WHICH processor chipset your computer uses has long been the “Ford vs Holden” of the gaming world.
The two major brands are Intel and AMD, and while both have their strengths, they are ultimately both very good and for most people it comes down to personal preference and what’s available – which is traditionally Intel chipsets, particularly in laptops.
For many years I worked in retail electronics, and Intel stuff was always easier to sell because it was easier to explain to people, but I’ve had AMD processors over the years and had no issues with them either – in fact, AMD provide the processors in both the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One X gaming console, both of which can be found in millions of loungerooms, bedrooms and dormitories across the world.
Most of the laptops that come across my desk for review are running Intel processors, so when the opportunity to review one with an AMD process, I was very keen to take it for a spin and see how it performed.
Asus have teamed up with AMD to deliver the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which in the case of the review unit I used, is running an AMD Ryzen 4900HS processor paired with an Nvidia RTX2060 graphics card.
The unit also features 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and a 120hz Full High-Definition Screen and overall it’s a combination that works well together; from a practical standpoint working exactly as well as you’d expect a dedicated gaming laptop to.
It might be small (17.9mm thin) and quite light (1.6kg) but it packs a lot of punch into its package and delivers a solid gaming experience too.
From a performance perspective it ran everything I threw at it – including Control, Warcraft III Reforged and Borderlands 3 – without any problems at all.
Even on battery power things were silky smooth and responsive, with the battery lasting about two hours at full power playing Borderlands 3.
If you dial the performance back it lasts a lot longer, and in not-gaming use the battery lasts more than 11 hours; I turned it on one morning, used it intermittently throughout the day for general internet and computer stuff, did a bit of streaming TV watching in the evening, left it on standby overnight and then plugged it in for a recharge the next morning.
The main issue I have with the laptop is that it just felt a bit on the small side for general typing; I often found myself accidentally hitting the wrong keys when trying to type e-mails and the like.
From a gaming perspective – the WASD keys, crouching etc – there were no problems however; the keys were accessible and responsive.
As a result of the smaller screen and thin bezel there is no webcam, but this doesn’t affect the gaming functionality of the unit in any way. The unit has a second USB-C port which is designed to work with an external camera such as the Logitech StreamCam, so that is one solution if you need it. There’s also an HDMI port as well as two regular USB-A ports too.
The laptop comes with a standard power supply, but can also be topped up via USB-C charger much like most current-gen Android phones, which adds to its flexibility – a phone charger is often easier to dig out of a bag side pocket when travelling than fossicking through everything in the main compartment to find the big AC adaptor. It’s worth noting that powering the unit via USB-C doesn’t provide enough power (65w) to power the graphics card as well (that needs the 180w main power supply), but if you’re just typing, sending e-mails or doing some light design work it’s not at issue at all.
The power button is also a fingerprint sensor, meaning you can power the unit up and sign into Windows just but turning the laptop on, which is quite helpful and also means one less password to remember.
One feature available in some models (but not the review one) is what Asus call AniMe Matrix; it’s a series of LEDs embedded in the lid of the unit that light up to provide graphics displays, information, and notifications – even some .gifs, apparently. While the review unit didn’t support this, I saw it in action at CES earlier in the year and thought it was pretty cool – it certainly seemed to be an interesting point of difference that could have useful applications for users too.
Cooling is an important aspect of any gaming laptop and while Asus’ informational materials for the G14 talk up the unit’s cooling capabilities, in use I found them to be pretty unremarkable – the unit didn’t overheat or anything problematic like that, but it wasn’t miraculously chilling my beverages while I gamed either.
Similarly, while the speakers were certainly serviceable, they didn’t strike me as anything special either – but most of my gaming is done with a headset and I can confirm the Bluetooth functionality worked well in this regard; I didn’t have any noticeable audio lag with the Sennheiser HD 450BT headset I was using.
Despite being the perfect size and weight for on the go use, the Zephyrus G14 is massively overpowered for general work stuff, not helped by the lack of a webcam – which is pretty much de rigueur in laptops, especially nowadays.
One of the variants available has a Wide Quad High Definition (WQHD) screen as opposed to the FHD screen, and is clearly aimed at content creators more than gamers. From that perspective, the G14 has a lot to offer as well, offering a portable, powerful workstation that also looks stylish too.
While I personally prefer a slightly larger laptop for my on-the-go gaming, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 should not be underestimated and is also definitive proof the AMD Ryzen 4900 chipsets can deliver the same high level of performance as Intel’s CPUs when it’s time to game.
The Zephyrus G14 is portable, it’s powerful, it’s light and it should be very high on your “under consideration” list if you need a new gaming/creator/work laptop.