Life has become one big rat race, and with hardware demands for the newer titles, you either need a rather beefy PC, or you need to resort to either mobile gaming or a gaming laptop. I can hear many of you groaning already. We all know that laptop CPUs and GPUs might carry the same name and moniker that their PC brothers do, but not all CPU/GPU is equal when it comes to laptops.
Fortunately, ASUS has delivered, arguably the monstrous ASUS ROG Scar 17, that will easily have you dumping your now "average" gaming PC and make this laptop your new pride and joy! Thanks to ASUS we were fortunate enough to spend some time with the ASUS ROG Scar 17. Let's take a bit of a closer look at the next gaming laptop we all NEED!
When ASUS sent us the ROG Strix Scar 17 gaming laptop we had absolutely zero histories with gaming laptops so we did some research and what we found had us grinning like a kid at Christmas. The ASUS ROG Strix Scar range of gaming laptops are all-out gaming machines, that take zero shortcuts and have their eyes firmly set on hardcore gamers, content creators, and more specifically the esports scene. With the idea of aiming to provide the greatest gaming performance in a laptop, naturally, you will need the best mobile components which all cost lots of money, therefore the ASUS ROG Strix Scar range is not cheap, at all!
Before we get too far into it, let's have a look at the specifications.
||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 16GB GDDR6, 1545MHz boost clock, 130W TGP
||1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
||17.3 inch, 1080p, 360Hz, IPS
||802.11ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
||3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x RJ-45, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x 3.5mm combination microphone/audio jack
||Windows 10 Pro:
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 looks on the outside much like it does on the inside, futuristic and immensely capable. Before we take a look at the actual laptop, even the packaging that I come in just screams that it means business. Taking it out of the box you are met with a large imposing laptop. on the lid, a large part of it has been given a dot matrix design which is both aesthetically pleasing while certainly providing much-needed cooling to the display. The other half of the lid has a fingerprint-resistant matte black finish with a shiny ROG logo adorning it. Moving down to the hinge section, on the part that does not have dot matrix on it, you will find ROG inscribed in it, just in case you didn't know that it is an ASUS ROG laptop. Even the dot matrix design, if you look at it at the right angle, says ROG!
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 loves to flaunt all it has and hence all the aggressive designs. Along the side, you will find a myriad of vents to cool the colossus of a computer lurking inside. In the box, you will also find end caps that you can place on the hinge that read "ROG" if you want to customize your ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 somewhat more. Opening the lid of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 greets you with a rather contrast inside. The one side continues with the matte black design while the other does remind me a bit of when semi-transparent gaming consoles or controllers were popular. The semi-transparent cover does give the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 a very industrial feel with a few rivets that can be seen directly under the plastic.
As we all know, ASUS ROG STRIX is not shy to give their products RGB, and the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 is no different. There is a light strip at the bottom of the laptop, unless you get more eye-level with the Scar 17 you will not see it directly but that is the whole point. The RGB strip is bright enough to create the much-wanted Aura effect ( see what I did there ASUS ;) ). When testing it on a polished surface or any reflective surface the effect is wonderful, but even on less shiny counters it still did its job really well. The RGB does not stop there with some RGB positioned closer towards the hinge as well as that shiny ROG sign that sits on the lid, yes that bad boy is fully RGB infused!
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 however does leave out the webcam from the wide arsenal that it does have. This can be forgiven as the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 is aimed at the gamer and to be the muscle behind a content creator's magic, and besides, onboard webcams are generally not that great and if you are a streamer, chances are you have a camera that you prefer anyway. The ports and ports layout is spread across the left and the back of the laptop. The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 comes with 3 x USB3.2 ports of which two are on the left and one is on the back. There is also one USB 3.2 type C port as well as an HDMI 2.0 connection and last but not least, an RJ45 ethernet port.
Towards the right front side of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17, there is a curious little slot that caught my eye from the moment I opened the lid. After some reading and scratching through packaging, I found an interesting keystone. This keystone uses its RFID chip to lock or unlock certain drives that you might not want to be used or found when you are not with your laptop. By simply inserting the keystone these drives will become visible once more.
