Nov 19, 2021 Written by:ASUS

The ROG Zephyrus S17 is an outstanding mixture of power and portability

Articles: Hands On
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In college, I had one laptop that went with me everywhere. It did its jobs as admirably as it could: I took notes, watched my favorite shows, and gamed at playable, though not stellar, framerates. It was convenient, but never able to compete with the desktop I built after graduation, whose midrange specs trounced every other laptop I'd ever owned. Back then, this was the compromise we all made: power vs portability. But slim, modern laptops like the ROG Zephyrus S17 throw all that out the window. I would have killed for a laptop like this back then.

Compared to ROG's Strix line of laptops, which is all about power, the Zephyrus line features compact devices that can go anywhere while still packing enough punch for gaming. The Zephyrus S17 straddles this line, though, offering a slimmer form factor but stuffing as much high-end hardware as I could ever want inside. In other words, it's the power of our Strix machines in a slim Zephyrus form factor—the ultimate portable gaming rig.

ROG Zephyrus S17
Model GX703HS-XB98 (QHD) GX703HS-XS91 (4K)
Where to buy (US) ASUS
Newegg
Amazon
Walmart
MichaelElectronics2
Mobile Advance
ASUS
Newegg
Amazon
Walmart
MichaelElectronics2
Mobile Advance
ExcaliberPC
Where to buy (CA)   Best Buy
Canada Computers

A unique form factor

The Zephyrus S17 feels like it defies the laws of science. Its 17-inch, 1440p screen offers a sizeable workspace to get things done, but whenever I close it up, I wonder how such powerful hardware fit in such a svelte chassis. We're talking top-of-the-line specs in a package that fits under my arm: an 11th-gen Core™ i9 CPU, a NVIDIA RTX 3080 GPU running at 140W with Dynamic Boost and with 16GB of VRAM, and a full-size keyboard complete with a number pad.

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Part of this is due to the unique way in which the rising keyboard angles itself upward with the screen hinge, creating a more desktop-like experience every time I open the machine. The optical-mechanical key switches help too, giving me that consistent, clicky key feel that drew me  to mechanical desktop keyboards in recent years.

This raised keyboard also has another advantage: lots and lots of airflow. Packing top-tier components into an ultraportable chassis is always a challenge because powerful components need powerful cooling to perform to their full potential. But in all my usage, the Zephyrus S17 stayed cool, with sustained performance that never wavered. The Active Aerodynamic System Plus system allows the system's fans to exhaust plenty of air through the space created by the raised keyboard, which means the components stay at the top of their game for extended sessions—without making my fingers toasty on the WASD keys. That sustained performance is key, and lesser machines with the same hardware will not boost as high or as long without the right ventilation.

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The Pantone-validated display is absolutely gorgeous, with 100% DCI-P3 coverage for incredibly vibrant colors, a 165Hz refresh rate for super-smooth motion, and G-SYNC processing inside to ensure games don't stutter or tear. (There's also a 4K 120Hz version if you need the maximum number of pixels). All this would be impressive for a desktop monitor, let alone a laptop display, and those extra few inches really change the experience over similar 15-inch models. The same goes for the six-speaker array with Dolby Atmos, which produced a remarkably full-bodied sound, perfect for casual gaming or content consumption. For serious gaming sessions, a headset like the ROG Delta S would be a great companion for intense immersion.

A high-end gaming cave you can take anywhere

Speaking of gaming, this machine owns the battlefield when it comes to performance. I had high expectations for what the Zephyrus S17 could accomplish with its Core I9 CPU and RTX 3080 GPU, yet it still managed to exceed them as I put this potent laptop through its paces in a wide variety of modern games.

Deathloop-S17-graph

The first game I played was Deathloop, which had its hooks in me the moment I first saw its launch trailer. It's a tougher game to run than its graphics might suggest, but even with my resolution set to 1440p with Very High settings and ray-traced sun shadows, I had no problem staying above 60 frames per second—usually closer to 75, even in frantic combat with multiple assailants.

