While the ASUS ROG Zephyrus was definitely a showstopper last year, it wasn’t exactly the best “laptop” primarily because the track pad was in such a weird position. Then again, this isn’t something that was uniquely ASUS’ problem.
Sure, you could get used to it, or use a mouse. But what if you didn’t want that. Well, for those, you’ve got the ROG Zephyrus M (GM501). It’s a laptop that keeps a lot of what’s good with the Zephyrus but in a form that makes sense.
The Zephyrus M isn’t designed to replace the original Zephyrus. In fact, it’s supposed to sit just under it but don’t be fooled because the Zephyrus M still packs a nice dollop of power.
Inside, it’s powered by an Intel Core i7-8750H processor — that’s the new 6-core Coffee Lake CPU from Intel. The Zephyrus M is also packing 16GB of RAM and a storage combo that consists of a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and a 1TB SSHD (solid-state hybrid drive). On the GPU side of things, you can get the Zephyrus with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-P GPU which is supposed to be more powerful than its Max-Q counterpart but remain power efficient. There’s also a variant with a GTX 1060 for those on a tighter budget.
Besides that, the ROG Zephyrus M features a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS G-SYNC display that has an awesome refresh rate of 144Hz with a 3ms response time. One of the more interesting features on the Zephyrus M is the fact that you can switch it between the discrete GPU and the onboard GPU to save power when you’re not running GPU intensive tasks.
Despite being the more affordable sibling, the Zephyrus M still comes with the original Zephyrus’ unique cooling solution that lifts the laptop off its bottom panel when you open the screen. This increases airflow and coupled with ASUS’ new cooling system, you’re supposed to get some pretty good temps even under load. What’s more, the fans have a dust-buster tract that will get rid of dust particles so they don’t clog your system up.
The Zephyrus M retains the premium build from the flagship Zephyrus. Its got a nice brushed metal top that feels premium while the rest of the laptop is made up of a polycarbonate that feels solid to touch. They definitely did a pretty good job on the build here, especially since they managed to keep the body at a slim 17.5mm. It does weigh quite a lot by laptop standards, but coming in at 2.45kg, this thing is practically a feather compared to most high-end gaming laptops.
My favourite change that ASUS made to the Zephyrus M is its new keyboard and track pad layout. It makes sense now. The track pad is below the keyboard and is centered around the space bar — unlike some gaming laptops — with a proper numpad to the right of the keyboard. The keys feel comfortable enough to type on but I mourn the loss of the mechanical switch.
This new one feels like a basic chiclet keyboard so I’m not particularly impressed, though I will say that the original mechanical keyboard on the Zephyrus wasn’t particularly awesome either. I suppose this is a good way to save some cost without ruining the overall experience. It does have RGB backlighting, but it’s a zone RGB. Still, the laptop features Aura Sync — which is the first for a laptop I believe.
I/O is pretty decent too. It’s got 4 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, which is especially useful for peripherals, as well as a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port with Thunderbolt 3 support. There is also a HDMI 2.0 port and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack. The only thing I’m really missing is a full-sized SD card slot which is very disappointing.
As a whole, I like the Zephyrus M a lot more than I liked the regular Zephyrus. It works better as a laptop and has a couple of tasteful design changes — including being more upgradable — that help push it more towards mobility. It’s also a lot more affordable than the Zephyrus, as the top-spec variant with the GTX 1070 retails for RM9,299. Spec down to a GTX 1060 and you can walk away with one for RM7,999. Both variants are expected to appear in shelves sometime by the end of April 2018.
What do you guys think of the ROG Zephyrus M? Let me know in the comments below.