Monday, November 6, 2017

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) Review : Super Toned & Thin

NVIDIA recently launched the latest variant of their laptop graphics card that carries the Max-Q Design technology. Based on Pascal GPU architecture, the graphics card enables manufacturers to create powerful and powerful gaming laptops with super slim body. The presence of the line of graphics card laptop was apparently welcomed by a number of manufacturers such as one of them ASUS which released the latest products that may never imagined will exist.

Mainstay product manufacturer from Taiwan with NVIDIA graphics card Max-Q Design is ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). Starting a public debut in the Computex 2017 event, ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) immediately captivated everyone who saw it. Not strange considering the thin body of this gaming laptop and a unique body design that was never found on ASUS laptops before. Of course there is no compromise for performance because ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) comes with the highest variant of NVIDIA Max-Q Design graphics card.

In this article let's take a closer look at the greatness offered by ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) which will spoil this gaming laptop owner.


Who would have thought if the gaming laptop as thin as ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) powered by Core i7 7700HQ, high performance laptop processor from Intel with base of Kaby Lake CPU architecture. The Core i7 7700HQ is a quad core processor with Hyper-Threading technology making it able to work on eight computing processes at once in one go. The Core i7 7700HQ has a base clock speed of 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 clock speed of 3.8 GHz when one core works, 3.6 GHz when two cores work, and 3.4 GHz when four cores work.

ASUS combines Core i7 7700HQ processor with FCBGA1440 socket-based motherboard based on the latest chipset for Core i 7th Generation, Intel HM175.

The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) combines the Core i7 7700HQ processor with DDR4 (1.2-gt) DDR4 memory / RAM with a capacity of 24 GB which makes it ready to handle the most voracious modern applications of memory though. The speed of memory / RAM used is 2400 MHz which is the standard speed on the Core i 7th Generation platform.

ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) memory / RAM capacity of 24 GB is not commonly used. Moreover one piece of memory / RAM DDR4 generally have size 4 GB / 8 GB / 16 GB / 32 GB. Who would have thought if ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) uses a 16 + 8 GB configuration. ASUS incorporates a 16 GB SO-DIMM chip and 8 GB of RAM / RAM embedded directly on the PC's motherboard. Fortunately the dual channel memory configuration remains active despite using unusual configurations.

The thin body ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) does not make this gaming laptop to compromise for graphics card components. ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) entrusts GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design to deliver top-class gaming performance to the owner of this laptop. GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design itself is the latest variant of NVIDIA's laptop-based graphics card built on hardware similar to GeForce GTX 1080 Notebook.

There are three variants of graphics card laptop with NVIDIA Max-Q Design technology that is GeForce GTX 1080, GTX 1070, and GTX 1060. Implementation of technology allows manufacturers to create thin gaming laptop with a thickness of not more than 18 mm. The key behind Max-Q Design technology is to look for the highest point of work efficiency in which GPU clock increments still result in relevant performance increases. NVIDIA finds as it passes through a certain point, the GPU clock rise does not result in a performance increase commensurate with the use of electrical power and also the heat generated. Therefore graphics card with NVIDIA Max-Q Design technology is operated at the most efficient clock speed, not as high as the standard variant. With such clock speed specifications, the heat generated graphics card becomes lower so that the laptop cooling system can be made smaller. The size of the laptop can be made smaller and thinner. Not only that, the fan can also be operated at a lower speed so the noise is reduced.

GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design on ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) has a 1227 MHz GPU base clock specification with GPU 1366 MHz boost clock. For comparison, the GeForce GTX 1080 Notebook has a specification of 1556 MHz GPU base clock with a boost clock GPU 1733 MHz. Such GPU clock specifications make the Graphics Power value down from 150 Watt for a standard variant, ranging from 90 to 110 Watt on GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design. Fortunately for the specs other than the GPU clock, the Max-Q Design version remains the same as the standard version.

