We’ve had to deal with laptops sporting bulky builds for a better gaming experience for quite some time now. Come on, they’re the ones with stronger hardware right? But what if you could have the same powerful hardware but well, in a relatively slim body. Impossible? We think not. Here’s our review on Asus bringing back the Zephyrus series from last year and packing a punch, one quite stronger than the one they delivered last year (which we think is quite a feat on its own). We all know what’s coming, it’s the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GM501.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GM501 Review

Last year, Asus definitely set some standards when it came to gaming laptops with relatively slim builds. Something that isn’t really seen that often where gaming laptops are concerned. But no, it didn’t hold back on its hardware. Quite contrarily, the laptop was the first to use NVIDIA’s Max-Q design in order to squeeze a high-end GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chip into the ROG Zephyrus. A huge feat in itself. Yet this year, Asus managed to take its game to an even higher level with its latest gaming laptop, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501.

Pros

  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Impressive display quality
  • Great audio quality
  • Inventive raised cooling vent
  • New six-core Intel Core i7 CPU

Cons

  • The fans get quite noisy
  • Battery life is short
  • No built-in Ethernet jack, important for downloading large game files, a huge setback for a gaming laptop.

Specifications

Price as reviewed $2,199
CPU Intel Core i7-8750H (up to 3.9GHz)
Memory DDR4 2666MHz (dual channel) up to 32GB
Graphics Card 8 GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU
SSD 256GB
HDD 1TB SSHD
OS Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0

Price & Availability

The top-notch performance of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GM501 comes at a price of $2,199 ($3,028 AUD). It’s relatively cheaper when compared to its competitors but still manages to put quite a dent in our bank accounts.

ASUS made these laptops available in mid-April 2018. You can get them at your nearest tech stores or even order online from ASUS’s official website but hey, Amazon’s always a reliable option.

It’s a gaming laptop but it has a relatively slimmer body making it easier to carry around. A huge advantage for people using their laptops for multiple purposes.

Design

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GM501 picks up where its predecessor left off while also taking several steps forward in the process. In many ways, it resembles its predecessor. While it’s still all clad in metallic black, the bronze accents along the side aren’t as prominent as before.

It has the looks, but we can surely say it definitely doesn’t take that as an excuse to hold back. The laptop houses a premium machine crafted to every gaming enthusiast’s wildest fantasy. It certainly ticked all of our boxes, we got the slim sleek design as well as powerful hardware all in one machine.

When you power up the laptop, the ROG logo on the lid, glows red giving it quite an extra edge. But that definitely does not mean it’s resistant to fingerprints and smudges. The features from the outside seem to parallel that of its predecessor but the inside is where the makeover begins. Asus addressed a lot of its complaints from last year and improved upon them.

The device comes with a digital trackpad that used to be on the right corner of the keypad. This year ASUS went with a traditional trackpad alongside a big enough palm rest. This presented a steep learning curve and we’re pretty glad things are more traditional now. We also found that the backlit keyboard made it way easier to type with this comfortable relocation.

The laptop has four USB 3.1 ports, three on the left and one on the right. The left side has a 3.5mm audio jack, an HDMI port besides its charging port. Well, it’s heavier than its predecessor but has a relatively slimmer body. We found the laptop easier to carry around which was a huge advantage since almost all the gaming laptops tend to be really bulky and heavy to carry.

Display & Sound

Opening the lid, the first thing that caught our eye was obviously the display. The 15.6-inch Full HD matte display with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution of the Zephyrus M is backed up by a 144Hz refresh rate with 3ms response time. If you ask us, a pretty great upgrade from last year’s model. We were pretty impressed by the device’s powerful display and smoother movement, especially where intense games were concerned. The M GM501 supports G-Sync so screen tearing and freezing are kept at a mere minimum.

We found the viewing experience and display very satisfying with colors coming out vibrant and rich with ample amount of details. The display offers a 178-degree viewing angle, so you can get a glimpse of the screen from anywhere in the room. Overall, we were pretty impressed with the display.

