G14 Zephyrus Specifications
The model I bought (and the only model that seems to really be available) is the (sort of) top end GA401IV, which is the fastest version of the G14 that you can buy at the moment. The only thing that makes this particular model not quite the top end variant is the fact that it uses the 1080, 120 Hz display instead of the 1440p, 60 Hz display. This isn’t a huge deal, however, and I personally prefer the 1080p display over the 1440p display because of the higher refresh rate.
|CPU||Ryzen 9 4900HS|
|Graphics||Vega 8 (integrated), RTX 2060 Max Q (discrete)|
|RAM||16 GB 3200 MHz|
|Storage||1 TB Intel 660p NVME|
|Display||1080p, 120 Hz|
When it comes to the specifications, the G14 is a little mid range in some areas and the highest end in others. The Ryzen 9 4900HS APU in this laptop is the most premium in AMD’s mobile product stack and is generally going to be one of the fastest laptop CPUs you can get. It will usually lose to any 4800H, 4800HS, or 4900H with a greater power limit, but it won’t be too far behind. When it comes to Intel’s mobile CPUs, well, it takes alot of power for them to even match the 4900HS. I do not have a comparable Intel laptop, but the consensus among reviewers is that the 4900HS is about twice as efficient as what Intel offers. Even though the G14 is small, it’s actually going to be alot faster than those chonky Intel laptops we’re used to seeing these days.
The graphics are also nice. The 4900HS includes Vega 8 integrated graphics that clock as high as 1750 MHz, which makes them much faster than last generation’s Vega 8 iGPUs. Some may question why the iGPU would matter in a gaming laptop, but since these graphics are so fast and so power efficient, I would argue that they are very useful for people who are gaming on their battery (more on that later). The discrete graphics come in the form of the RTX 2060 Max Q, and while Turing is starting to show its age, I think this is a good choice for the G14. It fits within the power and thermal constraints of the G14 just fine.
Storage and RAM is pretty decent but nothing particularly impressive. ASUS decided on the Intel 660p for storage and, while this is an NVME SSD, it is certainly one of the slowest they could have chosen. It’s fast enough, but it’ll get bogged down from time to time. But, it is a 1 TB SSD so it’s really hard to justify replacing it unless you want to get a 2 TB SSD or want to use the 660p in an external enclosure for mobile storage. Concerning the RAM, it is fast thanks to its 3200 MHz clock speed (hindered slightly by the mediocre CL22 timings) and I have 16 GB in my model which is more than enough, but if you need 32 GB of RAM I would recommend finding a model that comes with that much since half of the RAM is soldered.
Unlike many other reviewers, I have basically nothing to compare my G14 to, so instead I decided to take a different angle on the G14 by focusing more on the differences in performance between the iGPU and the dGPU and the different power profiles ASUS provides (those being silent, performance, and turbo). I’m particularly interested in testing the iGPU and whether or not it’s possible to game on the battery since the G14 has highly capable integrated graphics as well as a large battery. I’m also throwing in some updated battery life numbers since I made an interesting discovery since last time.
I am testing the 4900HS, the 2060, and the Vega 8 graphics in several different tests and will be comparing the three different power profiles: silent, performance, and turbo. This is the main focus instead of a laptop to laptop comparison as I do not own other gaming laptops.
For my synthetic suite of tests, I have selected the following:
- Cinebench R20
- 3DMark Time Spy
- 3DMark Firestrike
- PCMark 10 Express
These benchmarks were only tested on wall power since they’re very power intensive. Additionally, I will be showing how performance decreases when running these workloads multiple times. Since laptops have thermal and power limits, you will see performance drop over a load that takes a long time to complete.
For my 2060 gaming benchmarks, I have selected the following:
- Hitman 2
- The Witcher 3
- Civilization VI: Gathering Storm
- GTA V
- Rainbow Six Siege
Even though I am only testing 5 games for the 2060, I think there’s a good balance here. I could test the full suite of games I like to test on CPUs, but since I have no other laptops to compare against, it wouldn’t really be worth it.
For my Vega 8 gaming benchmarks, I have selected the following:
- FTL: Faster Than Light
- Enter the Gungeon
- Torchlight II
I have chosen such an odd suite of games for the Vega 8 iGPU because I’m only interesting in benchmarking for mobile gaming. If you’re plugged into the wall, I don’t really see why you would use the Vega 8 iGPU. For gaming on the go, however, using the integrated graphics is an attractive idea because it uses so much less power. I have implemented a 60 FPS cap in all of these games (except Minecraft) in order to save power. Additionally, I am also testing battery life by fully charging the G14, then gaming for half an hour at max display brightness, and then recording how much battery life I have left.
I will also be testing each ASUS power profile (which are silent, performance, and turbo) to demonstrate what the differences are in respect to things like performance and noise; testing the difference between the profiles is the real point of this test. Please keep in mind that turbo is only available on wall power, so the Vega 8 benchmarks will only show the difference between the silent and performance profiles.
The last test I am including in this article is battery life, which I already did an article on. However, I have some updated results that are quite interesting. The battery life section will be brief since and if you want to know more, I recommend reading my standalone battery life article.
Concerning the testing environment: the laptop was updated on April 28 for synethic tests and May 16 for gaming tests and was not updated during the benchmarking period (this means all driver, OS, software, etc updates), all background applications were closed prior to testing, all Radeon background processes were killed with Task Manager (for reasons I will explain later) and the laptop was setup in the same way a normal person would use it, with the lid open fully so that airflow can reach the internals easier. Finally, I also used the AMD Ryzen 4000 drivers instead of the ASUS provided 4900HS drivers.
I test using actual gameplay as often as possible. I only use built in benchmarks if it accurately reflects in game performance. I will note when I have used a built in benchmark; if I do not specify assume I have used actual gameplay to measure performance. Though testing performance in game is realistic, it is also prone to being quite variable or even inconsistent even within the same session. To offset this, I run each game at least 3 times and then take the median result. I do not take the mean/average result because that does not reflect actual, collected data. This is okay for synthetic and rendering benchmarks, but for games it is not ideal.
For synthetic and rendering benchmarks in this specific review, I have decided to use the first run in every bar graph rather than the median run. Because performance can drop drastically from run to run, taking the median result could be misleading. To make up for this, I am including additional graphs that demonstrate the performance drop between each run. So, there are going to be quite a few charts.
I used OCAT to record frametimes which I converted into framerates. There were some background applications while running benchmarks: task manager, file explorer, and game launchers (though only one is ever open at a time). On the subject of frametimes, we use the 99th percentile (provided by OCAT) instead of 1% lows for our minimum FPS calculation. The 99th percentile measures the lowest possible value for a framerate to be considered within the top 99% of framerates, where as a 1% low averages the bottom 1% framerates. Calculating using 1% lows is a major mistake because this range of data is often highly inconsistent and unnoticed in gameplay. One random lag spike would factor into the 1% low, for example, but not into the 99th percentile.