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ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Comfortable wins and familiar sins
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is a beast with a big screen, a slim design and a handful of familiar caveats.
ASUS' ROG Zephyrus M16 isn't quite a front-runner when it comes to either portability or performance, but it delivers plenty of both. It's not exactly budget-friendly, but it does deliver on the lofty promises it makes and succeeds in transfusing the appeal of thinner and lighter Zephyrus machines into a larger form factor.
How much does ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) cost in Australia?
In Australia, the price of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 starts at $2,799. As far as gaming laptops go, that price point is a step above entry-level and more budget-friendly laptops like the Acer Nitro 5 and Dell G15 (2022).
It's nowhere near the most you could end up paying for a good gaming laptop, but even once you factor in the larger display and the discrete graphics involved here it's hard to shake the idea that you're paying a smidge more than you should for the hardware here. For that reason, it can pay to look around. Check out the pricing matrix below for a quick round-up of local Australian pricing for the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022).
Before you make a decision, be sure to read our recommendation for the specs.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) - Design and features
To say that ASUS' new ROG Zephyrus M16 arrives without expectations is to ignore the reputation of its namesake. The original Zephyrus reset expectations for what thin and light gaming laptops could look like.
It's a credit to this latest addition to the line that it manages to live up to that legacy while offering the amount of screen estate that it does. The ROG Zephyrus M16 is built around a 16-inch IPS display clocked 165Hz and geared towards high fidelity gaming in up to 1440p.
If you want to go 4K, it'll cost you but it is an option. Either way, you're looking at rapid 3ms of response time, an ErgoLift hinge-assisted viewing angle and bezels that are among the thinnest you can find in a laptop of this weight class.
Regardless of where the resolution rests, the screen on the ROG Zephyrus M16 ticks all the usual boxes you'd expect given the price and target audience. It's Pantone Validated when it comes to colour, coated to resist glare and compliant with Dolby Vision HDR. Whether these bells and whistles tickle your fancy is going to vary based on whether you're as keen to use the hardware here for content creation as you are for consumption. In any case, it's nice to have.
The same might be said for the sheer breadth of the display on offer here. Letting the numbers do the talking for a moment, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 brings a whopping 94% screen-to-body ratio to the table. A 5% improvement on the previous generation in terms of thinness, the M16 is a 16-inch laptop that's been squeezed into something closer to a 15-inch equivalent chassis.
Even as someone who doesn't usually get caught up on these sorts of metrics, the tangible upsides to this form factor make for a gaming experience that feels that little bit more immersive, engaging and portable when you need it to be.
While most modern laptops boast screens with a response time of less than a second, the exact speed can matter to those who play fast-paced online games as it allows them to react to on-screen events slightly faster. All things considered, this is a relatively minor specification, but it is worth noting as a potential point of difference between models.
The refresh rate measures the speed at which a screen is refreshed per second. Although different to the response time, the value of this specification is somewhat similar. A screen with a higher refresh rate will offer smoother scrolling and animation.
Beyond that 16:10 display that's the most eye-catching part of the package, what's here is not a huge departure from the status quo. Thankfully, this is one of those situations where familiarity is more of a comfort than a con.
ASUS has done the smart thing and erred away from trying to fix something that isn't broken. On the outside, the ROG Zephyrus M16 is a laced with nifty treatment that gives it a sort of shimmering effect in the right lighting.
The exterior of the machines incorporates a dot-matrix design that's similar to the one found on other recent Zephyrus laptops, though it's missing the customisation seen with earlier incarnations. Then, on the inside, the surface of the ROG Zephyrus M16 comes coated in a material that's soft to the touch, resilient to fingerprints and a perfect match for the satisfying 1.7mm switches offered by the keyboard on the laptop.
Meanwhile, the trackpad on the M16 is about 20% larger than the average. I usually find more generously-sized inputs to be a delight to work with and the one here is no exception to this. It's not a substitute for a real mouse when it comes to first and third-person shooters, but more than capable enough for things like strategy games or sims.
In terms of the ports you get to play with, the ROG Zephyrus M16 comes kitted out with the usual two USB Type-A (3.2 Gen 2) and USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 2 + Thunderbolt 4) slots plus a headphone jack, ab RJ45 ethernet port and a dedicated HDMI 2.0b output.
This isn't the kind of gaming laptop that has it all, but what is here feels confident and considered. You don't get everything you possibly could here but you do get most of what you'd want from this kind of lean gaming laptop.
So far as the processor and storage inside the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 go, you're stuck with what you start with. As for RAM, that can be upgraded to up to 48GB over time.
Compared to the rest of the recipe, the webcam and speakers found on the Zephyrus M16 often feel more like an obligation than anything else.
The former is 720p and it comes with support for Windows Hello facial recognition. It's nothing particularly special and it'll get the job done, but if you're after better video calls you're better off investing in a dedicated webcam.
