Perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves about gaming laptops is how over-the-top they can look and feel. I get it. Many of the best gaming laptops have a ton of fans, are usually packed with RGB lighting, and that flash is a badge of honor for some. But flash doesn’t make the laptop run any better, and for the multitaskers among us, the slicker and often more streamlined designs of productivity laptops have a certain appeal, especially if you plan to take your machine out in public.

While I loved what Asus did with the heftier ROG Strix Scar 18, the much smaller and more minimalist design of the Zephyrus G16 is a sweet spot that delivers a solid all-around experience for gaming, work, and whatever else you might throw at it. It’s primarily billed as a “creator” laptop, but it does game well, too. I’ve spent the last few weeks with the G16 and testing it out as my daily driver, and it’s one of the first Windows laptops that hasn’t made me miss my MacBook Air on the first day.

A solid foundation for work and play

Credit: Asus

The G16 follows in the footsteps of this year’s smaller ROG Zephyrus G14 model, offering a solid chassis that is thinner and lighter than the heftier Asus ROG laptops on the market right now. It comes with either a beautiful 16-inch Nebula OLED display running at 2560 x 1600 and 240Hz or a cheaper and almost equally as pretty Nebula IPS panel running at the same resolution and refresh rate.

All of that pairs well with the slim and lightweight chassis, which weighs in at just 4.29 pounds—very impressive when you consider it can sport up to an Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics card. The trackpad and keyboard here are also both really solid, though the larger size of the trackpad did take some getting used to when I first started toying around with it. The keyboard feedback feels nice to type on, as well, and the stroke depth of 1.7 mm should be well-suited to most typing styles.

Here’s a look at the specs on the model that Asus sent me:

CPU: Intel Core Ultra 9 185H

GPU: Nvidia RTX 4070

Memory: 16GB LPDDR5X 7467 RAM

Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD

Screen size: 16-inch ROG Nebula OLED

Resolution: 2560 x 1600

Refresh rate: 240Hz

These specs may differ depending on your model. You can compare the full list of available specs on Asus’s website.

The particular model that Asus sent me for testing only featured 16GB of RAM and an RTX 4070, but that was more than enough power for most of the gaming I did. You might want to sacrifice some of the higher settings on more intensive games (more on that in a moment), and I’d recommend going with 32GB of RAM if you plan to game a lot, but I never felt that I was too hamstrung by the smaller RAM count. The RAM is soldered into the laptop, which means you won’t be able to upgrade it, so make sure you get what you need at the time of purchase.

The speakers on this laptop are surprisingly nice, with punchy sound that isn’t always the best but is more than passable if you don’t feel like putting on headphones. The OLED display is beautiful, with a great amount of color and depth, but it can be somewhat dark, even at full brightness. The 240Hz refresh rate still made for really smooth gaming, though, and working around the brightness was easy enough in most cases.

Overall, Asus sets a solid foundation for the Zephyrus G16 to build off of. The design is elegant and feels nice to carry around, and the metal chassis helps to give it a premium feel. And, if you’re more of an RGB person, you also get what Asus calls “slash lighting” across the lid, allowing for some RGB customization without going overboard.

Performance and battery life

Credit: Asus

Of course, one of the biggest compromises you make with a laptop is performance. That’s because much of the higher-end and better-performing hardware is too big and bulky to fit into a streamlined and lightweight machine. That isn’t necessarily the case here, though, as Asus has found a way to pack an RTX 4090 into the Zephyrus G16, if you buy the right model.

While I wasn’t testing the 4090 model, the 4070 in my test machine delivered reliable performance, though I did have to tweak game settings a bit to make the most of that 240Hz refresh rate on the OLED panel.

Testing the laptop in 3DMark 13, I received the following results:

3DMark13 – CPU profile: max – 8198, 16 – 7634, 8 – 5905, 2 – 1913, 1 – 957

3D Mark 13 Fire Strike (DX11): 26478 (Graphics – 30869, Physics – 28574, Combined – 12171)

3D Mark 13 Port Royal: 7294

3D Mark 13 Time Spy (DX12): 12076 (Graphics – 12186, CPU – 11508)

All of these benchmarks were captured using the G16’s Turbo profile with the GPU set to Standard mode, and the screen set at the native resolution. Benchmarks give us a good idea of what the laptop is capable of, but they don’t really show the full picture of what you can expect from day-to-day use. That’s where we have to look at individual games.

While testing out Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most intensive games on the market, I was able to achieve solid frames-per-second (FPS) of around 50–55 FPS when running the game on Ultra settings with RTX off and using DX12. When running it in the Silent mode, which cuts performance to help minimize fan noise, the FPS dropped to around 29-35, which isn’t ideal but still generally playable. I also tested Red Dead Redemption 2, which saw around 62–70 FPS when running on Ultra Optimized with DX12 and TAA. Silent mode netted a solid 50–53 FPS at the same settings.

I also tested the in-game benchmarks for both Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2, as I like to get an idea of how things perform in both the live game and their benchmarks when available. Cyberpunk averaged around 52 FPS during my benchmarks, while RDR2 returned an average of 50 FPS. These numbers don’t take full advantage of the higher refresh rate the laptop offers, but if you want to experience the highest visual fidelity, then you’re going to see lower frame returns like this. Both benchmarks were conducted on the same settings as my live gameplay tests.

Ultimately, if you’re planning to game, you’re likely going to want to use the higher performance modes, especially if you want to take advantage of higher graphics settings. Just keep in mind that the fans are going to get much louder in turbo mode, but they never too overbearing, so long as I had headphones on.

Battery life is another important thing to take into account, and when playing in the less power-intensive models like Silent, I was able to eke out four to five hours of battery life while working and browsing the internet. Gaming took huge chunks out of that, though, especially when playing more intensive titles. That isn’t great, and this was just while running the laptop at the most basic settings.

There are tons of features you can take advantage of, like Eco mode, which can gain a couple more hours of time. Still, if you’re running performance mode on your battery, you’re going to see two to three hours before you’ll need to find a charging station, especially if you’re running more intense content like 4K videos. As such, I’d only recommend running Silent mode when using the laptop on battery power, unless you really like to tinker.

Is the ROG Zephyrus G16 worth it?

Starting at $2,199.99, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 is anything but cheap. But the premium design comes with a lot of solid features for that price. If you really want the best that the G16 has to offer, you’re going to need to go for one of the more expensive options, which can range up to $3,499.99. Those higher-end models come with 32GB of RAM, which I’d recommend upgrading to since you can’t install more after purchasing.

Overall, though, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 is a solid contender if you’re looking for a good productivity laptop that has a lot of gaming power behind it. It’s lightweight compared to most other gaming-ready laptops, and the aluminum chassis provides a premium feel that’s hard to overlook if you’re in the market for a Windows laptop that won’t make you regret carrying it around.

The higher-end models also come with two separate power bricks: a larger brick for when you plan to use high-performance modes and a smaller brick that is perfect for traveling when you don’t plan to game. At roughly $1,999.99 when you buy it from Best Buy, the 16GB RAM model that Asus sent me is a solid laptop for gamers who don’t need to hit the highest frame rates on the newest games.