Monday, 20 August 2018 01:37

LAUNCH VIDEO: New Asus ROG 2018 gaming laptop Zephyrus S (GX531) is thinner, faster and bigger yet smaller

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Proudly boasting of the world's thinnest gaming laptop with ultrafast 144Hz 15.6-inch display in a 14.2-inch chassis and powerful NVIDIA graphics choices, the Zephyrus S is also joined by its bigger brother, the Strix Scar II with 17.3-inch screen in a 15.7-inch body that's less than 400mm wide.

Republic of Gamers is the ASUS sub-brand "dedicated to creating the world’s best gaming hardware and software", with over a decade in operation and spanning gaming-class motherboards, graphics cards, laptops, desktops, monitors, audio equipment, routers and peripherals. 

Asus has unveiled two brand new ROG laptops with some significant enhancements designed to take the Asus ROG gaming line to the next level of portable gaming power, with this article focusing on the Zephyrus S (GX531), with all the details about the new 17.3-inch Strix SCAR II (GL704) here.

Let's start with the Zephyrus S (GX531), which is dubbed the "world’s thinnest gaming laptop powered by latest Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, with a 144Hz display and Windows 10 Pro" - although there are two models in the series, which you'll see in the specs below. 

Its key points are as follows:

  • World’s slimmest gaming laptop: 14.95~15.75mm thin with Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q or GTX 1060 GPU.
  • Powerful visuals on a super-narrow-bezel display: 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time enables super-smooth gaming with blur-free graphics.
  • Patented ROG Active Aerodynamic System (AAS): Optimum cooling with innovative venting and 83-blade fans for peak performance in ultraslim design.

Here's the full launch video with Q&A session of the two new Asus ROG gaming series models, with plenty more to see and read below:



So, at the aforementioned world-beating thinness of 14.95~15.75mm, Asus is proud that its Zephyrus S is "12% slimmer than the original Zephyrus (GX501)".

As you'd expect, it has the latest 8th-gen "Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics", which, as Asus rightly points out, makes it "ideal for work or play".

Wonderful to see is the "super-narrow bezels" which, as if by magic, are able to "squeeze a 15.6-inch display, with a 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time", into a 14.2-inch chassis! It's not quite like the Dr Who Tardis but it's nevertheless great to see bigger and smaller can be achieved at the same time and for both to be of definite benefit to end users.

In addition, it's has an all-metal chassis that is "strong enough to meet military-grade durability standards without compromising on design, with sleek lines and a premium finish".

Of course there's more: you also get "an advanced cooling system" which "ensures optimal performance of all components, incorporating the proprietary Active Aerodynamic System – a design and engineering hallmark of the Zephyrus series".

So, what's more detail on this "all-metal chassis" which "combines design with function" – and all the other features and benefits?

Here, Asus shares that "one of the biggest challenges with creating such a thin laptop is making sure that the chassis strikes the best balance between strength and weight: Zephyrus S uses a mix of aluminium and magnesium alloys in its construction to achieve this balance.

"Each lid is meticulously machined from a solid block of aluminium. This precise CNC-milling process takes five tooling stages and nearly 72 minutes to carve out all the intricate details that ensure a perfect fit, creating a lid that is remarkably rigid, yet slim. It also helps the Zephyrus S casing remain durable: engineering samples have already met military-grade durability standards for jolts and vibration.

"Contrasting finishes accentuate the lid design: two-stage anodising accents the stealthy surfaces with copper highlights, while a surgical slash separates competing textures. Similar lines cut across the area above the keyboard, giving Zephyrus S a distinctive style. Scissor-door hinges keep a low profile until the laptop is opened, exposing the display and opening Zephyrus’ unique air intake."

A video of this mechanism closing is embedded below following Asus' description of how it all works.

Powerful visuals achieved with a super-narrow-bezel display

For this exciting development, Asus explains how the "Super-narrow bezels allow the 15.6-inch display to be squeezed into a 14.2-inch chassis. This reduces the entire footprint, allowing the Zephyrus S to fit into tighter spaces than its predecessor. In addition, the slimmer bezels create a more immersive gaming experience.