ASUS does not seem to want to play games when creating ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). Just look at his appearance. Without ROG logo and writing maybe no one would have thought if this gaming laptop came from ASUS. Instead of just developing an existing design, ASUS created a new body design for ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). The result! ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) has successfully displayed a unique impression with a box body design with almost no indentation as a trimmer. Black doff color with plasma copper elements in certain areas enhance the appearance of ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). Diamond edge cutting motif on the side of the keyboard also helped to increase the elegant impression of this premium-grade gaming laptops.

Thin laptops generally use the outer body of the metal material is no exception ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) using magnesium alloy. The use of metal materials makes the laptop can be created with dimensions as small as possible, without sacrificing the body power factor. The metal brush finish on the back side of the screen further strengthens the use of metal materials.

ROG logo on the back side of the screen features dozens of red LED lights with small size that will light up when the laptop is on.

Super thin body becomes one of the allure ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). No one would have guessed if inside a body with a thickness of 1.69 cm for the thinest side and 1.79 cm for the thickest side embedded hardware as listed on the first page. It is rare to find thin laptops, especially gaming laptops, using such high hardware specifications as it takes a powerful cooling system to keep component temperatures within normal limits, so that peak performance can be maintained all the time. However, it seems ASUS has found a great solution to overcome the condition.

The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) uses a 15.6-inch LED LCD screen that makes it has a body dimension of 37.9 x 26.2 for long and wide sides. Special if gaming laptops generally still use the screen with a refresh rate of 60 Hz, ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) using a 120 Hz panel that makes the movement while playing the game becomes more smooth. Not only that, ASUS does not compromise directly by using IPS panel (In-plane Switching) with 100% sRGB level for rich display color and wide viewing angle. Gaming laptops with 120 Hz screens sometimes make compromises using non-IPS panels.

The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) screen is enhanced with NVIDIA G-SYNC technology that makes the gaming experience more perfect with image tearing, stuttering, and lag input symptoms. The maximum resolution of the screen is 1920 x 1080 pixels with pixel density reaching 141 PPI.

Stepping into connectivity, on the right side of ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) can be found kensington security lock holes, two Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) Type ports, and one Type-C USB port 3.1 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps ).

While on the right side can be found DC-IN port, HDMI 2.0b, two Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports, and one headphone microphone combo jack. The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) still includes a LAN port if needed in the form of a USB to RJ45 converter in the panjualan package. On this side can also be found ventilation vent exhaust heat from inside the laptop body.

Unlike conventional laptops, the keyboard component of ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) is placed on the side of the body. Positions like this make the keyboard area away from a hot-producing zone that can interfere with comfort during use. ASUS also mentioned if such a position makes the sensation of use is similar to the desktop PC keyboard. Thankfully ASUS includes a wrist rest keyboard to keep the hand comfortable.

Users of conventional keyboards will likely need adaptation when using ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). We've encountered a number of unusual things like the shrinking of the Left Shift, Caps Lock, and Tab buttons that sometimes cause press errors with the buttons next to them. Quite unfortunate, the habit of making screenshoot with PrintScreen button can not be done because ASUS remove the button. Of course when additional keyboards with PrintScreen buttons are installed, the habit can still be done in this premium-grade gaming laptop.

The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) keyboard key has a 1.4 mm compression span so each tap feels reponsive. Implementation of anti-ghosting technology ensures the suppression of 30 buttons at once without any faulty commands.

The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) keyboard comes with adjustable color backlit and effects using the Aura Core utility. The edges of the QWER / ASD buttons are coated with translucent white surfaces that are easily distinguished from other buttons especially when backlit lights are on.

Backlit QWER and ASDW lamps can be configured in different colors with other buttons. Makes it easy to recognize even in dark spaces.

The touchpad area with separate left and right click buttons, placed on the right side of the keyboard. We ourselves have no issues with this placement. Reminds us like using the mouse on the right side of the keyboard.

The touchpad area has a double function as a numeric pad pad. The function change is done by pressing the button in the upper left corner of the touchpad area.

Three indicator lights indicate the laptop is on / off / sleep (left), battery capacity (center), and storage activity.

The indicator light remains visible in the closed display state.

Appearance of ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS bottom side (GX501) with Republic Of Gamers logo and logo ornaments. Unusual thing we have encountered on this side is the disappearance of ventilation air holes into the body of the laptop.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) adopts a unique design to bring air vents. ASUS creates a special mechanism when the screen is opened will make the rear side lift a few millimeters. This mechanism will push the bottom side cover plate to open and create a large vent that sucks air from the right, left, and rear sides.

The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS display hinge (GX501) features a special component that will push the bottom side plate of the laptop.

The bottom side cover plate is off. This component is also made of magnesium alloy material.

Although made of metal, a strong push can bend the bottom side cover plate. But do not worry because he can get back to straight conditions automatically.

The middle area of ​​the lower end cover plate is susceptible to arcing due to an impulse or when there is a foreign object under the laptop. The buffer poles only on the right and left sides are the cause.

The unique design of the ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) for air vents is impressive. The cooling fan can easily get the air supply in massive quantities and from all directions. However, such a design poses a risk of insects or other small animals entering this area when the screen is opened.

Access the ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) internal components by removing the top side cover slab. Visible area under the keyboard is where the battery components do not generate heat as high as the processor and graphics card. ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) uses a 4-cell battery with a capacity of 50 Wh.

The laptop top cover plate with keyboard and touchpad components is still attached. The image above also shows a number of ventilation holes where air entry into the laptop body in the area on the top side of the keyboard.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) motherboard. In addition to processor and chipset components (PCH), graphics cards are also planted directly in the PCB to save space so that the thickness of the laptop can be pressed as small as possible. Seen one SO-DIMM slot that supports DDR4 memory / RAM with maximum capacity and speed of 16 GB / 2400 MHz.

As we mentioned on the first page, the ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) motherboard planted eight DDR4 memory / RAM chips made by SK Hynix with 8 GB capacity and 2400 MHz speed.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) cooling system with three baseplate for processor, graphics card and VRM components. Five copper heatpipes and three heatsinks with aluminum fins can also be found. Two heatsinks on the right of the image handle the heat release of graphics card components and VRM components. While the heatsink on the left of the picture handles the heat release of the processor components and VRM components.

The ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) cooling fan uses a special polycarbonate material so that the fan blades can be as thin as possible without compromising the durability factor. Consequently one fan can have 71 blades in it. ASUS also designed a "home" fan with a special design that minimizes noise and is made of solid aluminum material.

The processor heat sink blows the hot air toward the back while the graphics cooling fan is flicking back and sideways.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) makes SSD M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 the primary storage. Our testing unit is equipped with a 1 TB SSD SSD from Samsung while the retail version for the Indonesian market will come with 512 GB capacity. No second M2 slot or SATA port is available to install secondary storage.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) features two speakers placed on the right and left side of the keyboard.

ASUS has redesigned the ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) power supply device so it has smaller dimensions and weights than its predecessor of the same capacity. Though so thick this power adapter can still beat the laptop body. This power supply device weighs about 674 grams which when combined with the weight of the laptop, the owner of ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) bears a total load of about 2.9 kg when taken traveling.

ROG Gaming Center

The main page of ROG Gaming Center displays system information such as specifications, working speed of processor components - memory / RAM - graphics card, processor temperature - graphics card, and also memory capacity / RAM - storage used. The latest version of ROG Gaming Center displays a more interesting interface with a number of animations.

At the bottom of the main page ROG Gaming Center found docked menu to access features such as ROG GameVisual to set the screen profile color with sRGB, Racing, Scenery, RTS / RPG, FPS, and Cinema options. There are also settings to enable or disable ECO Mode, ROG Key, Win Key, and Touchpad. Quick access to utilities such as GameFirst IV, Sonic Radar, Sonic Studio II, GeForce Experience, and XSplit Gamecaster are also possible here.

The Trusted Device menu will feature a smartphone / tablet device connected to ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). Settings via smartphone / tablet is done by installing ROG Gaming Center app on the device.

