You all just need to look at this.
This here is the weirdest and coolest 14-inch gaming laptop I’ve ever used. It’s called the ROG Zephyrus G14 ACRNM. If you’re wondering why it looks like that, Asus partnered with a clothing designer called Acronym, which primarily makes stuff like this $2,000 trench coat. So, yeah.
If you’ve been paying any attention to the laptop market in the past year, you probably know what the Zephyrus G14 is. It’s a monster of a gaming rig, and it can run just about any game on any settings you want. The battery life is excellent, the touchpad and keyboard are exceptional, it only weighs 3.5 pounds — almost everything about it rules. If you haven’t read my review of the G14, take a quick pause and go do that now.
Welcome back. So the ACRNM G14 is $2,499. It comes with a Ryzen 9 4900HS, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, 32GB of RAM, and a QHD 60Hz display. A regular G14 with the same screen, processor, and GPU is $1,999, though it only has 16GB of RAM. There’s also a $1,449 model with a 120Hz 1080p display.
Right off the bat — does anyone need to spend $500 extra for a slightly funkier design? No. But hear me out. This thing is so cool.
Let’s start with the outside. The G14 Acronym is black with a dot matrix covering the lid. Those dots are actually tiny LEDs, and they can light up to display endless different patterns, from text messages to logos. You can choose between eight different Acronym-specific animations. My favorite one is the face of Acronym co-founder Errolson Hugh — he flickers, moves around, and occasionally explodes.
Along the bottom of the lid is a geometric pattern that looks a bit like a bookcase. “ZPHYRS” is written across the back vent in a classy silver font. The moniker is also printed on the packaging and is etched into the bottom of the chassis, along with a number of interesting symbols including the ROG logo, a kaleidoscope vector, a grid of five overlapping circles, something that looks kind of like a Star Wars TIE/D Defender, and what I can best describe as a striated concave cyclone with “BLACK HOLES IN THE NOW” written below it. (I asked some edgy people I know, and that’s not a reference to anything they’re aware of.) God, I love this thing so much.
But the real highlight of this design is the keyboard. The letters are a scattered flurry of color. No, I don’t mean the backlighting — the physical keys are a medley of different hues, with no discernible pattern. There’s a bright “A” on every corner of most letter keys; other keys have their functions and secondary functions occupying one or two. “Alter” is in the top-left corner of Alt, $ is in the top-right corner of 4. “VOID” is written on the space bar. The font is one you’d see in an old storybook. Somehow, it’s both quite sophisticated and totally unhinged. I feel like I’m typing on an old quilt and The Future at the same time.
The final thing to note is that this comes preloaded with a program called The Brain. It was developed by Harlan Hugh, Errolson Hugh’s brother, and there’s a hotkey that pulls it up. The goal of the software is to — I am not making this up — “map your brain.” In fact, you can map multiple brains and keep them in a repository called the “BrainBox.”
I was skeptical, but after playing around with The Brain, I’m totally in. The best way I can describe it is that it allows you to construct to-do lists as animated family trees. So you might have your personal life on one branch, work tasks on another, and stuff for an upcoming vacation on another — and then additional branches of tasks from those branches. Items can contain attachments like checklists, graphics, and links; clicking on an item zooms you in. It’s very weird but very cool. I can see myself using it daily.
I am totally going to buy this, and I don’t care how many possessions I have to sell to afford it. I want to play Red Dead Redemption II at playable frame rates while flashing an explosive LED face at everyone who passes by. Some people will find it far afield of the traditional “gaming laptop” aesthetic, and many will say $2,499 is way too much money to pay for a laptop that you can also get for $1,449 with a better screen for gaming. Both of those things are true.
But what I love about this G14 is that it doesn’t care what you think. It’s brilliant, it’s wild, and it’s not afraid. What a better world it would be if all products were so bold and so unapologetically, irrevocably themselves.
Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge