Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502 review: Good buy for gamers who want a powerful yet compact machine
One of the lightest 15.6-inch gaming laptops available today - it weighs just 1.9kg.
Pros: Lightweight and compact design, slim bezels display, superb screen with 144hz refresh rate and 3ms response time, fantastic performance, great sound output, ergonomic keyboard
Cons: Tends to get hot quickly, bulky power adapter, no built-in web cam
Specs: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 144Hz, 3ms response time, 9th gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Nvidia GeForce GTX1660 Ti, Ethernet, HDMI, 3 x USB 3.0, headphone jack, microphone jack, USB Type-C, Windows 10, 1.9kg
Asus has been slowly and steadily populating the Zephyrus line of gaming laptops. The latest from them is the Zephyrus GU502 which is one of the lightest 15.6-inch gaming laptops available today - it weighs just 1.9kg.
Not only is the laptop lightweight, it is also surprisingly compact for a 15.6-inch gaming laptop. Asus says that this was possible thanks to the new chassis design. This new chassis is made of high-quality plastic but still does not skip on the bling gamers expect from a gaming laptop. On the top lid is a brushed finish along with a large backlit ROG logo while the area around the palm rest and the screen has a matte finish. There is a large responsive trackpad and chiclet style keyboard with individual backlit keys. Plus, you get all the ports one would expect on a gaming laptop - gigabit ethernet, HDMI, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, USB Type-C port (with Power Delivery) and even individual jacks for headphone and mic. We hope a lot more brands get inspired from this design and start offering gaming laptops that are compact and lightweight.
What compliments the sleek design is the gorgeous display. You get a 15.6-inch IPS display with slim bezels on three sides - the bezels are so slim that there was no space to add a webcam on the laptop (separate unit has to be attached). The screen has an anti-reflective matte finish, a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and is one of the few laptops in this price to offer 144hz refresh rate with 3ms response time. Playing first person games on this laptop instantly gives you an edge of the competition thanks to the fast refresh rate and low screen response time. In addition, the screen is Pantone validated for colour accuracy making it great for photo and video editors as well.
Despite the compact size, the GU502 does not skip on the hardware. Our review unit was powered by a 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB SSD for storage. For GPU, you get the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti with 6GB dedicated VRAM This configuration ensured that any game we tried ran on the laptop without a hitch. We played PUBG, Apex Legends, Counter Strike: Condition Zero, and even Shadow of the Tomb Raider with 60+ fps across all games. Battery life is as expected from a gaming laptop - with approximate an hour of gaming, the laptop delivered just under 3 hours of backup. For basic day to day usage, the battery life is close to four and half hours.
Trouble is that the slim design leads to a lot of heating on the laptop with this powerful configuration. Asus has added multiple heat vents and even employed improved fan design for faster heat dissipation, but it does not seem to help. With just 15 minutes of gaming, the CPU reached 85-degree temperature with the fans running at full speed. This is with the balanced gaming profile - when used in the performance mode, the CPU reached 90 degrees in 10 minutes of gaming. Thankfully, the laptop did not shut down even after an hour of gaming, but keeping the processor running at high temperature will lead to performance issues in long run.
You get Windows 10 Home on the laptop with Asus Armoury Crate gaming software pre-installed. Using Armoury crate you can control hardware performance, create gaming profiles for different games as well as monitor your system temperature, fan speed, GPU clock speed etc. In addition to all this, you also get control for the colour backlighting of the keyboard and the ROG logo on top lid. It also has a mobile connect option - you can install the Armoury app on your smartphone to monitor your device resources from a smartphone. There is also a dedicated hotkey to access the Armoury crate during gaming if required which is a handy option in our opinion.
Audio is another area where Asus has given special attention. The GU502U has loud and clear stereo speakers with Hi-Res audio certification and ESS Sabre HiFi DAC. We were immediately impressed with the audio output from the speakers as well as on the gaming headphone.
At its asking price, the Zephyrus M GU502 makes a compelling case for gamers who want a powerful yet compact machine to carry around. However, the heating issue is a big concern here - you will have to use the laptop in an air-conditioned room at all times to avoid overheating.