It's been two years since I reviewed the first ASUS Zephyrus G14, but my fondness for it hasn't waned. It's colored my view of every gaming laptop since: Why can't they all pack in great performance in a compact 3.5-pound case for under $1,500? Now, with its latest edition, ASUS is fixing the G14's major flaw: It's finally adding a webcam. Together with AMD's latest Ryzen 6000 chips and Radeon GPUs, the 2022 G14 sounds like a dream machine on paper. But, thanks to significantly higher configuration prices, it's no longer a value-oriented machine. And that’s a shame.
Aside from the pricing change, though, the new Zephyrus G14 builds on everything we loved about the original. The sturdy magnesium alloy case returns, and select models feature more of ASUS's "AniMe Matrix" LEDs, which can display images and text on the back of the screen. You can choose between 14-inch 144Hz 1080p and 120Hz 1440p screens, which offer 400 and 500 nits of brightness, respectively. That's a huge leap from last year's 300-nit screen, and it makes the displays much better suited for Dolby Vision HDR (another helpful addition).
And then there's the webcam. That's not something we'd usually highlight, but it's notable for the Zephyrus G14. The 2020 model was one of the first modern gaming notebooks that didn't feature any sort of camera, a move that helped ASUS achieve some impressively thin screen bezels. Given that many gamers already have better external cameras for streaming, it didn't seem like a huge deal at the time. But of course, now that many of us need to be ready to hop on a Zoom at the drop of a hat, that calculus has shifted a bit. The G14's IR camera also supports Windows Hello, so it can securely log you in without much fuss.
With a webcam in tow, the Zephyrus G14 has just about all of the features we'd want in a gaming laptop. And it's bolstered by impressive new hardware under the hood: the Ryzen 9 6900HS, AMD's latest eight-core powerhouse chip, as well as either Radeon RX 6700S or 6800S graphics. Those GPUs are meant for thin and light notebooks like the G14, with better performance-per-watt ratings than the previous NVIDIA RTX 3060. ASUS also ramped up cooling significantly this time around, thanks to a vapor chamber cooler and liquid metal thermal paste for both the CPU and GPU.
All of this new gear amounts to a bit more heft than the original 3.5-pound G14, unfortunately. It starts at 3.6 pounds without the AniMe Matrix LED display, and it scales up to 3.8 pounds with the LEDs. That's still relatively light compared to the competition, though. The Razer Blade 14 weighs 4.1 pounds, and the Alienware x14 comes in just under four pounds.
3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)
ATTO (top reads/writes)
ASUS Zephyrus G14 (2022, AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, Radeon RX 6800S)
3.5 GB/s / 4 GB/s
ASUS Zephyrus G14 (2020, AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS, NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-Q)
1.7 GB/s / 1.67 GB/s
Alienware x14 (Intel i7-12700H, NVIDIA RTX 3060)
4.32 GB/s / 4.54 GB/s
Razer Blade 14 (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, NVIDIA RTX 3080)
3 Gb/s / 2GB/s
ASUS Zephyrus G15 (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q)
3.3 GB/s / 2.85 GB/s
Once I saw the Zephyrus G14 in action, I didn't mind that it was slightly heavier. Our review unit was one of the most premium options: a $2,499 configuration with the Ryzen 9 6900HS, Radeon 6800S, 32GB of DDR5 RAM and the AniME Matrix. Not surprisingly, it was a significant upgrade from the 2020-era G14 I tested, though that was also a $1,499 build with an RTX 2060. The new G14 held its own against the Razer Blade 14 and Alienware x14 in PCMark 10, Geekbench and 3DMark's TimeSpy Extreme benchmark. If you're particularly interested in multi-threaded performance, though, it's worth noting that the hybrid 12th-gen Intel CPU in the Alienware x14 practically blew away the G14.
In Halo Infinite, my current multiplayer addiction, the Zephyrus G14 hovered between 80 and 100 fps in 1440p with all of the graphics settings cranked to the max. That's perfectly playable, though it's unfortunate that such an expensive machine can't completely fill the monitor's 120Hz refresh rate. I didn't notice any tearing or stuttering though, thanks to the display's FreeSync Premium support. Older titles like Destiny 2 and Overwatch surpassed 120 fps in 1440p easily, as you'd expect. Still, the cost of our review unit never left my mind. For $2,500, I'd expect something a bit more future-proof.
As for ray tracing performance, I was pleased to see that the G14 was only slightly behind the RTX 3060-equipped Alienware x14 in 3DMark's Port Royal benchmark. Unfortunately, it's still not powerful enough to keep Control above 60 fps in 1440p with medium ray tracing settings. NVIDIA's GPUs can hit that mark by relying on its DLSS AI upscaling technology, but Control doesn't yet support's AMD's alternative, FidelityFX Super Resolution.
