Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 review: Big-screen gaming dream

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(Pocket-lint) - Asus has been hard astatine enactment updating a fig of its ROG-branded gaming laptops - and 1 of the astir unsocial of those machines is the Zephyrus S17, fixed it's tilt-angle keyboard design. This is simply a large ol' beast of a device, yet it's attempting not to beryllium excessively ostentatious. 

With an inventive attack to cooling, an optical-mechanical keyboard, and tons of powerfulness nether the hood, this could good beryllium 1 of the astir applicable and superb 17-inch gaming laptops ever launched. 

How large is excessively big? 

  • Dimensions: 394 x 264 x 199mm / Weight: 2.6kg 
  • 5-degree tilting keyboard
  • All-metal lawsuit design

It goes without saying that if the apical happening connected your database of desires for a gaming laptop is to person a large screen, you're going to person to marque bid with having a beauteous hefty laptop. So no, the S17 isn't adjacent adjacent to being a tiny and nimble machine, but what Asus has done with each that abstraction is really rather inventive. And - much importantly - it's practical.

When it's shut, it looks similar a regular larger-scale matte achromatic laptop. The metallic lid has a subtle dot signifier and ROG branding. No agleam in-your-face colours oregon crisp angles oregon thing insensible. But erstwhile you unfastened it up, it reveals a somewhat out-the-box surprise: the keyboard lifts up astatine an space arsenic you assistance the lid and propulsion it back. It's precise different, but serves a purpose. 

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The thought of having a keyboard astatine a flimsy space is to springiness that consciousness of being astatine a desktop and utilizing a keyboard connected a desk. It's lone a gentle angle, which means it's comfy to benignant on, and - alternatively vitally - it allows aerial to travel underneath it too. This clever plan means your hands enactment chill connected the keyboard, adjacent successful the midst of pushing the instrumentality to its limits. Or, astatine least, cooler than they would beryllium if you were resting them connected a keyboard sunk into the assemblage of the laptop. 

The full aboveground of the assemblage wherever your hands and fingers remainder is coated successful a soft-touch finish, too, which makes it precise comfy. It's not acold and shiny. The Zephyrus S17 besides has a full-sized keyboard and capable country for a Numpad and directional buttons separated from the typing space. There's besides a useful scroll instrumentality up supra the relation row, adjacent the near corner, which lets you rapidly crook the measurement up and down. 

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As for the keyboard itself, that's beauteous peculiar too. Being a laptop evidently means you don't get those full-size chunky buttons, but this plan combines the low-profile keycaps with optical-mechanical switches, truthful it's accelerated yet provides astir 2mm of cardinal travel.

The keys are truly casual to benignant on, are truly responsive, and springiness a due clicky dependable too. We'd seldom ever find ourselves missing the keys, oregon having to treble press. And, due to the fact that of that clicky sound, you perfectly cognize erstwhile you've pressed a button. The lone downside to this is that if you're moving astir others, your keyboard mightiness conscionable beryllium a tad louder than the norm. You'll surely beryllium heard. 

There's besides RGB lighting, truthful you mightiness beryllium seen too. It'll beryllium connected your chosen lighting effect, with the S17 offering per-key RGB lighting, truthful the fluidity of immoderate 'breathing' and colour-changing happens connected a button-by-button basis. Depending connected however overmuch clip you have, you tin get down to a ace granular level with this lighting. Or simply take from 1 of the galore preset colour cycles oregon strobing options.  

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Despite not being a tiny laptop, the S17 is - for a 17-inch instrumentality - rather compact each considered. It's astir 20mm heavy astatine the beforehand extremity erstwhile it's shut, portion the screen's skinny bezel connected the apical and the near and close means the sheet isn't surrounded by a space-hogging frame. 

Of course, it's rather a dense laptop, particularly if you request to transportation your instrumentality astir with you a lot. You'll decidedly announcement it, much truthful due to the fact that you besides request to find abstraction successful your mundane transportation container for the powerfulness adapter that ships with it. It's acold from small: the word powerfulness 'brick' is astir literal successful this case, arsenic it's astir the width and magnitude of a location ceramic (although it's lone astir fractional the height).

Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2
  • 3x USB-A 3.2, 1x Ethernet, 1x 3.5mm, 1x HDMI, 1x SD card
  • 1x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C 3.2 ports with DisplayPort & PD

How galore ports does the S17 have? It has virtually everything you could conceive needing. The close broadside features 2 full-sized USB-A ports, positive a full-sized SD paper reader. 

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All the different ports unrecorded connected the near side, including the proprietary powerfulness port, full-sized HDMI 2.0b port, Ethernet, different USB-A, and 2 USB-C ports (one of which is Thunderbolt 4 capable; the different is USB 3.2, but some enactment Power Delivery charging - but won't springiness you the aforesaid benignant of refill velocity arsenic if you usage the tremendous powerfulness ceramic that comes with the laptop). 

The takeaway present is that there's capable flexibility successful connectivity to support adjacent the astir demanding idiosyncratic happy. Whether you privation wired oregon wireless connections. It's compatible with Wi-Fi 6, too, giving you the speediest wireless net connection, conscionable successful lawsuit a wired LAN transportation isn't applicable successful a fixed moment. 

Display and media

  • 17.3-inch anti-glare panel, WQHD (2560 x 1440) resolution
    • 165Hz refresh rate, 3ms effect time
    • 4K solution 120Hz enactment available
  • 6x Dolby Atmos speakers
  • 720p webcam 

There are 2 options to take from erstwhile it comes to picking the show for your ROG Zephyrus S17. You tin either person a super-fast WQHD surface with 165Hz refresh rates oregon a 4K sheet with a 120Hz refresh. If you similar beauteous scenery successful games and bash a batch of originative enactment the 4K enactment is ideal. We were sent the 165Hz WQHD exemplary which means 1 thing: it's for accelerated games. 

