Laptop. – Oh, wow. That was not how that was supposed to go. But that’s fine because this thing is absolutely sweet on paper at least. The ASUS Zephyrus G15 GA503 looks like everything a modern laptop can be. It’s crazy fast, relatively lightweight, and it’s built with the finest materials available. It even looks really good. I mean, is this finally it? Yeah! – The zero compromises gaming laptop?
I mean, that would be a compromise. Wouldn’t it? Especially if somebody else did it better. It’s got a reinforced magnesium chassis a massive glass top trackpad. And instead of RGB, ASUS has gone full classy with this sweet prismatic film behind the 8,279 holes in the lid that just barely catches the light and peaks through. Pure style. Can I just take a moment to say thank you?
Finally, the industrial design of gaming laptops is getting the same kind of attention as the thermals and the power delivery. IO is overall solid but I do wish the HDMI port was the 2.1 variety and this being an AMD laptop you’re getting two USB type C 10 GB per second ports instead of Thunderbolt 3 that’s a potential deal-breaking downgrade if you have invested in the Thunderbolt ecosystem. Moving inside, though, we’ve already shown the Ryzen 95,900 HS shredding Intel’s flagship Core i9 and that was in a much smaller design.
So unsurprisingly, in this more robust enclosure, the performance numbers that puts up are enough to make any more blue machine absolutely cower in fear. This means that the more relevant comparison to ensure that ASUS hasn’t-compromised on performance is of course another AMD machine. Ah, yes, the specter that loomed before, There we go, ah much better. While both of these machines are similarly equipped on paper.
There are some key differences. The XMG NEO 15 here gets the 45 rather than the 35-watt Ryzen 98 core. And it gets the 135-watt version of the RTX 3080 model. Probably the most beautiful thing about the XMT Neo 15 though, is that after you buy it, XMG doesn’t seem to give two hoots what you do with it. So naturally, we started by sliding every one of the dials all the way to the right for a generous 80 Watts on the CPU and 135 Watts on the GPU.
Of course, ASUS has some fun sliders too but the CPU only goes to 45 Watts boo! And the GPU tab turns every game you play into Alta 4 simulator. Which is a good game. I just wouldn’t buy an entire machine for the express purpose of playing it. Truthfully though, it’s not the end of the world in our experience with both of the machines turned up to their Dyson performance profiles.
So named for the wonderful noises that they make. The G15 GPU sat above 1400 MHz with temps in the mid-seventies, super reasonable. That’s not bad. So it’s clear then that in the name of thinness ASUS is giving up somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to as much as 30% of the performance the Silicon could be capable of. But here’s another perspective. Even operating in its much quieter default profile which will cost you about10 FPS across the board.
It easily beats the best of last-gen even in their loudest possible profiles. And like, it looks like this doing it. Surprisingly it was actually the CPU-bound games where the NEO 15 was able to pull ahead the most with the GPU in those efforts punching well above the official specs of an 80-watt chip. Realistically then, if you’re looking to choose between these two laptops, it comes down to what you plan on doing. If you wanna get real nerdy and do some memory overclocking and you know, you need to do professional video editing or you can’t stand the idea of losing five to 10 FPS, get the NEO.
By the way, we’ll have a video going over this laptop more thoroughly on our short circuit channel. So make sure you subscribe to that. For my money, though I would choose the Zephyrus for its easier daily drivability. And although we haven’t been able to test it. So I can’t say this for sure. I think that the RTX 3070 equipped version looks like the sweet spot. Since you could save a couple bucks likely have a similar class performance and a cooler and overall quieter experience. Just like how you can be cooler by purchasing a T-shirt from lttstore.com.
Something that anyone looking at an RTX 3070, or 3080 equip laptop needs to do, checks the available display options. The thing is at 10 ADP you’re gonna be wasting this GPU’s power. And 4K is still stupid at the screen sizes not offering any kind of meaningful benefit. So I absolutely love that the industry has begun moving towards 1440P for this generation. And the 1440P 165Hz IPS panel on the Zephyrus is an absolute joy to game on.
