ASUS Zephyrus G (GA502DU) Thermal Testing – AMD Runs Cooler?


The ASUS Zephyrus G GA502 gaming laptop combines
an AMD CPU with Nvidia graphics inside a thinner machine, but just how hot does it get, and
does this hurt performance? In this detailed thermal testing we’ll find out how it runs
and see what improvements can be made. I’ve got the GA502DU model, so there’s
a Ryzen 7 3750H quad core CPU, Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q graphics, 16gb of memory in
dual channel, and a 120Hz 1080p screen. You can find up to date prices linked in the description. The Zephyrus design is traditionally known
for raising the back of the machine up when the lid is opened to aid with air flow, however
that feature is not present in this more budget friendly design. There are some air vents
on the bottom, however interestingly the sections that are actually above the fans are blocked
off, so it may primarily bring in air through the keyboard and with the vents just above
it. Inside we’ve got a few heatpipes, with a
couple shared between the processor and graphics, and we can see that air is exhausted out the
side and back with the left fan, and just out the back for the opposite fan. The ASUS Armory Crate software allows you
to change between three different modes, silent, performance and turbo, and I’ve tested all
three out here. Basically these modes adjust maximum fan speed, CPU power limits, and control
GPU overclocking, as defined here. You can easily swap between these modes through software,
or by holding the function key and pressing the pressing F5, the key with the fan icon. Thermal testing was completed in an ambient
room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments.
No CPU undervolting has been done as this is not currently possible with AMD mobile
CPUs. At idle both the CPU and GPU were on the warmer
side, though realistically not a problem and the fans were quiet, as you’ll hear later. The rest of the results are from combined
CPU and GPU workloads, and are meant to represent worst case scenarios as I ran them for extended
periods of time. The gaming results towards the upper half
of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination
of processor and graphics. The stress test results shown on the lower half of the graph
are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test with only the stress CPU option checked, and
the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings at the same time to fully load the system. Starting with the stress tests, in silent
mode the 1660 Ti max-q was thermal throttling at 86 degrees Celsius. If we change to performance
mode the GPU thermal throttling is removed as this boosts the fan speed, however the
CPU was now hotter as this mode raises its power limit, I think it was thermal throttling,
however hardware info doesn’t currently report on this for the 3750H CPU so I can’t
say for sure. There were no differences in temperatures with performance or turbo mode,
because as you’ll hear later the fan speed didn’t actually change in this workload.
Using a cooling pad did help a little, despite the vents directly above the fans being blocked
off by the bottom panel as we saw earlier. The gaming results saw a similar trend, with
some GPU thermal throttling in silent mode, with slight improvements to thermals as we
continue making changes. These are the average clock speeds for the
same tests just shown. In silent mode we’re seeing lower CPU clock speeds compared to
the other tests as this mode caps the CPU power limit to 8 watts. Although the clock
speeds in watch dogs 2 look good here, the game was actually unplayable, but we’ll
check out some FPS benchmarks with different modes soon. In performance mode there’s
a nice boost to CPU clock speed as the power limit raises to around 21 watts, and the GPU
sees an increase too as this boosts fan speed and removes thermal throttling. Turbo mode
saw no change to CPU performance due to suspected CPU thermal throttling, however the reported
GPU clock speed raises due to the overclocking turbo mode applies. As there was more thermal
headroom for the gaming test the performance and turbo modes are making more noticeable
improvements. The cooling pad makes a big improvement to CPU clock speed while under
stress test, as it helps address the CPU thermal throttling, however it hardly did anything
while playing this particular game as temperatures weren’t too bad without it. These are the TDP values during these same
tests. I’ve used hardware info for the GPU, shown by the green bars, and we’re not hitting
the 60 watt power limit of the 1660 Ti Max-Q with silent mode enabled due to the GPU thermal
throttling covered earlier. Hardware Info still seems to incorrectly report the TDP
for the 3750H CPU, so I’ve used AMD’s uprof tool instead, however as this didn’t
really give an average over time these results are only approximate values. I don’t have
results for the gaming tests because without a consistent load it was difficult to report
an average. The 3750H has a 35 watt TDP, and as this is only hit once the cooling pad is
in use it sort of implies that we were thermal throttling in this workload without it, though
as we saw this seemed to be less of a problem with an actual game running. These are the TDP values I was seeing reported
by uprof while under a CPU only workload, so it looks like performance mode has a 28
watt limit, though this was not being hit under combined CPU and GPU loads, as we just
