Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 GU603 review: Another killer gaming laptop from Asus
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is a gaming laptop worthy of halls of excellence. Not only does it bring together many of the latest components for top-notch performance, but it packs it all into one sturdy chassis that’s wonderful to use, topping it all off with a wonderfully good display.
It looks like Asus has touched a rich vein of form this year. Like the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 and the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 before it, the M16 is a cool laptop that’s both powerful and very easy to recommend.
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Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: what you need to know
It might be for gamers first and foremost, but the Zephyrus M16 is a little different from your regular gaming machines. Instead of a 16: 9 aspect ratio, its massive 16-inch screen is 16:10, a shape you typically see on productivity laptops and ultraportables.
In fact, this is the general orientation of the M16. It’s a laptop for everyone, one that you can power through a few levels of Eternal destiny in the evening, then put away your laptop bag the next morning and write the monthly report on the train.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: price and competition
Four variants of the Zephyrus M16 are available in the UK. The lower spec model (GU603HE-KR022T) uses the eight-core Intel Core i7-11800H processor, an Nvidia 3050Ti graphics card and a 1TB SSD. However, it only has a lower resolution display of 144 Hz at 1920 x 1200.
The most expensive, which coincidentally is the only one currently available to order in the UK at the time of writing, is the GU603HR-KR007R, which is considerably more capable. For £ 2,299 it comes with a 2.5GHz eight-core Intel Core i9-11900H processor, 32GB of DDR4 RAM (3200MHz), an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM and 2TB. storage. This is the template that was sent to us for this review.
This year, in terms of the gaming laptops we reviewed recently, most of the competition is coming from Asus’ own stable. Specifically, the Zephyrus M16’s biggest rival comes in the form of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 with which the M16 shares many similarities.
Both laptops are the same size and weight; in fact, they have an identical chassis with all the ports, vents, keyboard, and touchpad all in the same places. The only physical difference is the screen, which is a slightly larger 16 inches on the M16 versus 15.6 inches on the G15, and a different aspect ratio. The G15 is also only available with AMD Ryzen 7 and 9 processors, while the M16 is fully Intel.
At a slightly cheaper price, you can buy an Asus ROG Strix G15 for £ 1,799 with a 165Hz 1440p display plus a Ryzen 7-5800H and RTX 3070 GPU or £ 1,600 with a 300Hz 1080p display, a Ryzen 7. -5800H and an RTX 3060 GPU. It’s a bit more plastic and heavier than the Asus ROG M16, but it’s still a great gaming laptop.
Buy the Asus ROG Strix G15 now at Currys PC World
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Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Design and features
If you’re expecting a big, bulky gaming laptop that’s littered with garish flourishes and LED light bars, then prepare to be disappointed.
For such a powerful laptop, the Zephyrus is surprisingly understated, completely clad in matte black metal. The lid has some decoration – a series of pinholes reveal a rainbow pattern underneath – but it’s far from overdone.
It’s also thin and relatively light, measuring just 19.9mm thick at the front and 22mm at the rear. It also has a large rubber foot, which lifts the back of the laptop an additional 7mm off the desk.
The dimensions of the Zephyrus are certainly larger than your average ultraportable, but it will fit easily into the average 15-inch laptop bag. In fact, it weighs just under 2kg without the power supply, which is crazy for such a powerful laptop, and about the same as the sleek 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro.
There is a lot of connectivity scattered around the edges of this machine. I don’t really like the placement of the power input on the left side, but the large number of outlets available elsewhere makes up for that, with full-size HDMI, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, USB-A, and a plug. 3.5mm headphones on the left. A single USB-A and microSD card slot is also on the right.
Open the cover and you’ll notice there’s no numeric keypad which may annoy some, but it does leave a lot of space around the keyboard, so it’s nice and spacious to type on. There’s also a massive touchpad here, which measures 130mm in diameter and 84mm in depth.
Both are a pleasure to use. The keyboard keys have a silky smooth feel and lots of positive travel. The touchpad is as reliable as it gets, though, since it’s a gaming machine, you’ll almost certainly be using a mouse most of the time anyway.
When it comes to gaming, the only disappointment – if you can call it that – is that the RGB lighting cannot be adjusted key by key like on the Strix Scar range. You can, however, choose from a variety of effects that influence the entire keyboard, from simple color cycling to smart effects that reflect CPU usage or temperature.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Display
Unusually for a gaming laptop, the Zephyrus ROG M16 comes with a 16:10 aspect ratio display, which offers a decent compromise between gaming, entertainment and work capabilities.
The resolution is 2,560 x 1,600, with a maximum refresh rate of up to 165Hz and a response time of 3ms, which the RTX 3070 GPU has no trouble keeping up with. You also get wide gamut P3 color reproduction.
Asus’s website states that it provides 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is true. In testing, I found it to be able to replicate 107% DCI-P3. However, colors were most accurate in Display P3, which is the same color space that Apple’s current MacBooks target.
This is essentially the same color gamut as the DCI-P3 but with a slightly different gamma curve. Here, the measured average Delta E color variance score is 1.22, which is frankly superb.
Elsewhere, brightness peaks at a respectable 446cd / m2, and I also have no complaints about the M16’s contrast ratio of 1,012: 1cd / m2. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a powerful display and just as good as anything we’ve seen on any gaming laptop so far.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Performance
The Intel Core i9-11900H inside our review laptop is among the most powerful mobile chips Intel produces today. It has eight cores, a base clock speed of 2.5 GHz, and a maximum Turbo frequency of 4.9 GHz. This is backed up by 32GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM, and a 2TB Samsung PM9A1 NVMe SSD for storage.
In testing, the M16 produced some really impressive CPU benchmarks. In our internal benchmarks, it achieved numbers similar to those produced by the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 powered by AMD Ryzen 5900HX and it is also slightly ahead of Geekbench 5.
In gaming benchmarks, performance was equally impressive, with the M16 beating rivals in 1080p Subway test by a narrow margin, but losing to the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 and his friends in the super intense Hitman 2 1080p reference.
However, it is more than capable of achieving frame rates well above 150 fps in Doom 2016 at native resolution (2560 x 1600), maintaining a sustained frame rate of over 100 fps.
Not only that, but your games will also load blazingly fast thanks to the M16’s super-fast Samsung SSD. I’ve recorded sequential read and write speeds of 5,536MB / s and 4,325MB / s in the AS SSD benchmark: speeds that effortlessly blow its competition out of the water, beyond the beach and in the hotel lobby.
The only fly in the ointment is the battery life, which isn’t as impressive. Even with a 90 Wh battery installed and the battery saving setting turned on, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 only lasted 6 hours and 9 minutes in our video reduction test. It’s not terrible, but it’s over three hours less than the Ryzen-powered Zephyrus G15.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: verdict
Despite this slight issue, I am still seriously impressed with the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16. It manages to pack a huge amount of power in a slim frame, complemented by rocket-powered SSD performance and a spectacularly good display.
It’s a cracker of a machine and, if anything, much better value than the Zephyrus G15 we tested recently. If you stick to the 165Hz screen, you get a gaming laptop that costs £ 300 less, but it comes with a bigger screen and a faster, higher capacity SSD. The only sacrifice is the slightly lower tier GPU.