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This one surprising laptop could actually challenge the MacBook Pro

A rendering of the two color options for the Asus Zephyrus G14.

For the last few years, MacBooks have had a serious advantage over its Windows rivals. No one else has been able to combine power and portability in the way Apple’s 14-inch MacBook Pro does, especially with the arrival of the M3 Max. But that may not be the case for much longer.

Unveiled at CES 2024, the updated Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 seems to have serious ambitions on taking Apple’s crown. It’s a gaming laptop, yes, but it’s been redesigned from the ground up to cater to a crossover crowd. It’s sleek and svelte, yet doesn’t skimp on the output.

There are still some ways Apple’s MacBook remains ahead, and I’ll get to those later. But the latest effort from Asus is a compelling option for anyone who loves the MacBook look, but isn’t quite ready to give up on Windows – or who wants a better gaming ecosystem than Apple can offer.

The Apple playbook

The MacBook Pro on a wooden table.
Digital Trends

There are plenty of great larger laptops out there, and when you have plenty of room to play with, it’s not difficult for manufacturers to squeeze incredible levels of power into their devices. But now that it’s packed with the superb M3 Max chip, the smaller 14-inch MacBook Pro stands pretty much alone in its size range.

That status might not last long, however. The ROG Zephyrus G14 has features that sound right out of Apple’s playbook: it’s just 0.63 inches thick, boasts an incredible 120Hz OLED display, has increased the size of its trackpad to rival those in Apple’s MacBooks, and has switched out its previous plastic shell for an all-aluminum chassis. And it’s done all that while still including a Ryzen 9 CPU and an RTX 4070 GPU for exceptional performance.

Sure, the MacBook Pro has it beat in some respects. No one can match Apple silicon for its ability to keep cool and quiet while still outputting tremendous amounts of power, and I don’t expect the ROG Zephyrus G14 will be an exception. Components that powerful in a case that thin are bound to sweat.

The MacBook Pro also manages to do all that it does while offering some of the best battery life in any laptop you can buy. It’s an incredible combination, and when the G14’s components run as hot as we know they do, it’s unlikely Asus’ laptop will be able to come close.

Yet that doesn’t mean it’s not an intriguing proposition. Even the best Windows laptops have long had to live in the MacBook Pro’s shadow, at least when it comes to marrying power and portability. Now, Asus is showing that you don’t have to get an Apple product to at least come close to what it can achieve.

Better for everyone

A top down view of the keyboard on the ROG G14.

At the end of the day, Asus isn’t aiming exactly for Apple with the ROG Zephyrus G14. It’s a gaming laptop first and foremost, so raw graphical output is the main concern, with heat, temperature, and battery life all being secondary considerations. So lining it up against the MacBook Pro is a little bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison.

But it’s not as much of one as you’d think. Apple is increasingly moving into the world of gaming thanks to the M3 Max’s impressive performance in this area, and now it seems that Asus is shifting slightly in the other direction and trying to emulate Apple’s signature laptop touches. The two are moving closer together, if only a little.

Still, not everyone wants to switch to a Mac. I’m sure there are plenty of people who love Apple’s design sense, but have no intention of giving up on Windows just yet. For them, Asus’ decision to redesign its top-end gaming laptop is great news.

And it’s good news for the wider laptop world too. If computer makers start taking Apple’s strategy a little more seriously, we could finally start seeing more laptops that don’t double up as thunderous space heaters as soon as you start gaming.

Apple is appealing more to gamers, and gaming laptop manufacturers are learning from Apple. It’s a virtuous cycle that I want to see continue. If it does, there could be a lot to look forward to for laptop lovers.

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Alex Blake
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