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Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703HS Review

Laptops for gamers with 1440p screens are a novelty on the market, and we got this opportunity to try one of the most elegant in our Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703HS Review. Fortunately, that elegance does not come at the expense of performance. In fact, the Zephyrus S17 is one of the most powerful gaming laptops currently on the market.

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Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 Specifications

  • Screen: 17.3 ”/ IPS 1440p / 300 nits / 165 Hz
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-11900H, 8C / 16T
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 16 GB, 140 W
  • Memory: 2 × 16 GB DDR4 3200
  • SSD: 1 × 2 TB SSD NVMe Gen4
  • Battery: 90 Ah
  • Total disc slots: 3 × M.2 NVMe
  • Network: 1 Gb / s RJ-45 Realtek, Mediatek Wi-Fi 5
  • Connectors and slots: 1 × HDMI 2.0b, 3 × USB 3.2 Gen2, USB-C 3.2 Gen2 with DisplayPort and power supply (100 W), Thunderbolt 4, 3.5 mm audio TRRS, SD card reader UHS-II
  • Weight: 2.6 kg
  • Dimensions / volume: 394 × 264 × 19 mm / 2 liters
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Warranty: 2 + 1 years

Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 Screen

With modern laptops, only two resolutions of integrated monitors have been current for years – Full HD and 4K. The latter resolution was reserved for the most expensive devices that targeted a specific type of user – photographers, video editors, designers, or users who demand high capabilities from the screen, both in terms of resolution and in terms of color display and calibration. At least that’s how it should be in theory, but 4K screens have often been used for gaming as well, and this, combined with mobile graphics cards, quickly proved to be a bad idea, at least when it comes to more demanding games. QHD, respectively, 1440p screens arrive as a life-saving alternative, especially for laptops with 17.3-inch screens. This resolution is extremely popular on desktop PCs because it represents a good compromise between Full HD resolution which is not enough for larger monitors and 4K which is very hardware demanding.asus-rog-zephyrus-s17-gx703hs-screen

This year’s ROG Zephyrus S17 is the first laptop with a screen of this resolution that we had the opportunity to try, although there is also a variant with a 4K panel. As the name suggests, the S17 has a 17.3-inch screen, which dictates its rather large dimensions compared to the usual 15-inch laptops – 394 × 264 × 20 mm with a weight of 2.75 kg. On the other hand, compared to classic 17-inch gaming laptops, the S17 is actually quite slim and counts among the so-called ultra-portable gaming laptops. The Zephyrus S17 can be easily compared to Asus’ ROG Strix Scar 17 models.

These are equally designed laptops, but the Strix Scar 17 is cheaper and more embellished with RGB, while the S17 is more luxurious in design and construction and offers a more elegant look. By comparison, the “classic” 17-inch laptop for older-generation gamers had twice the thickness of the case and weighed about 4 kg.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703HS Look & Feel

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According to the market position, Asus did not save when assembling the S17, so the computer looks extremely robust and high quality. The Asus website points out that the computer has a case made entirely of metal, and that it is a combination of aluminum and magnesium alloy. On the upper outside, there is a solid metal cover of matte texture, anodized in dark gray and decorated with a combination of the dot pattern and ROG logo. Inside, we find a fine rubber finish, typical of gaming peripherals.

