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June 8, 2017

Asus stuffs a GeForce GTX 1080 into a crazy thin laptop

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We’ve seen thin and light gaming laptops before, but Asus has taken things to the next level with its ROG Zephyrus, a svelte 15.6-inch notebook with high-end components shoehorned into an ultra-thin waist line measuring just 17.9mm. Oh, and that’s at its thickest point.

The ROG Zephyrus tapers down to 16.9mm, or about 0.67 inches if you’re still shunning the metric system, yet still manages to house up to a GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and Core i7-7700HQ CPU inside. The weight checks in at 2.2kg (around 4.85 pounds).

Keeping those components cool inside such tight confines seems like an impossible challenge, and in fact Asus had to rethink its cooling scheme. What it came up with is a unique design in which the bottom panel flexes to create a 6mm open for deeper breathing when the laptop lid is lifted.

“Air is sucked in through the gap and through tiny holes above the keyboard before being pumped out of vents in the edges of the chassis. The laptop’s raised profile works with slight ramps in the exhaust ducts to help direct warm air upward, away from the cooler layer of intake air. These improvements help reduce the temperature of air flowing into the fans by about 10C compared to typical laptops,” Asus claims.

Blower-style AeroAccelerator fans provide airflow. Asus designed the fan blades to be 33 percent thinner to push more air with each rotation. At first Asus experimented with using metal blades, but they were too wobbly at full speed. Instead, Asus switched to a special liquid-crystal polymer that it says is much stiffer. Same goes for the radiators—copper was too flimsy, so Asus went with 0.1mm thick fins made of a “stronger alloy” that it says has similar thermal conductivity to pure copper.

The CPU and GPU each have a dedicated blower, radiator, and heatpipe. They blow in tandem even when only one chip is active, which allows for lower RPMs and less noise.

“This approach, along with all the other AAS (Active Aerodynamic System) enhancements, combine to make the GX501 surprisingly quiet across a wide range of workloads. Even when gaming, noise levels are under 40 decibels. And, more importantly, we haven’t sacrificed temperatures or performance to lower the acoustics,” Asus says. “Airflow improvements reduce the laptop’s component and surface temperatures compared to competing designs, and the cooling is powerful enough to keep the CPU and GPU from throttling even when both are loaded.”

We look forward to testing those claims in due time. For now, let’s talk about some of the other specs. The 15.6-inch IPS display supports G-Sync and is available with up to a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s a 1080p panel with high color accuracy—Asus says it covers the full sRGB color gamut.

Configurations will feature up to 24GB of DDR4-2400 RAM and fast NVMe SSDs with read speeds of up to 3,500MB/s and capacities up to 1TB. The ROG Zephyrus is also equipped with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, four USB 2.1 ports, a single Thunderbolt 3 port (over USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C), headphone/microphone combo port, HDMI output, HD webcam, and an RGB backlit chiclet keyboard with 30-key rollover.

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