Asus’s ROG Zephyrus-series gaming laptops are meant to be powerful machines that look more stylish and are more portable than what you’d expect of regular gaming laptops. The Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU, that’s part of the refreshed 2019 lineup, is one of the slimmest and mature ROGs around and it’s powered by Intel’s latest 9th generation Core i7 H-series chipset with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics.
This is a laptop that is supposed to work for both hardcore gamers and content creators, or for anyone looking to balance between work and gaming.
Is the Zephyrus M GU502GU competitive enough? We will try and answer that question in our detailed review.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Price in India and Specs
|Display||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, Anti-glare IPS, 144 HZ, 3ms response time, Pantone Validated|
|Processor||Hexa-core Intel Coffee Lake-R Core i7-9750H|
|Graphics||Intel UHD 630
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti 80W, 6GB VRAM
|Storage||PCIe NVMe 512GB M.2 SSD (Intel 660p QLC), additional slot for expansion|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 2666 MHz (upgradeable to 32GB)|
|IO||3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C gen 2 with DP and charging, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone jack +mic jack, Kensington Lock|
|Software||Windows 10 Home|
|Battery||76Wh, 230 W power adapter|
|Dimensions||360 mm (w) x 252 mm (l) x 18.9 mm (h)|
|Audio||2x bottom stereo speakers, DAC, ESS, Array Microphone|
|Keyboard and Trackpad||RGB backlit keyboard, Precision trackpad|
|India Price||Rs. 1,49,999|
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Review: Design and Display
ROG Zephyrus GU502 has a metallic lid with brushed metal texture and sharp lines that make it look distinct. The first thing you’d appreciate is that it is lighter and more portable than most other gaming machines. It’s not as flashy as many other gaming laptops, but it is elegant and trendy.
Asus uses a die-cast magnesium alloy for constructing the exteriors of GU502. The material is grippy but attracts smudges rather easily.
This year, Asus has removed AAS or Active Aerodynamic System for cooling that lifts the base from the rear when the lid is opened. To compensate, the rubber padding at the back is thicker and can sufficiently lift the bottom to serve the desired cooling purpose. However, the missing AAS makes the GU502 hot to touch at the bottom.
If you ignore the RGB ROG logo on the lid, Zephyrus M GU502 can be easily passed on as a regular 15.6-inch display laptop – It’s that light and convenient to handle.
Speaking of the display, the GU502 has a matte finish screen that’s lighter on eyes. Bezels on three sides are quite narrow. In fact, Asus couldn’t make room for the webcam on this one. In India, the external webcam doesn’t come bundled in the box.
The Full HD resolution display gets bright enough for well-lit indoor usage and shows well-balanced colors (targets sRGB) and high contrast. To aid gamers, the screen offers 3ms response time and 144Hz refresh rate (when the adaptor is plugged in). But even for non-gamers, this is a great display.
Also Read: Asus ROG Phone 2 Hands-On Review
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Review: Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard on the ROG Zephyrus M GU502 is an absolute delight and extremely reliable. The layout is apt, keys have wide spacing, offer firm feedback and have the right amount of travel. Error rate and annoyance with hardcore typing are minimal and if you are looking for a portable gaming laptop that doubles as a workstation, the keyboard makes a solid case.
To appease gamers, the keyboard has per-key RGB lighting that you can customize to an extent using Armoury crate app (8 different effects in total). There are dedicated keys at the top for controls you’d want to use most often.
The same happy-happy feeling doesn’t extend to the trackpad though. The GU502 has a precision touchpad that’s mostly very responsive, but many at times it failed to register our touches at one go. This might be an isolated issue with our review unit.
Also Read: ASUS ROG Strix Scar II GL504GV Review
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Review: IO, Connectivity, and Audio
The Zephyrus GU502 has a rich assortment of ports, but there are a couple of omissions. On the left side, there’s the proprietary charging port, LAN port, HDMI port, USB Type-A 3.1, and two audio jacks for mic and headphones. On the other side, you’d get Kensington lock slot, 2x USB Type-A 3.1 ports and a USB Type-C 3.1 port with DisplayPort 1.4 and PD charging support.
At this price point, lack of card reader, biometric unlock methods, and Thunderbold 3.0 are striking omissions. Connectivity options include Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth 5.0 and 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
The audio output via bottom-firing speakers is feeble. It’s perhaps good enough for close viewing, but the quality of output isn’t going to please audiophiles.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Review: Performance and Gaming
Our Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU is powered by the latest 9th generation H-series Intel Core i7-9750H CPU with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics (6GB of video memory), 16GB RAM, 512GB intel 660p PCIe NVNe SSD.
The red flag here is the GTX 1660Ti since many consumers would prefer RTX 2060 that’s available in about the same budget on laptops like ROG Strix Scar III. The intel 660p QLC SSD is also relatively slower SSD than what we usually see in this price range.
The choice of processor used makes ROG GU502 absolutely fabulous as an office workstation. We tried to push the multitasking to its limits and we had to keep pushing for a while. Suffice to say, there is enough raw power here for the most demanding of users.
The GU502GU also performed remarkably well on synthetic benchmarks. Our unit scored 3941 on PCMark’s Conventional Creative test.
As for gaming, the laptop managed to output an average of 60fps, even with most demanding of games. On the maximum settings, Apex legends managed to output a maximum of 68 fps, Droom managed to run at 86fps, Battlefield V managed to score only 25fps to 30fps in medium settings and Crysis 3 ran at around 70fps consistently.
Watch Dogs 2 and Metro Exodus ran at around 43fps in maximum settings. You can still enjoy it at around 75fps at one lower setting.
The point being, this is a great gaming laptop for people who don’t mandatorily wish to play games at highest possible settings. The ROG Zephyrus GU502GU can handle all heavy gaming without stuttering, but it does get uncomfortably hot and noisy. The heat from the side vents can get uncomfortable real quick, but this heat isn’t passed on to the keyboard or the palm rest.
The fans can get quite noisy, and even in the silent mode, the fan noise is still there.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Review: Battery
The batter on the ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU depletes pretty fast. The laptop switches to 60Hz screen when not plugged in, and switches to integrated graphics when GPU is not in use. But even with these optimizations, we couldn’t go beyond 3 to 4 hours with regular, less-taxing usage.
We’d say the screen on time is rather manageable, since the gaming laptops are anyways not designed for best gaming experience when not plugged in. The 230W adaptor is big and bulky and can top up the battery in around 2 hours. In case you don’t wish to lug the charging brick wherever you go, the laptop also accepts 65W charging via the USB Type-C port.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Review: Conclusion
The ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU is more of a portable and stylish gaming laptop with an excellent keyboard and latest intel processor. This isn’t primarily a hardcore gaming machine but should serve well for creators who need some extra power at hand and value portability.
If it is the maximum gaming configuration that you desire, you can always choose from beefier RTX 2060 powered options in the same budget or for a few extra thousands (including Asus’s own Strix Scar III).
There are several aspects like audio and thermal management where the Zephyrus M GU502GU doesn’t shine, but these aren’t absolute deal-breakers and what you get here is a unique experience.