The device offers a vast variety of effects such as Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Surround, Voice Clarity, Smart Volume as well as Reverb. These can be enabled/disabled to produce a custom sound resulting in exactly what you want to hear. The company also included Sonic Radar III, making a radar overlay while gaming. We were pretty enthralled by the awe of it all, through this you could pinpoint where sounds like enemy gunshots or hell, even their footsteps are coming from. This took our gaming experience to a whole another level immersing us into a whole new world of gaming. We can say with the utmost certainty that this device’s audio performance is one of its best aspects.

Performance

Under all that metallic build, the ROG M GM501 packs quite the hardware. Inside, an up to 3.9GHz Intel Core i7-8750H runs the show with up to 32GB of RAM. It’s a six-core processor, the first one we’ve tested yet apart from the typical quad-core. It’s still not one of the coming-soon Core i9 CPUs, yet it’s definitely a step up in performance when compared to recent chips from last year.

The ROG gaming system is more or less like a laptop’s dashboard. It lists system information, from CPU and GPU clock speed and temperature to memory. Listed on the bottom are ROG apps allowing you to tamper with the ROG Aura keyboard lightning control, GPU Mode switching, Game First V network optimizer, Fan controls, even the Sonic Sound III amplifier and Radar III audio visualization. Pretty cool right? Yeah, we thought so too.

Despite having multiple applications running simultaneously among many other things, the device refused to show any signs of stutter or a lag.  It incorporated the Nvidia GeForce 1070mMax-Q along with the chipset mentioned before allowing the CPU to perform at an even higher level when compared to the previous generation. The laptop offered smooth experience but with all that gaming it’s bound to get hot. Asus came up with an AAS system to prevent overheating bringing in more airflow into the laptop’s internal heat dissipation system. Though this proves to be pretty effective, what we along with we’re sure a lot of people hated was the excessive noise the fans made.

Gaming Experience

Now let’s get down to business, the real question here is whether this laptop rises up to all the hype that’s been created around it and whether it measures up to an ideal gaming experience.

When we got down to gaming, the Nvidia Optimus enabled which disabled the G-Sync and lowered the performance of the game. When we re-enabled, that’s when the awe came in. We started seeing great performances. For DotA 2, visuals were great accompanied with zero lag and stutters. For Far Cry 5, the game ran pretty smooth and visuals yet again were excellent. When we came down to Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition, that’s where the real test started. With the G-Sync enabled, it felt like we were playing with a buttery smooth 60 FPS with just a few instances of stuttering.

Through Sonic Radar III, we could pinpoint where the enemy was through the sound of their footsteps and gunshots. This elevated our gaming experience up quite a notch.

Battery Life

Optimus is Nvidia’s technology to switch between the low-powered integrated GPU and also the discreet high-powered Nvidia GPU. This switches off the G-Sync lowering the gaming experience which isn’t terrible but not the best, and saving the battery at the same time.

The Asus Rog Zephyrus M GM501 has a 55Wh battery, which is not that huge, to begin with. Well since the GTX1070 is running all the time, you can’t really expect more than 2-3 hours of battery life. It’s safe to say that the battery isn’t the laptop’s best feature and it’s well, horrible.

Verdict: ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GM501

On its own, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 is a pretty interesting machine. When you look at it from a performance standpoint, there isn’t anything not to like about it. There’s loads of power packed in a relatively slim body, the laptop delivering exactly what it markets. The gaming performance is unparalleled with high-end graphics and a beautiful display.

Of course, the battery might be a bit of cause for concern, but considering its high-end performance on all platforms, we think it forgivable. Beyond the flaws, this could be the ideal gaming companion.

After experimenting for a week, we pretty much loved the laptop.  It’s directly up against the STRIX Scar II which in comparison is a more traditionally-designed laptop with similar specs. But when compared to the M GM501, the Zephyrus definitely takes the game with its superior cooling system.

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