Asus’ entry-level ROG Zephyrus G14 is the one to buy

Dedicated roadside readers will remember that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the most recent ROG Zephyrus G14. The model we received had a lot of great stuff: Asus had improved the aspect ratio, added a webcam, enlarged the touchpad, and fixed pretty much every other complaint I’d had about G14s in the past.

But the device I had for review was the best SKU and it was just too expensive.

Specifically, the Radeon RX 6800S / Ryzen 9 6900HS model I received cost $2,499.99. That put it in the same price range as some of the most premium 15-inch gaming rigs on the market, including Razer’s Blade 15 Advanced — and way above the price of the bigger and better-performing G15. It wasn’t a good deal. But I noted in the review that Asus planned to sell cheaper models of the G14, and if those models produced comparable frame rates, they could be phenomenal purchases.

Well, I finally got my hands on one of those cheaper models. I’m now typing this on a $1,649.99 model of the Zephyrus G14 that has the same Ryzen 9 6900HS processor, but swaps that 6800S GPU for a slightly less powerful 6700S. I’ve been suspecting for months that this configuration would offer very similar performance to its $2,499.99 counterpart.

And folks, that suspicion has turned out to be correct. The difference in frame rates, while present, isn’t worth paying for. The battery life of the 6700S model is better. It is thinner and lighter. The only thing it lacks, which the 6800S has, is a nice animated light display on the lid. The light curtain is very cool and you can pay an extra $850 for it if you want, but I’ll say most people should buy the $1,64999.99 model instead. It’s definitely a better deal.

The keyboard of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 seen from above on a blue tabletop

This is still one of my favorite keyboards on the market.

For anything related to the G14 chassis, see the review of the 6800S G14 I published in February. There I detailed the keyboard, touchpad, webcam, screen, and other design and hardware aspects. Those are all the same on the 6700S model, so I’ll just discuss the performance differences here.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 lies flat on a blue tabletop.

You can lay it down flat, if there’s any reason you’d want to.

The cheaper G14 averaged 189 fps Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at maximum settings and native (2560 x 1600) resolution. The previous model averaged 202 fps. This difference won’t be noticeable to anyone using these machines, as the highest refresh rate the G14’s 120Hz screen can display is 120 fps.

You may see an impact on other titles, but not on a title worth $850. The 6700S struggled a bit with ray tracing, which nearly cut the frame rates in half, but that’s exactly what we saw from the 6800S as well. The cheaper model averaged 63 fps with ray tracing and 32 fps with maxed ray tracing, where the older model achieved 70 fps and 37 fps, respectively. Like I said, small potatoes.

And further Red Dead Redemption 2 with all sliders maxed out manually, the cheaper model averaged 45 fps, while the more expensive SKU averaged 49 fps. I promise that four frames will not affect your life in any way.

The fan noise and heat were similar to what I noticed on the 6800S model, meaning they were fine. Noise wasn’t particularly annoying during gameplay and didn’t interfere with game audio; when I set the device to the silent profile for general work, it did indeed become silent. Even during a decent workload with an external display, there was never more than a little heat on the keyboard. The wrist rests were hot during play, but not completely uncomfortably so.

The lid of a closed Asus ROG Zephryus G14 seen from above on a blue tabletop.

No funky lights here, but still a neat lid design.

The bottom of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 seen from above on a blue tabletop.

The vents do their job.

Where I did see a difference was the battery life. The 6700S model averaged eight hours and 55 minutes of overall use at medium brightness, a solid hour over the 6800S. This statistic puts the G14 back on the map as one of the most durable gaming laptops in recent years. Gaming battery didn’t show quite the same improvement. I have 46 minutes Red Dead Redemption 2 play with about 39 minutes of play time, while I got 54 and 46 minutes out of the more expensive unit, but gaming battery life is hard to draw conclusions from. The charging time was exactly the same: 60 percent in 41 minutes.

The only other difference between this model and the 6800S is the size. It’s slightly lighter (3.64 pounds against the 6800S’s 3.79 pounds) and thinner (0.73 inches to 0.77 inches). Obviously this isn’t the biggest difference in the world, and it’s a pretty light gaming laptop anyway. But it’s another small advantage that the cheaper model has. It’s so much lighter than the Razer Blade 14 and much more compact than larger machines that can deliver these frame rates. I took this device on an international trip and loved how light it was in an otherwise packed backpack.

So the Zephyrus G14 is again one of the better gaming laptops you can buy. You can just go ahead and buy this 6700S model unless you really like nice animated lights. This model is price competitive with the premium orb in a way the animated light model isn’t: the closest Razer Blade 14 would be $2,599.99 ($950 more, though with a higher refresh rate screen) and a comparable Alienware X14 (with a lower-resolution screen) would be $1,949. And it’s much less than bigger competitors: The Blade 15 Advanced with an RTX 3070 Ti is currently listed for $2,999.99 ($950 more) as is the RTX 3070 Ti Blade 15 Base (with a lower resolution).

Not to mention the other advantages the G14 has over much of the competition, including its lightweight chassis, best-in-class keyboard and (most importantly) 16:10 display. The $1,649.99 price tag makes it much easier (and more justifiable) to appreciate the real innovations Asus has made and continues to make in this space.

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