ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GM501 review: A power-packed gaming machine

ASUS has a new offering for the gaming enthusiasts. Here's how it performs.

By Vishal Kawadkar

    Asus revived the Zephyrus, after launching the first iteration back in 2017. And boy are they back? Yes, that too with a bang. The company recently took wraps off its Zephyrus GM501 gaming laptop. Just like its precursor, the laptop combines aesthetically pleasing design, top-end specs, and Nvidia Max-Q GPU, which is known for its power-efficient capabilities.

    The company managed to check all the boxes that were unticked the last time. The new laptop borrows the same unique chassis we saw on the previous version, but ups the game in few aspects. The company also tucked in the device with one of the initial 8th Gen Core i7 "Coffee Lake" CPUs and a Nvidia 1070 GPU, giving it an extra punch in a slimmer form factor. Priced at Rs 2,36,666 is it worth making your go-to gaming machine? Let's find out.

    Full specifications

     

    • CPU: 3.9-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
    • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
    • RAM: 16GB
    • Hard Drive Size: 256GB
    • Hard Drive Type: NVMe SSD
    • Secondary Hard Drive Size: 1TB
    • Secondary Hard Drive Speed: 7200
    • Secondary Hard Drive Type: SSHD
    • Display Size: 15.6-inches
    • Highest Available Resolution: 1920 x 1080
    • Native Resolution: 1920x1080
    • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU
    • Video Memory: 8GB

     

    Design

    Aesthetically, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 gaming laptop borrows a lot from its predecessor. While it still dons the metallic finish, the bronze accents running along the edges aren't noticeable this time around.

    Despite that, it still gives you the feel of a premium machine crafted for gaming enthusiasts. The ROG logo on the lid glows red when powered on, gives it an extra edge. But, it still doesn't make it a resistance to fingerprints. Yes, similar to the previous version, this one also tends to attract fingerprints and smudges.
    Though the laptop features similar looks on the outside as last year's model, the interior has seen a makeover.

    The device comes sans the digital trackpad/numpad that was previously housed on the right corner of the keyboard. Asus went ahead with a traditional trackpad alongside a big enough palm rest. Also, the power key has been moved to the top right corner, while the volume rockers are placed above the F1-F4 keys.

    The main highlight of the design is the rear exhaust panel that opens up when the lid is in a working position. The exhaust also has a red light on either side that is fired up when plugged-in the charger.

    The laptop has four USB 3.1 ports, with three on the left and one on the right side. The left side also has a 3.5mm audio jack and the charging port besides the HDMI port. The new version is also heavier compared to the previous version but has a slimmer body.

    Display and sound

    The Zephyrus packs a 15.6-inch matte display with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. The device leverages Nvidia G-Sync technology that offers brilliant performance with little to no screen tearing or latency.

    It matches well with the GPU offering a refresh rate of 144Hz. Viewing experience on the display was satisfying with colors coming out vibrant alongside ample amount details. The display offers a 178-degree viewing angle, so you can catch a clear glimpse from anywhere in the room. This is accompanied by 3ms response time (GTG) which is comparably better than 5-8ms of normal laptops.

    Overall the Zephyrus GM501 packs a great display, and will definitely deliver a brilliant viewing experience. It can reproduce 120 percent of the sRGB gamut. Though it is below the 141 percent premium gaming laptop average, it is well above the 100 percent mark.

    Audio quality voice, the laptop offers a deep, throaty bass which might be a surprise element for many. Alongside the four presets (Music, Movie, Gaming, Communication), the device also offers numerous effects such as Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Surround, Voice Clarity, Smart Volume and Reverb, which can be enabled/disabled to produce a custom sound.

    The company has also included its Sonic Radar III which makes a radar overlay while gaming. It also pinpoints where sounds like enemy gunshots or footsteps are coming from. Audio performance is one of the best aspects of this gaming machine.

    Gaming Center

    The ROG Gaming Center is like the laptop's dashboard, detailing system information, CPU and GPU clock speed and temperature, and memory. It also provides configuration details and memory optimization functions. Listed on the bottom of the dashboard are ROG apps and functions like ROG Aura keyboard lighting control, GPU Mode switching, Fan OverBoost fan mode options, GameVisual display mode control, Game First V network optimizer, Sonic Studio III sound amplifier, and Sonic Radar III audio visualization.

    GM501's discrete and integrated graphics switching function can be called by the GPU Mode button located at the bottom of the Game Center. The current GPU mode is shown underneath the button; users can switch between Discrete Graphics and Optimus modes. Whenever the GPU mode is changed, the system must be restarted; thus, save your game or work and close all programs prior to changing the mode.

    Performance

    The new laptop Zephyrus incorporates the Nvidia GeForce 1070mMax-Q CPU with 8GB of VRAM. The machine had absolutely no issues keeping up with the high paced gun fight amid a police chase in GTA V, averaging 70 fps on ultra 1920 x 1080. The frame rate took a flight when the setting was lowered to high.

    The 8th Gen with Zephyrus' 3.9GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU with 16GB of RAM. These new chips come with size cores instead of four. This also allows the CPU to perform compared to the previous generation. Despite using multiple applications and running many things simultaneously, the Zephyrus showed no sign of stutter or lag. The laptop offered a smooth and lag-free user experience. Our unit managed to score an impressive 20, 220 on Geekbench 4 that measures overall performance. This is well past the mark premium gaming laptops achieve.

    With all the gaming and multitasking performed on the Zephyrus, it is bound to get hot. To prevent this, Asus came up with the AAS system. The system brings more airflow into the laptop's internal heat dissipation system. The CPU, GPU, and power supply components funnel heat through the copper heat sinks and heat pipes to the 0.1mm thick thermal fins. The newly created 12V high voltage fans have aluminum alloy fan covers designed with a curved surface and dedicated air guiding column. The fans themselves are made from liquid crystal polymer (LCP), featuring 71 blades each and are 33% thinner and offer an increased airflow by 15%. All this combines to form the complex cooling system of the GM501.

    In terms of the battery backup, the Zephyrus GM501 can last longer compared to its previous generation. But, it still falls short of the mark. The device could hardly run for three hours in our test. Our usage included a bit of gaming, surfing web, watching few videos at high brightness. While long gaming sessions we had to keep the charger plugged almost all the time. The game also worked smoothly while the charger was plugged in, but not so while on battery.

    Verdict

    When we talk about gaming laptops, Asus with its ROG Zephyrus M GM501 has already put its name on the map. The gaming performance is unparalleled while encased in slim form factor. To add to it, it brings a better and more sensible keyboard and trackpad layout alongside 144Hz G-Sync display.

    Of course, the low battery backup is an area of concern, but considering the high-end performance of laptop, it is forgivable. If you look beyond the flaws of the device, this could be an ideal gaming companion for you.

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