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Asus Zephyrus M16 Review: Can it gun down the G15?

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 Review Summary:

Expert Rating: 4/5

Design

Audiovisual

Keyboard

Performance

Ports & Power






Rating: 4.5 out of 5.






Rating: 4 out of 5.






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.






Rating: 4 out of 5.






Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pros

  • Easily portable
  • Highly powerful
  • Smooth and sultry 2K display
  • Enjoyable speakers
  • Good port selection incl TB4
  • Responsive keyboard and touchpad
  • USB-C Power Delivery
  • Webcam is present

Cons

  • Gets hot and noisy when stressed
  • Smudge-prone surface
  • Bulky charger with 16A plug

Asus had launched the Zephyrus M16 in India a few months back. But, it was only recently that I got my hands on it. Incidentally, I had just done the Zephyrus G15 2021 review. Now both these machines look rather similar and are powerhouses in their respective price points. The newcomer Zephyrus M16 is pricier than G15 at ₹229,990 price tag but it does pack the punch. It comes with the latest 11th gen Intel Core i9 processor paired with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics, 32gigs of DDR4 RAM, 2TB of NVMe storage, and a 16:10 2K 165Hz display, among other things. So, the question that arises is how much more of a value are we getting with the M16 over the G15? We will find that out in this Smartprix review of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16.

Let’s begin with a hover over the complete list of things you get in the Zephyrus M16 package:

Asus Zephyrus M16 Unboxing

Within the M16’s cardboard box, you will find the following contents:

  • The laptop
  • Charger and Cord
  • Guide booklets

Also Read:

Contents


Dimensions and Weight: 355 x 243 x 19.9 ~ 223 (mm); 1.9KG
Display: 16-inch QHD (2560×1600) IPS 165Hz, DCI-P3 100%, 3ms response times, Pantone validated, Adaptive sync, 8-bit, Gamma Level: 2.2, 94% screen-to-body ratio, Matte. Dolby Vision
Processor: 10nm Intel 11th gen Tiger Lake Core i9-11900H 2.50 GHz, up to 4.9 GHz, 8 Cores, 16 Threads, 24MB L3 Cache, 45W TDP
Graphics: iGPU: 1GB Intel UHD; dGPU: 8GB GDDR6 Nvidia RTX 3070; 100W TGP; 1290MHz Boost Clock, Resizable Bar, Dynamic Boost 2.0
RAM: 32GB used (16+16, one of them soldered to the board) 3200 MHz DDR4 Dual Channel SODIMM (Up to 48GB)
Storage: 2TB PCIe x4 M.2 NVMe SSD Slot (1 more empty slot)
Keyboard and Touchpad: TenKeyLess, Chiclet, 1.7mm travel distance, White Backlit, Single Zone, Power key with a fingerprint sensor; Large Glass Touchpad
Webcam: 720P
Audio: 2x 2W tweeter, 4x 2W woofer with Smart Amp Technology, Dolby Atmos, AI mic noise-canceling, Built-in array microphone
Ports: 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort / power delivery, 1x RJ45 LAN port, 1x card reader (microSD), 1x Thunderbolt 4 support DisplayPort / power delivery
Wireless connectivity: Dual-band Wifi 6 802.11AX + Bluetooth 5.2, Range Boost
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Battery: 4-cell 90 WHr lithium-polymer; 240W AC Adapter
Security: TPM 2.0
Zephyrus M16 Price in India: ₹229,990


And here we go —

Asus Zephyrus M16 Design






Rating: 4 out of 5.

While using the white Zephyrus G15, I wondered how would its black variant look like. Well, it should be pretty close to what you see here. It has got that diagonal dot matrix design with about 8279 CNC holes that present rainbowy reflections thanks to the underlying ‘Prismatic Film’. This two-tone effect is more visible on this off-black variant.

You can lift the lid with one hand and inside you’d find a 16:10 display bracketed by slim borders. Even the bottom bezel, due to the ErgoLift design, sits in a lowered position, such that the eyes fall right on the Windows taskbar. If you look closer there is a ROG Zephyrus insignia there on the chin. Another main branding is the ‘Republic of Gamers’ badge present on the bonnet.

