When choosing a laptop, you often have to make compromises — a thin mobile device or a large gaming laptop. But there are options that successfully combine all this together. Among them is ASUS ROG Zephyrus M, which has a powerful performance configuration and compact size. We will get to know him in this review. Let’s evaluate the design features, display quality, cooling efficiency and real performance. Let’s test it in a series of gaming applications, including those with ray tracing. Let’s test the built-in Turbo mode for overclocking and check the possibilities of additional manual overclocking.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502
This is a laptop with a 15.6-inch display in a reinforced magnesium alloy chassis. The original design is combined with small size, ASUS is more compact and thinner than conventional laptops with a 15-inch screen. Its dimensions are 360 x 252 x 19 mm and weighs 1.9 kg. Inside is a powerful configuration based on an Intel Core i7-9750H processor and a GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. Our variant has 32 GB of DDR4 memory and one fast 512 GB NVMe M.2 drive. The screen is on a high-quality IPS-matrix with a refresh rate of 144 Hz.
Full specifications in the table.
|Model||ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502GV|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-9750H 2.6 GHz (up to 4500 MHz with Turbo Boost)|
|RAM||32 GB, DDR4-2666|
|Display||15,6″, 1920×1080, IPS (AU Optronics B156HAN08.2)|
|Video card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6ГБ|
|Disk subsystem||SSD NVMe M.2 512 ГБ Intel SSDPEKNW512GB|
|I/O ports||Combo USB 3.1 Gen2 Type C and DisplayPort 1.4
2x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A
1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A
|Communications||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Multimedia||Audio system 2.0|
|Power adapter, W||230|
|Dimensions, mm||360 x 252 x 19|
Next, let’s talk in more detail about the configuration, the exterior of the laptop and its key features.
Contents of delivery
The laptop comes in a black box that opens like a suitcase. A laptop is fixed inside, and accessories are located in separate compartments. And already at the stage of unpacking you understand that this is a solid thing.
The package is standard. Inside there is a charger and a power cable.
Mains power is provided by the ADP-230GB B block, which is designed for loads up to 230 W.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M looks original. The cover is made of a metal alloy with the texture of a polished surface.
There is a large illuminated ROG logo.
The case is pleasant to the touch and quite durable. With light effort and pressing, nothing bends.
The screen cover has a curve that leaves an open area with operating mode indicators.
The back has two radiator grilles.
There are ventilation holes on the bottom. Even with an external examination, it is clear that some of them are located strictly under two fans, i.e. The entire design of the laptop is thought out for optimal airflow. Five large rubber feet ensure a secure hold on any surface.
The screen rises with little effort, the move is smooth. It leans back to a fairly large angle.
The screen has thin bezels, only the bottom part is quite wide.
There is no built-in webcam. Several microphones are located under the screen.
Power is connected to the connector on the left side. On the same side are the following ports: LAN RJ-45, HDMI, one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A and two 3.5 mm audio jacks for connecting external speakers and a microphone.
On the right side, there are two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A and one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type C, which can work as a DisplayPort interface connector. There is a Kensington lock entrance in the corner. Also on both sides there are radiator grilles through which hot air is blown.
The working area with the keyboard has a soft «soft-touch» coating. The upper area above the keyboard is covered with a panel with fine-grained mesh styling.
Part of the function keys is located above the main keyboard block. These are the sound adjustment buttons and quick access to the ASUS ROG software functions, which we will discuss below.
The keyboard has no numeric keypad. Otherwise, this is a standard layout with some shifting of the rewind and arrow keys.
There is an RGB backlight with the possibility and settings of glow modes
A quick change in the backlight mode is possible using the arrows in the functional mode. These are brightness adjustment and switching between primary color profiles with different effects.
The touchpad with two keys is made in the form of a single surface.
It’s time to talk more about the screen. It has a matte finish with an anti-reflective coating.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502 uses AU Optronics B156HAN08.2 IPS panel. Diagonal 15.6 inches, resolution 1920×1080, frequency 144 Hz.
