ASUS Republic of Gamers recently unveiled their refreshed STRIX II series with the all-new RTX GPUs from Nvidia (Check them out here) but it wasn’t until recently that we were able to get our hands on them.
Our review units come from ROG Megamall (Managed by Complink) and they were kind enough to lend us both the ROG STRIX II GL704GV and GL704GW , outfitted with an RTX2060 and an RTX2070, respectively. We’ve had the 2 laptops since launch date (January 29, 2019) and we’ll publish a more comprehensive review of the STRIX II series. For today, here is our first impressions and quick review.
Packaging and Contents
The STRIX II GL704 comes in the traditional ROG fashion where there’s an outerbox that holds the laptop box and the bag inside. This is very helpful in protecting the laptop box itself from damages and dents in the distribution process. It is something that we’re thankful that ASUS ROG goes the extra mile for.
The box itself is quite plain, emblazened only with the ROG logo – consistent across all their master boxes. It’s the main laptop box that is differentiated per model.
Opening the masterbox reveals 2 compartments, the laptop box itself and the the compartment where the ROG 17″ bag is. The space is controlled by cartons that make sure that everything inside is secure and doesn’t move or get rattled during transportation.
The bag is of a new design. Previous models came with an ARMOR SUIT backpack but the new one is more consistent with ROG’s Strix design language with their gaming fonts and wordings. It’s quite basic but it gets the job done in fitting the laptop inside, accessories, documents and other things you might want to carry with you on a daily basis.
We don’t know what the new backpack model is called but it resembles the new BP1500 unveiled in computex. We’re pretty sure, though, that it isn’t the same model. (Click the image below to learn more about the BP1500)
Moving to the other box inside the masterbox, this is where the unit, charger and other accessories are stored.
The Laptop Box
Once you open the box, you are again greeted by an ROG logo on top and the unit itself, inserted in a fabric/cloth type of protection.
Lifting the unit outside of the box then reveals 3 compartments. The left side houses the charger and the right side houses the bundled mouse. Lastly, The middle compartment houses any additional accessories and the warranty/manuals.
The bundled mouse inside the ROG GL704GW (2070) was the ROG Gladius II, while the ROG GL704GV (2060) came with the ROG Impact Mouse. Both Mouse are RGB but the Gladius II is the more expensive, and the better product of the 2.
Aside from the bundled mouse and backpack, ROG Philippines now bundles the STRIX series laptops (atleast the RTX) with an ROG Eye Sculpture which you have to build on your own as part of the fun process of owning an ROG laptop. ASUS ROG tells us that this is part of their ROG UNLEASHED campaign. See the details here.
Lastly, there’s the charger to speak of. It’s a compact 230W charger and it’s something we’re pleased ROG has done some tweaking to. Most 180W and 230W chargers are huge and bulky. ROG has taken some time and effort to make sure that even their charger is something of less hassle to bring around with you.
Granted it adds another few hundred grams to the weight, it’s still portable enough to be kept inside the bundled backpack itself. Here’s the charger compared to the laptop size:
Now, on to the laptop!
The STRIX II GL704 design remains unchanged from the GTX counterparts. Released back in April of 2018, the STRIX II laptops feature a 2 tone design on the metal lid, representing a battlefield of 2 opposing sides as ASUS ROG likes to share to us. It’s a breath of fresh air, with regards to laptop designs, amidst the sea of black and red laptops in the market. This makes the laptop design on the stealthy side of things instead of screaming out “I’m a gaming laptop” on the outside. Aside from the 2 tone design, there is not mucc else on the lid except for the chrome ROG logo. You’ll find this on the top right side of the laptop. It is RGB Aura Sync infused when the laptop is turned on. It’s the only indicator, really, that this is a gaming laptop – from the outside.
Inside, we are greeted by the same 2 tone design but one side is basic while the other is of a camo print, this being a SCAR edition laptop. The scar edition laptop designs are FPS games focused, while the hero designs are MOBA games focused. There is no HERO design for the 17″ Strix II laptops. The keyboard area is also made out of metal upping the over-all premium feel of the device.
The keyboard is a full lay-out, complete with a number pad. On the keyboard, the WASD keys are translucent so they can shine brigther than the rest of the keys. This is a design feature on the SCAR II editions. On the hero editions, the WASD keys are the ones made of translucent material. The full layout is backlit with RGB but only by 4 zones instead of per-key. We would have wanted to see a per-key backlighting here given the price point but it’s nothing something of a deal breaker, to be honest. The lights can be configured via software to sync with all of your other AURA sync compatible devices.
On the upper left portion of the keyboard, ROG has placed some hot keys for the volume, a mute button and the easy access to the ROG Armoury crate. (More on that later).
