ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (2021) Review

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In this article, I give you my ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (2021) review with specs included. ROG is pronounced ‘rogue’ or ‘republic of gamers’ whatever you want.

This is the 2021 edition of the Asus 15.6-inch thin-and-light kind of classy gaming laptop with the Nvidia RTX 3000 series graphics and AMD Ryzen Zen 3 Cezanne in here.

I’ve got the Ryzen 9 5900HS 8-core 16-thread CPU inside for a lot of performance in a thin package. This has a wide gamut QHD 2560 by 1440 display which was Nvidia’s promise with the RTX 3000 graphics card saying that really is the new minimum. If you want to play games, you should enjoy your higher resolution. I’ve got that here too.

I’m pretty excited by this laptop. There are not many RTX 3000 series gaming laptops out yet but they haven’t been as super exciting as desktop cards because they don’t get as much performance improvement. The desktop cards got that performance boost by using more watts. More power is something you really can’t do much of on laptops.

The Intel CPUs consume more power than AMD and emit more heat. So here, speaking of that we have AMD Ryzen and that is a superior CPU in terms of using less heat, having better battery life, and wonderful performance, in multi-core particularly. Intel usually edges out a little bit on a single-core. But, the multi-core rocks on AMD.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (2021) has a QHD matte IPS three millisecond response time 165-hertz wide gamut display here and it’s very natural looking. It’s Pantone calibrated and it’s pretty color accurate. It’s nice and it’s sharp looking.

If you’re going to play games and you want to see more details, this display does great. For example, when I play Forza Horizon I really enjoy those higher resolutions because all those trees and the details everywhere make a much prettier game. So, that’s a step in the right direction. It’s also sharp for everyday use if you’re doing photo editing or just reading text.

Let’s see where ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (2021) sits amongst the competition. The Zephyrus line is ultra-thin and light. It is one of the thinnest and lightest 15-inch gaming laptops. In fact, it’s just a little bit lighter than not just the Razer Blade 15 Advanced but the 16-inch MacBook pro too. It’s 1.9 kilograms (which is 4.2 pounds). And it’s quite thin, significantly under an inch. It’s 19.9 millimeters.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (2021) has a magnesium alloy top and keyboard deck. At the bottom, as far as I can tell, is ABS plastic. It has the 8000 dots on the lid instead of having the LEDs underneath as an optional thing like they did with the Zephyrus G14.

They have a mylar film underneath those dots so when you move the lid back and forth you’ll see color shifting and sort of like having RGB lights without having RGB lights and without using any power.

I think it’s a very clean look on this. Obviously, this design here is very similar to the Zephyrus G14 (2020) model which is one of the best gaming laptops for value and for what you get for the price.

Again, this laptop is not super cheap but for what you get it’s cheaper than the competition and that’s nice too. The model I have is $1799 MSRP. That gets you the Ryzen 9 5900HS, Nvidia RTX 3070 graphics, the QHD display, 16 GB of RAM, and a fast one terabyte NVMe SSD. That is not too bad.

You could go up to RTX 3080 and double your RAM to 32 GB while you’re at it but that’s like $700 more and the performance gain just isn’t that much, especially in a thin and light chassis. So, I would stick with the lower-end model.

So when you compare ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (2021) to something like the Razer Blade 15 or 15 Advanced, as a competition, or the MSI GS66 Stealth (which is just a full HD display, there’s no QHD option) it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper while still being pretty premium and focusing on the things that many of us care about the most like the better quality display, the Ryzen CPU inside, that sort of thing.

For the keyboard, you have single-zone RGB backlighting. That means you can choose any color you want but it’s going to be all one color at a time. That’s fine with me.

There’s no bling, no Rogue Strix RGB body lighting anywhere. Again, with me, that’s fine because I like the staid, kind of modern, and futuristic look but at the same time very chill design that’s going on here.

We have a very large Microsoft precision trackpad on this. There is no number pad which for a 15-inch laptop personally I like and that’s up to you to know if you need or just like.

