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ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX502GW review: You don't need Max-Q to make a slim laptop

By Koh Wanzi - 28 Aug 2019

Introduction

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX502

Wait, what do you need Max-Q for again? 

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX502GW measures just 18.9mm thick and weighs a hair under 2kg. When I first saw it, I thought it was just another Max-Q gaming laptop competing in the burgeoning market of slim and light gaming notebooks. Actually, that feels like a slightly useless qualification by now, because gaming notebooks have become so sleek that we're almost at the point where that is the expectation at the high-end now rather than the exception. 

However, ASUS' new Zephyrus S laptop may be many things, but the one thing it is not is a Max-Q laptop. It comes with the full-fat Max-P version of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070, and it's managed to cram that into a chassis that is as thin as many Max-Q notebooks out there. 

NVIDIA's Max-Q technology was originally conceived to allow for thinner and more sprightly laptops by gunning for peak efficiency instead of maximum performance. It tries to find a balance between performance and power consumption, combining that with novel cooling solutions to enable both better battery life and more portable designs.

However, it seems like ASUS has made further progress since then. The Zephyrus S GX502 is even lighter than the original Zephyrus, which debuted in 2017 as one of the first Max-Q notebooks. It is a millimeter thicker, but that seems almost insignificant in the greater scheme of things, and it's done that without needing to sacrifice performance to any Max-Q optimisations. 

Here's an overview of its specifications:

  • 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 144Hz IPS-type display
  • Intel Core i7-9750H processor (2.60GHz, 12MB L3 cache)
  • 16GB single-channel DDR4-2666 memory
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070
  • 1TB PCIe SSD
  • 76Wh battery
  • 360 x 252 x 18.9mm
  • 1.99kg

It will cost you S$3,998, a steep price to be sure, and slightly more expensive than its other Max-Q competitors. Does the laptop live up to its promise? Read on to find out. 

  • Design 8.5
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7.5
  • Value 6
  • Mobility 7.5
The Good
GeForce RTX 2070 Max-P in the body of a Max-Q notebook
Slim, compact and modern design
Great build quality
144Hz display with G-Sync support
The Bad
Single-channel memory results in huge performance deficits while gaming
Fans can get quite noisy
Average battery life
No Thunderbolt 3