When it comes to premium gaming laptops, you’ll have the choice between two types. Those that offer raw power, such as the Alienware Area 51m, and those that prioritize portability, such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502.
The Zephyrus M blends portability and power perfectly – it’s a thin and lightweight gaming rig that features an attractive display, a comfortable keyboard, and a blazingly fast 144Hz refresh rate. It’s a great choice for those who are looking for a portable gaming laptop that can keep up with the latest titles.
The ROG Zephyrus M GU502 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a lightweight gaming laptop. It offers powerful performance, compact design and good portability, making it a great option for gaming on the go. However, like with any slim gaming laptop, there are some trade-offs to consider.
The GU502 has no built-in webcam, and its cooling system can struggle to keep the laptop from running too hot. Additionally, its performance, while good, does lag behind some of its competitors.
Nonetheless, these are minor drawbacks and the Zephyrus M GU502 is still an impressive gaming laptop on balance, worth recommending to those who need portability and performance.
ASUS ROG GU502GW Review And Break Down: Configurations
Our GU502GW review unit costs $1,849 and is equipped with an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD, and a powerful GeForce RTX 2070 GPU.
For those looking to customize their GU502GW, Asus provides optional upgrades such as a 240Hz IPS panel and larger storage capacities. There are also downsizing options available such as swapping out the 1TB SSD for a smaller-sized drive.
With striking features such as an Intel Core i7 CPU and a powerful RTX 2070 GPU, the GU502GV provides a compelling mix of quality and performance at an attractive price.
The ROG Zephyrus appears as if it were engineered in a clandestine laboratory by an antagonistic robotic force. This laptop’s amalgamation of dark hues and sleek angles create an ominous yet exquisite look, guaranteed to captivate anyone who glimpses its design!
Upon activation, a brilliant red Asus eye logo stands out against the notebook’s black brushed-metal lid with an almost imperceptible two-tone finish.
And when shut, a cut on the bottom of the lid provides insight into battery life and other essential details such as power and hard drive status indicated by LED indicators.
Upon opening your laptop, you will be immediately taken aback by the thinness of its 15-inch display’s three framing sides. As just as much attention is commanded by the converse; the thick bottom border which harbors Asus’s ROG Zephyrus logo and microphone access.
The Zephyrus M GU502’s flat, rectangular base is extremely reminiscent of the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
However, the elegant matte surface of the Asus laptop provides a more pleasant typing experience with its sandy textured, sandblasted paint creating a gentle friction against the palms of hands that are typing away.
The soft, warm feel of the sandblasted paint is a refreshing contrast to the smooth and cold aluminum typically found on premium machines.
Adorning the keyboard is a stippled panel, offering a textured aesthetic. Unfortunately, these small holes provide an ideal home for dirt and debris that can be difficult to remove with compressed air – making cleaning this laptop almost mission impossible!
Instead of being close to the front edge like in other Zephyrus gaming notebooks, the keyboard on ROG Zephyrus M is located at the center of its deck. This design leaves space for a comfy palm rest and an expansive touchpad directly beneath it.
Asus has demonstrated admirable restraint in the design for its gaming laptops.
While providing a few subtle nods to gamers with the glowing Asus logo on the lid, hexagonal power button with a small LED situated above the keyboard, and isolated shortcut keys for volume, mic and Asus’ Armoury Crate software on the keyboard, it hasn’t gone overboard with decorations.
The laptop has a striking, sophisticated design which shows the company’s commitment to providing gamers with quality, stylish technology.
The ROG Zephyrus M GU502 is designed for lightweight portability, yet its surprisingly robust build quality means you no longer have to compromise on performance.
Weighing in at just 4.2 pounds and 0.7 inches thick, it’s noticeably slimmer and lighter than similarly-sized laptops such as the Dell G7 15 (5.5 pounds, 0.8 inches), Lenovo Legion Y740 (5 pounds, 0.9 inches) and the older Asus ROG GU501 (5.4 pounds, 0.7 inches).
This is made possible due to the use of magnesium alloy, which is more durable than aluminum and provides excellent structural stability.
The Zephyrus M is outfitted with an array of ports for all your accessories and peripherals. On the right, you’ll find a USB 3.1 Type-C port, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, and a lock slot; while the left includes an RJ45 Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 input plus another USB 3.1 Type-A port as well as both headphone/mic jacks!
I sincerely wish Asus had included a SD card slot and Thunderbolt 3 port on the Zephyrus M for content creators who need top-tier performance from their gaming laptop. Not only would this have been a great addition, but it would also drastically increase transfer speeds for those utilizing the device.
The ROG Zephyrus M GU502’s 15.6-inch, 1080p display delivers vibrant visuals and a remarkably smooth 144Hz refresh rate for flawless video playback and gaming – although the matte panel would benefit from greater brightness levels.
I tested the display on this latest panel by watching a trailer for the action-packed blockbuster Terminator: Dark Fate. The image was extremely sharp, showing off a tremendous level of detail.
For example, the scar running along Mackenzie Davis’ arm during an intense fight scene was clearly visible and I could even make out individual strands of hair in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s more-salt-than-pepper beard.
