Glorious 144Hz gaming.
Asus designs its Republic of Gamers line of laptops for gamers of all budgets and needs, and it recently introduced two new “Strix” variants, one of which I’m reviewing here. This is the Scar Edition (See it on Amazon) / (See it on Amazon UK), which is designed for FPS gamers (the other version, for MOBA gamers, is dubbed the Hero). What differentiates the Scar edition, and makes it suitable for fans of first person shooters, is its blistering 144Hz refresh rate and inclusion of Nvidia’s G-Sync technology.
Despite these awesome specs, it’s still rocking an IPS panel, so you don’t need to give up on viewing angles or color accuracy for a high refresh rate. Throw in a GTX 1070 GPU and you’ve got yourself a worthy contender to the mobile gaming throne. Let’s see if it’s the heir apparent, or another wannabe.
Here are the specifications of the Asus ROG Strix I am specifically evaluating here:
- Model: ASUS ROG Strix GL503V
- Display: 15.-inch FHD (1920×1080) 144Hz IPS
- Processor: Intel Core i7-7700HQ at 2.8GHz (6M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 1070 (8GB GDDR5)
- Memory: 16GB LPDDR4
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- OS Drive: 256GB PCIe SSD
- Storage: 1TB FireCuda SSHD (8GB SSD Cache)
- Webcam: 720p
- Ports: 1 x headphone-out and audio-in combo jack, 1 x Ethernet port, 1 x HDMI, 1 x mini Display Port, 4 x USB Type-A 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type C with Thunderbolt, 1 x SD card reader
- Connectivity: 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.1
- Dimensions: 15.2 x 10.3 x 1-inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 5.1 pounds
- Price: $1,899
Design and Features
Following the same design principles as the rest of the ROG line, the grey exterior is broken up only by the ROG logo on the lid, and a cutout between the hinges showing the carbon fiber aesthetic that surrounds the keyboard and touchpad. A four-zone customizable RGB keyboard lights up immediately upon opening the lid. Just above the keyboard are four shortcut keys, putting access to volume up/down, microphone mute, and the ROG Gaming Center at your fingertips. I would love for Asus to make these keys customizable, as I rarely need to mute the mic, and would much rather have let me mute the entire system instead. The keys are responsive and provide sufficient tactile feedback, however.
The touchpad is decorated with ticks and lines reminiscent of crosshairs found in a sniper’s scope. I didn’t use the touchpad often, but when I did, I found it a touch slow to respond. Out of the box there was a slight lag between the gesture being complete and the mouse cursor completing it on the screen, but I was able to dial it in a bit by adjusting some of its settings.
The ROG Strix has more ports than most will know what to do with. On the left side (from back to front) is the charging port, an Ethernet port, a mini DisplayPort, HDMI port, 2 x USB Type-A 3.0 ports, and a combo audio jack. On the opposite side you will two more USB Type-A 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C 3.1 (with Thunderbolt support) port, and a full-sized SD card reader. It would be nice to have one more USB-C port, just in case the lone port is used up by a display or external storage, but I’ll take the single USB-C port as a sign of progress.
A 15.6-inch FHD panel with a pleasing refresh rate of 144Hz is powered by a Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU, and primary thrust is provided by an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. In total, the ROG Strix measures 15.2 x 10.3 x 1-inches and weighs 5.1-pounds. It’s a bit hefty, but considering Asus’ Max-Q ROG Zephyrus is 4.9-pounds it’s not overly porky. Between the 256GB PCIe SSD and the 1TB hybrid FireCuda SSHD, there’s plenty of room to keep all of your games and personal files before needing to add any external storage.
Overall, the ROG Strix holds its own compared to similarly equipped gaming laptops. I was consistently playing PlayerUnkown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG) on high settings and seeing an average of around 120fps. Ultra settings would drop that down between 90 and 100fps. The cooling system never got too loud that I felt like it impeded on hearing any gameplay.
When it comes to benchmarks, the ROG Strix went tit-for-tat with the HP Omen 17, coming out on top in some games, while the Omen upped the ROG Strix in others. The far more expensive Origin EVO15-S bested the ROG Strix in two tests, GTA V and 3DMark’s Sky Diver. As for regular use, my experience was smooth. Multi-tasking is hiccup-free, and outside of my minor gripe about the touchpad, I could see myself using this laptop as an everyday workhorse and a gaming machine on the weekends.
No matter the model, there seems to be a common occurrence when it comes to the battery performance of the ROG lineup: It’s not all that impressive. In fact, the ROG Strix scored near the bottom out of all the laptops I’ve tested using IGN’s battery rundown test. At just 81 minutes, only the ultra-beefy MSI GT83VR SLI came in lower. As for the rest of the ROG lineup that I’ve reviewed, the ROG Zephyrus scored 86 minutes, and the ROG Strix GL702VM turned in 89 minutes. If nothing else, at least the ROG line is consistent.
Asus takes a middle of the road approach to preloaded software on the ROG Strix. There’s, of course, McAfee’s software suite that doesn’t know to take the hint to leave you alone. But then there are several ROG specific applications. ROG Aura Core is used to create lighting profiles for the keyboard and its various zones. Other apps include ROG Gaming Center, where you can monitor your system’s stats, quickly free up memory, and create profiles for specific games. Outside of tasks like disabling the touchpad or Windows Key, I didn’t find much use for the ROG Gaming Center. There are also applications for live-streaming your gameplay, adjusting the overall sound quality, or updating software and drivers.
The ASUS ROG Strix GL503V Scar Edition Gaming Laptop is available in a few different configurations, but this one in particular will run you about $1,899 on Amazon – so far it hasn’t deviated from that price since it debuted late last year: