ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 Review : Adult And Strong Gaming Notebook | Tech Reviews
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 looks great, feels great and is a lot of fun to play with. However, the Intel CPU requires extra fan power.
In addition to a lot of performance and a stylish case, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 also scores with a long battery life and quiet fans. It’s probably one of the prettiest gaming laptops in years, but the need for aggressive cooling for the Intel i9 CPU costs it the title of best gaming laptop.
|Display||16 inch (40.64 cm) anti-glare IPS-Panel
Dolby Vision HDR
|2560 x 1600 pixels (WQXGA)
165Hz, 3ms response time
|Processor||12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900H Processor
14 Cores / 20 Threads
6 Performance- / 8 Efficient-Cores
up to 5.00 GHz (Turbo)
Cache 24 MB
|Chart||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU
|RAM||32 GB DDR5 4800 MHz
thereof 16 GB onboard (permanently soldered)
|Hard disk||2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe™ M.2 (expandable)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Triple band) 2*2
10 MBit/s, 100 MBit/s, 1000 Mbit/s
|Connections||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort & Power Delivery)
1x RJ45 LAN Port
1x Thunderbolt 4 (supports DisplayPort & Power Delivery)
1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
1x HDMI 2.0b
|Battery pack||90Wh, 4S1P, 4-cell lithium-ion|
|Input devices||Backlit Chiclet Keyboard
|Camera||720P HD IR Camera for Windows Hello|
|Operating system||Windows 11 Home|
|Dimensions||35.5 x 24.3 x 1.99cm|
Design, feel, handling and connections – simple, elegant and high quality
I really like it when I pick up a laptop for the very first time and immediately know “I don’t have to treat this part like a raw egg”. This is exactly the feeling I had when unpacking the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16. The gaming notebook has a 16-inch black metal case. With a weight of just under 2kg (without power supply), it also feels good in the hand – a good start.
The compact shape is underlined by the very thin display edges. Even the lower display bezel is very slim. This gives the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 a modern look. To do this, the display’s hinge is designed to lift the bottom of the gaming notebook when unfolded with one hand. This allows the fans to better expel warm air and cool the internal components. The warm exhaust air is blown onto the display and then released into the environment.
After the first two hours, the enthusiasm about the beautiful matt black case dampens a little because it is a fingerprint magnet. When the outside temperatures are high, this ensures that the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 looks a bit “fatty” after a week. It’s easy to clean with a microfiber cloth – but it’s still a bit annoying.
A few more words about the positioning of the connections. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 scores with lots of ports. You get USA-A and USB-C (even as Thunderbolt 4) and an HDMI port. The latter in particular are also becoming increasingly rare in gaming notebooks. The HDMI output is connected directly to the Nvidia GPU.
The image signal does not have to be additionally pressed through the Intel internal graphics. Most of the ports are on the left side of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16. It can get very crowded quickly, but that can easily be avoided with a docking station. For the next generation, the micro SD card reader can then be replaced with a fully-fledged SD card reader.
Display – as good as IPS currently gets
A display can sometimes break the neck of a good laptop if it just isn’t as good as the rest of the components. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16. My test copy comes with a 2560×1600 pixel resolution. That is almost 200ppi and thus content is displayed in good sharpness.
For notebooks, I personally think the QHD resolution used here is the best of both worlds. It doesn’t need as much processing power as a 4K panel without any real added value, but it’s significantly sharper than a 1080p display. In addition, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 also uses a 16:10 display, which gives you more space for your tools in creative applications.
There is also nothing to complain about in terms of illumination. It is even on the panel (max. 13% at 100% luminosity) and also achieves excellent brightness at 500 nits. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 relies on an IPS panel. The bright colors and contrasts of OLED do not exist here.
Performance – Intel i9 and RTX 3080Ti
With an Intel Coe i9, 32 GB RAM and an RTX 3080Ti, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 has plenty of power at its disposal. It is therefore not surprising that the gaming notebook goes through the usual everyday tasks like a hot knife through warm butter. The PCIe Gen 4 SSD puts extra pressure on the system.
When it comes to notebook gaming performance, the native display resolution is usually your best indicator. For example, if you have a 1080p display at 240Hz, it’s a gaming notebook for games that benefit from high frame rates. A (nonsensical) 4K panel with 60 or a maximum of 120Hz then feels most comfortable with the most cinematic games possible.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is somewhere in the middle with its 165Hz and 2560×1660 pixels. In addition, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 has a very good panel with beautiful colors that really captivate you thanks to Dolby Vision and HDR10.
