Radeon graphics and a stellar new display reinvigorate 2022 ROG Zephyrus G14

Articles: Hands On
May 31, 2022 Written by:Whitson Gordon

A photo of the Zephyrus G14 laptop on a table, outside a coffee shop.

I've been a PC gamer my entire life, but I use my PC for much more than just fragging noobs. I also explore a myriad of hobbies on Reddit and YouTube, work from home, edit the occasional photo and video. And when it comes to laptops, portability is paramount: the smaller and lighter a laptop, the better. For a long time, that meant I had to either give up gaming prowess for a thin and light machine or carry a larger, more powerful device everywhere I went. The ROG Zephyrus G14 does the impossible and puts admirable gaming chops into an ultra portable machine that travels anywhere.

Within the larger ROG family, the G14 occupies a somewhat unique space. While ROG's venerable Strix line is all about maximum gaming power, the Zephyrus line aims for more of a balance between power and portability, with the G14 leaning toward the latter. Its value proposition is simple: pack as much gaming hardware as possible into a 14-inch chassis, complete with all the necessities for living on the road. The G14 has a bright, beautiful screen, a comfortable keyboard and trackpad, and speedy Type-C charging for on-the-go power. This year, the G14 also took yet another step up in power, with a high-end Radeon GPU to push framerates even further. After a few weeks with this machine, I'm head over heels. 

Ultra-compact power fits into any lifestyle 

With an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX 6800S GPU, this small machine packs more power than it has any right to. The 8-core, 16-thread CPU gives even my desktop machine a run for its money, while the RX 6800S is the most powerful GPU ROG has ever fit into a machine this compact–which, when combined with a built-in MUX Switch, makes for excellent on-the-go gaming performance.

A photo of the left side of the Zephyrus G14 laptop, showing the ErgoLift hinge.

That GPU drives ROG's gorgeous new Nebula Display, which sports a QHD resolution at a 16:10 aspect ratio. That means the G14's new display is not only sharp, but it's a bit taller than your typical laptop, which provides more screen real estate for games and web browsing alike–without the laptop feeling bulkier. At 120Hz, motion is fluid in-game, and the Nebula Display's wide color gamut means colors are more vivid and lifelike than ever. With up to 500 nits, you can see the screen even in bright sunlight, which is a godsend for a machine designed to travel with you everywhere.

That high-end hardware is cooled by the best of ROG's Intelligent Cooling, featuring a vapor chamber that covers 48.2% of the motherboard and Thermal Grizzly liquid metal on both the CPU and GPU. The bottom of the machine contains perforated metal for improved heat dissipation, and the vents are covered in a fine mesh that traps dust and debris before it gets into the machine. If dust is allowed to build up over time, it'll trap more heat, and when you're cramming high-end components into a machine this small, more heat means lower performance and less longevity into the future. ROG pulled out every single stop to ensure the 2022 G14 keeps its cool.

A rear view of the Zephyrus G14, with the AniMe Matrix™ showing an ROG logo.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the absolutely baller AniMe Matrix™ on the front lid. Instead of a static logo or design, like most laptops, the G14 features an array of thousands of LEDs that shine through holes on the lid to create unique animations, allowing me to truly customize the look of my machine and stand out from the crowd. 

A spectacular system for gaming on the go

An image of an armored warrior approaching a glowing treasure chest, from the game Godfall.

Image credit: Gamesplanet

But let's address the obvious: this machine is a go-anywhere, do-anything dream, but at its core, it's still a gaming PC first. And while the average 14-inch machine with integrated graphics is fine for a few rounds of Candy Crush, the Zephyrus G14 handled every modern game I threw at it, allowing me to take my library everywhere I went. 

A bar graph showing an average of 74.8 frames per second and a minimum framerate of 62.5 frames per second in Godfall.

Whether lazily playing in bed or taking it on a weekend trip, I could boot into games at a moment's notice, which is my portable gaming dream. Godfall, for example, is one of those great pick-up-and-play games that you can enjoy for 20 minutes or two hours, with beautiful visuals that belie its accessible nature. As one of the early showcase titles for this generation of gaming hardware, it's also remarkably demanding. Thankfully, AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) made it easy to hack and slash at more than 60 frames per second on the G14's QHD+ display, and the expanded color gamut really made this gorgeous game shine. Fire glowed an impossibly bright orange, popping off the screen and lighting every inch of the game's vibrant, fantastical world. 

