The ASUS Zephyrus G14 has received some nice updates since it initially launched last year, so let’s check out the changes and find out if this gaming laptop is worth considering in this review.
My G14 has an eight-core Ryzen 9 5900HS processor, Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics, 16 gigs of memory, and a 1440p 120Hz screen, but there are other configurations with lower specs, too; you can find examples and check updated prices of the G14 with those links down in the video description.
Design / Size & Weight
The G14 has a magnesium alloy finish which has an excellent feel. All corners and edges are rounded, so no sensitive areas. I’ve got the eclipse gray finish, but there’s also moonlight white.
The laptop alone weighs about 1.7kg or 3.8lb, and then we’re looking at almost 2.3kg or 5lb with 180-watt watt power brick and cables. Along with the lower weight, it’s on the smaller and thinner side, with watts too, making it very portable.
The 14″ 120Hz 1440p screen is better in all regards compared to the last generation. This one has excellent color gamut and alright contrast. There’s no MUX switch or G-Sync, but it has FreeSync over the following refresh range.
Brightness can get above 300 nits at maximum but expect different results with the 1080p screen option. It’s got an average grey-to-grey response time of 9ms.
It’s not unique when compared against other laptops, but it’s still more than half as quick as the G14 last year, so that’s a welcome improvement. There’s no noticeable backlight bleed in my unit, but this will vary between laptops and panels.
Camera / Mics
Unfortunately, like some others from ASUS, there’s no camera here. Although there’s no camera, it still has microphones.
The ASUS website notes that a 1080p 60 FPS camera is included in the box; I guess this varies by model or by region as mine didn’t
Keyboard & Touchpad
The keyboard has white backlighting with three levels of brightness control using the function plus F2 and F3 shortcut keys, while F4 can be used to cycle through the three primary effects, and all keys and secondary processes are lit up.
Typing was fine; we had no problems, though I’m not a fan of the more minor arrow keys. There are extra buttons above the keyboard on the left to adjust volume, mute the microphone, and open the armory crate software, the laptop’s control panel. The space bar extrudes out to make it easier to hit with your thumb in games.
The power button is separate from the keyboard, so no need to worry about an accidental press, and it also doubles as a fingerprint scanner which I found to work fast and accurately. It caches your fingerprint when you power it on and presents it to Windows once it’s loaded up to log you in for maximum laziness.
The precision touchpad clicks down anywhere and feels great, I said this last year too, but it’s easily one of the best out there. It just feels accurate and satisfying to click.
Input / Output Ports
The left has an air exhaust vent, the power input, HDMI 2.0b output, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port with DisplayPort 1.4 support, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack.
The right has a second USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, there’s an air exhaust on this side too, and a Kensington locks up the back.
You can charge the laptop with the Type-C port on the left, but not the right one, and the left one also connects directly to the Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics, so if you touch an external screen, you bypass Optimus that way. I’ll show you how much that helps boost gaming performance a bit later in this video. The HDMI port, on the other hand, connects to the integrated graphics.
There’s nothing on the front, nothing to help you open it, and at times I did find it a little challenging to open. There’s some flex to the lid, and it moves a little when typing aggressively. There’s some keyboard flex too, but it felt pretty sturdy during regular use.
The back of the screen props up the laptop when you open the lid. The only contact points between the computer and the desk are these small rubber bits towards the edge.
There is the advantage of giving a slight incline to help with typing and allowing more air to get into the fans underneath for cooling. You can get the G14 with or without the AniMe Matrix display.
I’ve got it in my unit, so there are 1215 mini LEDs in the lid which allows you to make all sorts of customizations through software. You can set custom designs or pick from the plenty of built-in effects, though of course, this would use more battery.
Getting Inside + Internals
The bottom panel has some air intake vents directly above the fans, and we can see they’re not blocked. Getting inside requires removing 14 Phillips head screws.
The screws down the front are shorter than the rest, and the front right screw doesn’t remove and instead helps you open it, which I found easy to do with the tools linked below in the video description.
Inside, we’ve got the battery down the front, a single M.2 slot above the left, and a single memory slot on the right. The Wi-Fi 6 card is hiding underneath the SSD.
There’s just one memory slot like many other Zephyrus laptops from ASUS. The G14 has either 8 or 16 gigs of memory soldered to the motherboard, so you’ll have to buy with that in mind as you can’t upgrade that later.
It’s unfortunate, but I guess it must be necessary to keep the laptop on this side. I should also note that the single memory stick that came in my G14 was the slower x16 stick that I also found in the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro and ASUS Strix G15 Advantage.