To top it off, the flashing lights on top of a police car shined with stunningly vibrant red and blue hues, making them really jump off the screen. However, the stunning visuals could have been even more striking on a screen that was brighter.
Sitting in the grand, ancient library, the only thing more calming than the red sunlight that beamed through the grand windows was the fluid and smooth movements of young Lara Croft on the 144Hz display of my gaming panel.
I was playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider and solving puzzles that seemed like games of hum-sized chess, unlocking the ivory White Queen from the Croft Manor. It was an experience like no other, and the gaming panel proved itself an invaluable resource in my journey.
The Zephyrus M GU502’s display outclasses the competition, showcasing a stunning 152% of the sRGB color gamut–exceeding even its closest contemporaries like the G7 15 (114%), Legion Y740 (112%) and GU501 (115%). For comparison, mainstream gaming laptop displays typically only offer 112%.
Featuring a maximum brightness of 280 nits, the ROG Zephyrus M GU502’s display is brighter than that on its predecessor – the ROG GU501 (115 nits) – as well as other competitors such as Legion Y740 (267 nits) and even surpassing the category average (271 nits). However, it falls short when compared to Dell G7 15 which outdoes this laptop with 303 nits.
Keyboard And Touchpad
The Zephyrus M GU502’s keyboard is not ideal, but still provides a surprisingly comfortable typing experience.
It offers 1.3 millimeters of key travel, which, while slightly short of our 1.5-mm preference, is still better than most thin-and-light laptops.
The island-style keys are generously sized and the ample space between them ensures a comfortable typing experience even for those with large hands.
The actuation force of 80 grams may make the keys feel a bit stiff, but it also gives them a pleasant and satisfying tactile click. Combined with other features of the laptop, this makes the typing experience surprisingly enjoyable.
The Asus ROG Strix Scope TKL Deluxe keyboard sports an angled spacebar and a unique sci-fi font, giving it a striking gamer aesthetic.
Moreover, the per-key RGB lighting creates an awesome visual effect, which can be further customized through the Asus Armoury Crate software.
There’s a variety of exciting lighting effects like Strobe and Rainbow that are sure to provide a lot of entertainment and enhance your gaming experience.
The 4.1 x 2.8-inch touchpad has a rough texture which provided more gain to the user’s control over the cursor.
Nevertheless, I still chose to adhere with smooth glass surfaces due to their comfort against the skin.
Irrespective of my preference, the responsiveness of the touchpad was remarkable; there was no difficulty in keeping up with Windows 10 gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe to switch apps.
Besides that, the same touchpad could also be used to travel around the desktop with ease.
The Zephyrus M GU502’s bottom-firing speakers pack enough power to reverberate through a tranquil, mid-sized space. However, it had difficulty competing with the window air conditioner in my NYC apartment.
Playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider was truly an immersive experience; the sound effects were particularly impressive.
The subtle animal noises were so realistic that I felt transported to a zoo. The birds brilliantly chirped, as if they were perched in the trees around me.
I could even hear the soft buzz of a fly from afar, eliciting an urge to swat at my ears. The voices were realistic, though a bit obscure and difficult to pick out. Overall, the sound effects blew me away!
The GU502’s preference for lower frequencies makes it an outstanding laptop for genres like hip-hop and R&B, as bass sounds will really dig deep and drums will have a healthy weight.
However, it does slightly muffle other types of music like rock and folk. When I listened to City and Colour’s “Strangers,” the drums were pleasingly textured and punchy, but I felt that the electric guitar lacked clarity, as the trebles sounded somewhat softened.
Similarly, the brilliance of Dallas Green’s falsetto was somewhat hollow in comparison to the frequencies of other instruments.
Gaming, Graphics, And Virtual Reality
The ROG Zephyrus M GU502 is powered by a cutting-edge Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 6GB of VRAM, making it more than capable of handling intense graphics-intensive games such as Shadow of War.
We tested the machine at 1080p resolution on very high graphics settings and it delivered satisfactory performance, achieving a smooth and consistent framerate between 35 frames-per-second and 55 fps as Lara Croft snuck up on an armed enemy and viciously attacked.
Thanks to its advanced GPU, the Zephyrus M GU502 can provide an immersive gaming experience and gamers can enjoy the thrills of action-packed games without compromising on graphics.
It comes as no surprise that the RTX 2070 GPU on the Zephyrus M GU502 is better optimized for gaming than other laptops in the same category.
Our testing of Grand Theft Auto V showed that it ran the game at a very impressive 66 frames per second, easily surpassing the category average of 55 fps, as well as the GU501 (48 fps).
Additionally, the 2060 GPU in the Zephyrus M GU502 performed on par with the G7 15, and was only slightly behind the Legion Y740 (67 fps).
If you are looking for an optimal gaming experience, the GU502 is guaranteed to meet your expectations. This device exceeded all other laptops in its class with a SteamVR benchmark score of 10.4 out of 11; higher than both the G7 15 (11) and Legion Y740 (10.9).
