It is easy to be impressed by the Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703 gaming notebook on paper. The machine has an upper-midrange Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card with 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth, a supercharged Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, and a whopping 32 GB of RAM, making it one of the most powerful notebooks on the market.

The ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703 is a keyboard-less laptop that comes with an 8th generation Intel Core i9-8950HK processor. The system, which is a little smaller than the typical 15-inch laptop, has a 17.3-inch display and a sharp 4K UHD display. The laptop is able to work across a wide range of applications, thanks to the 8th gen Intel Core i9-8950HK processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics card.

The 2021 Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703 piqued my interest when I first heard about it. So I was really excited to spend some time with it and see if it would live up to my expectations in real life.

We offer a powerful 17-inch laptop that is thin and light, with powerful hardware specifications, a reasonable thermal design, good inputs and outputs, and two high-quality display options. Additionally, Asus has implemented a slide-out keyboard that detaches from the components, making it significantly cooler than other slim models during heavy loads and games.

At the same time, the Zephyrus S17 is one of ROG’s most expensive laptops, especially in the i9 + RTX 3080 variants. So it needs to stand out from more traditional models like the ROG Scar 17 to justify the price. Still, the price is not absurd and is about on the same level as the current Razer Blade 17 or MSI GE76 Raider.

Before you get into this article, you should know that I first spent time with the preliminary version of the S17, which we covered in an article a few weeks ago; in the meantime, I also received two completed devices that we had a good time testing and comparing, and I’ve compiled all my final thoughts into this detailed review below. So let’s go.

Specifications – ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703

2021 ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703HS
View 17.3, 16:9, non-touch, matt,
UHD 3840 x 2160 px IPS, 120Hz 3ms at 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB, with AdaptiveSync or
QHD 2560 x 1440 px IPS, 165Hz 3ms at 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB, with Advanced Optimus/GSync
Processor Intel Tiger Lake, Core i9-11900H (8C/16T)
Video Intel + Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop 16 GB (125 W, up to 140 W with Dyn Boost) in 703HS
Memory 32GB DDR4 3200 (16GB onboard, 1x DIMM, up to 48GB)
Storage an SSD (3x M.2 PCIe gen4 slots)
Please contact WiFi 6 (Mediatek ?) 2×2 with Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
Ports 3x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C gen2, HDMI 2.0b, SD card reader, LAN, headset and microphone.
Battery Power 90Wh, 280W + USB-C charging up to 100W
Size 394 mm or 15.51 (W) x 264 mm or 10.39″ (D) x 19.9 mm or .78 (H).
Weight 2.75 kg (6.06 lbs), .9 kg (1.98 lbs) Power brick and cable, EU version
Further information RGB keyboard with one button, backlight and opto-mechanical switches, 6x speakers, HD webcam, finger sensor in power button.

This article is about the Zephyrus S17 GX703HS configuration with QHD display and Nvidia 3080 GPU. However, we’ve included details of the 4K display variant below, and we’ll follow with a separate article on the cheaper Zephyrus S17 GX703HM configuration with an i7-11800H processor, 16GB of RAM and RTX 3060 graphics. I expect a lot of interest in this model, as it is much cheaper than the 3070/3080 models.

Back to our GX703HS test device: This is a QHD screen configuration, with Advanced Optimus and GSync. Unlike the regular Optimus available in most other ROG laptops and the S17 variant with 4K display, the Advanced Optimus still allows on-the-fly switching between the iGPU and dGPU depending on the active load, but with the ability to connect the laptop’s internal screen directly to the Nvidia GPU via MUX. Classic Optimus sends the signal through the iGPU, which in some cases affects performance, especially in older games.

Normally, Advanced Optimus would have been a major selling point for this QHD version of the Zephyrus S17, but it proved to be an annoyance on our device, and we’ll explain why in the performance section.

Design, construction and ergonomics

The S17 is currently my favorite Asus model, both in terms of looks and feel with daily use.

The aesthetic is all matte black, with muted black branding elements: the ROG Zephyrus name etched under the screen or the ROG logo on the cover, which is glossy black and unlit. In fact, there are no backlights or RGB elements on this model, which opens the door to professional environments where other ROG laptops are not acceptable.

The only drawback is that the surface gets smeared easily, as do the rubberized keys. For clarity, I have intentionally attached a photo showing what the laptop looks like after about a week of use, when it has not been cleaned. Not really. Oh, and Asus also put stickers on the armrest that I would have removed; they don’t belong on this otherwise ultra-clean design.

Apart from the aesthetic aspect, Asus has also focused on the quality of manufacturing. Thick metal parts are used for the entire chassis, which hardly deforms even under heavy pressure and, unlike other Zephyrus models released this year, such as the G15 and M16, do not crack at all. On the other hand, this S17 really seems to be manufactured to the highest standards.

With a more robust design, the Zephyrus S17 is not as light as some other 17-inch ultraportable PCs. In our configuration with a single SSD, it weighs just over 2.75 kg (6 lbs). However, in terms of total area and thickness, it remains competitive. However, the Razer Blade 17 or the MSI GS76 Stealth are slightly lighter, but personally I don’t mind sacrificing a little weight in favor of uncompromising build and internal components. In addition, the unique keyboard design of this product contributes to the overall weight.

As mentioned earlier, the keyboard panel on this laptop mechanically rises and detaches from the case when you open the screen. This means that it is slightly tilted towards the user at an angle of ~5%, which has a positive effect on typing comfort.

This design also allowed Asus to place the fans under the keyboard tray, ensuring an unimpeded supply of fresh air to the fans. In addition, the exhaust pipes on the side and rear are correctly positioned and blow the hot air away from the user. It’s a design I’d love to see on all of the company’s laptops, and it’s much more practical than what Asus offers on the Zephyrus G15 and M16 models with their Ergolift hinge.

Not only does this approach facilitate entry and exit, but because the keyboard is physically separated from the hot components below it, the interior surface is about 30 degrees during gaming and under heavy load, which is considerably cooler than other 17-inch handhelds.

However, there are some potential culprits of this design that you should be aware of.

The most important thing is to make sure that nothing gets between the laptop casing and the raised keyboard tray, for example. B. a cable or something else. Even if this is the case, you will probably notice it immediately because you will not be able to close the lid if something is stuck in it. So if the lid doesn’t close smoothly, don’t try to force it, check what’s stuck!

I talked to Derek about this and he said the power cord got stuck in the openings on some older Asus/Acer laptops he used with a similar design. The gap on this laptop isn’t as big as on previous ROG models, though, as the tablet doesn’t come up as far as it does on the Zephyrus Duo, for example, and the Power Brick is also thick and has a bulge that means it won’t even fit in the space under that keyboard.

