The First Gaming Laptop With AMD is the most "Hot" laptop in the market
The Asus ROG Zephrus G14 changes that stereotypical look that we are used to. The most striking lights come from an optional LED matrix display on the lid. The whole thing is a massive departure from those strong black bricks decked out in RGBa, and yet it is one that loves my gothic heart, totally black and loving. But while the Zephyrus G14 looks just right, and may even be Intel’s best mobile Core i9-9980HK on various types of workload, it does have a serious underlying issue: it gets HOT.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is the first laptop to come equipped with AMD’s long-awaited newest mobile gaming processors, which is great because so far, Intel hasn’t been challenged in the same space. AMD has had Ryzen-based mobile processors since 2018, but they were not common on laptops, especially gaming ones. Now, major laptop manufacturers like Asus are putting them on their gaming laptops for the first time, and Intel has serious competition. As long as laptop manufacturers handle thermal issues better than Asus. More on this in a second.
The Zephyrus G14 came equipped with AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS, Nvidia RTX 2060 Max Q, 16GB DDR4-3200 RAM, a 1TB NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD, and retails for $ 1,450 as configured. This is the most advanced model, but you can go for a Ryzen 7 4800HS and a GTX 1660 Ti or less to cut the cost. The price will vary according to the exact configuration.
As usual, Intel dominates in the single-core realm, but still loses to the Ryzen 9 4900HS in benchmarks that depend on multi-core performance, such as rendering speeds, transcoding speeds, and Civilization VI. Rendering a 3D image in Blender with the Core i9-9980HK took 8:08 minutes, where it only took 7:25 minutes with the Ryzen 9 4900HS. Transcoding a 4K video to 1080p at 30 fps took 8:05 minutes and 6:53 minutes, respectively, and the AI speed shift time in Civilization VI took 8.8 ms versus 7.1 ms, respectively. Even on the Geekbench 4 multi-core benchmark, AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS passed Core i9-9980HK test, 30468 to 29860.
As for the graphics card, the Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit has an RTX 2070, where the Zephrus G14 has an RTX 2060 Max-Q, so it is not surprising that this Asus laptop has a lower number of frames in our benchmarks in the game. But most of the time you’ll get at least 65 frames per second or more at 1080p at ultra (or higher) graphics settings, depending on the game. The Zephrus G14 reached: 81 fps in Far Cry 5, 66 fps in Total War: Warhammer II, 69 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and 41 fps in Metro Exodus (ray tracing). Lower the graphics to high and you get a great balance of visual quality and performance.
It is too hot. We saw a similar problem with the Gigabyte Arous 17G, but unlike the Arous 17G, the G14 sometimes becomes too awkward to keep my fingers on the keyboard for more than 10 minutes while playing. The CPU typically reaches temperatures of up to 100-105 degrees Celsius, sometimes reaching 112 degrees Celsius. (The maximum temperature for this processor is 105 C, according to AMD.) The surface of the laptop around the keyboard can reach temperatures of up to 44 degrees Celsius (or 110 degrees Fahrenheit). It could be hotter than that, but that’s also the maximum temperature on my thermometer.
Another part of the problem could be the laptop’s magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis. That material is great for doing things that should be as light as possible, like laptops. But although it has a thermal conductivity (the amount / rate of heat transmitted through a material) that is low for an alloy, it is still high compared to many other metals. That’s why some laptop manufacturers today will wrap the chassis in soft-touch plastic or carbon fiber to help keep the surface cool, like the Dell XPS 13.
I was worried that something might be wrong with the unit I received and reached out to Asus anyway. The company said that our temperatures seemed unusually high, so we’ve returned the unit for evaluation. Asus did say that it’s normal for the Ryzen 4000 CPUs to run pretty hot though. On top of that, Asus pushes for extra performance even if it means 5 C or 10 C higher temperatures because “most users are unlikely to notice or care about the CPU temperatures.” If they do, then performance still matters more than component temperatures.
I really, really wanted to like this laptop, especially since AMD has finally put out come competitive mobile processors. But a combination of a CPU that runs at high temps and chassis material that conducts heat pretty well doesn’t make for a comfortable gaming laptop. At best, this is a $1,450 every-day work laptop for emails, some light Photoshop work, and streaming TV shows and movies. It’s way too warm to comfortably use for gaming. Asus is investigating, but until we know more I cannot safely recommend this product, now matter how fast AMD’s new Ryzen 9 4900HS mobile processor is.