Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 2020 gaming laptop Review: A decent stop-gap
Looking at the 2020 launch timeline, the Zephyrus series of laptops is still months away from the launch in India. In the meantime, here is our review of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 2020 gaming laptop.
Asus has divided its ROG gaming laptop lineup into three different lineups including the TUF, Strix, and Zephyrus. Strix is the top-of-the-line series meant for gamers while TUF is reserved for a more budget-oriented audience. On the other hand, Zephyrus is aimed towards content creators or gamers who can do away with less-flashy designs. It is usually for people who want to create, game, and consume content regardless of the setting. This lineup also includes some of the crazier designs like the dual-screen Zephyrus Duo series and more. The company first announced the ROG Zephyrus M15 on the global stage in April 2020 and then brought it back to India in September.
Looking at the 2020 launch timeline, the Zephyrus series of laptops is still months away from the launch in India. However, the company has already announced several Zephyrus laptops at its CES 2021 announcement event. The 2021 lineup of the Zephyrus-branded laptop includes the Duo 15 SE. Pro Duo series, Zephyrus G14, and G15. Considering the gap, we thought that it is the right time to check the ROG Zephyrus M15 from 2020. So, here is our review of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 2020 gaming laptop.
|CPU||10th gen Intel Core i7 10750H, 6cores, 12 threads, up to 5.00 GHz|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, 8GB GDDR6|
|Display Size||15.6-inch 4K Display, 16:9 aspect ratio, 100% Adobe RGB, 132.7% sRGB, 60Hz refresh rate|
|Ports||2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4, Power Delivery 3.0, Thunderbolt 3, and G-Sync, 1x DC (power) input, HDMI 2.0b, RJ45, Headphone/Microphone Combo|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.1|
Variants and Price in India, availability
Asus has listed about 12 variants of its ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop on its website. All these variants feature different combinations of the display, GPU, and color options. The rest of the specifications of the Zephyrus M15 are identical to one another. One can get up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB Video memory and up to a 4K display. The 4K resolution option comes with a 60Hz refresh rate and 100 percent Adobe RGB coverage, something ideal for content creation. Gamers should opt for the FHD resolution version which features a 240Hz refresh rate with a 3ms response time.
Intel shared the Zephyrus M15 with Core i7-10750H CPU, a 6 cores processor with 12 threads for review. Our unit also features a 4K display with a 60Hz refresh rate, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070, 16GB RAM, and 1TB NVMe storage. The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 starts at Rs 1,39,990 maxing out at Rs 1,59,990. You can likely get the laptop for a lower price depending on the platform of your choice and any purchase offers. However, it is worth noting that the top-end variant of the laptop in India does not feature RTX 2070 GPU. Instead, as mentioned above, it comes with RTX 2060 with 6GB GDDR6 video memory.
The gaming performance of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 2020
Starting with the gaming aspect of the Zephyrus M15, we get a decent balance of value and performance. The Intel Core i7-10750H CPU pairs well will Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU to offer solid framerates across the range. Though M15 features a generation older CPU with two lesser cores than its 11th-Gen counterparts on paper, it does not matter. Similarly, the laptop comes with RTX 2070 in comparison to the newer RTX 3000 series GPUs.
The older generation hardware may seem like a disadvantage for the laptop on paper. But the component shortage on the desktop side and limited RTX 3000 series-powered gaming laptops availability work in favor of M15. 11th-Gen Intel Core i7 and RTX 3000 series-powered gaming laptops are yet to hit the market in abundance. One should note that the Zephyrus M15 does not offer the absolute best that we have seen but it does manage to take on its competition. As noted in our Legion 5i review, Core i7-10750H ensures that M15 is not CPU-bound when it comes to performance.
We tested the framerates that the laptop offered across 12 AAA titles. The list includes Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Borderlands 3, Control, Doom Eternal, Far Cry New Dawn, Gears of War 5, GTA 5, and Horizon Zero Dawn. It continues with Red Dead Redemption 2, Troy: A Total War Saga, Hitman 2, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Editor’s Note: Results in the game benchmarks are from the default, out-of-the-box graphics settings. You can get higher or lower FPS based on your preference.
