The M16’s new Tiny LED screen is the big pleasure, though the 13th-gen Intel CPUs and RTX 40-series GPUs are excellent too.
The 40-series mobile GPUs from NVIDIA are finally available in systems, and a new generation of gaming laptops promises even more explosive performance. We could expect unrivalled gaming performance with the 2023 version of ASUS’ ROG Zephyrus M16 featuring a 13th-gen Intel CPU and an RTX 4090. Although the remainder of the laptop’s chassis has remained essentially intact, ASUS improved the laptop’s display this year to a gorgeous new Mini LED panel, and by bringing over the Amines Matrix cover, the notebook looks better too. Yet the big question is whether this system actually offers the same value for $3,500 as our fully loaded evaluation unit.
The Zephyrus M16 does an excellent job of maintaining some mobility amid all that firepower. It features a relatively compact matte black chassis and weighs little over five pounds. The AniMe Matrix LED lid, which we originally saw on the Zephyrus G14 line, gives a little extra style without drawing attention to your power level even if it nearly identically resembles the model from a year ago. That’s because you can quickly switch the lights back on when you want to surprise some prying Saiyan’s and use ASUS’ Armory Crate app to do so when you desire to be more covert.
The Zephyrus has stereo speakers on the left and right sides of the inside, along with RGB backlit keys. The actuation could feel a little bit stiffer, and the deck could have been a touch more resistant to fingerprints, but typing still feels pleasant. A finger scanner built into the power button is something else I would have loved to see. The simplicity and security that a built-in sensor offers are generally accessible on non-gaming laptops, including ones from ASUS, but for some reason, manufacturers believe that gamers don’t care as much about those features.
The M16 boasts a tonne of connections for connectivity, including many USB ports (both Type-A and Type-C), a full-size HDMI port, and even a microSD card slot. One port that ASUS did not maintain from the model from the previous year is an Ethernet jack. While this might be a deal breaker for some, I won’t care in 2023.
In terms of graphics, the M16’s new 2560 x 1600 screen might be a more significant improvement than its new CPU and GPU. Because it is a Mini LED panel, the refresh rate has been increased to 240Hz and there are significantly more dimming zones, which reduces blooming. It also has a much better brightness. The display has a maximum brightness of about 600 nits in typical use, but because of its VESA Display HDR 1000 certification, video games and movies seem even better. It is a real delight.
My only complaint is that toggling between integrated graphics and the discrete GPU causes the screen to flash and black out, which is just a little clumsy and affects all laptops using Nvidia’s Optimus technology. Also, depending on your individual settings, you might need to reenable features like HDR or particular color profiles when it switches modes. After a while, this can get somewhat annoying, especially if Optimus is set to switch automatically based on whether you are plugged in or using battery power. As a result, I never touched it again after setting it to always be linked to the GPU.
My one gripe, and this is something that applies to all laptops with Nvidia’s Optimus tech, is that when switching between integrated graphics and the discrete GPU, the screen flashes and blacks out, which is just kind of clunky. On top of that, depending on your specific settings, when it changes modes you may need to reenable things like HDR or specific color profiles. This can get kind of tedious after a while, especially if you have Optimus set to switch automatically depending on if you’re plugged in or running on battery. So in the end, I set it to stay connected to the GPU all the time and never touched it again.
Performance and thermals
Although the M16 performs admirably, ASUS fell just short of providing genuinely exceptional performance. That’s because you receive an Intel Core i9-13900H CPU rather than a HX-series chip, which is a little slower. While some rivals, including the Razer Blade 16, offer 175-watt cards, ASUS caps the RTX 4090 in the M16 at 145 watts (or 150 watts, according to the NVIDIA control panel).
It’s true that this may seem a bit nitpicky considering the M16 isn’t exactly slow, especially when you consider its 32GB of RAM and quick 2TB SSD. Yet, it seems strange to see ASUS leaving a little bit of extra performance on the table when you’re spending this much money on a laptop. Using PC Mark With an overall score of 8,624, the M16 outperformed the Razer Blade 15 (i7-12800H/RTX 3080 Ti) from the previous year by more than 20%. That’s a sizable increase, but we still need a wider variety of devices to come before we can make a more accurate comparison for 2023.
But more crucially, the M16 easily outperformed the Blade 15 in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, achieving 144 frames per second at 1920 x 1080 on the maximum settings vs the Razer’s meagre 124. Moreover, the M16 demonstrated a comparable advantage in Metro Exodus, hitting 101 frames per second on Ultra at full HD as opposed to the Blade 15’s 86. Additionally, the laptop has more than enough power to sustain a rock-solid 120 frames per second in Far Cry 6 with all of the graphical bells and whistles activated if you want to experience the Zephyrus’ native 2560 x 1600 resolution.
This device runs hot, which is a drawback of packing so much power into a chassis that is so small (0.9 inches). Even while the temperatures aren’t dangerous, you shouldn’t play any games on your lap, not even light ones. Heck, after 10 or 15 minutes of resting your hands on the deck, they may start to perspire. Also, the M16’s fans are quite noisy, and when it is in performance mode, it is impossible to ignore them. However, ASUS also included the Zephyrus with some quite powerful speakers, making it relatively simple to drown out the fans—if you don’t mind creating a commotion for anyone else in the room, that is (or possibly the next room over). Moreover, if you’re okay with a When you wish to be a little less boisterous, the Armory Crate app also offers a silent performance mode.
Another drawback of a device this powerful is its subpar battery life. The M16 only lasted 5:18 on our local video rundown test when using the less power-hungry integrated graphics (which is what the system defaults to when Nvidia’s Optimus tech is set to automatic). That is marginally faster than the MSI Stealth 15m’s time of 4:15, but marginally slower than the Blade 15’s time of 5:42 from 2022. And unsurprisingly, when you just rely on the discrete GPU, things get significantly worse, with the M16 failing in less than three hours (2:50).
Overall, the Zephryus M16 has a lot going for it, despite the fact that it doesn’t seem all that different from last year’s system and its battery life is far from ideal. It has a sleek style that is surprisingly subtle, a small amount of hidden flash, and a brand-new 240Hz Tiny LED display that looks fantastic. Also, it has a tonne of connectors, and ASUS has raised the resolution of its webcam to full HD, which is a really welcome improvement to overall quality of life. Everything you do goes incredibly smoothly since the system supports up to an RTX 4090 GPU and a 13th-generation Core i9 processor. I simply wish ASUS hadn’t held back from including the most powerful mobile chipsets from Intel and NVIDIA. If you’re You already paid $3,500 for a fully loaded model, so why not add a few hundred dollars to be sure there are no performance trade-offs?
To be honest, though, I’d prefer to choose one of the M16’s more reasonably priced configurations, which start at $1,950 for an i9 processor and an RTX 4070 graphics card. You continue to receive a 1TB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a Mini LED screen with AniMe Matrix cover. By doing this, you’ll have a system that won’t break the bank or hurt your back if you wish to carry it around, without compromising your ability to game in style.