asus-rog-zephyrus-s17-gx703hs-materials-usedThe main thing on Zephyrus is the sliding keyboard. Namely, the keyboard is separated from the rest of the upper part of the base, and when you open the laptop, it automatically rises from the base on one side (closer to the connection between the base and the monitor). And while it also makes sense from an ergonomic point of view, this mechanically and design-demanding maneuver was implemented to increase the performance of the cooling system that draws fresh air on the Zephyrus from both the top and bottom. The negative aspect of this approach is the creation of additional openings for the entry of dust, hair, crumbs, and the like into the laptop case or between the keyboard and the laptop base. This can probably be counteracted by more frequent cleaning with an emphasis on blowing, but at the same time, it means that the S17 is probably not a good choice for messy ones.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 (2021) Gaming Laptop, 17.3” 165Hz QHD Display, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, Intel Core i9-11900H, 32GB DDR4, 1TB SSD, Per-Key RGB Keyboard, Thunderbolt 4, Windows 10, GX703HS-XB98
5 Reviews
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 (2021) Gaming Laptop, 17.3” 165Hz QHD Display, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, Intel Core i9-11900H, 32GB DDR4, 1TB SSD, Per-Key RGB Keyboard, Thunderbolt 4, Windows 10, GX703HS-XB98
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 16GB GDDR6 with ROG Boost up to 1645MHz at 125W (140W with Dynamic Boost)
  • Latest 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900H Processor (24M Cache, up to 4.9 GHz, 8 Cores)
  • 165Hz 3ms 17.3” QHD 2560 x 1440 IPS-Type PANTONE Validated G-Sync Display
  • 32GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM | 1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD | Windows 10 Home
  • ROG Intelligent Cooling thermal system with Active Aerodynamic System (AAS Plus) and Thermal Grizzly Liquid Metal Thermal Compound
  • ROG Aura Sync System with Opti Mechanical Per-Key RGB Keyboard
  • Dedicated programmable volume multiwheel
  • Thunderbolt 4 | Wi-Fi 6 with ROG RangeBoost | Bluetooth 5.2 | 720P Webcam

The keyboard is very similar to the Strix Scar 17. First of all, it should be emphasized that it is an optomechanical keyboard that is great for typing but at the same time noticeably noisier than a typical laptop keyboard. The full width of the laptop case has been used, so the keys are above average, and the layout is more similar to standalone PC keyboards than laptop keyboards. For example, the keys in the top row are the same size as all other keys. The same goes for cursor keys that are even separated from the rest of the keyboard making it easy to use. The layout of the numeric keypad, on the other hand, is a bit odd and requires getting used to. The keyboard has RGB lighting and it is adjustable for each key separately, and the usability is greatly contributed by the very solid software support in the form of the Asus’ Aura Sync application.

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While the Scar 17 had several multimedia and programmable keys above a keyboard like this, the Zephyrus has a wide wheel and a button to turn on a computer with a built-in fingerprint sensor. The basic function of the wheel is to control the speaker volume, but if we click on it we can choose other functions such as adjusting the microphone volume, screen brightness, or switching between applications. When we mention the volume of the speakers, we also look at their performance. The S17 is also impressive in this regard as it boasts not two, not four but as many as six speakers. Two are hidden behind the keyboard, two are on the front edge of the device, while the subwoofers are located on the back of the base. Below the keyboard is a large touchpad with integrated keys, the functionality of which we have no complaints about.

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The thin edges of the screen help reduce the size of the laptop

Asus pays a lot of attention to the implementation of monitors with thin edge bars, and the S17 is no exception in this regard. Unlike the Scara 17, which has a fully ejected webcam, the S17 has an average-quality HD webcam and a pair of microphones whose software can be customized – they can act as stereo microphones, omnidirectional mono microphone, or unidirectional mono microphone. The thin edges of the screen greatly contribute to minimizing the dimensions of the laptop. When it comes to choosing a monitor, Asus offers two variants – a 120-hertz 4K screen with a brightness of 500 nits, Pantone calibration and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, and a 165-hertz QHD screen with equal color capabilities, but support for G-Sync.

The tested model has a QHD screen, which is a better choice for players due to its lower resolution and faster refresh. An additional performance advantage is a support for Advanced Optimus technology, which is based on a hardware PCIe switch that allows direct connection of a discrete graphics card, in this case, the RTX-ice 3080, to the display. Most laptops with additional graphics do not have this switch which is why the card signal travels through the integrated graphics in the processor before reaching the monitor, leading to a drop in performance. The problem with this approach is the automatic recognition of the applications used, based on which Advanced Optimus switches between external and integrated graphics cards. This results in frequent pop-up notifications of graphics changes, associated sound, and short screen freezes. Fortunately, in the graphics driver, it is possible to manually select which GPU is connected to the screen, which is a good alternative if Asus does not release some software patch for this problem.

