The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 is an all-metal laptop with a unique design and Nvidia’s new Max-Q technology. It’s a high-performance gaming laptop that measures 14.18-inches long and weighs 4.65 pounds. We’ll start off with its design. The Zephyrus looks very much like the popular ROG Zephyrus M, which is already available in the form of an earlier version of the Zephyrus M. There are some minor changes to the design, but they’re very subtle.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 is the company’s latest gaming notebook with an ultra-thin bezel. The company is launching the Zephyrus M series on Oct 1st. We have been using one of the “Zephyrus” devices – ROG Zephyrus M (11.6″) – for the past month and here is our full review.
Most people really don’t think about the difference between a laptop and a tablet. They buy the cheap model because it’s affordable and they want to be able to watch movies and play games on the go. But what would happen if you could buy one of the best laptop in the market that also has a tablet that acts as a tablet, a laptop and a gaming console? This is the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 that we are going to review today.
A few weeks ago I previewed the Asus Zephyrus M16 GU603 series. In the meantime, I spent some time with the final enclosure for a review and was able to fill in the blanks regarding performance, temperature, noise, battery life and all the other things you need to know before deciding whether or not this enclosure is right for you. I’m sure most of you already know what an M16 is, but I’ll repeat it for those who don’t. It’s a powerful, thin and light laptop with great inputs and sound, a great 16-inch 16:10 display and powerful specs for a laptop this size. It is an Intel exclusive and an alternative to the AMD powered Zephyrus G15. So it’s all about Intel Tiger Lake Core i7 or i9 processors, coupled with graphics up to and including the RTX 3070 laptop, in a more energy-efficient variant designed for portable formats. That said, it’s not necessarily the most compact or lightest camera in its class, nor is it the best in terms of build quality, but it’s more of a solid mid-range camera priced lower than the competition with the aforementioned strengths. That’s part of the reason Asus decided not to offer a 3080 configuration here, but rather with RTX 3050/3060/3070 graphics and different CPU and display options to satisfy a wider range of potential buyers. So, is this purchase for you? That may be true, but not without some quirks. Continue this test and eventually you will find out where it shines and where it can be improved, and how it compares to other solutions.
Specifications – ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603
|2021 ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603HR|
|View||16, 16:10, non-touch, matt, AU Optronics B160QAN02.Q WQHD IPS panel 2560 x 1600 px, 165Hz 3ms with 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB, with AdaptiveSync|
|Processor||Intel Tiger Lake, Core i9-11900H (8C/16T)|
|Video||Intel laptop + Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 8GB (80W, up to 100W with Dyn Boost) in 603HR|
|Memory||32GB DDR4 3200 (16GB onboard, 1x DIMM, up to 48GB)|
|Storage||1TB NVMe SSD (2 x4 M.2 PCI slots)|
|Link||WiFi 6 (Intel AX200) 2×2 with Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8168/8111)|
|Ports||2 x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.0b, microSD card reader, LAN, headphone and microphone, slot|
|Battery||90Wh, 240W power supply + USB-C charging up to 100W|
|Size||355 mm or 13.98 (W) x 243 mm or 9.57″ (D) x 19.9 mm or .78 (H).|
|Weight||2.03 kg (4.47 lb), .71 kg (1.56 lb) Power supply block and cable, EU version|
|Extras||One zone RGB backlit keyboard, 6x speakers, HD webcam, finger sensor in power button.|
Design, construction and ergonomics
As mentioned earlier, the M16 is based on the same chassis as the G15 we’ve already reviewed here on the site, with only minor differences in design and IO: Available in black or white, the M16 features Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 16:10 screen with a smaller bottom bezel, and a higher rubber base at the bottom that allows the laptop to sit at a slightly more angled and higher angle by default, while fans provide cooler airflow. Our test model is the black variant, which I think looks nice and professional out of the box, but gets dirty very easily, both on the lid and inside, especially since Asus uses a slightly softer, rubberized armrest on this series. Therefore, you should clean it often. This coating is different from those I’ve seen on previous Asus laptops, and while it seems to be fairly durable and scratch resistant, I can’t tell how it ages, especially around the edges or ports where such coatings tend to fade, based on our experience with other rubber coated products. Time will tell… The dimensions of the M16 are identical to those of the G15. In fact, they share common design elements, including a common housing and cover, inputs, I/O and internal circuitry. In this article you will find some pictures of these two devices next to each other. The overall aesthetic is also similar on both devices: a bold lid design and a reflective prismatic layer that shimmers interestingly in the light, discreet branding elements, and a spacious interior with a wide armrest, a centered keyboard, a large glass touchpad, and speaker grilles on the sides. Like the G15, the M16 has 6 speakers, 4 of which come out of the cutouts around the keyboard and another two on the bottom. There is also a backlit power button with a built-in finger sensor. The layout of the I/O ports is also identical to that of the G15: Most of the ports are on the left side, all the way to the front, and only the microSD card reader and USB-A port are on the right. New is Thunderbolt 4 support, which is to be expected since this M16 is built on the Intel platform, but the location of the USB-C ports on the front of this laptop does limit the convenience a bit when connecting peripherals. Still no support for HDMI 2.1, only HDMI 2.0b because