ASUS ROG Zephyrus G16 Laptop Review – Sleek, slick, slender

Reviewed on April 2, 2024

The latest model in ASUS’ ROG Zephyrus G16 line of gaming laptops boasts a slim design, AI-enhanced processing, and a crystal-clear 16-inch display for both gaming and content creation. For working gamers with room in their budget for a higher-end laptop, this model is designed as a comfortable fit for both the office and the lounge room.

The first thing you’ll notice about the ROG Zephyrus G16 is its unbelievably thin form factor. When closed, it’s less than 2cm thick – easily slipping into a messenger bag or laptop sleeve. For a gaming device, it’s also surprisingly light, weighing in at 1.85kg. Despite its petite dimensions, the unit feels solid and well-constructed, concealing its hinge within the chassis and providing decent resistance when opening and closing the lid.

It’s also a pleasure to use a gaming laptop that allows you to be a little more subtle about its purpose. The only hints that the Zephyrus is built for the sweaty JRPG enthusiast are its small, sci-fi-inspired power button and the Slash Lighting streak across the lid: a strip of LEDs that can be customised or switched off. It’s classy and professional, letting you decide how much you’d like to lean into the gamer aesthetic on your own terms.

This design lets the ROG Zephyrus G16 fit happily into both a work environment and a home gaming setup, which feels like the thesis behind the device. Its minimal I/O ports support common dock connections (USB Type-C, HDMI, Thunderbolt), with the lack of a direct ethernet port indicating that power users will likely want to support the device with a docking hub. A variety of performance modes also make the Zephyrus travel-friendly: I can easily imagine spending the day in the office at a workstation in Performance mode, switching to Silent mode and finishing off emails on the tram home, and then collapsing into a gamer chair and hitting Turbo mode when I get home.

Speaking of performance, the tech specs are as meaty as you’d expect for a higher-end gaming laptop. You’ve got an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 laptop GPU working to keep your graphics quality set to Ultra for most recent releases, as well as a dedicated “Intel AI Boost NPU” or Neural Processing Unit which is reserved for improving deep learning-related tasks. From a gaming perspective, the NPU is meant to take compute load off the graphics card for tasks like AI upscaling and ray-tracing. I couldn’t get the NPU to activate during my stress tests, but in theory, it future-proofs the Zephyrus for more load-intensive AAA titles.

For such a beefy unit, battery life is pretty decent. You can expect the ROG Zephyrus G16 to last most of the day on Silent mode if you’re taking it easy, but as with most gaming laptops I only squeezed around an hour of Tales of Arise in before Power Saver switched itself on. However, the quality of gameplay (when in Performance/Turbo mode) is phenomenal. The Zephyrus boasts a breathtaking 16-inch display – it’s crystal clear, bright, and glossy without tempting glare. Colours are vibrant and distinct, with crisp hues and deep blacks. For design work, content creation, and gaming, the screen is an absolute pleasure to behold.

However, a downside to the high power and slim design of the Zephyrus is its lack of cooling. I played through the opening hour of Forza Horizon 5 on max settings with the laptop sitting on a table, and although the display was gorgeous, after a while the framerate started dipping and stuttering. Task Manager showed that temperatures were floating around 90 degrees, and I found the chassis was painfully hot to the touch. The bottom of the unit houses its fans and ventilation, meaning that any intense gaming with the laptop on a flat surface prevents it from cooling effectively. This is likely a non-issue for players with dedicated laptop stands in their home setup, but would absolutely be something to consider for anyone planning to play with the unit sitting directly on a desk or table.

While many gamers would opt to use an external headset for game audio, the ROG Zephyrus G16 may convince them otherwise. Quad speakers set into either side of the keyboard provide astoundingly good sound for a laptop of this size, allowing for surprisingly decent bass and effective use of spatial audio. Voice lines barked mid-game could be heard clearly over each title’s background noise, with even whispered dialogue coming through crisply. This comes at the expense of a full keyboard layout with a number pad, which reinforces the use case of the G16 as more of a “portable computer” than a dedicated workhorse laptop.

The laptop comes with a copy of Windows 11, with pre-installed software on the unit including ROG’s Armoury Crate app. This is one of the less intrusive device management apps I’ve used. Its interface is relatively clean compared to other offerings, allowing you to monitor your laptop’s resources, customize RGB profiles, and update device drivers and firmware without too much hassle. Unfortunately, the review unit also came with a free McAfee Antivirus software trial, which shows intrusive popup ads and is notoriously difficult to remove – production units may have different software, so fingers crossed this is remedied in the Zephyrus’ commercial release.

A gorgeous piece of hardware that comfortably straddles the worlds of work and play, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 succeeds at delivering a high-end portable gaming experience within a professional-looking, beautifully constructed device. Its impressive screen and incredible audio make for immersive gameplay sessions, while its sleek appearance, lightweight, and high computing power make it feel right at home in the workplace. For gamers with the budget to spare and a decent home office setup, the ROG Zephyrus G16 is a winner.

ASUS provided a loan unit to Checkpoint Gaming for the purpose of this review.