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HomeNewsROG Zephryus G14 (2022) vs. G14 (2021): Which should you buy?

ROG Zephryus G14 (2022) vs. G14 (2021): Which should you buy?

Asus’s ROG Zephyrus G14 practically invented the 14-inch gaming laptop category thanks to its high performance, great battery life, and relatively affordable price. The brand new 2022 model really improves on both the original 2020 model and last generation’s 2021 model.

Contents

  • Specs and price
  • Design
  • Internals
  • Performance
  • Which is the better deal?

Although the newly updated 2022 model certainly looks enticing, the older 2021 model is now on sale for significantly less. We’re testing the top-end 2021 and 2022 models head to head to find out which is the better deal.

Specs and price

Matthew Connatser/Digital Trends

There are actually many different ways to configure a G14, but for this comparison, we’ll be looking at the 2021 GA401QM model and the 2022 GA402RK model. The GA401QM is technically not the highest-end 2021 model, but it’s the de facto definitive version because Asus sent this model out to all the reviewers, and it’s easy to find.

G14 2021 (GA401QM)
G14 2022 (GA402RK)
CPU
Ryzen 9 5900HS
Ryzen 9 6900HS
GPU
Nvidia RTX 3060 6GB
AMD Radeon RX 6800S 8GB
RAM
16GB DDR4 3200MHz
16GB DDR5 4800MHz
Storage
1TB NVMe PCIe 3.0
1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0
Screen resolution
1920 x 1080p
2560 x 1600p
Screen refresh rate
144Hz
120Hz
Price
$1,349
$1,899

At a glance, it really looks like the 2022 model is a substantially better machine than the old 2021 version, as the newer model has new DDR5 memory, PCIe 4.0 storage, a brand new Ryzen 6000 CPU, and more. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story, because while these specs certainly look nice, the price difference is quite large. The 2022 G14 equipped with the RX 6800S costs $550 more than the 2021 G14 with the 1080p screen.

Although the RX 6700S equipped 2022 G14 isn’t included in this head-to-head comparison, it is worth pointing out its existence because of its much more affordable price of $1,649. The 6700S version is also identical to the 6800S version in every other way so that $250 price difference is pretty significant.

At the time of writing, the GA402RK is available at Best Buy, while the GA401QM is only available at Amazon. You can also find the G14 2022 at Amazon (along with other variations that have more RAM), but they’re significantly more expensive, so we recommend purchasing the G14 2022 from Best Buy if possible. By the way, the G14 2022 (both the 6800S and 6700S models) has gone on sale at least a couple of times at Best Buy despite it being so new, so if you’re patient you might be able to get a discount of $100 or more.

Design

Matthew Connatser/Digital Trends

Although the G14 2022 is still recognizable as a G14, Asus has changed almost every part of the laptop at least a little, from the display to the keyboard to the chassis.

Some of the most significant changes are aesthetic. The G14 is most commonly found in its Moonlight White theme, and the 2020 and 2021 models were two-tone, with the lid and display part of the laptop being pure white and the keyboard and internal hardware part of the laptop being silver. The 2022 model is now single-tone and totally pure white, which in my opinion is an improvement.

Other elements on the 2022 model are largely the same but have some tweaks. The pinhole design on the top of the lid (which on some models has a LED display) has a denser array of pinholes. The part of the lid closest to the hinge now has a decorative strip of what appears to be aluminum. The rear of the laptop where the exhaust vents are has been redesigned though this is really only a decorative change. One qualm I have with these changes is that metallic strip, as it’s not difficult to dent and the edge is also pretty sharp.

Matthew Connatser/Digital Trends

Aside from looks, the 2022 model is upgraded in three other very important ways. Firstly, it has a 16:10 aspect ratio display, which reduces the size of the bottom display bezel which was quite large on older G14s. Asus has also finally included a 720p webcam with Windows Hello facial recognition. The 2022 model doesn’t have a fingerprint reader on the power button like the previous versions, but I would rather have Windows Hello than a fingerprint reader anyways. Perhaps the biggest quality of life change in the G14 2022 is the touchpad: it’s way, way bigger than the old one.

