The Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC is an enticing and unusual gaming laptop. Not only does this machine rely on an AMD processor and graphics card – an odd sight in 2018 – it uses desktop parts rather than laptop silicon. The GL702ZC pairs a current-generation Radeon graphics chip with a first-generation Ryzen processor. It’s an odd mix when second-generation Ryzen is available on desktop and laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and Acer Nitro 5 use more familiar Intel processors and Nvidia graphics chips. Our Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC laptop review will find out if Asus’ gamble pays off – and see if it’s worth paying £1,150 in the UK or $1,499 in the US.
Want to know more about AMD Ryzen processors? Check out our in-depth guide right here.
Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Laptop Review – Components
Cramming a desktop processor into a notebook is unusual, but the first-generation Ryzen processor does offer a lot of power. That makes sense, because Asus wants this machine to be used for gaming – and for multi-media and creative tools like photo work, video editing and content creation.
When viewed in that light, the Ryzen 7 1700 makes sense. It’s got eight cores with multi-threading, so it supports sixteen concurrent threads. The stock speed of 3GHz can dynamically improve to 3.7GHz with Turbo and 3.75GHz with XFR.
The specification compares well with the mobile-designed Intel Core i7-7700HQ that’s still found in the Dell XPS 15, Acer Nitro 5 and loads of other laptops. Those parts have half as many cores as the Ryzen 7 1700. However, they do have marginally quicker boost speeds.
Intel’s Coffee Lake laptop parts are arriving for laptops in the next few months, but those will still only have six cores – so they may not catch up to the desktop Ryzen parts in certain multi-threaded tests.
The desktop processor is paired with a desktop graphics card. The AMD Radeon RX 580 is one of AMD’s more powerful consumer chips – the only other parts that have more power are the red team’s Vega-branded hardware.
The RX 580 has 2,304 stream processors and 6GB of memory. The core ordinarily runs at 1,257MHz, but it’s been downclocked to 1,077MHz so it can be squeezed into a laptop.
Those are good numbers, but Nvidia’s mobile chips offer comparable power. The GeForce GTX 1050 was installed in the Acer Nitro 5 and Dell XPS 15, and its clock speeds started at 1,354MHz and improved to 1,493MHz. If you step up to the GTX 1060, you get 1,280 stream processors, more clock speed, 6GB of memory and the better Pascal architecture. You’ll find that chip in the admittedly expensive Razer Blade Pro.
The two core components may come from the desktop world, but the rest of the Asus’ specification is more familiar – but a little disappointing. The 16GB of DDR4 memory runs at a fine 2,400MHz, but it’s installed in a single-channel configuration. That’s going to impact performance, especially in games and creative tasks – so in a laptop like this, it’s an unwelcome surprise.
There’s a 256GB SanDisk SSD, but it’s a SATA model that won’t offer the same speeds as NVMe drives that are now found in most gaming laptops. There’s a 1TB hard disk, too.
Connectivity is fine: there’s Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band 802.11ac wireless, but nothing to give networking a game-friendly boost.
Interested in an AMD Ryzen build? Check out our in-depth guide to AMD AM4 motherboards – and our top recommendations for every budget and form factor!
Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Laptop Review – Design
The GL702ZC looks like a typical Asus ROG Strix laptop. The lid has a chrome-effect logo and shining, metallic slashes, and the rest of the lid is made from dark, brushed metal. There’s a Republic of Gamers logo and plenty of chunky air vents at the rear.
The keyboard has a red backlight, and there’s another ring of red around the trackpad. The speaker grilles below the keyboard are red, and the Strix logo shares the same shade. That’s hardly a surprise given the wealth of AMD hardware inside this machine.
The Strix looks familiar, but it’s good-looking – more striking and balanced than the cheaper Acer laptop. However, Dell’s machine is certainly more mature, with its soft-touch finish and milled metal. The Razer Blade Pro, while being far more expensive, has better design and a 17.3in screen.
Build quality is a little inconsistent. The base and underside is strong, but the area around the keyboard and trackpad is a little too bouncy for our tastes. The screen feels a bit flimsy, too.