the HDMI port is still connected via the iGPU. The 16:10 screen is probably what will work most in the Zephyrus’ favor. The dimensions are 16 inches, which is slightly larger than the standard 15 inch 16:9 screens that most other laptops have, which is ideal for productivity. And unlike the other ROG models of this generation, Asus has also bothered to place a camera on the top edge of this Zephyrus M16. Normally, I’d be blown away by the lower bezel and excellent screen-to-body ratio that looks so good in the photos, but this product isn’t so easy to handle for two reasons. First, Asus has added larger status LEDs to this series, which now light up on the M16’s screen, as there is no longer a thick bezel at the bottom like there is on the G15. It’s annoying when watching movies in a dark room, and I would look for a way to hide those status LEDs or turn them off if possible (will be discussed later). Another problematic consequence of the narrow bottom is the way Asus designed the thermal module for this series. The M16 features an Ergolift hinge that lifts the body of the laptop onto small rubber feet for better airflow at the bottom. However, this means that all hot air is exhausted through the vents between the case and the main screen, which in this case means that the air goes directly into the screen. Asus has added some plastic fins to the top of the heatsinks to direct hot airflow upwards and to the sides, but in practice it doesn’t make much difference, and the actual matte panel on this product reaches dangerously high temperatures in games and under heavy load, as you’ll see in the next section. Overall, the Zephyrus M16 is a decent product for its mid-range ultraportable, but I’m not a fan of the Ergolift form factor in this type of laptop. The result is that all the hot air is blown onto the screen, rather than backwards and away from the user, as with the more standard designs that Asus has used successfully in the past, the 2020 Zephyrus M15 and S15, but for some reason has decided to move away from them. The Zephyrus M16 also feels a bit cheap compared to previous generations, as the lower D panel always creaks and squeaks when you pick up the laptop or even put your hands on the armrest, which is hard to tolerate at this level. I hope Asus returns to the traditional design in future updates, or perhaps continues the 2021 Zephryus S17 design in a more compact and lighter chassis, because I think it’s the best design yet for a powerful, thin and light product.
Keyboard and touch pad
The Zephyrus M16 takes the rough features of the G15 series and improves the feel of the keys by making them a little softer and rubberier. Overall, these are some of the best keyboard and touchpad combinations currently available for Windows laptops. The layout is standard and minimalistic, without a NumPad or even a column of extra function keys on the right side, as is the case with the Asus Zephyrus M15/S15 models. Indeed, the space around the keyboard is reserved for the speakers of this series. However, there is a set of media keys in the upper left corner, and the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys are combined as auxiliary keys with the arrow keys. By the way, there is no dedicated PrintScreen key in this layout, but there is an F6 key to quickly switch to Windows. In terms of typing comfort, there is almost nothing to complain about as this is one of my favorite laptop keyboards. It’s a rubber dome version, so quiet and fast, and somehow the feedback is a bit more resilient, and the handling quieter than the 2021 G15 I tested earlier this year. It’s actually a slightly different keyboard, as it has RGB backlighting. It’s a single-zone RGB lighting, like the 2020 M15, rather than the pro-key option of the 2020 S15, but all the keys are evenly lit and very little light comes from under the caps. But they’re pretty weak. Still, with all these updates and improved feedback, I feel like this keyboard is a step up from the already excellent 2021 Zephyrus G15 keyboard. The touchpad is identical to that of the G15 and is almost flawless: a large, smooth glass surface that’s perfect for tracking, swiping, and gesturing. It also doesn’t rattle when pressed, unlike other large keyboards, and the physical clicks are quiet and smooth. Well done! As for biometrics, I already mentioned that there is a finger sensor built into the power button, but there is still no IR camera.
Earlier this year I raved about the QHD displays Asus put in the Zephyrus G15 and ROG Scar 15, and this screen is just as good, but bigger: a 16-inch panel with 2560 x 1600 px WQHD resolution, 400+ nits brightness, 1000:1+ contrast ratio, and ~100% DCI-P3 color gamut. It also has a 165Hz refresh rate and fast response time, making it a suitable option for gamers. In fact, it’s just a great panel for just about everything from everyday use to streaming video, gaming and creative work. This is what we got when we tested this QHD display with the X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- The material designation of the panel : AU Optronics AUOC199 (B160QAN02.Q) ;
- Coverage: 99.8% sRGB, 85.4% AdobeRGB, 98.8% DCI-P3 ;
- Measured Gamma : 2.17 ;
- Maximum luminance at the center of the screen: 437.64 cd/m2 when turned on ;
- Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 23.39 cd/m2 at startup;
- Contrast at maximum brightness : 1025:1 ;
- Period: 6600 K ;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.42 cd/m2 ;
- PWM: No.
- Answer: TBD.
The panel comes pre-calibrated, with Pantone certification, and there’s not much to improve on the standard profile. We also measured good uniformity on our sample and very little light glare, but we did get some color imbalance in the upper right corner, which likely varies by device. Therefore, please check the equipment upon receipt for any problems. FHD panel options might also be available for some of the low-end M16 configurations, and we hope Asus doesn’t skimp on the washed-out version they offer for some of their series. This is something to keep an eye on in the future, when such configurations become available.