In the native resolution and with the graphic settings turned to maximum, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 can then flex its muscles. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the powerhouse then hits 72FPS. I had expected a little more and then realized that I was still in the middle performance profile. So fan on “Turbo” and we’re already at 82FPS – already better. Shooters like Doom run at almost 100 FPS in “Ultra Nightmare”. If you go down a step in the graphics settings (Ultra), it’s 150FPS with Turbo.
Battery – can now last longer
With 90Wh, the battery of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is almost at the maximum limit of what is allowed on domestic flights in the USA. The battery life is correspondingly good. With the energy-hungry components, you get around seven hours of battery life in normal applications. If you want to gamble without a power supply, it takes two hours.
That’s not bad for an Intel gaming laptop, but still enough reason not to stray too far from the outlet. The slim 240W power supply then ensures that the battery of the ROG is fully charged again within a very short time.
Emissions – two extremes
With the included Armory Crate software you can switch between the modes “Silent”, “Balanced” and “Turbo” with the push of a button. On battery power, however, the M16 is limited to its quiet or balanced profiles. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is particularly impressive in “Silent” mode. It’s not inaudible, but the performance is still there and it doesn’t sound like a jet plane taking off. The disadvantage of this is 85°C on the CPU with AAA titles.
In turbo mode, however, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 knows no limits. Then the fans are so loud that I heard the question from the next room how long my test was going to last. On the other hand, the temperatures of the components are significantly lower in this mode. “Balanced” stands between the two extremes.
Software – It is Windows 11
As with all modern notebooks (gaming or not), the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 comes with Windows 11 preinstalled. It had a few initial difficulties, but is now running smoothly for the most part.
In addition, ASUS ROG has also preinstalled some additional apps on the Zephyrus M16. These are mostly the Office apps from Redmond, but also the fear-mongering software McAfee. The latter could have been dispensed with. It can be completely uninstalled. I will not say any more about it.
Upgrade – there is still something to do
At first glance, there are ten Phillips screws between you and the inner workings of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16. However, three more are still hidden in the middle of the base plate – quite unnecessary ASUS, but so be it. After you have loosened the 13 screws, you can carefully remove the base plate. An old plastic card or a sturdy fingernail are very useful.
Inside, the SSD reveals itself first. It is equipped with massive cooling pads. PCIe Gen 4 SSDs get warm under heavy loads and if the heat isn’t dissipated, they will slow down. You should also consider that you need cooling pads if you install a second SSD. you read correctly The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 has a free slot for a second SSD.
There is a small disappointment when it comes to working memory. My version of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 has 32GB of DDR5 memory. There is only one RAM slot on the mainboard and only 16GB is installed in it. Anyone who has been in the notebook sector for a while knows what that means.
The other 16GB are soldered to the mainboard. This limits future updates. That’s a shame as the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is also a good machine for media professionals. However, they would probably prefer 64GB RAM or more. Since only one RAM stick can be replaced, the update will also be expensive.
There are pluses for the battery. It is only screwed and not glued. If the battery cells of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 naturally wear out in a few years, you can replace it with great problems.
Sound – it’s missing some oomph
The speakers of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 sound good. There is a lot of breadth behind it and highs in particular are clean. There’s also enough room for mids. However, the basses are missing and in general I miss the volume behind the sound.
As a result, music, for example, appears clear but not full. What can be heard sounds good, but I personally lack the pressure. Even the settings in the Dolby app cannot change that. The speakers of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 are more than good enough for a podcast and a short YouTube video and for everything else you have to use a good headset.
Conclusion on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 does a lot right. It looks great, has the latest top-of-the-line hardware under the hood, a great thin-bezel display and IR camera with Windows Hello, and an awesome big trackpad that even clicks anywhere.
On the other hand, there is a necessary aggressive cooling solution so that the Intel Core i9 in the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 does not immediately overheat. With a thickness of 2cm and a weight of 2kg, that’s simply the price for the design. For €3,500, this still leaves a stale aftertaste. At the other end of the spectrum, the gamer can be used almost as quietly as it is just doing office tasks.
There are plus points for the increased battery life (compared to the predecessor) and the option to simply retrofit more memory later. The generally mature appearance of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is also positive. The gaming notebook convinces as a complete package, but also has a corresponding price.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is also available with an RTX 3070 Ti laptop GPU (8GB VRAM) and 1TB PCIe 4.0 – also expandable – for only €2,799* . Since the TGP (100W, Boost 120W) is identical for both versions, I would recommend the smaller version for gaming and the larger version for video production and/or gaming + streaming.