As soon as it debuted at CES 2020, the ROG Zephyrus G14 was a hit. It’s rare to see a 14-inch gaming laptop at all, much less one that packs hardware ranging up to an eight-core AMD Ryzen CPU and GeForce RTX graphics. Designing a best-in-class compact gaming laptop like this takes precision from the ground up, using every millimeter of space available to make the biggest impact possible.
To demonstrate the level of design and engineering it took to put this much power into such a compact machine, we’re tearing down the Zephyrus G14 and giving you an inside look at what makes it tick.
For a different twist on tearing down the G14, check out our in-depth video:
Taking it from the top
Our chassis lid is CNC milled to ensure clean, smooth edges across over 6,500 precision perforations. It’s made of aluminum that’s strong and light to help keep the G14 trim. While the dot matrix design is sleek and polished on its own, these perforations serve double duty in the Zephyrus G14. They enable a host of unique lighting effects in systems equipped with our AniMe Matrix™ LED display.
We made the AniMe Matrix to offer gamers an entirely new platform to express their creativity. Mini LEDs shine through the perforations, allowing you to show off animations, text, incoming notifications, and a whole bunch of other effects using our built-in software. Despite the AniMe Matrix’s streamlined look, there’s a lot going on under the surface.
Diving in layer by layer, you'll find that multiple components make up the LED display: the lid, diffusers, a mask, the actual printed circuit board (PCB) with the mini LEDs, and the base plate that stabilizes it all.
Looking closely at the lid, it’s notable that all of the perforations are arranged into small, diamond-shaped groups. This is intentional, as the mini LEDs themselves are long, thin, and rectangular. By guiding light up through this diamond layout, the illumination is spread more evenly.
A bare LED on its own emits light that can be too intense to look at directly. That’s why the AniMe Matrix includes a mask layer, sandwiched between two diffuser layers. Our mask is covered in plus-shaped marks that distributes light into the four points of each diamond, while the diffuser layers filter the light to give it a softer, more balanced glow.
All of the mini LEDS (over 1200 in total) are embedded into a thin and flexible PCB powered by a microcontroller chip and seven LED drivers. It sits on top of an aluminum shield that keeps the PCB rigid and prevents electrostatic discharge and electromagnetic interference.
Put together, the whole package adds only 100 grams and less than 2 millimeters of height to the chassis while adding a ton of potential for personalization.
Looking beneath the lid
A slick ErgoLift hinge raises the laptop as it opens and tilts the keyboard at a slight angle. That extra 15mm space in the back creates more room for airflow beneath the laptop, and makes the keyboard more comfortable to use while you’re working or gaming.
This top deck is made out of a magnesium-aluminum alloy that’s sturdy, and strong, even at this ultrathin size. Honeycomb reinforcements under the palm rest maximize strength with only minimal extra material.
We’ve also cut vents into the keyboard base plate that allow the fans beneath to both pull cooler air from above down into the laptop and reduce the keyboard’s surface temperature. Sustained gameplay consumes a lot of power, which in turn produces heat, so this type of cooling makes using the laptop much more comfortable over long periods.
Cooling off a zero chill machine
When it comes to cooling in small form factors, every bit counts. Our ROG Intelligent Cooling philosophy guides our tactics, ensuring that we find the right combination of components and software to put premium power in chassis of all sizes.
For the G14, that means we modified a few of our tried-and-true cooling innovations, like n-Blade fans, a self-cleaning thermal module, and heatsinks made up of ultra-thin fins, and tailored them for this specific form factor.
Our n-Blade fans are made to amplify airflow in ultraslim chassis. Each blade is crafted out of a special liquid-crystal-polymer that is strong even when it’s molded thin, letting us make super slender blades that still stand up to high RPMs. The space saved also means we can fit more blades per fan, moving more air with every rotation.
Because the G14’s chassis is so compact, we modified our classic n-Blade design in a couple of ways to maximize performance. While regular n-Blade fans use 83 identical blades, our modified fans use 81 blades with lengths that vary between 50 to 51.2mm, arranged so that their outer edges reduce noise caused by turbulence.
Cooling acoustics can be challenging to hush in super small form factors. With these changes to our n-Blade fans, we were able to maintain maximum airflow through the G14 while keeping noise levels low.
To ensure that we had enough space to fit the same fan diameter as used in our 15” models, we made a slight adjustment to our self-cleaning thermal module, reducing the length of our anti-dust tunnels and eliminating some of the material used compared to typical implementations.
Check out the gallery to see more examples of the specific cooling techniques used in the Zephyrus G14, including the G14’s five heat pipes that snake around the CPU, GPU, and VRM to ensure efficient cooling and 4 heatsinks made up of 209 ultra-thin copper fins. The fins are specially shaped to push air in two directions, both away from and down into vents cut into the G14’s bottom bezel.
One special mobo
It takes a unique motherboard to fit so many high-end features into such a small chassis. Despite being 25% smaller than our Zephyrus G15 motherboard, the G14 still makes space for a ton of elite components, from our special 35W Ryzen 9 CPU and GeForce RTX 2060 GPU to our four Dolby Atmos-powered speakers.
The motherboard is placed to make it extra easy to reach the memory and storage bays at the back of the device. With simple household tools, you can easily remove the screws on the bottom of the chassis to access the superfast NVMe SSD and high-performance 3200MHz RAM. There’s even a marked pop-open screw that lifts up one corner of the base plate to ease removal.
With the bottom panel off, you can also see the 76Wh battery, which is pretty substantial for a laptop of this size. You can also see the Wi-Fi 6 module, which has the potential to hit gigabit or higher speeds on compatible networks.
A premium experience
All of these cutting-edge components put the G14 in a category of its own for compact, premium gaming laptops. Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos technology offer surround sound listening. The speakers are split between two front-facing tweeters that fire sound upward and two woofers at the bottom of the system that bounce sound off the surface below.
The G14 can be configured with either a Full HD 120Hz or WQHD 60Hz display. Both options support Adaptive Sync technology that makes gameplay silky smooth even as frame rates vary over time, and they’re Pantone Validated for accurate colors.
Smaller laptop screens aren’t usually available with higher refresh rates, but speed and precision are so important to serious gamers that we worked with one of our panel providers to create a 120Hz, 14-inch display just for the G14.
The G14 revolution
Our tailored approach to laptop design, from the external appearance to the cooling and components, is what enables us to create one-of-a-kind devices like the Zephyrus G14. We’re constantly improving our designs to perfectly balance power, acoustics, and everyday convenience. In that way, we create devices that make work and play more of a pleasure and make your day-to-day life easier.
At just 14” and with a 1.6kg body, the Zephyrus G14 is an impressively portable gaming laptop designed to let you kick back and enjoy gaming, streaming, and entertainment anywhere you go. To reach that goal, every piece of this laptop, from top to bottom, was carefully considered to maximize its effectiveness. The result of all this work is one of the most critically acclaimed gaming laptops in 2020. It redefines what a 14” ultraslim gaming laptop can be.