the successful alchemy between gaming laptop and powerful ultraportable

Very subjectively, the Zephyrus G14 update from Asus is one of the machines we are most waiting for this year 2022. Because the first Zephyrus G14 of the name is crush. Launched in 2020, it incorporated the success of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 generation. This small portable PC combines the characteristics of an ultraportable (endurance, compactness) with the characteristics of a true gaming PC. A machine that will go down in history as the hallmark of the rise of AMD processors.

ROG Zephyrus G14 version 2022 is 100% powered by AMD. © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

The arrival of the new version of this emblematic PC indicates expectations: will Asus correct the defects of the previous machine. Defects such as the lack of a webcam, quite noticeable heating, etc. In addition to reviewing the development that has been done for two years, it is the “engine” of this ultra-portable gaming that is also important to us. The Zephyrus G14 2022 has essentially abandoned the Nvidia GPU of its ancestor (RTX 2060) in favor of a Radeon RX6800S. The first generation of dedicated mobile graphics processors in RDNA 2. And the fact that it is combined with an AMD Ryzen 9 processor makes this new ROG Zephyrus G14 a 100% AMD machine.

Super useful, bugs fixed

© Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

On the one hand, you have to give AMD the design of excellent chips – the Ryzen 9 AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, which is etched in 6 nm, and the Radeon Radeon RX6800S, which is etched in 7 nm. But we must credit Asus for the electronic, mechanical and thermal prowess of incorporating powerful components into such a compact machine. Due to its performance, it is very light: with a weight of 1.7 kg, it still meets the guns of ultraportables, and can accompany you on any train or plane. It’s even tougher – another one of its accomplishments (read more) – and resistant to shocks (but not scratches, read more). The chassis mixes aluminum, magnesium alloy and polycarbonate.

The touchpad is bigger and more comfortable than in 2020
The touchpad is bigger and more comfortable than 2020 © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

By creating its compact chassis in 2020, Asus had to make integration choices, which caused it to ignore the webcam. The disadvantage has been corrected in this version of 2022. Ok, the definition and moderate sensitivity of this 720p sensor does not make it a champion in the category. But that’s enough to show your face on Zoom, Meet or Skype. Another improvement: touch pad.

There is still an M.2 SSD slot.  Any evolution will go through its replacement.
There is still an M.2 SSD slot. Any evolution will go through its replacement. © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

A bit rickety in the past, it’s grown 50% to be really comfortable in “work” mode. The connection is not cheap, even if the Ethernet socket (RJ45) is missing, the double recharge (pin and USB-C) is still in the game and you can add a Micro SD card to expand the storage.

In our version, there is 16 GB soldered to the motherboard and 32 GB to the SODIMM.  There's no need to replace it, you'll lose GB managing dual channels.
In our version, there is 16 GB soldered to the motherboard and 32 GB to the SODIMM. There’s no need to replace it, you’ll lose GB managing dual channels. © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

It’s really impossible to do this except by replacing the SSD, there is only one free PCIe slot. On the side of RAM, Asus again corrects the error of 2020: 16 GB is welded instead of 8 GB before. This means that the machine we tested has 32 GB of RAM. Good for gamers, and for “creators”.

3D power above (but avoid ray tracing)

© Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

Three years ago, AMD failed to deliver a reliable gaming PC GPU. The RDNA 1 architecture made its way to the towers, RDNA 2 took advantage of the momentum and improved performance. To finally decline in mobile GPUs with credible performance. So much so that they are equal to Nvidia’s performance in rasterization (not in ray tracing, read on).

For this setup premium of the ROG Zephyrus G14 2022 (there are several versions) that we tested, Asus had the good idea to include a 1440p screen whose definition offers, in addition to additional reading comfort in “work” mode, a good level of detail in games. As long as 4K would be useless and even unproductive (additional display and GPU consumption), Asus found the right balance here to enjoy the essentials of modern titles in very high quality at +60 frames per second .

