ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501 Review: A Thin, Powerful Max-Q Gaming Laptop

ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501: A Thin and Powerful Gaming Notebook

There was a time when laptop options were basically a choice between desktop-like performance in a heavy and bulky form-factor, an ultralight with integrated graphics, or something in the middle, around 5-lbs with a low-end GPU. NVIDIA sought to solve this choice compromise with its Max-Q Design initiative that was announced at Computex last month. Max-Q Design is a holistic approach to notebook graphics design that ensures a svelte exterior, light weight, quiet thermals and optimal performance.

ASUS Zephyrus with Power Supply
ASUS and NVIDIA joined forces to produce the 15.6-inch Republic of Gamers (ROG) Zephyrus GX501, the first complete Max-Q Design gaming notebook to hit the market, though others from Alienware and Gigabyte have since followed. The ASUS Zephyrus is an impressive powerhouse that combines an Intel Core i7-7700HQ with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q graphics engine. While the CPU and GPU combination is typical of high-end desktop replacement (DTR) machines, like the Alienware 17 R4 we recently evaluated, the size and weight of DTRs tend to tip the scale at over 7 pounds. However, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus slips in at just a smidge under 5 pounds and clearly falls within a much more "back-packable" weight class.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501
Specifications & Features
ASUS ROG Zephryus in hands
The Zephryus not an ultrabook, but its nearly 3 pounds lighter than the Alienware 15, which also offers the GeForce GTX 1080 as an option, too. Clevo and Razer offer 15.6-inch notebooks with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10 series graphics at 5.5 pounds, but the options top out with the GTX 1070 and you should hear the fan whine in those machines. The ROG Zephyrus also has a profile advantage with its 0.7-inch of thickness – about 1/3 an inch slimmer than competing Alienware and Clevo notebooks.

But before we dive too deeply into the ROG Zephyrus, let’s check out Dave’s video reel preview of the machine in action...

ASUS keeps ordering options simple with two different configurations available for this machine. The base configuration features an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with 256GB of solid-state storage for $2,299. Stepping up to the configuration we’re testing today ups the graphics power to the GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage. This $400 graphics and storage upgrade brings the price to $2,699. Other specs like the Intel Core i7-7700HQ, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, NVMe storage and 15.6-inch 1080p G-Sync capable display are common for both configurations.

You do pay a premium over spec-comparable notebooks from Clevo, MSI and Gigabyte, but neither company offers a GTX 1080 Max-Q option in its 15.6-inch notebook or the same level of materials and build quality as the Zephyrus. Speaking of which, let's take a closer look at the Zephryus' build... 

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