Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) GU603Z review: Huge processing power you can carry with you
The Zephyrus M16 combines a potent 14-core processor with capable graphics and features in a bag-friendly format
Intel’s latest “Alder Lake” CPUs have given the company a new lease of life with their exceptional power. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 shows that they don’t even need to be housed in a huge desktop replacement notebook either. Weighing in at 2kg, this laptop is still distinctly portable - but with a 14-core processor inside, it can deliver performance to better many desktops, and it has potent graphics acceleration to match.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Design
Quite a few of ASUS’s laptops have had a 2022 refresh, so this model is not to be confused with last year's design, which incorporated the previous-generation Intel processor. The confusion could be forgiven from looking at the notebook, however, because the chassis itself hasn’t changed noticeably since 2021.
This is a more innocuous-looking notebook than the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17, with a matte black finish, not much funky LED lighting beyond the keyboard, and a more sober look once you lift the lid as well. This is still a decent-looking laptop, however, with a diagonal textured section on the lid to showcase the ASUS ROG motif, but with a much less ostentatious branding in the corner.
The M16 is a 16in chassis, which may seem like only a small step down from a 17in desktop replacement laptop, but the weight and size are considerably less than the likes of the Alienware x17 R2, for example. The Zephyrus M16 is only 2kg, and while the near-2cm thickness is still quite bulky, this is a notebook you could conceivable carry around with you.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Display
We’ve seen notebooks in this size class with 4K-level screens, such as the Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED, but the Zephyrus M16 opts for a 16in screen with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio. The screen uses IPS technology and delivers a 3ms pixels response and 165Hz refresh, which will please the gaming purchaser but probably isn’t particularly relevant in a business context.
The colour gamut of this screen is excellent, delivering 100% of sRGB and 98% of DCI-P3. The official rating is for 100% of DCI-P3 but getting just 2% away is still highly commendable. Colour accuracy is also very good, although not as good as the best we’ve tested. While the average Delta-E colour variance of 1.11 is great, the maximum of 2.79 is a bit more of an aberration. However, the maximum screen brightness of 475cd/m2 means this is a very vibrant panel that should be visible even in a highly illuminated environment. We had no trouble seeing it in direct sunlight. This screen will be excellent for media viewing, other entertainment uses such as games, and the wide gamut will mean it can turn its hand to professional work competently as well.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Keyboard and trackpad
The 16in chassis isn’t wide enough for the keyboard to be accompanied by a numerical keypad, but the chiclet keys are full sized and have a solid travel, making touch-typing comfortable. ASUS tends to place the # key above the Enter key on its notebooks. This will need acclimatisation if you’re used to a layout with a taller Enter key but otherwise, this is a comfortable, ergonomic keyboard.
The trackpad is massive, and although it is centrally placed, so is the keyboard, so it’s well situated to avoid contact while typing. The ridge around trackpad is very shallow, but it’s very close to the front edge of the notebook and the keyboard at the back, so you don’t need to look down to be sure you’re pressing in the right place. The trackpad is also responsive and accurate.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Hardware and performance
Central to ASUS’s 2022 laptop refresh is the adoption of the 12th Gen Intel Core processor. The Zephyrus M16, like the ROG Strix Scar17, uses the near-top processor model from this generation, the Core i9-12900H. This incorporates a whopping 14 cores, although they are not all the same. Instead, the CPU has 6 P performance cores and 8 E efficient ones. The P cores have a nominal 2.5GHz frequency with 5GHz turbo mode, whereas the E cores operate at 1.8GHz up to 3.8GHz. The 12900H in our sample was backed by 16GB of DDR5-4800 memory, although there is also an 8GB option (which is not recommended with this many cores). You can upgrade the Zephyrus M16 up to 48GB (but only 40GB if you started with 8GB).
The graphics acceleration is also extremely high-end on this laptop, in the shape of an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU. This combines a potent 5,888 CUDA cores with 8GB of GDDR6 memory. You can purchase a version of the Zephyrus M16 with 3060 or 3080 Ti graphics, with the latter offering a massive 10,240 CUDA cores and 16GB of GDDR6 memory. These are all high-end gaming options, but sadly there is no professional graphics choice.
