Battery Life and Pricing
To evaluate battery life, we test our mobile devices while browsing the internet with Google Chrome. While we know that Chrome isn't exactly an easy application on battery life, it's the most popular browser, and that's what we use day-to-day at the office. We want the result to be as close to real world browsing as possible, which is also why we run the screen brightness at a fixed 180 nits which is bright enough to be usable in all indoor environments.
Despite the advances in form factor in the ROG Zephyrus compared to other gaming notebooks, they share one weakness – battery life.
In our web browsing test, the ROG Zephyrus lasted just under 2 hours. While this isn't the worst result we've seen from a notebook with desktop-level components, it's still disappointing. With the vastly improved portability of the Zephyrus compared to other gaming notebooks, I would like to be able to use it in more environments, where being tethered to the wall isn't an option.
At the time of this review, ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501VI is only available on backorder from retailers. Additionally, we can only find product listings for the SKU with 16GB of RAM, as opposed to the 24GB in our review sample.
At $2699 (Amazon and Newegg), the ROG Zephyrus is surprisingly one of the cheaper options for gamers looking to purchase a notebook with a GTX 1080 in it. The MSI GT73VR TITAN can be found for $2199, but it also only has a 128GB GB SSD combined with a 1TB hard drive. Keep in mind that this much larger notebook should have results closer to a desktop GTX 1080, rather than the Max-Q version which performs at GTX 1070 levels.
After my time with the ASU ROG Zephyrus, I am conflicted about what value it provides to the gaming notebook market.
For gamers looking for a portable gaming machine, that they can take from location to location, set on a table, and start gaming, the Zephyrus is a great option. In this scenario, there is little trade off between a traditional gaming notebook form factor and this Max-Q design. You gain portability while maintaining acceptable performance levels for the integrated 1080p display. Even though performance of the GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design seems to more closely mimic the performance of a desktop GTX 1070, that is still a lot of power for a 1080p screen. And it is possible that other OEMs Max-Q implemenations may fare better.
However, for users looking for the one computer to rule them all, I think the ROG Zephyrus is not ideal. The tweaks made to the keyboard and mouse layout, combined with the less than stellar battery life means the Zephyrus is worse is usability for most traditional productivity tasks when compared to a much cheaper notebook. Decreased footprint and weight are great, but if the notebook isn't flexible enough to use in an array of different scenarios, I'm ultimately not sure how much of a benefit it is.
As a whole, the Zephyrus is an excellent implementation of its given design. It's a very well built machine at a reasonable price for the market segment; I just don't agree with some of the design decisions.
I look forward to seeing more Max-Q notebooks from other vendors to see if there can truly be one notebook to rule them all.