Now, onto everything else, which can’t really be benchmarked. I already gave my thoughts on this in my first impressions review but now that I’ve had more time with the laptop, I can talk about this more in depth.
Noise and Thermal Performance
It’s no surprise that a small laptop with high end components will end up hot and loud. The CPU gets right up to 95 C which is really high, but that’s how you know AMD is leaving no performance on the table. The noise and heat never bothered me; headphones neutralized the fan noise and the keyboard stays cool even though the chassis is hot to the touch.
One complaint I have here is the silent mode, which isn’t actually silent. Even though the laptop is just fine and doing nothing, the fans will still spin up, to the tune of 2000 RPM. This is ridiculous and ASUS should have not made such an aggressive fan curve. Yes, this is a gaming laptop, but it’s also a really good laptop for alot of other things, and the fan noise just gets annoying even though they’re not really whiny.
IO and Expandability
The G14’s IO is decent: 1 full size HDMI port, two 3.2 Gen 2 USB type C ports (one of which comes with power delivery and DisplayPort 1.4), a headphone jack, and two 3.2 Gen 1 USB type A ports. Pretty solid IO, and while some will be disappointed by the lack of Thunderbolt 3, I have to say it’s probably not a big deal on a laptop with such impressive specs; the G14 is not the kind of laptop that needs an eGPU. The type C power delivery is actually a really nice point; since it can accept up to 65 watts, you can actually carry around a pretty hefty charger around, and I did end up purchasing a 60 watt type C charger to compliment my G14.
However, I would have liked to see a second M.2 slot especially because of the slow 660p SSD this laptop ships with. Also, half of the RAM is soldered, which means any RAM upgrade is kind of pointless since running RAM sticks of different capacities might reduce performance. It is kind of disappointing, but I have to admit that I really don’t see anywhere for ASUS to have put a second RAM slot in this machine. I think ASUS could have stuck an extra M.2 slot instead of an upgradeable RAM slot (which would have been worth it in my opinion), but who knows.
Chassis Build Quality
The G14 is pretty sturdy and it’s very smooth feeling. It looks and feels really premium. But, I will stand by what I said in my first impression: it really does feel like a toy. This is largely because it’s such a small laptop and it’s got a somewhat gamery aesthetic. Or maybe it’s the color scheme, I originally wanted the black model but ended up purchasing the white one since it was the only one available. I will admit however that these features probably stand out to me in particular because of the laptop I used to use, the HP Spectre x360 15 inch, which happens to be black colored.
A really great feature of this chassis is the hinge between the display and the bottom half of the laptop where the keyboard and hardware is located. When you open the laptop on a flat surface, the hinge is designed to force the bottom of the laptop up at an angle, creating a little gap at the back of the laptop where all the cooling components are, which allows for better airflow and thus better cooling performance.
So, the G14’s fingerprint scanner is pretty interesting because it can scan your fingerprint even when it’s off or sleeping. What this means is that from the moment you press the power button (which is also the fingerprint scanner), Windows should already have your fingerprint and should let you into the OS immediately. This doesn’t always work, but I think I have about a 90% success rate which is pretty decent. In general, I don’t run into recognition issues with the fingerprint scanner. It’s pretty good and I think it makes up for the lack of Windows Hello facial recognition (which isn’t available because there isn’t a webcam).
The display is kind of a mixed bag on the G14. It is 1080 and 120 Hz, which is a good combo, but it’s got some bad ghosting issues thanks to its poor response times. Now, I only noticed this issue once during gaming, but in that one instance it was really noticeable. For gamers with a sharper eye, this might be a deal breaker. Again, my gaming experience was hardly impacted at all by ghosting issues (that one instance was an NPC picking up a cup), but your mileage my vary.
As for color sensitive stuff like photo editing, this display does have the advantage of being calibrated but it only does 100% sRGB. If you rely on Adobe or DCIP3 coverage, this laptop does not provide that so be advised. As for content consumption, it’s good. It’s not the latest HDR, OLED whatever display, but in my opinion that’s totally fine.
Keyboard and Typing Experience
Personally, I really like the keyboard on the G14. It’s very similar to my HP Spectre, the keyboard of which I also really like, and I think it’s really good for both gaming and typing. The beginning of a keystroke requires a little bit of force, and the keystroke ends on a nice click that’s not mushy at all but rather springy. I find the feeling to be somewhat similar to my gaming mechanical keyboard which uses Cherry Red keys, though of course a membrane and mechanical keyboard are still quite different. For a membrane keyboard, it’s one of the best I have ever used and it never irritated me in gaming.
Another important component of typing is hand placement, and thankfully ASUS designed the G14 in such a way that my big hands nor my writs get bothered. The G14’s surface has a nice texture for resting my hands on and the edge of the laptop is smooth and rounded so my wrists aren’t cut into. Plenty of laptops make this mistake, and it’s especially noticeable on smaller laptops, but thankfully ASUS did not fail here.
Though the trackpad on the G14 is on the small size, it’s pretty great. It’s got this nice, smooth glass finish and it uses Windows Precision drivers so navigating with it is pretty seamless. For a gaming laptop, this certainly has to be one of the best out there. However, I have had some issues with right clicks. If you click at the very bottom right corner, it registers as a left click. You have to click further left of the bottom right corner, which really makes no sense whatsoever. This is the first time in my life where I used a laptop that did not register right clicks because I was too far to the right.
ASUS has equipped the G14 with two downward firing speakers and two upward firing tweeters. Overall, I think these speakers sound really good and have a good balance to them, but the tweeters did emphasize clicks and ticks a little much in my opinion. Whether it’s for gaming or watching videos or listening to music, I feel like these speakers will do the job at least well enough.
Software and Firmware
First, let me go over Armory Crate. It’s ASUS’s software for controlling power profiles and looking at hardware diagnostics. It’s pretty decent but I do have some suggestions for ASUS. I’ve already complained that the silent profile isn’t actually silent under light loads (even though it is thermally fine), but there’s another issue, which concerns how it throttles the GPU. Instead of throttling the core of the GPU, which consumes the most power, it just throttles the memory down to 800 MHz, which not only saves very little power but also makes it super slow. It’s basically the worst of both worlds, getting similar power consumption while rendering half as fast. What ASUS should do is throttle the core, not the memory, and I hope there’s some sort of update that makes this happen.
The Radeon drivers are in a very sorry state, unfortunately. The drivers the G14 ships with are old, but fine. You get the “Radeon Lite” control panel instead of the updated Adrenaline 2020 panel, however they do have all the features you need, more or less (except for ReLive, which shouldn’t be locked out of laptops). What is really annoying is that these drivers aren’t available anywhere, not even on ASUS’s website. Should you ever need to reinstall these drivers, well, I have some bad news for you. You have two options: the drivers on ASUS’s website or the drivers on AMD’s website.
You might be wondering what exactly is the difference between the default G14 drivers and the G14 drivers on ASUS’s website. Well, ASUS seems to have forgotten the Radeon control panel, so if you lose your original drivers, you lose all ability to customize settings, including turning on FreeSync, which might be slightly important to gamers wanting to game on a gaming laptop. Neither are the AMD provided drivers sufficient, because as I mentioned before, they tank battery life unless you go through the painstaking effort of killing the 3 Radeon related tasks in task manager on every single fresh boot. This is just too much to ask for from the average user. Thankfully, regular users don’t normally mess with drivers (not even to update them), but inevitably I think that G14 owners will run into this issue.