By the base, there are air-intake vents and speaker grilles.

Although polycarbonate built, these feel strong with no worrying flex. The hinge is also pretty firm and can lean back to a flat 180-degree on the table. Coming back to that ErgoLift joint, the way it reclines raises the keyboard deck for a better typing experience and also creates some inhaling space for the fans. Also while talking about fans. I should mention the anti-dust mechanism implemented by Asus engineers that ensure the fans and fins stay clean in the long term. We will be reading more about this in the latter half.

While the internal components are designed to “self-clean” the surface would need manual cleaning quite often. A simple swipe would do. Anyways the soft-touch finish on the keyboard deck is too good. And that the corners are rounded is also appreciated.

So, overall the M16 is dressed to kill. Let’s see how it fares in other areas.

Asus Zephyrus M16 Audiovisual






Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asus has outfitted the M16 with a BOE-made 16-inch panel. Again kudos to Asus designers who have framed this within a 15-inch chassis. It has got a QHD resolution like the G15 with rich colors, good viewing angles, and Dolby Vision HDR contrasts. It scores 100% in the DCI-P3 gamut and is Pantone certified for color integrity. So be it consuming or creating content, the screen should be qualified for the task.

The display is also capable of driving a 165Hz refresh rate, 3ms response times, and even benefits from Adaptive sync for parity between the GPU and the display. You can also enable the Panel Overdrive feature within Armoury Crate for avoiding any smearing during fast-paced visuals during games and all. I’ll be sharing the M16 gaming review in an upcoming section.

The visual treat is complemented by two upward-firing tweeters flanked on both sides of the key island and two downward-firing woofers. They are plenty clear and loud. If you wish, you can tune the sound to your taste from within the Dolby Access equalizer settings.

There is a 3.5mm jack on the left port area. I like that it’s easily reachable. The multi-mic system with 2-way AI Noise Cancelation, various cool microphone modes, and noise cancelation choices are also present within the Armoury crate, should you need them. I use them during video calls, which have become part of the WFH routine.

HD Webcam on the Zephyrus G15

And one thing that’s of utmost importance during video calls is a webcam, which is gladly present on the Zephyrus M16. Thanks, Asus for returning something that should not have been removed in the first place. As for quality, it is as good as you’d expect out of a 720P webcam. The details are soft, colors can be off, but still and all workable.

It isn’t IR supported, so no Windows Hello Face unlocking on the M16. You have to rely on the finger instead. Swipe with your fingers to the deck now.

Asus Zephyrus M16 Keyboard






Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Asus has incorporated a fingerprint scanner into the Power button. It works fine, provided your fingers are dry and dandy. Left to it at a distance are the 4 hotkeys (volume control, mic mute, Armory Crate) of great use. But, they were weirdly recessed and hence less clicky. I would have also liked to see a set of media playback control keys here. Hey Asus, if you’re listening… 🥺

Right below lies the Zephyrus M16’s tenkeyless chiclet keyboard with a single-zone white backlight (customizable inside the Armoury Crate). It offers a comfortable 1.7mm key travel and typing experience. The smaller Arrow Keys might irk some of you.

The touchpad beneath is made of glass, is large in size, and sports Windows Precision drivers and multi-touch support. I did notice a few instances of faux touches. Not a biggie, but something you oughta know.

Anyways, time to get into the gear.

Asus Zephyrus M16 Performance






Rating: 4 out of 5.

M16 has Intel Inside. An 11th gen Core i9-11900H processor with a base clock speed of 2.50GHz and a boost speed of 4.9GHz. It is based on 10nm architecture and is made of 8 cores and hyperthreading up to 16 processes. The thermal ceiling is 45W. You also get 24MB of L3 cache and 32GB of DDR4 RAM out of the box. The memory controller works on two channels and can speed up to 3200MHz frequency. The storage space is also fast, large in size, and channels through the PCIe 4.0 lane. If still, you find 2TB less, then there’s an extra slot for expansion. Similarly, one of the inserted 16GB chips can be replaced with a 32GB module to top it up to full-fat 48GB.

So the thing isn’t slow would be the mild way of putting it. Benchmark and real-world tests attest to that.