A bar graph showing an average of 129.6 frames per second and a minimum framerate of 109.8 frames per second in Civilization VI.

Other times, I find myself out and about with a bit of free time to game–but no space for a mouse or no gamepad in my backpack. In situations like that, real-time strategy games like Civilization VI are perfect, since I can play just as easily with the built-in trackpad. Plus, the large high-resolution screen provides plenty of real estate for my steadily advancing society. While framerate is rarely a huge concern with Civ VI, it was nice to see that I could easily max out the 120Hz display of the Zephyrus G14. Perhaps more important is the AI performance, which was equally impressive–the Ryzen 9 6900HS boasted an average turn time of 7.62 seconds in the AI benchmark, which easily competes with the best rigs out there.

A bar graph showing an average of 83.5 frames per second and a minimum framerate of 64.1 frames per second in Call of Duty: Warzone.

None of that's to say you can't get a competitive streak going on the G14, though. If I have a mouse with me, I still love to fire up the occasional round of Warzone and plow through a few solo matches. The high-end hardware in this machine was able to stay over 60 frames per second at all times, making good use of the 120Hz Nebula Display. Most of the time, my framerate hovered between 70 and 90 frames per second at the display's native QHD+ resolution–though with Warzone's built-in resolution scaling, I was able to easily hit a locked 120 frames per second to get a leg up on my enemies.

A bar graph showing an average of 82.0 frames per second and a minimum framerate of 70.9 frames per second in Forza Horizon 5.

My favorite way to game on the G14 is to grab an Xbox controller (or my ultra-portable ROG Kunai) and race around the open world of Forza Horizon 5. As another next-gen title, Forza has the ability to really push your hardware if you let it, so I knocked the graphical settings from Extreme down to Ultra and took a slew of drivatars to task in the Duncas Blancas Sprint. At the native QHD+ resolution I stayed firmly above 60 frames per second trailing the other cars in the more demanding early sections of the race. But once I took the lead, or went off on my own exploring the open world, hitting the high 90s and low 100s was more common, offering smooth motion that only a 120Hz display can offer.

My all-day ally 

A photo of the Zephyrus G14 laptop with its lid closed, sitting on a table.

The G14's raw gaming power impressed me, but its everyday luxuries are what truly endeared me to this machine. Thankfully, every inch of the G14 is built for convenience and usability, especially on the go. The new webcam includes support for Windows Hello, so the system logs me instantly as soon as I open the lid. Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide the latest and greatest wireless connections when I'm out and about. The 2022 G14's trackpad is larger than previous generations, with a smooth surface that doesn't jump or hitch when I glide my finger across it. And the keyboard…oh boy, do I love this keyboard. With 1.5mm of travel, this keyboard is an actual joy for typing and gaming alike—far too rare in these days of ultra-thin laptops with 1mm or less of travel. Four hotkeys along the top offer quick access to volume and Armoury Crate, which I use regularly to get the most of my machine, particularly when it comes to battery life.

A close-up photo of the Zephyrus G14's keyboard, glowing with a red backlight.

Battery life can be a similar challenge for ultraportable machines, but the G14's 76Wh battery not only offers excellent longevity, but it offers plenty of features that ensure you make the most of the power you have. The bundled 240W adapter is perfect when you're at home gaming on full power, and it'll easily fit in your backpack if you want to game on the go. But if I'm out in the world and I don't need the G14's full gaming might, I can bring a single Type-C power bank that'll charge the G14 alongside all of my devices, thanks to the Power Delivery-capable USB-C port on the left-hand side. This has become a must-have feature for me when I'm out in town, and ensures I can always stay topped off if I'm not near an outlet.

Armoury Crate also helps in this regard. While I prefer to toggle the MUX Switch for maximum framerate at home, I can easily pop the G14 into Optimized or Eco Mode when I'm working on the go, disabling the discrete GPU when not needed for maximum battery life. And with Armoury Crate's Silent operating mode, I never have to hear the fans crank up when I'm browsing in bed or working at a coffee shop.

A close-up photo of the Zephyrus G14's blue metal badge with the ROG logo inscribed on it.

I'm a mega-fan of ultraportable laptops, but I've often had to sacrifice something when it comes to buying one—usually, my ability to play modern games. But this is truly my dream machine that can go anywhere, do anything, while barely making a dent in the weight of my bag. If portability is king but you have to have your Steam library everywhere you go, you can't go wrong with the Zephyrus G14.