Editor’s Note: Unigen Superposition Benchmark scores are taken in "1080p High" present, 3D Mark scores are from the Time Spy Extreme test and PCMark 10 scores are from the "Regular" test present.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 2020 Thermal performance
Moving from the good parts in the gaming and CPU performance, let’s move on to the less-than-ideal aspect of the laptop, the thermals. Here, the laptop emulates what we saw in our Legion 5i review with high temperatures. While pushing the laptop to its edge in extended gaming and benchmark sessions, the Zephyrus M15 thermal throttles with peak temperatures of 102 degrees Celsius. Even though the peak temperatures paint an incomplete and misleading picture as the Intel Core i7-10750H settles down to showcase an average of 68-degrees Celsius. But the peak does leave the laptop with a hot exterior (more on that later).
Like all Asus-branded gaming laptops, the thermal profile for the Zephyrus M15 is set at “Performance” out of the box. This means that users can push things further by switching to the “Turbo” or “Manual” profiles in the Armoury Crate app. Talking about the GPU temperatures, we achieved an average of 75-degrees Celsius with a peak of 85-degrees Celsius. Asus has used Liquid-metal on the CPU to achieve the average temperatures that we observed.
Inspecting the design of the laptop, it does not appear to be well ventilated when compared to Legion 5i and this results in a hot metal slab. The Magnesium Alloy chassis tends to become sufficiently hot that we won’t recommend anyone to use it as a “lap”-top under extended, heavy load.
There are no surprises in the battery section as we got about 4.5-5 hours of backup on a single charge during a regular workday. This includes a lot of web browsing, writing, emails, and light image editing at 75 percent screen brightness. Zephyrus M15 owners can get some more battery backup by reducing the screen brightness and tweaking the power profile. Users with an FHD resolution display will likely get even better numbers from the 76Whr battery. Like any other gaming laptop, we got about 1.25 hours of backup while gaming which is not advisable. Finally, it took about 1.5 hours to charge the laptop from 0 to 100 percent with the help of included 230W AC Adapter.
Daily use: Design, Keyboard, Software, Audio, and more
During daily use, the highlight of the laptop is likely the sleek design with slim bezels. Asus has made use of the Honeycomb design inside the laptop to re-enforce the Magnesium Alloy. As part of the design, the Zephyrus M15 also features a “Soft-touch” finish to offer an impressive experience to the user. The company has also added a dual finish design on the top lid of the laptop to offer a “prismatic dot design” for style.
Besides the design, we get an ordinary Chiclet keyboard with back-lighting, per-key RGB control, and a number-pad. Other features of the keyboard include n-key rollover, and four, dedicated, multimedia keys on the top. Like any other gaming laptop from Asus, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 also comes with support for the Armoury Crate app, Windows 10 Home, MyASUS app, and some pre-installed programs like McAfee. Talking about the audio, the laptop features a built-in array microphone, ESS Sabre HiFi DAC with support for Hi-Res Audio, and 7.1 surround sound.
In practice, the speakers on the laptop are passable but we would advise buyers to get a pair of headphones to drown out the coil whine from the fans while gaming. The quality of the display is one of the best we have seen with accurate colors and brightness for content creation. Interested buyers should note that the laptop does not feature a built-in webcam. Instead, they need to get an external camera like the ROG GC21 or any other solution to make video calls.
Verdict: Should you purchase the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 2020?
The Intel Core i7-10750H equipped Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 performs in line with any other Zephyrus series product in the market. We get a sleek package that can blend in professional situations or hold its own in the eSports and gaming arena. The best part is that it is likely more easily available than the latest (and limited) 11th Gen Intel Core (and RTX 3000 series) devices. Zephyrus M15 can also hold its own against the competition when it comes to performance across the board at a competitive price.
If you don’t mind slightly outdated hardware and need a sleek gaming laptop ASAP, then M15 is the way to go. Otherwise, one can wait for more 11th gen-powered products to hit the market. One may likely need to wait for a few weeks or months to get the latest-generation hardware in India. If you want newer hardware, then you can check our Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 review. Finally, if you want to look at other brands then one can look at gaming laptops from Dell, Lenovo, Acer, and more.