Equipment and power
My evaluation unit is the high-end ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 configuration, codenamed GU603HR, which is equipped with an Intel Core i9-11900H 8C/16T processor, 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory, a fast 1TB SSD, and a dual graphics card : Nvidia RTX 3070 dGPU with 8 GB vRAM and Iris Xe integrated into the Intel processor. Before we go any further, we should keep in mind that our test unit was supplied by Asus and is an early pre-production copy (identical to the retail units, that is) with software that was available in early June 2021 (BIOS 305, Armoury Crate 22.214.171.124, GeForce 466.63 drivers). Some aspects may change due to future software improvements. In terms of specifications, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 2021 is based on the latest Intel Core H and Nvidia RTX 3000 hardware, which will be available in mid-2021. Up front is the Core i9-11900H processor, one of the best mobile processors for ultraportables in this Tiger Lake H 11. Generation, with 8C/16T, clock speeds up to 4.9GHz and an estimated TDP of 45W. Asus offers different power profiles in the Armoury Crate Management app that allows you to juggle continuous power, temperature and noise level limits as needed. As you’ll learn in this article, the Core i9 processor offers higher sustained performance in most profiles. Enhanced IPC, faster memory support, integrated Thunderbolt 4, and PCIe gen4 drive support are just some of the additional benefits this 11th generation Intel M16 also enjoys. As for GPUs, the M16 series is based on 80W variants of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060/3070 graphics chips, which are Max-Q variants, but overclocked with ROG Boost in the Turbo profile and capable of reaching 100W with Dynamic Boost 2.0 in supported games. Dynamic Boost 2.0 is a technology that redistributes up to 20 watts of CPU power to the GPU when needed, affecting many games and applications in use. The 3050Ti Zephyrus M16 GU603HE configurations will also be available at a later date. However, it’s important to understand that in this series you’re getting limited-power versions of the RTX 3000 chips, and not the same ones available in the ROG Strix and Strix Scar models. This is no surprise, as the Zephyrus M16, like the G15, has a sleeker and more compact design. In terms of RAM and storage options, the laptop comes with either 8 or 16GB of RAM already soldered into the chassis, and an available DIMM. Our device had 16 GB on board and 16 GB DIMMs for a total of 32 GB DDR4-3200 in dual channel mode. For storage, our unit is equipped with a very fast Samsung PCIe x4 gen4 drive that outperforms the SK Hynix drive in the G15, and there are two M.2 slots inside if you want to add another. We didn’t notice any temperature or performance drops during long file transfers, but keep in mind that SSD bundling may vary by region. Access to the components is fairly simple: just lift the rear panel, which is held in place by a pair of Phillips screws. Beware, they are of different sizes, and three of them, in the middle of the notebook, are hidden behind rubber caps. Inside are an SSD and RAM slot, a thermal module, a 90W battery and an audio system. Everything is packed close together to make efficient use of the limited space. In addition to the specifications, Asus offers four performance profiles for the ROG Zephrys M16 GU603:
- Quiet – fairly loud fan and limited CPU/GPU speed and performance;
- Performance – balanced profile with basic CPU/GPU settings, fan with medium noise – GPU running at 80-100W and basic clock speeds ;
- Turbo – High performance profile with improved processor power distribution, faster fan rotation and overclocked GPU (80-100W, +100MHz core/+120MHz memory).
- Manual – allows you to set CPU power and GPU power/frequency and create manual fan profiles based on temperature limits.
Turbo/Manual is only available when the laptop is connected to the network and is intended for gaming and other demanding workloads. Performance is theoretically versatile, while silence is excellent for light daily use, but can also handle demanding workloads if you want to keep fan noise at bay. You can also power your laptop via USB-C. In this case, it can be used in performance mode without draining the battery, but with loss of power under demanding combined loads. This is what you can expect in terms of performance and temperature for everyday multitasking, web browsing and video.
Performance tests and benchmarks
To move on to more demanding loads, we begin testing CPU performance by running the Cinebench R15 test over 15 times per cycle, with a 1-2 second delay between each run. The i9-11900H processor stabilizes at 70+W in Turbo mode, which equates to 3.8+GHz, temperatures around 80 degrees Celsius, a score of just under 2000, and fans running at 50-51dB noise level at head height. During the first few cycles the processor runs at even higher clock frequencies, after that it has a constant power output of about 70W. It’s a solid unit, but the fans run noisily. Asus gives you the option to lower the CPU voltage in the BIOS and unblock the XTU support. Our system was stable at -80 mV, which resulted in a slightly higher sustained load and a ~5% increase in results, which averaged about 2100 points. Switching to the performance profile results in smoother operation and slightly quieter fans that stabilize at around 46 dB at the head. The processor still runs at a constant power of about 70 W, but the fluctuations are greater than in the turbo profile, as the processor sometimes peaks above 90 C and the system shuts off power for a fraction of a second. This behavior is different from what we have documented on other Asus laptops in terms of performance, and will likely be refined in future software updates. In silent mode, the CPU quickly stabilizes at 28-30W with barely audible fans (less than 35dB) and temperatures around 60 degrees Celsius. It gets about 1300 points, which is about 65% of what the system is capable of in Turbo mode. Finally, the CPU runs at ~45W from the battery in the Performance profile, with 41+ dB fans, but somehow with less power than in the Quiet profile, despite a higher power allocation to the CPU. For more information on all these profiles and scenarios, see the logs below. To put these results in perspective, here is the performance of this 11th generation i9-11900H processor. The 8C/16T is a third-generation version that compares favorably with other 8C/16T variants available in several other notebooks. In this test, the 11900H performs much better than previous generation Intel i7/i9 8C processors, even those that can run at higher sustained power. It’s also surprisingly competitive with this generation of 2021 Ryzen 9 5900 HS/HX processors, outperforming them for the first few cycles, but then losing 2-4% in sustained performance. In this test, the Zephyrus M16 is noisier than other laptops we’ve tested in the past, but the CPU also drops to the 80% range at lower temperatures, not the 90% range we’ve seen on Ryzen 9 models like the Zephyrus G15 and G14. We then checked our results with the more demanding Cinebench R23 grind test and the dreaded Prime 95 on the Turbo profile. We also ran combined CPU+GPU stress tests with this laptop. 3DMark Stress runs the same test 20 times per cycle and looks at performance over time, and this unit passed it perfectly, with consistent performance as it warms up. These stress tests demonstrate the high quality of the Zephyrus M16’s design, with excellent sustained performance under CPU and CPU+GPU loads. Internal temperatures seem good so far, and if I have to complain, I’ll just mention that the turbo fans on this Zephyrus are louder than other portable alternatives tested in the past. Either way, 50+ dB is still good for the power and consistency offered here. Then we ran the full set of tests and benchmarks, with the base Turbo profile in Armoury Crate and FHD resolution. This is important for consistency between different laptops tested, as 3DMark tends to show slightly different results for the same tests in FHD, QHD and 4K. So that’s FHD, and below we’ll add some QHD measurements.
