Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531 Review: A High-end Gaming Laptop Never Ran This Cool


Thin and light gaming laptops aren’t uncommon these days. But with great power also comes great responsibility

Written By Saurabh Singh | Mumbai | Updated On:
Photo by Saurabh Singh

Thin and light gaming laptops aren’t uncommon these days. But with great power also comes great responsibility. One of the key areas of concern with portable high-end gaming laptops is heat management – which is where most portable high-end gaming laptops falter. Sometimes, big time. There’s only so much that current-generation thermals can do after all – without compromising on looks and form factor. Asus claims its all-new ROG Zephyrus S GX531 is the world’s slimmest gaming laptop. But while all of that’s well and good, I am more interested in how it plans to go about keeping its cool. 

Asus has not only been able to cram a Coffee Lake Core i7-8750H CPU with 16GB of LPDDR4 RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q) GPU with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM inside the ROG Zephyrus S GX531 (GW) model that I have been reviewing, it has also been able to cram all of this horsepower inside a near 16mm chassis – which also weighs just 2.1kg. Impressive, right? But that’s just one half of the story. I have been using the ROG Zephyrus S GX531 as my daily driver for over two weeks now and I have been impressed with everything that it offers – including how it handles heat dissipation. It won’t be wrong to say that the ROG Zephyrus S GX531 is one of the very few high-end gaming laptops out there that strikes a fine balance between portability and all-round performance. That’s not to say that it is perfect though.   

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Since the whole premise of this review revolves around heat management, might as well start with that. Asus has managed to devise a clever workaround the seemly technical limitations that current-generation laptop thermals are marred with – and Asus has been able to inculcate that in design. Asus calls it a hidden scissor-door hinge design. Now, if you’ve crossed paths with Asus’  recent family of slim ZenBook’s and their unique ErgoLift hinge, then its scissor-door hinge will be familiar territory. Both follow the same principle, as well as the same goal – only, in the ROG Zephyrus S, the bottom panel actually opens up gradually towards the end. For heat to pass out.  

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But that’s not all. In most laptops (gaming or otherwise), the fans and heat pipes are usually located directly underneath the keyboard – which entails in warmer keys when gaming/typing. In the ROG Zephyrus S, the keyboard has a more forward positioning, so it remains cool most of the time. While the unique positioning does warrant a learning curve, I'd say, it’s sheer genius from Asus. Although, I must also caution that, the trackpad placement towards the extreme right could irk left-handed users. Also, even though the keys have RGB lighting, they're relatively less flashy than competing products.

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Speaking of actual cooling solutions, the ROG Zephyrus S ships with two 12 V fans, five heat pipes, and four heat sinks – which are more than enough for your long gaming sessions. But remember, the ROG Zephyrus S always requires a flat surface – even though it is a thin and light gaming laptop, its scissor-door hinge design isn’t meant for any degree of lap sessions.  

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While we’re on design, it’s safe to say that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S looks stunning without being gaudy. Its two-tone contrasting anodized body is signature Asus – smart and minimalistic. And it is very functional too, something that not many high-end gaming laptops can vouch for.  

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The 15.6-inch ROG Zephyrus S has a resolution of 1920x1080 and 16:9 aspect ratio. While it’s kind of nice that Asus has been able to cram 100 per cent sRGB (although, there are gaming laptops that cross the 100 per cent sRGB mark as well) and it’s also Pantone validated to suggest some sort of factory calibration, its odd 300 nits of brightness feels lacking when compared with competition. Even though the panel is matte (IPS), the average brightness means the laptop feels lacking when you’re out and about in direct sunlight. Also, it doesn’t really help that you can tilt this thing to a maximum of only 120-degrees. 

One can of course argue that, this is a gaming laptop – which means most of its time would be spent indoors. One is right. Which is where its 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time, come handy – the screen of the ROG Zephyrus S is fast and fluid with bare minimum or no ghosting at all which is one of the pre-requisites for long (comfortable) gaming sessions. There’s no G-Sync support though.    

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Under the hood, the ROG Zephyrus S has an eighth-generation 6-core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of storage. The GX531 (GW) model that I’ve been using also packs an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q) graphics card, which means theoretically it is capable of handling demanding games and running them at high frame rates. And it does. I have been able to consistently chalk 80fps+ in Witcher III, and pretty enjoyable frame rates in next-generation games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Asus bundles an app called Armoury Crate inside the ROG Zephyrus S that lets you selectively tweak the laptop’s settings (from screen resolution to performance) - it must be set to Turbo Mode if you want to unleash the full performance of the CPU, for instance. 

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Gaming in Turbo Mode does turn up the fan noise, sometimes at alarming levels – but I guess, that’s one compromise you’ll have to make to achieve better results. Alternatively, you can opt for Silent or Balanced Mode if you’re looking for a more toned-down experience – although, you must know, the fans are never truly idle on this one.    

Battery life is probably the ROG Zephyrus S’s biggest Achilles heel – the 60Wh battery inside the laptop lasts 3 hours on an average on extreme usage while toning things down could get you an hour or two extra. 

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Connectivity options on the ROG Zephyrus S include dual-band 802.11ac gigabit-class Wi-Fi, HDMI, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.2 and Power Delivery, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type C, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A, 2 USB 2.0 Type A, 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack, and Bluetooth 5. The lack of Thunderbolt 3 support could irk some buyers. 

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531 is by no means a no-compromise product, but it is one of the few laptops in the market that does as advertised. The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531 is a thin and light gaming laptop that can play all your high-end games with ease, and without losing its cool – this was a luxury for gaming laptops once. But not anymore. Priced at Rs 2,39,900, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531 is definitely not a cheap product but I can tell you, it’s worth it and it should be on top of your list if you’re out in the market to buy a high-end gaming laptop that cuts very few corners and looks as good as it does. 

Also Read:  The Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 Is Ridiculously Compact And Surprisingly Affordable

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