Another drawback I can mention is the possibility of dust and small debris getting under the keyboard, where it is difficult to clean. This can certainly happen, and I suggest you use a spray can of compressed air from time to time to blow out anything that has lodged there.

Therefore, the whole concept of a mobile keyboard requires more care and attention than a conventional design. I think the benefits are worth it, but it’s up to you to decide if you’re happy with the extra effort or not.

Apart from that, the practicality of the laptop is almost unquestionable. All surfaces feel nice to touch, the inside is smooth and rubbery, all edges and corners are matte and pleasant to write on. The IO is padded on the sides and there is a handle on the front edge that makes it easy to lift and adjust the screen with one hand. I should add that the screen can only be tilted up to 140-150 degrees, which is fine for desktop use, but a bit limiting if you want to use it on your lap.

Thanks to the large and comfortable rubber feet on the bottom, the notebook also sits well on a flat surface. Speaking of which, there are two large speaker cutouts on the bottom of the laptop, and these are just the woofers, as there are four more tweeters located just below the screen, slightly behind the raised keyboard tray.

Asus has also built in some bright status LEDs, just like on the ROG Scar models, but the flip-top actually hides them during daily use, so they’re not as distracting when you’re using the laptop at night. As you’ll see below, you can also just detach them after you open the laptop if they’re still in the way. There’s also no illuminated power button, which has always bothered me with older Asus laptops. The Zephyrus has a new power button with an integrated finger sensor.

Back to the IO: It has almost everything you could want, including Thunderbolt 4 and a fast card reader that’s on the same level as the SD card. However, I don’t like that most I/O is still placed on the front left side, including the power, HDMI, LAN, audio jack and USB-C ports, making that side cluttered when you want to connect peripherals. I would have preferred to see some of them on the back bezel, like on the ROG Scar models.

It’s also worth noting that the HDMI (which only has 2.0b, not 2.1) and Thunderbolt 4 ports are connected to the iGPU on this laptop, so the only way to output the dGPU signal directly to an external display is to use the USB-C on the front left edge with DP support.

Overall, the Zephyrus S17 is still not perfect due to the placement of I/Os, but it is much better than the previous generation Zephyrus 17 in terms of design and usability.

Gone are the lopsided keyboard and tiny touchpad, replaced by well-placed input elements, an armrest, a comfortable keyboard, and one of the best thermal designs in the thin and light 17-inch laptop segment. Remember that such a cover for a mobile keyboard requires special care and maintenance.

Keyboard and touch pad

That done, let’s talk now about the inputs to this Zephyrus S17.

Asus has installed the same optical-mechanical keyboard here that we’ve already tested on the ROG Scar 17 and Scar 15, with clickable switches and a deeper touch than most thin and light laptops. The layout is a bit odd, with a minimalist NumPad area, without the secondary Home, End, PgUp and PgDn keys. However, all other buttons are normal size and in place, and the arrows are also normal size and well separated from everything else around them.

I must add that the type position is a huge improvement over the previous generation S17 GX701 : The updated 2021 model has an armrest and the keyboard is in the right place, in the top half of the case. It also tilts slightly forward at an angle of ~5 degrees, which I personally like. Because the tablet is separated from the internal components below it, this design also prevents the tablet from heating up when playing games or under heavy load.

However, unlike the Scar 17, there is no longer an extra set of multimedia keys in the top left corner, replaced by a slightly larger volume button than on the previous Zephyrus S17. It’s handy for adjusting the volume or muting the speakers, but I kind of miss the Armoury Crate button at the top, like on other ROG laptops. Asus didn’t cut it off, it’s now in the bottom row, next to the space bar.

Speaking of layout: After spending some time with this keyboard on this laptop and on the Scars, I think it still takes some getting used to. The mechanical laptop keyboards I’ve tried seem a bit odd and different from the rubber dome keyboards I’m used to and still prefer. I can’t put it into words, but the feedback comes across a bit artificial to me, and I’m not a big fan of stronger clicks either. This is despite the fact that I have long used mechanical PC keyboards with brown or red switches, but they are drier and feel different when pressed.

However, buyers of the Scar 15/17 seem satisfied with their keyboards, judging by the general reviews I’ve seen online, and the same is true for this S17. So try it with an open mind and see if you like it.

Asus has also implemented RGB backlighting for every key on this keyboard, with bright, even LEDs and plenty of customization options in the Aura Control app.

The touchpad is similar to many other ROG 2021 laptops – a large glass surface that feels precise and responds to motion, touch and gestures. The physical clicks are also correct and the surface makes no noise when touched. Overall, this is one of the best keyboards currently available for Windows laptops.

As for biometrics, a finger sensor is integrated into the power button, but there is no IR camera.

Screen

Asus offers two excellent screen options with the 2021 ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703, both in 16:9 matte and non-touch formats:

  • UHD 3840 x 2160 px IPS, 120Hz 3ms with 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB, with AdaptiveSync ;
  • QHD 2560 x 1440 px IPS, 165Hz 3ms with 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB, with Advanced Optimus and GSync.

We tested the 4K screen in the preview unit and will discuss it in more detail, but in this review unit we have a cheaper and arguably more interesting QHD screen.

It has a 2560 x 1440 px resolution, IPS, a DCI-P3 color gamut of ~100% and a 165Hz refresh rate with a fast response time. In fact, this is the same panel that Asus offers in the ROG Scar 17.

This is what we got when we tested this QHD display with the X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:

  • The material designation of the panel : BOE099D (NE173QHM-NY3) ;
  • Coverage: 99.8% sRGB, 85.7% AdobeRGB, 99% DCI-P3 ;
  • Measured Gamma : 2.08 ;
  • Maximum brightness in the center of the screen: 332.84 cd/m2 at power on ;
  • Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 17.70 cd/m2 at power on ;
  • Contrast at maximum brightness : 865:1 ;
  • White point : 6300 K ;
  • Maximum black luminance: 0.38 cd/m2 ;
  • PWM : No.
  • Response: ~5 ms GTG (according to NBC).

And here are our results for the 3060, which got the exact same panel:

  • The material designation of the panel : BOE099D (NE173QHM-NY3) ;
  • Coverage: 99.8% sRGB, 84.7% AdobeRGB, 99.4% DCI-P3 ;
  • Measured Gamma : 2.13 ;
  • Maximum brightness in the center of the screen: 345.14 cd/m2 at power on ;
  • Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 40.10 cd/m2 when turned on;
  • Contrast at maximum brightness : 1219:1 ;
  • White point : 6900 K ;
  • Maximum black luminance: 0.28 cd/m2 ;
  • PWM : No.

There is some difference between the two, with different gamma values, white points and especially black levels also resulting in a marked difference in contrast. I have also noticed that one of these screens remains very bright even at the lowest brightness setting, while the other dims much more. Strange.

