Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502  Review: A cheaper alternative to the Zephyrus M GU502.

A cheaper alternative to the Zephyrus M GU502.

When I finished writing about the Zephyrus M GU502 in June, I remember thinking to myself: it’s a fine, well-designed gaming laptop with a 1660 Ti card; I only wish it was cheaper, or at least had a cheaper variant. It seems Asus heard me as I am currently sitting in front of what is practically the same laptop as the Zephyrus M GU502, but significantly cheaper (at Rs 43,000 to be specific). Enter the Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502.

At first glance, the newcomer appears to be a watered-down version of the original Zephyrus M GU502 (read the review here), which was first showcased at this year’s Computex in Taiwan in a new Glacier Blue color option (India doesn’t get it ). For example, the Zephyrus G GA502 comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, as opposed to the Intel Core i7-powered Zephyrus M GU502. There’s a GeForce 1660 Ti graphics card onboard, but it uses Nvidia’s Max-Q design to fit snugly into the device’s slim chassis. Let’s see what other ways the new Zephyrus G is different.

Performance

As yet another Asus member in the Red Team, the ROG Zephyrus G GA502 features an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H paired with 16GB of RAM, which can be upgraded to a maximum of 32GB. Complementing this is an Nvidia GeForce 1660 Ti graphics card with Max-Q design. There’s a single Intel 512GB PCIe NVMe solid state drive attached to the laptop, along with room for another PCIe NVMe card should you choose to upgrade the storage.

AMD Ryzen 7 + Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q

The daily performance of the review unit was expected to be good. I was able to run multiple instances of numerous applications such as Chrome, Word, Excel, File Explorer, Adobe Lightroom, Steam, and WhatsApp for PC on more than two virtual desktops with no noticeable signs of slowing down or stuttering. Switching between these applications was also visually a smooth experience. Once, when I was keeping about 60 tabs in a single Chrome window, the laptop felt compelled to reload many of the tabs as they became active, but that’s understandable given the extreme workload. Exporting hundreds of photos from Adobe Lightroom Classic took almost half the time that models like the Asus TUF Gaming FX505DY or FX705DT did.

The review unit did quite well on CPU and GPU benchmark tests. In PCMark 8’s Conventional Creative test, the Zephyrus G GA502 scored 3783 points, which is in line with its closest competitors such as Acer Nitro 7 and Lenovo Legion Y530. However, the more expensive Zephyrus M GU502 scores a slightly higher 3952 points on the same test. On 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Time Spy, the Zephyrus G GA502 achieved 9820 and 4242 points, respectively. For reference, the Zephyrus M GU502 scored 12340 and 5797 respectively on the same two tests. To sum it up, the performance on the Ryzen 7-powered Zephyrus G GA502 isn’t better than the Core i7-powered Zephyrus M GU502 but it comes pretty close.

Gaming

Its more expensive cousin Zephyrus M GU502 comes with a full-size Turing version of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, but the Zephyrus G GA502 gets a Max-Q version of the same. Max-Q Design is Nvidia-speak for a slimmer build with downclocked chips, so less heat and noise is produced while gaming. According to Asus, the Max-Q Design variant was chosen for the Zephyrus G GA502 to keep costs low.

The frame rates of the Zephyrus G GA502 are comparable to the slightly older and cheaper TUF Gaming FX705DT, which is equipped with the same Ryzen 7 CPU but an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and half the RAM. On the review unit, we chose to run our range of games at native Full HD resolution on High (what we call a notch below the highest Ultra) and Medium (two notches below the highest Ultra) graphics settings with V- Sync disabled.

Both Doom and Crysis 3 ran at an average frame rate of 73 frames per second on High, but jumped to 88 and 124 respectively when switching to Medium. Battlefield V averaged 58 frames per second on High, but climbed to 66 on Medium. Apex Legends went from an average of 86 frames per second on High to 94 on Medium. Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s internal benchmark tool clocked 54 frames per second on High and a slightly higher 59 on Medium. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice averaged 63 frames per second on High, but 70 on Medium.

Playing video games on the review unit was especially enjoyable. Games ran more or less smoothly on High and Medium settings. I noticed a distinct stutter in Crysis 3 (High) for a few minutes into the game, but nothing after that. I noticed quite a few hitches and hiccups in the Battlefield V (High and Medium) cutscenes, but nothing during gameplay. Doom was arguably the smoothest game on both High and Medium. After a 30-minute run, our heat gun registered an average of 30 degrees Celsius around the WASD keys and more than double that figure around the rear vents.

