Asus’s Republic of Gamers (ROG) division has unveiled a clutch of new gaming laptops and desktops at CES 2020, and the company has some standout designs and ideas of performance. These gaming-focused PCs emphasize appearances and certainly plenty of gamer-grade bling, but the company promises that a lot of ideas have gone into each new product, and they represent that the gaming market and laptops How are transferring in general.
Gadgets 360 was able to spend some time with pre-production units of two of these devices, The ROG Zephyrus G14 and TUF Gaming A15 before this CES 2020. Here’s everything you want to know about the products as well as Asus’ strategy.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 First Impressions
The highlight of course is the brand new ROG Zephyrus G14, a compact gaming laptop with a completely unique ‘AniMe’ LED light show for those who just can’t show off. This feature would be optional, and we could not see it in action on our prototype. However, we have a good idea of how this will work. First, there is the device itself.
Asus Simplifying its naming scheme, so ROG is the new public name for the Zephyrus G14 GA401 – you’ll still see this model number used in some places. The device is actually designed to look like a cool, professional laptop when you’re not showing off, and it actually looks like it can fit anywhere. It doesn’t mix in the background, but it can’t scream “Cheesy Gamer” with red lights and aggressive accents. Even ROG’s logo is relatively subtle.
If you turn on the AniMe display, it all goes out of the window. It is a grid of 1,125 small mini LEDs, each individually controllable and visible through a precision-cut grille. The LEDs are white, not RGB, but you get 256 levels of brightness which opens up a whole world of animation possibilities.
Buyers will find software that lets them create animations quickly and easily by importing a GIF file. You can also create a frame-by-frame or just type some text and choose effects. Visualizations can react to events of music or sports, and can display information such as information or timing.
Certainly we asked Asus what effect it would have on heat, battery life and most importantly, cost. If you want this feature, the unit will be 2 mm thick and very slightly heavy, and we don’t know the difference in price yet. Company representatives acknowledged that some too heavy running would damage battery life, but said there are some precautions, such as not having all LEDs at full brightness continuously. We had also asked whether there would be third-party integrations or some way to develop and share animation profiles, on which the company did not want to comment.
The other big news here is that Asus has gone with the recently announced 4Th General AMD Ryzen Mobile APU, but has taken it a step further by optimizing it to run on 35W TDP instead of the standard 45W. Asus told us that this version of the new Ryzen APUs will be exclusive to Asus’ products for some time, and that it was developed specifically by the two companies in partnership for the slim Zephyrus G14.
We do not yet have more details about the CPU, but it is a 7nm part based on the Zen2 architecture with eight cores and 16 threads. Asus says that this is sufficient not only for gaming but also for professional workloads, and in fact the company expects this model to have a wider appeal beyond the general gaming market.
We don’t even know what the exact configuration options will be when the ROG Zephyrus G14 arrives in India, but the device can handle up to one Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD. There will also be display options – you can choose a 1920×1080 120Hz panel intended for gamers or a 2560×1440 60Hz option for content creation. Both are Pantone certified and support AMD FreeSync (which works with discrete Nvidia GPUs).
Batteries can be charged using a bundled 180W adapter or 65W USB Type-C charger for convenience on the go. It has Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and four speakers, but no webcam. A neat feature is the power button with integrated fingerprint sensor. You only need to touch it once while delivering power to the system, and it can cache your fingerprint and automatically feed it to Windows after a few seconds.
Cooling is important for this small laptop, so Asus says it can dynamically manage CPU and GPU temperatures, thereby trading in favor of one another. There is also an ergolift hinge that improves airflow, special thin fans designed to reduce noise, and a precise air channel design.
The ROG Zephyrus G14 will weigh just 1.6kg and without the AniMe Array, the version will be 179mm thin which means that its version is still less than 200mm. Asus promises a comfortable keyboard with 1.7 mm of critical travel in this small chassis, plus full-size USB Type-A and HDMI ports on the sides.
Asus TUF Gaming A15 First Impressions
The second model that we spent some time on was the new TUF series A15, aka TUF FX 506 which will succeed Existing FX505 Models. This model will also have 4 features of AMDTh General Raizen mobile processor, but an equivalent TUF F15 model to be launched later this year will include 10Th General Intel Core CPU. It will have A17 and F17 models with larger screens. The series is aimed at entry-level gamers who still want features and flexibility.
Asus will also have options in terms of style – with a more textured finish or with a more aggressive bonfire black with gamer-like lines and accents, the Fort Gray is the alternative. Although both have a large, prominent TUF logo in the middle of the lid. Asus may decide to offer different sets for the two versions.
In terms of design, there is a new cooling system with self-cleaning air channels and fans. One feature we really liked was the easy access to the hardware, which in this case is also two SO-DIMM RAM slots, two M.2 slots for SSDs, and a 2.5mm drive bay. Asus is proud of its keyboard, which has a stunning layout, nicely shaped and with arrow keys, as well as a full number pad. The keyboard has RGB backlighting, but in a single zone. The trackpad has also separated physical buttons in response to user feedback.
In terms of specifications we have 16 threads on 8 cores and anonymous 4.Th General Raizen mobile processor, and GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. You can get a 144Hz display on the 15.6-inch model and up to 120Hz on the 17.3-inch version, both of which support FreeSync. The display has a slim border but a slight bump on top of this model for webcams.
The amount of SSD, HDD and RAM will vary by country and variant, but Asus is also considering offering two different battery capacities. There can be a standard 48Wh battery, like the current model, as well as a larger 90Wh option – larger would mean sacrificing the 2.5-inch drive bay, but two SSD slots should be plenty.
Asus has not yet decided whether it will match the two different battery types with two different lids, and will target them to different audiences. It is also unclear how many variants the company will end up with given the number of possible combinations of lid, battery, CPU, GPU, screen, RAM, and storage capacity / type. This can be misleading in the market. We will know more when TUF Gaming A15 and its siblings will be launched in India in a few months time.
We do not know the prices of any models yet, but buyers in India can expect the ROG Zephyrus G14 as well as the TUF Gaming A15 and A17 to arrive here in the first half of 2020. Asus will also bring in the new STOG Strix gaming desktop, a refreshed ROG Zephyrus 15 laptop, and many more peripherals and accessories. Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for more news, Indian pricing, and full reviews during 2020.
Disclosure: Asus sponsors correspondent’s flights to New Delhi for pre-CES briefing
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