The keyboard on this has a great feel. If you’re a content creator who actually makes use of the written word you’re going to like this thing. It’s also fine for gaming too.

A nice deep keystroke on these keys, tactile feel springing back it’s like the good old days of keyboards without getting too thick. And it’s quiet, unlike the Rogue Strix Scar which has an optimum-mechanical sort of keyboard.

So, within light gaming laptops, some of the things that often take a hurt are the sound speakers. Well, they’ve got six speakers on this including force canceling subwoofers. It sounds quite good.

I’m still not sure if it’s as good as the 16-inch MacBook Pro, particularly for the depth of the bass, but compared to just about every other Windows laptop or gaming laptop of this size on the market, it sounds a lot better. And, the multiple drivers combined with Dolby Atmos can give you the sense of surround sound that’s very nice.

Some people have said that they hear, at high volumes of the bass particularly, rumbling making funny sounds. Mine is not doing that. I think that’s probably a driver issue but I don’t know.

Speaking of driver issues, with this machine, out of the box, there were so many driver updates, firmware updates, BIOS updates, etc. I’ve already gotten two BIOS updates. Be sure to actually run those updates including the My Asus app for BIOS updates because they do make a difference.

When I first got out of the box with the shipping BIOS it did crazy cracky things like sometimes would say the charger wasn’t plugged in which got me really worried.

That was purely a BIOS thing because they’re working on a USB-C 100-watt charging to get that going. That is not something that you’re going to use when you’re gaming but if you need to use it as productivity or a streaming laptop on the go that will be sufficient. Asus is supposedly going to sell a 100-watt power adapter that’s USB-C-based.

So it’s all sounding roses and puppy dogs so far. What about cooling that probably sucks right because is it thin and light. Well no thanks to ryzen which runs a lot cooler than intel which is your basic egg frying machine. Normally your intel laptop these days for a gaming one.

In most games, I saw CPU temperatures for demanding aaa titles in the range of 80 to 84 degrees centigrade which is way better than the near 100 degrees thermal throttling max that you’ll see on the equivalent intel CPUs for 10th generation. 11th aren’t out yet so for the 45 waters so we can say. For the 35-watt Intel has started shipping their h35 wides and this is considerably faster.

Those are only four core on the intel side for their 35-watt products. So well obvious reasons why there. When playing games like cyberpunk 2077 good job here. I if you turn on ray tracy of course the frame rate is going to drop in most any game i tested it with and without. Without ray tracing I was in the mid-60s for frames and that is playing at native 2560 resolutions. So sweet that.

Dlss will help improve things a bit for frame rates but overall. And by the way that was on the highest settings of cyberpunk nice. So I compared that to my Alienware area 51mr2 which has a desktop intel core i7-10700k and an RTX 2070 super max p full wattage. And you know what the Alienware had about four five frames higher using the same settings.

But it was only playing at 1080p resolution which is the native resolution of the panel on that laptop. That’s when i thought we actually are making progress. We might not be thrilled that the rtx 3000 isn’t more than 15 to 18 faster than the RTX 2000s but you look at this over the evolution of several years and not for somebody who’s going to upgrade from last year’s laptop but several years ago.

And for something this thin and light it’s just madness. So what about surface temperatures and fan noise then. Surface temperatures are very good on this machine actually. I was surprised. Of course, it helps that the CPU and the GPU are not killing themselves. So typically Nvidia GPUs are capped at somewhere on 75 to 77 degrees centigrade. So there’s that but anyway.

The only hot spot is dead center above the keyboard where you’re not going to be touching it. I mean ideally you know you don’t throttle this by putting it on a bed comforter that sort of thing but i had it on my knees and it didn’t cause me pain. The ventilation on this is the on the bottom very specific. There are two cutouts for the fan so try not to block those by the way.

Fan noise well this is still a thin and light gaming laptop. So i’m playing something like cyberpunk 2077 or far cry 5. Yeah, you’ll hear the fans. They’re not grading annoying whiny or anything like that but there’s plenty of air being moved. I played most games in performance mode. You can play which isn’t the highest performance mode despite the name in Asus armory crate software.