Asus Zephyrus M16 Benchmark (Plugged-in, Turbo Mode) Scores
3DMark Time Spy | Fire Strike 9379 | 21080
Cinebench R23 Single-cores | Multi-core | MP Ratio 1574 | 12515 | 7.95x
CrystalDiskMark Seq Read | Write Speed 7110.26 | 5156.94 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark Random Read | Write Speed 4056.31 | 3460.86 MB/s
Geekbench 5 Single-Core | Multi-core (CPU) | OpenGL (GPU) 1570 | 9631 | 111970
PCMark 10 (Modern Office) 7166
Handbrake test (1GB WebM file to H.265 MKV 1080p30 conversion) 20 min 35 seconds
Unigine Superposition 18056
Blender bmw27 | classroom 3m10s | 8m51s

As for my subjective take, I played a few games on the M16.

Note these were run at 2K resolution:

  • Control DX12 High | DX12 RTX High | DX12 RTX High DLSS: 53.05 FPS | 32.067 FPS | 55.433 FPS
  • Fortnite: 90.567 FPS
  • Metro 2033 Redux: 108.844 FPS
  • GTA V: 111.91 FPS
  • Watch Dogs 2 Ultra: 73.983 FPS

The integrated Intel UHD GPU isn’t much but while running on the iGPU mode (within Armoury Crate), you can save some battery life. However, when more grunt is needed, there is an Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM, a max speed of 1290MHz. Note that the total graphics power can go up to 100W, not 125W and so expect some graphics restraints. Still, being high-end, you do get facilities like Dynamic Boost 2.0 and Resizable Bar for prioritizing the amount of power and memory allotted to GPU as well as Optimus for switching between iGPU and dGPU. But there is no Advanced Optimus and MUX switch for a seamless transition between GPUs.

Even if you don’t care or need these features, the one thing you will most probably do is to switch between Silent (low fan noise), Performance, and Turbo modes based on the task you are performing on the laptop. It can feel warm (idle) to hot (stressed) whence seated on your lap or as you touch over certain areas of the keyboard deck. And when the fans rush to reduce heat, that also makes the sound. But considering the processing under the hood, it is understandable.

Asus has done its part to tame or release the heat with fans, heat pipes, and Thermal Grizzly liquid metal paste. That’s all the paraphernalia and then there are 4 air outlets (left, right, and back) and 2 air inlets (base) too. The heat blow from the back vents straight to the screen is a bit concerning. But, I’m not sure of how or whether it would impact in the long term.

As for the software, Zephyrus M16 boots Windows 10 Home Edition with the usual raft of bloat. The start times are quick. Upon setting up the system and reaching the desktop, the first thing I always do is uninstalling McAfee. So, I did. And checked the Windows 11 support. Yes, it does.

Two of the handy pre-installed apps are the Armoury Crate (for all reasons mentioned throughout the article), and MyAsus for support and features like limiting the charging to 80-percent for battery health. That leads us to —

Asus Zephyrus M16 Ports & power






Rating: 3 out of 5.

Coming to the peripherals, there is a DCIN charging port, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x RJ45 Ethernet port, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort / power delivery, 1x Thunderbolt 4 support DisplayPort / power delivery, and a 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack on the left-hand side. On the other hand, there is just a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A socket and a micro-SD card reader.

Those who want a full-size card might be slightly miffed, but other than that, it is a versatile lineup.

Wirelessly, there is dual-band WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. I didn’t have any issue with connectivity over either of them.

And at last, battery life. Zephyrus M16 ran for 6 hours 36 mins in PCMark 10 battery test (Modern Office), which is way lesser than the 10-hour score I got on the Zephyrus G15. This is despite both sharing a 90WHr battery. Granted this Intel monster is more powerful but its battery efficiency isn’t as good as an AMD counterpart.

On a regular day of a writer, this would run for a 3Hr 40 Mins. Refilling takes time and you will have to carry around the bulky charging brick around. Also, the plug of the charger connects to a 16A socket, which might not be available everywhere. The good thing is the presence of Type-C charging (up to 100W) for when you don’t have its adapter lying around.

So with that, it’s time to see if the Zephyrus M16 is worth it?

