So here I am reviewing the new version of the G14 Zephyrus from ASUS. While the last G14 was a good start, I admit I wasn’t too impressed when I compared it to a few of the other laptops out there in terms of power and thermal management. Now before you come after me with pitchforks, yes, I realize that it is a 14″ gaming laptop which for thermal reasons doesn’t happen very often and when it does, like in the case of Razer’s 13″ laptop it has to work with other limitations. While it was a good first attempt and finally able to leverage a Ryzen 7/9 properly. I feel it could have been better.
I am typing this review on the new Zephyrus G14. After working with this system a few days and running benchmarks, I am happy to say this is closer to what I was hoping the previous one would be. That is not to say there isn’t still room for improvement. There is. But I believe this is a good level of performance for the price point. I will go a bit more into that however as I have a few things to add.
Let’s start with a listing of the specs and price I paid.
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS (8-core/16-thread 35W TDP)
16GB 3200Mhz RAM
NVIDIA RTX 3060 (60W but can boost to 80W)
1TB Gen3 M.2 Samsung
Realtek Audio Card
MediaTek MT7921 Wifi6 and Bluetooth
14-inch Sharp LCD panel @144Hz FHD
79Wh Battery (Fully Charged)
Just like the previous generation, there were very few items included in this box. The power brick (180W) and a few regulatory pieces of paper. I bought this directly from Best Buy on a slight sale at $1449.99 vs the $1499.99 regular price. I don’t feel this is too bad at all considering the state of the market right now. With the shortage of video cards and rising prices of many other components, the option of purchasing everything in a laptop is even more attractive as long as it performs well.
So compared to the hardware on the ASUS G14 2020 edition, this represents a bit of a step up. While the previous loadout wasn’t terrible, I think they took some of the suggestions made and upgraded a few components. Let’s go through the main pieces.
Processor: The Ryzen Cezanne processor is a better refinement of the last gen. It has a higher IPC and you can tell an extra “snappiness” to most of the tasks you perform. It proves more than just a feeling by looking at our benchmarks in a bit. The details of the processor are as follows:
Ryzen 9 5900HS built on 7nm fab
8 core / 16 threads
32KB / 4MB / 16MB Level 1/2/3 cache. Increased from 8MB on the 4900HS
Base Clock of 3.0Ghz to Turbo 4.6Ghz (Turbo clock is increase of 200Mhz from 4900HS)
Default TDP is 35 Watts although ASUS will boost this up to 75 Watts while plugged in
Max Temp is 105 C.
Integrated graphics running 8 cores at 2100Mhz
RAM: Once again, due to the thin nature of this system (and maybe a bit of cost cutting) ASUS opted to solder 8 GB of RAM on the board. This breaks the dual channel performance gain if you decide later on you need more than 16GB of RAM. The other problem with this is it limits you to maximum 48GB of RAM. While this is disappointing, more and more companies are doing this, so it’s not a huge surprise.
SSD: This is one of the upgrades made on the system. Having a good speedy SSD is part of what we definitely look for in gaming systems so replacing the Intel 660p from the previous G14 with a Samsung SSD is a welcome upgrade. Benches showed good performance so this is an improvement I am happy about.
Video Card: The previous gens RTX 2060 was of the Max-Q variety and proved to lack in performance. At least in my opinion for a flagship. In many cases it was bested by the full power 1660Ti that was found in the HP Omen 15. In this G14 we now have a 60W version of the 3060 which is snappy and a nice upgrade. It performed well in our benchmarks and I felt gave good value for the money. This version is also able to boost to 80W when needed providing for an extra bit of performance.
Video Panel: This is more of a gut feeling on this since I can’t find any information on this panel. The panel on my G14 was the FHD 144Hz 100% sRGB Pantone Validate Panel. This panel is a Sharp panel and while I have no equipment to fully test it, looked about 300 nits brightness which IS brighter than the previous version. While I would like to see a bit more brightness, it looked evenly lit and no backlight bleed that I could discern. It is only SDR so no HDR movies.
The backlighting on the keyboard is a little more even this time around, though still not perfect. It stays a single color, white and would probably be a little easier to read on the gray edition of the laptop vs my silver. It is bright though and I had no trouble seeing the keys except the arrow keys at the bottom right. So definitely an upgrade from the last G14. The case itself seems sturdy enough and the LCD didn’t exhibit a lot of flex when opening and closing the lid. The speakers are, well, laptop speakers. The sound is a little better than some I’ve heard and they’ll do in a pinch but you will want headphones or regular speakers hooked up to it for gaming or movies. Now on to the benchmarks.
I ran a number of benchmarks, but this is definitely not an exhaustive 13 game list. I tried to give a good indication of how it ran against the previous version and included a number of other systems that people might have or have used, so they can appropriate gauge if it will suit their needs. I’ve also moved to charts instead of screenshots of the actual benchmark. This allows you to better compare and gauge the performance differences between them.
First Cinebench R20. I used this one as I didn’t have a R23 from the 2020 version. I still feel it gives a good assessment of the difference between the machines tested. All machines tested are or were personal bought and owned. I occasionally see media ones that seem to perform way better than the version I bought did, and wonder if the media versions aren’t maybe binned.