Other, more minor changes include the addition of a MicroSD slot, USB 4.0 capable ports (G14 users will be able to enable 4.0 through a firmware update that is due to arrive soon), and a slightly larger 240-watt power adapter. That’s the extent of the changes with the G14 2022, and at heart, it’s still just like the 2021 and 2020 versions, just with many improvements.

Internals

The internal hardware also got quite the makeover, from the processors to the cooling system to even decoration.

Starting with the CPU, the G14 2022 uses the newer AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, which is based on the Zen 3+ architecture and TSMC’s 6nm node. Although this is an improvement from the previous model’s 5900HS that used Zen 3 and 7nm, it doesn’t make that big of a difference to performance or power efficiency; The new CPU is just a small refinement. The new GPU on the other hand is a massive change, as the 2022 model uses the Radeon RX 6800S, rather than an Nvidia GPU like the RTX 3060 seen in the 2021 model. Because the G14 2022 uses all AMD hardware, it has access to AMD Advantage technology, which helps the G14 perform a little better. The CPU and GPU also have access to much more power than the 5900HS and the 3060 in the 2021 model did.

Of course, more power consumption means more heat, so Asus also had to improve the cooling system. The G14 2022 uses a vapor chamber design for higher cooling capacity, and liquid metal is applied to both the CPU and GPU for faster thermal transfer. There is also a dust filter on the fans, and although this can restrict airflow, in the long term it’s probably for the best to prevent dust from getting into the fans themselves.

Asus

And yes, Asus did decorate the inside of this laptop by putting an admittedly cool design on the protective cover over the CPU and GPU. It’s a really nice touch, though most users will probably never even open the laptop to see it with their own eyes.

There are two other minor hardware changes. The Wi-Fi card has been upgraded to a Mediatek MT7922 with WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 support. The NVMe slot for the SSD has finally been upgraded to PCIe 4.0 for much faster transfer speeds. But even with these upgrades, neither the Wi-Fi card nor the NVMe SSD is particularly impressive. I would have much preferred to see an Intel Wi-Fi card, which was present in the G14 2020.

Performance

Although on the surface it may seem like we should only expect GPU performance to be substantially different, the G14 2022 can draw more power than last year’s model, which means CPU performance can also be significantly higher despite the lack of architectural and process improvements from Ryzen 5000 to 6000. With that in mind, I ran benchmarks for not only 1080p gaming but also CPU workloads as well. I also tested the two G14s using a 100-watt USB Type C charger, which I think is an interesting way to use the G14.

G14 2021 (Ryzen 9 5900HS)
G14 2022 (Ryzen 9 6900HS)
Percent change
Cinebench R23 Multi-thread
10.382
13.713
+32%
Cinebench R23 Single-thread
1,421
1,508
+6%
Blender
150
207
+38%
Time Spy CPU Score
8.237
10.481
+27%

Starting with CPU benchmarks using the 200+ watt power adapter and the turbo power profile, the 6900HS is significantly faster in multi-threaded workloads largely thanks to somewhat higher power draw as well as minor architectural improvements. The single-threaded performance improvement is much lower as increased power draw doesn’t really impact this metric usually.

G14 2021 (Ryzen 9 5900HS)
G14 2022 (Ryzen 9 6900HS)
Percent change
Cinebench R23 Multi-thread
10,145
12,261
+21%
Cinebench R23 Single-thread
1,342
1,539
+15%
Blender
154
180
+17%
Time Spy CPU Score
6,787
8,715
+28%

When using a 100-watt charger and the performance power profile (turbo is not available on USB Type C charging), the 6900HS suffers more performance loss than the 5900HS, which narrows the 6900HS’s lead in Cinebench R23 multi-thread and Blender. However, because the 5900HS ran at a much lower frequency in Cinebench R23 single-thread while the 6900HS was able to maintain its normal frequency, the 6900HS’s lead here improves from 6% to 15%. Another thing to note here is that both the 2022 and 2021 models have respectable CPU performance while using the 100-watt charger.

