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Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 12The Asus ROG Strix Scar II (GL504) (GL504GS-ES082T) is a gaming laptop that means business. It’s packed with high-end technology, and this machine also tries to improve its gaming credentials by borrowing ideas from the desktop. Can it convince us to spend £1,800 in the UK or $1,946 in the US, though? Read our Asus ROG Strix Scar II review to find out.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review – Design

The Asus ROG Strix Scar II looks exceptional. The brushed metal lid has a large, illuminated ROG logo. The area around the keyboard is divided between a subtle carbon-fibre pattern and a dark camo look that’s constructed from shades of grey.

There’s a smart grille above the keyboard, and power, ROG Gaming Center and volume buttons. Above the keyboard you get a shining ROG logo, and at the rear is a row of smart exhaust outputs. The screen bezel is tiny – fitting for a laptop with the world’s first slim-bezel 144Hz panel.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 19The RGB LED bar at the front and the ROG logo on the lid can have their lighting customised, and the RGB LED keyboard can be altered in four different zones. There are numerous lighting effects, and all the lighting is managed using the slick Asus Gaming Center app. The lights can even be synchronised with Asus mice and headsets.

The ROG looks better than its closest rivals, although that’s to be expected as most of those laptops are significantly cheaper than the Asus.

The CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX costs £899 or $799, and it shows – it’s larger and uglier, with more exposed seams and fewer RGB LEDs. The Acer Nitro 5 suffers similarly, but that machine also comes in at under £1,000 and $1,000.

The only machine to compete is the Razer Blade Pro, which was hewn from sleek black metal. It’s pricier than the Asus, though, and it’s larger too – it had a 17in screen.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 22The Strix Scar II weighs 2.4kg and is 26mm thick. That weight matches the CyberPower and is better than the Acer. The Scar’s 26mm body is slimmer than either of its cheaper competitors. The Razer Blade Pro is heavier – but a little slimmer.

Nevertheless, those dimensions bode well for taking the Asus on the road. The ROG Strix Scar isn’t heavy enough to weigh down the average bag, and it’s not thick enough to take up much space.

It’s pretty easy to get inside, too. Once you’ve removed a litany of screws the base panel is easy to pull away. The Asus offers one spare memory socket and access to all of the internals. The CyberPower had similar internal access, and the Acer had more internal upgrade potential.

Around the edges you’ll find three USB 3.1 ports, a Type-C connector, and HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs. That’s standard for this class of machine. No rival offered much more, although the Razer Blade Pro did have a Thunderbolt port.

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Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review – Ergonomics

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 21Asus makes big claims about the ROG Strix Scar II’s keyboard. The firm says that it’s based on desktop technology, and that its keys register presses with more speed than laptop rivals.

The key WASD buttons are made of transparent plastic, and every button has a 0.25mm-deep curve on its surface – which allegedly helps fingers maintain a better grip. You get n-key rollover and full anti-ghosting, which are features we expect on desktop keyboards.

All of that bodes well for gaming. The ROG Strix Scar’s buttons are, indeed, very good: they do actuate very quickly, and they strike a superb balance between the sharpness and speed required for gaming and the comfort needed for general-purpose use.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 13The buttons are consistent, comfortable and quiet, and the base is firm. They’re faster and more definitive than anything the Acer and Razer machines can offer.

However, at its core, the Asus is still a laptop keyboard – and that means familiar problems. The buttons still don’t have much travel when compared to a proper mechanical keyboard – or the low-profile mechanical buttons on the CyberPower.

If you’re a more casual gamer or play certain esports titles, the Asus keyboard will be fine – and certainly better than most other chiclet keyboards. However, if you’re serious about gaming, then you will be better off attaching a mechanical keyboard or opting for a mechanical laptop like the CyberPower.

The trackpad is middling. The pad itself is fine, and the buttons are fine for general-purpose use and casual gaming. However, they depress more than conventional gaming mice, and they’re on an hinge – so the amount of depression is not consistent. Keen gamers should attach a USB mouse.

