Asus ROG Zephyrus (GTX 1070) Max-Q Gaming Laptop Review

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Price Analysis & Conclusion

When we initially tested the Asus ROG Zephyrus, we were excited to see how well Nvidia's new Max-Q technology was implemented. The thought of a gaming laptop consuming less power, generating less heat, and packaged in a smaller footprint while sacrificing 85-90% performance seemed like a compelling trade-off. The GTX 1080 Max-Q certainly delivered, but the Zephyrus itself appeared to hold back the GPU's potential. Revisiting the Zephyrus with a GTX 1070 puts Max-Q back into perspective.

The Zephyrus delivered outstanding performance in synthetic tests, battling Eurocom's Q5 with its GTX 1070 Max-Q, while slightly underperforming  the MSI GE63VR Raider (its GTX 1070 doesn't have the Max-Q restrictions). The Zephyrus (GTX 1070) also features an incredibly fast Samsung SM961, granting it the read and write speeds we would expect from a high-end laptop. The only downside is the lack of HDD storage.

In a few cases, the GTX 1070 Max-Q kept its promise by delivering 85-90% of a regular GTX 1070's performance. A few notable examples of this are Grand Theft Auto V, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and The Division, which are some of our most demanding benchmark titles. In fact, we didn't find an instance where the Zephyrus' (GTX 1070) gaming performance dipped below 85% of the MSI Raider's output. Rather, we found the GTX 1070 Max-Q delivering more than 90% of the MSI Raider's performance in all other titles. This bodes well for gamers looking for outstanding performance without the extra bulk.

One of the complaints we had about the GTX 1080 (Max-Q) version of the Zephyrus was its battery life. This time around, the 50Wh battery has a less demanding GPU, thus extending the Zephyrus battery life by about 10 minutes.

Cooling is paramount in a thin-and-light gaming laptop. The GTX 1080 introduced quite a bit of heat in the Zephyrus' thin chassis, but the cooling solution has a much easier time dealing with a GTX 1070. What we didn't expect was how well the Zephyrus does here against the MSI Raider, whose thicker chassis accommodates a larger cooling solution.

The previously tested Zephyrus exhibited outstanding display qualities, and the GTX 1070 Max-Q version is no different. It has crisp contrasts and impeccable grayscale accuracy. Similarly, color accuracy is outstanding. The display's biggest issue is a slight under-saturation.

The GTX 1070 Max-Q version of the Zephyrus retails for $2,300, which is a fair price (comparatively) to pay considering its slim form factor. At the time of this writing, however, the Zephyrus can be found for as low as $1,950, considerably more affordable than its $2,700 GTX 1080 Max-Q variant. The Eurocom Q5 configuration we reviewed was also around this price range, although its base model sits at around $1,740 and features less memory and no M.2 SSD. A base model MSI GE63VR Raider with a GTX 1070 will set you back $1,800, making the Zephyrus $200 more expensive (at its lowest price). That's the premium you pay for the size trade-off.

The improved battery life, stellar display, improved cooling, and excellent performance make this the best Max-Q laptop we've tested.

MORE: Best Gaming Laptops

MORE: Gaming Laptop Previews

MORE: All Laptop Content

  • AgentLozen
    Hey Stephen555! Thanks for the Instagram link!

    I was really dubious about the whole Max-Q thing when I first heard about it. I didn't think it was possible to get a big video card into a slim laptop without thermal consequences.

    It seems like I was right to be skeptical about the GTX 1080. That card seems to get hot no matter how much you cripple it's performance. The GTX 1070, on the other hand, seems to hit a sweet spot. The performance is excellent and the temperatures are reasonable. The testing also shows that the display is fantastic. If I was in the market for a new laptop today, I would seriously consider getting ASUS Zephyrus 1070 Max Q after reading this review.

    As it stands, I'm willing to wait a few months for Volta.
  • milkod2001
    If a few months mean next year then yeah go ahead and wait.
  • AgentLozen
    milkod2001 said:
    If a few months mean next year then yeah go ahead and wait.

    That's news to me. I'd like to read the source you got that from. Would you mind posting a link?
  • sellputcall
    That keyboard without a palm rest looks _really_ uncomfortable. Anyone try it and has an opinion on it?