Both screens were satisfactorily calibrated as supplied, with Pantone certification, but further adjustment is possible in both cases.

I also noticed a little bleeding at the bottom edge of both devices, but it was worse on the 3080 sample (left in the image below). Our tests also revealed significant DeltaE color differences at the corners of both panels.

Overall, I feel like the 3080 sample has a worse panel and the 3060 sample has a slightly better panel. However, neither device is flawless and both are sold at retail. Thus, these results indicate that there is some variation among these panels.

So, if you choose this laptop and the QHD screen, you should check for any uniformity or other issues on your device, especially if you plan to use the laptop for creative work that requires accurate colors and good uniformity. Display quality control can be an issue on modern laptops at any level, and that’s the case here. Oh, and make sure you only buy from vendors who handle returns well, if at all.

The 4K panel available on some 3080 variants of the Zephyrus S17 is brighter, has better contrast and possibly better evenness than the QHD panels, as you can see in our data below:

  • The material designation of the panel : AU Optronics AUODE95 (B173ZAN06.1) ;
  • Coverage: 99.9% sRGB, 86.6% AdobeRGB, 98.6% DCI-P3 ;
  • Measured Gamma : 2.25 ;
  • Maximum brightness in the center of the screen: 480.39 cd/m2 at power on ;
  • Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 26.62 cd/m2 when turned on;
  • Contrast at maximum brightness : 1020:1 ;
  • White point : 6800 K ;
  • Maximum black luminance: 0.47 cd/m2 ;
  • PWM : No.
  • Answer: TBD.

At the same time, this 4K panel is significantly more expensive than the QHD variant and has slightly shorter refresh and response times. And even in this 3080 variant, the laptop may struggle to play some of the latest games in 4K resolution at maximum detail. Add GSync support on a QHD panel and you have a monitor that is a better choice for serious gaming. The 4K panel only has support for FreeSync.

Also note that while the QHD configurations support Advanced Optimus with on-the-fly switching between iGPU and dGPU and direct connection between Nvidia dGPU and the internal display in dGPU mode, the 4K variant does not. Normally the Advanced Optimus would be a strong argument for the QHD configuration of the S17, but now you’ll find that’s not the case, at least not until Asus comes up with a good solution to the problem. In the following we will discuss the extensive use of Optimus.

At the same time, switching between iGPU and dGPU on the fly is still offered via regular Optimus on 4K models, but the internal display is still connected to the Intel GPU, which slightly reduces performance in some games. However, the difference is barely noticeable at 4K resolution and more pronounced at FHD resolution, so there’s no downside here.

Equipment and performances

My test unit is the high-end ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 GX703 configuration, codenamed GX703HS, based on an Intel Core i9-11900H 8C/16T processor, 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory, a fast 2TB SSD and a dual graphics card: Nvidia RTX 3080 dGPU for laptops with 16GB VRAM and Iris Xe integrated into the Intel processor.

A follow-up article on the configuration of the S17 GX703HM with an Intel Core i7-11800H processor, 16GB RAM and RTX 3060 graphics will also be published in the coming days.

Before we go any further, let’s point out that our sample was shipped by Asus and is a retail device that can be purchased in stores. We tested it with the software available since early July 2021 (BIOS 308, Armoury Crate 4.1.6.0, GeForce 471.11 driver). Since the software is still young, some aspects may change due to future improvements.

In terms of specifications, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 2021 is based on the latest Intel Core H and Nvidia RTX 3000 hardware, which will be available from mid-2021.

We look at the Core i9-11900H, one of the best mobile processors for ultraportables in this Tiger Lake H 11. Generation, with 8C/16T clocked at up to 4.9 GHz and an estimated TDP of 45 W. Asus offers different power profiles in the Armoury Crate Control app, so you can juggle constant power, temperature, and noise limits to meet your needs. But as you’ll see in this test, the Core i9 processor runs at a higher continuous power with most profiles, with PL1 set to 100W and PL2 set to 107W in Turbo, according to the BIOS 308 settings.

Better IPC, faster memory support, integrated Thunderbolt 4 support and PCIe gen4 drives are some of the secondary benefits of Intel’s 11th generation hardware.

On the GPU side, the S17 series is based on more powerful variants of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060/3070/3080 graphics chips, which are overclocked with ROG Boost in the Turbo profile. The RTX 3080 we have runs up to 140W with Dynamic Boost 2.0 in supported games. There are more powerful laptops with the RTX 3080, but consider that the Zephyrus S17 has a thinner, lighter design. In its class, only the Alienware X17 offers the same hardware specifications (more powerful GPU), while the other variants use less powerful hardware.

Asus also implements Advanced Optimus on some versions of the Zephyrus S17, especially on configurations paired with a QHD display. This allows the system to automatically switch between iGPUs and dGPUs based on the activity being performed and allows each GPU to be connected directly to the internal display via the MUX switch. By comparison, all other ROG laptops of this generation and the 4K variants of the S17 use the Optimus standard and route the signal through the iGPU, which in some cases negatively impacts performance, as our tests confirm.

The Zephyrus S17 is also available with 8GB or 16GB of RAM soldered to the motherboard and a RAM DIMM. Our device was equipped with 16 GB of on-board memory and 16 GB of DIMMs, for a total of 32 GB of DDR4-3200 in dual-channel mode.

From what I can tell, Asus will likely offer 16GB of internal memory for the RTX 3080 configurations, while the RTX 3060/3070 will only have 8GB of internal memory. This almost forces you to spend more on the 3080 if you’re looking for a more powerful laptop that you can use for professional work and take advantage of the 32GB of dual channel memory. Knowing Asus, the configuration will vary by region, so perhaps they’ll offer the RTX 3070 with 16GB of internal RAM as well.

For storage, our device is equipped with a single PCIe x4 gen4 fast drive from Samsung. The device offers three M.2-80mm SSD slots that support various RAID configurations (the configuration shown below features 3 SSDs installed).

To access the components, remove the rear panel, which is held in place by a pair of Torx screws. Everything is packed tightly together so that the limited space is used efficiently. In addition, the design makes it easy to turn off the status lights if you wish.

In addition to the specifications, Asus offers four performance profiles for the ROG Zephrys S17 GX703 :

  • Quiet – fairly loud fan and limited CPU/GPU speed and performance;
  • Performance – balanced profile with basic CPU/GPU settings, fan with medium noise – GPU running at around 125W and basic clock speeds;
  • Turbo – High performance profile with improved CPU power distribution, faster fan rotation and overclocked GPU (up to 140 W, +100 MHz core/+150 MHz memory).
  • Manual – allows you to adjust CPU power and GPU power/frequency and create manual fan profiles based on temperature limits.

