Asus’s Zephyrus range has been one of our favourites since it first appeared. Its aim is to be sleek, powerful and portable and many models, over the years have succeeded in these aims. However, now we have 2023’s Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 which, at first glance, is a bit of a 16-inch chonk. How good is it and does it live up to its lineage?
Table of Contents
- Specs of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16
- Features, Ergonomics and Design
- Portability & Battery Life
Specs of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16
|Screen||16-inch, matte, 240Hz, 2,560 x 1,600, IPS ‘Nebula’ display|
|Processor||4.1-5.4GHz Intel Core i9-13900H CPU|
|Memory||32GB DDR5-4800 RAM|
|Graphics||16GB Nvidia RTX 4090 GPU|
|Hard drive||2TB PCIe NVMe|
1 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (with DP & PD)
MicroSD card reader
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio
|Speakers||2 × Tweeters|
2 x Woofers
|Webcam||Full HD, Windows Hello compatible|
|Dimensions||355 x 246 x 22mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is a bit more understated than the recent predecessors we’ve seen. It’s basically a dark grey box at first glance. The regal, iridium badge on the front only reveals itself when the light hits it and the dark, Matrix display dots are almost hidden on the low-contrast lid. Then you turn it on and remember it’s a Zephyrus.
The lid lights up and displays whatever images and messages you choose to configure on the basic-yet-captivating, exterior screen. Inside, the keyboard lights up with Asus’ Aura, per-key RGB tech and it can even be set to match the dynamic, Windows Desktop Aura Wallpaper to create an amazing effect. But, more on that below. Ultimately, it can look amazing in any environment.
The screen is one of the first to use Asus’ own ‘Nebula’ certification. This is an at-a-glance brand which tells you the screen has the minimum specifications:
- At least a 500-nit brightness.
- 100% coverage of the complex, DCI-P3 colour space, that’s Pantone Validated.
- Is fast with no image tearing and a minimum 3ms grey-to-grey (G2G) pixel response time
- TÜV Certification for low blue light and flicker reduction
Our unit had a matte, 16-inch, IPS, UHD display with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. That’s a 16:10 ratio which is about to become the preferred industry option for premium laptops. So, we’ll likely soon see even more 16 and 18-inch models replacing 15 and 17-inch models in the near future.
It displays a sharp, crisp and clear, Windows Desktop with plenty of real estate for office tasks and multimedia.
Videos are bright and have vibrant colours. However, some detail can get lost in bright areas and true blacks are a little washed out. At least enemies will struggle to hide in shadows. Most colour transitions are smooth and impressive but there can be some thin banding visible in some gradients. Monochromatic transitions aren’t as good, but we’ve seen much worse on gaming screens.
The speedy 240Hz refresh rate and fast pixel response time ensure that even very fast moving objects are rendered smoothly and very sharply. G-Sync technology helps ensure that image tearing is prevented. It’s an impressive screen.
It’s worth noting that opening the screen creates a slight incline on the keyboard which both helps to create a more-comfortable typing position and more ventilation for the powerful internals. It can also fold down flat.
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The low-travel, touch-type keyboard is very comfortable and accurate to game with and type upon. But, there’s no number pad and the arrow keys are unnecessarily half-sized for some reason.
The trackpad is very large and its button areas have comfortable clicking actions.
Above the screen is a Full HD webcam and dual-array speakers, but unfortunately, it was broken on our review unit. We’ll vouchsafe that Asus’ premium, Full HD webcams and mic arrays are usually excellent though. It works in conjunction with an IR camera for Windows Hello login but there’s no partner fingerprint reader.
There are four 2-Watt speakers – dual tweeters and woofers – which get loud and deliver punchy, bassy, well-rounded audio fidelity.
Ultimately, it’s a joy to interact with.
Inside the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is a 4.1-5.4GHz Intel Core i9-13900H processor which has six Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores. It’s backed by a generous 32GB of fast, DDR5-4800 RAM plus two, speedy 1TB hard drives.
In the PCMark 10 ‘general-computing’ test it scored a very impressive 8,772 which defeats everything but Pioneer’s recent Dreambook Power. It also scored 3,546 in the Cinebench R15 CPU-rendering test and 18,869 in the longer R23 version. That’s someway behind the breakaway laptops with 13th-Gen Intel HX processors, but it’s still no slouch.
3D performance comes via Nvidia’s top-tier GeForce RTX 4090 GPU which has 16GB of GDDR6 RAM. In the difficult ray-tracing tests the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 scored 4,944 in Speed Way which is a very impressive average of 49.4fps, plus 12,018 in Port Royal (average 55.6fps). These are just behind the Pioneer and are excellent scores for such difficult tests.
In the AAA-gaming-title-like tests, 3DMark Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 managed 18,069 (average (116fps) and 21,189 (average 100.3fps) respectively. These are again just behind the Pioneer, but way ahead of the rest of the pack. There’ll be be very little that the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 can’t play at full resolution with max detail settings.
We also ran the 3DMark Night Raid to laugh at how easily it would play basic, casual and competitive games and it scored 69,120 which is an average of 778.3fps(!) It will play basic, casual and competitive games.
Our final test was the aging CS:GO shooter which stresses a system like little else. It averaged 448fps in the overall test and this ‘only’ dropped to 86fps in the 1% Low test (which measures the framerate in the slowest frames where smoke grenades start going off). So, pro gamers will like it.
It’s worth noting, though, that even with the improved venting, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 can get warm. It’s not quite the China Syndrome, groin toaster of its forebears (especially the Zephyrus G14), but it’s uncomfortable for your lap and fingers. Plus, the fans can ramp up and robustly whoosh quite quickly and often when performing any intensive task – which includes using the GPU to operate the Aura Desktop Wallpaper(!)
Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. So, it’s got a full complement of the latest ports.
Portability & Battery Life
We were a little down about this being such a big Zephyrus but, at least there is a 14-inch version coming. This 16-inch variant weighs a middling 2.32KG but the power supply and cables add another 830g to the mix. The latter is the PSU of a large gaming laptop. This is no ultraportable.
The 90Whr battery ran the PCMark 10 Modern Office test for a respectable 8 hours 13 minutes. That’s just about a day out of the office, but you’ll need it to be in power saving mode to get close to that.
Build quality is generally very good though. It has an excellent hinge and although there’s a little flex in the lid, we don’t expect a 16-inch, wide-boy to be totally solid.
Unfortunately, our review spec’d Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 isn’t available quite yet. The closest we’ve seen is a version with a 4070 GPU, 16GB RAM and a solitary 1TB hard drive for $4,299 – which sounds impressive. Nonetheless, if we assume a maximum price of $7,499 (which, as we’ll soon see, is the price of the forthcoming Strix SCAR 18), it still places the M16 in very desirable territory. It’s just behind the latest Lenovo Legion 5i Pro in terms of value, but both models are hard to find and both are brilliant. We’ll give a final verdict on the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 once we confirm the price.
Gets a bit noisy
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 Scores
It’s not quite as portable as we’d like, but the 2023 Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 looks great and has excellent performance. It does get a little hot (and loud) and it’s hard to find, though.