It’s got adaptive sync to eliminate tearing and smooth out a stutter. And it strikes an ideal balance of sharpness, high refresh rate, and rich color with 100% coverage of the DCIP3 color space. If I had a complaint, it would be that it’s not particularly bright. And that if you were a professional trying to do color accurate work on it, the average (indistinct)of 3.8 out of the box is going to require you to get it professionally calibrated before you can really trust it. With that said, it’s definitely good enough for gaming right out of the box.
Continuing with things that are great. The trackpad. For a gaming laptop, it’s freaking huge and the glass top makes using it a breeze. Also given we were able to get about 10 hours of office work on the battery. The G15 is one of the first gaming laptops that you could whip out at the coffee shop or the library without losing too much street cred with the Apple M1 MacBook Crowd. When you have to drag an extension cord out of your bag. (laughing) – No. No this is what you want.
– Yeah. What the heck is that? – What do you mean? – What!- This! – Moving up the keyboard is excellent with a snappy but soft feel that allowed me to easily get up to full speed and ASUS also added this little bit of venting under the WASD keys. They claim that this was to keep your gamer fingers nice and cool, but I think they mostly had to do this to avoid the keyboard getting too hot during long gaming sessions. For the typing field though, and overall layout.
This is an easy eight-plus in my book but I would like to take a second to nitpick. First, although I respect that ASUS designers have stuck with white lighting rather than RGB. I do wish that they had done the light piping a little bit better and the function keys, frankly, don’t make a ton of sense. We’ve got plane mode, sleep, fan control, and then Aura RGB software but this is on a laptop without RGB. And then they didn’t include pause and play.
I mean, I don’t know about you guys but I turned my music on and off way more often than I go onto a plane, especially in the last year or so. And being able to change the song quickly would also be appreciated. Speaking of things that suck. To say that the webcam is unexceptional would be an understatement. Because it hasn’t got one. And no webcam also means no facial recognition. When questioned ASUS said they don’t bother including webcams because gamers don’t need them. But then this is weird.
They dedicate this huge chunk of the product page to the fancy try mode microphone. Not only does the AI noise-canceling suck but who is using the integrated microphone on their laptop but not using the webcam. If you’re a gamer you got a headset and if you’re not a gamer then you need a webcam for your British Skype calls. At least ASUS managed to include the second-best way to unlock a laptop.
Hidden in the power button is a fingerprint reader that caches your fingerprint when you press it, then hands it over to windows at the login screen for a super seamless login experience. Opening it up. We get to look at the 90-watt hour battery and the two subs on either side that offered a decent base even if it’s not quite at the same level as a MacBook or an XPS 15.
And we also find two M.2 slots for easy storage upgradability and a single sodium slot for what I would describe as somewhat easy RAM upgradability. I use the word somewhat because one half is soldered directly to the board while the other half is on a stick. Above that is the exceptionally complicated-looking cooling system with six heat pipes snaking their way across the chassis along with these very slim, but very wide heat sinks. So, the Zephyrus G15 GA503 is really an excellent laptop. The RTX 3070 model that we lean toward is gonna set you back at casual 1800 US dollars which is a lot of money.
But for what you’re getting it really doesn’t look too bad. You just have to hope that ASUS made enough of these that you can actually buy one. But Hey, at least our sponsors Squarespace lets you buy their products. Squarespace gives you the tools you need to build and grow your online presence. They’ve got tons of templates spanning a large variety of categories. So whether you need a website for your blog or your wedding or your business, Squarespace has you covered. You can get a domain quickly through Squarespace if you need one or port over an existing domain that you already own and you don’t have to take my word for any of this. You can get started with a free 14-day free trial and just try it out.
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Overall, this has been the most enjoyable gaming laptop acquisition we’ve ever made, and we’ll be astonished if anything comes close to matching its excellence shortly. Even when playing the most complex games, we didn’t notice any motion abnormalities, screen tearing, or blurring. With a weight of fewer than ten pounds, this big display adds to the entire attractiveness of the gaming experience and, unexpectedly, does not make it impossible to take on the move.