Turbo/Manual is only available when the laptop is connected to the network and is designed for gaming and other demanding workloads. The performance is theoretically versatile and the smoothness is excellent for everyday use in daylight and quiet operation. You can also power a laptop via USB-C. In that case, it can be used in performance mode without discharging the battery, but with a loss of power for demanding combined loads.

This is what you can expect in terms of performance and temperature for everyday multitasking, web browsing and video on the Advanced Optimus.

And or the usual Optimus.

We ran our tests in both Extended Optimus mode and Normal Optimus mode. For some reason, the system required less power in extended Optimus mode, which in this case resulted in slightly longer run times, especially for low-level tasks and video. Unfortunately, unauthorized applications can wake up the dGPU in both modes, and the only way to prevent this is to force iGPU mode in the Nvidia control panel.

In daily use in extended Optimus mode, I also noticed a slight jerkiness and freezing of the image for a few fractions of a second, especially when the system switches from the iGPU to the dGPU, for example when running a game or a work application. This seems normal for laptops with Advanced Optimus, based on our previous experience with other implementations, and we’ll also take a closer look at the effects of Advanced Optimus under higher GPU loads in the Gaming Performance section, below.

Finally, I’d like to mention that you can force the dGPU, which we used for most of our tests. Ideally, this should be done through the BIOS, not the Nvidia control panel. The dGPU and Advanced Optimus modes also support GSync, but for the purposes of testing GSync was disabled.

Performance tests and benchmarks

To move on to more demanding workloads, we begin testing CPU performance by running the Cinebench R15 test over 15 times per cycle, with a 1-2 second delay between each run.

The i9-11900H processor stabilizes at ~90W constant power in Turbo setting, which equates to 4.1+GHz, a constant temperature of around 90 degrees Celsius, a score of just under 2200 and the fan runs at a noise level of 46-47dB at head height. The processor operates at increased power, higher clock frequency and higher temperature in the first few cycles, after which it is stable around 90W. These are excellent results, about the maximum the i9-11900H processor is capable of in the first few cycles, and about 90+% of its potential under longer sustained loads.

Asus gives you the option to lower the CPU voltage in the BIOS. Our system was stable at -80mV, resulting in higher continuous clock speeds (4.4GHz) and power (90+W), lower temperatures (high80c) and a ~3-5% increase in results, averaging 2250+ points.

Switching to the power profile results in smoother operation and slightly quieter fans that stabilize at 41-42 dB at head height. In addition, the processor power fluctuates and is eventually thermally capped at 95 C and about 90 W of power. This behavior differs from what we have recorded in the performance profile of other Asus laptops and will likely be improved in future software updates.

In silent mode, the CPU quickly stabilizes at ~30W with barely audible fans (<35dB) and a temperature of about 60 degrees C. The value is ~1300, which is about 60-65% of the value in Turbo mode.

Finally, the CPU runs at ~45W on battery power in the Performance Profile, with fans fluctuating to 38+dB, but the values are slightly lower than in the Silent Profile, despite the higher CPU power.

For more information on all these profiles and scenarios, see the magazines below.

To put these results in perspective, here is the performance of this 11th generation i9-11900H processor. The 8C/16T is the first generation to perform well compared to the other 8C/16T variants available in various other notebooks.

In this test, the 11900H clearly outperforms previous generation Intel i7/i9 8C processors, including those that can run at higher continuous power. It is also very competitive with the Ryzen 9 5900 HS/HX processors of the 2021 generation, especially in the low voltage range, and even outperforms the 5900HX in the G15 Advantage.

It’s also worth noting that the Zephyrus S17 is slightly noisier in this benchmark than most other laptops we’ve tested in the past. However, the processor comes to lower temperatures, around 80 degrees Celsius, rather than the average temperatures of 90 degrees we’ve seen on most Ryzen 9 models, such as the ROG Scar 17 or the ROG Strix G15 Advantage. The GE76 Raider or the Razer Blade Pro are cooler, but that’s because they also have a much lower constant TDP set, resulting in the performance difference shown below.

We then tested our results with the more extensive Cinebench R23 run test and the dreaded Prime 95 on the Turbo profile.

We also ran a new 3DMark CPU Profile test on our sample and you should take the results for what they are. As this is a new test, we do not have data from previous years to compare these figures with.

We also ran combined CPU+GPU stress tests with this laptop. 3DMark Stress runs the same test 20 times in a loop and looks at how performance changes over time, and this machine passed it perfectly, with consistent performance as it warms up.

These stress tests demonstrate the high quality of the Zephyrus S17 design, with excellent sustained performance under CPU and CPU+GPU loads. Internal temperatures also seem good under these CPU loads, despite the fans being moderately noisy at 46-47 dB at head height in the Turbo profile.

In comparison, the ROG Scar 17 or the MSI GE76 Raider we’ve tested in the past were slightly quieter at ~45dB, but had lower performance (both, but especially the GE76’s power-limited i9) and/or higher sustained CPU temperatures (in the case of the Scar).

We then ran the full set of tests and benchmarks with the default Turbo profile in Armoury Crate at FHD resolution and with dGPU mode selected in the Nvidia panel (with GSync OFF).

These values are important for consistency between the different laptops tested, as 3DMark shows slightly different results in FHD, QHD and 4K for the same tests. The results are also affected by whether Advanced Optimus is active or just dGPU. So it’s FHD on dGPU.

  • 3DMark 13 – Firestrike : 25675 (Graphics – 31372, Physics – 26235, Combined – 10725) ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 7473 ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 11822 (Graphics – 12338, CPU – 9558) ;
  • Uniengine Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 7759 ;
  • Uniengine Overlay – Medium 1080p : 22307 ;
  • Handbrake 1.3.3 (encoding 4K to 1080p): average 52.56 frames per second;
  • PassMark 10 : Rating: 8222 (processor brand: 24987, 3D graphics brand: 19508, disk brand: 42844) ;
  • PCMark 10 : 7437 (Essentials – 10892, Productivity – 9266, Digital content creation – 11061) ;
  • GeekBench 5.3.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1623, multi-core : 9641 ;
  • CineBench R15 (best execution) : CPU 2291 cb, Single Core CPU 241 cb ;
  • CineBench R20 (best execution) : CPU 5485 cb, Single Core CPU 608 cb ;
  • CineBench R23 (best execution) : CPU 14231 cb, Single Core CPU 1565 cb ;
  • x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 27.36 sec.

And here are the results with the default Turbo profile, but with the Advanced Optimus setting set to Auto :

  • 3DMark 13 – Firestrike : 25217 (Graphics – 31276, Physics – 24793, Combined – 10389) ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 7466 ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 11780 (Graphics – 12300, Processor – 9507) ;
  • Uniengine Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 7706 ;
  • Uniengine Overlay – Medium 1080p : 21748.