There’s turbo which is a notch up above that and I would get about three frames per second more four sometimes five at most. It also runs a bit hotter and a bit louder not hugely. Or you can custom tune it yourself which I like to see. So what about the GPU itself. This is a thin and light so Nvidia has done away with the max q max p thing.

And I wish they hadn’t because we all understood what that meant basically. So this is functionally a max q GPU. So it runs at 80 watts and boosts to 100 watts. So it’s not as powerful as something like the MSI leopard with the RTX graphics card 3070 that we review. That’s a full max p. It’s fair given how thin and light this is. And performance on it is so darn good that I’m all right with it.

That speaks to the RTX 3080 though. That has the same power limit which is why I’m saying I wouldn’t spend the money on that so much because it’s power constraint. Another thing some people won’t be thrilled about but i will give them a pass because again the Zephyrus is the thin and light ultra portable line. There is no mux switch.

There’s no way to switch hardware-wise over just to d GPU mode which typically can get you five to ten frames per second more in games. Which is nothing to sneeze at obviously. But the battery life on this and the temperatures are more of a concern so they didn’t go with that. Plus we have an AMD Radeon integrated GPU and it’s running freesync which is their version of the g-sync sort of. So that’s why they’re running it through it.

So if you’re playing on the internal panel you’re going to have Nvidia Optimus basically. If you use the hdmi 2.0 b port it’s still using Nvidia Optimus. If you do want to go just d GPU mode only use the USB c port which supports Displayport 1.4 out and you can also get a USB-C to hdmi adapter. That one plugs straight into the dedicated GPU. With an external monitor, you can get max performance.

So there is one little caveat there that’s not super unusual for thin and light gaming laptops. So we have Optimus. The other one is the internals. There’s nothing wrong with the internals design the dual fan design the number of heat pipes like six is very good on this. We have not one but two m.2 SSD slots. These are PCI three no PCI for like the upcoming Intel 11th gen alas.

But we have what Asus has been doing for a while which is one ram slot and some ram soldered on board. So the best buy 16 gig model has eight gigs soldered on board ddr4 3200 megahertz and one 8 gig module. If you go for the RTX 3080 model with 32 gigs of ram you got 16 soldered on board and one 16 gig module.

So anything above what it ships with you know. So you get a 16 gig model. If say you decide to upgrade that 8 gig module to a 16. The first 16 gigs will still run in dual channel mode but anything above 16 gigs will run the single channel. If you’re running a game probably that’s okay. Just load your game first it’ll get the dual-channel memory thing but for those who are doing video editing and that sort of thing we can actually use more than 16 gigs and possibly even more than 32 at times. Then it could be a concern.

And again Asus has been doing this for years with the Zephyrus line I kind of wish they wouldn’t. But I suppose there’s a trade-off between that and otherwise giving us a smaller battery or fewer ports or whatever it is you know we all complain they still do it. Again the Asus rogue Strix does have two ram slots for those of you who want that’s about a pound heavier more RGB bling on it different kinds of laptops sort of you get the idea.

For wi-fi, we have intel wi-fi six with Bluetooth five. There is a fingerprint scanner that’s embedded in the power button. And much like the Asus Zephyrus g14 it really doesn’t work. If maybe 25 of the time it works for me oh well. So how about the competition. Basically, you’re looking at spending significantly less money for some pretty cool stuff here including the qhd display that may not even be an option in some of the competitors in the premium thin and light range.

So that’s the plus for this. The ryzen is a plus it’s going to run cooler it’s going to have better battery life. There’s the Asus Strix and Strix scar machines. Those are a bit bigger and heavier and more blingy but well they do get you things like two ram slots. And however pretty much those are just being sold with full hd displays right now which is huh. There’s the Alienware m15 r4 which is their refresh with the RTX 3000 series graphics and a bigger footprint machine.

And if you think having half your ram soldered on board well it’s worse with Alienware. They’re soldering all the ram on board and the wi-fi card solder. So you know there’s a lot to be said for this machine right here. Then there’s the razor blade which is going to cost you more money and has perhaps the most boutique and cleanest looks.

