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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 assessment: overpriced and underpowered

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I can’t inform you how excited I used to be to check the Zephyrus M16. It takes the AMD-powered Zephyrus G15’s distinctive chassis and provides the 2 issues I most want that laptop computer had: a 16:10 show and a webcam. That seems like an ideal package deal on paper, however there’s one different main factor that additionally differentiates the M16 from the G15: its Intel processor.

A assessment of the M16, then, isn’t simply a possibility to guage Asus’ product. It’s additionally a possibility to reply a query I’ve been questioning since I first reviewed the G15 earlier this 12 months (and gave the very best rating I’ve given a laptop computer in my profession): how a lot of the G15’s excellence has to do with Asus’s engineering, and the way a lot has to do with the mixed energy and effectivity of AMD’s processors?

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I simply want this had an RTX 3070.

The M16 has rendered a reasonably clear verdict: lots of it’s AMD. The Zephyrus G15 leaves the M16 within the mud, not simply by way of uncooked body charges and battery life, however by way of power-per-dollar. Whereas the Zephyrus M16 does have just a few benefits that will probably be vital for some, the Zephyrus G15 is unambiguously higher worth for almost all of customers. The M16 has a stunning chassis with a standout show, nevertheless it’s additionally a real-world illustration of how far behind Intel presently is in worth in addition to effectivity.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 keyboard seen from above.

I really like this keyboard, although.

Along with the display and processor, the numerous differentiator between the M16 and the G15 is value. There are two M16 fashions listed on Asus’ website: my check mannequin ($1,849.99) with a Core i9-11900H, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a QHD 165Hz show, and a $1,449 option with a Core i7-11800H, an RTX 3050 Ti, a 512GB SSD, and a 1920 x 1200 144Hz show. (The latter one is sort of an odd configuration — 512GB actually isn’t lots of storage for a gaming laptop computer, and the 3050 Ti isn’t going to take full benefit of a 144Hz display on lots of titles.) A G15 with an RTX 3060 is significantly cheaper at $1,499 — although that mannequin solely has 512GB of storage, it additionally has a extra environment friendly Ryzen 9 5900HS processor. For $1,849.99, you will get a G15 with specs an identical to this M16 mannequin however a extra highly effective RTX 3070.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 facing away from the camera, half open.

Greater battery, greater charger, higher display, and higher chips than the earlier Zephyrus M15.

So the Intel-based M16 is already preventing an uphill battle on the subject of worth. What does the additional cash get you? It’s largely the display.

For those who’re on the lookout for a QHD 165Hz show with a 16:10 facet ratio (which permits Asus to cram a 16-incher right into a chassis that’s not a lot greater than most 15-inch gaming laptops), the Zephyrus M16 is certainly one of few locations you’ll discover it. Put this subsequent to the G15, and the principle distinction you’ll discover is that the place the G15 has a big and visual chin, the M16 simply has extra display. The underside bezel (at the very least, the half that’s seen) is borderline nonexistent and offers you a noticeable quantity of additional room when scrolling an internet web page or studying a doc.

Vertical area apart, although, the display can also be phenomenal. It’s brilliant, maxing out at 444 nits, and vivid, protecting 100% of the sRGB gamut, 86 % of Adobe RGB, and 98 % of P3. It’s considerably brighter than the G15’s display, and the distinction does present. Video games and pictures have been attractive to take a look at, with sharp colours and particulars, and the matte texture eliminates all glare even at low ranges of brightness.

The M16 additionally has a slight benefit as an Intel system in that it will probably assist Thunderbolt 4. It has a Thunderbolt 4 port along with a Sort-C, an influence port, an Ethernet jack, a headphone jack, an HDMI, and a USB-A port on the left and a microSD slot, a lock slot, and a USB-A on the best. It’s a wide variety, although I want the ports have been extra evenly distributed — seven of the ten are on the left aspect.

The M16 has one different characteristic that’s distinctive among the many latest Zephyrus line: a webcam. Sure, there’s a webcam! Each the G15 and the G14 lack this characteristic, and I’m actually undecided why — whereas not everybody wants one, it could make each laptops extra engaging purchases for anybody like me who’s usually on video calls. The M16’s 720p digicam isn’t nice, nevertheless it’s not horrible, and that’s saying loads for a laptop computer webcam. I used to be pretty clear on Zoom calls, and the noise-canceling microphones did a positive job of choosing up my voice as properly.

Ports on the left side of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16.

On the best: energy port, HDMI 2.0b, RJ45, USB-A, Sort-C with Thunderbolt 4, Sort-C, combo audio jack

Ports on the right side of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16.

On the left: Kensington lock, microSD (312MB/s), USB-A

However the M16 doesn’t maintain as much as its AMD counterpart in most different areas — and sadly, gaming is certainly one of them.

The M16 averaged 236fps on CS:GO, which means it would take full benefit of the 165Hz display on simpler esports titles. However it had extra hassle on AAA video games. It averaged 46fps on Pink {Dead} Redemption 2’s Extremely preset (55fps with DLSS on “High quality,” 48fps in 1440p) and 42fps with all sliders maxed. On Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s highest preset, the M16 averaged 38fps with ray tracing on Extremely (46fps with DLSS on, 40fps in 1440p) and 63fps with ray tracing off (68fps in 1440p).

