Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review

Asus ROG Zephyrus M15: Boasting a trim design, luxury performance across a number of matches, and useful extra features, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 is an appealing 15-inch gaming notebook with few weak points at a reasonable price.

Asus has been providing some killer gaming notebooks in 2020, and the ROG Zephyrus M15 is no exclusion.

An update to the 2019 Zephyrus M, this year’s model and its Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 (Max-Q) GPU, and 1TB solid-state drive provide a much greater value at a lower price.  (Models start at $1,299.99; our tester is $1,579.99.)

It features a 240Hz screen for the aggressive audience, and a comparatively light design with great battery life for those looking to make it their daily driver.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

Its absence of a webcam is the biggest drawback, but there is very little to quibble about differently.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 remains our midsize Editors’ Choice because of its excellent mix of form, price, and functionality, however the M15 is our second recommendation if you’re seeking a little more electricity, or even a 15-inch screen.

A Sleek and Minimalist Theme

The Zephyrus M15 is a very handsome laptop.  The design is slim and relatively nominal, but it boasts some design in the kind of a diagonally split lid with little dots, with clean lines everywhere.

The color also plays a huge part in this; our version GU502LW is an appealing slate grey (Prism Grey formally; Prism Black can also be offered) with a slightly blue hue that looks quite chic.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

Between the sharp angles, the color, and a few design yells, the Zephyrus M15 is a appealing notebook.

Additionally, it feels good quality.  The outside is plastic, but using a more superior soft-touch feel that stays far away from the cheap plastic of budget laptops.

Metal assembles are more preferable to many for its luxury vibe they give away, but this material does help keep down the weight the Zephyrus M15 comes in at 4.19 pounds.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

That might not be quite up to par with all non-gaming ultraportables, but it’s lighter compared to some premium thin gaming laptops such as the Razer Blade 15 (4.73 pounds) and Acer Predator Triton 500 (4.63 lbs ) and impressive given the screen size.

The trimming build proceeds with the slender display bezels, which help fit a 15.6-inch display into the 14-inch-wide entire body.

The display itself comprises 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution, a 240Hz refresh speed, and a 3ms response time, all ideal for high-performance gaming.

This mixture favors users that enjoy competitive multiplayer titles, as the less-demanding resolution will allow the notebook to push increased frame rates and make the most of their high-refresh screen.

The screen becomes lots bright at its highest setting, and it has an overall strong picture quality.

As for the rest of the construct, the keyboard offers a fairly comfortable typing experience.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

The keys have more traveling than you could think looking at them, and though there’s no tactile feedback, it is a satisfying and speedy keyboard.

The touchpad is good, if unremarkable.  It’s not quite as easy to the touch as some premium alternatives, like that of those Razer Blade 15, but it’s perfectly responsive.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

The computer keyboard is backlit uniformly only as a single zone, however, you can alter the color and effects.

Finally, the vents.  There’s a decent choice on this notebook, beginning with a USB 3.2 Type-A interface, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet jack on the left flank.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

On the right side are two USB 3.1 interfaces and a USB-C port that supports Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, and Power Delivery 3.0.

Other key attributes include Wi-Fi , Bluetooth, and Asus’ Armoury Crate applications.  The latter lets both component monitoring and customization, most notably the computer keyboard light and performance styles (more on these below).

One notable exclusion is a webcam, another the latest Asus notebook to omit one.  In our present climate, built in cameras are more useful than ever, and while I’m sure that these laptops were in evolution before the COVID-19 pandemic, the camera lack is still unfortunate.

Every notebook should probably offer you a camera for a minimal, so if this will function as all-purpose laptop, which might be a deal-breaker.

Assessing the Zephyrus M15: Appropriate Power to the Price

This device’s moderate cost point marginally disguises the very capable components inside.  Our test configuration is equipped with an Intel Core i7-10750H processor, 16GB of memory, a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q) GPU, and a 1TB SSD.

Other configurations offer lesser GPUs (GeForce RTX 2060, GeForce GTX 1660 Ti) and different displays (there’s a 4K alternative ), however this is one of the higher-performing models.  It is worth noting that now the Zephyrus is only accessible from Best Buy (online and in stores).

Their names and specs are in the table below:

These cover a variety of prices and sizes, but all are capable gaming rigs which range from mid-level to luxury pricing.