- 3DMark 13 – Firestrike: 21949 (Graphics – 25067, Physics – 25916, Combined – 10150) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 5853 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 9740 (Graphics – 9626, CPU – 10447);
- Uniengine Overlay – 1080p Extreme: 6320 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Medium 1080p : 18722 ;
- Handbrake 1.3.3 (encoding 4K to 1080p): 50.21 fps on average ;
- PassMark 10 : Rating: 4290 (processor brand: 24894, 3D graphics brand: 16008, hard drive brand: 44334) ;
- PCMark 10 : 7245 (Fundamentals – 10868, Productivity – 9167, Digital content creation – 10360) ;
- GeekBench 5.33.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1622, multi-core: 9459 ;
- CineBench R15 (best execution): CPU 2240 cb, Single Core CPU 238 cb ;
- CineBench R20 (best execution): CPU 5333 cb, Single Core CPU 592 cb ;
- CineBench R23 (best execution): CPU 13865 cb, Single Core CPU 1582 cb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 27.38 sec.
These are excellent results and very competitive with the Zephyrus G15 laptop (Ryzen 9 5900HS + RTX 3080 80+W), which ends up winning some GPU tests, especially RTX, but is mostly on par or even below the M16 in CPU tests. Here are some figures on the QHD resolution of the Zephyrus M16, as well as the two Zephyrus G15 configurations we’ve tested in the past.
|QHD resolution test beds||M16 GU603HR – Ryzen 9 + RTX 3080 Laptop||G15 GA503QS – Ryzen 9 + RTX 3080 Laptop||G15 GA503QS – Ryzen 9 + RTX 3070 Laptop|
|3DMark 13 – Firestorm||21699 (Graphics – 24795, Physics – 25041, Combined – 10157)||21377 (Graphics – 23832, Physics – 24609, Combined – 10856)||20246 (Graphics – 22401, Physics – 23350, Combined – 10541)|
|3DMark 13 – Port Royal||5841||6307||5792|
|3DMark 13 – The Time Spy||9682 (Graphics – 9611, Processor – 10111)||9941 (Graphics – 10041, Processor – 9410)||9470 (Graphics – 9643, Processor – 8597)|
|CineBench R15 (best result)||CPU 2240 cb, Single Core CPU 238 cb||CPU 2205 cb, Single Core CPU 239 cb||CPU 2193 cb, Single Core CPU 231 cb|
|CineBench R23 (best execution)||CPU 13865 cb, Single Core CPU 1582 cb||CPU 13088 cb, Single Core CPU 1462 cb||CPU 12983 cb, Single Core CPU 1437 cb|
It’s even competitive with the full Ryzen 9 5900HX + RTX 3080 Laptop 115W+ based ROG Strix Scar 15, which also does slightly worse in CPU tests, but gains 7-20% in GPU tests. In fairness, I should add that the Scar 15 is significantly quieter in turbo mode – 44+ dB at the head. Not anymore, because one of the features of the Intel-based Zephyrus is the ability to lower the CPU voltage in the BIOS to -80mV or higher via XTU (which must first be enabled in the BIOS). This is done with the -80 mV profile.
- 3DMark 13 – Firestrike: 21817 (Graphics – 25203, Physics – 24416, Combined – 10067) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 59083 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 9800 (Graphics – 9655, CPU – 10717);
- Uniengine Overlay – 1080p Extreme: 6317 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Medium 1080p : 18732 ;
- PCMark 10 : 7053 (Essentials – 10716, Productivity – 8687, Digital Content Creation – 10228) ;
- GeekBench 5.33.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1607, multi-core: 9554 ;
- CineBench R15 (best execution): CPU 2257 cb, Single Core CPU 236 cb ;
- CineBench R20 (best execution): CPU 5563 cb, Single Core CPU 606 cb ;
- CineBench R23 (best execution): CPU 14475 cb, Single Core CPU 1570 cb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 28.11 sec.
We see a slight increase in the CPU, both single and multi-core, and about the same results for the GPU. Note that dropping the voltage too aggressively can cause stability problems. To avoid these problems, I recommend using the more conservative -50mV voltage reduction, which proved perfectly stable on our test unit and which we used for the playtests we discuss below. Given the high fan noise level in Turbo mode, we also ran some tests in the Quiet profile (+ CPU underpowered by -50mV) if you want to run demanding workloads at a quieter level (<39dB). Here’s what we got:
- 3DMark 13 – Firestrike: 13655 (Graphics – 13776, Physics – 18895, Combined – 9215) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 5810 (Graphics – 5444, CPU – 9403);
- Uniengine Overlay – Medium 1080p : 8151 ;
- PCMark 10 : 5955 (Fundamentals – 9241, Productivity – 8578, Digital content creation – 7229) ;
- GeekBench 5.3.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1508, multi-core: 8747 ;
- CineBench R20 (best execution): CPU 3851 cb, Single Core CPU 518 cb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 38.14 sec.
