A cheaper alternative to the Zephyrus M GU502.
When I finished writing about the Zephyrus M GU502 in June, I thought to myself, It’s a fine, well-engineered gaming laptop with a 1660 Ti card; I just wish it was cheaper, or at least a cheaper variant. Asus seems to have listened to me because I’m currently sitting in front of the same laptop as the Zephyrus M GU502 but significantly cheaper (specifically Rs 43,000). Enter Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502.
On the face of it, the new entrant looks like an aquatic version of the original Zephyrus M GU502 (read the review here), which first appeared in a new glacier blue color option at Computex in Taiwan this year (India won’t get it). For example, the Zephyrus G GA502 comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, in contrast to the Intel Core i7-powered Zephyrus M GU502. The board has a GeForce 1660 Ti graphics card but employs the Nvidia Max-Q design to easily fit with the device’s slim chassis. Let’s see if the new Zephyrus G is different in any other way.
As another Asus member of the Red team, the ROG Zephyrus G GA502 has 16GB RAM with AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, which can be upgraded up to a maximum of 32GB. Complemented by an Nvidia GeForce 1660 Ti graphics card with a Max-Q design. If you want to upgrade the storage, a single Intel 512GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive is attached to the laptop with space for another PCIe NVMe card.
AMD Ryzen 7 + Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q
The day-to-day performance of the review unit was as good as expected. I have been able to run multiple instances for PCs like Chrome, Word, Excel, File Explorer, Adobe Lightroom, Steam and WhatsApp without any lag or stuttering across more than two virtual desktops for PC. Switching between these applications was also apparently a smooth experience. When, on one occasion, I maintained about sixty tabs in a Chrome window, the laptop was forced to reload many tabs when they were activated, but this is understandable due to the extreme workload. Models like the Asus TUF Gaming FX505DY or FX705DT took almost half the time to export hundreds of photos from Adobe Lightroom Classic.
The review unit performed well on the CPU and GPU benchmark tests. In the conventional creative test of PCMark 8, Zephyrus G GA502 scored 3783 points, which is in the same area as its closest competitors like Acer Nitro 7 and Lenovo Legion Y530. The more expensive is the Zephyrus M GU502, but got a little more 3952 points in the same test. In 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Time Spy, the Zephyrus G GA502 scored 9820 and 4242 points, respectively. For reference, the Zephyrus M GU502 scored 12340 and 5797 in the same two tests, respectively. In short, the performance of the Ryzen 7-powered Zephyrus G GA502 is not as good as that of the Core i7-powered Zephyrus M GU502, but it comes quite close.
The expensive cousin Zephyrus M GU502 comes with a full-size touring version of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, but the Zephyrus G GA502 gets a Max-Q version of the same. The Max-Q design is Nvidia-Spike for a slim build with a downclocked chip to reduce heat and noise during gaming. According to Asus, the Max-Q design variant was chosen for the Zephyrus G GA502 to keep costs down.
The frame rates clocked by the Zephyrus G GA502 are somewhat older and cheaper than those recorded by TUF Gaming FX705DT, which is the same Ryzen 7 CPU but equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and half RAM. In the review unit, we chose to run our games suite in graphics settings with V-sync disabled as high (which we call one groove below the maximum ultra) and medium (two grooves below the maximum ultra).
Both the Doom and Crisis 3 averaged 73 frames per second at high but switched to 88 and 124, respectively, when switching to medium. Battlefield V averaged 58 frames per second but rose to 66 on average. Apex Legends High has moved from 86 frames per second to 94 in medium on average. Shadow of the Tomb Rider’s internal benchmarking tool clocks at 54 frames per second in high and a little over 59 clocks in medium. Hellblade: Senuer Sacrifice averages 63 frames per second in high but 70 in medium.
Playing video games in the review unit was mostly enjoyable. Games run more or less smoothly in high and medium settings. I noticed a distinct stutter within minutes of the Crisis 3 (high) game but nothing after that. I noticed several skips and stutters in the cutscene of Battlefield V (high and medium) but none during the gameplay. Doom was probably the smoothest game in both high and medium. After 30 minutes of running, our hit gun recorded an average of 30 degrees Celsius around the WASD keys and twice as much around the rear vents.
WASD key | Rear heat vent
While the review unit ran our game suite well, it was remarkably loud while doing so, especially in our office conference room. The voice of the double internal fans was enough for our editor, who was sitting a few feet opposite me, to ask, “Is it raining outside?” This was also the case with the Zephyrus M GU502 but I believe this unit is a bit louder. If you’re not wearing noise-canceling headphones, this noise can get into your gameplay experience.
