The ROG STRIX SCAR and HERO branding has been on the market for over 3 years now and while the first and second generation were met with good interest, it wasn’t great enough to fend off competitors who were innovating and improving their design language and performance offerings. ASUS ROG recognizes this growing threat and has decided to go all out on the 3rd generation of STRIX SCAR and HERO, equipping the line with some of the best spec and features available out there on the market. Today, we will take a look at the STRIX SCAR III G531GW.
With it’s 240hz Refresh rate, Core i9-9980H CPU, 16GB DDR4, a whopping 1TB of PURE SSD and an RTX2070 – we expected nothing short of a spectacular device so we put it through it’s paces and here are our findings.
Hint: It’s arguably one of the best gaming laptops available in the market today.
- Core i9-9980H option
- Blazing Fast 240Hz Refresh RAte
- Best RGB Lighting implementation on a laptop
- ROG Keystone has potential
- Lots of plastic in the build
- Runs quite hot
- 1TB PURE SSD uses PCIEx2 instead of 4 full lanes
We’ve only had the laptop for 2 weeks so we weren’t able to perform so much on it but the apps and games we did run on it were enough to give us a lasting impression of the laptops potential and realize some places where ASUS ROG could have done better, or where they really excelled in.
Worth mentioning is that there’s actually a 17.3″ version as well but it was limited to 144hz in the Philippines so this one is the better pick for us. There’s also a more mild i7-9750H version if you feel the i9-9980H is too much for gaming. Our configuration is as follows and carries a price tag of 169,995, listed beside the i7 version at 149,995.
|Processor :||Intel Core i9-9880H Processor (16M Cache, up to 4.80 GHz)||Intel Core i7-9750H Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.50 GHz)|
|Operating System :||Windows 10 Home|
|Chipset :||Intel HM370 Express Chipset|
|Memory :||16GB DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM, 2 x SO-DIMM socket for expansion,|
|up to 32 GB SDRAM, Dual-channel|
|Display :||15.6-in (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920×1080) 240Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 72% NTSC||15.6-in (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920×1080) 144Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 72% NTSC|
|Graphic :||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 , with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM|
|Storage :||1TB PCIe SSD||1TB 5400 rpm SATA HDD (FireCuda) + 512GB PCIe SSD|
|Keyboard :||Chiclet keyboard Per-key RGB|
|Chiclet keyboard with isolated numpad key|
|Illuminated chiclet keyboard|
|Networking :||Intel 802.11ac (2×2) Gigabit Wi-Fi|
|Bluetooth :||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Interface :||1 x COMBO audio jack||1 x COMBO audio jack|
|1 x Type-C USB 3.1 (Gen 2) with display support||1 x Type-C USB 3.1 (Gen 2) with display support|
|3 x Type-A USB 3.1 (Gen 1)||3 x Type-A USB 3.1 (Gen 1)|
|1 x RJ45 LAN jack for LAN insert||1 x RJ45 LAN jack for LAN insert|
|1 x HDMI, HDMI support 2.0b||1 x HDMI, HDMI support 2.0b|
|Audio :||Built-in 4 W Stereo Speakers with Array Microphone||Built-in 4 W Stereo Speakers with Array Microphone|
|ASUS Sonic Radar||ASUS Sonic Radar|
|Smart AMP||Smart AMP|
|ASUS Sonic Studio||ASUS Sonic Studio|
|Battery :||4 -Cell 66 Wh Polymer Battery||4 -Cell 66 Wh Polymer Battery|
|Power Adapter :||Plug type :ÃƒÂ¸6.0 (mm)||Plug type :Ã¸6.0 (mm)|
|Output :||19.5 V DC, 11.8 A, 230 W||19.5 V DC, 11.8 A, 230 W|
|20 V DC, 14 A, 280 W||20 V DC, 14 A, 280 W|
|Plug Type :06.0 (mm)||Plug Type :06.0 (mm)|
|20 V DC, 7.5 A, 150 W||20 V DC, 7.5 A, 150 W|
|Dimensions :||399.73 x 293.44 x 26.2 mm (WxDxH)||399.73 x 293.44 x 26.2 mm (WxDxH)|
|360.3 x 275 x 25.8 mm (WxDxH)||60.3 x 275 x 25.8 mm (WxDxH)|
|Weight :||2.85 kg with battery||2.85 kg with battery|
|Security :||BIOS user password protection||BIOS user password protection|
|VR :||VR Ready||VR Ready|
|Gaming Series :||G Series||G Series|
Other than the 2 configurations above, other variants are those with RTX2060 and not much else. There is no RTX2080 variant as that is reserved for the bigger G703 Chimera or the Zephyrus S line.
