Asus’ new Zephyrus S gaming laptop is its thinnest yet, but the trackpad is still in the wrong place

Today Asus is announcing the new Zephyrus S gaming laptop, and it comes as competitors like Razer and MSI are regularly putting out thinner laptops with even thinner bezels. That’s what the Zephyrus S is designed to take on; it’s the company’s thinnest gaming laptop to date and an alternative to other, beefier Asus gaming laptops.

There will be two Zephyrus S models available, with the first being sold exclusively at Amazon. The first SKU will retail for $2,199, is equipped with GTX 1070 Max Q graphics, an 8th-gen Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, a 15.6-inch 144Hz full HD screen with 3ms response time, and finally, a 512GB NVMe solid state drive.

Asus is advertising this configuration of the Zephyrus S because it has the better GPU, but a similar version that has all the same specs will be sold for $100 less ($2,000), with two exceptions being the full size GTX 1060 chip and a 1TB hard drive.

There aren’t too many aesthetic changes when compared to the original Zephyrus and the follow-up Zephyrus M. What has changed are the thinner bezels and chassis, a smaller frame and, of course, the touchpad, which is on the right again. It’s a design choice. Aluminum, magnesium, and plastic materials can be found throughout the Zephyrus S’ chassis; it generally feels smooth and cool to touch.

Cooling modern gaming laptop specs in a smaller, more compact body requires, well, better cooling, so Asus addressed that. The improved Active Aerodynamic System props the underside of the laptop upward and opens the bottom plate with better airflow, thanks to more fan blades. It comes with programmable lighting, and since less of the chassis is exposed now via the plate (which is made from magnesium this time), there’s less flex and give to the machine.

Asus is also including a new central command app called Armoury Crate for lighting, performance, and fan settings. Previously you had to rely on different apps to control the hardware settings on Zephyrus laptops, which quite frankly got cumbersome. The Armoury Crate app will ship with the Zepyhrus S and future products.

The Asus Zepyhrus S with a 1070 MaxQ chip will start shipping on August 31st, exclusively at Amazon for $2,199. Meanwhile, the lower-end GTX 1060 variant will be available in mid-October as a “channel-wide” release, for $2,099.

Asus also has a second announcement for the Republic of Gamers brand today, in the form of a 17-inch laptop. It echoes the same gaudy camo pattern from the 15-inch Strix Scar II that I reviewed in July, except it uses a lower-end GTX 1060 graphics chip.

The 17-inch screen is an upgrade in display real estate, but not resolution. It retains the same 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and 100 percent sRGB coverage that Asus is known for using recently on its gaming laptops. The rest of Scar II’s specs remain the same, including the Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive, and a 256GB SSD. As for availability, the Scar II GL704 will retail for $1,699 in the “last half of September.”