The latter is similarly forgettable, though it comes with a few more bells and whistles. Given that there are six speakers in the mix here, the ROG Zephyrus M16 tends to sound better than you might expect from a gaming laptop. Unfortunately, if you're relying on these speakers while gaming then you'll quickly find them in competition with the whirring of the fans. For that reason, I found myself preferring to game with a set of noise-cancelling headphones more often than not.
Overall, it feels like ASUS have been pretty precise when it comes to the parts of the M16 that have received the most attention. Not every aspect of the experience hits the same highs, but the things you're going to be dealing with every time you use this particular machine strike true.
If you buy a brand new ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16, the box will include the following:
- The laptop
- The power brick and AC adapter
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) - Performance and battery life
Even if it is geared around thin and light gaming, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 makes the most of that larger form factor that typically comes with a 16-inch display.
At the very least, you're getting an Intel Core i7-12700H processor. With the most excessive spec configuration available, that particular processor gets traded out for Intel's fearsome i9-12800H instead. If you're eager for a Ryzen variant, I don't blame you. Nevertheless, the M16 delivers among the best performance you can expect from an Intel-based processor in a laptop and falls into what we'd call the extreme performance bracket.
That said, the 8GB of DDR5 RAM in the basic model is a little scant. You do have the option to upgrade it to something more meaningful from outset or later down the line though, which is more than can be said for the 512GB of SSD storage that's included with the baseline model.
If you know what you're doing, you can probably scrape by with both of the above. But if you're looking to spend this much on a gaming laptop, it's not hard to make the argument for spending that little bit more and breathing that much easier.
Essential processors should be able to handle the basics: email, social media and some light web browsing. Gaming or more advanced tasks like image and video editing are likely off the table.
Everyday processors should be able to confidently meet basic performance requirements for most people. Email, social media and web browsing shouldn’t be a hassle, and while they aren’t able to handle graphically-demanding AAA releases, they should be able to run some indie or casual games.
Enthusiast processors should be able to easily exceed the minimum requirements of most users and be powerful enough to handle some AAA gaming, though not at the highest fidelity.
Extreme processors should be able to do anything you can think of. Games should run at high frame rates on the highest possible settings, and multitasking shouldn’t be limited in any significant way.
In terms of the gaming goodness that the sum of these parts provides, most consumers are likely to come away satisfied with what the Zephyrus M16 delivers. My testing found that ASUS' latest lean laptop handled everything from Overwatch 2 to Cyberpunk 2077 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider without a hitch.
Given the gear that this particular laptop is loaded up with that might not be a huge surprise and it does come with a few terms and conditions. The aforementioned fans are going to feel pretty loud and wherever you seat the M16 is going to feel the heat, but ASUS has achieved the journey set out here.
By the benchmarks, the ROG Zephyrus M16 managed to handily beat every other laptop we've reviewed this year on most fronts. That said, it did underperform when it came to both Geekbench and Cinebench's Single Core CPU tests.
Naturally, these sorts of inconsistencies are synonymous with a few other familiar bugbears. If you're looking to play something without being tethered by a power supply, you're going to be looking for a pretty short amount of playtime.
Most of the time, I could barely squeeze in an hour of gaming before the battery ran dry. This tight time limit applied even when it came to less-demanding games like Gloomhaven. If you're trying to do something more ambitious or graphically intensive, expect that figure to shrink smaller still.
Subjected to video streaming via YouTube, the 90Whr battery inside the Zephyrus M16 took 5 hours and 27 minutes to go from 100% to zero. In context, that result is pretty poor. It's technically better than what you used to expect from gaming laptops of this size and likely a function of the thinner form factor. As good as ASUS seem to be when it comes to sidestepping the usual gaming laptop pitfalls, the ROG Zephyrus M16 can't quite manage to avoid this particular one.
Laptop batteries are typically measured in watt-hours (Whr), this unit measures how much power is expended per hour. The more Whr a laptop battery has, the longer the battery life is on paper. However, raw size isn’t everything. It’s not uncommon to find two laptops with the same amount of Whr and very different battery life. There are plenty of other factors that can affect battery life, from software optimisation to how the display has been calibrated.
It’s also worth noting that batteries can only go so big. Most airlines won’t allow you to take any device with a battery larger than 100Whr onboard, so most manufacturers treat that as an unofficial size limit.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 versus ASUS ROG Zephyrus M15
While the Zephyrus M15 and Zephyrus M16 are only separated on paper by a single digit, the difference between the two machines is significant. ASUS hasn't given the former a proper update since 2020, which means the latter comes out well ahead when it comes to specs, design and overall form factor.
Compared to the Zephyrus M15, the ROG Zephyrus M16 boasts a larger screen, a more recent processor, faster RAM and a better video card. The more modern ROG Zephyrus M16 also comes with a number of extra bells and whistles when it comes to features, such as a noise-cancelling microphone, fingerprint sensor and a built-in webcam.
So far as pre-installed bloatware goes, the ROG Zephyrus M16 is fairly light but it doesn't get off scot-free. About half of what's here is additional software used to optimise the performance of the gaming laptop and make it play nice with the rest of ASUS' ecosystem. Here's a full list of what to expect:
- ASUS Armory Crate
- ASUS Aura Creator
- McAfee Personal Security
- McAfee LiveSafe
Is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) worth buying?
