One of the highlights of Asus' gaming announcements at -- in addition to the new monitors -- is the ROG Zephyrus G14, a new 14-inch entrant in its thin-and-light line. But it's more than just a small gaming notebook; it's chock full of new and novel features.
For example, it introduces a cool optional lid that displays any still photo or animated GIF in 256 levels via a 1,215-mini LED array on its top diagonal half, a feature it dubs "AniMe" (pronounced ani-me). It does suck up a bit of extra battery, though, and adds about 2mm of thickness to the laptop.
Another first: a 2,560x1,440 60Hz screen option. Yup, it's the first 1440p laptop display, in what I hope is a wave of them, because I'm tired of HD. It covers 100% of the sRGB gamut. Of course, there will be a 1080 120Hz option as well. Asus says that the 1440p panel is still pretty power efficient, so it shouldn't make that big a hit on battery life, either, unlike 4K.
Both the G14 and its 15-inch sibling, the G15 can be configured with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, which makes the G14 one of the smallest laptops to incorporate an RTX GPU. They're also among the first laptops to incorporate AMD's just-announced 7nm versions of its mobile processors. The G14 uses up to a custom 8-core Ryzen 7 4800HS designed to generate less heat than the full-fat version in the G15.
And in its most power-efficient configuration Asus says the G14 will be able to hit about 10 hours of battery life. That's pretty impressive for a gaming notebook. But that's also without the discrete GPU. The G14 can run off a 65-watt USB-C power adapter but enabling the discrete graphics requires the 180-watt AC adapter. This not-always-game-capable design seems to be a trend -- Lenovo's considers its new a gaming laptop, but you can only get a discrete GPU when you connect it to its new Thunderbolt 3 eGPU, the BoostStation. Using a specific power adapter seems less of a stretch, though.
Another downside is there's no webcam. Though it may not be something you use regularly, webcams do come in handy, no matter how crappy they are, if you're using the machine for work. Asus does plan to offer an optional, external 1080p camera. While the keyboard isn't unique, it does have 1.5mm of travel in a sea of keyboards that tend to max out at 1.3mm, and it feels pretty good.
According to Asus, the G14 will start at just under $1,500, and both models arrive beginning in March. The AniMe-equipped versions will ship a little later than the standard ones. You can't get a 1440p display on the G15, but it can be configured with a GTX 1660 Ti in addition to RTX 2060.