"Since the original Zephyrus, ASUS has worked closely with panel maker AUO to ensure ROG laptops have the very best displays for gaming. The 120Hz panel on the initial version doubled the refresh rate of conventional displays, while Zephyrus S pushes the refresh rate to 144Hz, and reduces blurring and ghosting by lowering the response time to 3ms.

"Built for more than just speed, the IPS-type AHVA panel also has excellent image quality. It covers 100% of the sRGB colour gamut, ensuring richness of colour, and wide viewing angles keep the picture from washing out when viewed in split screen."

You can see more about this bigger screen in a smaller chassis in the first video embedded above.

Proprietary cooling to ensure optimal performance

Asus explains that "cooling the critical components that comprise Zephyrus S is a difficult engineering feat due to the ultrathin design, but it's imperative to ensure peak performance".

"Because of this, ASUS and ROG thermal engineers developed the innovative Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) for the original Zephyrus. When the lid of the laptop is lifted, a special vent opens underneath the chassis to let the laptop draw in more cool air.

"Similarly, the AAS intake measures 5mm on Zephyrus S, stretching across the entire back of the body to improve airflow by 22% compared to traditional designs. Additional airflow comes in from through the keyboard, and the keyboard’s forward layout makes more room for additional cooling throughout the system."

You can see the very short video I took of this air-intake mechanism directly below, as well as in the first video embedded above, after which there's plenty more info:

"Within the chassis", continues Asus, "the Zephyrus S contains five heat pipes that pull heat away from the CPU and GPU, and also the VRM circuitry that feeds them power.

"The CPU and GPU connect to both shared and dedicated heatsinks to ensure efficient cooling for any workload, and the power components stay under 80°C to improve long-term reliability. Thermal energy is channeled along the pipes to four heatsinks and exhaust vents at the rear corners, twice as many as in the first Zephyrus.

"Keeping heatsinks free of dust and debris is key to preserving cooling performance, which is why the engineering team added self-cleaning fans to eject particles from the system through anti-dust tunnels. This special feature prevents accumulation on the fins to ensure consistent cooling and improve long-term stability."

In the first video embedded above, you can see vision of how the dust separation mechanism actively works to eject dust from the system, rather than it up, with the dust expelled behind the machine.

"With 83 blades each, the dual 12V AeroAccelerator fans have 17% more blades than in the original Zephyrus. Airflow is also improved by the fan’s shaped aluminum shroud, which has curved edges and raised guides to help channel more air into the blades.

"Rotational speeds are determined by an intelligent algorithm tied to three profiles. Keyboard shortcuts allow users to switch between Overboost mode for maximum gaming performance, Silent mode for lower acoustics, and Balanced mode that maintains a level between the two".

Customisation with RGB lighting through Aura Sync

"Integrated RGB lighting lets gamers customise Zephyrus S to their preference, or match the mood of the game currently being played. Four independent zones illuminate the keyboard, and additional LEDs create a subtle glow inside the AAS vent.

"Aura Sync coordinates colours and effects with compatible peripherals like the ROG Delta headset and Gladius II Origin mouse, making it easy to personalise the entire setup with just a few clicks. Third-party applications can harness the lighting through the Aura SDK, and ROG is working with developers to incorporate support in games and applications."

Armoury Crate – the new unified control centre

Asus has improved its software, too, in that what was previously ROG Game Centre is now the "Armoury Crate".

We're told that this software "unifies ROG hardware with a single utility that makes essential functions easily accessible.

"System settings and Aura Sync lighting are easily adjusted on the fly, or a user can define preferences for both — with up to four profiles — that make adjustments automatically when the selected titles load. Armoury Crate comes with a companion Mobile Dashboard for Android™ and iOS, and more capabilities are due in future updates".

Keyboard-forward layout

"Although the keyboard-forward layout on Zephyrus S primarily benefits cooling, it also allows for a more comfortable desktop-like resting position. Overstroke technology fires earlier in the key travel for quicker responsiveness, and the longer post-actuation distance maximises the 1.2mm of travel to improve the overall typing feel.