We see minimal impact on CPU and GPU performance.

And here are some 3DMark results in dGPU mode with QHD resolution:

  • 3DMark 13 – Firestrike : 25632 (Graph – 31411, Physics – 26289, Combination – 10604) ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 7475 ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 11815 (Graphics – 12355, CPU – 9473).

Most other test results in different modes and resolutions are fairly consistent.

Overall, these are good results, some of the best you can get from a laptop these days. In comparison, the i9-11900H can keep up with the best Ryzen-9-5900HX models in this implementation, but at the cost of slightly higher continuous performance. Still, the average CPU temperature under sustained load here is 5-10 degrees lower than on most Ryzen 9 models we’ve tested.

As for the RTX 3080 140W graphics chip, the result is about 7-10% lower than the more powerful RTX 3080 155W we tested with the MSI GE76 Raider, at the same overclock settings. It should be noted, however, that Asus does all the settings automatically in its software, so you don’t have to manually overclock the GPU, as is the case with the Raider.

To conclude: One of the features of this Intel-based Zephyrus is the ability to lower the CPU voltage to -80mV in the BIOS. This happens with the -80mV profile, at FHD resolution and in dGPU mode.

  • 3DMark 13 – Firestrike : 25491 (Graphics – 31305, Physics – 25105, Combined – 10758) ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 7467 ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 12146 (Graphics – 12325, CPU – 11225) ;
  • Uniengine Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 7758 ;
  • Uniengine Overlay – Medium 1080p : 22314 ;
  • Handbrake 1.3.3 (encoding 4K to 1080p): 52.70 frames per second on average;
  • PassMark 10 : Evaluation: 8403 (CPU score: 25655, 3D graphics score: 19780, disk score: 42926) ;
  • PCMark 10 : 7827 (Fundamentals – 11041, Productivity – 10065, Digital Content Creation – 11710) ;
  • GeekBench 5.3.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1627, multi-core : 9656 ;
  • CineBench R15 (best execution) : CPU 2294 cb, Single Core CPU 241 cb ;
  • CineBench R20 (best execution) : CPU 5647 cb, Single Core CPU 607 cb ;
  • CineBench R23 (best execution) : CPU 14679 cb, Single Core CPU 1564 cb ;
  • x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 27.42 sec.

We see a slight increase in multicore performance in some tests or a slight decrease in constant power and temperature in others. In our example with -80mV no stability problems occurred, but for safety I would recommend a more conservative voltage reduction of -50mV, which we used for playtesting, which we will discuss later.

Given the noise level of the fans in Turbo mode, we also ran some tests in Silent profile (with the CPU supply voltage lowered to -50mV and Whisper mode enabled). You can use it if you want to run high loads with barely audible fans (<37dB). This is what we have achieved:

  • 3DMark 13 – Firestrike : 13397 (Graphics – 13786, Physics – 18878, Combined – 8135) ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 5215 ;
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 9557(Graphics – 9484, CPU – 9993) ;
  • PCMark 10 : 5281 (Fundamentals – 9122, Productivity – 6188, Digital content creation – 7082) ;
  • CineBench R15 (best execution) : CPU 1312 cb, Single Core CPU 136 cb ;
  • CineBench R23 (best execution) : CPU 8465 cb, Single Core CPU 972 cb ;
  • x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 44.84 s.

In this mode, the results of single- and multi-core CPU tests and GPU tests are significantly reduced. In general, 50-60% of the turbo’s power is expected in this mode. I expect single core performance to improve with future software updates, as our other tests of the same i9-11900H on the Zephyrus M16 showed no drop in single core performance. However, the performance of multi-core CPUs and GPUs will be severely limited in this profile.

Finally, we also ran some workstation loads on this Core i9 + RTX 3080 configuration in the turbo profile and with the default voltage settings:

  • Blender 2.90 – BMW car scene – CPU calculation: 3m 0s (Turbo) ;
  • Blender 2.90 – BMW auto scene – GPU calculations: 31s (CUDA), 14s (Optix) ;
  • Blender 2.90 – Classroom scene – CPU calculation: 8m 19s (Turbo) ;
  • Blender 2.90 – Scene in classroom – GPU calculation: 1m 23s (CUDA), 49s (Optix) ;
  • Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: – ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax : 223.47 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – Catia : 152.21 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – Creo : 227.19 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – Energy : 27.29 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – Maya : 360.93 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – Medicine : 77.34 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase : 153.16 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – SNX : 19.21 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 13 – SW : 118.41 (Turbo).

And the SPECviewperf 2020 test:

  • SPECviewerf 2020 – 3DSMax : 137.85 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 2020 – Catia : 69.97 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 2020 – Creo : 94.48 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 2020 – Energy : 27.39 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 2020 – Maya : 365.88 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 2020 – Medicine : 35.2 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 2020 – SNX : 19.2 (Turbo) ;
  • SPECviewerf 2020 – SW : 262.04 (Turbo).

Again: These results are compelling and among the best you can get from a high-performance laptop today.

This configuration puts it up against the full AMD version (Ryzen 9 + RX 6800M) of the ROG G15 Advantage, with the latter winning for most workloads (3DSmax, Catia, Energy, Maya, SW) and the latter for some (Medical, SNX). The Ryzen 9 + RTX 3080 130W Scar 17 outperforms the i9 + 3080 140W Zephryus S17 configuration in all workloads tested.

Performance of the game

That’s right, let’s watch some games.

We ran several DX11, DX12 and Vulkan games with the default Turbo, Performance and Silent profiles, in FHD and QHD resolution on the internal display and in QHD on the external display.

We also ran the tests with Advanced Optimus mode active, with dGPU mode disabled and manually selected, and in normal Optimus mode. Additionally, GSync is disabled in the Nvidia control panel for all of these tests, and whisper mode is enabled in GeForce Experience in silent mode.

To clarify: Advanced Optimus connects the laptop’s internal display directly to the Nvidia GPU, while Regular Optimus runs the signal through the iGPU, resulting in lower frame rates.

The same goes for connecting an external monitor via a laptop’s HDMI or Thunderbolt 4 ports, as both are connected via the iGPU. For uncompromising performance, the monitor should be connected via the first USB-C on the right edge – the one next to the audio jack, as this is the only one connected to the Nvidia GPU.

Finally, it’s worth noting that we kept the processor’s voltage at -50mV during all of these tests, which proved to be absolutely stable and didn’t cause any interference or stalling.

