The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 from last year was a sharp laptop that stumbled a bit in terms of performance thanks to its Intel processor. The lightweight form factor was a plus, but we were disappointed with the overall performance of the laptop, especially given its high price point.
The new Intel-based laptop from Asus retains a lot of what worked with its predecessor while smoothing out some of the rough edges. Many of these additions are welcome but mostly iterative, offering faster 12th Gen Intel CPUs and up to an RTX 3080 Ti graphics card. I am interested to see if the M16 earned its higher price tag.
If you are in the market for a gaming laptop, the 2022 version of the Asus Zephyrus G15 added aWebcam to its already impressive list of specs, addressing one of the biggest issues we had with the prior model. The Intel processor in the M16 has the potential to give it an edge.
The model of the M16 is all about the lake. The model I tested was equipped with a Core i9-12900H and an Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti, both of which were backed up by 2 terabytes of storage. The middle of the road configuration is $2,149.99. There is a higher tier option for $3,199.99 that has the same processor and storage but has a 3080 Ti graphics card and 32GB of RAM. The budget entry of the M16 uses a Core i7-12700H, an RTX 3060, 512GB of storage, and 16GB of RAM.
With more configuration options and a budget model with a price that's a little more accessible, it feels like Asus is at least on the right track in terms of pricing. The previous model we tested used an Intel Core i9-9900H with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and an RTX 3060 graphics card. You will be hard-pressed to find a laptop that is less expensive than the M16 pound for pound.
The Legion 5i Pro costs $2,300 and matches the M16 in just about every aspect, but is packaged with a slightly less powerful Intel Core i7-12700H. The latest model of the Blade 15 has the same amount of storage and RAM as the previous model, but has a less powerful processor. The only edge it has on our review model is the display, which is too large for most situations with this kind of hardware configuration.
The M16's specifications are mostly what we expect, but the inclusion of an Intel Iris Xe graphics card and a MUX switch separate it from its predecessors and other gaming options. The additions to the M16 board allow the laptop to switch between its dedicated and integrated graphics based on usage to maximize battery life without sacrificing performance.
The older M16 only had about six hours of general use on a single charge. The M16 shows at least a marginal improvement. I was able to play the game for an average of two hours and six hours of general use with the standard power profile. The longevity of this laptop was greatly increased by the MUX switch, which allowed it to run for three times longer than it would if it relied on a single graphics card. A seven-hour battery life isn't bad in the realm of gaming laptops, but I wouldn't recommend taking the M16 very far from an outlet.
The display of the previous model of the M16 is relatively unchanged. No screen space is wasted because of the thin screen. This isn't the fastest or highest resolution display you can get on a laptop, but it does allow the M16 to get the most out of its hardware without wasting it.
The M16 can easily handle a variety of modern titles at its native resolution with all the sliders turned up, which includes ray tracing and v-sync. Shadow of the Tomb Raider struggled a little with shadows maxed out, but still averaged a little under 60 frames per second, while Doom Eternal was able to manage well over 90 frames per second. RDR2 did a better job with blanched mode, managing a smooth 60 frames per second.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was one of the titles that I tested to see how far I could push the M16's display. The display is capable of rendering, but the M16 was able to push a maximum of 340 frames per second at times.
The previous model of the M16 maxed out at 236 frames per second during our benchmark, and 38 frames per second in our test with Shadow of the Tomb Raider on ultra settings. The RDR2 benchmark for the older M16 averaged 42 frames per second, with everything set to maximum.
The games on the M16 display look amazing. The resolution of the screen is 1600 x 1200, which offers great fidelity and excellent depth of color. 500 nits of peak brightness ensures that you don't miss a single detail and do a good job of fighting glare.
The M16 can handle games well, but I had hoped that the presence of Intel Silicon would increase productivity. I wasn't disappointed when I ran the hardware against the benchmark tests. The final scores were 1243 and 1047
The video export test took over seven minutes to complete, with the best time being 7:43. Other laptops with similar hardware were able to complete the same task in less than three minutes. I ran the benchmark on different versions of Adobe Premiere Pro to make sure the correct power settings were being used. I'm not sure if it's a hardware or software issue, but I'll post an update if something changes.