Warzone-S17-graph

In between longer single-player games, I like to break things up with a fun esports title like Call of Duty: Warzone. Warzone is more demanding than many other esports games, making it a perfect test of the high-end hardware in the S17. Even at max settings without DLSS, I was easily able to achieve 105 frames per second on average, just barely dipping below 90 in the most intense firefights. In super-competitive games like this, every frame counts, and that fluidity aided me in more than a few tight spots.

Ghostrunner-s17-graph

I'd been itching to try the fast-paced platforming and combat of Ghostrunner for a while, so what better time to dive in? In DirectX 12 mode at 1440p with settings maxed out, I was still able to make full use of the S17's 165Hz screen. In a game like Ghostrunner, with fluid wall-running and sword-slashing as its centerpiece, each of those frames was crucial, giving me a precise sense of control over every dash, jump, and kill. Ghostrunner also supports the Zephyrus S17's Aura Sync RGB lighting, matching my keyboard and peripherals to the in-game world, and flashing red every time I died.

MetroExodus-S17-graph

Finally, to get my heart rate down a bit, I took a ride on Metro Exodus' train to the Volga, to see how the RTX 3080 in the S17 handled a heavy ray tracing load. With graphics set to Extreme, and Ray Tracing set to Ultra, I put the S17 in a difficult spot—even with DLSS on Performance. Yet frame rates never dipped below 60 FPS throughout my play session, an impressive result given the breathtaking visual fidelity of the game. 

ROG Zephyrus S17
Model GX703HS-XB98 GX703HS-XS91
CPU Intel Core i9-11900H
Display 165Hz/3ms QHD 100% DCI-P3 120Hz/3ms UHD 100% DCI-P3
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
Memory 32GB DDR4
Storage 2TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD 3TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 RAID0 SSD
I/O

2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort and power delivery
1x Thunderbolt 4 with DisplayPort and power delivery
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x RJ45 LAN port
1 x SD card reader
1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack

Battery 90Wh
Where to buy (US)

ASUS
Newegg
Amazon
Walmart
MichaelElectronics2
Mobile Advance

ASUS
Newegg
Amazon
Walmart
MichaelElectronics2
Mobile Advance
ExcaliberPC
Where to buy (CA)   Best Buy
Canada Computers

Everything you need in one package

The S17 is more than just cutting-edge internal hardware. It reproduces the entire desktop experience. I've spent years decking out my gaming cave, from the custom-built desktop to the mechanical keyboard and finely tuned RGB LED lighting. But the Zephyrus S17 packs all of that into a single machine, traveling with me anywhere and outperforming my otherwise respectable home-built rig. It's like an on-the-go gaming cave, with all the extra niceties to boot.

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For example, the volume roller along the top is a practical and premium-feeling flourish, allowing for easy volume control without looking down at the keyboard deck. The power button caches my fingerprint, logging me in automatically after Windows finishes loading, and the plentiful IO meant I never once had to reach for a dongle. It even includes an SD card reader, which came in remarkably handy when editing the photos for this very piece.

And when I left the house, I was able to top off the battery with 100W worth of Type-C charging, either from the wall or using a capable battery bank. Plus, NVIDIA Advanced Optimus automatically switched from the S17's dedicated GPU to integrated graphics when I was unplugged, ensuring I never wasted precious battery on the go.

Second to none

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Few laptops can stand up to the power and premium build of the Zephyrus S17. From gaming to content creation, it handles every task without skipping a beat, and with a feeling of luxury I had never before experienced on a gaming laptop. It's the laptop that puts desktops on notice, offering a big beautiful screen, powerful hardware, and a high-class keyboard that used to only be possible in a full-size rig. Only this time, it goes with you anywhere. If you truly want the cream of the crop, pick up the Zephyrus S17 and kick compromises to the curb.

ROG Zephyrus S17
Model GX703HS-XB98 (QHD) GX703HS-XS91 (4K)
Where to buy (US) ASUS
Newegg
Amazon
Walmart
MichaelElectronics2
Mobile Advance
ASUS
Newegg
Amazon
Walmart
MichaelElectronics2
Mobile Advance
ExcaliberPC
Where to buy (CA)   Best Buy
Canada Computers
Articles: Hands On
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