According to the measurements, the coverage of the sRGB space is 91%. The color temperature in the entire range is about 7000 K, which is close to the optimal mode, so the color gamut is natural and natural. Gamma curves are close to the reference ones.
Brightness is adjustable from 18 cd/m² to 324 cd/m². The contrast ratio is stable at around 900:1.
The DeltaE color deviation is acceptable, the average deviation is below 7 units, the white balance is good.
Since there is a high-quality matrix, the viewing angles are wide. Changes in color with a small deviation are not noticeable. There is no flicker.
General impressions are positive. Screen with good color reproduction and calibration. A slight uneven backlight is noticeable, but who does not have it. An important advantage is the support for a refresh rate of 144 Hz, which will appeal to fans of dynamic games. And according to the specifications on the site, there is another option with a 240Hz screen.
Let’s remove the cover from the bottom of the case to take a look at the cooling and the board.
At the bottom is a large battery. The rest of the space is occupied by the board and the cooling system with two fans.
Several heat pipes are part of the overall cooling design. They cover the processor and graphics chip. One of the tubes covers the memory modules and power elements of the power circuit around the GPU. Radiators are located at the rear wall and on the sides. They are blown by two centrifugal fans, which are distinguished by a large number of thin blades (83).
A 76 Wh battery is used. Sound speakers are located in the corners.
On the top photo you can see the cellular structure of the inner surface of the case. Such a structure of plastic panels allows you to increase the overall rigidity of the case.
Inside there is no compartment for large drives. You can install two high-speed NVMe SSDs in the laptop. Our version has one 512 GB drive. It is covered with a metal film.
The DDR4 Kingston KVR26S19D8 / 16 RAM stick is installed in the external slot. The total amount of memory is 32 GB.
The full specifications of the laptop are presented in the screenshot of the HWiNFO utility.
The heart of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502 is the top mobile Intel Core i7-9750H 2.6GHz processor. It has six cores that process 12 threads. Base frequency 2.6 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5 GHz. Such speed characteristics are combined with a low TDP of 45 watts. The 32 GB memory operates in dual-channel mode at an effective frequency of 2666 MHz with delays of 19-19-19-43-2T.
A powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 video card is responsible for the graphics. This is an analogue of a desktop video card on the TU106 with 1920 stream processors, a 192-bit bus and 6 GB of video memory. The difference between the mobile version is in lower frequencies, which allows it to meet the TDP of 80-90 watts. The base core frequency is 960 MHz and Boost Clock is 1200 MHz instead of 1365/1680 MHz for the desktop version. Effective memory frequency 14000 MHz. The Core i7-9750H has an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630.
The storage system is represented by one 512 GB NVMe Intel SSDPEKNW512GB drive. If two devices are installed, RAID0 mode is supported. Networking features come standard with Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 5.0 (based on the Intel 9560D2W dual-band adapter). There is no memory card reader, but its relevance is questionable.
Full software control of the laptop and a wide range of additional features are provided by the Armory Crate application. This is a software center that has tools for monitoring and selecting operating modes, setting the backlight and selecting additional ASUS utilities from a single menu.
The first tab of Armory Crate offers a simple and intuitive interface for controlling operating modes. It’s worth noting that ASUS software replaces the default power modes with its own profiles. By switching between them, you select the preset options for settings for a specific device with optimized parameters. By default, the laptop runs in balanced mode. There is a quiet mode with the usual combination of reduced power and high efficiency. The Turbo mode will provide maximum performance, which provides for a slight overclocking relative to the initial settings.
The main menu of Armory Crate is called up with the ROG button on the keyboard, and work profiles can be quickly switched with the F5 button.
A separate section contains glow effect settings for the keyboard backlight. There are ready-made profiles and the possibility of manual combination of settings.
The set of available programs includes many special gaming utilities. For example, GameFirst V allows you to control network traffic and network bandwidth for different tasks. There are also several free games included, among which Ghost of a Tale and Beholder deserve special attention.