PACKAGING and DESIGN
The packaging is the usual ROG flair. It’s stylish, it’s radical and everyone will know it’s a gaming laptop that resides inside.
Inside the box, you’ll be greeted by the laptop directly and opening the box lid further lifts the laptop up ala Zephyrus AAS mechanism.
Underneth it, you have several compartments. Left side houses the power adapter, the middle houses the documentation and extra gear while the right side houses the free GLADIUS II mouse. The mouse is a very welcome addition as it’s a really good gaming mouse so you don’t really have to fork for a separate expensive one.
Additionally, there is a 15.6″ Bag that comes with it. Pretty standard for ROG gaming laptops and we hope ROG continues to do this since other brands usually gives it out separately.
On to the laptop
The design of the STRIX SCAR III is one of the best in the industry today, that’s filled with RGB and blinking lights. Some would say that ROG went over the top but the way the lights are implemented works well with the over-all ID and makes it look like one of the most premium laptops in the market.
It’s not thin and light by any means, weighing in at about 2.6KG and around 25mm thick but that is quite necessary to ensure the device is packed with immense cooling, and has enough space to breathe and expel the hot air. To be honest, 2.6KG is already quite light for a gaming laptop since you’ll find plenty that breach the 3.0KG point but one reason it achieves this weight despite the specsheet is the use of plastic all around the chassis. It looks metal, but it actually isn’t. It’s not bad, per se but for those spending a lot of money would expect something more premium to the touch, not just looks.
Nevertheless, the laptop is quite the looker and the build quality is sturdy with very little flex on the panel and the keyboard area. Moving on, there’s a lot of gamery accent’s all over the laptop with cutouts here and there, and it really screams out it’s identity as a gaming laptop. The best part of the show is the TRON lights that wraps the underneath of the laptop to make it look like it’s floating on an RGB pad and it really just gives us a very premium vibe, making up for the very plastic build.
Appreciated are the slim bezels at the top side of the panel and on both left and right sides but the bottom part gets an ugly chin with a huge cut-out that can get quite glaring at first but easily ignorable once your eyes are hooked on the screen instead of the laptop’s aesthetics. [You’ll have to get used to seeing all the ugly cables at tthe back of your laptop though]. Further, there’s no camera at the top but ASUS has provided a USB Webcam called the ROG EYE, which can capture 1080 60fps – making the removal of the built in webcam forgiveable. Mind you, not many webcams in the market can capture 1080P at 60 frames per second so this is definitely a good trade-off.
INPUTS and PORTS
In terms of ports, there’s not quite a lot of ports on this machine but it’s sufficient. We’ve seen our fair share of laptops with plenty of ports and this isn’t one of them. On the left side are 3 USB-A ports and a combo mic/headphone jack. On the right is just the slot for the keystone [We’ll talk about that later]. Then on the rear is the RJ45 ethernet port, a USB C Type-C slot with DP but no thunderbolt [BOOOOO!!!], an HDMI 2.0b port and a barrel type power port for the charger.
To be honest, i actually expected more ports from this device, especially it’s price range – including a thunderbolt 3 port but sadly it wasn’t available. With all it’s power, i expected to atleast try it with multi monitors but you’ll have to make do with 1 HDMI and 1 DP (via type C) for 2 extra monitors out.
Keyboard and TouchPad
We’re currently typing this review on the laptop itself and i must say the keys are quite good with a decent amount of travel. Personally, we adore MSI or LEGION keyboard implementation but that’s just us. We’re also not saying ROG’s keyboard is worse but Asus has plenty of great potential to up the keyboard game, given they also make awesome standalone peripherals.
There’s per key RGB lighting on the island-style keys but for the most part, we prefer the rgb off as it can sometimes be quite distracting. The space bar is big enough and has an asymettrical look which is kinda cool but there’s not really any use for that. My personal gripe is the gamery font that ROG uses on the STRIX III as it adds to the list of “IM A GAMING LAPTOP” call-outs. I think, ROG has already crossed a line here and could’ve gone with a more classic font to balance out all the lights, cutouts and edges.
