The ROG Zephyrus G14 was pretty great on its first iteration, and now packs the latest hardware from Nvidia and AMD. The laptop offers the perfect combination of weight (~3.5 pounds), performance, price, display, footprint, and battery life if you want something that can be carried around like a regular laptop, just with gaming-capable hardware.
The Zephyrus’ magnesium alloy case oozes style, and while the keys are restricted to a white backlight, you can opt for the AniMe Matrix lighting feature. These 1,215 individual LEDs are placed under the lid, allowing buyers to customize the laptop with their own designs and animations. It also shows notifications, and this latest model adds a virtual pet that reacts to system usage and battery life.
Sitting inside Asus’ machine is the Ryzen 9 5900HS, AMD’s 8-core/16-thread chip that can boost up to 4.6GHz. It’s paired with an RTX 3060, a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD, and 16GB RAM (8GB soldered + 8GB removable). The display is a 14-inch 1440p IPS screen that can hit 120 Hz, supports FreeSync (there’s also a 144Hz FHD upgrade) and covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut.
Connectivity consists of two USB-C (one supports DisplayPort), two USB-A, a full-sized HDMI 2.0, a 3.5mm audio jack, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5. It’s also the first ROG laptop to feature fingerprint login on the power button. Being AMD, there’s no Thunderbolt 3, and lacks a webcam.
Battery life, often one of the worst elements of gaming laptops, is great, lasting around 12.5 hours in a looping video test. It may be missing a couple of features, but at $1,749.99 (1TB model), it’s competitively priced in the current market for a balanced, lightweight gaming machine with almost no flaws if this is your kind of gaming system.
Razer’s first Ryzen is pretty good, too
If you want a bit more power for that 14-inch screen, you might want to consider the new Razer Blade 14. It arrives with the overclockable 8C/16T Ryzen 9 5900HX paired with GPUs ranging from the RTX 3060 up to the RTX 3080 with 8GB of VRAM and a 100W TGP.
The three available models offer as options a 1080p/144Hz (base) or 1440p/165Hz screen, and all come with FreeSync Premium, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD, and a 61.6 Whr battery rated for 12 hours.
Razer claims this is the highest performing 14″ gaming laptop you can buy, and the thinnest, too, measuring just 16.8mm. Those flagship components are kept cool using vapor chamber cooling, with extra consideration placed on surfaces that are touched often, such as the WSAD keys to avoid uncomfortable heat. The Blade 14 is packed with ports: two USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, HDMI 2.1, a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, and a 3.5mm combo jack.
Throw in a Windows Hello-capable 720p webcam, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2, an anti-ghosting keyboard with per-key Chroma lighting, all packed into a CNC aluminum chassis with an anodized finish, and the Blade 14 looks like an alluring option for gamers after a 14-inch laptop.
There’s the same lack of Thunderbolt, battery life could be better, the RAM isn’t upgradeable, and it can get warm. The RTX 3060 Blade 14 starts at $1,799, the RTX 3070/QHD version costs $2,199, and the top-of-the-line RTX 3080 version is $2,799. All come with the Ryzen 9 5900HX.