With the advent of high-end desktop-grade graphics processors, the competition among high-end gaming laptops is getting fierce. Lately, we’ve seen numerous 17-inch desktop replacements that have blown us away, but most of them are just too bulky for consumers that turn to laptops for a portable solution. With their large frames and bulky power bricks many of them exceed 10 pounds and can be difficult to fit into a normal sized bag.
That’s where the Asus ROG Strix comes into play. Armed with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU the 15.6-inch laptop marries desktop-grade performance with a more portable package. Add in the attractive 15.6-inch IPS display with G-Sync technology and affordable $1,700 price tag and you have one of the more attractive high-end gaming laptops on the market. Unfortunately, the Asus ROG isn’t perfect though. It’s a great device, but the mediocre keyboard, sub-par audio, and weak battery life keep this rig from being a must buy.
The Asus ROG Strix certainly looks the part with loud orange accents sharply contrasting against the black matte aluminum cover. Its slating indents and sharp lines create a strong sleek aesthetic. This is one book that you can judge by its cover, the device looks powerful, it is powerful.
The deck is coated in a sturdy black plastic that matches the lid with a vertical straiton design. The vertical pattern creates a nice textured feel offering a comfortable wrist rest. The deck houses similar orange accents along with an Asus emblem along the right side. Large rubber orange pads sit at the bottom of the chassis helping to anchor the device.
Measuring 15.4 x 10.5 x 0.9-inches and weighing 5.8 pounds the Asus ROG Strix finds a nice balance between portability and power. If you’re willing to concede on computing power, more portable options like the 14-inch Razer Blade may be a good fit at only 4.25 pounds. Likewise, if you’re looking to get the most power you can in a portable package, powerhouses such as the MSI GT73VR Titan Pro and Acer Predator 17 X would be a good fit, though they’re a bit heavy to lug around at 8.6 and 10.03 pounds respectively.
The ASUS ROG Strix offers a solid selection of ports. The left side features a power connector, an Ethernet connector, a mini DisplayPort, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI 2.0 connector, and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. The left side houses a Kensington lock slot, a 2-in-1 card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, and an audio jack.
Screen and Speakers
One of the high points for the Asus ROG Strix is the attractive 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution IPS matte display. The matte surface allows for a clear consistent picture with flexible viewing angles, with images holding up well past 100 degrees. The screen also held up well in direct light with only a noticeable sheen and slight color wash appearing in direct light. What that all boils down to, is that you’re pretty assured to get a good viewing experience from the Asus ROG Strix.
The display is perfect for media, with excellent color contrast and accuracy. NBR was incredibly pleased how well some of the new cosmetic skins in Overwatch looked. The azure streams of electric energy really popped against the worn bronze and steel ball bearings on Junkrat’s Doctor Frankenstein costume.
The display also utilizes Nvidia’s G-Synch technology, which utilizes proprietary software to sync the display’s refresh rate with the graphic card. Basically this all servers to create a technical frame cap that matches the panel’s refresh limit, to ensure that viewers get a clear consistent picture with minimal tearing and smooth playback.
While the Asus ROG Strix boasts a beautiful picture, the system’s audio leaves a bit to be desired. While listening to the classical track Histoire du Tango – Nightclub 1960 by Duos Sonidos the laptop struggled to capture the high notes creating a disappointing tiny sound. The audio is also rather faint. The laptop is capable of providing audio for a small group of people, but will struggle to fill a modest sized room. In a pinch the Asus ROG Strix’s speakers will work, but under most circumstances, we’d suggest you use a pair of headphones while using the device.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Another area where the Asus ROG Strix falls a bit flat is it’s keyboard. In terms of features and layout, the ROG Strix isn’t all that bad. The device features a chiclet-style backlit keyboard complete with a number pad. The majority of the black plastic squared keys are black, save for the WASD keys which are a bright nuclear orange, fitting in with the machine’s overall aesthetic. There’s excellent spacing and all the keys are arranged in a way so that you shouldn’t have any problem finding your groove, even when using the device for the first time.
So what’s the issue? Well, basically everything else. Key travel is limited and feedback is flat. Additionally, the keyboard frame also has a bit of give, which can make typing uncomfortable, especially when trying to type quickly. These issues plague many a notebook, but they’re particularly egregious with gaming devices where you want fast reliable controls. Many games, especially twitch competitive games (such as League of Legends or Counter Strike: Global Offensive) come to down to reactions that happen in seconds or even fractions of a second, so you want a keyboard that will accurately read your inputs and quickly snap back in place.
