It wasn't long ago that we tested the Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU gaming laptop. This is an ambitious attempt to pack a lot of performance and functionality into a slim case. This model is not without its flaws, but it offers decent performance and is versatile and portable enough not only to work for games. Today we have a sister model with us, the new Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU. The Zephyrus G series is below the Zephyrus M series and is said to serve as a cheaper option, but the two still have a lot in common.
In fact, we were surprised at how similar these two models are, as their prices and positioning differ significantly. Instead of focusing on the design, Asus has saved the biggest interior changes – the cheaper Zephyrus G GA502 uses an AMD Ryzen processor instead of the Intel Core series found in most laptops today. This is a big change and it should be interesting to check out this new laptop.
Priced at Rs. 99,990 in India, this model costs almost exactly two thirds of the price of its premium sibling. Which of these two models should you choose and give up a lot of power if you choose the cheaper one? We have the answers for you.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU design
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU is just like its brother chic and looks modern. It is just under 2 cm thick and does not feel cheaper or in any way less high quality than the Zephyrus M GU502GU. However, at 2.1 kg, it weighs just over 1.9 kg.
The lid is made of dark brushed metal and is slightly angled. The brushed grain runs in different directions on either side of the fold, but you need to look closely to see this. Of course there is also an illuminated red ROG logo on the lid.
There is a recess on the back of the lid through which the status LEDs above the keyboard are visible when the laptop is closed. This means that the back is unevenly thick, which we found a bit awkward when carrying this laptop.
Asus designed this model with completely flat sides for a simple, monolithic look. There are numerous ventilation openings at the back, bottom, right and even above the keyboard. Predictably for such a thin laptop, there is no easy access to the upgradeable components, but the entire base plate can be unscrewed.
The 15.6-inch screen has rather narrow edges at the top and sides, but this costs a webcam. Asus has chosen to get rid of this feature instead of trying to design or reposition a suitable case, and we have mixed feelings about it. A badly positioned webcam would have been almost useless anyway, but you'll have to buy one of your own if you want to chat or record something with a video.
The dotted texture above the keyboard that we didn't like on the Zephyrus M has been replaced with a grooved one that's much easier to clean. In contrast to the premium model, there are also ventilation slots here. The keyboard layout is identical, but has a simple white backlight with three brightness levels instead of RGB color effects. The trackpad is still in the center of the laptop and not on the keyboard, which means that it is annoying when typing.
On the left are the power input, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, an HDMI 2.0 video output, a Type A connection for USB 3.2 Gen1 (5 Gbit / s), a Type C connection for USB 3.1 Gen2 ( 10 Gbit / s) and a 3.5 mm headset socket. On the right side there are two more USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports and a slot for a security lock.
Overall, the quality of the construction appears to be quite good, and we thought that no part of this laptop was flimsy. The lid is slightly curved, but this does not lead to distortions on the screen. While the hinge is fixed, we would have liked to tilt the screen further back. The 180W Power Brick is a bit big, but not too heavy.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU specifications and software
The main attraction for the ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU is the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor, a quad-core model with simultaneous multithreading and a base speed of 2.3 GHz and a boost speed of 4 GHz. It is very important to note that despite its 3000 series model number, this CPU is not based on the new Zen 2 architecture, such as the 3000 series desktop chips from Ryzen. Instead, last year's Zen + design is used and integrated Radeon Vega graphics are used.
There is also an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with Max-Q optimization. This is one of the latest laptop GPU models from Nvidia, but does not support ray tracing effects like the RTX series. Asus has configured this laptop with 16 GB DDR4 RAM, 8 GB of which are soldered and the other 8 GB are a standard removable module. There is also a 512 GB PCIe SSD and a 76 Wh battery.
The screen measures 15.6 inches diagonally and has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. As an unexpected bonus, it also has a refresh rate of 120 Hz. Fortunately, the screen is not glossy, which means that indoor reflections are not a problem.
There is also Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, two microphones and stereo 1W speakers. We would have liked an SD card slot in addition to the rest of the connectivity we have. In contrast to the Zephyrus M, charging via the USB Type-C connection is not supported.