These outcomes look cheap — till you examine them to the G15. The AMD-powered machine that we examined is the exact same price as this M16 unit, nevertheless it has a GeForce RTX 3070. That’s technically just one step up from the RTX 3060, however these numbers illustrate how huge that step is. The G15 (at 2560 x 1440) obtained 58fps on Pink {Dead} on Extremely, 61fps on Tomb Raider with ray tracing on, and 81fps on Tomb Raider with ray tracing off. That’s a sound drubbing from an identically priced unit.

In reality, these outcomes are nearer to these we noticed from the G14 (which has the identical GPU as this M16 mannequin however in a a lot smaller chassis). The M16 is thrashing that mannequin by fewer than 10fps on each Pink {Dead} and Tomb Raider. (That gadget additionally isn’t one of the best worth — with only a 120Hz show, it’s presently going for $50 less than this M16.) General, I don’t see a lot motive to purchase the M16 over the G15 that’s precisely the identical value.

Battery life didn’t assist the M16’s case. The G15 and the G14 each principally by no means die, however I used to be averaging just below six and a half hours from utilizing the M16 as my every day work driver with the display round 200 nits of brightness. That’s a pair hours shorter than what I averaged on the G15 and solely a bit greater than what we noticed from the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which has the identical GPU however a a lot smaller battery. Intra-Asus comparisons apart, six hours isn’t an ideal outcome for a laptop computer that’s supposed to have the ability to double as a main driver when wanted (which is the first advantage of the 16:10 display).

Battery gaming wasn’t significantly better. I solely obtained 57 minutes of Pink {Dead} play out of 1 cost, the place I obtained an hour and 21 minutes out of the G15. The expertise wasn’t nice both: the sport started stuttering round 22 minutes in and have become unplayable (with crackling and distorted audio) at 42 minutes in with 20 % remaining. The M16’s battery is similar dimension because the G15’s (90Wh) and it has a weaker GPU, so this appears prefer it’s on Intel.

Charging was additionally a bit sluggish. The 240W charger took 50 minutes to juice the gadget as much as 60 % with gentle Chrome use. (The M16 additionally helps 100W Sort-C charging, however that will probably be even slower.)

The dot matrix on the lower left corner of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16’s lid.

No little LEDs right here, as there are on some G14 fashions.

The power button on the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16.

There’s a fingerprint sensor within the energy button.

Uncooked efficiency isn’t the one place the place the M16 struggled to maintain up. The cooling system can also be very loud — even amongst gaming laptops. The G15’s followers by no means drowned out my video games’ audio, however I actually struggled to listen to the audio system over the M16’s noise. They have been additionally fairly obtrusive, even once I was simply working in Chrome. You’ll wish to activate Silent mode for those who’re not gaming. (To Asus’ credit score, the followers have been efficient — I not often noticed the CPU cross 80 levels Celsius, and it was usually within the mid-70s or excessive 60s throughout benchmark runs.)

It didn’t assist that the M16’s audio system (two tweeters and two force-canceling woofers) aren’t tremendous loud. Vocals have been clear and songs well-balanced, however they didn’t fill my studio condo, and I typically discovered myself having to lean ahead to listen to whereas I used to be making an attempt to look at YouTube movies, even with quantity maxed out. You need to use Dolby Entry to leap between equalizer presets for gaming, motion pictures, music, and voice calls — the gaming and films profiles sound a bit tinny on these audio system.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 open, seen from the right side.

New Arc Move followers have 84 blades as skinny as 0.2mm.

Every thing else in regards to the M16 is normal Zephyrus stuff. It’s the very same weight and virtually the identical thickness because the G15, at 4.19 kilos and 0.75 inches — transportable as 15-inch gaming rigs go. It’s obtained the acquainted dot matrix protecting its lid and Asus’ signature ErgoLift hinge that folds beneath the display and raises the keyboard up barely (hiding a lot of the underside bezel).

The keyboard is nice, and the touchpad is very large, with a clean floor and a very simple click on. I did sometimes have palm-rejection points — the cursor jumped just about at any time when my palm hit the touchpad. This obtained bothersome sufficient that I ended up turning off touchpad enter once I was enjoying video games with exterior peripherals. However total, it’s a superb chassis that’s sturdy and glossy.

In a vacuum, there’s nothing notably objectionable in regards to the Zephyrus M16. The distinctive 16:10 show and the, properly, existence of a webcam are nice additions — they usually make the M16 extra pragmatic as a main work driver than different gaming laptops in its class. The addition of Thunderbolt and Intel-specific options like Fast Sync will probably be icing on the cake for inventive professionals who received’t be capable to discover these advantages in an AMD system.

Nonetheless, the M16 continues to be a Zephyrus. It’s not meant to be a main work driver or for coffee-shop creatives; it’s, at the beginning, a gaming laptop computer. And it’s too costly for its efficiency. It offers a weaker GPU, worse battery life, and a considerably worse battery-gaming expertise than comparably priced AMD methods. You’re paying for this webcam and unbelievable display not solely with more money but additionally with body charges.

That doesn’t imply there’s no viewers for the M16. The display, the upgraded ports, and the webcam aren’t trivial bonuses. The M16 isn’t a nasty laptop computer, however most avid gamers will probably be happier with the G15 — and I want Asus would put this display and this webcam on that product.

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