When this is all cleared up, we have the following result:

Intel Core i9-11900H +
RTX 3080 125+W laptop
FHD Turbo,
Advanced Optimus
FHD Turbo, dGPU QHD Turbo,
Advanced Optimus
QHD Turbo,
Optimus normal
QHD Turbo, dGPU QHD performance, dGPU QHD Quiet,
Whisper mode enabled
QHD Turbo, external monitor
Battlefield V
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
158 frames per second (24 frames per second – 1% low) 166 frames per second (86 frames per second – 1% low) 130 frames per second (28 frames per second – 1% low) 122 f/s (72 f/s – 1% low) 134 fps (82 fps – 1% low) 125 frames per second (78 frames per second – 1% low) 60 frames per second (56 frames per second – 1% low) 135 frames per second (90 frames per second – 1% low)
Cyberpunk 2077
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
74 f/s (17 f/s – 1% low) 78 frames per second (56 frames per second – 1% low) 51 fps (16 fps – 1% low) 50 frames per second (40 frames per second – 1% low) 53 f/s (43 f/s – 1% low) 51 fps (38 fps – 1% low) 53 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
Dota 2
(DX 11, best preset)
117 frames per second (78 frames per second – 1% low)
Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)
128 frames per second (21 frames per second – 1% low) 134 fps (94 fps – 1% low) 114 frames per second (17 frames per second – 1% low) 108 frames per second (89 frames per second – 1% low) 121 fps (93 fps – 1% low) 106 frames per second (81 frames per second – 1% low) 60 frames per second (60 frames per second is 1% less) 119 images per second (95 images per second – 1% low)
Metro Exodus
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX AUS)
83 f/s (48 f/s – 1% low) 63 fps (38 fps – 1% low) 67 frames per second (43 frames per second – 1% low) 64 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
(DX 11, Ultra-preset)
210 frames per second (142 frames per second – 1% low) 216 frames per second (146 frames per second – 1% low) 155 fps (96 fps – 1% low) 147 frames per second (108 frames per second – 1% low) 155 fps (110 fps – 1% low) 145 frames per second (98 frames per second – 1% low) 60 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% low) 156 frames per second (110 frames per second – 1% low)
Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra-optimized, TAA)
118 frames per second (84 frames per second – 1% low) 78 frames per second (63 frames per second – 1% low) 94 fps (71 fps – 1% low) 88 frames per second (67 frames per second – 1% low) 95 frames per second (69 frames per second – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider (1)
(DX 12, highest preset, TAA)
115 frames per second (18 frames per second – 1% low) 102 fps (17 fps – 1% low) 95 frames per second (66 frames per second – 1% low) 105 frames per second (62 frames per second – 1% low) 106 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% low)
Alien Brigade
(Vulcan, Ultra preset)
229 fps (170 fps – 1% low) 231 fps (172 fps – 1% low) 170 frames per second (136 frames per second – 1% low) 152 f/s (112 f/s – 1% low) 171 fps (136 fps – 1% low) 172 fps (140 fps – 1% low)
The Witcher 3 : Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Ultra preset, Hair Work On 4)
146 frames per second (34 frames per second – 1% low) -231 fps (172 fps – 1% low) 112 frames per second (20 frames per second – 1% low) 107 frames per second (78 frames per second – 1% low) 114 frames per second (88 frames per second – 1% low) 107 frames per second (76 frames per second – 1% low) 60 frames per second (57 frames per second – 1% low) 114 frames per second (87 frames per second – 1% low)
  • Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded by Fraps/in-game FPS meter in campaign mode;
  • Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider – registered with benchmark programs included;
  • Optimized profile of Red Dead Redemption 2 based on these parameters.

The above tests are for rasterization only, but here are some results for RTX games.

i9-11900H +
RTX 3080 Laptop 125+W
FHD Turbo,
Advanced Optimus
FHD Turbo, dGPU QHD Turbo,
Advanced Optimus
QHD Turbo, dGPU QHD Turbo, external monitor
Battlefield V
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF)
113 frames per second (24 frames per second – 1% low) 118 frames per second (67 frames per second – 1% low) 81 fps (19 fps – 1% low) 84 f/s (62 f/s – 1% low) 85 frames per second (65 frames per second, 1% less)
Cyberpunk 2077
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, DLSS Auto)
67 frames per second (17 frames per second – 1% low) 73 fps (54 fps – 1% low) 51 fps (17 fps – 1% low) 53 fps (40 fps – 1% low) 53 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, max preset, TAA, RTX Ultra)
81 fps (19 fps – 1% low) 85 frames per second (52 frames per second – 1% low) 62 fps (18 fps – 1% low) 65 frames per second (38 frames per second – 1% low) 66 frames per second (40 frames per second – 1% low)

There are a lot of numbers here, so let’s put them in context. Then we will also talk about some comparisons.

Optimus performance improvements

I was happy to use Advanced Optimus on this laptop, as this is the first ROG model to incorporate this technology. At the same time, however, I feared that this mode might be flawed, given our previous experience with all the other Advanced Optimus models we tested. It turned out that my fears were justified.

I noticed stuttering and jerking when playing with Advanced Optimus mode on, with GSync on or off, on the 3080 and 3060 models I tested.

This was evident in gameplay and in our tests, illustrated by the 1% low fps, which averaged less than 20 fps in most of the games tested. Oddly enough, older games like Shadow of Mordor and Strange Brigade stuttered less and ran smoother. I think it’s because they’re working at a higher frame rate.

On the other hand, the logs look good, apart from the fact that the GPU does not always reach the maximum of 140W when using Dynamic Boost 2.0.

I waited to publish this review to find out if this phenomenon is limited to the two devices I tested or if it is widespread. Since the S17 is now shipping to the US, I also asked owners on Reddit if they experienced a similar stutter and got confirmation of the same problem with the third sample of the S17. At this stage, it can be assumed that the Advanced Optimus will behave similarly across the S17 series.

I have also contacted Asus about this and they are investigating the problem. Hopefully they’ll figure out what’s wrong and release a fix, but until that happens, the Advanced Optimus is useless for games.

OptimusRegular Power

In addition to the Advanced Optimus and dGPU Only modes, this laptop also offers the Normal Optimus option. The downside is that the signal is routed through the iGPU and it is no longer possible to use GSync in this mode.

The performance degradation is described above and is quite small, on the order of 2-7% in most games at QHD resolution. It will be larger for FHD, especially for high frame rate games like CS:Go or Fornite, and smaller for the more demanding AAA games that already run at lower frame rates.

And here are some of the magazines. Again, they look good, but the dGPU doesn’t make it to 140W in some games.

Turbo, Performance and Silent Mode games in dGPU

The reminder in the article is about the dGPU mode gaming experience, which connects the internal display to Nvidia’s dGPU and fixes the Advanced Optimus stutter issue.

