Nvidia’s energy-efficient Max-Q technology helps gaming laptops slim down, and at CES 2020 today, they’ve reached a new milestone. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is the first 14-inch laptop ever equipped with GeForce RTX 20-series graphics.
Due partly to thermal concerns, most gaming laptops span 15.6 or even 17 inches, with tiny 14-inch form factors reserved for the likes of netbooks and thin-and-lights. No more, though—the ROG Zephyrus G14 is impressively svelte for a game-ready notebook, measuring just 0.7-inches thick and 3.5 lbs. That’s only a smidge more than the MacBook Air in all dimensions, but Apple’s laptop doesn’t do ray-tracing or 1440p gaming.
To be fair, however, this laptop might not handle ray-traced games especially well, as the beefier RTX 2080 Max-Q for notebooks barely pulled ahead of the desktop GeForce RTX 2060 in synthetic ray-tracing benchmarks. Max-Q mobile versions of Nvidia’s GPUs run at lower clock rates to increase their energy efficiency, which obviously affects performance. Nevertheless, this is a very impressive engineering feat.
So how did Asus manage to stuff a GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q into such a tiny package? Nvidia wouldn’t divulge details, only saying it remains committed to advancing the Max-Q cause to help its partners push the envelope.
But we spoke to Asus about the laptop as well, and it said that the ROG Zephyrus G14 also features AMD's just-announced Ryzen 4000 "Renoir" mobile processor—and not just any Ryzen 4000 processor, but a "special CPU that generates less heat, enabling an unprecedented level of performance for such a compact chassis." Asus says it partnered with AMD for exclusive access to the 35W chip, which features 8 cores and 16 threads.
Nvidia's Max-Q GPUs and AMD's Ryzen 4000-series mobile chips sound like a potent one-two punch when it comes to efficiency. It’s exciting to see such powerful graphics work its way into such a sleek, small form factor.
The Asus ROG Zephryus G14 comes loaded with other delicious features as well, including Wi-Fi 6, a USB Type-C connection with Power Delivery for external monitors, a magnesium alloy deck, and self-cleaning cooling. But the highlight has to be the "AniMe Matrix" available on select models, which crams 1,215 mini-LEDs with 256 levels of brightness into the lid. "Users can import animated GIFs and other graphics,
build custom animations frame by frame, and type text messages with different fonts," the press release reads. "Visualizations react to music and other audio, creating a unique platform for DJs and other artists."
My colleague Gordon Mah Ung got to witness this badass beast firsthand. Check it out in the video at the top of this article, and look for the ROG Zephyrus G14 to hit the streets sometime in the first half of the year.