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Review: Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 Gaming Laptop

Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 Gaming Laptop

The Asus Republic of Gamers Zephyrus G GA502 is an affordable Ryzen 7 3750H 4 core, 8 thread based gaming laptop with both AMD Vega 10 graphics and Nvidia Geforce 1660ti graphics onboard, with the latter featuring 6GB of dedicated memory. The model I purchased was $1,200 and features 16GB of RAM and a 120hz display panel, the base model, retailing for $1,100 features a 60hz panel and 8GB of RAM.

Initial impressions are good; if you’ve ever bought a Republic of Gamers product, you’ll know the unboxing experience is something special. Opening the lid of the box presents the GA502 to you, pushing the product up towards you. Picking up the laptop for the first time, it felt solid with a brushed aluminum lid featuring a large ROG logo, while opening the lid felt like very sturdy, with little flex in the panel.

The big downside is that the GA502 is a fingerprint magnet. Before I even powered on the laptop, it had dozens of fingerprints all over it. For those triggered by this, I’d advise a pair of white gloves, because finger prints are unavoidable, no matter how careful you are in handling this laptop.

Taking a tour around the GA502, starting on the top, there is a full-size, white backlit keyboard, which is fine by me, I set my desktop RGB keyboard to white and leave it. The keyboard includes the usual FN keys for quickly changing settings, dedicated volume up, volume down and mic on/off buttons as well as a dedicated button to launch the ROG Armoury Crate software, which allows for the control of many laptop functions. In addition to the keyboard, there is a multi-touch gesture-controlled touchpad, which is responsive enough for most people, although I prefer to use a mouse, whenever possible.

On the right side, there are two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, exhaust vent, and a Kensington lock slot. While the left-hand side features a power input, Ethernet port, HDMI port, one USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port and finally a combination headset, microphone jack. An impressive array of I/O given the thinness of the GA502, the only omission is a card reader, which is not a deal-breaker for me.

Another omission is a webcam, Asus elected to go for a smaller overall size, a 15.6in laptop in a 14in footprint, meaning the bezels are too slim to include a webcam. I have mixed feelings about this, if I had noticed this instore, I might not have bought this laptop, but it’s not a big enough issue for me to return it. But it is a consideration, as you will need to carry a separate webcam for video conferencing on the go.

It would have been nice if Asus provided a basic webcam in the box, given the $1,200 price tag for this laptop, or even included a built-in chin bar webcam, which is not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

This is not something the average user is likely to do, but I elected to wipe the Windows 10 Home install in favor of Windows 10 Professional as I will be using this ‘gaming’ laptop for productivity work. This caused an issue with the install of Sonic Studio 3, which is now a UWP (Universal Windows Program), I never managed to get Sonic Studio 3 to work, despite meticulously following Asus’ install instructions.

I did find a workaround, I installed EqualizerAPO and Peace GUI for EqualizerAPO. This gave me the control over the sound equalization I desired. Which brings me onto the second negative, the speakers/default sound profile. The speakers are downward-firing, which makes them sound a little muffled and bass-heavy, lacking mid-range clarity, thankfully it was fixable with EqualizerAPO and Peace.

I did note during my testing that there is compression applied to the audio, which is easily demostrated by pushing the pre-amp boost in Peace to beyond 0db. The quiet bits get louder and the loud bits are compressed, normalizing the sound to 0db. I cannot find a way to disable this, so I guess it must be a hardware level feature, I spent an hour pouring over audio and Realtek driver settings, with no success.

The display panel is a matt coated IPS ‘like’ display with good viewing angles, comparable to my IPS Dell U3415W, although it could be a bit brighter in my opinion. Not to say it’s dim, it’s fine for indoor use, but outdoor use in bright sunlight could be an issue. I would not recommend this display for color accurate tasks such as photo or video editing, it’s not terrible, but falls well short when comparing it to my Dell 100% sRGB panel that I use on my desktop computer, which in fairness does cost the same as the GA502. This is not a huge issue as it’s a gaming laptop, and I never intended it to be used for serious photo work.

Storage is fast, the 512GB Intel NVMe PCIe 3.0 x 2 drive boots to Windows 10 Pro desktop in just 11 – 12 seconds, with auto-login, enabled. In use it feels snappy, with little to no delay between clicking the icon and the application loading, there’s nothing to complain about here, gone are the  days of spinning rust.

Moving onto some benchmarks, I guess I have been inspired by the tech Youtubers than I watch, starting with the Cinebench R20 CPU benchmark. The first run was kinda disappointing, only managing 1399, which was slower than an i7 4850HQ, but I discovered the ‘myAsus’ background service was doing something in the background. I disabled that service and rebooted, ran the benchmark again and came out with a respectable score of 1808, putting it between the Intel i7 6700HQ and the desktop i7 7700K.

The Ryzen 7 3750H CPU maintained a respectable 3817Mhz boost clock throughout the benchmark and reached a maximum temperature of 88°C, but that was at the cost of noise, the fans ramped up significantly, to a point where it could be annoying, I guess that’s the price you pay for a slim chassis.

Asus ROG G GA502 Cinebech R20 Scores

Moving onto the Unigine Superposition GPU benchmark on the 1080p high setting. The Geforce GTX 1660ti Max-Q managed a respectable 6795 points with a minimum framerate of 40.89, a max framerate of 62.11 with an average of 50.83 frames per second, reaching a maximum temperature of 76°C.

Asus ROG G GA502 Unigine Superposition Scores

And finally, Wi-Fi performance, using the internal wireless card connected to my AT&T BGW210 wireless AC router, from roughly six feet from the access point, it managed 158Mbps download and 202Mbps upload, which I am ecstatic about, 100Mbps+ on Wi-Fi is great. This is not limited by my internet, I have symmetrical gigabit fiber to my home, my wired desktop can manage over 900Mbps up and down.

Asus ROG G GA502 Wi-Fi Speedtest

Overall, I would recommend the Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502, it’s a solid all-round performer, good for productivity and gaming, with a couple of shortcomings, such as the lack of webcam and the downward-firing speakers and poor out of the box EQ. For many, you can save $100 and get the base model, it comes with the same CPU, GPU, and NVMe drive, it just lacks the 120Hz screen and extra 8GB of RAM.

FINAL NOTE: The marketing images are misleading, the ROG logo on the back of the lid is not illuminated like the marketing photos show, it’s incredibly dim, infact, until I turned the lights out, I thought that it was not illuminated at all. I wonder how many RMA’d the laptop thinking the backlight was not working?

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