How well does a S$4,000 notebook handle the biggest AAA games? It’s a question we love revisiting as PC hardware marches forward. While it's easy to find the biggest, loudest dual-GPU monster out there, we figured we’d keep our test mule a tad more practical. Nobody wants to lug around a heavy slab on their shoulders and rising “gamer aesthetic” sensibilities demands a machine that looks just as good as it runs. Hence, our dart landed on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M (GM501), a 15.6-inch slim gaming notebook that theoretically packs enough punch to run gaming’s latest and greatest without being priced outrageously.
The Zephyrus M is reasonably sized and is just under 2cm thick, forming a handsome chassis that barely manages to toe the semi-formal line. There may be “Republic of Gamers” (ROG) prints, like an RGB backlit keyboard and a big red ROG logo, but those are tempered by a smooth matte body and a textured brushed metal lid – all in black, with a chamfered edge ringing both for a reddish-copper gleam. Under the hood, the Zephyrus M is powered by a hex-core 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of DDR4 2,666MHz memory, GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5) GPU, dual storage drives (256GB M.2 NVMe SSD and 1TB SSHD), 3.5W speakers, a capable cooling system, a 144Hz IPS Full HD resolution panel and more that accounts for its 2.45kg weight, which isn’t particularly dreadful for occasional travel.
From our detailed testing, the Zephyrus M is currently the fastest performing notebook in its class and adding to its other traits, it's a fitting notebook for us to explore this topic today. While there are many other options, what you can take away from this article is our experience on this notebook, which would translate well of what you can expect on other similarly specced notebooks too.
For our real-world testing, we had some of the latest games lined up, with multiple game launchers (Steam, Battle.Net, Origin etc.) and common programs (Discord, Spotify) idling in the background. The games we chose for this gauntlet are:-
We paint our experience with each game on the Zephyrus M over the next couple of pages, along with our recommended settings and our comfort level with these AAA titles at the tested settings. Let the games begin!