A gaming laptop designed for speed and style.
Standing in the middle of the Zephyrus line of gaming laptops, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502 features an intel core i7 10750H and Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti in slender shape. This convenient combination delivers some steady gaming performance, especially when you consider a relatively reasonable price of $1,299 (£1,000). But at this price, I still expect a little more from its other features than what I actually have.
I will admit that I really gasp when taking the M15 from its packaging. When the box opens, the laptop will push out to meet you like a fancy pop-up book, expensive. It doesn’t have any effect on performance, but it’s a bit subtle on the part of Asus.
The chassis itself is exquisitely designed. It’s thinner and lighter than a lot of gaming laptops around. Half-combed aluminum finish, half ‘prism dot design’ even gives the M15 a luxurious look and means it has super good grease resistance. Machined from colitic aluminum makes for a super-powerful laptop – although the screen still feels a little wobbly.
The main limitation of the metal frame is that, although it can be sturdy, it certainly leads to heat. So when you accidentally cover the exhaust for more than a minute, it is difficult to bring it back to an acceptable temperature, until you exit the game and let it rest a little. Considering the CPU temperature tends to reach 96-100°C (~205°F) higher, with the GPU not far away at 83°C (181°F), which leads to some fairly unusable external temperatures when the whole is wrapped in metal.
In the useless efforts of the machine to cool, it also has a little noise. At a maximum of about 37 decibels, it may not pass our Jacob’s ‘wagon test’, i.e. you may feel embarrassed to use it on a smooth train carriage. However, if you just want to reduce the noise of the cooling system, the downward speaker is quite suitable. Although I’ve heard louder, there’s no real problem with sound distortion at high volumes, and as long as you place the machine on a hard surface, the resonance of sound across your desk will help enrich the experience.
There are also settings to eliminate the noise of the rather sensitive cooling system in Asus’s included ‘Armory Crate’ software, as well as settings to tweak performance. The software includes a variety of pre-set visual configurations, including a ‘visual care’ setting to limit the blue light shining into your eye hole, as well as configurable configurations that allow you to save system and personal app settings for different situations.
There are some great customizations here and the connection is not bad at all. All ports and connections are placed on the side for easy access and to avoid blocking the screen when it opens. That meets my preferences, although I know it’s subjective – it can hinder some users. N.B. Although you can easily remove the power cable, I do not recommend removing it during gaming. Not only will there be some serious performance adjustment issues when it runs out of battery power, but it will also only last about an hour and ten minutes without wires. Not ideal.
The lack of webcams will certainly be a drawback for some, but at least it also helps to reduce the price. Also contributing to the affordability factor is the mediocre keyboard. It’s a bit stiff when pressing keys and the backlight can’t be programmed for each key, so the lighting effect is a very limited area. Similar to other models with a ‘prism’ design – perhaps another attempt to stay away from the edgy aesthetics of gamers and add company uniformity to the design.
Considering it is still a gaming laptop, one of my biggest problems with this one is that the storage capacity is too small. With only a single 512GB SSD at my own mind, I have to install and then uninstall each game individually to measure the benchmark, which is quite tedious. So don’t expect your entire game library to be ready.
The limited side to be considered, the most important thing is that the M15 can bring some solid gaming performance to the price, but do not expect to move all settings to the maximum.
That said, gu502L manages to combine and in some cases replace, XPG Xenia 15. are similarly earlier (but more expensive). It ranks a smooth 78 FPS average on Far Cry New Dawn at 1080p original on extremely high settings, and runs shadow of the Tomb Raider at a very consistent 70 FPS, with the highest level of installation and extremely high gloss.
With the highest graphics games, such as Metro Exodus, the Asus M15 only achieved an average of 43 FPS — that is, with super special hair and PhysX turned off. And while that’s not the worst score we’ve seen, it may need adjustments to make the most of it.
When it comes to heavier CPU games like Total War: Warhammer 2, it only achieves an average of 50 FPS, which is not so impressive in the massive diagram of everything. However, it backs up those frames with an above-average 144Hz refresh rate screen, giving you a better chance that your reflection really makes sense, as long as the frame rate actually allows.
Sadly, it’s easy to see the corners that have been cut on this machine, which means there’s a lot to trade-off if you want mobility, stable FPS, and fast displays at that price. Overall, the M15 looks best for those who only play a few select games at once and are looking to get rid of all the fancy green things that some more expensive gaming laptops have to offer.
You can totally make some good old-fashioned 1080p games in medium settings, and it’ll even do so in the perfect, perfect corporate style — so you can take it to work without being too costly. But don’t expect more from its performance, let’s bar some good productivity points.
However, it is still a sturdy, thin, fashionable machine, with powerful speakers that appeal to gamers who prefer speed. And it proves that it is possible to design a gaming laptop that works well without it looking like it was born by a transformer. Even so, some other discharge ports will not work.