ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 revisited — AniMe Matrix, 2K60 display, USB-C charging and more!
We have already previously reviewed the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, and it was (and still is) the most impressive laptop I have used yet. It offers an immense amount of firepower in a very unassumingly small chassis, and I am just absolutely smitten by it. However, the version we reviewed was the maxed out configuration of the ROG Zephyrus G14, which came with a FHD 120 Hz display, albeit without the groundbreaking AniMe Matrix display on its lid. But hey, it was definitely more powerful than any 14″ laptop in the world right now.
So this time around, we will be checking out a few things on the WQHD 60 Hz variant, or what we lovingly call, 2K60. Performance data won’t be our priority, as we know the GeForce RTX 2060 isn’t exactly sufficient for good gameplay at 1440p unless you want to throw DLSS into the equation. With that said, we will be checking out a few things that we didn’t get a chance to look into in our review of the ROG Zephyrus G14.
What can you do with the AniMe Matrix?
The highlight of the ROG Zephyrus G14 is of course the AniMe Matrix display on the lid. So let’s see what you can do. In addition to the regular animated ROG emblem, you can also throw in customized text. But the software that controls AniMe Matrix is actually very flexible, and you can even throw in some random GIF without having to worry about anything at all. It will let you rotate it and resize, and it will automatically convert it down to grayscale to display correctly on the AniMe Matrix panel.
To get the above animation, all we needed to do was:
- Convert our intro video into a GIF on ezgif.com.
- Throw it into Armoury Crate and use the rotate feature.
- Add a text layer.
Yep. It’s that simple. You can probably concoct up your own animation on the lid, or just use one of the many presets that you can play around with. There is plenty of options baked into the AniMe Matrix display, and I absolutely love it.
You can display up to six rows of text, with the ability to use any font installed on your ROG Zephyrus G14. Or choose from one of five presets in Audio Mode to add a visualizer on the lid of your ROG Zephyrus G14 when you are listening to music.
Understanding that some users may prefer to not have the AniMe Matrix active when the laptop is running on battery, ASUS has thrown in a toggle in the settings menu. If you are feeling particularly fancy, you can even set the AniMe Matrix to continue running even when the lid is closed and when the laptop enters sleep mode. Just how cool is that?
2K60 display for creators?
Now, let’s take a look at the primary display. This is actually a pretty interesting offering from ASUS. As the FHD variant is also Pantone Validated, what’s the difference here aside from the higher resolution and lower refresh rate? Well, I put a Spyder5 to the display to see if the color response is any different. The 2K60 display is slightly dimmer, measured to deliver 290.17 nits even when set at max brightness, and colors are just marginally better on the 2K60 display. Overall, it is still difficult to recommend the 2K60 display unless you have a specific need for the higher resolution.
You will have to contend with scaling issues though, as 1440p at 100% scaling on a 14″ display will result in the screen elements being too small to practically use. I would personally use it at 150%, but if your apps have scaling issues, then you will have to be prepared to deal with blurry text, among other things.
Is the battery life affected?
For this section, it is quite a bit more interesting. Now ASUS threw in a higher resolution display, and there’s also a secondary AniMe Matrix display on the lid. How much battery will the AniMe Matrix suck down? Well, we calibrated the display to 200 nits as usual, and performed our battery test with PCMark.
While I won’t compare against the FHD 120 Hz version, the AniMe Matrix display does chug quite a bit of power, shaving off an entire hour from the battery life of the ROG Zephyrus G14. The numbers look a bit bad in comparison to the nearly 8 hours we saw when we tested the FHD 120 Hz version, but we were testing battery life in a higher performance profile this time around.
USB Power Delivery for heavy use?
Instead of a review sample from ASUS Taiwan, this unit of the ROG Zephyrus G14 was a local retail sample. And it comes with a 65W USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) charger in the box as a more portable alternative to the larger 180W power adapter. As it is more portable, ASUS recommends using it when on the go, as 65W is more than enough power to provide a slow charge even as you are using the laptop. But, we had bigger things in mind. What if you wanted to use it for some serious rendering? Well… Let’s see.
We can see that the single-core performance are identical across the board. That’s somewhat expected as single-core loads won’t cause the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS to run into any power limits, which is what I assume is happening for the multi-core runs.
Taking a closer look at the multi-core section of the Cinebench run, the difference with the 180W power adapter is extremely huge, with it drawing all the way up to 65W just for the CPU alone when fully loaded. It drops off to 54W throughout the run, which is more than double the power that the Ryzen 9 4900HS draws when running on battery or off the USB-PD power adapter. This allows the CPU to maintain significantly higher clocks and thus deliver much better performance. As you might have expected, if you want to take full advantage of the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS, you will need to bring the 180W power adapter.
What about gaming? Well, we have even worse news. The 65W USB-PD power adapter lets you pump a bit more power to the CPU than trying to run on battery, but it seems that the 65W USB-PD power adapter won’t be an option if you want to use both the GPU and CPU at full throttle. Once you plug in the 180W power adapter, you will be looking at more than 3X the performance from the GPU. CPU scores see a similar improvement.
On average, the USB-PD power adapter let the GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q run at around 29.85W, while running it off the battery interestingly lets the GPU pull a slightly higher 29.89W on average. This lets the GPU run at 1292.95MHz on battery, and 1243.28MHz on the AC adapter. A pretty insignificant difference, but still quite noteworthy, nonetheless. Plugging in the 180W adapter lets the system feed the GPU 63.58W on average, and allows the GPU to run at around 1578.93MHz.
Another significant change comes from the VRAM clocks. On battery or USB-PD, the GDDR6 memory runs at an abysmal 1.62Gbps. The 180W power adapter is the only way you get to access the full 11Gbps bandwidth. If you plan on gaming, you will need to bring the larger power brick, no two ways about that.
PCMark gauges the performance at running daily productivity tasks, and we can see that the increased power limit on both the CPU and GPU can yield rather significant gains, especially when it comes to digital content creation. The USB-PD charger seems to deliver better performance than running the system off battery, with rather sizeable gains across the board.
With that, we can conclude that to game or to render stuff, you will need the full 180W power adapter. But if you are going on a business trip where you don’t see yourself gaming, you can just bring the USB-PD adapter along with you. It is capable of recharging the battery too, going from 5% to 41% in just 30 minutes with the system shut down. Personally, I would rather carry the 180W power adapter, despite it being double in terms of size and also weight. The sacrifice is worth it for the performance gains.
Overall, the ROG Zephyrus G14 is still the best laptop I have ever had the opportunity of using so far, and that’s saying a lot as I have used laptops that cost more than double the price of the ROG Zephyrus G14, which comes in at a sweet RM7699. But hey, I might be partial. If you are a proud owner of a ROG Zephyrus G14, let us know what you think. For more info about the ROG Zephyrus G14, you can check out the following links:
Our thanks to ASUS Malaysia for providing the ROG Zephyrus G14 for us to revisit in this article.