We still see modest results: up to 10% in single-core tests, but ~25% in multithreaded CPU tests, because the CPU runs less stable in Silent, which affects longer tests. In this mode, the GPU is significantly limited during extended workloads, so the GPU results are about 50-60% of what we got in Turbo mode. Finally, we also ran some workstation-related workloads on this Core i9 + RTX 3070 configuration in Turbo profile and with the default voltage settings:
- Blender 2.90 – BMW car scene – CPU calculation: 3m 15s (Turbo) ;
- Blender 2.90 – BMW car scene – GPU calculations: 36s (CUDA), 17s (Optix) ;
- Blender 2.90 – Classroom scene – CPU calculation: 8 m 51 s (Turbo) ;
- Blender 2.90 – class scene – GPU calculation: 2m 17s (CUDA), 1m 1s (Optix) ;
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: – ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax : 200.72 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Catia : 142.29 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo : 181.94 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy : 24.11 (Turbo);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 240.23 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medicine : 63.92 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase : 124.39 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX : 19.54 (Turbo);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW : 101.06 (Turbo).
And the SPECviewperf 2020 test:
- SPECviewerf 2020 – 3DSMax: 93.89 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Catia : 61.43 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Creo : 90.93 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Energy: 24.19 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Maya: 268.01 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Medicine: 29.57 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SNX: 19.46 (Turbo);
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SW : 184.92 (Turbo).
These results are again competitive with the RTX-3080 versions of the Zephyrus G15 and Strix Scar 15, with surprisingly almost no advantage in heavier GPU workloads like 3DSMax or Studioworks.
That’s right, let’s watch some games. We played several DX11, DX12 and Vulkan games with the default Turbo, Performance and Silent profiles at FHD, FHD+, QHD and QHD+ resolutions on both the laptop’s internal screen and an external monitor connected via DP to document the Optimus’ performance load. Whisper mode is enabled in GeForce Experience in silent mode. We included QHD+ because this is the native screen resolution and most of you will probably want to play your games in that resolution. We’ve also included FHD+, which you’ll need for some of the more demanding games or if you’re planning to turn on RTX, as well as FHD and QHD, so we can properly compare performance against other laptops with 16:9 aspect ratios. During all these tests, we lowered the processor’s voltage to -50 mV, which proved to be absolutely stable and caused no problems or hangs.
|Intel Core i9-11900H + RTX 3070 80+W laptop||FHD+ Turbo||FHD Turbo||FHD Turbo, external||FHD performance||FHD+ Without sound (WM on)||QHD+ Turbo||QHD Turbo||QHD Turbo, external|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)||121 fps (66 fps – 1% low)||124 fps (66 fps – 1% low)||127 frames per second (63 frames per second – 1% low)||116 frames per second (64 frames per second, 1% less)||60 frames per second (54 frames per second – 1% low)||95 fps (56 fps is 1% less)||101 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||103 fps (53 fps – 1% low)|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)||59 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% low)||62 fps (49 fps – 1% low)||62 fps (48 fps – 1% low)||55 fps (45 fps is 1% less)||34 fps (25 fps – 1% low)||41 fps (32 fps is 1% less)||42 fps (34 fps – 1% low)||44 fps (35 fps – 1% low)|
|Dota 2 (DX 11, best preset)||–||–||–||–||–||117 frames per second (96 frames per second, 1% less)||–||–|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||108 frames per second (81 frames per second, 1% less)||113 frames per second (81 frames per second – 1% low)||118 frames per second (92 frames per second – 1% low)||101 fps (79 fps – 1% low)||60 frames per second (58 frames per second, 1% less)||84 fps (70 fps – 1% low)||89 fps (75 fps is 1% low)||92 fps (72 fps – 1% low)|
|Metro Exodus (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX AUS)||65 frames per second (40 frames per second is 1% less)||67 frames per second (42 frames per second – 1% low)||62 fps (38 fps – 1% low)||60 frames per second (38 frames per second, 1% less)||–||51 fps (33 fps – 1% low)||54 fps (34 fps – 1% low)||50 frames per second (34 frames per second – 1% low)|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra-preset)||178 images per second (106 images per second – 1% low)||187 frames per second (112 frames per second – 1% low)||189 frames per second (98 frames per second – 1% low)||167 frames per second (101 frames per second – 1% low)||60 frames per second (58 frames per second, 1% less)||126 frames per second (78 frames per second – 1% low)||134 fps (83 fps – 1% low)||138 frames per second (101 frames per second – 1% low)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, Ultra-optimized, TAA)||96 frames per second (68 frames per second, 1% less)||99 frames per second (70 frames per second, 1% less)||101 fps (66 fps – 1% low)||89 images per second (62 images per second – 1% low)||60 frames per second (53 frames per second – 1% low)||72 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||76 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% low)||78 fps (55 fps is 1% less)|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, maximum preset, TAA)||95 frames per second (61 frames per second – 1% low)||97 frames per second (61 frames per second – 1% low)||103 fps (63 fps – 1% low)||90 frames per second (60 frames per second is 1% less)||59 frames per second (52 frames per second – 1% low)||78 frames per second (58 frames per second, 1% less)||82 fps (60 fps – 1% low)||82 fps (62 fps – 1% low)|
|Alien Brigade (Vulcan, Ultra preset)||174 fps (135 fps – 1% low)||177 fps (135 fps – 1% low)||178 frames per second (136 frames per second – 1% low)||164 fps (131 fps – 1% low)||105 frames per second (78 frames per second – 1% low)||129 frames per second (104 frames per second – 1% low)||134 frames per second (106 frames per second, 1% less)||134 frames per second (105 frames per second, 1% less)|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with fraps/in-game FPS meter in campaign mode ;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider – registered with benchmark programs included;
- Optimized profile of Red Dead Redemption 2 based on these settings.