Screen Test Gallery

In terms of display quality, the screen, according to our measurements, does offer a 100% DCI-P3 color palette, a well-adjusted gamma, and a peak brightness of 300 nits, but white point calibration could be better because we measured 7,100 kelvins which is a color slightly cooler than ideal. However, from the perspective of demanding users for whom color rendering is important, the bigger problem is the poor uniformity of color rendering. On the other hand, the uniformity of the backlight is very good with a maximum deviation of only 4%. In addition to the high refresh rate, the used BOE panel also has a fast pixel response, which is often not the case with cheaper laptops. In general, the quality of the screen will satisfy most users, especially gamers, but if the graphics professionals could stay short-sleeved, depending on what kind of monitor pattern they like when buying.

Connectors

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On the left side, there is a round connector for connecting a power adapter, HDMI 2.0b, RJ-45, 10-gigabit USB, Thunderbolt, 10-gigabit USB-C and a headphone connector

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On the right are a pair of 10-gigabit USBs and an SD card reader with UHS-II support

The offer of external connectors is excellent. On the left is a round connector for a power adapter to which we connect a larger brick, HDMI 2.0b, RJ-45 network card connector, 10-gigabit USB 3.2, Thunderbolt 4, 10-gigabit USB-C with support for DisplayPort, and a headphone connector. On the right is two more 10-gigabit USB ports and an SD card reader. It should be noted that the HDMI and Thunderbolt 4 ports are connected to the integrated graphics while the regular USB-C is connected to the GeForce, which is important in the context of achieving maximum discrete graphics performance. The laptop can also be charged via Thunderbolt 4, but in that case, you can’t count on the full performance of the laptop since this port supports up to 100 W.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 (2021) Gaming Laptop, 17.3” 165Hz QHD Display, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, Intel Core i9-11900H, 32GB DDR4, 1TB SSD, Per-Key RGB Keyboard, Thunderbolt 4, Windows 10, GX703HS-XB98
5 Reviews
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 (2021) Gaming Laptop, 17.3” 165Hz QHD Display, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, Intel Core i9-11900H, 32GB DDR4, 1TB SSD, Per-Key RGB Keyboard, Thunderbolt 4, Windows 10, GX703HS-XB98
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 16GB GDDR6 with ROG Boost up to 1645MHz at 125W (140W with Dynamic Boost)
  • Latest 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900H Processor (24M Cache, up to 4.9 GHz, 8 Cores)
  • 165Hz 3ms 17.3” QHD 2560 x 1440 IPS-Type PANTONE Validated G-Sync Display
  • 32GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM | 1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD | Windows 10 Home
  • ROG Intelligent Cooling thermal system with Active Aerodynamic System (AAS Plus) and Thermal Grizzly Liquid Metal Thermal Compound
  • ROG Aura Sync System with Opti Mechanical Per-Key RGB Keyboard
  • Dedicated programmable volume multiwheel
  • Thunderbolt 4 | Wi-Fi 6 with ROG RangeBoost | Bluetooth 5.2 | 720P Webcam

Inside View

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Access to the interior is obtained by unscrewing a set of Torx screws and using a suitable plastic tool to separate the clasps that hold the cover in place. There we are greeted by a surprise – a red PCB that we haven’t seen in ten years. The upper part of the case is expected to be occupied by a massive cooling system with a bunch of hot water pipes and two fans, while the lower part contains a 90-amp-hour battery, three M.2 slots for SSD installation, one SO-DIMM slot, and a Wi-Fi card slot. The computer has soldered 16 GB of DDR4 3200 memory, and there is a board of the same specifications in the SO-DIMM slot. The primary M.2 slot is filled with an extremely fast 2-terabyte Samsung NVMe SSD with a fourth-generation NVNe interface, and the laptop supports the configuration of different types of RAID arrays when multiple M.2 slots are filled. The M.2 Wi-Fi slot contains a card based on Mediatek’s MT7921 chipset, while the wired part of the network is taken care of by a 1-gigabit Realtek controller. We were a little disappointed because we were expecting a Wi-Fi 6E card on a laptop like this.