On top of the keyboard, you’ll find a set of hotkeys – Volume Down, Volume UP, Armoury Crate, Mic Mute and Fan controls. On the far left end, you’ll see a lonely power button. Noticeably, there’s no NUMPAD on this 15.6″ laptop but ASUS provides a virual kind via the trackpad. It’s a smartway to still include the functionality while keeping the keyboard full sized and spacious but the feeling of the virtual numpad is very lacking in confidence. It’s not really something you’d use dedicatedly and may only look for when a situation is in dire need of a numpad.
One of the hotkeys on top of the keyboard is the Armoury Crate toggle, this fires up ASUS exclusive software that’s loaded with lots of settings and device info. It also monitors components usage and heat. It’s not a new software but the latest version is vastly improved.
One key addition is also the keystone, which is activated only if the physical keystone hardware is inserted on the device itself. Otherwise, you have no access to the keystone features. What this does is it allows you to manage hidden partitions (called SHADOW DRIVE), settings and other bonus features. Make sure not to lose this as losing it means losing access entirely to everything you’ve turned private.
As for the rest of the armoury crate, it gives you content like apps that work well with streaming or gaming, fan controls, temp monitoring and more. There’s also a mobile app that you can use to control your CPU and GPU settings via phone.
The display has got to be the star of the show in terms of specification. The 15.6″ panel is also anti-glare so there is pretty much no reflection of light or yourself on the screen. The panel is also an IPS variant and with a very generous 240hz refresh rate. The screen is only about 300 nits which is okay but most premium laptops in the market today go up to about 500nits and come with HDR support. Color reproduction is a different story though, as it covers 100% of the sRGB range and has a DELTA E thats > 1, one of the best you’ll see in a laptop. Even last year’s Zenbook Pro UX580 only had a > 2. This means that this laptop is not only good for gaming at blazing speeds but also good for editing where colors are required to be most accurate. Too bad the battery life won’t allow you to be mobile, so this isn’t an option for those on the go work trips in coffee shops.
Probably the only caveat of this laptop is the type of SSD storage it uses, which is an Intel 660P QLC SSD. It’s a full PCIEx4 SSD but it has issues with sustained speeds for writing, plumetting to near HDD levels. If you transfer large files a lot, you will feel this but otherwise it’s fine.
It’s too bad because we expected something faster like Samsung’s EVO series to be equipped in a laptop of this calibre and price point.
Ahhhhh, performance. If the specsheet doesn’t already tell you what a beast is this laptop is, go and experience it in stores and it will blow your mind. I mean, this laptop is seriously impressively packed with some of the best components out there in the market. The CPU is an 8 core 16 thread Core i9-9980H that can go up to 4.8ghz, there’s 16GB of Ram inside and you can upgrade it to 32GB, there’s a 1TB of PURE SSD and you can add an additional 2.5″ SSD or HDD for more storage, and it’s paired with an RTX2070 for games crunching.
To show you just how good this laptop performs, we’ve run a series of benchmarks for you.
As you can see, the GL504GW returned a plethora of high scoring benchmark results. Unfortunately, there was some throttling here and there. Good thing, you can undervolt this laptop and contain some of the heat and prevent throttling instances.
This laptop can handle all games in high frame rates and ultra settings, hit 240fps++ on medium settings especially for Esports titles and take on content creation very easily. It’s definitely a looker, comes with a bunch of free premium items, carries good 2 years international support and is definitely comfortable to use.
Battery life was short and so we didn’t spend too much time with it without being plugged but that’s expected of a laptop with this kind of spec sheet.
Ultimately, it’s the best gaming laptop we’ve ever reviewed. It’s also definitely one of the best gaming laptops on the planet right now! Kudos, ASUS!
Here’s a recap of the specifications:
|Asus ROG Strix Scar III specifications|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-9880H, octa-core,
2.3GHz-4.8GHz, 9th Gen
|Additional memory slots||1|
|Screen resolution||1,920 x 1,080 240hz|
|Screen type||LCD IPS|
|Graphics adapter||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070|
|Graphics outputs||HDMI 2.0b, USB Type-C 3.1
|Memory card slot||No|
|USB ports||USB Type-C 3.1 (Display Port),
USB Type-A 3.1 x3
|Other ports||3.5mm combo audio jack,
HDMI 2.0b, RJ45 Ethernet jack,
|Web Cam||No (external webcam provided)|
|Speakers||4W speakers x2|
|3.5mm headphone jack||Yes|
|Wi-Fi||Intel 802.11ac (2×2) Gigabit Wi-Fi|
|Dimensions (WDH)||360 x 275 x 24.9mm (WDH)|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Pro|
|Operating system restore option||Windows restore partition|