Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: overpriced and underpowered

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I can’t archer you however excited I was to trial the Zephyrus M16. It takes the AMD-powered Zephyrus G15’s exceptional chassis and adds the 2 things I astir privation that laptop had: a 16:10 show and a webcam. That sounds similar a large bundle connected paper, but there’s 1 different large happening that besides differentiates the M16 from the G15: its Intel processor.

A reappraisal of the M16, then, isn’t conscionable an accidental to measure Asus’ product. It’s besides an accidental to reply a question I’ve been wondering since I archetypal reviewed the G15 earlier this twelvemonth (and gave the highest people I’ve fixed a laptop successful my career): however overmuch of the G15’s excellence has to bash with Asus’s engineering, and however overmuch has to bash with the combined powerfulness and ratio of AMD’s processors?

The Republic of Gamers Est 2006 nameplate connected  the bottommost  close    country   of the Zephyrus M16 lid. I conscionable privation this had an RTX 3070.

The M16 has rendered a reasonably wide verdict: a batch of it is AMD. The Zephyrus G15 leaves the M16 successful the dust, not conscionable successful presumption of earthy framework rates and artillery life, but successful presumption of power-per-dollar. While the Zephyrus M16 does person a fewer advantages that volition beryllium important for some, the Zephyrus G15 is unambiguously amended worth for the bulk of shoppers. The M16 has a gorgeous chassis with a standout display, but it’s besides a real-world illustration of however acold down Intel presently is successful worth arsenic good arsenic efficiency.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 keyboard seen from above. I emotion this keyboard, though.

In summation to the surface and processor, the important differentiator betwixt the M16 and the G15 is price. There are 2 M16 models listed connected Asus’ website: my trial exemplary ($1,849.99) with a Core i9-11900H, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a QHD 165Hz display, and a $1,449 option with a Core i7-11800H, an RTX 3050 Ti, a 512GB SSD, and a 1920 x 1200 144Hz display. (The second 1 is benignant of an unusual configuration — 512GB truly isn’t a batch of retention for a gaming laptop, and the 3050 Ti isn’t going to instrumentality afloat vantage of a 144Hz surface connected a batch of titles.) A G15 with an RTX 3060 is significantly cheaper astatine $1,499 — though that exemplary lone has 512GB of storage, it besides has a much businesslike Ryzen 9 5900HS processor. For $1,849.99, you tin get a G15 with specs identical to this M16 exemplary but a much almighty RTX 3070.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 facing distant  from the camera, fractional  open. Bigger battery, bigger charger, amended screen, and amended chips than the erstwhile Zephyrus M15.

So the Intel-based M16 is already warring an uphill conflict erstwhile it comes to value. What does the other wealth get you? It’s mostly the screen.

If you’re looking for a QHD 165Hz show with a 16:10 facet ratio (which allows Asus to cram a 16-incher into a chassis that’s not overmuch bigger than astir 15-inch gaming laptops), the Zephyrus M16 is 1 of fewer places you’ll find it. Put this adjacent to the G15, and the main quality you’ll announcement is that wherever the G15 has a ample and disposable chin, the M16 conscionable has much screen. The bottommost bezel (at least, the portion that’s visible) is borderline nonexistent and gives you a noticeable magnitude of other country erstwhile scrolling a web leafage oregon speechmaking a document.

Vertical abstraction aside, though, the surface is besides phenomenal. It’s bright, maxing retired astatine 444 nits, and vivid, covering 100 percent of the sRGB gamut, 86 percent of Adobe RGB, and 98 percent of P3. It’s importantly brighter than the G15’s screen, and the quality does show. Games and images were gorgeous to look at, with crisp colors and details, and the matte texture eliminates each glare adjacent astatine debased levels of brightness.

The M16 besides has a flimsy vantage arsenic an Intel strategy successful that it tin enactment Thunderbolt 4. It has a Thunderbolt 4 larboard successful summation to a Type-C, a powerfulness port, an Ethernet jack, a headphone jack, an HDMI, and a USB-A larboard connected the near and a microSD slot, a fastener slot, and a USB-A connected the right. It’s a bully selection, though I privation the ports were much evenly distributed — 7 of the 10 are connected the near side.

The M16 has 1 different diagnostic that’s unsocial among the caller Zephyrus line: a webcam. Yes, determination is simply a webcam! Both the G15 and the G14 deficiency this feature, and I’m truly not definite wherefore — portion not everyone needs one, it would marque some laptops much charismatic purchases for anyone similar maine who’s often connected video calls. The M16’s 720p camera isn’t great, but it’s not terrible, and that’s saying a batch for a laptop webcam. I was reasonably wide connected Zoom calls, and the noise-canceling microphones did a good occupation of picking up my dependable arsenic well.

But the M16 doesn’t clasp up to its AMD counterpart successful astir different areas — and unfortunately, gaming is 1 of them.

The M16 averaged 236fps connected CS:GO, meaning it volition instrumentality afloat vantage of the 165Hz surface connected easier esports titles. But it had much occupation connected AAA games. It averaged 46fps connected Red Dead Redemption 2’s Ultra preset (55fps with DLSS connected “Quality,” 48fps successful 1440p) and 42fps with each sliders maxed. On Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s highest preset, the M16 averaged 38fps with ray tracing connected Ultra (46fps with DLSS on, 40fps successful 1440p) and 63fps with ray tracing disconnected (68fps successful 1440p).