Here’s our Ultimate Guide to the Best Laptops for Gaming, Work and Home

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review – Components

This machine’s graphical horsepower comes from a GTX 1070. It’s not one of Nvidia’s new Turing graphics cores, but there’s still plenty of life in Pascal – certainly enough power to handle the ROG Strix Scar’s 1080p native resolution.

The older card also doesn’t come with concerns about Nvidia’s ray-tracing and super-sampling features. That means you’ll potentially miss out on benefits that they may bring, but you’ll equally not have to worry if they’ll be properly implemented.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 10The GTX 1070 has the usual 2,048 stream processors and 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The clock sits at 1,443MHz. That means it’s the full-fat version of the GTX 1070 rather than the low-power Max-Q model.

The Asus’ Nvidia card compares well to every rival. The cheaper CyberPower and Acer notebooks relied on the weaker GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1050 cores. The pricier Razer Blade Pro only included a GTX 1060 – that machine’s budget was more devoted to design and a larger screen than extra grunt.

An Intel Core i7-8750H processor joins the GPU. It’s the same chip as the cheaper CyberPower. It’s also started popping up in all sorts of laptops, from gaming systems to productivity portables.

It is easy to see why it’s popular. This is the more affordable i7 chip from Intel’s mobile Coffee Lake range, and it still has six cores that can support twelve threads. That means the part is capable of handling games, day-to-day multi-tasking and tough work software with equal aplomb. The clock speeds are good, too: its base pace of 2.2GHz improves to a whopping 4.1GHz.

The i7-8750H is better on paper than the i7-7700HQ used by the Acer and Razer notebooks. The i7-7700HQ only had four cores, and its better stock speed of 2.8GHz used Turbo to only boost to 3.8GHz. It had the older Kaby Lake architecture, too.

The Asus’ core components are great, but other parts are a little underwhelming. The 16GB of memory is good on paper, but it’s only single-channel. That’s a negligent choice when the interior has a second memory slot free. And, while the 512GB SSD is capacious, adding a hard disk would have been more prudent for games storage.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review – Gaming Performance

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review gaming benchmarksThe GTX 1070 is an excellent GPU that easily beats the cores that are included in every rival.

The Pascal-based GPU zipped through our five test games with averages that ranged between 64fps and 146fps. All of those tests were run at 1080p and with those games running at the highest levels of quality.

Those results are high enough to ensure smooth gameplay at 1080p in any modern game. They’re also miles better than any of the Asus’ rivals. If you wanted, there’s enough power here to output to VR headsets or panels with higher resolutions, although the Asus won’t handle 4K.

That’s not the whole story, though. The ROG Strix Scar has a 144Hz screen, and you’re only going to get the most out of that panel when games are running at 100fps or beyond. Even without Nvidia G-Sync, you’ll get progressively smoother performance as you get closer to 144fps.

If you’re running older games or esports titles then you’ll be able to run between 100fps and 144fps without any issue. However, our benchmarks demonstrate that not all modern games can get to this speed when running at their top graphical settings. We only got Battlefield 1, Fallout 4 and Shadow of Mordor running at beyond 140fps with graphics at Medium.

If you aren’t fussed about running towards 144Hz, that’s fine. It also means that you could save money by opting for one of the ROG Strix Scar’s rivals – machines with the GTX 1060 or the GTX 1050 Ti will handle most games at 1080p and will be significantly cheaper. However, if you do want to use the screen’s full refresh rate, then you’ll have to tone down the graphics in some games.

Thinking of a new system? Here’s our in-depth guide to AMD’s AM4 platform – and the best motherboards

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review – Application Performance

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review application benchmarksThe ROG Strix Scar’s Geekbench single- and multi-core results of 4,664 and 18,099 are great. The nearest challenger, the CyberPower, has the same CPU as the Asus – but it was still behind. The Acer and Razer machines and their older Core i7 chips were even further back, especially in multi-tasking tests.

Cinebench and PC Mark caused that pattern to repeat. Here, an emphasis in multi-threaded performance saw the Asus open up a big lead over older chips.

The Asus’ Cinebench score of 1,090cb was a little ahead of the 1,047cb scored by the CyberPower, which had the same CPU but a weaker GPU. However, the best contender from the last generation of Intel CPUs was the Razer Blade Pro, which only scored 726cb.