It mostly won’t keep up with bigger laptops given its CPU and GPU option, but shows the difference in functionality between the dimensions if you are tempted to go bigger.

Moving up the scale, the Lenovo Legion 5i ($1,599.99 as tested) is the most similarly priced for our Zephyrus M15, whereas the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502 ($2,199.99 as tested) is one of the less expensive high-end laptops we’ve rated highly.

PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by the PC benchmark experts at UL (formerly Futuremark).  The PCMark 10 evaluation we run simulates distinct real-world growth and content creation workflows.

We use it to evaluate overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet jockeying, web browsing, and videoconferencing.  PCMark 8, meanwhile, has a storage subtest that people use to assess the speed of this machine’s boot drive.

Both tests yield a proprietary numeric score; higher amounts are better.The CPUs within this batch are inside the exact overall performance array, but more varied than usual.

Consequently, the scores here cover a larger range than we often see in gaming laptops, together with all the Zephyrus M15 on the higher end, but the real-world difference between them isn’t meaningful.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

Even the lower-scoring systems here are capable of powering through regular tasks.  The SSDs perform even more similarly, ensuring fast load and boot times.

Next is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to use all available processor cores and threads.  Cinebench worries the CPU as opposed to the GPU to render a complex picture.

Cinebench is often a good predictor of the Handbrake video editing trial, another demanding, threaded workout that’s highly CPU-dependent and scales nicely with cores and threads.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

In it, we set a stopwatch on evaluation systems since they transcode a standard 12-minute clip of 4K video (the open-source Blender presentation movie Tears of Steel) to some 1080p MP4 file.  It’s a timed test, and reduced results are better.

We also run a habit Adobe Photoshop image editing benchmark.  Employing an early 2018 release of this Creative Cloud edition of Photoshop, we employ a series of 10 complicated filters and results to some standard JPEG test image.  We time each operation and accumulate the total execution time.

The Zephyrus M15 and its 10th Generation Core i7 processor were among the better actors in these tests, even though it never topped the charts.  It was, unsurprisingly, most like the Legion 5i which employs the same CPU, together with thermals bookkeeping for the tiny differences.

In general, every one of these laptops are rather capable at multimedia jobs.  You can use them in a pinch, or if you’re a hobbyist, but anyone more serious about editing, animating, and the like will need a higher-grade processor.

As stated, the Zephyrus M15 does offer distinct performance modes through the built-in applications. (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

Windows style is for everyday use, Quiet prioritizes low fan speeds, Performance is a fantastic default gaming mode for solid results without making the fans extra loud, and Turbo goes full speed for greater power.  All these benchmarks were run in Performance mode.

Turbo is unquestionably loud–the laptop sounds like it is about to take off with this setting.  Fortunately, it will provide gains in sustained jobs, even over Performance mode.

Cinebench and Photoshop are both burst tests rather than continued processing, so the improvement really showed up in Handbrake, shaving a full minute off the time.  As you’ll see later, that increase carried on to the gaming evaluations as well.

Pictures Tests

On to 3DMark, which measures relative graphics muscle by producing strings of exceptionally detailed, gaming-style 3D images that emphasize lighting and particles.

We conduct two distinct 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems.

These two are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is more suited to midrange PCs, whilst Fire Strike is tougher and created for luxury PCs to strut their stuff.  The results are proprietary scores. (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

Next up is another synthetic graphics evaluation, now from Unigine Corp..  Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans via a thorough 3D scene and measures how the system copes.

In cases like this, it’s rendered in the Unigine engine, offering a different 3D workload scenario for another opinion on each notebook’s graphical prowess. (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

The tuned-down Max-Q RTX 2070 falls directly where it ought to at the hierarchy for raw 3D power.  Much like the CPU-based media tests, none of these laptops is as powerful as professional-grade machines or workstations (many of which bear Nvidia Quadro GPUs rather ).

They’re able to do the job for GPU-accelerated jobs and might double as video-editing stations, but I would not lean on them for all professional jobs.  In Terms of the way the Zephyrus fared in gambling, to the Upcoming tests.

Real-World Gambling Tests

The artificial tests above are great for measuring overall 3D capability, but it is difficult to beat complete retail video games for judging gaming functionality.

Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both contemporary, high-fidelity names with built-in benchmarks that illustrate the way the system handles real-world gameplay at different configurations.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

We run them in 1080p resolution in the games’ medium and finest image-quality settings (Regular and Ultra for Far Cry 5 below DirectX 11, Moderate and incredibly High for Rise of the Tomb Raider under DirectX 12).

All these are largely good results for your Zephyrus M15, as it maintained high frame rates in AAA games at highest settings.  These outcomes were comfortably over 60fps, providing you headroom for more demanding modern games.

The Turbo style resulted in significant gains, also, even on maximum settings: Far Cry 5 jumped from 88fps into 97fps, and Rise of the Tomb Raider went from 98fps to 111fps.  The lovers do get loud, but if you pop on some headphones the profits may be worth it.

There is more great news: This notebook is capable of using the 240Hz screen.  While it didn’t get close to 240fps from both AAA titles, I also tested Rainbow Six: Siege at many different settings.

This is the type of competitive multiplayer game where super-high frame rates are not merely possible, but advantageous.

On Maximum settings (and 100 percent render resolution, which you want to toggle manually like I did for every preset), the Zephyrus M15 averaged 159fps.  Turbo took that to 177fps.  (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

Many gamers use lower visual settings to maximize frame rates in competitive games, though, and really this system pushed 181fps in the Moderate preset and 191fps in the Low Position.

Joining the Low preset with Turbo style is your ultimate frame-rate-pushing scenario, along with the Asus averaged 209fps in those conditions.

To get a trim and portable machine, all this makes the Zephyrus M15 an impressive actress.

Compared to the others, its RTX 2070 (Max-Q) GPU isn’t dominant (that the RTX 2060 in the Legion 5i is dead even with it in the gaming tests), which may feel wrong since you pay more for the better GPU in concept, however the Zephyrus (Best Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Review)

M15 is actually marginally more affordable than the Legion 5i despite extremely comparable features and parts, therefore it’s hard to feel hard done by.

Compared to the Zephyrus S, this seems a much better value, although the Zephyrus G14 is only a step behind for significantly less cash.

Battery Rundown Evaluation

After completely recharging the laptopwe put up the machine in power-save manner (rather than balanced or high performance mode) where available and also make a couple other battery-conserving tweaks in prep for our unplugged video rundown test.  (We also turn off Wi-Fi, putting the laptop in plane mode )

In this testwe loop a video a locally stored 720p record of the very same Tears of Steel brief we utilize within our Handbrake evaluation –with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent before the machine quits.

 If it did not continue long off the charger, it might be a waste of the mobile design, but this promotes its use as a traveling companion and daily driver.

You can see this isn’t the ideal consequence of this great deal, but that’s not a ding on it, since the baseline has genuinely improved for gaming laptops, which will be good for everyone.

It is not the most economical rig, but a lot more expensive machines have crossed our testing chairs recently, putting it firmly at the mid century.  It provides a totally fair deal for the price.

 You will prefer a metal construct, the Max-Q edition of this RTX 2070 doesn’t stand far over competitions, and there is no webcam.  But these are mostly nitpicks.

In truth, there is little to complain about we recently scored the Lenovo Legion 5i exceptionally, and this is a very similar offering with a superior build and somewhat greater performance.

This makes this a gaming laptop that is easy to advocate, even if it can not really unseat its stablemate, the remarkable Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, as our mid sized Editors’ Choice.

PROS

  • Better-than-60fps functionality in AAA matches
  • Potent enough to make the most of its 240Hz screen in aggressive multiplayer titles
  • 1TB SSD in test version
  • Strong port selection
  • Extended battery life

CONS

  • Key backlighting is just single-zone

Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) Specs

  • Laptop Class: Gaming
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10750H
  • Processor Speed: 2.6 GHz
  • RAM (as Tested): 16 GB
  • Boot Drive Type: SSD
  • Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested): 1 TB
  • Screen Size: 15.6 inches
  • Native Display Resolution: 1920 by 1080
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Panel Technology: IPS
  • Variable Refresh Support: None
  • Screen Refresh Rate: 240 Hz
  • Graphics Processor Nvidia: GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q)
  • Graphics Memory: 8 GB
  • Wireless Networking: Bluetooth, 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
  • Dimensions (HWD) : 0.78 by 14.17 by 9.92 inches
  • Weight: 4.19 lbs
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10
  • Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes): 8:02

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