The above tests are for rasterization only, but here are some results for RTX games.
|Intel Core i9-11900H + RTX 3070 80+W laptop||FHD+ Turbo||FHD Turbo||FHD performance||QHD+ Turbo||QHD Turbo|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF)||82 fps (58 fps – 1% low)||86 frames per second (59 frames per second, 1% less)||–||58 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% low)||60 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% low)|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, DLSS Auto)||54 fps (42 fps – 1% low)||56 frames per second (44 frames per second, 1% lower)||51 fps (41 fps, 1% less)||40 frames per second (32 frames per second is 1% less)||43 fps (33 fps – 1% low)|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, max preset, TAA, RTX Ultra)||64 fps (32 fps is 1% less)||65 frames per second (32 frames per second – 1% low)||61 fps (28 fps – 1% low)||47 frames per second (28 frames per second – 1% low)||49 frames per second (31 frames per second – 1% low)|
There are a lot of numbers here, so let’s put them in context. Then we will also talk about some comparisons.
Playing on turbo, power and rest
Let’s take a look at the performance logs showing CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Shadow of Mordor, Cyberpunk 2077 and Battlefield V on different profiles. Overall, performance is high and temperatures are correct in all games tested. Again, some games like SOTTR or Cyberpunk 2077 support Dyn Boost 2.0 and distribute power across the GPU, running up to 100W in Turbo mode. In this case, average CPU and GPU temperatures are in the mid to high 70s. Other games, like Far Cry 5 and Battlefield 5, don’t scale as well with Dyn Boost, especially at lower resolutions. In this case, the processor is running in the 80% range, which is still good. Here are the magazines and the resolution is FHD+. Like logs and QHD+ resolution, which require more power from the GPU and thus demand more power from the CPU. Lifting the laptop off the table has little or no effect on performance in Turbo mode. Nothing to worry about. Again, the force profile doesn’t seem to do much. The CPU/GPU runs at slightly lower power and frequencies, the GPU loses ROG Boost overclocking, and the fans are reduced from 50+ dB in Turbo mode to 47-48 dB in this mode. This can be further adjusted, I would prefer a noise floor of 44-45dB at this medium setting. Silent playback is possible with Silent mode, especially when Whisper mode is enabled. Fan speeds max out at 40dB and CPU/GPU temperatures don’t exceed 70C, but performance is limited to 60fps. It works for me, but probably not for everyone. Overall, the Zephyrus M16 operates a few degrees cooler than the Zephyrus G15 we tested a few months ago, but it’s also louder – 50+ dB at the head versus 48 dB for the G15. This may seem trivial, but noise is logarithmic and these extra dBs are noticeable.
Asus offers the ability to manually configure the CPU, GPU, and fan profiles on this laptop, and you can customize them to suit your needs: higher temperatures or lower noise levels. I didn’t have time to test, so I checked out what happens when you set the fans to maximum, in Cyberpunk 2077. In this case, they increase to about 53-54 dB at the head. However, this model does support Dyn Boost 2.0 and power saving between the CPU and GPU, so I don’t see any noticeable impact on performance or internal temperatures in this case. Further customization is also possible on this Intel-based Zephyrus M16 by overclocking or limiting the CPU in XTU once you enable Unlocked mode in the BIOS. Again, I haven’t had a chance to test it yet, but I might consider it in a future update if there is enough interest.
Operation on internal/external monitor
There is still no MUX switch on the Zephyrus M16, and the video signal is routed to the internal display via the iGPU. This reportedly reduces frame rates in some games, especially shooters with high frame rates in FHD resolution. This can be bypassed on the M16 by connecting an external monitor via DP through the Thunderbolt 4 port, which connects the Nvidia GPU directly to the display. I still see some fps gain at FHD resolution in our tests, but it’s much more limited than with the Zephyrus G15, in the 5-8% range at best. With QHD resolution, even this gain is rather insignificant. I turned on some logs while games were running on an external monitor, while the laptop was on the table and the main screen was off. And here are a few magazines with closed laptop covers mounted on a vertical stand that might interest some of you as well. We expect decent performance and good temperatures in both cases, especially in vertical mode when the rear fans have free access to cool air. Keep in mind that you can only comfortably place your laptop to the left of the screen, due to the location of the IO. It is best to buy a stand that allows you to stand at a distance from the desk so that the exhaust pipes are not hidden from view.