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is hardly the most competitive or versatile option on the menu, but if you've taken a look at some of the other options and are itching for something that hits a lot of the same notes and warm on the idea of slightly more screen space or a beefier processor, then this is very much the obvious upsell.
The top-spec version of the ROG Zephyrus M16 is predictably superb, but the standard model also delivers most of the same thrills at a much more affordable price point. It might not reign as a be-all-end-all when it comes to gaming laptops but that doesn't stop the Zephyrus M16 from cutting it as a compelling option for those who want that winning combination of a big screen, snazzy looks, a slim profile and powerful specs.
What spec should I buy?
While it is significantly more expensive than the base model, the more expensive spec options available for the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) offer up a feast of fairly significant improvements when it comes to the storage, RAM and screen involved.
|Display||16-inch, FHD+||16-inch, QHD+|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-12700H||Intel Core i9-12800H|
|RAM||8GB DDR5||16GB DDR5|
How does the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) compare?
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022)
How we review laptops
Whether you're looking at a mainstream computer brand like Dell or a dedicated gaming brand like MSI, there's an immense number of decisions you'll need to make when purchasing a laptop. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few important features to consider when shopping for your next laptop:
- Screen size and type: Unlike upgradeable components like your GPU, RAM and storage, you're stuck with the display you buy when you purchase a laptop. Is it a comfortable size? Does it offer a wide-viewing angle?
- Resolution: Similarly, you can't change your display's resolution after the fact. 1080p (Full HD) is the bare minimum these days and most laptops worth their price tag aim for 1440p at least (QHD or QuadHD) but you can also opt for 4K if you're willing to spend a little extra.
- Refresh rate: A screen's refresh rate is the measurement of how frequently it changes. If you play fast-paced multiplayer games like Call of Duty, you know that the difference a few milliseconds that a high refresh rate gets you can count for a lot. The higher the refresh rate, the better. Most conventional laptops offer 60Hz to 90Hz but fancier gaming laptops can offer 144Hz, 165Hz or even 240Hz screens.
- Ports and connections: Like your screen, ports will impact your everyday experience with a laptop, particularly if you use it for work. While you can work around this with USB hubs and adapters, a laptop with fewer ports than you need can quickly become a headache.
- Future-proofing: There are no hard and fast rules here but as a general suggestion, you'll want to sure you're laptop has the legs to survive a few years of technology improvements in any way you can. You can overshoot on your desired specs, spending more on a machine that's more powerful than you currently need, or opt for a model or brand that has support for upgrades down the track. Check which features of the machine are upgradeable. The Dell XPS 15, for example, supports additional RAM, while Apple MacBooks do not.
Check out our dedicated laptop buying guide for more suggestions on shopping for the best laptop for your needs.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) FAQ
16GB is a good place to start when it comes to RAM, but it's not necessarily going to be the end of the road if your needs are more demanding. It's enough to get by, but it might not be enough for the future or for more performance-oriented users.
If your next laptop doesn't support upgrading your RAM later down the line, it's usually smart to overshoot and aim for 32GB of RAM instead.
Not all RAM is born equal. Size isn't everything. Speed also matters.
If you're looking to find out just how fast the RAM in your laptop is, the quickest way to do so is to identify the type of memory and then Google the standard expected speeds that it should offer. For example, LPDDR5 offers speeds of up to 6400Mbps while DDR4 memory can only rev up to 3200Mbps.
If you want to go one step further and determine whether the RAM in your laptop is delivering the speeds it should be capable of offering, then it might be worth putting the hardware to the test with a benchmarking tool like Novabench.
It's easy to spend too much or too little on your next laptop, but our take is that the best value laptops tend to sit between $1600 and $2200 in terms of price. PCs that occupy this price-point might not be able to outperform more expensive alternatives, but the bump up in quality over cheaper ones is well worth the cost involved.
Simply put, laptops of this price segment tend to sidestep all the compromises of going cheaper while getting most of the performance you'll get from spending more.
These days, there are three types of Intel Core processors found in laptops. The first is the humble Intel Core i5 processor, then there's the middle-of-the-range Intel Core i7 and the power user-oriented Intel Core i9.
If you're going purely by the numbers, the Intel Core i9 is going to provide the best results. However, it's also the most demanding in terms of thermal management. A laptop running an Intel Core i9 processor will be faster than one with an Intel Core i7 or Core i5, but it'll also run hotter.
If you're an everyday or more casual user, an Intel Core i5 is probably going to be fast enough for you. If you're more discerning or planning to play a lot of games, then the up-sell to an Intel Core i7 probably makes sense.
While there's no single component responsible when it comes to laptop speed, the part that usually takes the credit is the processor. If you want your next laptop to be a fast one, you'll want to make sure it has a good processor in it.
As with desktop PCs, the processor is only part of the picture however. If your laptop lacks enough RAM or relies on a slower hard drive for file storage, that'll act as a bottleneck on the performance of the machine as a whole.