Hard to argue with that one there’s even a qh d display option. Again you’ll be spending more money for that one too. Port selection on the machine is are excellent. We have USB c 3.2 gen 2 which means you’ve got Displayport 1.4 you’ve got power in and out and no thunderbolt because well that’s an intel intellectual property. We have two USB a 3.2 gen 2 ports HDMI 2.0 b wired directly to the integrated GPU.

We have a gigabit ethernet port we have a micro-sd card slot. Of course a headphone jack on board too. So not bad about the only thing missing is a display port but you can get that via USB-c. So battery life. Well AMD ryzen that starts to say it all does and. Plus the fact we have a large 90-watt-hour battery inside. Not quite as high as the MSI gs66 stealth with its 99.9 watt-hour battery but still very good. And ryzen is so power-frugal that if you’re doing productivity work streaming video a little bit of photoshop that sort of thing you can expect anywhere from six to nine hours of battery runtime on this which is absolutely superb.

Of course, it’s gonna be running on the integrated GPU and you can actually control that sorta with the Asus army crate software there don’t explain it really well but there’s that. So for a gaming laptop insane. The charger is also relatively speaking very light and fairly compact. It’s a 200-watt charger that comes in a lot lighter than the competition with this which lightens your load. This means that your super-light laptop doesn’t suddenly become super heavy because you’ve got this humongous and heavy charger going along with it.

Those quarter runtimes are with AMD’s very bright option turned off in the AMD Radeon software. Do go there and do turn that off. It really doesn’t help battery life much but it does reduce not just the overall brightness of the display when it’s unplugged but it reduces the color gamut too. And after you remove the rubber plugs and unscrew the screws it’s pretty easy to work this off really.

Don’t have to fight too much with a guitar pick or anything just a little bit and here are internals. 90 watt-hour battery nice and big for a thin and light gaming laptop. I’m glad we’re starting to see this happen more often. Here are two of these six speaker drivers. That’s a lot of speakers for a 15-inch laptop. That’s why the sound is pretty good.

Again I haven’t noticed any bass distortion on ours which is probably a software-based issue if you’re experiencing it. Here’s the m.2 nvme SSD. Ours is a one terabyte sk Hynix and you have a second slot to add a second SSD if you would like to. Right there’s the screw to retain and that’s where you would plug it in. Here’s our single ram slot that is a ding against Asus. They keep doing this to make it smaller. They solder some of the ram on the motherboard.

So we have the 16 gig model from best buy so we have eight gigs soldered on board and an eight gig 3200 megahertz ddr4 ram sim right here. And you could obviously upgrade it you would only have dual-channel memory up to that 16 gigs worth. And anything after 16 gigs wouldn’t be dual channel anymore. I don’t know most games you know they don’t use more than 16 gigs.

So you’re pretty safe for things like gaming. Our socketed wi-fi card is here with Bluetooth. That’s the intel wi-fi six ax-201 card. And obviously, the fans are right here and a whole lot of heat pipe action which is good to see. This is a three screw heat sink here but hey it’s on pretty well. And again they use liquid metal for the CPU. So that’s very effective for cooling.

Might make it a little bit harder to get it off afterward. And we do have four screw mounts here for the CPU which is a good thing to see. So that’s the Asus republican gamer Zephyrus g 15 model 503 for 2021 with NVidia RTX 3000 series graphics and AMD xen3 CPUs inside go ryzen.

So you can tell I like this laptop a lot. Uh could it it’s not perfect obviously. I would like to see things like two ram slots maybe the HDMI port hooked directly up to the gt GPU. But honestly for the price a thin and like classy looking gaming laptop like this with great battery life a q hd display that’s wide gamut and high refresh rate and they can play any aaa title at 2k resolution around 60 frames per second if not higher. I mean what’s not to like about that stuff right.

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ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (2021)
  • 98%
    Performance - 98%
  • 94%
    Price - 94%
  • 96%
    Value - 96%