The M16 is currently in performance brackets that are occupied by more expensive competitors with similar hardware configurations, like the Gigabyte Aorus 17 XE4 and the latest model of the Razer Blade 17. The laptops can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 more. The performance of this level on a machine that costs over $2,000 warrants some attention.
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it. It is impossible for us to read and analyze all of these agreements. We started counting how many times you have to agree to use devices when we review them.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) gives you multiple things to agree to or decline upon setup, similar to other Windows 11 computers.
An agreement is required for the mandatory policies.
There are a few optional agreements.
There are six mandatory agreements and 16 optional ones.
The M16 still struggles with the thermal load created by this new hardware, even though the performance here outstrips the previous model by a wide margin. The temperatures on the M16 occasionally spiked to over 90 degrees Celsius, even though I didn't experience any throttling. The M16 is both hot and incredibly loud when under heavy load, despite some modest improvements to the thermal paste and fan blades. The M16 is using a mode that pushes most of its hardware to the edge of the performance envelope.
The M16 allows you to switch performance profiles to use less power and have more audible cooling. You can switch between silent, balanced, and turbo modes with the press of a button with the included software. The M16 is limited to its silent or balanced profiles on battery power.
Silent mode isn't dead quiet, but it is still capable of delivering usable performance without making itself sound like a jet taking off. It was so quiet that I was able to play a game in my living room without disturbing my partner who was watching TV. I was astonished at how long this laptop was able to maintain that kind of performance without being super audible, even though it did impact performance, causing occasional dips in the frame rate and some temperature spikes, sometimes reaching as high as 85 degrees Celsius.
A laptop that gets this loud is going to be in constant competition with its speakers, which feel sadly underpowered. The M16 features a total of six speakers, but they aren't great. The sound felt hollow and limited in its presentation. I thought turning up the volume might help, but in most cases I ended up reaching for a pair of headphones rather than listening to the speakers. I tried to fill things out with the feature but was left unimpressed.
The webcam is back from last year. While it has been proven that a gaming laptop doesn't need aWebcam to be good, it is still one of those features that you just sort of expect from any laptop. The camera here isn't going to blow anyone away, but it is enough for a zoom call. The noise-canceling microphone array was effective at blocking out background noise.
The M16 still looks great despite the hardware changes. The M16 will look familiar if you have seen a Zephyrus laptop in the past year. The reflective highlights on the lid are something I like. The base of the chassis is lifted slightly by the Ergolift hinge to improve air flow. I was a little disappointed that it picked up fingerprints so quickly. The M16 is 14 x 10 x 1 and weighs in at just 4.4 pounds. The package is light and portable, even though it has some heft to it.
The layout of the keyboard and touchpad on the M16 is almost identical to some of the previous entries in the Zephyrus lineup with dedicated volume keys. The trackpad is larger than most, but it didn't feelobtrusive at all. The M16 has a satisfying click on the keyboard and the trackpad.
There are some impressive options in the Chassis. It also includes a pair of USB-C ports, something you don't get on the G15, as well as dual USB-A and HDMI hookups. There is also a card slot. The laptop can support a wired ethernet connection and 3.5mm audio cables along with some other nice improvements.
As a complete package, the Zephyrus M16 is an acceptable improvement over its predecessor. The M16 is competitive in the realm of performance. Many of the issues we had with the previous model remain, namely, the battery life and how audible it can get when under load. The updated G15 will likely top our list of gaming laptops based on how well prior versions of it have performed, which is why the M16 would be easier to recommend if not for it. The M16 is the better choice if you need a laptop for a variety of creative applications. If you're looking for a gaming laptop, the G15 with an RTX 3070 is available for $1,849.99 and an RTX 3080 for $2,199.99, making it a better value.