Those results look tenable — until you comparison them to the G15. The AMD-powered instrumentality that we tested is the exact aforesaid price arsenic this M16 unit, but it has a GeForce RTX 3070. That’s technically lone 1 measurement up from the RTX 3060, but these numbers exemplify however large that measurement is. The G15 (at 2560 x 1440) got 58fps on Red Dead connected Ultra, 61fps connected Tomb Raider with ray tracing on, and 81fps connected Tomb Raider with ray tracing off. That’s a dependable drubbing from an identically priced unit.

In fact, these results are person to those we saw from the G14 (which has the aforesaid GPU arsenic this M16 exemplary but successful a overmuch smaller chassis). The M16 is beating that exemplary by less than 10fps connected some Red Dead and Tomb Raider. (That instrumentality besides isn’t the champion worth — with conscionable a 120Hz display, it’s presently going for $50 little than this M16.) Overall, I don’t spot overmuch crushed to bargain the M16 implicit the G15 that’s precisely the aforesaid price.

Battery beingness didn’t assistance the M16’s case. The G15 and the G14 some fundamentally ne'er die, but I was averaging conscionable nether six and a fractional hours from utilizing the M16 arsenic my regular enactment operator with the surface astir 200 nits of brightness. That’s a mates hours shorter than what I averaged connected the G15 and lone a spot much than what we saw from the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which has the aforesaid GPU but a overmuch smaller battery. Intra-Asus comparisons aside, six hours isn’t a large effect for a laptop that’s expected to beryllium capable to treble arsenic a superior operator erstwhile needed (which is the superior payment of the 16:10 screen).

Battery gaming wasn’t overmuch better. I lone got 57 minutes of Red Dead play retired of 1 charge, wherever I got an hr and 21 minutes retired of the G15. The acquisition wasn’t large either: the crippled began stuttering astir 22 minutes successful and became unplayable (with crackling and distorted audio) astatine 42 minutes successful with 20 percent remaining. The M16’s artillery is the aforesaid size arsenic the G15’s (90Wh) and it has a weaker GPU, truthful this looks similar it’s connected Intel.

Charging was besides a spot slow. The 240W charger took 50 minutes to foodstuff the instrumentality up to 60 percent with airy Chrome use. (The M16 besides supports 100W Type-C charging, but that volition beryllium adjacent slower.)

Raw show isn’t the lone spot wherever the M16 struggled to support up. The cooling strategy is besides precise large — adjacent among gaming laptops. The G15’s fans ne'er drowned retired my games’ audio, but I truly struggled to perceive the speakers implicit the M16’s noise. They were besides beauteous obtrusive, adjacent erstwhile I was conscionable moving successful Chrome. You’ll privation to crook connected Silent mode if you’re not gaming. (To Asus’ credit, the fans were effectual — I seldom saw the CPU walk 80 degrees Celsius, and it was often successful the mid-70s oregon precocious 60s during benchmark runs.)

It didn’t assistance that the M16’s speakers (two tweeters and 2 force-canceling woofers) aren’t ace loud. Vocals were wide and songs well-balanced, but they didn’t capable my workplace apartment, and I sometimes recovered myself having to thin guardant to perceive portion I was trying to ticker YouTube videos, adjacent with measurement maxed out. You tin usage Dolby Access to leap betwixt equalizer presets for gaming, movies, music, and dependable calls — the gaming and movies profiles dependable a spot tinny connected these speakers.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 open, seen from the close    side. New Arc Flow fans person 84 blades arsenic bladed arsenic 0.2mm.

Everything other astir the M16 is modular Zephyrus stuff. It’s the nonstop aforesaid value and astir the aforesaid thickness arsenic the G15, astatine 4.19 pounds and 0.75 inches — portable arsenic 15-inch gaming rigs go. It’s got the acquainted dot matrix covering its lid and Asus’ signature ErgoLift hinge that folds beneath the surface and raises the keyboard up somewhat (hiding overmuch of the bottommost bezel).

The keyboard is great, and the touchpad is massive, with a creaseless aboveground and a precise casual click. I did occasionally person palm-rejection issues — the cursor jumped beauteous overmuch whenever my thenar deed the touchpad. This got bothersome capable that I ended up turning disconnected touchpad input erstwhile I was playing games with outer peripherals. But overall, it’s an fantabulous chassis that’s sturdy and sleek.

In a vacuum, there’s thing peculiarly objectionable astir the Zephyrus M16. The exceptional 16:10 show and the, well, beingness of a webcam are large additions — and they marque the M16 much pragmatic arsenic a superior enactment operator than different gaming laptops successful its class. The summation of Thunderbolt and Intel-specific features similar Quick Sync volition beryllium icing connected the barroom for originative professionals who won’t beryllium capable to find those benefits successful an AMD system.

However, the M16 is inactive a Zephyrus. It’s not intended to beryllium a superior enactment operator oregon for coffee-shop creatives; it is, archetypal and foremost, a gaming laptop. And it’s excessively costly for its performance. It provides a weaker GPU, worse artillery life, and a importantly worse battery-gaming acquisition than comparably priced AMD systems. You’re paying for this webcam and unthinkable surface not lone with other wealth but besides with framework rates.

That doesn’t mean there’s nary assemblage for the M16. The screen, the upgraded ports, and the webcam aren’t trivial bonuses. The M16 isn’t a atrocious laptop, but astir gamers volition beryllium happier with the G15 — and I privation Asus would enactment this surface and this webcam connected that product.

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