I attempted to change this for a better memory stick and only saw a minor improvement in a game benchmark. The secondary timings of the soldered memory are decent, so performance will likely vary based on which memory is in use. Still, I’d think using a faster stick in the SODIMM slot would offer a more consistent experience.
Speakers / Latencymon / Boot Sound
There are dual subwoofers underneath the front on either side and tweeters on either side of the keyboard, so front-facing speakers. I thought they sounded pretty good for a gaming laptop, there’s some bass, and they can get reasonably loud while still saying clear enough.
The latency mon results were alright too. Speaking of sounds, it plays this one by default on boot. Fortunately, you can disable it through the Armoury crate software or BIOS, but more of you than I expected to enjoy boot sounds, according to my recent poll.
The G14 has a 4-Cell 76Wh battery. It lasted for more than 7 and a half hours in the YouTube playback test, a decent result, though a little behind last year’s G14, but gaming time was longer.
By default, the panel power saver option is enabled, and this automatically changes the screen’s refresh rate to 60Hz when you unplug from wall power to save battery. Then it automatically switches back when you plug back in.
There’s also the option to set iGPU mode, which disables the Nvidia discrete graphics to help boost battery life. Generally, Optimus will have you covered, but this way, random apps can’t even attempt to use the RTX 3060 as it’s not available.
Software Performance Modes
The Armoury Crate software lets us change between different performance profiles, which from lowest to highest are silent, performance, turbo, and manual. Turbo and manual modes apply the same overclock to the GPU by default.
Manual mode gives us some control over power sliders and fan customization. I also want to note that while you can set the fans to max speed here, when the laptop isn’t actively doing work, they would slow down and speed up once you start doing stuff. They don’t just stay at the maximum as specified as most others do.
The G14 uses Thermal Grizzly liquid metal on the processor, and we’ve got four heat pipes shared between CPU and GPU.
Thermals / Clock Speed / TDP
The idle results down the bottom are on the warmer side, but not an issue. I’ve run stress tests with both the CPU and GPU loaded up to represent a worst-case, as well as playing an actual game.
The RTX 3060 graphics, shown by the green bars, was thermal throttling according to hardware info at about 75 degrees Celsius. I also noticed this same behavior in this year’s TUF A15, so I can only assume that ASUS has decided to go with a lower thermal throttle limit, as most other laptops typically cap Nvidia graphics to 87 degrees Celsius.
These are the clock speeds from those same tests. Given that the cooling pad boosts GPU performance in the stress test, it would confirm that the 3060 was thermal throttling at 75 degrees as adding more air allows it to go 100MHz higher.
Otherwise, 4GHz over all 8-cores even without the cooling pad looks like a decent result for this smaller laptop. The processor could go above 50 watts in manual mode, while the GPU could get up to 60 watts.
In combined CPU plus GPU workloads, this is as high as it can go. The 3060 can go up to 80 watts with a dynamic boost if the processor isn’t active.
CPU Performance – Cinebench
Here’s how an actual game performs with these different modes in use. Turbo and manual modes were the same, performance were a little lower, and the quietest silent mode was still close to 60 FPS in this test. Here’s how the different modes perform in Cinebench R23, a CPU-only workload with the GPU now idle. Again turbo and manual mode were quite close, but manual mode did have a slight edge.
It’s doing quite well compared to others, beating some larger and thicker Ryzen 7 5800H models, though the same 5900HS processor in the larger Zephyrus G15 can score a bit higher for multicore. Things turn around on battery power. The G14 offer was some of the best CPU performance when running on battery, despite turbo and manual modes being unavailable when unplugged.
ASUS dominates the top of the list, so it seems like they just let their laptops use more power for higher performance when
The keyboard is in the low 40s when sitting there idle, so warmer than others, but I guess it is also smaller. It gets to the mid-40s in the center with the stress tests going, and then it’s low to mid-50s once we step up to the higher performance model.
Turbo mode is similar, it’s hotter up the back, but you shouldn’t need to touch it there. It’s not much different in a manual way with the fans maxed out, but at least the WASD section where you’ll sit while gaming is better than the rest.
When idling, I found the fan would ramp up and down, which may be annoying. It’s still relatively quiet when the stress tests are going. Then it gets progressively louder with the higher performance modes.
Manual mode with the fans maxed out is quite a lot louder than turbo mode. You’d probably want to use headphones. I see crazy high fan noise like this as an advantage because there’s user control.
At least this way, you can customize it to get it to a volume you like, and I think it’s better to have options than being stuck one way or the other. If you don’t want it that loud, then lower it; like I always say, user choice is best.
