very subtle way. There are no wild body graphics or gaping vents surrounded by RGB lighting to enforce the presence of a gaming laptop. It looks very normal and that is a very good thing if you need to use it outdoors.
Weighing under just 2Kg and being quite slim, Asus hasn't compromised on the build quality. The aluminum lid feels solid and built-to-last whereas the chassis is devoid of any flex. The edges, despite being slim, hold all the necessary ports that one requires in a laptop -- Ethernet port, an HDMI output, a USB 3.1 Gen2 (10Gbps) Type-A port, 3.5mm headphone jack, mic socket, two USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps) ports and one USB 3.1 Gen2 (10Gbps) Type-C port.
Once you open the lid, you are greeted by a very simple keyboard deck with a well laid out RGB backlit keyboard and reasonably big trackpad. There's enough space for resting the palms and all the keys are within the reach. The display has narrow bezels on the three edges but the bottom chin is huge. Surprisingly there's no webcam which could be an issue with streamers or those who make video calls.
The Zephyrus M GU502GU has a very practical design and is easy to carry around in a backpack. I do miss the razzmatazz of the other ROG series laptop designs but this is good enough for blending in with the surroundings anywhere.
It's an ROG laptop so performance isn't compromised
The ROG series of gaming laptops never compromise in the performance department. With the Zephyrus M GU502GU, Asus ahs nailed all the crucial areas.
First is the display which in short is brilliant. It's a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS LCD panel that comes with support for Pantone colours and it supports 100 per cent sRGB colours. In simple English, it means that you get an extremely colourful and vibrant screen with high brightness and wide viewing angles. The screen is a hoot to play games or watch videos at a continuous stretch. The 144Hz refresh rate ensures smoother videos and while playing games, it gives you an edge over other screens with 60Hz refresh rate.
Then there is the internals. The new ROG series laptops debuted the 9th gen Intel processors and with the Zephyrus M GU502GU, you get the Core i7-9750H processor paired with 16GB RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD storage. For graphics, there's Nvidia's GTX 1660 Ti graphics card which despite carrying the older GTX name uses the newer Turing architecture from the RTX series cards.
Similar to every other ROG laptop, the performance is easily the best in its class. The 9th Gen Core i7 is noticeably superior in its processing capabilities whereas the GTX 1660 Ti can easily run the latest games at highest graphics but at slightly lower screen resolution. And that is justified given that the idea is on having a balanced performance everywhere. Thereby, for a slim gaming laptop, Zephyrus M GU502GU raised eyebrows during extensive gaming sessions.
I played F1 2019, PUBG, Wolfenstein YoungBlood, Watch Dogs 2 and Project Cars 2 during my time with the Zephyrus M GU502GU. And all these games ran quite well in high graphics settings. F1 2019 ran at full graphics above 60fps most of the time whereas with Wolfenstein YoungBlood, I had to keep the graphics in High and avoid Ultra High to keep the frame rates near 60 fps.
Overall, this is a mighty powerful laptop for its price and you certainly won't be disappointed. However, the downside with a slim gaming laptop is that it heats up noticeably. The Zephyrus M GU502GU doesn't have Asus' Active Aerodynamic System and hence, I often found myself going for makeshift cooling provisions in order to keep the temperatures down. However, I never saw the performance throttling.
The slimmer chassis also means that speakers are compromised which in turn means average sounding speakers. They aren't loud enough and I often found myself reaching for an external speaker.
Surprisingly, Asus' focus on practicality means the battery life is impressive for a gaming laptop. The Zephyrus M GU502GU manages to last close to six hours under regular computing stuff. This is impressive given that the average battery life in this segment stands at around four hours. When you are playing games, it is always advisable to plug in the charger to stop worrying about power reserve and get the maximum performance.
The Zephyrus M GU502GU is a fresh take on gaming laptops. Asus has managed to fuse the amount of performance you need for playing the latest games in a slim and practical form factor. In fact, while using the Zephyrus M GU502GU, I often forgot that this is a gaming laptop (until I looked at the RGB LED logo on the lid). The laptop becomes toasty when you are playing for long but given that you can carry this laptop anywhere in your bag throughout the day. And the best part is that nobody will be giving you the awkward stares at the coffee shop while you ware working on your document.
Overall, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU is a well-balanced package for gamers and for the price it sells, I can't suggest any other alternative.