saw before, due to thermal limitations. These are the average clock speeds under these same
workloads, as the power limit increases so does the clock speed and performance. More
power and performance typically equals more heat, however we saw the highest temperature
in silent mode, simply because the fan speed was so much quieter when compared to performance
or turbo modes. To demonstrate how this translates into performance
I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks, with Intel’s last gen i5-8300H quad core
CPU in red just for comparison, though keep in mind the i5 does have a higher 45 watt
TDP limit. I’ve compared these two in a separate video if you’re interested in more
comparisons. So how do these different performance modes
actually affect games? I’ve tested a few games with silent, performance and turbo modes
to find out. Battlefield 5 was tested in Campaign mode
at ultra settings. With silent mode enabled it was still quite usable, the 1% low wasn’t
too different to the other results, and it was only around 15 FPS lower compared to turbo
mode with much louder fans. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with
the built in benchmark at highest settings. Again there wasn’t much difference to frame
rate between performance and turbo mode, however silent was a fair bit lower this time. Far Cry 5 was tested with the built in benchmark
at ultra settings. In this test there was a much larger drop with the silent profile
in use, and like I mentioned before I couldn’t play watch dogs 2 in silent mode, so it seems
to vary by game, basically I wouldn’t rely on silent mode for quieter gaming. I did test
these games at max settings though, they’ll likely be more playable with lower settings. If you want to see more gaming benchmarks
on this machine, check the card in the top right where I’ve tested 20 games at all
setting levels. As for the external temperatures where you’ll
actually be putting your hands, at idle it was a bit warmer than the standard 30 degrees
I usually see, though only in the center towards the back. With the stress tests running in
silent mode it’s in the mid 50s in the center, getting up to 60s right up the back where
it was hot to the touch, granted you won’t be touching here in most cases anyway. It
was a bit cooler in performance mode as this also raises fan speed, and we can see the
cooler spots on the left and right where the fans bring in air through the keyboard. There
wasn’t too much difference in turbo mode, still getting to 60 right at the back, but
again for the areas you’ll actually be touching it’s not too bad. Here’s what the fans sound like during these
different tests. At idle in silent mode the fan was only just
audible. With silent mode and the stress tests running it’s much quieter compared to most
other laptops I’ve tested, and as we saw some games were playable in this mode, but
you could always customize fan speed to find a sweet spot that’s playable without being
too loud. In performance or turbo mode the fan speed was the same, and pretty average
when compared to most other gaming laptops that I’ve tested. I forgot to test fan speed
while gaming, and although it will vary by game, I did notice that while in performance
mode the fan speed did drop back a couple of decibels when not being smashed with a
stress test. Overall the ASUS GA502 gaming laptop doesn’t
appear to run that hot, at least purely in terms of internal temperatures. Granted it
does thermal throttle on the graphics if you run it in silent mode, but as we heard the
fans were significantly quieter in that mode so that’s going to be expected. This is only the second AMD laptop with Nvidia
graphics that I’ve tested. In general I’ve found AMD CPUs to run cooler compared to Intel
based laptops that easily run anywhere from 90 to 100 degrees Celsius under the same load,
however this is because the Intel CPUs have a higher 45 watt TDP, and as we saw this results
in increased performance too. It appeared that there was thermal throttling
on the CPU under worst case stress test, however when actually playing a game it seemed alright,
but this will depend on the specific game and workload. I say appeared, because I don’t
actually know any software that correctly reports thermal throttling on AMD mobile CPUs,
I’m just basing this on the results I saw, 89 degrees as a maximum average doesn’t
seem too high though. Using a cooling pad helped address this and
improve performance in terms of clock speed, though it may have been more effective if
the bottom air intakes weren’t blocked off, it’s hard to say for sure without damaging
the bottom panel to remove the plastic. It may be possible to further improve temperatures
by swapping the thermal paste, however as this is a review unit that I have to send
back I’m not able to change the paste, otherwise the next reviewer will unknowingly report
different results due to what I’ve done. Raising fan speed and using a cooling pad
are much easier for most people to do than changing paste anyway, and as we’ve seen
these tweaks did help improve performance and temperatures with the GA502. Let me know what you thought about the thermals
from the ASUS Zephyrus G GA502 gaming laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new
to the channel you’ll definitely want to get subscribed for the upcoming full review
to see everything this machine has to offer.

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