The operating system is Windows 10 Home. Asus pre-installed a 30-day demo of McAfee LiveSafe that kept bombarding us with huge pop-ups and asking us to pay a subscription. There's also Asus' own MyAsus app for general device information and troubleshooting, and the Armory Crate utility, which offers some overlapping features, but focuses more on game-related improvements.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU performance
Asus primarily developed this laptop for gamers. However, it should be usable anywhere, from the classroom to the office. We first decided to see how normal everyday tasks are. The first thing we noticed was a quiet but annoying high whine that could be caused by both the fans and our unit. That was not constant, but we have heard it from time to time.
The display runs at 120 Hz, regardless of whether you are working with battery or mains power. This makes occasional use feel a little smoother, including simple things like dragging and dropping objects. The mirror-free surface and the decent quality of this panel ensure a smooth workflow. The colors are not particularly vivid and we noticed a slight warm tone, but this is not a problem when watching videos or playing games.
The right side of the keyboard got warm when we used this laptop, but the palm rests stayed cool. As time went on and as more intensive programs and tests were running, we found that the heat was a little too much for our taste. At least when we were playing, our right hands weren't on the keyboard, but that would have been very uncomfortable. The fans also get quite loud when this laptop is put under heavy stress.
Actual tasks ran smoothly and we were satisfied with the overall performance. The keyboard keys are comfortable enough to type, and the trackpad works fine. The speakers surprised us with a wide, clean and clear sound that is ideal for voices and effects in games. However, complex music tracks were distorted at high volume.
Copying files from external storage was particularly quick thanks to the PCIe SSD and we measured sequential reads and writes at 1428.5 Mbps and 972 Mbps, with random reads and writes at 340.7 Mbps / s and 692.1 Mbit / s were received. We were able to compress a 3.24 GB folder with various files in 4 minutes and 28 seconds using 7zip and recode an AVI video to H.265 in 1 minute and 53 seconds using Handbrake.
In the synthetic benchmarks, the standard and extended runs of PCMark 10 gave 3,653 and 4,632 points, respectively. POVRay ended its render benchmark in 4 minutes and 7 seconds and the composite blender benchmark in 46 minutes and 51 seconds. The Cinebench R20 scored 354 and 1,679 points in the single and multi-core test. These values are consistently somewhat lower than on the ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU.
3DMark's Time Spy test gave a score of 4,496 and Fire Strike Extreme gave 5,664 points. We start the game tests with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a relatively young title. With the setting "High" with TAA activated, an average frame rate of 59 was displayed. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU does not support ray tracing, so there is no loss of performance.
Our next game benchmark is Far Cry 5, but it refused to work in full screen mode on the ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU and the refresh rate of 120 Hz could not be recognized. As a result, the results were abnormal and cannot be counted. Asus may need to update some drivers for this to work, which is frustrating.
Instead, we turned to Metro: Last Light Redux. The integrated benchmark of this game gave 91 fps with medium quality (1920 x 1080), with 4xAF activated and SSAA deactivated.
While manually playing through games like DOOM and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we found frame rates that were good enough to satisfy most people with high quality settings. DOOM provided us with between 75 fps and 90 fps for the ultra quality preset, while The Witcher 3 ran at 65-70 fps and the graphics and post-processing were both set to high. Unfortunately, during long gaming sessions, we found that the fan noise was quite distracting and the area above the keyboard was blazing hot.
The battery life is sufficient for a slim, powerful laptop. We have about five and a half hours of casual use on a single charge, which includes video streaming for about an hour, general web surfing, and offline media playback. Battery Eater Pro ran for 2 hours and 22 minutes, which is highly recommended.
Asus offered us two options at very different prices, but the ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU has a lot in common with the Zephyrus M GU502GU. Of course, the cheaper laptop lacks a few bells and whistles like the RGB backlit keyboard and USB Type-C charging, but these are not things we'd really miss. Even the 120 Hz screen isn't a big step down from 144 Hz.
The main differences are in performance, which is to be expected given the price. Both models have the same GPU (but with thermal Max-Q optimization on the Zephyrus G), which means that Asus has made both large and subtle cuts. The end result is the cheapest model in the slim Zephyrus range, and it's still more than capable of handling current games with reasonable quality settings.
What we see in terms of real usage, benchmark results, and gaming performance is roughly equivalent to what the Zephyrus M GU502GU delivered – a highly portable and versatile device with solid gaming capabilities, but with a less than ideal thermal design distinguishes anger with heat and noise.
We definitely can't miss the lack of a webcam or SD card slot and the poorly positioned trackpad. If you can live with these things and like the current style of Asus, you can now choose between the cheaper Zephyrus G and the mainstream Zephyrus M.