Gaming vs Zephyrus G15 (3070, 3080)
Finally, we want to show you how the Zephyrus M16 3070 version compares to the G15 3070 and 3080 configurations in games. It is important to remember that these are all 80W chips, and with Dyn Boost 2.0 up to 100W. I’ve only included the QHD results for direct comparison, though you’ll probably want to run games at QHD+ resolution on an M16 monitor with a 16:10 screen. These results were measured over different time periods and with different GeForce drivers, which may affect our conclusions somewhat.
|M16 with 3080 – QHD+||M16 with 3080 – QHD||G15 with 3080 – QHD||G15 with 3070 – QHD|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX AUS)1||95 fps (56 fps is 1% less)||101 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||92 fps (70 fps – 1% low)||85 frames per second|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF)||58 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% low)||60 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% low)||59 frames per second (42 frames per second – 1% low)||45 frames per second|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)||41 fps (32 fps is 1% less)||42 fps (34 fps – 1% low)||44 fps (35 fps – 1% low)||44 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX, DLSS Auto)||40 frames per second (32 frames per second is 1% less)||43 fps (33 fps – 1% low)||44 fps (37 fps – 1% low)||38 frames per second|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider: Path Home (DX 12, highest preset, TAA)||77 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% low)||82 fps (60 fps – 1% low)||78 fps (60 fps is 1% less)||–|
|Alien Brigade (Vulcan, Ultra preset)||129 frames per second (104 frames per second – 1% low)||134 frames per second (106 frames per second, 1% less)||130 frames per second (98 frames per second, 1% less)||–|
The RTX 3070 M16 performs well and again rivals the RTX 3080 G15 at similar resolutions. It wins in the grid tests and loses slightly in RTX. We will soon be doing a more detailed comparison of the M16 and G15 models in a separate article.
Noise, heat, communication, loudspeakers and other
The Zephyrus M16 thermal module is similar to the 2021 Zephyrus G15, with two powerful fans and plenty of heat pipes, as well as unobstructed vents on the bottom. This series also features high quality VRMs and liquid metal on the processor. Normal thermal paste is always used for the GPU. As we mentioned in the previous section, this cooling module does an excellent job of keeping the components of this Zephyrus M16 at the right temperature for both everyday use and intensive use and gaming. However, the fans make a lot of noise: 50+ dB in Turbo and 47-48 dB in Performance. I have nothing against turbo fans being noisy, but I would prefer a performance profile with a better balance of noise and temperature at 44-45 dB. To be fair, playing below 40 dB in the Silent profile is possible, but it comes with a significant loss of power, which is not to everyone’s taste. In the end, I’m happy with Turbo and Silent, but the performance fan profile could be tweaked. More importantly, you also have the ability to manually adjust the fans, and in max mode they can reach 52-53 dB at the head, but have virtually no effect on indoor or outdoor temperature. In contrast, the fans are inactive in the Silent profile of the base mode, where they are turned off until the CPU and GPU temperatures rise above 50 degrees C. They turn on when multitasking, but are barely audible in a normal room. This rather passive implementation does cause the M16 to get a little warm in daily case-level use, but I don’t mind that, and I actually prefer the approach where the fans are quiet. Daily use – EDGE Netflix streaming for 30 minutes, quiet profile, fan set to 0 dB (up to 33 dB for daily multitasking). The outside temperature rises under heavy load and play, as you can see in the pictures below, with different power and fan profiles. We see good temperatures around the arrow keys and WASD, due to the way the fans are placed inside, and high temperatures in the middle of the laptop, around the CPU/GPU. But what bothers me the most is the fact that the design of this laptop blows hot air into the screen. I’ve already contacted Asus about this and they claim that the screen is within the manufacturer’s recommended temperature thresholds, but I’m still not comfortable with these panel temperatures and fear that over time they could lead to pixel degradation. However, I was pleasantly surprised that since the M16 runs on internal heat, the panel rarely reached temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the most exposed areas near the radiators, and that’s better than I expected based on my previous experience with the Zephyrus G15, which reached temperatures of mid-60s on the lower plastic chin. *Game – Quiet – Play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, silent profile, fan on 36-38dB *Game – Performance – Play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fan on 47+dB *Game – Turbo, tabletop – Play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fan on 50+dB In terms of connectivity, the device features Wireless 6 and Bluetooth 5 via the Intel AX200 chip, as well as Gigabit Lan. Our sample worked well with WiFi both close to the router and over 30 feet away with obstacles in between. The audio system consists of 6 speakers, similar to the Zephyrus G15, with two woofers on the bottom and 4 tweeters coming out of the grilles around the keyboard. The quality and volume here are excellent, there’s even a decent bass. It is definitely one of the best audio systems you can find in a laptop today. You should definitely test these speakers once you receive your laptop, as there were some flaws reported in the early Zepyrus G15 models, but hopefully Asus has had enough time to do quality control. The Zephyrus M16 finally has a camera above the screen, with HD resolution and moderate image quality. At first I was under the impression that Asus was going to put an FHD camera in this device, but that’s not the case, it’s as good a shooter as most other gaming laptops these days. But at least we have a camera…
A 90 Wh battery is present in all ROG 2021 models, including the M16. This is what we got on our test sample in terms of battery life at a screen brightness of around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
- 20W (~4-5 hours of use)– Google Drive word processor, sleep mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 16W (~6+ hours of use)– Full screen 1080p video on Youtube in Edge, silent mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 13W (~7+ hours of use)– Netflix in full screen mode in Edge, silent mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 28W (~3-4 hours of use)– Edge mode display, balanced mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 80W (~1+ hour usage) – Games – Cyberpunk 2077, performance mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled, no fps limit.
That’s not an amazing runtime and it’s a serious step down from the AMD-powered Zephyrus G15. I don’t know if Asus will be able to improve these power consumption numbers with future software updates, but they should, if possible. This ROG Zephyrus M16 configuration comes with a 200 watt power supply, which is smaller and lighter than the variants used in previous Zephyrus models. The battery is full in about two hours, with the first half hour spent on fast charging. USB-C charging up to 100W is also supported. A USB-C charger is not included in the scope of delivery. Here you can see how the included 200-watt battery compares to Asus’ 65-watt USB-C charger.