All variants of the Zephyrus M16 come with a sizeable 2TB NVMe PCI Express 4.0 SSD as main storage. This is a very fast example of the genre, too; the SSD delivered sustained reading of 7,085MB/sec and sustained writing of 5,258MB/sec with CrystalDiskMark 8. This is extremely rapid throughput and the 2TB capacity will be ample for the lifetime of the notebook.
With the same processor as the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17, performance is similarly superb with everyday applications. In our IT Pro media benchmarks, the overall score was an excellent 388, although the Scar 17 delivered an even more impressive figure. The Zephyrus M16’s result was made up of 236 in image editing, 370 in video editing, and 451 in multi-tasking, showing excellent capabilities across the board.
This performance was emphasized by similarly superb results with Maxon Cinebench. The Zephyrus M16 delivered 6,836 in R20 and 17,626 with R23 mutli core and 1,929 single core. These are the levels of CPU performance we saw in 16-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X desktops of just a few years ago like the Armari Magnetar S16T-RW1000G2 - although current Ryzen 9 5950X models such as the Scan 3XS RTX Studio Pro G132R are further ahead now.
The GeForce RTX 3070 Ti is not a professionally focused graphics accelerator, but it’s so powerful it will still do very well with most 3D content creation applications. To show this, we ran SPECviewperf 2020 v1.0. The Zephyrus M16 managed 56.2 in 3dsmax-07 and 112.27 in maya-06, which are decent but behind what we were expecting for this GPU. Similarly, the scores of 53.34 in catia-06, 64.65 in creo-03 and 59.52 in solidworks-05 indicate usability but aren’t up with what we expected. The result of 18.75 in snx-04, however, shows the expected inability of consumer-grade graphics to run Siemens NX smoothly.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Battery life
You don’t expect a notebook this powerful to have the same battery life as a road warrior-oriented thin and light model - but the Zephyrus M16 did better than we expected in our video playback battery test, lasting 10hrs 20mins. That’s not quite as long as, for example, the Dell XPS 17, which managed over 11 hours. However, the XPS 17 isn’t as powerful as the Zephyrus M16, so this is a credible result. It will last a full working day or transatlantic flight, making it much more flexible than a larger desktop replacement.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Ports and features
The Zephyrus M16 offers the latest Wi-Fi 6 capability, and there’s plenty of wired connectivity available too. On the left next to the power connection is an HDMI 2.0b video output, plus Gigabit LAN. Further along is a single USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A port, which will be great for attaching a flash memory drive. Then there’s a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C port, delivering 20GB/sec bandwidth with DisplayPort support and power output. Next door is a Thunderbolt 4 port with twice the bandwidth and more power output, able to support two 4K displays at once and PCI Express devices. Finally, there is a combo analog audio minijack.
The right-hand edge also offers a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A port, in a great place to connect a mouse (if you’re right-handed). Next door is a slot for a microSD card, which will be handy if you use a media capture device that employs this format, such as an action camera. Overall, it’s a comprehensive port selection, and it’s great to see legacy Type A and HDMI alongside futureproofed Type C and Thunderbolt 4, plus a built-in card reader.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Verdict
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 delivers incredible desktop-level processing power in a package with the battery life to last a day’s work. It’s just small enough to carry about with you, too. The screen is bright, with a great gamut. There is a good range of connectivity spanning from legacy USB Type A to cutting edge Thunderbolt 4. This is a great all-round notebook that is a competent jack of all trades - and master of many of them too.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 specifications
Intel Core i9-12900H
Intel Iris Xe + NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti with 8GB GDDR6 memory
2TB NVMe PCI Express 4.0 SSD
16in 2,560 x 1,600 IPS screen
Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
802.11ax WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
1 x Thunderbolt 4 / DisplayPort, 1 x 3.5mm combo audio jack, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x LAN, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A, microSD card reader
355 x 243 x 19.9mm (WxDxH)
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