Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX review

A 15-inch powerhouse

Our Verdict

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX is a stunning 15-inch gaming laptop that has the svelte design of an ultrabook, but packs powerful gaming components.

For

  • Powerful
  • Slim design
  • Great performance
  • Innovative cooling

Against

  • Very expensive
  • Screen isn't HDR
  • Might be overkill for some
Spec sheet

Here is the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa-core, 9MB cache, up to 4.1GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q (8GB GDDR6 VRAM); Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS, Pantone Validated (144Hz refresh rate)
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD
Ports: 2 x USB 3.1 (USB Type-C), 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, headset jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: Full HD webcam (1080p, 60fps)
Weight: 4.63 pounds (2.1kg)
Size: 14 x 10.6 x 0.63 inches (36 x 26.8 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)

We’re huge fans of Asus’ range of ROG Zephyrus gaming laptops, which combine powerful components with a slim and stylish design, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531 is one of its latest models, offering cutting-edge technology in a 15-inch form factor.

We recently reviewed its larger sibling, the 17-inch Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, and we loved what we saw. The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX, which is the model we review here, offers a similar package, with an 8th-generation, six-core processor and Nvidia’s latest high-end graphics card, the RTX 2080, but with a smaller screen and a (slightly) lower price as well.

So, if the 17-inch Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is too large and/or expensive for you, but you still want one of the most attractively-designed Asus laptops ever made for gaming, and one that's packed with cutting-edge components, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531 could be more to your liking.

Price and availability

While the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX is cheaper than the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, this is no budget laptop; it remains one of Asus’ most premium gaming laptops, and it has a price to match.

The GX531GX itself, which is the machine we're reviewing here, is the top-specced model in the GX531 range, and costs $2,999 / £2,999. This comes with a hexa-core Intel Core i7 8750H processor, 16GB of RAM, 15.6-inch 1080p screen and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card.

That’s $300 / £300 cheaper than the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, which comes with the same core specs, but with a larger 17.3-inch screen and a 1TB SSD – compared to the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX’s 512GB.

If a larger screen and twice the capacity is worth $300 / £300 to you, then the GX701 will be the one to go for, but in our view, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX offers better value for money.

In Australia the top-end model comes with the GeForce RTX 2070 rather than the RTX 2080, and retails for AU$2,999.

In the US and UK, there’s also a version called the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GS, and comes with the older Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics card.

This will only be available at Amazon for $2,199 (about £1,730 or AU$3,030). At this price, the Asus ROG Zephyrus is impressively equipped with an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of NVMe SSD and a Full HD 144Hz display.

Outside of Amazon, Asus will be selling a lower-tier GX531GM version equipped with a Nvidia GTX 1060, but still the same processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB NVMe SSD for $2,099 or £1,999 (about AU$2,890).

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX has a seriously slim design

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX has a seriously slim design

Design

Aside from pure performance, it’s in the design that Asus’ Zephyrus gaming laptops excel, and with the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX we get another device that challenges the notion that powerful gaming laptops need to be big and bulky.

Measuring 14 x 10.6 x 0.63 inches (36 x 26.8 x 1.61cm; W x D x H), the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX has a slimline design that's not much thicker than many Ultrabooks. Considering the powerful components inside this laptop, including a top-of-the-range discrete GPU, that’s seriously impressive.

In fact, Asus has managed to slim the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX down compared to its predecessor, which was wider and thicker at 14.9 x 10.3 x 0.66-0.7 inches (37.9 x 26.2 x 1.69-1.79cm; W x D x H). Asus has also trimmed the weight down from 4.85 pounds (2.2kg) to 4.63 pounds (2.1kg).

Surrounding the screen are noticeably thinner bezels that have been cut nearly in half – at 7.5mm they're a big improvement over the original Zephyrus’ 15.7mm bezels. Although the screen again sports a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 Full HD panel running at 144Hz, here it boasts an impressive 3ms response time, making it feel faster and more responsive than ever.

The thinner bezels are part of the reason why Asus was able to shrink down the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX, and interestingly it still has a webcam built into the top bezel of the screen – the Zephyrus S GX701 has had a similar reduction in bezel size, but there it led to Asus cutting the webcam from the body of the laptop, and instead including a standalone webcam.

There's an HDMI port for connecting to an external TV or monitor

There's an HDMI port for connecting to an external TV or monitor

As with the Zephyrus S GX701, the design of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX includes a nifty feature known as the Active Aerodynamic System (AAS), which raises the back of the laptop off the surface when it's opened. 

This angles the keyboard towards the user for a more comfortable typing position, and it also allows for better airflow, enabling GX531GX to draw in cool air and expel hot air – essential when you’ve packed such powerful components into such a slim body. According to Asus, this feature increases airflow by up to 22% compared to traditional designs.

Previously we complained that the AAS panel felt a little flimsy, and Asus has strengthened the design here. Rather than having the whole bottom side of the laptop drop down to create a ramp, the mechanism is restricted to about three-fifths of the notebook's total depth. Also, instead of a plastic panel, Asus has made the bottom of its newest gaming laptop out of a much sturdier magnesium alloy.

Thanks to these improvements there’s barely any noticeable flex in the bottom panel or anywhere else; in fact, it feels like one of the most sturdy gaming laptops we’ve used, and it's passed military-grade MIL-STD-810G standards, which means it can endure vibration, shock and altitudes, as well as multiple drops from a height of 76cm, according to Asus.

We’ll have to take its word on that, as we wouldn't be very comfortable deliberately dropping such an expensive laptop to test out its durability; still, it feels nice and robust, and it’s a laptop you wouldn’t worry about carrying about with you.

While the exterior design of the Zephyrus S GX531GX is impressive, the fact that it features powerful components that generate a lot of heat in such a slimline body means it's the interior engineering that's really remarkable.

Inside the GX531GX wind a series of anti-dust tunnels that connect to the heatsinks to keep them clear, with five pipes funneling air to and from the CPU and GPU, along with two 12V fans with 83 blades each, which are designed to keep the laptop cool while also running as quietly as possible.

Overall, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX, as with the bigger Zephyrus S GX701, represents in our view the pinnacle of gaming laptop design. It's slim, sleek and light, while also offering a hell of a lot of power under the hood.

The trackpad doubles as a numpad via a push of a button

The trackpad doubles as a numpad via a push of a button

Keyboard and trackpad

As with other Zephyrus laptops, the keyboard is situated at the front of the body, rather than towards the rear, which gives Asus more space to place the components. The keyboard itself is large and responsive, and comes with four-zone RGB lighting for a vibrant and quintessentially 'gamer' look. This is Aura Sync compatible, so if you have other Asus gadgets, such as mice and headsets, with RGB lighting, they can all be synced.

The keys are large enough to feel comfortable when you're typing, and crucially feel responsive when playing games. Because of the location of the keyboard at the front of the body, the trackpad is set to the right-hand side of it, rather than in its traditional location below. 

It doesn’t take too long to get accustomed to the new location, and it feels fast and smooth when used in Windows 10. Of course, as this is a gaming laptop you’ll most likely want to use a proper mouse to play your games with, but for quick day-to-day tasks the trackpad is fine.

There’s also a nifty feature that switches the trackpad into a numpad with a quick tap of a button above the trackpad, along with Page Up/Down buttons and another button with the ROG logo which launches the ROG Armoury software, which is used for configuring the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531GX, as well as changing power modes (giving you extra performance in games).