The Asus machine is faster than its rivals. That means you won’t have any games bottlenecks, and that almost any application will run well on this laptop – from photo editing and content creation tools to general-purpose daily multi-tasking. If you want an all-round performer, the Asus has far more power than any rival that we’ve mentioned here.

The SSD is reasonable, too, with read and write speeds of 2,229MB/s and 1,237MB/s. They’re not record-breaking speeds, but they’re still reasonable and they won’t slow this system down.

However, the ROG Strix Scar could have been even better if it had dual-channel memory. That’s the one mis-step when it comes to the components.

Asus’ big talk about the ROG Strix Scar’s thermal performance doesn’t have much impact in real-world tests. While the machine’s exterior remains cool during every kind of stress-test, the noise levels are disappointing. While the constant rumble can be masked by speakers or a headset, the components are louder than the CyberPower, Acer and Razer machines.

That’s disappointing, but not surprising when high-end hardware is installed inside a slim chassis. At least temperatures were fine: the CPU peaked at a reasonable 84°C, with the GPU topping out at 78°C.

The Asus lasted for just over 90 minutes in the PC Mark 8 battery test. That’s a mediocre result, but it’s not a surprise. The CyberPower, Razer and Acer machines were all a little better, but none proved transformative. Whether you buy the Asus or something else, you’re going to need the mains connected if you want to enjoy a proper gaming session.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review – Screen

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 02The machine in our Asus ROG Strix Scar II review has the world’s first super-narrow bezel 144Hz laptop screen with a 3ms response time.

That’s a bit of a mouthful, but it bodes well for gaming. The 3ms response time is an improvement on the vast majority of laptop screens, and keen competitive players will appreciate the extra pace. The 144Hz refresh rate will improve smoothness despite the lack of syncing technology.

The screen’s 331cd/m2 brightness level is great – ample for bright lights and outdoor play. The black level of 0.26cd/m2 is fine – enough to ensure dark scenes look as dingy as developers intended. Those figures create a contrast ratio of 1,273:1. That great result provides punch across the whole range.

The colour temperature of 6,773K is impressive, but the Delta E of 4.58 is deeply average. The Asus’ sRGB gamut coverage level of 84.6% is mediocre.

The Razer Blade Pro has a better screen, with higher contrast and better black levels alongside similar colour results. The cheaper Acer and CyberPower machines were worse in every test.

Click here for all of our in-depth graphics card reviews – including the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080!

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review – Conclusion

Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review 24Our Asus ROG Strix Scar II review demonstrates that this is an excellent laptop. The GTX 1070 and current-generation Core i7 processor outpace any rival. The exterior looks great, with sleek design and RGB LEDs, and the keyboard is one of the best examples around of a chiclet unit.

The screen has better quality than cheaper alternatives, and its 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time make it great for gaming.

However, there are caveats. Not all games will be able to run at beyond 100fps and therefore take full advantage of the screen’s refresh rate without settings changes. The Asus can be loud when gaming, too, and battery life is nothing to write home about.

Those are familiar problems, though, and issues that are not unique to the Asus ROG Strix Scar II. They’re also relatively easy to live with. If you’re happy spending a hefty chunk of money on a gaming notebook, the Asus ROG Strix Scar II is stylish, light, well-made and with ample power and features. It’s well worth the investment.

The machine in our Asus ROG Strix Scar II review costs £1,800 in the UK and $1,946 in the USADiscuss our Asus ROG Strix Scar II review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading out Asus ROG Strix Scar II review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The GoodRecommended Award

  • Excellent all-round performance
  • High-quality, game-friendly screen
  • Excellent laptop keyboard
  • Smart, slim and light design

The Bad

  • Pretty expensive
  • Underwhelming battery life
  • Single-channel memory
  • Fans can be loud

The Specs

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory: 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
Screen: 15.6in, 1,920 x 1,080 144Hz IPS
Dimensions: 361 x 262 x 26mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 2.4kg
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports: 3 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, SD card reader, HDMI output, mini-DisplayPort output, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Storage: 512GB Toshiba XG3 SSD
Warranty: 1yr RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Asus ROG Strix Scar II

About Author

Mike Jennings

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