The Asus Zephyrus G14 (GA401 New AniMe not to be confused with the G14 we reviewed earlier on) laptop is one of the latest gaming releases from the company. The device targets a gaming audience, and with the time it was in the house in testing, it has really impressed us, with our favourite feature being its excellent speakers.

Right off the bat, this is a very small device for the gaming audience, because at 14 inches, it cuts its screen size and overall footprint from big computers, which often represent gaming computers.

This means that we have to look a the G14 from a different angle, first because it is my first laptop review on this platform, and second because its size implies that you cannot compare it to 15- or 13-inch competitors because Asus made key decisions, such as fitting the battery and cooler in it, name them.


Build

The G14 is one of the best looking, and well-built laptops out there. It feels robust, has a nice weight to it, and for the most part, it meets what the harshest of a user would want in terms of overall hardware.

The finish is also excellent alongside with the colour, which is akin to ThinkPads that have always been lauded for their touch. The feel is actually smooth, and does a good job keeping your fingerprints away. The soft surfaces also make it very comfortable to rest your hands over its deck.

The hinge is also well built, and it even allows you to open the G14 with one hand.

Screen

The display is, by all standards, very good, although it has a few pitfalls or omissions.

First, this is not a touch display, and I was really looking forward to it having the feature.

Secondly, it does not get very bright, meaning groups that want to use it outside will have some problems. In fact, I even wished it could be brighter indoors. But I suspect the 1080p model is brighter, if you can get it.

By the way, this is a 1440p 60 hertz panel, and is very colour accurate to my eyes, unless you are quite harsh on displays like my colleague Kiruti. The device comes in other screen options too, including a 1080p one that refreshes at either 60 or 120 hertz – alongside Adaptive Sync depending on the model that you want. However, we are certain the 1440p model is the one that a normal Kenyan can access, that is if you pick it from Text Book Centre.

We wish the display refreshed faster, bearing in mind that the target audience prefers faster screens for their games.

Still, the refresh rate handicap is not a lot of people would miss, especially groups that use their devices normally like yours truly.

Oh, the image quality is excellent, and is better than what I have seen in my limited experience.

Webcam

There isn’t one here – and it is not even included in the packaging. So, you should take that in mind, an I understand why it a bummer because the better part of 2020 has been about remote working, and attending Zoom meetings.

However, our guess is that Asus G14 knows its target audience, which are basically hardcore gamers who often don’t use internal webcams because they are straight up trash. These are the same people who buy external webcams for their gaming sessions, and those replacements are often crispier and generally better.

Speakers

We are not going to spend a lot of time here, so, one word: excellent.

I was not expecting these speakers to be this good because of size limitations, and since this is not a MacBook (gold standard of good speakers), my expectations were pretty low.

Until I started using them. They are very good, and I even preferred using them over headphones.

In terms of hardware, there are dedicated drivers handling the mids and trebles on the upper deck, and other drivers facing downwards for base.

You really have to experience them to know what I’m talking about.

Keyboard

The majority of us love good keyboards, especially groups that type a lot.

I have never really gotten over ThinkPad keyboards, which are quite honestly unmatched.

The one on the G14 is very good; it is well spaced has more than enough travel, but lacks the number pad due to size limitations.

I really wish the key caps were bigger as the case with my HP Envy – which is a bigger device anyway.

The power key, by the way, has an integrated fingerprint reader that works excellently.

Trackpad

This is one of the best trackpads I ever used. It is made of glass, which pretty much goes alongside other high-end trackpads. This also means that it is very smooth, and you don’t feel any grip or resistance when using it as the case with plastic trackpads.

Tracking accuracy is also above average, and all Windows gestures work as advised.

Ports

This is one part where I found the device to be slightly underwhelming – but that might be a personal problem.

The left side is equipped with a charging socket that is centrally placed (it does not come with a Type C charger, and I wish that was the case), HDM1 2.0, a Type C port that an also juice up the device, and a headphone socket.

The other side has two USB A ports, and another USB Type C opening. The Type C port here does not support charging.

There is no SD card reader here, which is a misstep because the device’s power is attractive to content creators who transfer a ton of media from their cameras to a computer. So we guess, dongle life…

Performance

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7

GPU: RTX 2060

RAM: 16 GB

Storage: 1 TB SSD

People who are brighter than I am can assess the performance of the G14 with a touch of expertise. However, I used the device like a normal person, which means that I performed my daily tasks (document editing, browsing and watching a ton of videos), among other basic tasks.

All I’m saying is that my laptop workflow does not entail using a lot of apps – and we did not run any benchmarks here, probably because the AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS and the RTX 2060 are a killer combination that can push any demanding task – be it gaming (this is an ROG device so that is the main goal here), or video editing.

My subjective use cases, but I trust the internals to satisfy to meet any power-hungry applications and tasks, which you must consider because if you are buying this, then you really know what you are looking for.

If you are asking, the performance metrics match those of a 15” laptop. The cooling performance was also under par, because my aforementioned basic tasks saw the fans kick in all the time. And they are loud.

However, this a really small laptop, and does not have expansive space to for bigger fans and bigger heat pipes.

Some of you may also need to know how big a performance penalty they are taking by buying a 14” gaming laptop, and the answer is as stated; the space is limited, so cooling is not at its best, so throttling will happen eventually, mainly with straining loads.

Overall, the cooling performance and the temperatures are quite good for the form factor.

Battery

The cell here is a 76 Wh one, and considering the Ryzen 7 CPU is actually very efficient. Asus says that you can get up to 10 hours of battery life, but you know those numbers are often an overreach.

With the screen brightness set at 50 percent, I managed to get over 6 hours of battery life, and that was with me on the computer all the time, checking the web, among many other basic tasks.

Of course, that number, which s good in my books, can go lower if you use the device as it supposed to be used.

The big 180W charging brick is also handy here, and it juices up the phone pretty fast, and a full tank is filled in about an hour, give or take.

Conclusion

This has been a very fun laptop to use, and is among the very best. The speakers are excellent, the power is there, the keyboard, trackpad, battery life, name them, make this one of the best devices you can buy.

It also qualifies as a portable powerhouse (thanks to the Ryzen 7 CPU) with very few compromises, and we can recommend it any day for people who need power at a 14” footprint.

Price: Text Book Centre has the laptop for KES 169,000.

TLDR:

For

Quick as hell

Battery life is above average

For a causal user like me, the device is amazing

Checks out all the boxed I care about

Against

Screen could be brighter


Device could be lighter

Battery life could be better


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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]