the successful alchemy between gaming laptop and powerful ultraportable

Very subjectively, the update of the Zephyrus G14 from Asus is one of the machines we were most looking forward to in the year 2022. Because the first Zephyrus G14 of the name was a crush. Launched in 2020, it embodied the success of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 generation. This small laptop combined the qualities of an ultraportable (endurance, compactness) with that of a true gaming PC. A machine that will go down in history as a sign of the rise of AMD processors.

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

The arrival of a new version of this emblematic PC implies expectations: should Asus correct the errors of the previous machine. Defects such as the absence of a webcam, rather noticeable heating, etc. In addition to checking the progress made in two years, it is the “engine” of this ultra-portable game that is also important to us. The Zephyrus G14 2022 actually abandons its ancestor’s Nvidia GPU (RTX 2060) to turn to a Radeon RX6800S. The first generation of dedicated mobile graphics processors in RDNA 2. And the fact that it is coupled with an AMD Ryzen 9 processor makes this new ROG Zephyrus G14 a 100% AMD machine.

Super equipped, bugs fixed

© Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

On the one hand, you have to give AMD the design of excellent chips – Ryzen 9 AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, engraved in 6 nm, and Radeon Radeon RX6800S, engraved in 7 nm. But we have to give credit to Asus for the electronic, mechanical and thermal prowess of integrating such powerful components into such a compact machine. In light of its performance, so light: at 1.7 kg on the scale, it still meets the canons of ultraportables and can accompany you on any train or plane. All the more so since it’s tough – another one of its feats (read on) – and resistant to shocks (but not scratches, read even more). The chassis mixes aluminium, magnesium alloy and polycarbonate.

The touchpad is much larger and more comfortable than in 2020
The touchpad is much larger and more comfortable than the one from 2020 © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

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

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

A bit rickety in the past, it has grown by 50% to be really comfortable in “work mode”. Connectivity isn’t cheap, although the Ethernet jack (RJ45) is missing, dual charging (pin and USB-C) is still in the game, and you can add a Micro SD card to extend the storage a bit.

In our version, there was 16 GB soldered to the motherboard and 32 GB in the SODIMM.  No need to replace it, you will lose GB in dual channel management.
In our version, there was 16 GB soldered to the motherboard and 32 GB in the SODIMM. No need to replace it, you will lose GB in dual channel management. © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

It is actually impossible to do it other than by changing the SSD, there is only one free PCIe slot. On the RAM side, Asus again corrects the mistake from 2020: 16 GB is welded instead of the 8 GB previously. This means that the machine we tested had 32 GB of RAM. Good for gamers and for “creators”.

3D power at the top (but avoid ray tracing)

© Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

Three years ago, AMD was unable to deliver a credible gaming PC GPU. The RDNA 1 architecture has made its merry way into the towers, RDNA 2 has capitalized on the momentum and improved performance. To end up being rejected in mobile GPUs with credible performance. So much so that they match 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 integrate a 1440p display whose definition offers, in addition to additional reading comfort in “work” mode, a beautiful level of detail in games. As much as 4K would be useless and even counterproductive (extra screen and GPU consumption), Asus has found the right balance here to enjoy the essentials of modern titles in very high quality with +60 frames per second.

The only limit to this definition of 2560 x 1440 pixels is in the small club of the most demanding games, such as CyberPunk 2077. In this definition and with the level of detail in ultra, we regularly fall below 40 frames per second. But for the rest of the games, e.g dirt 5 (75 fps) or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we are at more than 60 frames per second. Page ray tracing, no surprise. RDNA2 certainly supports this technology, but the performance level is not yet at Nvidia’s level. In short: unless you are very modest in definition (1080p) and in degree of detail, avoid enabling “ray tracing”. What is currently not a big deal, there are still few games that support this technology. And the visual gains are subjectively rather modest.

Display: good, but not perfect

© Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

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

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

Too bad Asus doesn’t do it at the factory, especially since the Taiwanese promises 100% DCI P3 coverage. But this is understandable: this kind of guarantee is integrated into designer series such as Zenbook and ProArt. And here we are dealing with a machine gameadding a factory qualification in addition to those already provided (stability in games, etc.) would necessarily increase the price.

A machine above the fray

The system of programmable LEDs under the hood is still useless.  Thanks but no thanks.
The system of programmable LEDs under the hood is still useless. Thanks but no thanks. © Lionel MORILLON / 01net.com

01Lab’s internal tool, which produces our test reports, is attractive in that it displays interesting contextual comparison elements.

And among similar machines, the “new” ROG Zephyrus G14 is impressive, dominating them in almost every area. Aside from its idle, full-screen power consumption (and this screen is bright!) and its slightly lower contrast ratio, the G14 is well above average in our radar review.

The synthesis produced by our generator of “pluses” and “minuses” for weight, repairability, performance stability, etc. shows that the overwhelming majority of the points raised are in the “pluses”. The ROG Zephyrus G14 2022 is an exceptional machine, from the power of the GPU, through the battery charging speed to its flagship argument of autonomy. Still happy for a 2,300 euro machine, but at least Asus does not disappoint. Except for one very small detail: the resistance of its back. Slipped a little wildly in my bike bag, the device suffered from friction which discolored the cover. Proof that Asus hasn’t added any anti-scratch treatment and hasn’t used mass tinted polycarbonate. If you want to say “sorry Asus France, I was a bit of a grudge”, this legitimate guilt is mitigated by the journalistic information mission. Which allows us to warn you: beware of scratches and friction, and buy a cover to protect your precious!

Software progress must be made

Asus is a king of hardware, but still has room for improvement in terms of software, especially ergonomics. We learned that the hard way during this machine’s endurance test procedures. Even though we told Windows to run the benchmark software only on the integrated GPU (working case and battery movie), our first test gave very poor results because it was always the additional GPU that was requested.

After two failed tests, we started with Armory Crate, the terrible configuration software ” game from Asus. With its futuristic-ugly appearance and its not-always-thought-out ergonomics, the Armory Crate is pretty terrible to use. A clean and clear interface that AMD’s Adrenaline drivers would look out for gamer, but with a more pleasant and intuitive UI/UX (user interface and user experience). After selecting the correct tab and scrolling through some not very readable options, we were able to switch modes and “save” the endurance results. Which went from 3:28 (all-round autonomy) and 2:19 (video playback) to 7:24 and 7:06 respectively. Since the software has been updated, no one complains about mode switching problem. But he’s still just as ugly.

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