ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 | Nvidia GTX 1650 | AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS | 14-inch | 1080p | 60Hz | 16GB DDR4 | 512GB NVMe SSD |
$1149.99 $950.99 at Best Buy (save $199)
This ROG Zephyrus might look like a good deal at first, but a closer look at the specs reveals this previous-gen model is very much wanting in some key departments. An underpowered GPU, disappointing screen, and small SSD means that for this sort of money you can do a lot better.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023) | Nvidia RTX 4050 | Ryzen 7 7735HS | 14-inch | 1440p | 165Hz | 16GB DDR5 | 512GB NVMe SSD |
$1429.99 $999.99 at Best Buy (save $430)
As 14-inch gaming laptops go, this one's a bit of a peach. It's got a bright and nippy 165Hz 14-inch display, a nice and speedy processor, and an RTX 4050. For a small yet punchy mobile gaming machine on a budget this little laptop makes an attractive proposition.
Price check: Newegg $1299.99
The bells, the bells. Black Friday is nearly upon us now, and already the early deals are starting to flow in. As we carve our way through the torrent of discounts starting to flood our feeds, it would be absolutely remiss of us not to point out the odd deal that really makes very little sense, and today we have a prime candidate: This Asus ROG Zepherus G14 gaming laptop for $951 at Best Buy.
It's certainly an eye-catching price for a gaming laptop with the Asus G14's heritage. It comes from a respected manufacturer and features a lot of the specs many gamers will be looking for in a good deal, like an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GPU. However, take a closer look at the specs and things begin to fall apart rather quickly.
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For a start, let's take a closer look at that GPU. It's a 4GB GTX 1650, and those of you with a good memory will recognise that a few years ago this was a decent recommendation for super-budget 1080p gaming. However, many moons have passed since then, and in a gaming laptop market now dominated by RTX 30-series and 40-series mobile graphics cards, the poor old GTX 1650 struggles to keep up. It's simply no longer a good recommendation for a new gaming machine, and anyone buying one will be disappointed with its performance in the latest games.
The CPU is a Ryzen 7 5800HS 8 core model which isn't too shabby we suppose, but it's also got a 14-inch 1080p 60Hz screen. That might be considered acceptable for some, but these days it's really the minimum requirement for gaming rather than a stand-out feature. The 512GB SSD is okay at best, but really at this sort of price point you should be looking for more.
The stupid thing is the Best Buy itself offers a waaaay better Asus Zephyrus G14—a genuine 2023 version—for practically the same sub-$1,000 price. You'd be gutted to end up with graphically challenged older model just for a $50 saving. Because for that extra $50 you're getting an updated chassis, a bright 165Hz 2560 x 1440 display, a superior AMD mobile CPU, and an RTX 40-series Nvidia graphics card.
It does bear saying that it's only an RTX 4050 with just 6GB of VRAM, which does make it the bottom of the pack for GeForce mobile cards, but we've actually been surprised by the level of gaming performance that card offers. Much like at the GPU high-end, there is some crossover in terms of the power of modern Nvidia GPUs. This RTX 4050 is running at 120W (95W with a 25W Boost) which gives it the same level of standard gaming performance as many budget RTX 4060-based gaming laptops.
Heavily ray-traced games will suffer, however, and you might get some limited performance because of that paucity of video memory. But for general rasterized gaming performance, the RTX 4050 isn't that bad an option.
It's our favorite 14-inch gaming laptop, but that's the cheapest we'd go to bag one of Asus' excellent G14 machines. Though if you're not specifically after that Zephyrus goodness, for this kind of money we can do a lot, lot better in terms of full gaming spec. Take this for example:
Lenovo Legion 5 | RTX 4060 | AMD Ryzen 7 7735H | 16GB DDR5 | 512GB SSD | 15-inch | 2160 x 1350 | 165Hz |
$999.99 $899.99 at Walmart
We've become big fans of Lenovo laptops here at PC Gamer this generation, and this particular budget machine is ticking a lot of boxes. For an RTX 4060 laptop it has to be under $1,000, and you also get a better than average screen, though I'm a little confused over Walmart's listing of it as 2160 x 1350 when Lenovo itself claims a 1440p panel. That 512GB SSD, however, is disappointing, even in a budget laptop, but is a cheap and easy issue to fix if it becomes annoying down the line.
This Lenovo Legion 5 15.6" beauty is currently on offer for just under $900, and has a spec sheet to put the Zepherus firmly in its place. For almost $50 less you get a modern Ryzen 7 7735H, a WQHD 165Hz screen, and an RTX 4060 to boot. Yes, it's still got a 512GB SSD, but it's one of the easiest things to upgrade on a laptop and that extra $50 saving would go a long way towards it. It's the processor, screen and GPU you're paying for here, and for this money it's a lot of gaming power for under a grand.
It's not the only candidate currently listed in our Black Friday gaming laptop deals that puts the Zepherus to shame. If the Lenovo doesn't float your boat, then how about this:
MSI Crosshair | RTX 4070 | Intel Core I7 13620H | 16GB DDR5 | 1TB SSD | 16-inch | 1920 x 1200 | 144Hz |
$1399.99 $1099.99 at Best Buy
This MSI Crosshair model may only have a 1200p screen, but at least it's pretty fast with a 144Hz refresh rate. The real selling point here is that RTX 4070 (albeit the 105W version, not the full fat 140W), along with a decent Intel processor and a 1TB SSD that makes this a solid gaming platform. It's got a nice clean aesthetic too, which means it wouldn't look too out of place if you took it to your next meeting.
For an extra $150 this MSI Crosshair gets you an honest to goodness RTX 4070. It might be the 105W version, not the 140W, but it's still going to absolutely stomp all over the Asus in terms of gaming performance. The screen may be 1080p but it's a nice and speedy 144Hz model, and you get a 13th gen Intel Core i7 and 1TB of storage to boot. It's a genuinely powerful machine, and that extra $150 spend is going to result in years of great gaming performance, particularly when you factor in DLSS 3 support.
We could go on of course, but over the Black Friday sales period we'll likely see many more candidates eager to give you a big ol' slab of mobile gaming performance for less than a grand. At this frantic time where it seems like everything suddenly has a heavily reduced price, it pays to be careful with your hard-earned cash.
Just because a discount is popular doesn't make it the best deal, and we'd advise you to do your research, take your time, and spend your money wisely. Or of course you could let us do all the hard work for you, and keep your eyes on our Black Friday deals coverage for all the best deals as and when we find them.
Stay safe out there people, and let's make sure you get the best hardware at the best price.