As for the trackpad, it was nothing special. It’s something we’ve already seen on other iterations of ASUS ROG laptops. Flanked on the keyboard area are some exhaust vents to keep the laptop cool.
On the same side, we also have that cool RGB Light bar which is also infused with Aura Sync. It adds that nice touch of premium aesthetic to the over-all design of the GL704.
On the back side, we have 2 exhaust fans with an accented copper heatsink vibe to highlight the cooling feature of the device.
At the centre of the 2 vents, we see the Republic of Gamers name etched on the metal lid and the ROG STRIX name at the bottom and not much else.
The hinge is the same as the Pascal series versions and ROG says it’s past a lot of testing to ensure that it doesn’t break rapidly over-time due to wear and tear.
Over-all, we love the design of the ROG STRIX GL704. It was subtle, yet classy and premium at the same time. It’s solidly built and had a very good feel to it. It wasn’t exactly thin at 26mm, or light at 2.9KG but this being a 17″ laptop – we weren’t surprised.
What did wow us though is the over-all footprint of the laptop which measured only a hair thicker than most other 15″ gaming laptops and it’s all thanks to that screen! By using really thin bezels on the top, left and right side – ROG was able to make this 17″ laptop really compact. Therefore, it is more portable to bring around or fit inside your bag. Heck, it even managed to fit inside a bag that’s rated to fit only up to 15.6″ laptop!
That’s pretty amazing! Let’s talk more about the screen.
As mentioned above, the display has really thin bezels around it – measuring less than 1cm thin on each side. It’s a good way of shrinking down the laptop, but the drawback is that there is no space to put in a webcam on the top portion of the laptop.
We’ve reached out to ROG for a comment and here is their answer:
Most webcams on gaming laptops don’t fit the needs and quality that streamers desire. At most, they top out at 720p and 30frames. In the end, most users buy a separate webcam altogether. We did address this concern though by adding an option to get an ROG webcam that clips on the top bezel and give you 1080p with 60frames, wherein most external webcams max out at 30. For on the go sessions, though, there is still webcam placed on the bottom bezel of the screen.
So there you have it.
While we would still prefer webcam right where it should be – ROG did have a point on laptop webcams really having bad quality. We didn’t have a sample of the ROG webcam to test but we’ll let you know in the future once we’re able to grab a hold of one.
Full HD IPS Screen
Back to the screen, the IPS Full HD display is rated at 144hz refresh rate and 3ms response time. Currently the fastest screen available on gaming laptops, ROG was the first to bring this to the market about 1 year ago and most other vendors are now following suit. The screen was bright and vivid, with colors being punchy and no sign of fading when viewed from the side. We watched our daily series on it and the viewing experience was pleasureable. It’s definitely one of the best screens we’ve seen on a gaming laptop.
It’s definitely one of the best screens we’ve seen on a gaming laptop.
Input and Output
There’s quite a few number of ports on the STRIX GL704. On the left side, you get the power connector, a lan port, a mini display port, a full HDMI 2.0 port, 3 USB ports and a combined headphone/mic jack. On the right side, you have a usb-c port (no thunderbolt 3), an extra usb port, and finally a full SD card reader. A Kensington lock can also be found on the right side, beside the exhaust vent.
We would have preferred a thunderbolt 3 connection here, given the pricepoint, but ROG says the lack of userbase who actually need the technology for external GPU is very few. If the purpose is multiple monitor, the gen 2 10gbps connection can handle 2 4K monitors just fine.
ROG laptops starting April 2019 come equipped with the new ROG Armoury crate software. It’s basically a compiled version of all of their previous software. It was a pain to manage settings, lighting, adjustments and others in different places so ROG is addressing this concern by rolling everything into one software.
In this application, users can see their laptop’s temperatures and settings, and adjust according to their needs. There are options to keep the fans on silent mode when you’re not needing the extra performance boost, or a TURBO mode when you actually do need it.
In the same, software, you can configure the Aura sync settings for the keyboard, logo and light bar. there’s even a mobile app so you can adjust via phone or tablet instead of through the laptop.
We would have preferred if ROG can include settings for in-game CPU/GPU counters likes temperatures or FPS, or the ability to check frame rates but we have no luck here. There are excellent third party applications to rely on but these actually affect the data readings of the armoury crate software.
The star of the new GL704 series are the RTX GPUs inside. Equipped with an RTX2060 or an RTX2070 and paired with Intel’s latest 6 core 12 thread i7-8750H processor, we expect these laptops to handle triple A titles with ease at full HD resolution and take advantage of the high refresh rate screen.
We ran a few synthetic benchmarks to validate the performance and we weren’t disappointed. We pit them against the other laptops that Complink also let us borrow so you can see the general difference between the 10 series GPUs and the the new 20 series RTX gpus.