There’s a useful ROG GameVisual app that lets you quickly change screen settings with optimized color profiles for specific games or movies.
Cooling System Efficiency and Noise Level
It’s time to talk about the temperature characteristics of the laptop. The operation of ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502 was carried out in a room with a temperature of about 27 ° C. During the tests, the temperature of the internal components was monitored and the temperature of the outer case was measured.
To create the maximum load, the AIDA64 stress test was used. First, we activated the full load option for all components, including the GPU.
Quite quickly, the processor warmed up to 90 ° C, after which the frequency reset began and a slight throttling appeared. This is normal for mobile Intel processors under extreme load. But in this case, it is worth noting the low final frequencies, when the core frequency dropped below 2 GHz. According to HFWiNFO, the average frequency is 2 GHz at operating temperatures up to 80 °C.
If you remove the load from the graphics core, then the overall dynamics of the processor will improve.
Peak core temperatures are around 90°C, but average heating is decreasing. And the average core frequency is already 3300 MHz. That is, without a load on the graphics, the Intel Core i7-9750H will work stably at frequencies above the base level even in extreme processor tests.
The main area of use of this laptop are gaming applications. What are the temperature and noise characteristics of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502 under gaming load? Let’s check it out with a 20-minute continuous test of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition. This is a fairly heavy test that makes the most of the video memory and warms up the GPU well.
The frequency of the GPU is kept in the range of 1200-1300 MHz, which is noticeably lower than the average frequency level of the desktop version. GPU temperature reaches 76°C. The peak temperatures of the Intel Core i7-9750H are at the level of 96-97 °C, but these are the values at the time of start at high frequencies. With a long load, the frequencies gradually decrease, the average values are 3.5–3.6 GHz. At a particular point in time, we see a different multiplier for all cores, where the maximum value is x38.
High temperatures come with noticeable cooling noise, but we’ve had noisier laptops as well. Therefore, we can talk about standard temperature and noise characteristics against the background of other game models. And the problem of noise is not relevant in the case of using headphones. Operating temperatures are high, but all models with powerful Intel Cores peak and show throttling under stress. Under normal gaming load, the heating is serious, but the CPU frequencies are kept at a high enough level, which will ensure good final performance. And this is at an ambient temperature of 27 ° C, in cooler conditions the CPU frequencies can be even higher.
Let’s see what the external case temperatures are like under high load (Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition).
The outer case heats up the most in the central zone above the CPU and GPU, but it feels weak tactilely, there is no discomfort in operation.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502 has a regular enhanced performance mode. To activate this Turbo mode, just select the appropriate profile in the Armory Crate menu or switch modes with the F5 key.
In this mode, the speed of the blowing fans increases, which allows you to keep the increased frequencies of the CPU and GPU. The frequencies of the video card are additionally increased above the initial level. The base value of the core is 1060 MHz with an average Boost of 1300 MHz, the memory frequency is 14300 MHz.
When loaded with Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition, average GPU frequencies exceed 1400 MHz at temperatures up to 77 ° C, and processor cores operate at frequencies of 3.9-4 GHz. That is, we have really good acceleration. But since it is achieved through better cooling, the overall noise also increases, which is noticeable even with a light load.
We decided to squeeze even more out of the laptop. And this is indeed possible, but further growth will be minimal. With an additional increase in the frequencies of the video card, stability decreases and performance drops due to overclocking are possible. Therefore, we settled on such a frequency configuration for the GeForce RTX 2060 — 1100/1340 MHz core, 14500 MHz memory. The overclocking itself was carried out in active Turbo mode to ensure optimal cooling.
Under heavy load, the GPU boost frequencies remained almost unchanged, the temperature increased by one degree. The CPU operating mode also remained unchanged.
Next, we will test the laptop in all the described modes to evaluate the benefits of the regular mode, Turbo mode and additional overclocking.