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Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 (GX701LXS) Review: A thin and light gaming powerhouse with minuscule compromises

Nov 02, 2020 06:54 PM IST

This might just be the fastest gaming laptop we've ever tested, barring those backbreaking desktop replacements.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus lineup is known for its superb performance, coupled with its thin and light design. Of all the laptops in the Zephyrus series, the flagship ‘S’ series is renowned for its incredible performance, in an albeit slim chassis. That brings us to the latest Zephyrus S17 (GX701LXS). The new S17 features a starting price of Rs 1,79,990, while our model will set you back Rs 2,82,990.

Asus’ latest flagship Zephyrus laptop improves on the innovative design, which ensures superb performance with the combination of powerful hardware and optimal cooling. So, without any further delays, let’s take a deep dive into the Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 (GX701LXS) and see if it can live up to expectations.

Design

The new Zephyrus S17 follows the same design language as its predecessors. The lid features a metallic, black brushed magnesium alloy with the ROG logo in the top corner. Popping open the lid reveals the familiar keyboard design of the Zephyrus S lineup, which shifts the keyboard to the bottom for better heat management. The laptop weighs around 2.6 kg and is barely 18.7mm thick, giving it that ultra-slim form factor. The Zephyrus S series has been synonymous with style and performance. From the looks of things, the S17 has this style part locked in.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The Zephyrus S17 features an N-key rollover keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting. The trackpad here has been shifted to the right and also features an integrated calculator. The keys are pretty sizeable and offer decent travel, making them excellent for gaming and typing. However, there are a few caveats to this design, if you aren’t using a mouse, the trackpad takes some getting used to.

Additionally, using the laptop on anything but a desk is quite uncomfortable because of the keyboard’s positioning. Even, prolonged gaming or typing sessions can be uncomfortable; a palm rest would have really helped here. The trackpad is quite accurate and can be used in the absence of a mouse. It is worth mentioning that Asus previously added a gaming mouse in the Zephyrus S17 box, not seeing one in there was a little disappointing.

Ports

In terms of I/O, the ROG Zephyrus S17 has got things well under control, with three standard USB ports, two on the right, and one on the left. Additionally, you also get a USB Type-C port (USB 3.2 Gen2, DisplayPort 1.4, PD 3.0, Thunderbolt 3), an HDMI port, a Kensington lock, and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack. You also have two vents on the back and one on either side. The only noticeable absentee here is an Ethernet port, although a USB to Ethernet adapter solves that problem.

Display

One of the most impressive parts of last year’s Zephyrus GX701 was its display.  The new S17 sports a 17.3-inch Full HD (1080p) IPS panel with G-Sync support. What’s even more impressive is that this screen features a 300Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. The screen also covers 100-percent of the RGB colour gamut. The display on the S17 features a 81-percent screen-to-body ratio.

Apart from the chin, the bezels are relatively thin, while the webcam is still missing. Additionally, the panel is Pantone Validated, ensuring colour accuracy for creative work. The viewing angles on the screen are excellent, making this the perfect display for content consumption, content creation, and gaming. As far as Full HD panels go, this is as good as it gets.

Performance

For performance, the new ROG Zephyrus S17 opts for an Intel Core i7-10875H or a Core i7-10750H, both 8-core CPUs capable of 5.0 GHz speeds. For graphics, the Zephyrus S17 can be equipped with an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-P, RTX 2070 Super Max-P, or RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. Our model was retrofitted with an Intel Core i7-10875H, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and lastly, an RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU.

In our tests, the ROG Zephyrus S17 did quite well, handling games with ease. In Overwatch, the Zephyrus managed an average of 220 fps on high settings, dropping to 140 on Epic. On its highest setting, the S17 managed an average of 120fps in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Apex Legends averaged at around the 140fps mark on its highest settings.

In terms of AAA titles, the Witcher 3 delivered an average of 85 fps on Ultra setting, while Far Cry 5 just about crossed the 100fps mark with graphics set to Ultra. Battlefield V also consistently surpassed the 100fps threshold on max settings with Direct X Raytracing turned off in multiplayer mode. We between 65 to 80 fps with ray tracing turned on in multiplayer mode.

It is worth noting that despite its powerful specs, the Zephyrus S17 still struggles to hit the 300fps mark to match the 300Hz display, even older titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Heroes of the Storm. In Cinebench R20, the new Zephyrus S17 scored 3879 in the multi-core test and 420 in the single-core test. Throughout the tests, the CPU managed a sustained single-core clock speed of 4.3 GHz and an average multi-core speed of 3.8 GHz. The Zephyrus S17 did quite well during our tests.

Over the top specs generally don’t mean much if you don’t have good thermals to back it up, especially in an ultra-thin gaming laptop. But we are pleased to say that Asus has equipped the Zephyrus with an excellent cooling system to back up those over-the-top specs. The new Zephyrus S17 features six heat pipes, while both the CPU and GPU connect to both shared and dedicated heat sinks. Additionally, Asus has used the Thermal Grizzly liquid metal compound as opposed to the standard thermal paste. We didn’t experience any sort of throttling while the CPU and GPU temperature rarely rose above 80-percent.

Audio

The ROG Zephyrus S17 features two 2.5W speakers with “Smart AMP” tech and an array microphone. The notebook features top-firing speakers, with the grills on the left and right of the keyboard. The laptop also features 7.1 surround sound and Hi-Res audio support. For a slim notebook, the S17 has pretty capable speakers, but the fans do tend to drown out the audio, and we suggest using external speakers or headphones. However, the speakers are pretty capable of holding their own while listening to music or watching videos.

Battery

One area where the Zephyrus S17 does falter is the battery. Despite its relatively larger 76Whr battery, the Zephyrus S17 tends to deliver a meagre two hours for average use. However, you can nearly double this by switching to Optimus mode, which turns off the discrete graphics to increase battery life. With the 240W power supply, you can fully top-up the battery in little over two hours.

Like most powerful gaming laptops, you can expect about three hours while using the battery to perform regular tasks like watching videos and surfacing. Overall, battery life here is slightly underwhelming, even for a gaming laptop. However, battery life is certainly not the hill you want to die on when it comes to over-the-top gaming laptops. Additionally, this laptop is meant to be used on a desk, with a charging port close at hand.

Verdict

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 (GX701LXS) brings small improvements across the board. But the one area where Asus has really upped the ante, barring performance, is the price. The last time we reviewed a Zephyrus S17 model, which was over a year ago, it was priced at somewhere around Rs 3,50,000. So, it is nice to see that pricing has fallen for the flagship Zephyrus lineup. At a starting price of Rs 1,79,9090, the Zephyrus S17 is definitely not overpriced, although our model may just burn a hole in your bank account. However, when you consider what Asus is offering here, it seems well worth the price. The display is arguably the best we’ve seen on a gaming laptop. And although the design is not the most conventional, the superb cooling is worth the tradeoff.

Yes, cooling here is as good as it gets, despite the slim form factor. The S17 can pump out some of the highest frame rates you’ve seen on a gaming laptop, second only to the massive desktop replacements. The only gripe we had with the Zephyrus S17 was the lack of a webcam, especially considering Asus have added one in the box before. Additionally, a palm rest could have also gone a long way. But if we are serious, the most important aspect of a gaming laptop is its display, performance, and cooling, and on those fronts, the Zephyrus S17 (GX701LXS) doesn’t disappoint. On the question of whether the Zephyrus S17 managed to live up to our expectations; the answer wouldn’t just be a resounding ‘yes’.

Carlsen Martin
first published: Nov 2, 2020 06:54 pm
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