The only limitation of this definition of 2560 x 1440 pixels is in the small club of the most demanding games, such as CyberPunk 2077. With this definition and at the ultra detail level, we routinely drop to 40 frames per second. But for the rest of the games, like dirt 5 (75 fps) or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we’re at over 60 frames per second. Edge ray tracing, no surprise. RDNA2 certainly supports this technology, but the level of performance is not yet at the level of Nvidia. In other words: unless you are very modest in definition (1080p) and in level of detail, avoid activating “ray tracing”. What is, at the moment, not a big deal, there are still some games that support this technology. And the visual gains are, subjectively, quite modest.

Screen: good, but not perfect

© Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

Rather homogeneous and offering excellent brightness for its category (473 cd/m²) and a satisfactory contrast ratio (1028:1), the IPS LCD screen of our test version offers excellent definition of 2560 x 1600 pixels. All this comes with a small sacrifice in refresh rate – 120Hz compared to 144Hz for the 1080p versions. This additional definition gives the graphics chip a little more work to play with in the native sense. But offers real comfort for tactical games as well as video and office mode.

As for color accuracy, the results are more mixed. If it is better than the average of machine screens playing, it’s not a performance either: player tiles are chosen for their speed, especially for the most nervous games. A choice made, logically, at the expense of other parameters such as color accuracy or viewing angles. Which is logical, because no technology (LED, TN, OLED) dominates the others in all areas. With a Delta E 2000 of 2.75, the Zephyrus G14 offers a pleasing display, but graphic designers will benefit from calibrating it with a probe.

It’s a shame Asus doesn’t do this at the factory, especially since the Taiwanese promise 100% DCI P3 coverage. But it’s understandable: this kind of guarantee is included in designer ranges like Zenbook and ProArt. And here we have to deal with a machine playingadding factory qualification in addition to those already provided (stability in games, etc.) will definitely increase the price.

A machine above the fray

The system of programmable LEDs under the hood is still useless.  Thanks but don't do it.
The system of programmable LEDs under the hood is still useless. Thanks but don’t do it. © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

01Lab’s internal tool, which produces our test reports, is attractive because it presents interesting comparative elements in context.

And among equivalent machines, the “new” ROG Zephyrus G14 is impressive because it dominates them in almost all areas. Aside from its power consumption at rest, full screen (and this screen is bright!) and its slightly lower contrast ratio, the G14 is above average in our radar summary.

The synthesis made by our generator of “pluses” and “minuses” for weight, repairability, performance stability, etc. shows that most of the raised points are in the “pluses”. From the power of the GPU, through the battery charging speed to its main argument of autonomy, the ROG Zephyrus G14 2022 is an exceptional machine. Still fun for a 2,300 euro machine, but at least Asus didn’t disappoint. Except for a very small detail: the resistance of its back cover. Slightly slipped into my bike bag, the device suffered from friction that discolored the cover. Proof that Asus didn’t add any anti-scratch treatment and didn’t use mass-tinted polycarbonate. If you want to say “sorry Asus France, I was a bit angry”, the legitimate feeling of guilt is mitigated by the mission of informational journalism. Which allows us to warn you: beware of scratches and friction, and buy a cover to protect your precious one!

Software development will be done

Asus is a hardware king, but there is still room for improvement in terms of software, especially ergonomics. We learned that the hard way during the endurance testing procedures of this machine. Even if Windows says that the benchmark software should only run on the integrated GPU (working case and watching a movie on battery), our first tests gave very poor results, because it is always the additional GPU that is requested .

After two failed attempts, we fiddled with Armory Crate, the horrible configuration software ” playing from Asus. With its futuristic-ugly look, and not always well-thought-out ergonomics, the Armory Crate is pretty awful to use. A clean and clear interface like that of AMD’s Adrenalin drivers remains to be seen gamers, but with a more pleasant and intuitive UI/UX (user interface and user experience). After selecting the right tab and scrolling through some not-so-readable options, we were able to switch modes and “save” the endurance results. Which became 7:24 and 7:06 from 3:28 (versatile autonomy) and 2:19 (video playback). Since the software has been updated, no one is complaining about the mode switching problem. But he is still ugly.

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