Even compared to the category average (8.3), it performed exceptionally well at nearly double that amount! The GU501 lagged far behind with a mark of 7, making this Asus model one of your best choices when competing virtual-reality games online!
Armed with a powerful Core i7-9750H CPU and 16GB of RAM, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502 was able to tackle multiple complex tasks with ease.
I was able to open 15 Google Chrome tabs while simultaneously downloading Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Steam. Moreover, two of those browser tabs were streaming 1080p YouTube videos and another pair was streaming a live Ninja playthrough of Fortnite in pristine visuals.
This laptop obviously packs plenty of firepower and is the perfect device for content creation and heavy multitasking.
Despite my initial expectations, the GU502 laptop proved itself to be one of the more reliable machines I’ve ever tested. I was unable to find any lag whatsoever during a rigorous stress test, so I decided to push the machine to its limits.
I began streaming a semi-finals soccer match of the U21 European Championships between France and Spain, while simultaneously running several videos in the background.
Surprisingly, the laptop only stuttered briefly when switching between tabs, indicating that the GU502 is capable of running demanding tasks with ease.
The Zephyrus M GU502 performed disappointingly in our Handbrake video-editing test, taking 10 minutes and 59 seconds to convert a 4K video into 1080p resolution.
It was slower than both its predecessor, the GU501, which finished in 10:22, and its main competitors, such as the G7 15 (8:05) and Legion Y740 (9:23).
Furthermore, the category average was a faster 10:31. However, the Zephyrus M GU502 still managed to come in just below the category average.
The GU502 demonstrated impressive performance in terms of file transfer with its 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 SSD, able to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 13 seconds for a blistering rate of 391.5 megabytes per second.
This is significantly faster than the storage in the G7 15 (256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD, 127 MBps), ROG GU501 (128GB PCIe m.2 SSD +1TB HDD, 231 MBps) and the average mainstream laptop (382.5 MBps).
However, the Legion Y740 proved the strongest performer in this benchmark, clocking in at an impressive 566 MBps. Undoubtedly, the GU502 is a great choice for multimedia editing, offering a combination of lightning-fast processing speeds and a spacious hard drive.
Having such a powerful device in an ultra-thin chassis, the Zephyrus M GU502 battery life was expectedly limited. To put it to the test, we ran our Laptop Mag Battery Test which involves sustained web browsing connected to Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness – and sadly clocked only 3 hours and 7 minutes of usage time.
The Asus lasted for a nearly equal amount of time as the G7 15 (3:12) and much less than the ROG GU501 (4:43) or even the category average itself (4:03). To offer some solace, it outperformed its competition – like Legion Y740 – shutting down considerably sooner at 2:16.
After my brief game of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I was met with exceptionally hot temperatures emanating from the ROG Zephyrus M GU502.
After running a 15-minute, full-screen video in 1080p resolution on the Zephyrus M GU502, we experienced interesting results.
Although the laptop’s touchpad remained at a steady temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the bottom panel near the hinge registered a much warmer 103.5 degrees.
This higher temperature reveals the importance of having a laptop stand, as elevating the unit to allow for better air circulation can help keep temperatures lower during extended periods of use.
After spending 15 minutes exploring the world of young Lara Croft and solving puzzles on the GU502, I noticed some areas of the laptop that were uncomfortably hot.
The keyboard topped out at 120 degrees, the bottom panel at 104 degrees, and the hottest point was near the hinge, hitting an alarming 135 degrees.
The only one area of the laptop that stayed below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees was the touchpad, coming in at a reasonable 84 degrees.
These high temperatures indicate that the laptop is likely struggling to deal with the high load it’s under and should be looked at for a possible upgrade or maintenance to hopefully prevent the system from overheating in the future.
The ROG Zephyrus M GU502 is an impressive laptop in many ways, boasting a sleek and lightweight design, a vibrant and responsive 144 Hz display and a comfortable keyboard ideal for long gaming sessions and typing.
However, despite its plus points, the GU502 has several issues which hinder its potential. Though its slim construction is an asset in terms of portability and aesthetics, it is also prone to overheating due to a lack of airflow.
The laptop is also susceptible to buildup of dirt and dust due to its hardware configuration.
Furthermore, although the matte screen offers good viewing angles and colour accuracy, it lacks in terms of maximum brightness when compared to other gaming laptops.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GU502 packs plenty of power into an impressively slim chassis, but other gaming laptops far surpass its performance.
The Dell G7 15 and the Lenovo Legion Y740 both feature more potent hardware, like an Intel Core i7 CPU and an RTX 2070 GPU.
However, these features come with a few noticeable trade-offs, most notably the lack of a webcam. This is a real shame since even if Asus has an external solution, one can’t buy it separately. I hope this changes with future iterations.
In terms of battery life, the Zephyrus M GU502 is only slightly better than the average gaming laptop, lasting a mere three hours and seven minutes on our battery test.
Overall, if portability is your top priority and you’re looking for an attractive and powerful laptop, then the Asus ROG Zephyrus GU502 may be a good option.
If you still have any doubts, questions, or concerns, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be more than happy to answer them!
Thanks for taking the time to read