"The durable switches are rated for 20 million presses, so they can withstand heavy use, and N-key rollover ensures each press registers precisely regardless of how many keys are mashed at once."

Asus explained that there is a palm rest included in the box, which is important because the video shows the trackpad is on the right hand side on the keyboard, rather than below where it is normally found. Given this is a gaming optimised laptop where most gamers will use an external mouse, this design decision ensures much better cooling for the chassis above the keyboard, which is important when you're trying to design a device that gives maximum performance for gamers gaming away to their heart's content.

Improved immersive audio

Here Asus explains that "Zephyrus S includes an upgraded sound system. Dual front-facing speakers embedded in the hinge cover are powered by smart-amplifier technology that keeps the speakers within thermal and excursion limits, so volume can reach higher limits without distorting the output or damaging the cones.

"Sonic Studio III adds virtual surround-sound for deeper immersion with stereo headsets, and it features a new APO injection capability that extends speaker virtualisation to a wider range of gear, including standard analog headphones along with USB headsets, external DACs, and VR devices."

Storage and connectivity

"The Intel Core i7-8750H CPU in Zephyrus S is backed by fast DDR4 2666MHz memory and NVMe® storage, while 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi connects to compatible wireless networks at greater-than-gigabit speeds.

"USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (USB-C) and full-size HDMI 2.0 ports support desktop monitors and big-screen TVs, allowing users to connect dual auxiliary displays.

"More USB ports are ready for essential gaming peripherals and ubiquitous external storage, and there’s a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port offering additional bandwidth for compatible devices."

A powerful system, ideal for work or play

Finally, Zephyrus S is "capable of heavy workloads in the same way it handles exhaustive gameplay. The latest 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H processor offers six cores and 12 threads of parallel processing power that can easily handle demanding work like compiling, rendering, and content creation.

"The extra cores also provide headroom for multitasking allowing for a mix of gaming with live-streaming, recording, and other tasks. GeForce 10-series graphics — up to the GTX 1070 with Max-Q Design — boost performance in apps that support GPU acceleration.

"More importantly, the discrete graphics chip is capable of pumping out triple-digit frame rates in popular games, allowing for optimal use of the display."

Asus didn't have any information on whether AMD Ryzen processors might ever find their way into ROG laptops.

No Australian pricing is available yet for the Asus ROG Zephyrus S (GX531), but we'll have an update when that information goes live when the two laptops go on sale in Australia from late October.

SPECIFICATIONS

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX531)
Available in two models, the GX531GS and GX531GM - details of the differences below

Operating System:
Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro - ASUS recommends Windows 10 Pro

Processor
Intel Core i7-8750H

Graphics
GX531GS: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Max-Q) with 8GB GDDR5 VRAM
GX531GM: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5 VRAM

Memory - DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM
GX531GS: Up to 16 GB (8 GB on board memory)
GX531GM: Up to 24 GB (8 GB on board memory)

SSD
GX531GS: M.2 NVMe PCIE 3.0 x2 512GB SSD
GX531GM: M.2 NVMe PCIE 3.0 x4 256GB / 512GB / 1TB SSD

Display
15.6-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS-level panel, 144Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB

VR Ready
Yes

Keyboard
Backlit Chiclet Keyboard
Marked WASD keys
N-key rollover
RGB – 4 zones
Aura Sync
1.2mm key travel

Audio
2x 2W speakers with smart amplifier technology
Array microphone

Software
Armoury Crate
GameFirst V
Splendid
Sonic Studio
Aura Core
XSplit Gamecaster (Free)

I/O Ports
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (USB-C)
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (USB-C)
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
2 x USB 2.0 Type-A
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1 x Kensington Lock

Power
GX531GS: 230W Power adaptor
GX531GM: 180W Power adaptor

Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
802.11ac 2x2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0

Dimensions
360 x 268 x 14.95~15.75mm

Weight
2.1kg

The writer attended the Asus ROG gaming laptop launch in Taiwan as a guest of Asus. 

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