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Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Gaming power meets portability

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is one of the best gaming laptops on the market right now. But which model is the better pick for you?

The Zephyrus M16 is one of the most powerful gaming laptops from Asus. It comes with top-of-the-line specs.
The Zephyrus M16 is one of the most powerful gaming laptops from Asus. It comes with top-of-the-line specs. (Asus)

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Are you an avid or professional gamer willing to break the bank to get that all-important edge, while competing against others? Look no further than the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16, which is currently one of the best gaming laptops around. Asus’ ROG line of laptops has been the top choice for gamers for quite some time now. The ROG Zephyrus M16 builds on that legacy.

Gaming laptops are meant to be plugged in (especially while gaming) and aren’t built to be lugged around daily. If, by chance, you do take it outside of its “home”, then do expect poor battery life (even if all you’re doing is browsing the internet) and less-than-expected performance, if it isn’t plugged to a wall socket. This laptop, despite the vapour chamber cooling, will still run hot when pushed to the max. Last, but not least, these types of laptops will weigh heavily on your wallet.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s crack on. Let me tell you why I think the ROG Zephyrus M16 is one of the best gaming laptops on the market right now.

The Zephyrus M16 is one of the most powerful gaming laptops from Asus. It comes with top-of-the-line specs: the Intel Core i9-13900H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card, 32GB DDR5 RAM, 1TB SSD, and a 16-inch miniLED 240Hz panel with a 3ms response time. The pricing, you may ask? You’ll have to shell out a whopping 2,99,990, to get your hands on this machine. The variant I’ve been testing is priced at 3,64,990.

What’s cooking

“If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” This saying applies to the Zephyrus M16’s design. It looks almost the same as last year’s model, except for the inclusion of the AniMe Matrix LED lid, which we first got to see in the Zephyrus G14 range. Despite all that firepower, Asus has done a good job of maintaining portability by using magnesium alloy for the whole body. The lid is made out of aluminium. All said and done, Asus has done a good job vis-a-vis the design and the laptop feels completely premium.

Open up the laptop and you’re greeted with a stunning display. The Zephyrus M16 comes with a 16-inch QHD+ Mini-LED display (with 100 per cent coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut). It has a 2560x1600 pixels resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. The peak brightness is 1,100 nits, which is plenty bright for most situations.

Having such a display is a treat when watching movies or driving through the streets of Mexico in Forza Horizon 5 racing video game. Some may even argue that the display upgrade is more important than the CPU or GPU upgrades. I tend to agree. The only downside to the display is that the screen flashes and blacks out for a few seconds when switching between integrated graphics and the discrete GPU. 

Gamers may like the design, and even be floored by the beefy internals, but if the performance doesn’t match, then it is all a futile effort. Fortunately, the Zephyrus M16 isn’t just a favourite among gamers for nothing. The performance delivers, and how.

Most of my time with the laptop was spent playing games like Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveFar Cry 6Halo Infinite, Fifa 23, Valorant, and more. All these games ran without any noticeable lag on their highest settings.

The webcam has been upgraded to Full HD (with Windows Hello facial recognition) and it’s more than handy for streaming or attending your work meetings, if needed. The backlit keyboard has good travel feedback, the touchpad feels fluid with satisfying clicks, and the laptop’s audio (powered by Dolby Atmos) is impressive thanks to the stereo speakers that may be light on bass, but deliver clear and balanced sound.

What’s not cooking

As I mentioned above, the performance is blazingly fast. Asus though has stopped just short of making this laptop the speediest of them all. The Core i9-13900H chip, with 14 cores, pales in comparison to the 24-core Core i9-13900HX chip inside of the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (which should launch in India soon). The RTX 4090 is also limited to 150 watts, which is less than ideal for the graphics card. It also tends to run hot when being pushed to the limits.

The battery life and accompanying charging bricks are always a sore point for gaming laptops. With the Zephyrus M16, things are no different. For 2023, Asus has upgraded the Zephyrus M16’s battery to a massive 90Wh but even that isn’t enough.

Don’t stray too far from any charging outlet as the Zephyrus M16 lasted barely five hours on a single charge. If you’re playing games, then expect just 90 minutes of playing time before the juice runs out. There’s a bundled 280W adapter that takes less than 90 minutes to fully charge the laptop. If the bulky charger isn’t to your liking, then you can charge the laptop with a 100W USB-C PD charger, albeit at much slower speeds.

Is this a gaming laptop for you?

Asus has come up with a winning combination of power and portability. There’s a lot to like about the Zephyrus M16, apart from the subpar battery life. There’s the understated design (with the AniMe Matrix LED lid, an excellent 240HZ Mini LED display, plenty of ports, and a full HD webcam.

The Zephyrus M16, however, doesn’t make full use of the RTX 4090 graphics card. Hence, it may be worth saving money and going for the RTX 4080 model. One would have hoped many more variants had come to town (like they have in the US), but alas, it’s just these two.

For a fully loaded model at 3,64,990, the Zephyrus M16 is definitely expensive. That said, it’s still one of the best in the market, at the moment. If you’re serious about your gaming, the Zephyrus M16 should be at the top of your shopping list.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist

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