G14 2021 (Nvidia RTX 3060)
G14 2022 (Radeon RX 6800S)
Percent change (avg fps)
Time Spy Overall
7260
9327
+28%
Blender GPU
2282
891
-61%
Hitman 3 (Max Settings)
73fps avg, 43fps 99th percentile
103fps avg, 56fps 99th pctl
+41%
Civilization VI (Ultra Preset)
75fps avg, 48fps 99th pctl
90fps avg, 58fps 99th pctl
+20%
Total War: Three Kingdoms (Ultra Preset)
59fps avg, 36fps 99th pctl
63fps avg, 39fps 99th pctl
+7%
The Witcher 3
75fps avg, 44fps 99th pctl
52fps avg, 37fps 99th pctl
-31%

Although the 2022 model is overall faster than the 2021 model, there are a couple of benchmarks where the 2021 model wins. In the Blender GPU benchmark, the G14 2021 is almost three times as fast as the 2022 model, which is largely down to AMD GPUs just not being very good at Blender and other similar applications.

The Witcher 3 also saw a performance regression which I did not expect, and since the GPU usage on the 6800S was strangely low, I think it’s likely there’s some sort of driver issue going on here, and hopefully, it’s an exception. On the other end of the spectrum, Hitman 3 returned a massive win for the G14 2022 with a 41% lead for the newer model, while Civilization VI and Total War: Three Kingdoms returned more modest gains of 20% and 7% respectively.

G14 2021 (Radeon RX Vega 8)
G14 2022 (Radeon 680M)
Percent change (avg fps)
Time Spy Overall
1198
2567
+114%
Night Raid Overall
15172
28177
+86%
Civilization VI (Medium Preset)
38 fps avg, 27 fps 99th pctl
52 fps avg, 45 fps 99th pctl
+37%
Enter The Gungeon
97f ps avg, 78 fps 99th pctl
118 fps avg, 91 fps 99th pctl
+22%
Minecraft Java Edition
106 fps avg, 33 fps 99th pctl
111 fps avg, 45 fps 99th pctl
+5%

Although the G14 comes with discrete graphics, the Ryzen APU inside also includes integrated graphics which are more suitable for when you’re using a 100-watt USB Type C charger. Equipped with brand new RDNA2 graphics, the G14 2022’s Radeon 680M significantly leads the G14 2021 and its aging Vega 8 iGPU in 1080p gaming. Civilization VI went from a playable frame rate to an enjoyable frame rate, and although Enter The Gungeon already had good performance on the G14 2021, it was even better on the G14 2022. The 680M ran Minecraft Java Edition at a slightly higher average frame rate than the Vega 8 graphics, but the 680M did have a 36% higher 99th percentile frame rate, which meant the game ran smoother and with fewer hitches.

Which is the better deal?

Matthew Connatser/Digital Trends

The G14 2022 is a big improvement over the 2021 model in many areas. The newer model looks sleeker and more premium, it has a 16:10 aspect ratio display, a webcam, a much larger touchpad, and significantly improved performance in most applications. The 2022 model is definitely better in some pretty big ways.

On the other hand, the 2021 model with the 1080p screen is available for as low as $1,349 (though this price does fluctuate). The $550 price difference between last year’s G14 and this year’s updated G14 is big enough to make the older model worth considering. The 2021 model still has the same great battery life and size as the 2022 model, and at 14 inches, a 1080p screen doesn’t look all too different from a 1440p screen. For many, the lack of a webcam and the much smaller touchpad on the 2021 model will be dealbreakers, but for those who can live without those, the 2021 model is a very appealing option.

You should also consider two other G14 models. Retailing for $1,649, the 6700S equipped G14 2022 is a great alternative thanks to its lower price compared to the 6800S equipped version. We didn’t review it, but other reviewers have found that the 6700S model isn’t much slower than the 6800S model. There’s also the 2021 G14 with the 1440p, 120Hz screen but for $1,549 or $200 more over the standard 1080p version, it’s not a great deal. For $100 more, you could get the G14 2022 with the 6700S. The 1440p version of the G14 2021 is just too expensive to make sense.

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