Review Verdict: Should You Buy Asus Zephyrus M16?

Editor’s rating






Rating: 4 out of 5.

Zephyrus M16 addresses major criticism I had with Zephyrus G15. It brings a webcam, albeit an average 720P one, but something is better than nothing, eh? And it adopts the newer 16:10 aspect ratio which makes the already bigger 16-inch panel seem even bigger. The panel is, as aforementioned, smooth and sultry. It should be exciting for all, irrespective of the reason they use it for. And folks who buy it need not worry about performance either as it is top of the line through and through.

Now, there are still areas where the Intel-led M15 falls behind the AMD-borne G15. Don’t get me wrong, they both are loaded to the teeth and offer an excellent price to performance. Having said that, the M16 has a significantly lesser battery life than the G15. Its power brick is heftier and it connects to a 16A socket only. Further add getting warmer in general use to perceptibly hot and noisy while under stress to this list. Now, these should concern you if you intend on carrying around the laptop. They might not be deal-breakers for most, but some may care about portability, lapability, and the little things that add to the whole gaming laptop experience.

However, if those things don’t bother you much and instead you can pony up more for the relatively powerful Intel chip, PCIe 4 storage speeds, a larger screen real estate, Thunderbolt 4 benefits, a frickin’ integrated webcam, and some aesthetic preferences, then go with the M16.

Reasons to buy

  • Easily portable
  • Highly powerful
  • Smooth and sultry 2K display
  • Enjoyable speakers
  • Good port selection incl TB4
  • Responsive keyboard and touchpad
  • USB-C Power Delivery
  • Webcam is present

Reasons to not buy

  • Can get hot and noisy when stressed
  • Average battery life
  • Pricey

Asus Zephyrus M16 FAQ

Q. Does Asus Zephyrus M16 support G-Sync?

A. Yes, the Asus M16 screen does support Nvidia G-Sync or Adaptive Sync.

Q. Does Asus Zephyrus M16 support Nvidia Optimus?

A. Yes, Asus M16 does feature Nvidia Optimus, but not Advanced Optimus. The Auto iGPU mode within Armoury crate switches dynamically between Intel UHD and RTX 3070 depending on demand.

Q. Is Asus Zephyrus M16 good for gaming?

A. Yes, it is one of the best gaming laptops to buy. It comes with a 165Hz refresh rate, 3ms response times, Adaptive-Sync (for reducing ghosting issues), powerful hardware including RTX graphics, and an octa-core Intel CPU.

Q. Does Asus Zephyrus M16 support Thunderbolt?

A. Yes, Asus M16 does come with a Thunderbolt 4 port. You also get DisplayPort and Power Delivery.

Q. Can you charge the Asus Zephyrus M16 using a USB-C cable?

A. Yes, the Asus M16 does support USB-C charging up to 100W thanks to Power Delivery.

Q. Does Asus Zephyrus M16 feature a Webcam?

A. Yes, there is a built-in 720P HD webcam on the M16. But due to lack of IR, there is no Windows Hello Face support here.

Q. Does Asus Zephyrus M16 feature a fingerprint sensor or Windows Hello?

A. You get Windows Hello Fingerprint recognition on the M16 with an auto Windows login facility.

Q. Is Asus Zephyrus M16 upgradeable?

A. Yes, the laptop supports a max 48GB of DDR4-3200MHz Dual-channel RAM and also has an additional open slot for SSD storage. So, you could say it is rather future-proof.

Q. What are the hardware SKUs of Zephyrus M16 available in India?

A. You can choose between an Intel Core i9-11900H or Core i7-11800H CPU. As for GPU, there is Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 (80W + 20W TGP), the RTX 3060 (80W + 15W TGP) and RTX 3050 Ti (60W + 15W). Although announced, they are yet to retail. So, at the time of writing, they aren’t in stock. Asus assures they should be coming soon and thence will be listed online and you can go about searching where to buy an M16?

Q. What is your pick between Asus M16 vs G15?

A. For the budget I have and my usage requirements, I would pick the Zephyrus M16. But that’s just me. The M16 is also a good choice for what it offers. The reasons to go with either are given above.

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