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

ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501: Design, Build Quality And Features

The ASUS Zephyrus weighs in at 4.93 pounds, which is very light for a serious gaming notebook. It almost feels featherlight after our time with the full-figured Alienware 17 R4. Running your fingers across the top reveals a smooth brushed aluminum lid with a chrome ROG logo. It a subtle suit and tie look versus the typical abundance of red accents of other gaming notebooks, including others in the ASUS ROG arsenal. The rest of the chassis is aluminum and black with a simple bronze accent that runs along the rear edge of the Zephyrus for a touch of minimalist styling flare.

ASUS Zephyrus Top
Lifting the cover reveals the trick new Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) cooling system in the Zephyrus, which separates the bottom panel for increased air flow capabilities. The separated plastic bottom creates a 6mm intake on each side of the notebook, and works in conjunction with perforated holes on the flat panel area above the keyboard, for plenty of air flow through the Zephyrus’ only 0.7-inch thick physique. While the AAS cooling setup is cool, the plastic bottom piece does feel a touch flimsy and flexes a lot when attempting to use the Zephyrus on your lap, unfortunately.

ASUS Zephyrus Side Plate up

It wouldn’t be a gaming notebook without accent lighting either and the Zephyrus features red LED lighting by both lower intakes. That red accent lighting is not adjustable by the ROG Aura Core app, unfortunately.

ASUS Zephyrus keyboard

A pair of AeroAccelerator blower fans exhaust air through vents placed along the sides of the Zephyrus. ASUS claims the AeroAccelerator fan blades are 33-percent thinner than typical blower fan blades, which allows it to shove 71 blades in each fan. Since the fan blades are so thin, the standard plastic material would warp and bend, so ASUS employs liquid-crystal polymer to strengthen the AeroAccelerator fan blades. The bottom panel is removable via four tiny screws, in case you only want to use the Zephyrus on a flat surface, though that will leave the fans exposed somewhat. ASUS includes tiny screw driver with the machien to ease the removal process, too.

ASUS Zephyrus Bottom Plate Removed

The AAS cooling system also pushes the keyboard down towards the edge of the Zephyrus, which makes it tough to use on your lap, but it’s not a problem on any other flat surface. ASUS includes a palm rest with the Zephyrus, which really aids comfort when typing on the notebook. The palm rest doesn’t physically attach to the Zephyrus, however, so you can’t use it on your lap, unfortunately.

The backlit keyboard features ASUS’ customizable Aura RGB lighting system with 1.4mm travel distance and 30-key rollover, too. It has chiclet keys like most other gaming notebooks, but the keys feel solid with good tactile feedback and don’t feel spongy at all. I ran the Zephyrus through a quick typing test and achieved 96 WPM, which matches the typing speed on my Logitech G910.

ASUS Zephyrus Numpad

ASUS placed the Zephyrus touch pad to the right of the keyboard, which some of us still can’t get the hang of. The touch pad is tall, narrow and extremely awkward to use on a desk or your lap. A quick press of a button transforms the touchpad into a numpad, which gives you a near-full-size keyboard experience for those that prefer to game the only way it should be played - with a proper mouse.

Look up and you’ll see the 15.6-inch full HD LCD panel that’s standard on all Zephyrus models. The AHVA (Advanced Hyper Viewing Angle) IPS panel has excellent viewing angles paired with a 120Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, which is as good as it gets for a notebook gaming display these days. The panel is also very bright and colors are accurate with good uniformity across the panel. The bezels are large and personally look a bit awkward to us, especially since we’ve become accustomed to devices like Dell's InfinityEdge display on the XPS 13 and 15 series, but that’s subjective area for sure.

ASUS Zephyrus Left EdgeASUS Zephyrus Right Edge2

IO connectivity on the Zephyrus is ample enough, with just enough ports to connect a VR headset, like the Oculus Rift. There’s an HDMI output and two USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports on the left side and another pair of USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports on the right side. Thunderbolt 3.0 is supported via USB-C port on the right side of the Zephyrus.

ASUS Zephyrus ROG Gaming Center

ASUS includes its ROG Gaming Center application for monitoring the CPU and GPU temperatures. There’s also three customizable gaming profiles that let you select the display color profile, keyboard lighting profile, disable certain keys, like the Windows or ROG key, and assign it to specific apps. Shortcuts to ASUS’ Sonic Radar, Sonic Studio and XSplit Gamecaster are accessible via the ROG Gaming Center as well. 

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