The keyboard is still serviceable, but it doesn’t offer the comfort or precision that many other competing high-end gaming devices offer.
Luckily the laptop’s touchpad is a step up. Located directly below the spacebar is a moderately sized touchpad, that again keeps with the laptop’s aesthetic with a bright orange outline. The soft rubber pad allows for smooth frictionless travel. Swipes, clicks, and multi-finger gestures all read without issue.
When it comes to performance the Asus ROG Strix simply hits it out of the park. Equipped with a 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU (with 8GB of GDDR5), 16GB of DDR4 memory, a 256GB PCIe SSD, and a 1TB HDD the Strix offers impressive performance for its $1,700 price tag.
Given the strong benchmark scores, it comes as little surprise that the Asus ROG Strix offers strong overall performance. Wim ample RAM and a powerful i7 processor the Asus ROG Strix makes short work of most productivity apps. NBR was able to run 15 active Google Chrome tabs, with 2 HD video streams, and Spotify in the background without any drop in performance. The lightning fast PCIe SSD also makes it easy to load games and files within seconds, while the 1TB HDD gives you plenty of space for additional media.
Of course, the real focus of this machine is it’s Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB of GDDR5. The laptop is one of many that has been dubbed “VR ready” basically meaning that it offers strong graphical performance capable of tackling, demanding games, 3D and 4K video production, and even virtual reality. Unfortunately, we don’t have an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive on hand to test the laptop first hand, but given how well the device has performed in our benchmark and real-life testing, it’s not a stretch to say that it should be capable of handling the demands of VR. While testing the device the Asus ROG Strix was capable of running Overwatch at 1080p on Ultra settings at 134 fps (frames per second).
Our Asus ROG Strix (GL502VS) review unit had the following specifications:
- Windows 10 Home
- 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display
- Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU 2.6GHz
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB of GDDR5)
- 16GB DDR4
- 256GB PCIe SSD
- 1TB HDD (7200)
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Dimensions: 15.4 x 10.5 x 0.9-inches
- Weight: 5.8 pounds
- Price: $1,700
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark Fire Strike is a newer benchmark measuring overall graphics card performance for visually demanding games (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test (C left, D right):
Heat and Noise
The Asus ROG Strix fans produce a faint consistent hum, eve when the device is idle. The fans ramp up noticeably when the device is stressed (i.e. playing games or streaming HD video prolonged periods of time) to the point where it will become a bit distracting. The device also does not fare much better when it comes keeping cool. After playing overwatch for 30 minutes Asus ROG Strix became far too hot to use comfortably as a laptop. Luckily the wrists rests and areas around the keyboard remained relatively cool. While the device may have run a little hot for comfort, NBR didn’t notice any throttling or drop in performance due to heat issues.
To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.
PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):
The Asus ROG Strix ran for 1 hour and 34 minutes before shutting down. Typically gaming machines aren’t known for their battery lives, but even among other power intensive units, the ROG does not fare particularly well. One of the selling points for the ROG is that it’s far more portable than many of the laptop’s 17-inch counterparts, but with weak battery life that portability is somewhat marred. Even when not playing games, users should likely have the power brick on hand, if they plan to use the Asus ROG Strix for any considerable amount of time.
The Asus ROG Strix isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty solid package for its relatively affordable $1,700 price tag. Armed with a powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and Intel Core i7 CPU, the Asus ROG Strix boasts top of the line performance, perfect for demanding games and VR. The 15.6-inch FHD IPS panel provides a beautiful smooth picture and is equipped with Nvidia G-SYNC technology. At only 0.9-inches thick and 5.8 pounds the ROG Strix isn’t exactly the most portable device, but it does comfortably fit into most carrying cases.
Unfortunately, the notebook also has a few flaws. The keyboard is simply not what you’d expect from a premium laptop. There is too much give from the frame, key travel is shallow, and the feedback is weak. The audio also disappoints with a distorted tiny quality. Finally, the limited battery life ruins some of the notebook’s merits as a portable powerhouse.
However, even with these flaws, the Asus ROG Strix offers a great overall package. Gaming laptops are incredibly expensive and there are few that can match all the features jam packed in the Asus ROG Strix at a sub $2,000 price point.
- Beautiful G-Sync IPS display
- Strong graphical performance
- Relatively affordable
- Sub-par keyboard
- Weak battery life
- Poor audio quality