ROG Gaming Center allows the creation of profiles with functional settings that can be tailored to the needs and desires of the user.

Free Up Memory allows users to turn off certain apps when this feature is enabled. In this menu can be set any application that will be turned off.

ROG Aura Core

Utility ROG Aura Core has a function to enable / disable the backlit keyboard lights and adjust the effect. ROG Aura Core also allows different color settings for ASDW and QWER buttons. There are three profiles that can be used for backlit keyboard settings.

ROG GameFirst IV

Utility ROG GameFirst IV can optimize the network for a better gameplay experience.

ROG Sonic Radar II
The ROG Sonic Radar II utility enables accurate voice position detection while playing the game. When playing games, ROG Sonic Radar II will feature an overlay screen that shows the direction and where the sound comes from.

ROG Sonic Studio II
ROG Utility Sonic Studio II enables users to maximize the sound quality produced by ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501).

Test Results - System Benchmark

PCMark 7 Creativity contains a set of tests to assess system performance in viewing, editing, transcoding, and storing photos and video files.

PCMark 7 Entertainment contains a set of tests to assess the performance of the system in recording, viewing, streaming, and transcoding television shows and movies. The performance of the system in importing, organizing, and browsing music files along with playing games are also tested here.

PCMark 7 Productivity contains a set of tests to assess system performance in loading wirsite pages and running home class office applications.

PCMark 7 Computation contains a set of tests to assess CPU and GPU computing performance.

PCMark7 Storage contains a set of tests to assess the performance of storage components on a system.

Battery Life

Setting: Windows Power Option - Balanced | Windows Brightness - 1/10 | Speaker Volume - 20% | WiFi On (Except for Video Playback (WMP)) | Bluetooth Off

Looking at the above battery test results, the ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) seems to be inseparable from the charger device when it travels. Battery life in non-gaming scenarios is quite short. The absence of the NVIDIA Optimus feature seems to have contributed to this. Discrete graphics cards are always in active condition which causes the battery to drain rapidly. Fortunately the battery life in the gaming scenario is still quite good although still makes ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) less suitable to play games with battery power given the short time.


Within a period of less than a year, the performance definition for a thin gaming laptop has drastically changed. Formerly, the GeForce GTX 1060 is the fastest graphics card variant that can be found on thin gaming laptops with a thickness of less than 2 cm. The birth of NVIDIA Max-Q technology changed everything with one of the real examples of ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) with GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design graphics card. The lower GPU clock specification does make the Max-Q variant not as fast as the standard version. Even so our tests show GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design in ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) occupies performance levels between GTX 1080 and GTX 1070. The performance level is hard to achieve before by gaming laptops with thickness less than 1.8 cm.

Pairing GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design with Full HD screen is the right choice. The screen resolution is not too high ensuring the game can run at the highest possible frame rate with maximum visual quality settings. Especially ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) using 120 Hz screen with NVIDIA G-SYNC technology. Massive VRAM capacity makes GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design ready to handle gaming memory gamers that exist today or in the future. Of course ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) is also ready to display the VR content perfectly by using devices such as HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Daily performance computing ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) was not to be questioned its reliability. Not only makes GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design capable of exerting overall performance, the Core i7 7700HQ also makes ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) ready to handle even heavyweight computing. Performing 3D object rendering, doing professional-grade image / video editing, makes animation not a meaningful obstacle to premium-grade gaming laptops. DDR4 memory / RAM with large capacity combined SSD NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 storage becomes another important key behind the high performance of ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) when running 3D games or other non-gaming applications.

Keeping the temperature of the processor and graphics card at normal limits for maximum performance remains a challenge in this gaming laptop as thin as this. In addition to complementing the ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501) with a sophisticated high-performance cooling system, ASUS has a clever idea by designing the rear side of the laptop to lift a few millimeters that keeps the air supply flowing unhindered. Currently we can not talk much about the performance of the cooling system until testing the retail version of ROG ZEPHYRUS (GX501). But it does not seem too disappointing.


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