The Asus weighs 3kg and is 34mm thick, which puts it the top end of the scale when it comes to gaming and creative laptops. The Acer is nearly half a kilo lighter and a centimetre slimmer, and the Dell is even smaller – almost half the size of the Asus. Razer’s machine weighs the same amount as the Asus, but it’s more than a centimetre slimmer.
Of course, the Asus does have a larger screen than most of its rivals, but it’s worth bearing the overall size in mind if you’re going to be carrying this machine around often.
The size doesn’t mean that you get more connectivity. There are three USB 3 ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C connector and both mini-DisplayPort and HDMI outputs. There’s a card reader and a single headphone jack.
And, finally, there’s the internal access – or lack of it. We couldn’t get the base panel to budge, which means it’s going to be very hard to change the memory or storage configuration.
Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Laptop Review – Ergonomics
The Asus’ chiclet keys have 1.6mm of travel, which is a little more than most gaming and consumer laptops offer. The buttons are good: they have a firm, fast and rapid action that offers plenty of consistency. They feel strong, and don’t wobble.
That’s great for typing, which bodes well if you want to use the GL702ZC for work. However, as usual, chiclet-style buttons are only mediocre for gaming, especially if you’re playing faster and more intense titles. The GL702ZC may have one of the better chiclet keyboards around, but mechanical is still the supreme option.
The trackpad is good. The surface is smooth and responsive, and the two buttons are shallow and snappy – excellent the kind of feedback we want from a laptop that’s going to be used for gaming and for work. However, keen gamers will still want a USB mouse.
The only issue is the backlighting. We’ve no issues with the red colour on this keyboard, and its brightness can be adjusted – but it doesn’t use RGB LEDs, so you can’t change the shades.
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Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Laptop Review – Gaming Performance
Its minimum framerates begun with a solid 32fps in Witcher 3 and rose to a stonking 83fps in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Its averages, meanwhile, were all measured at 50fps or more.
Those results don’t just mean that you can run any current game at 1080p. It also means that most titles will also run well using the screen’s AMD FreeSync technology, which demands that games play at around 60fps to guarantee smooth performance. Only the toughest titles will require minor graphical tweaking.
There’s no competition between the desktop-class Radeon RX 580 and the GTX 1050 found in the Acer and Dell laptops. In many games, the weaker Nvidia part only delivered around half the performance of the RX 580 – and it never got close to delivering the same averages.
However, it’s far closer between the desktop RX 580 and the mobile GTX 1060 included in the Razer. The Razer was quicker in all of the Shadow of Mordor tests, Fallout and Crysis tests, albeit by slim margins.
The Razer Blade Pro is far more expensive than the Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC, but you can easily find GTX 1060 gaming laptops for the same sort of money as the £1,150 Asus. And, as well as offering comparable pace, the GTX 1060 GPUs will be better when it comes to temperature and noise output – no surprise from a more efficient mobile architecture.
Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Laptop Review – Application Performance
The Ryzen 7 1700 featured in the Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC laptop review is a curious processor. The eight cores and desktop design give it the edge in multi-threaded tasks when compared to the mobile Intel silicon.
Its Geekbench multi-tasking score of 15,578 is more than 1,000 points ahead of the nearest competitor. In Cinebench, a benchmark that really tests a chip’s multi-threaded abilities, the Ryzen-powered Asus machine scored 1,307cb – about twice the pace of all three other systems we’ve mentioned here.
In tests where single-threaded speed is more valued, though, the Ryzen chip is more ordinary. That’s no surprise, because Intel’s architectures tend to be better here – and the mobile chips inside the Dell, Acer and Razer machines all have higher single-core Turbo clock speeds. In Geekbench’s single-threaded test, for instance, the Asus’ result of 3,340 is the poorest here.
The processor is clearly faster than its rivals in multi-threaded tests. That bodes well for tough work tasks – video-editing, database tools and content-creation applications will be faster on this machine.
However, games and more conventional computing applications will be quicker on Intel-powered laptops. And, with Intel Coffee Lake laptops around the corner, Intel will likely catch up in multi-threaded applications and extend its lead in single-threaded.
