AMD is making really big strides, and it’s downright awesome. Their desktop class of CPUs are already making waves, and now they are going to do the same with their mobile lineup. Today, we’re taking a look at one of their most powerful chips for the notebook PC, the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS that powers the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been using the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 as my main workstation, and its performance is really great. In fact, the entire Alienware m15 R2 review which I did previously, was edited from start to finish on this very machine in just 7 hours.
But anyways, the model that I have right here is basically the top-specced model.
It runs the Ryzen 9 4900HS, an RTX 2060 Max-Q, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of NVME storage.
For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the new AMD chips, it’s basically divided into two categories, the H-Series and the U-Series. The H-Series are the high-performance chips for gaming notebooks or workstations, while the U-Series are more catered towards thin and light laptops.
The HS variant is AMD’s specification for, usually, a lower TDP version of the standard processor, but also only given when the specific notebook meets a specific set of design requirements. So the one featured here is basically a 35W version of the standard Ryzen 9 4900H.
So those are the specs, but let’s first talk a little more about the design.
The G14 is available in two colour choices, black or white, and as you can tell, I have the latter. Honestly, I find this generation of laptops from ROG to be much more subdued in design, and I do appreciate it, instead of the flashy gamer aesthetics. The lid does feature this split design, in which you can also opt for the AniMe display, which basically allows you to customize GIFs and stuff, through an array of LEDs. This current one that I have does not have that, but you can choose that configuration, should you decide to buy this laptop.
The entire laptop is made of magnesium alloy, and it does feel really rigid and dense, which makes it feel quite premium. It also does feature a matte coating, which helps resist fingerprints.
For the white version, it actually isn’t exactly entirely white. The main chassis is actually more of a silver, which also translates to the keys and the trackpad itself.
For the display, you do get two options, one that features a 1440p, 60Hz panel, or this one right here, which is a 1080p, 120Hz panel. Both are pretty good, with 100% sRGB coverage, though personally I would spring for the 1080p panel, simply because of the higher refresh rate.
One thing to note is that Asus did implement their Ergolift design, so when you open up the lid, it does prop up the entire notebook at a slight angle, and this does help with airflow as there’s now much more space between the intake fan on the bottom, and your desk.
Oh and also, there isn’t a webcam. So you don’t get Windows Hello, but the power button does also function as a fingerprint sensor, so that’s not too bad.
Speaking of which, the keyboard. I quite like it. It’s generally the same keyboard layout as previous ROG laptops, and in essence, they are spaced well apart with a good amount of key travel and response. There are also four dedicated keys up top, two of which control volume, so you don’t have to press the function key for that. The other is mute mic key, which will be handy for streamers and gamers in general, while the last key launches ROG Armoury Crate, which is where you can basically tweak your profiles and settings for this laptop.
The trackpad itself is good. I still feel that it can be a little bigger, but in general, no qualms about it.
Speakers. Speakers on this laptop are actually really good, especially given its 14-inch form factor. There’s two on the top, and two on the bottom on each side, and they sound great for watching shows or gaming. But of course, I still suggest a good pair of headphones whenever you can.
Moving on to I/O, we have two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 port on the right, and for the left, you have your power jack, HDMI 2.0, another Type-C 3.2 Gen 2, and your headphone/mic combo jack.
But more on this particular Type-C port on the left. This one supports both DisplayPort 1.4 and up to 65W for charging. So you can actually charge the G14 with a USB-C charger, say if you’re off the grid, or just need to do light tasks on the laptop. For anything else, however, you definitely want to use the AC adapter, to make full use of the CPU and GPU.
For upgrades, there are a few options. The entire bottom panel is secured with just standard Philips screws, and once you pop that off, you have access to mainly three things. The first is the SSD. The one in here isn’t the fastest, but it’s decent, and if you remove it, you’ll then have access to the WiFi card right below it, which is actually WiFi 6.
The drawback is the RAM, which you’ll only have access to a single slot, and that’s because the other half is soldered on. So the system ships with 16GB of RAM, but half of it is actually soldered on, so in actuality, you can only upgrade to 40GB of RAM, if you can get a hold of a 32GB SODIMM stick, which is kind of a weird number.
But we now come to what you all have been waiting for, and that’s the performance of the new Ryzen 4000 series, which in this case is the Ryzen 9 4900HS. Now by the time this video is published, Intel 10th-gen might already be out, and the entire landscape might be a little different.
So I’m just going to stick to a couple of tests and benchmarks that we’ve used. and for now, we’re just going to compare it to the previous Intel flagship, the Intel Core i9-9980HK, which I actually tested on the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo.
First up, we have Cinebench R20, and here, it simply trashes the Core i9-9980HK in the Multi-Core score, achieving roughly a 25% increase in performance. And even for the Single-Core score, it’s neck and neck. Intel has always been king when it comes to lightly threaded applications, but with this, everything is going to change.
As for DaVinci Resolve 16, I did run the usual two tests that I usually do, but at this point in time, I do not have the Pro Duo with me anymore, nor do I have the exact same edit that was used in that review. So what I did was, I took a recent project, and adjusted it slightly to mimic the overall layout of the project that was used for the Pro Duo review, and these are the results.
As you can tell, the render times for the 10-minute 1080p project was roughly 30 seconds faster, while the 15 minute 4K project was pretty much the same. In short, for our testing, it’s slightly faster.
But the moment you take into account that this is a 35W chip, versus the 45W chip of the Core i9, and the sheer physical size difference between the Pro Duo and the G14, the results then, are nothing short of amazing.
In terms of gaming, there isn’t much of a difference, given that it’s the same RTX 2060, although the one here is a Max-Q variant. In general, you’ll have a great experience on this laptop, especially if you’re playing eSports titles on this 120Hz panel.
So you’ve seen the numbers, and you might now ask, what about thermals? To be honest, it’s actually not too bad, but there is a catch.
In a full multi-core workload like Cinebench R20, you’ll see that the CPU only topped out around 87 degrees celsius on an all-core load at 3.7GHz, though it completed the test so quickly the fans did not even spin up to full speed. During the render for DaVinci Resolve, you’ll find that for the most part, the CPU will hit about 90 degrees celsius on an all-core load at 100%, maintaining clocks of around 3.2GHz.
In terms of gaming, you can expect similar temperatures, though it’ll vary slightly depending on whether the game is more CPU heavy or GPU heavy.
The catch however, is noise. This is definitely not a silent laptop. There are three profiles, silent, balanced, and turbo, and all of our tests were done on the balanced profile, which I feel is the profile that offers the best balance between noise, performance, power limits, battery life, so on and so forth.
Turbo does get you the best scores and thermals, but it’s really loud, and as for silent, it is as it says, but I would only recommend using that profile only if you’re strictly doing light tasks.
Battery life has also been vastly improved with this generation of Ryzen CPUs, and the G14 can easily last you 8-10 hours, depending on your usage, on the better battery setting.
AMD has finally caught up to Intel, about time!
So here’s the conclusion.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is probably the most powerful 14-inch gaming laptop/mobile workstation to date. AMD has brought all the benefits of their desktop CPUs into the mobile form factor and is now giving Intel even more added pressure.
As mentioned, Intel 10th-gen has yet to arrive at the time of this review, so things might’ve changed, but regardless, if you’re looking for desktop-class, 8 cores and 16 threads in a 14-inch form factor, this is it.
More information about the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 can be found on the Asus website. The laptop will launch in June 2020 here in Singapore.