Display, audio and IoT
The 15.6-inch display on the Zephyrus G GA502 is obviously not the same unit as the expensive Zephyrus M GU502. Instead of a 144Hz 3ms Pantone-proven LCD screen, the Zephyrus G GA502 is fixed for a 120Hz IPS LCD unit that is equally bright but not quite colorful. Although the primary colors look mostly neutral for browsing, watching movies, and playing games, they are somewhat washed out on occasion. The matte finish on the display ensures that the overhead light does not cause any confusion. Overall, it is a good display for everyday use.
The sound from the laptop’s two down-firing speakers is surprisingly loud and clear, which is not usually the case with gaming laptops in this price range. Most of the time when playing music, high, medium and even low pass through it. What’s more, there is enough stereo separation when you sit facing the laptop. The pairing inside the laptop is sometimes fine for YouTube videos but you may want to get yourself a suitable headphone for gaming.
Dual bottom firing speaker driver
Zephyrus G GA502 is not ashamed to offer a port for connection. On the left, it includes a proprietary round-pin power port, a LAN port, a full-size HDMI 2.0b port, a USB-A 3.2 port, a USB-C 3.2 (Gen 2) port with DisplayPort 1.4 and a 3.5 for headset. Mm audio jack. On the right, it has two USB-A 3.2 ports and nothing else. Unfortunately, there is no fingerprint scanner or webcam on offer. If you plan to use this laptop for both work and play, this is a limitation to note.
Port on the left
Port on the right
Keyboard and touchpad
Like the Zephyrus M GU502’s unit, the Zephyrus G GA502’s keyboard is comfortable enough to type long emails and documents. The same goes for gaming. The keys have enough resistance but could use a bit more travel. A dedicated row of keys above the keyboard lets you control the volume, mute the microphone, and bring the Asus-owned Armory Crate app.
Dedicated volume control key
Also, there is a column of keys on the right side with dedicated buttons for home, end, page up and page down functions. Why, there is even an extra Fn Key there for extra convenience. One thing the keyboard misses is the RGB light. Instead it gets a simple white backlight with three levels of brightness control.
Flex-free keyboard island
The touchpad of the Zephyrus G GA502 is a fairly large accurate unit. This means you can tap and swipe multiple fingers without the need for a third party driver or utility. These actions can be changed directly from Windows 10 settings The flat surface of the touchpad is smooth for frequent use and it is fairly easy to press two click keys underneath.
Construction and design
The Zephyrus G GA502 is a spit picture of its expensive Intel partner, and this is undoubtedly a good thing because the Zephyrus M GU502 is a well-designed and well-designed product that can be started with. The Zephyrus G GA502 sports a similar metallic top cover with an excellent brushed finish. For a 15.6-inch gaming laptop, it is moderately thin (0.8 inches) and surprisingly light weight (2.1 kg). A vaguely lit red ROG logo adorns the top cover to give the laptop some extra characters.
Classy metallic brushed design
When you open or close the display, there is almost no sign of flex on the lid, which is impressive considering the thinness of the panel. Inside, the 15.6-inch anti-glare display is surrounded by a thin bezel on three sides. The long bottom bezel only has a dual-array microphone. Tapping hard on the keys does not cause any movement on the keyboard island, which again is a sign of impressive build. Overall, the Zephyrus G GA502 is a well-made laptop. It manages to look subtle without ending up not being distasteful.
The Zephyrus G GA502 sports a four-cell 76Wh lithium-ion internal battery, which works decently in our tests. In our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit lasted 3 hours, 1 minute. Compared to the results obtained by the more energy-hungry Zephyrus M GU502, it is twenty-nine minutes longer. In our daily experiments where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled and the screen is set to 70-percent brightness, the review unit conducts heavy browsing and background music playback through headphones for 1 hour, 16 minutes before showing a 32-percent reduction in battery charge. Laptop backup takes a little over an hour and a half to fully charge from zero.
The last row
At the time of writing, the Core i7-powered Zephyrus M GU502 is priced at Rs 1,42,990. On the other hand, this Ryzen 7-powered Zephyrus G GA502 is priced at Rs 99,990. If you are planning to get a cheaper alternative so you can save Rs 43,000, you will be happy to know that you will not lose too many kits. You’ll end up with a (slightly) less powerful CPU and GPU, but it won’t make a huge difference to your gaming experience, especially if you’re a casual gamer. The same goes for display quality.
By opting for the expensive cousin of the Zephyrus G GA502, expect your next AAA game title to rotate 70 frames per second instead of the average frame rate of 90. It’s important for you to get those twenty extra frames per second (along with more colorful illuminated keyboards), choose the Zephyrus M GU502 over it. If not, get Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 without any hesitation