ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX502 Glacier Blue

As ASUS ROG Malaysia brings in the ROG Mothership, many wondered if the ridiculous retail price of RM26,999 actually makes any sense at all. Read on to learn more about the core objective of the team that designed this portable gaming desktop.

What comes in the box

  • ROG Mothership
  • 2x 280W charger
  • ROG Ranger BP3702G Backpack (not shown)
  • ROG Cerberus gaming headphones (not shown)
  • ROG Gladius II gaming mouse
  • Product documentation
  • ROG Metal Earth mini sculpture
  • Ownership certificate, design history & cardboard frame

We did not expect a thank you note + ownership certificate thingy with a cardboard frame.

ASUS ZenBook 14 AMD

Specifications

ROG Mothership
CPU Intel Core i9-9980HK (liquid metal TIM)
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
Display  17.3-inch Full HD IPS 144Hz 3ms
RAM  2x 32GB DDR4-2666
Storage  3x 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x 4 SSD RAID 0
I/O  1 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen1
3 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen2
1 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2 (With DisplayPort 1.4)
1 x ThunderBolt 3 (USB Type-C)
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x SD card reader
1 x 3.5mm Mic-in
1 x 3.5mm Audio combo
2 x DC jack
1 x RJ-45 jack
1 x Kensington Lock
Connectivity  802.11ax WLAN
Bluetooth 5.0
Battery  90Wh
Dimension  410 * 320 * 29.9 mm
Weight  4.8 kg
Price RM26,999

Around the ROG Mothership

As we mentioned earlier, the ROG Mothership’s design team has a major goal to achieve – “how to provide a better cooling solution for a gaming laptop?” That has been the major issue we all face due to the limitation of the design and size of the cooling solution. The team’s solution? Instead of having all the components resting in the chassis of the traditional clamshell laptop and choking for air, how about we do it ala-AIO-style – cramming all the components to the back of the display.

Some may argue it is a carbon copy of Microsoft Surface Pro, which is true to some point until we talk about the overall use case and how the team has changed the ROG Mothership into a class of its own. That fully CNC-machined chassis provides a robust and premium user experience. Is it necessary? not really, but we always welcome companies pushing their limits especially on flagship products.

The kickstand at the back deploys automatically when you place the Mothership on the table, triggering the two cleverly placed spring-loaded switches. The standing posture of the Mothership allows more cool air intake to cool the internals. The highest temperature we have recorded is 80 degrees Celcius and 75 degrees Celcius for Intel Core i9-9980HK and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 respectively. More about the performance and temperature in the latter part of this review.

I/O

A generous selection of ports

Review - ROG Mothership: The Portable Gaming AIO 1

On the left

  • Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2)
  • 1 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen1
  • 1 x 3.5mm Mic-in
  • 1 x 3.5mm Audio combo
  • 1 x Gigabit RJ-45
  • 2 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen2

Review - ROG Mothership: The Portable Gaming AIO 2

On the right

  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2 (With DisplayPort 1.4)
  • 1 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen2
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0
  • 2 x DC input

Display

Review - ROG Mothership: The Portable Gaming AIO 3

So far, the design and build quality of the ROG Mothership has been impressing our team in the office. However, not everything is fine and dandy, notably the display specification which loses out to its other non-flagship laptop models.

The 17.3-inch Full HD 144Hz IPS display with G-SYNC is quite a mouthful but when you compare it with their own ROG Zephyrus S GX701’s Full HD 300Hz IPS G-SYNC Pantone Validated panel, it makes you wonder if the Mothership is the true flagship or not, at least on the paper.

Now, I’m not trying to make things complicated by pointing out the obvious spec-cannibalisation within the ROG’s product lineup. The sole reason why this happened in the first place is due to the delayed shipment for the ROG Mothership. It took them months to have the end product delivered to their customer and by the time Mothership reaches your doorstep, inevitably some features in the Mothership has already being surpassed by their other laptop series.

Before we stray too far away from our thoughts on the screen, at the end of the day, this panel is still competitive when it comes to fast-paced games or triple-A titles. Pairing it with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 proves that 144Hz is still quite a challenge when it comes to demanding games. That’s why G-SYNC can play its role in reducing the screen tearing. Only when it comes to esports titles, then the screen becomes the limiting factor. All in all, the screen is a somehow logical pairing with the specifications just that it falls out in terms of marketing.

Keyboard & Trackpad

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The keyboard on the ROG Mothership is something worth mentioning as according to the design team, they have spent countless hours in perfecting the keyboard folding hinge.

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I absolutely appreciate their effort in the R&D just that I can’t stop my brain from thinking the ergonomic horror when using that keyboard. So, the best way to use it is to detach and use it standalone via wired or wireless connection.

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The standard key laptop scissor key switches have nothing to brag about, well, at least they work as to how they are supposed to instead of reinventing the wheel.

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The trackpad, on the other hand, is rather forgettable as no gamer in their sane mind would challenge an FPS game on it. ASUS has made the trackpad slightly ever more useful with the addition of number pad overlay on it.

Exceptional Speaker

What really stands out on the ROG Mothership is the pair of the stereo speaker that sounds amazingly good for a “laptop”. Thanks to the front-firing placement, the sound quality is way better than the conventional downward-firing speaker placement. One thing to take note is that having the keyboard attached at the front will actually affect the sound profile by a mile. So our suggestion is to detach the keyboard if you want to enjoy the best sound quality.

Performance & Thermal

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ROG Mothership does not disappoint when it comes to raw performance. Easily you can get over 60 fps even on games that has fluctuating frames and quality. Well, not to say that developers can do whatever they want with the poorly optimised games but it just shows that the Mothership is clearly a monster with the pairing of Intel Core i9-9980HK and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080.

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The use of liquid metal TIM combined with the upright design of the chassis further improves the thermal performance of the ROG Mothership.

Upgradability

Unfortunately, ROG does not recommend users to take apart the Mothership due to its design even though the SSD and RAM can be replaced. Unless you know what you’re doing otherwise it is best to send the device to ROG for upgrades.

Wrapping up ROG Mothership Review

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Before we wrap up the review, the price… At RM26,999, this is not a random high-end laptop/portable desktop. Unlike the ROG Chimera that uses the traditional clamshell design with powerful internals, the Mothership takes on a new form factor that actually improves the thermal performance instead of just focusing on the aesthetics.

The Mothership packs all the amazing hardware without compromising the cooling capabilities inside this package. Making it yet another choice for users who require a portable desktop replacement. All in all, comparing the Mothership spec-by-spec by the price will not get you anywhere. One has to know what are their requirements and appreciate the engineering feat the designers have pulled to make it possible. That goes without saying, you will definitely not disappointed if raw power is all you need for your computing needs.

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