Price and availability
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 2021 is not yet available in stores. We will update this section as soon as we know more about availability and final price. From what we know so far, a 3070 configuration with a QHD screen is expected to cost around €2,200 in Europe, while a 3060 configuration with the same screen but less RAM and storage will cost less than €2,000. Both the 3070 and 3060 will come with 32GB of RAM and QHD+ and FHD+ displays, which is great news. The 3050Ti models will also be available for around $1,600, with less memory than the base 3060. Of course, availability may vary by region. So follow this link to find out the current configurations and prices in your area while reading this article.
Recently Derek and I were discussing my conclusions about the Zephyrus M16, whether it is better than the G15, and the truth is I don’t think there is a clear answer to that question. On paper, this laptop may look more attractive, with a 16:10 screen, camera, faster storage, and Thunderbolt 4, which the G15 doesn’t have. In practice, I also like the matte black design and rubberized interior, softer keys, and RGB backlighting, even though it remains monochrome. And the screen, it’s great. I must say that it really is one of the most balanced displays, ideal for daily use, watching videos, gaming and creative work. The Zephyrus M16 also performs surprisingly well. The i9 configuration of the 11. Generation + RTX 3070 outperforms Ryzen 9 + RTX 3080 in almost all of our tests, with the exception of a few ray tracing scenarios where the 3080 wins. Asus has also changed the software since my days with the G15, and this M16 can run a few degrees cooler internally, but also louder on the Turbo profile. Nonetheless, Silent is an acceptable alternative to silent operation if you don’t mind the performance degradation. Overall, the hardware and software package for this product is well suited and should meet most of your needs. In addition, the two series share some other common features, such as common mounting, inputs, placement of the IO on the left front edge, excellent sound with 6 speakers, internal design and 9Wh batteries. Also, both models have the Ergolift form factor, which has the effect of pushing hot air directly onto the screen, which is more problematic for the M16, which no longer has a chin to absorb heat. Since the M16 runs cooler indoors, the M16 and G15 reach similar temperatures in the 40s and 50s on the hottest parts of the panels, closer to the exhaust. This is despite the fact that with the M16 the plate is much closer to the radiators. And there are two other aspects in which the M16 cannot compete with the G15: Efficiency and price. On a charge, the device lasted 3 to 5 hours in daily use and 6 to 7 hours in video mode, a few hours less than the Ryzen-powered Zephryus G15. As for price, the M16 hasn’t gone on sale yet and we’ll have to wait for more details before we can draw any definitive conclusions, but it looks like Asus will charge a premium of 100-300 euros over the competitively priced G15. I expect the i7+ 3060 configurations with QHD+ screens, which sell for around $2,000 here, to offer the best value. Is it competitive? Difficult choice… And then there are all the alternatives like the Razer Blade or the MSI GS66 or the Gigabyte Aero 15 in the niche of laptop options, as well as all the full-size models like the Asus ROG Strix/Scar 15 or Lenovo Legion 5Pro/7 laptops when available. Overall, that’s pretty much what I think of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 HR. Like the G15, this laptop looks good on paper, but it has a few flaws that might not work in real life. That said, I give this option a slight edge in the final ranking for its 16:10 QHD+ screen, solid performance, and improved thermostats, but keep in mind that the battery life here is less than the G15, and the final price in your area should greatly influence your final decision, and that’s something we can’t fully take into account at this time. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the series below. Denial: Our content is supported by our readers. If you make a purchase through certain links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission. Read more. Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I’ve been involved in mobile computing since the 2000s, and you’ll find detailed reviews and tutorials written by me on the site.Asus has been in the mobile world for quite some time and they have always given us some great products to review. A couple of months ago, the company announced their newest ROG gaming laptop. It’s called the Zephyrus M16 and it’s a pretty amazing machine, to say the least.. Read more about asus m16 release date and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Asus Zephyrus worth it?
There’s a growing trend of laptops that offer premium build-quality without the premium price tags. The Asus ROG Zephyrus M is a prime example that exemplifies this. While the Zephyrus M is not the cheapest laptop on the market (as it starts at $1,899), it was built with quality in mind. And as a result, it feels solid when you hold it in your hands. The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 has been a highly anticipated product, especially for gamers. The device was released in July 2017, and was named after the Greek god of the west wind (Zephyrus).
Is Asus Zephyrus G14 good for gaming?
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is Asus’s newest gaming laptop, and it boasts the highest-ever resolution for a portable gaming notebook. The Zephyrus G14 has a 15.6-inch full-HD display with 0.9 micron pixel pitch and a 120Hz refresh rate. It has an Intel Core i7-8750H processor with a base clock of 3.1GHz and can push to 4.1GHz with Turbo Boost. The built-in NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics card has 8GB of dedicated VRAM and is paired with an 8GB DDR4-2400 RAM module. The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is the third generation of Asus’s gaming laptop. It was first unveiled in 2017, and was a big step up from Asus’s previous gaming laptops, with an impressive snappiness rate for the time. Since the early days, Asus’ laptops have been known for their gaming pedigree and great components, but they have fallen behind competitors like MSI in terms of gaming performance.
Are ASUS ROG laptops good?
While ASUS is a well-known brand in the PC industry, not many people are aware that ASUS makes computers for gamers as well. Starting with the ROG G752 series, ASUS has added a line of game computers (GU series) that has been met with a lot of positivity. Today, I will be reviewing the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603. Asus ROG is a gaming brand of Asus, the company that manufactures laptops, monitors, motherboards, desktops, routers, tablet computers, smartphones, digital cameras, headphones, and other electronic devices. Asus is one of the largest manufacturers of notebooks in the world and is also the leading company in laptops.
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