The SSD and memory also hinder the Asus laptop. The SanDisk SSD returned read and write scores of 441MB/s and 405MB/s – poor, even for a SATA drive. The NVMe drives included in most laptops are several times faster. Single-channel memory will also have a significant impact on multi-threaded speed, so that’s certainly a mis-step here.
The Asus was a little disappointing in thermal tests, too. When we ran a long-term gaming test and the processor and graphics card peaked at 70°C and 80°C – reasonable figures, especially for desktop parts in a laptop machine.
However, in a full-system test – under the sort of strain you may see if you use this machine for work – the processor peaked at 94°C. That’s too high, and several degrees toastier than any of the competition.
None of the heat made its way to the outside, but noise was a problem. During gaming tests, the Asus was already louder than any of its rivals, and it made even more of a racket in a full-system test. It’s one of the loudest gaming or creative laptops we’ve used for months – you’ll be hard-pressed to drown out the noise with the machine’s speakers.
Battery life is poor. In a gaming test the Asus lasted for just under an hour, and it hovered at around an hour in an application benchmark. If you want to do anything with this machine, leave it plugged in.
Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Laptop Review – Screen and Sound
The Asus’ 1080p screen has AMD FreeSync with a 60Hz peak. That means that at 60fps or below the screen can synchronise its frame rendering with the graphics card’s frame output. That means games will appear smooth, with no tearing.
That’s good, and many of the panel’s benchmark results are solid. The 391cd/m2 brightness level is huge – high enough to cope with bright office lights, gaming lighting and the great outdoors.
The black level of 0.34cd/m2 is fine, too, and they combine for a contrast ratio of 1,150:1. That’s another good result – ample for providing depth and vivacity for games or movies. The Razer and Dell, though, are both better.
The Asus also had mediocre colour results. Its Delta E measurement of 8.4 is average, and a long way behind the Dell and Razer machines. Its 7,688K colour temperature is too cool. The 83.7% sRGB colour gamut is a little short of what we’d expect for a machine that may handle photo work.
The 60Hz FreeSync makes gaming smooth, and this screen has the contrast ratio and brightness for good gaming quality. But, if you do colour-sensitive work, then the screen won’t be good enough – the Razer and Dell are both better.
The speakers offer decent punch, with loads of volume and bass. They’re a little muddy when it comes to treble sounds, but they’re easily good enough for gaming.
Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Laptop Review – Conclusion
Our Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC laptop review demonstrates that the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 delivers fantastic multi-threaded performance that will help tackle all sorts of tough tasks – but the presence of desktop components is a double-edged sword. It contributes to poor battery life and disappointing thermal results. The desktop chip falls behind mobile rivals in single-threaded applications.
The desktop graphics card is no quicker than the GTX 1060, and the SSD and memory specifications are both disappointing. And then there’s the spectre of future machines with beefier Intel processors that’ll prove both faster and more power-efficient.
Asus deploys its desktop-class components into a chassis that’s thicker and heavier than most of the competition – but without anything extra to show for it, and with poorer build quality than some of its rivals.
Our Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC laptop review demonstrates that the Ryzen chip does deliver good multi-threaded speed. However, too much is sacrificed to deliver that level of performance. You’d be better off buying a rival that’s more balanced – or waiting for better chips to appear in the next few months.
The Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC costs £1,150 in the UK and $1,499 in the US. Discuss our Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC laptop review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or click here to read about the best desktop PCs.
- Great multi-threaded speed
- Radeon RX 580 is fast in games
- Screen has AMD FreeSync
- Solid ergonomic design
- Louder and hotter than the competition
- Slower than mobile CPUs in single-threaded tests
- Heavier and thicker than rival systems
- No easy internal access
CPU: 3GHz AMD Ryzen 7 1700
Memory: 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 580 4GB
Screen: 17.3in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS FreeSync 60Hz
Dimensions: 415 x 280 x 34mm (WxDxH)
Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x audio jack, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, SD card reader
Storage: 256GB SanDisk SD8SN8U256G-1002 SSD, 1TB hard disk
Warranty: 1yr RTB