Beneath the aforementioned massive cooling lies an 8-core i9-11900H, or one of the most powerful 45-watt Tiger Lake mobile processors, and a GeForce RTX 3080 with 16 GB of memory, a peak TDP of 140 W, and a Resizeable BAR included. There are laptops that offer the RTX 3080 with an even higher TDP, and thus performance, but given that the S17 aims for compactness, limitations are expected. Through the Armory Crate application, it is possible to regulate the ratio of performance and noise of the cooling system through several existing profiles, and you can make your own in which we regulate PL1 and PL2 Turbo values ​​of the processor, fan speed curve depending on component temperature, and we can adjust GPU clock. and memory. The Silent profile forces very quiet fan operation at the expense of limited performance, the Performance profile is standard and the fan noise goes up to above average, but still, acceptable 45.5 dBA, while in the Turbo profile the noise can jump up to 50 dBA, which is not worth increasing performance which the profile offers (2-5%). When it comes to heating the case, the situation is excellent as despite the high performance the temperature does not exceed 35 ° C.

Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Asus ROG Zephyrus S17
Processor Core i7-10870H Ryzen 9 5900HX Core i9-11900H
Graphic GeForce RTX 3060 Radeon RX 6800M GeForce RTX 3080
Blender Benchmark
CPU
bmw27* 4 min 17 s 3 min 9 s 3 min 15 s
pavillon_barcelona* 13 min 29 s 8 min 45 s 9 min 6 s
NVIDIA Optix /  OpenCL
bmw27* 23 s 4 min 37 s 15 s
pavillon_barcelona* 1 min 55 s 12 min 37 s 1 min 15 s
Cinebench R23
Multi-core 9.320 12.267 11.824
Single-core 1.185 1.469 1.552
UL Procyon – Photo Editing Benchmark
Photo Editing Benchmark 5.930 6.494 8.151
Video Editing Benchmark 5.277 5.255 6.631
3DMark – Time Spy
Graphics score 7.861 10.516 10.924
CrystalDiskMark 7
Sequential read
2.970 MB/s 3.036 MB/s 7.023 MB/s
Sequential write
2.491 MB/s 1.621 MB/s 5.127 MB/s
Battery
PCMark 10 Office 5 h 37 min 9 h 53 min 5 h 43 min

* less is better

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Performance & Battery

We tested the Zephyrus S17 on the Performance profile and compared it to Asus ’own ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition, which you could read about earlier, based on a combination of the Ryzen 9 5900HX and the mobile Radeon RX 6800 XT. When it comes to pure CPU tests like rendering in Blender, the Strix G15 has a slight advantage. On the other hand, games are dominated by Zephyrus, just like in applications where combined processor and graphics performance is used, such as in Photoshop or Premiere. The RTX 3080 is a very powerful card and can handle QHD resolution even in the most demanding titles. Still, don’t expect miracles – the framerate is around 60 fps when using the maximum display quality settings, which is significantly less than the refresh rate of the monitor on this laptop.

Asus high-performance laptops offer good battery life thanks to software configuration tricks. In particular, the Silent profile is automatically applied when switching to the battery, and the screen refresh rate is lowered to 60 Hz. In our standard test that uses a screen brightness of 200 nits and simulates office work using PCMark 10, Zephyrus lasted almost six hours which is a very good result.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703HS Review

Pros

  • Very good 165-hertz QHD screen
  • Thin edges of the screen
  • Very high performance in all types of applications
  • MUX switch
  • Excellent cooling
  • Very attractive RGB lighting
  • Convincing construction
  • Great keyboard and touchpad
  • Easy access to the interior
  • Software configuration options (Armory Crate)
  • Possibility of charging via USB-C port
  • Connector offer
  • Great speakers
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Problems with Advanced Optimus technology

Final Thoughts

Asus’ ROG Zephyrus S17 manages to combine high performance, a good screen and speakers, high-quality workmanship, and relatively compact dimensions into a harmonious whole. Therefore, if you are looking for a 17-inch beast that will not fall off your shoulders during transport, it is a great choice, provided that you are ready to close your eyes to its peppery price. Alternatively, there are cheaper models with i7 processors and RTX 3060 or RTX 3070 graphics. For all of them, Asus provides an extension of the warranty from two to three years until the end of the year, for which it is necessary to register on the official website of the manufacturer.

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