I threw a desktop version of the new Ryzen 5 5600X as they have been gone over a lot and they are owned by quite a few people. A comparison against a desktop vs laptop is kind of interesting just to put things in perspective. Obviously the 5600X is a 6-Core processor so the slight jump in performance from the Ryzen 9, an 8-Core, is to be expected. From the benchmark you can tell there is close to a 20% gain in performance over the previous generation G14. The single core also shows great improvement of almost 100 points. It maintains it’s lead over the Ryzen 7 4800H 45-Watt chip as well. While I included it just as a basis comparison, there is no competition from the 6-core high power variant from Intel. Yes, it’s an older processor but a lot of people might be upgrading from it and be curious as to what kind of performance jump to expect.
The next productivity benchmark performed was PC Mark 10. It uses a number of tests to simulate different types of business you may encounter. Video Conferencing, spreadsheets, etc.
Again, almost a 20% gain in performance over the previous generation. Next 3D Mark and TimeSpy.
The new version pushes up 20% again over its predecessor. While I didn’t expect it to do that well against the desktop variant of a 3070 (Founders Edition) It still wasn’t bad. I have ordered the ASUS G15 with a 3070 and look forward to how close it pulls in the next review. Next up, FireStrike.
Another 19% improvement. Next Shadow of the TombRaider
Not quite as big a jump here with only a 11% improvement and only 3fps better average than the 1660Ti. The 1660Ti is a full power 80watt version. With boost, the 3060 I would have thought, would have pushed a little harder. Next the Unigine Heaven benchmark. I didn’t perform this on the older version but considering that the HP is pretty close to it, it should give you a decent indication of how it would perform.
Here it jumps ahead with a 30% lead. Keep in mind these are all stock numbers on the ASUS running in “Turbo” mode. I will list the Port Royal benchmark done. You can compare this to others out there as I didn’t have anything else I ran it on other than my 3090 or 3070 and I don’t think that by itself is a fair comparison.
I mentioned before that the performance on the SSD was improved, here is what I found on this one. The writes are about the same as the 2020 G14’s 660p (at least until the cache runs out) but the reads have pushed up to over 3100MB/s. While you may not see this immediate improvement in speed while gaming, longevity and faster transfers are definitely a good thing.
After checking out some of the other HWINFO screens I found even though the base clock of the Ryzen 9 5900HS is supposed to be 3.0Ghz, it seems ASUS pushed this to 3.3Ghz. Here is what I was shown about the LCD panel.
Just for fun I did run a GeekBench as well
Vs. is the HP Omen 15
Yeah, I’m a bit confused on the Multi-Core score too.
This caused a bit of fear in the last version as the machine seemed to heat up quite a bit and was close to its 105 C maximum as specified by AMD. This machine was no different as it maxed out at 94 degrees C when I was doing benchmarks. I am still unsure of the longevity of the chip with those type of thermals, but I haven’t seen much from other people as to them failing yet, so I will just say maybe watch it? While on battery, ASUS won’t let you select Turbo mode and it falls back to Performance mode which I don’t believe will allow for the wattage boost. It may not be an issue on battery. I did run Cinebench on battery and it lost about 1000 points on multi-core. There is a loss of performance but even so, its score was the same as the previous gen on AC power. So that would still be more than enough I believe.
With all this power, you’d immediately think you would take a huge hit on battery life. The previous G14 was widely lauded for its battery life and this version continues that. For the battery test, I downloaded a movie and played it at 50% brightness on the LCD for an hour and measured the battery usage. I then extrapolated how much it would probably get if I continued on. This would change if more intensive processing was used. I left WiFi active as I think most users probably would. Keep in mind that if you were streaming it would draw more power as well. The battery once again was 79Wh. Which is a decent size battery to stuff in a 14″ laptop along with a discrete video card and higher power cooling solution. The numbers I ended up with for movie watching was after an hour, 92%. That’s pretty impressive. If that continued, that’s 12.5 hrs of runtime for all this power. Even with extra computing or surfing on Wifi, this machine should easily get you through most of a day or even the whole day.
I liked the form factor and power of the previous gen but felt thermals and gaming power was lacking a bit. While this is not meant to take away from what ASUS has been able to accomplish with such a small form factor, I was hoping it would be a bit more. With this new version, those hopes were better realized. (Though I am a bit spoiled now with my desktops with a 3090 and a 3070) Overall I’m impressed and loving that AMD was able to squeeze around 20% more power out of this chip and the 3060 video card is more than adequate for gaming needs. I would think this would go down a bit in a few months, like the previous gen did and if you can grab this system for around 12-1300, I think it’s a good buy. There are a few other systems out there in the same range, and one even has a 3070 card in it (from ASUS no less!) The processor in it is an Intel Quad Core i7 and will definitely not give you the performance of this processor for productivity. I am not sure what version of RTX 3070 is in it, but I am deciding on whether to buy and test that next. The very next machine I’m planning on testing is the ASUS G15 with a slightly upgraded screen at 1440p and 165Hz and 15″ of course. This machine also has the 3070 included and I want to find out if it’s worth the 500$ difference in price. Stay tuned.
TL:DR – New Generation is about 20% faster in most aspects and a worthy successor to the previous gen G14. The only thing to caution owners on would be thermals otherwise I think you are getting a lot of power and gaming ability for your dollar.