There are two ways to set up your laptop with an Nvidia GPU. I recommend using the BIOS, as it has proven to be the most reliable on the devices I have tested. Another option is to leave the GPU selection in the BIOS on Dynamic and switch to dGPU mode via the Nvidia control panel. However, in this case, I had to reboot the computer several times after selecting the dGPU mode to get rid of the stuttering, because a reboot causes this phenomenon. When switching to Advanced Optimus, the stuttering occurred again, with and without restarting the laptop.

So if you plan on using games on this laptop and not plugging it in most of the time, I would choose the dGPU mode in the BIOS.

Let’s look at the performance logs with CPU and GPU speed and temperature in Farcry 5, Red Dead 2, Cyberpunk 2077 and Battlefield V on different profiles.

The laptop runs smoothly and quietly in all games. In Turbo mode, we see CPU temperatures of around 65-80 C and GPU temperatures of 75-80 C in the tested games with QHD resolution, with the GPU reaching the upper limit of 140 W most of the time.

Lifting the laptop off the table to increase the airflow underneath it has a small positive effect on CPU/GPU temperatures, which can then drop a few degrees. However, since the temperature is already excellent in the turbo profile when the laptop is on the table, there is no need to go this route. Or use an external cooling pad.

The performance profile reduces fan noise to 41-42 dB and limits GPU power to 120-130 W on our 3080 sample.

The result is a solid gaming experience, a slight drop in fps compared to Turbo mode, but quieter fans and nearly identical internal and external temperatures. Unlike the other ROG laptops we’ve tested this year, the performance profile is my favorite on the Zephyrus S17 when it comes to the overall balance of all factors.

Just a word of warning: I have noticed that when I switch from turbo mode to performance mode, sometimes a game crashes and the whole system freezes and the laptop has to be rebooted. A minor detail, but I don’t recall seeing this on other ROG laptops.

In silent mode, the fans are even quieter (the maximum with silent mode enabled is ~60fps), but the GPU is severely limited in this profile, affecting performance. Some older games may run well on Silent, but more modern games may not.

Finally, I would like to mention that while you can play games without unplugging the laptop, you should not expect great performance as both the CPU and GPU are limited in power in this case.  The battery life is not very good either: In the Cyberpunk game, we came up with less than an hour.

Manual setting

There are a limited number of ways to further optimize fan performance and behavior on this laptop, but I wouldn’t bother doing anything other than setting the voltage in the BIOS to -50mV low. XTU or Throttlestop don’t seem to work on this laptop if you have other processor settings planned.

Armoury Crate’s manual mode lets you set different CPU performance limits and further overclock the GPU, and create custom fan profiles for each. I’ll leave it to you; I only tested the effect of turning the fans on at maximum power. At head height, they are pushed to around 48-49dB, which is not as loud as other gaming laptops, but has virtually no impact on performance in the default Turbo profile and a negligible effect on internal and external temperatures.

Run on an external monitor

Since this laptop has a MUX, the performance should be the same in Advanced Optimus, dGPU and external display connected via USB-C, since all these modes connect the display directly to the Nvidia dGPU. But, as described above, the Advanced Optimus has problems with the inner screen. On the other hand, our test games ran smoothly on the external monitor in all modes tested (Optimus normal, Optimus advanced and dGPU in BIOS), with no jerks or stutters.

Do use the USB-C port (next to the audio jack) to connect an external display, as HDMI and Thunderbolt USB-C are routed through the iGPU.

Everything seems fine in terms of performance and temperature when playing games on an external monitor, with the laptop open and on the desktop.

However, this Zephyrus S17 is not suitable for vertical use with the lid closed, if that is what you had in mind. Since the system is designed to draw in fresh air, mainly through the bottom of the keyboard, performance is severely limited once the cover is closed, as you can see in the logs below.

Overall, the Zephyrus S17 would be an impeccable all-rounder were it not for the Advanced Optimus mode. Hopefully Asus will fix the issue with Advanced Optimus and release a patch in the near future, but for now Advanced Optimus is just unreliable and unusable.

If Asus can’t fix this (and I’m basing this on the many problems other OEMs have had with the Optimus in the past), my recommendation would be to use a laptop on a regular Optimus, which seems to work fine for everyday use and gaming. Yes, there is no GSync in this mode and the refresh rate drops by 5-10% at QHD resolution, but I think I can live with that.

Another option that makes sense if you use your laptop primarily in the connected state is to simply select the dGPU mode in the BIOS and not worry about Optimus. But in this case, you’ll have terrible battery life if you don’t plug the laptop in, and you’ll have to reboot the BIOS to enable Dynamic every time you want to use the laptop for more than 2 or 3 hours on battery power.

Noise, heat, communication, loudspeakers and other

The Zephyrus S17 has an advanced thermal module, similar to the one Asus uses on other ROG 2021 models. This means it has two powerful fans with the latest blade design, four heatsinks and plenty of heat pipes. There are more of them, but they are thinner than on the 2021 ROG Scar 17.

This series also features high quality VRM, as well as liquid metal on the processor. The GPU continues to use the normal thermal paste.

The S17’s airflow design is different from most other laptops. Fresh air is drawn in mainly from the top of the laptop, under the edge of the keyboard. Extra air also comes in through the back wall, but it is partially open to the fans. The extractors are located on the sidewalls and rear edge and direct the hot air away from the user.

As we mentioned in the previous section, this cooling module does an excellent job of keeping the components of this Zephyrus S17 cool, both in daily use and during heavy loads and gaming.

The fans are moderately loud at 46-47 dB on Turbo and quieter at 41-42 dB on Performance. Both values are reasonable, especially when used on a laptop, unlike some other ROG models tested this year that overheated in performance mode.

It is important to note that in manual mode you can also manually control the fans, which in maximum mode can reach 48-49 dB at head height, although this has little effect on indoor or outdoor temperatures.

In the silent profile, the fans are inactive during basic operation and only turn off when the CPU and GPU temperatures exceed 50 degrees Celsius. They light up during moderate use and multitasking, but are barely audible in a normal room. However, due to this passive implementation, the S17 gets a little warm during daily use at the case level. I’m not against it. I prefer this approach, which keeps fans calm.

What bothers me is the slight electronic amplification I notice when starting a demanding application or game, for the first few seconds until the fans start spinning. However, I have not noticed any electronic noise in other situations or in daily use.

I should add that I expect this to vary between different devices, as this noise is virtually non-existent on the 3060 sample we are also testing. However, in reviews of the S17, others note a slight uptick and grin, so be sure to check with your device during the return period.

Daily use – EDGE Netflix streaming for 30 minutes, silent profile, fan set to 0dB (up to 33dB for daily multitasking).

Outside temperatures remain excellent under demanding loads and games, as shown in the images below, with different power supply and fan profiles.