Thanks to its improved cooling system, the Zephyrus G14 ran far quieter than the 2020 model, even when I was in a prolonged Halo Infinite Big Team Battle session. The CPU never surpassed 85 celsius, while the GPU typically stayed around 75 celsius under load. Most importantly, the "Silent" fan mode lived up to its name, which is a big deal if you ever need to bring your gaming laptop into a quiet coffee house or meeting room.
While I was gaming, watching videos or just bumming around the web, I genuinely appreciated the G14's revamped "ROG Nebula Display." In addition to the faster refresh rates and Dolby Vision support, it's also a 16-by-10 aspect ratio now, which gives you a bit more vertical space for scrolling documents. Halo Infinite's war-torn maps looked vibrant and detailed on the G14, and I appreciated having Dolby Vision while I watched a few Netflix shows. The computer's HDR support is a bit confounding, though. Windows 11 doesn't detect it as an HDR capable display, and I couldn't view any HDR YouTube videos. And yet somehow, I was still able to watch Netflix with Dolby Vision HDR enabled. I've asked ASUS for clarification on those issues, and will update this review as I learn more.
As much as I love the idea of 14-inch gaming laptops, their cramped keyboards often leave me underwhelmed. Uncomfortable fingers could easily mean the difference between winning or losing a multiplayer match. Thankfully, the G14's keyboard, while small, handled my fast-moving digits just fine. There's a satisfying amount of travel too, which helps both during gaming and general typing. While I certainly wouldn't mind a larger keyboard, the G14's felt kinder to my gaming-battered digits than the Alienware x14 or Blade 14. But seriously, folks, if these companies can make luxuriously wide keyboards for their 13-inch ultraportables, why can’t they do the same for gaming hardware?
I'm more impressed with the Zephyrus G14's new trackpad, which is 50 percent larger than it was last year. I'm of the mind that you can never really have a trackpad that's too big, so I appreciated having more space to swipe around and use finger gestures. I never once mistakenly hit the wrist pad by accident, which is really all I'm asking for in a notebook these days.
Unlike other slim machines, the G14 is equipped with all of the ports you'd need: two USB 3.2 Type-C ports, two USB 3.2 Type-A connections, a full-sized HDMI 2.0 socket, a combination audio jack and a microSD card reader. The laptop's 240-watt power supply also pushes more juice than last year's, which means you'll see a faster charge than before. (You can also charge over USB-C in a pinch, but that won't deliver enough power while gaming.)
During our battery test, which involves looping an HD video, the G14 lasted nine hours and 46 minutes. That's almost two hours longer than the Alienware x14 lasted. And during my typical workflow of juggling dozens of browser tabs, editing photos, and hopping on Zoom calls, the G14 usually kept going for over seven hours. That's not impressive when ultraportables are well into double-digit battery life, but that's the price you pay for having a slim-yet-powerful machine.
Pricing is where things get sticky with the Zephyrus G14. It technically starts at $1,600, according to ASUS. But the cheapest model you can currently snag at Best Buy goes for $1,650 with a quad HD display, Ryzen 9 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD and a Radeon RX 6700 GPU. You can also bump up to a Radeon RX 6800 GPU for $1,900. While those prices aren’t unreasonable when it comes to gaming laptops, they’re significantly more than the $1,050 starting price of the 2020-era model. Our original review unit came in at just $1,450 with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 9 4900HS, and 16GB of RAM.
While it started out as a surprisingly affordable 14-inch gaming laptop, the G14 is now firmly in mid-range or even premium notebook territory. Chalk it up to the global chip crunch, price inflation (which, admittedly, is affecting all PC makers) and all of the other supply chain issues we’re facing in 2022. If you’re looking for pure power, the Blade 14 starts at $2,000 with the Ryzen 9 6900HX, an RTX 3060, and a 144Hz 1080p screen. The Alienware x14, meanwhile, starts at $1,600 with a Core i7-12700H and RTX 3050 GPU (go up to $1,900 and you can add the RTX 3060). ASUS is still your best option if you absolutely need a quad HD display, but if you just care about high frame rates, you’ve got better options.
And when it comes to our review model, you’re basically just paying a huge premium to get decent hardware in a slim case. Personally, I’d opt for the heavier $2,500 Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which has an RTX 3070, Core i7-12800H and a 15-inch 240Hz quad HD screen. But that’s admittedly an unfair comparison – I realize some people don’t mind paying more for portability.
The Zephyrus G14 is still an incredibly compelling 14-inch notebook, especially if you’re aiming for one of the cheaper models. It’s powerful, slim and it finally has a webcam. But it’s also lost much of what made the 2020 model so special. I suppose that’s progress, though. ASUS kicked off a trend, but now it’s racing to keep up with the competition.