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We'll get much into show successful a bit, but erstwhile it comes to brightness and colours, this surface is much than capable. It's bright, vivid and has decent opposition levels. What's more, the anti-glare aboveground ensures you don't get immoderate distracting reflections. 

We sometimes recovered the opposition levels were tuned a spot excessively high. For games, careless of genre, it's brilliant. But for doing immoderate editing of photos oregon videos, it's a small hard to compensate, astatine slightest successful its default mode.

Open Armoury Crate - Asus' one-stop bundle store for each things customisation - and you tin prime from a fig of antithetic surface presets. These set brightness, opposition and saturation to antithetic levels. Plus there's a colour somesthesia slider. 

That's not each you'll find successful Armoury Crate. There is each mode of strategy settings to tweak: from adjusting the keyboard's RGB lighting patterns, to show settings, and adjacent launching immoderate games installed connected your PC. 

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It's a utile portion of software, but it's not the lone portion of pre-installed bundle connected the system. Sadly, Asus seems to bask pre-installing McAfee security, and if you fto your escaped proceedings expire you amended judge it volition conscionable emotion pestering you astir it successful an obtrusive pop-up each clip you powerfulness the laptop up. 

Gaming performance

  • 11th gen Core i9 processor, 32GB RAM
  • 2TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
  • GeForce RTX 3080 GPU 
  • 90Wh battery 

As with immoderate laptop determination are plentifulness of configuration options erstwhile it comes to memory, retention and processing power. Our reappraisal portion came with 32GB RAM, 16GB of which is soldered to the committee and different 16GB being removable. You tin instal a further 16GB, taking it up to 48GB if you wish. It besides has 2TB M.2 NVMe storage, which is ace fast. 

This representation is alongside 2 precise almighty brains: the Core i9 processor (11th Gen) and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. With this CPU and dedicated graphics together, the sky's the bounds successful presumption of axenic performance.

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We played a fig of antithetic crippled titles connected the S17, immoderate much GPU-intensive than others, with those making the highest request often being the ones that would unit the fans to truly footwear into gear. For instance, pushing a crippled similar Forza Horizon 4 to its maximum would mean the fans are beauteous loud. We wouldn't accidental they rather airplane-taking-off loud, and not arsenic large arsenic the M16 we reviewed earlier successful the year, but they're acold from quiet. 

Regardless, the S17 won't conflict with immoderate modern titles. Animations and frame-rates are predominantly creaseless and stutter-free, whether we were chilling with the calm exploration game, Sable, oregon trying to get the Unreliable to instrumentality formation successful The Outer Worlds

In the Forza Horizon 4 benchmarking tool, we benchmarked utilizing the maximum solution and frame-rate disposable for this exemplary and it consistently tracked astir 150fps. Similarly successful the Heaven benchmark, with the trial acceptable to 'Ultra' settings, the frame-rate would instrumentality betwixt 140-160fps. 

Using Cinebench to benchmark the Intel Core i9 wrong yielded expected results. It completed the rendering tasks rapidly successful the multi-core test, scoring implicit 13400 points, which fundamentally means the lone Intel CPU much almighty is the Xeon. 


 
Of course, what it tin bash is often constricted to the mode you've enabled utilizing the built-in Armoury Crate app. For instance, if you're not gaming and not plugged into power, it's automatically successful 'Silent' mode and truthful ensures that the CPU and GPU aren't being utilized to afloat capableness (which wouldn't beryllium imaginable fixed the powerfulness demands). That means 2 things: little artillery usage, and little heat, truthful the fans don't footwear connected that often successful this mode, but you tin inactive get your enactment done. 

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Of course, what it tin bash is often constricted to the mode you've enabled utilizing the built-in Armoury Crate app. For instance, if you're not gaming and not plugged into power, it's automatically successful 'Silent' mode and truthful ensures that the CPU and GPU aren't being utilized to afloat capableness (which wouldn't beryllium imaginable fixed the powerfulness demands). That means 2 things: little artillery usage, and little heat, truthful the fans don't footwear connected that often successful this mode, but you tin inactive get your enactment done. 

Battery beingness is mostly beardown too, particularly successful this Silent mode. It wouldn't beryllium excessively hard to get adjacent to a afloat 8 hr workday retired of this laptop if you're not pushing it to bash rather power-intensive tasks.

Verdict

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 does everything a almighty gaming laptop should bash well. It's fast, has a responsive and clicky RGB keyboard, and volition devour immoderate crippled you propulsion astatine it. 

It's not rather perfect, but past nary instrumentality is. We agelong for the days wherever kicking a laptop into Turbo mode for ultimate crippled show doesn't mean large instrumentality noise. But, arsenic it stands, that's conscionable par for the course.

Given the sheer powerfulness and surface prime here, the Zephyrus S17 is simply a stunning big-scale crippled instrumentality from Asus - truthful agelong you tin tummy its important terms tag arsenic a effect of that standout tilt-angle keyboard.

Also consider

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Alienware X17 R1

One of our favourite big-scale gaming machines. It's got a stylish look, a superb 4K screen, and a unsocial backlit trackpad. Because, wherefore not?  

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Pocket-lint

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ROG Strix Scar 17

If you're aft a much flashy, eye-catching gaming laptop, this ROG has that successful buckets. With its agleam LED portion airy upfront, it'll surely gully your eyes in. Plus, with its 360Hz refresh-rate show the animations are ace smooth. 

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Writing by Cam Bunton. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 21 December 2021.

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