The temperature of the keyboard block does not exceed 30 degrees Celsius in any mode, and the hottest internal part you come into contact with is the area directly above the touchpad, where the temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius. The part under the keyboard that comes into contact with the components is, of course, closer to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Under the hood, the hottest part of the components can reach 40 degrees Celsius.

*Game – Quiet – Play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, silent profile, fan on 36-38dB
*Game – Performance – Play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fan on 41-42dB
*Game – Turbo, tabletop – Play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fan on 46-47dB

In terms of connectivity, the device features Wireless 6 and Bluetooth 5 via the MediaTek chip, as well as Gigabit Lan. Our sample worked well with WiFi both close to the router and over 30 feet away with obstacles in between, although I probably would have expected a better WiFi chip in this price range.

The audio system has 6 speakers, two woofers on the bottom and four tweeters under the screen, just behind the keyboard tray. The quality and volume are excellent for laptop speakers, even with some bass. Like the Zephyrus G15 and M16 models, this is one of the best audio systems you can find in a laptop today.

The Zephyrus S17 finally has a camera above the screen, with HD resolution and moderate image quality. I was under the impression that Asus would include an FHD camera in this series, but that’s not the case; it’s just the same type of camera found in most other gaming laptops these days. At least it has a camera, unlike most other ROG devices…. But that’s no excuse for not having something better!

There are also a number of microphones that pick up your voice well and can be set to different modes through the software, but they’re not very good at isolating sounds from outside, from the fan or from the keyboard clatter.

Battery life

The 90 Wh battery can be found in all ROG 2021 models, including the Zephyrus S17.

This is what we got on our test device in terms of battery life when the screen brightness was set to around 120 nits (~60 brightness) and in extended Optimus mode.

  • 22W (~4-5 hours of operation)– Google Drive text editing, silent mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi functionality ;
  • 16W (~6+ hours of use)– Full screen 1080p video on Youtube in Edge, silent mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled ;
  • 13W (~7+ hours of use)– Netflix in full screen mode in Edge, silent mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi enabled ;
  • 24 W (~3-5 hours of operation)– Edge mode display, balanced mode, 60% display, Wi-Fi functionality ;
  • 100W (~50 min usage)– Games – Cyberpunk 2077, performance mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled, no fps limit.

And here are our results with the regular Optimus.

  • 22W (~4-5 hours of operation)– Google Drive text editing, silent mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi functionality ;
  • 19W (~5+ hours of operation)– Full screen 1080p video on Youtube in Edge, silent mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi enabled ;
  • 16W (~6+ hours of use) – Netflix in full screen mode in Edge, silent mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi enabled.

For some reason, our sample worked more efficiently on the Advanced Optimus when streaming video and other light loads.

This is certainly not a stunning performance, especially when compared to AMD laptops. However, I would still take them with a grain of salt, as Asus may improve these power consumption figures in future software updates.

The S17 variant with a 4K screen also has an even shorter battery life of 1 to 2 hours.

Oh, and if you plan to use the laptop in dGPU mode with no network connection, don’t expect more than 2 or 3 hours of daily use or video streaming.

This RTX 3080 ROG Zephyrus S17 configuration comes with a 280 Watt power supply, which is quite bulky and heavy. The battery is full in about 2 hours, with the first half hour spent on fast charging, and charging via USB-C up to 100W is also supported. USB-C charger not included.

Below is a picture of the 280 watt charger next to the 240 watt charger that other ROG laptops use and next to Asus’ 65 watt USB-C charger. I expected the 240 watt charger to be available with the S17 3060 configuration, but it also comes with a more powerful 280 watt block.

Prices and availability

The 2021 Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 is available in stores now and shipping in select regions.

The configuration tested here with i9 processor + RTX 3080 GPU + QHD display + 32 GB RAM + 1 TB SSD costs $3299 MSRP in the US and €3999 in Germany. Expect to pay around $300 more for a 4K 120 Hz display.

Sure, it’s expensive, but that’s not surprising considering the Zephyrus S17 is Asus’ best ROG product to date. Moreover, this price is comparable to competitors in the high-end 17-inch laptop segment, such as the Razer Blade Pro 17, the MSI GS76 Stealth or the Alienware X17.

There are cheaper and probably better configurations with RTX 3060 (starting at $2199) and RTX 3070 (starting at $2699) graphics chips that you can also consider. The downside is that most are only available with 16GB of RAM (and 8GB of internal storage), but if you like that, I’d take a closer look at both depending on your budget.

Of course, the availability of the Zephyrus S17 GX703 series varies from region to region. Therefore, follow this link to find out the current configurations and prices in your area at the time you read this article.

Final thoughts

At 10,000 words, it is one of our longest and most detailed test reports on the website. Because I had very high expectations for this ROG Zephyrus S17 and wanted to scrutinize every little detail to make sure it was really worth the money Asus was asking for it.

Fact is, at 3K++ I would expect every laptop to be flawless, and this one still falls a bit short. With the S17 just arriving in stores around the world, Advanced Optimus is running tests for games, and there are some differences in panel quality and the amount of electronic noise you should expect, at least based on our experience with our samples and the few customer comments we’ve received.

It’s up to you whether you feel like it, but buying a Zephyrus S17 2021 now, at launch time, seems like a gamble, so I’d recommend only buying it from stores that accept returns, just in case you’re short.

Hopefully in the future, however, Asus will check the quality and improve the build process, and eliminate the stuttering we noticed while playing games on the Advanced Optimus Profile. If this is the case, the Zephyrus S17 GX703 will be the most balanced 17-inch performance laptop on the market. Not the most powerful, but a very good balance between build quality, portability, power and performance in daily use, workload and gaming.

In fact, I wouldn’t even consider the 3080 as a first choice, as I would expect more from the cheaper 3060 and 3070 variants. Unfortunately, Asus practically forces you to switch to 3080 configurations, as the 3060/3070 models only have 8GB of memory as far as I know. So you only get 16GB of dual-channel memory, which is fine for daily use and gaming, but not for more demanding work and creative workloads, and for me this is one of the most annoying drawbacks of this 2021 Zephyrus S17 series. Let’s hope Asus changes its mind and decides to offer 16GB of internal memory, at least in the 3070 models.

Well, I won’t go any further, just read the article further and draw your own conclusions whether or not this purchase is for you. In short, I think this is the best ROG design yet, but I would give Assu a few more months to get the manufacturing process, quality control and software right before I install it.

So much for our review of the Zephyrus S17 GX703HS series, and I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Disclaimer : Our content is supported by our readers. If you make a purchase through some of the links on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission. Read more.

Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I have been involved in mobile computing since the 2000s and you will find detailed reviews and tutorials written by me on the site.

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