In PCMark, we see the over-all scores fall behind the MSI GS65 and the ROG Zephyrus S but it may be primarily due to less ram and slower storage devices equipped on the GL704 series. All 4 laptops used the latest Intel Core i7-8750H but the GL704 came with 1TB HDD + 256GB of PCIEx2 SSD while the GS65 and GX531 came with faster PCIEx4 NVME drives. We also feel that the lower scores may be attributed to older drivers being used in the benchmark process which tend to be buggy when new components are released. We’ll check in with ASUS Philippines to validate our findings.
3DMark tells a different story though and this is where the RTX GPUs really shine. Running on the same unupdated drivers, we see performance gaps across the board with the GTX equipped laptops as this benchmark relies heavily on the GPU.
In Firestrike, we see a huge 40% performance gap between the RTX2060 on the GL704GV and the 2 GTX1060 equipped GS65 and Zephyrus S. Meanwhile, the RTX2070 GL704GW manages to score up to 70% better than these 2 and more than double of the 1050ti on the Lenovo Y730. We see a similar performance gap on the rest of the benchmarks..
In our full review, we will be updating the drivers on the loaned units and give you a better performance result across the board. Nevertheless, the RTX GPUs found on the GL704GV and GL704GW are quite impressive.
Granted, they are more expensive than GTX1060 equipped laptops (found as low as PHP79,995), a 25% difference in cost can easily justify the 40% performance boost moving up to an RTX2060 .
Specifications and Pricing
Here’s the short view of the available ROG STRIX II laptops in the Philippines. The 15″ variant is also available nationwide but we have yet to test them.
|i7-8750H||15” FHD, 144Hz 3ms||16GB/256GB SSD + 1TB SSHD||RTX 2060 6GD6||ROG Bag + ROG Impact Mouse + ROG Eye sculpture||PHP 119,995|
|i7-8750H||17” FHD, 144Hz 3ms||16GB/256GB SSD + 1TB SSHD||RTX 2060 6GD6||ROG Bag + ROG Impact Mouse + ROG Eye sculpture||PHP 124,995|
|i7-8750H||15” FHD, 144Hz 3ms||16GB/256GB SSD + 1TB SSHD||RTX 2070 8GD6||ROG Bag + ROG Impact Mouse + ROG Eye sculpture||PHP 144,995|
|i7-8750H||17” FHD, 144Hz 3ms||16GB/256GB SSD + 1TB SSHD||RTX 2070 8GD6||ROG Bag + ROG Impact Mouse + ROG Eye sculpture||PHP 149,995|
The STRIX II GL704 series equipped with RTX GPUs represent an important step in ROG’s push for dominance in the gaming laptop scene. The STRIX series are actually ROG’s mid-tier gaming laptop segment, in comparison to the more high-end Zephyrus and Chimera gaming laptops.
Normally, We’d see new product models launch with something as important as new GPUs, especially one that ushers in a new level of gaming experience via Ray Tracing and DLSS but we were surprised that ROG has only done a refresh of their almost 1 year old STRIX II series. It could be that ROG is holding off for something else as we near June 2019, Computex but that’s months away from now and almost all of ROG’s competitors have released new models including Dell, Alienware, MSI, Lenovo and Acer Predator. The only new model we saw from ROG is the 17″ Zephyrus.
When is the Strix III Coming?
We would have loved to see ROG release a new model altogether, perhaps a STRIX III, given that GPU refreshes happens only every 2 years. Granted that RTX gaming laptops, are quite expensive though, we can only assume that ROG is holding out for the rest of Nvidia’s RTX mainstream GPUs to hit the market before they refresh their entire line up altogether. But hey, why fix something that isn’t broken – right?
Competitors in the market
Nevertheless, the GL704 is a worthy buy in this day and age. It’s pretty much the only option you have in the Philippines aside from MSI’s own GL and GE series which play roughly at the same price so it will boil down to your brand or design preference. If you’re choosing between an older GTX1070 or GTX1080 laptop versus the RTX2060 or RTX2070 laptop though, we wouldn’t discourage you from doing so as all the price slashes we’ve seen from brand manufacturers since the RTX launch have allowed those older laptops to become more affordable than the new RTX equipped laptops.
If you care a lot about ray tracing though, these laptops are the way to go. That and the premium and solid design of the STRIX II GL704 series, these laptops are going to be sure hits in the enthusiast price segment market.
What really makes the GL704 a worthy option though is the color accurate IPS 144hz screen, the compact form factor, the RGB lighting and the over-all stealth design. Bundled with premium accessories and backed by a 2 year global warranty – the STRIX II GL704 series are definitely worth every penny.