WASD keys | Rear vents

While the review unit ran our range of games just fine, it was noticeably loud while doing it, especially in our office meeting room. The noise from the dual internal fans was enough to make our editor, who was sitting a few feet across from me, ask, “Is it raining outside?” This was also the case with the Zephyrus M GU502 but I believe this unit is slightly louder. If you don’t wear noise canceling headphones, this noise can sneak into your gameplay experience.

Screen, audio and IO

The 15.6-inch display on the Zephyrus G GA502 is understandably not the same unit as the one on the more expensive Zephyrus M GU502. Instead of a 144Hz 3ms Pantone-validated LCD display, the Zephyrus G GA502 settles for a 120Hz IPS LCD unit that’s equally bright but not as colorful. While primary colors usually look neutral for browsing, watching movies, and playing games, they sometimes appear a little faded. The display’s matte finish ensures overhead lights are no distraction. Overall, it’s a good screen for everyday use.

The sound from the laptop’s two downward-firing speakers is surprisingly loud and clear, which is generally not the case with gaming laptops in this price range. Highs, mids and even lows come through while playing most songs. Plus, there’s plenty of stereo separation when sitting directly across from the laptop. The pair in the laptop is fine for the occasional YouTube video, but you might want to buy some good headphones for gaming.

Dual bottom-firing speaker drivers

The Zephyrus G GA502 isn’t shy about offering ports for connectivity. On the left, it has 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 3.5mm audio jack for headsets. On the right side, it has two USB-A 3.2 ports and nothing else. Unfortunately, no fingerprint scanner or webcam is offered. If you plan to use this laptop for both work and play, that’s a limitation to keep in mind.

Gates on the left

Gates on the right

Keyboard and touchpad

Like the device on the Zephyrus M GU502, the keyboard on the Zephyrus G GA502 is comfortable enough for typing long emails and documents. The same goes for gaming. The keys have sufficient resistance but could have used a little more stroke. A dedicated row of keys above the keyboard lets you control volume, mute the microphone, and invoke Asus’ own Armory Crate app.

Dedicated volume control keys are useful

In addition, on the right side there is a column of keys with dedicated buttons for the Home, End, Page Up and Page Down functions. Why, there’s even an extra fn key there for added convenience. The only thing the keyboard lacks is RGB lighting. Instead, it gets a solid white backlight with three levels of brightness control.

Keyboard island without flex

The touchpad on the Zephyrus G GA502 is a large enough precision unit. It means you can tap and swipe with multiple fingers without the need for any third-party driver or utility. These actions can be changed directly from Windows 10 settings. The smooth surface of the touchpad is smooth for frequent use and the two click buttons underneath are quite easy to press.

Build and design

The Zephyrus G GA502 is a spitting image of its more expensive Intel counterpart, which is undoubtedly a good thing, as the Zephyrus M GU502 is a well-built and well-designed product to begin with. The Zephyrus G GA502 has a similar metal top cover with a stylish brushed finish. For a 15.6-inch gaming laptop, it’s moderately slim (0.8 inches) and surprisingly light (2.1 kilograms). A dimly lit red ROG logo adorns the top cover to give the laptop some extra character.

Stylish Metallic Brushed Design

Opening or closing the screen reveals almost no sign of flex in the lid, which is impressive considering the slimness of the panel. Inside, the 15.6-inch anti-glare screen is surrounded by thin bezels on three sides. The high bottom bezel houses only the dual-array microphones. Tapping hard on the keys does not cause any movement in the keyboard island, which is again a sign of impressive build. Overall, the Zephyrus G GA502 is a well-made laptop. It manages to look subtle without looking uninteresting.

Battery

The Zephyrus G GA502 has an internal 76Wh four-cell lithium-ion battery, which performed quite well in our testing. On our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit lasted 3 hours and 1 minute. Compared to the result of the more power-hungry Zephyrus M GU502, that’s thirty-nine minutes more. In our daily tests with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on and the screen set to 70 percent brightness, the test device managed intensive browsing and playing background music through headphones for 1 hour and 16 minutes before a 32 percent drop. was observed battery charge. Charging the laptop from near zero to full takes just over an hour and a half.

Bottom Line

At the time of writing this review, the Core i7-powered Zephyrus M GU502 costs Rs 1,42,990. In contrast, this Ryzen 7-powered Zephyrus G GA502 costs Rs 99,990. If you’re planning on getting the cheaper alternative so you can save Rs 43,000, you’ll be happy to find that you’re not losing too much gear. 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 the display quality.

By choosing the Zephyrus G GA502 over its more expensive cousin, expect the average frame rate of your next AAA game title to hover around 70 frames per second instead of 90. If it’s important to you to get those twenty extra frames per second (along with a more colorful backlit keyboard), choose the Zephyrus M GU502 here. If not, buy the Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 without hesitation.

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