Review: ASUS ROG Zephyrus M (GM501)

It’s been a while since I have reviewed a gaming laptop, but have I got one great gaming laptop for you to look at today. It’s the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M (GM501):

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This laptop looks like a trim and fit beast. Starting with the feel of the notebook. It’s made of brushed aluminum which feels really upscale. But also is a serious fingerprint magnet. It’s also very thin. In fact, it was so thin that I was surprised when I pulled it out of the box as to how thin it was. A large chrome ROG emblem sits on the left side of the lid and glows a cheery red when the laptop is on. That means you’ll draw a lot of attention at your local Starbucks. So will this keyboard:

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It feels great for touch typists like myself. You can customize the glow that the keyboard makes as well. It’s got a pair of speakers that sound outstanding as well.

There are four USB 3.1 Type-A port. Three on the left and one on the right. You’ll also find a Thunderbolt 3 port on the right along with a secure lock slot. On the left, you get a HDMI port, a combination microphone/headphone jack and a power jack. And the rear has a vent that opens up when you open the lid. That design really helps to keep things cooler than what one would expect.

The Zephyrus’ 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 matte display is made for gaming. Thanks to its Nvidia G-Sync technology, gamers will encounter little to no screen tearing or latency. The screen is also great for watching movies, because it produces vibrant color and fine details. And it has a wide viewing angle to allow your friends to see you pwn or get pwned. And all of this comes in a 5.5 pound package which is most welcome by those who have had to carry much heavier laptops.

In terms of specs, the one that I got for review had this under the hood:

  • Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
  • Intel Core i7-8750H 2.20 GHz
  • 16 GB DDR4
  • 1 TB SSHD + 256 GB SSD
  • GeForce GTX 1070 with 8 GB GDDR5
  • Gigabit LAN and 802.11ac WiFi
  • 5.5 hour battery life

Those are all world conquering specs. And the battery life may not be a misprint. I tested it and got 4 hours in non gaming usage.

I tested this laptop by using it on Zwift which is a online platform that allows cyclists to ride a variety of real and imagined courses assuming you have a stationary software controlled stationary trainer. In my case, this one. That doesn’t sound exciting. But Zwift really pushes a computer because it has to acquire data such has the riders heart rate via a Bluetooth enabled chest strap, their cadence (how fast they are pedaling) via a Bluetooth enabled sensor, and not only determine how fast you are going via the software controlled trainer, but also to the required math to replicate uphills and downhills in 1% gradient increments. All while trying to replicate roads of London, Innsbruck, or wherever else you happen to be riding. Not to mention the dozens or in some cases hundreds of people around you. In short, that’s not easy for any computer to do as there is a lot that is in play. Now even at the default settings, Zwift can humble a lot of computers. My 2015 MacBook Pro is the only computer in the house that can run this, but only at the default settings. But Zwift regardless of how I had it setup did nothing to even bother the ROG Zephyrus M in the slightest. Most of the time, I mirrored the on board display at all the maximum settings to my HDTV via the HDMI port which again isn’t a trivial task for a laptop running a game that is this complex. That was impressive. If it could do that, the claims of this laptop being VR ready are completely plausible as far as I am concerned.

So, what does all of this cost you? Amazon sells it from $2799 CDN and other retailers are around that mark as well. That’s a pretty good price given what you get in the box. And to put that in perspective, a 15″ MacBook Pro with something approaching this level of power is twice the price. I guess that makes the MacBook Pro overpriced or the ASUS a great bargain. I will leave it to you to decide which. But whichever side of the fence you land on, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is a great gaming laptop. Actually, given the power that you get in a package of this size, it’s a great laptop. Period.

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