Game Performance Comparison
Now let’s find out how well the Zephyrus G14 compares against other laptops in games. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games’ benchmark.
I’ve highlighted both this year’s G14 and last year’s G14 in red so that we can see how far we’ve come in about a year. I tested with the highest specced config of G14 in both cases, and a 22% boost to average FPS in that time is a nice improvement.
The lower wattage 3060 in the G14 is even ahead of the higher wattage 2060 in MSI’s GL65 just below it, while of course, it’s beaten by higher wattage 30 series options in larger 15″ plus designs. I’ve tested Battlefield 5 in campaign mode at ultra settings, and again this year’s G14 is reaching 22% higher average FPS compared to last year’s model, and there’s a 14% boost to 1% low too.
Again the new G14 can beat the higher wattage 2060 in MSI’s GL65 just below it, at least in terms of average FPS. Last year’s 2060 g14 was below GTX 1660 Ti options, so again a nice single-generation improvement. This time, far Cry 5 was tested with the games’ benchmark at max settings. The newer G14 reached a 9% higher average FPS than last year’s model.
This test typically depends more on the CPU, so we might be looking more at Zen 2 vs. Zen 3 here, though the 1% lows are essentially the same. In any case quite impressive when considering the higher specced Strix G15 from ASUS with 5900HX and 6800M is scoring about the same.
I’ve also tested the G14 in 13 different games at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions in this video over here if you want to understand better how well it performs in games.
Games With External Screen
As mentioned earlier, that type-c port on the left connects directly to the Nvidia graphics, so let’s see what sort of a speed boost we can get by clicking an external screen.
This simple change shows a 7% improvement in the average FPS in Tomb Rider Shadow. So to understand something better, it is not bigger than some of the other laptops we have tested, such as ASUS Strix G15 Advantage Edition. But still, an easy way to get some extra performance from a laptop. Here are the results from 3DMark for those that find them useful.
Adobe Premiere was tested with the Puget Systems benchmark. Unfortunately, the standard changed since last year’s G14, so I can’t compare, but it’s in between two other RTX 3070 laptops, so it looks decent.
Adobe Photoshop was again in between 3070 laptops, though this test tends to be more processor-heavy, and the 5900HS does have a 200MHz higher single-core boost speed than the 5800H.
DaVinci Resolve is more GPU-heavy, though it can still beat the 3070 in the ASUS TUF Dash F15 with a similar power limit below. All the other larger 30 series laptops are ahead. I’ve also tested SPECviewperf, which tests out various professional 3D workloads.
Storage Testing / BIOS
The 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD was doing well for the reads but not so great comparatively. The BIOS is pretty much the same as all the others from ASUS, just the basic options you’d expect to see.
I booted an Ubuntu 21 live CD to test Linux support. The touchpad, keyboard, and speakers worked out of the box, but Wi-Fi wasn’t recognized. The volume keyboard shortcuts work, but the screen and keyboard brightness shortcuts do not.
Pricing & Availability
This will change over time, so refer to those links in the description for updates. At the time, it was a little challenging to find it for sale. The best I could see was $1450 for a similar configuration I’ve tested, but with double the SSD storage space and with a 1080p screen.
Generally, at this point, I’d probably give some examples of how the G14 costs more than slightly thicker laptops with similar specs that can perform better. Generally, with a device like this, you’re paying more for the portability, and while I usually still believe that, at the moment, prices are just all over the place.
For example, the Lenovo legion 5 with RTX 3060 is $1600, so G14 doesn’t look bad. Of course, I expect the legion 5 to beat this performance as it is a thicker machine and probably has higher power limits. GPU-heavy, those types of devices would be cheaper than the G14, but that doesn’t seem to be the case now.
My general advice would be that if you can find a 15″ gaming laptop that performs better than the G14 for less money, then it’s probably worth considering unless you seriously need the G14’s increased portability.
The main differences that I think are worth noting with this year’s G14 compared to last year are, of course, the new CPU and GPU,
but also the new screen.
Not only do we get a 1440p high refresh this year, but the screen response time is also at least half as quick compared to what we had last year, so welcome improvements.
I’m only concerned about the GPU thermal throttle limit being set seemingly low at 75 degrees Celsius, but this isn’t the first ASUS laptop I’ve seen in this year, so that might be what they’re going with. It just seems a bit low, and they might be leaving performance on the table compared to letting it get a bit warmer as most other laptops do.
Now those improvements of the G14 this year are tremendous, and improvements are always welcome; until very recently, the G14 was pretty much the only 14″ gaming laptop on the market.