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 that landed on our desk was the FHD 360Hz version, which on a 17-inch display, would be the better choice in our opinion. Such a small screen surface makes even 1080p look amazing and with 360Hz this is a gamer's dream! It is necessary to mention that the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 screen brightness does not quite match a normal monitor but when turned up all the way we didn't find it to be too dark. During darker gameplay or videos the video did seem slightly washed out at times but for the most part, and especially during vibrant games such as Biomutant and Overwatch the display was fantastic and really made the game look vibrant and bright!
High framerate displays sell themselves to all those who are looking for an edge over the competition. Personally, I have been gaming on 144Hz for quite some time and when the 360Hz of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 came around I had my doubts whether it would truly make that much of a difference. It is safe to say that if your hardware is capable, like in the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 then 360Hz will give you a sure edge and make games feel more engaging due to the fact that on-screen elements react so quickly and smoothly to your every input.
Keyboard and touchpad
ASUS is clearly focusing on the esports player, current or aspiring with the Scar series of laptops. Apart from the eye-melting 360Hz display gamers and content creators alike always needs a top-tier keyboard that is responsive yet comfortable. ASUS easily addressed these demands by pairing the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 with an optical-mechanical keyboard that has a soft matte touch finish which is the perfect blend between crisp and responsive clicks while making it very pleasant to touch. The keys that are rated for 100 Million clicks have a response time of a blistering 0.2ms all thanks to the optical switches makes these keys breathtakingly fast considering that they are in a very flat laptop setup. The full travel distance on these optical-mechanical keys is still only 1.9mm to try and preserve as much of that lovely tactile feel.
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 keyboard also features a few media keys and a few function keys that are pre-assigned to adjust things like RGB styles and a few more nifty features. Moving over to the touchpad, for gaming, ANY trackpad is absolute rubbish and if you play games with a trackpad please excuse yourself now. But if you are doing some productivity or you need to do some content creation, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 does have a very large touchpad that is less smooth than what I would expect. But after using it I realized that that is exactly what makes it so good, more friction means more control. Well played ASUS. Naturally, ASUS makes full use of the multi-touch functions for zoom and scrolling which makes using a touchpad a very pleasant experience.
Battery and heat
The dreaded words to any gaming laptop. In an ideal world, we would have an all-powerful laptop that runs at cool temperatures for weeks on end... Unfortunately, we don't live in that world, and in our world high-performance laptops run very hot and run through battery life like it's no one's business. The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 has a respectable battery life when using it watch videos at full brightness and some general productivity mixed with some Warzone we got roughly 3:30 out of a single charge. Comparing this to other gaming laptops it ended up being quite middle of the field which is not good nor bad. For the majority of the time, I am sure serious gaming will happen around a power outlet so hardcore gaming will generally not happen on battery unless Eskom has something to say about that.
We put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through its thermal paces by repeatedly running the Division 2 bench test at max settings and after the 5th run, we took a touch test around some general spots that could be warm or even hot on the laptop. Moving from the touchpad, which was hardly noticeable to the center of the keyboard where heat was felt when touching around the center of the keyboard, to the warmest spot we could find, the underside, around the area where the power button is. The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 runs rather cool even during load that to the multitude of heat dissipation pipes and even the exhaust air coming from the laptop was never too hot either. Wonderful once again from ASUS!
Audio has always been a tricky thing to implement properly into a small form factor like a laptop. physics proves that to make a big sound you usually need big speakers, and small laptops do not allow for those. So when I turned on a Spotify playlist to put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through its paced with audio, I was very surprised with the wide audio stage as well as how punchy the mids and lows were that was emanating from this laptop. After the pleasant surprise, some closer investigation was needed. There are two bottom speakers that play downwards as well as two front-facing speakers that are cleverly hidden deep into the hinge mechanism and unless you listen for them you won't see them. These hinge-placed speakers are designed to include their own subwoofers giving the deep and punchy bass considering their size.
The audio that comes from the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 extremely good considering that it comes from a mere laptop, but it would be good to note that the sound, even when at max volume is not the loudest, but then again, if you are using onboard audio from a laptop you are not expecting it to be the music source of a house party. But that being said the audio, while not the loudest does allow all the small details to come through especially when I was playing games like Days Gone, the rustling of the wind, and the growls of far-off zombie hoards were distinctly, yet eerily heard.
Naturally, we had to take the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 for a spin with some games, we had to put the 360Hz monitor to its full potential by diving into a few games and seeing how it holds up. We also put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through the mandatory TimeSPY bench test and we have the results to share with you. The games we used to test the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 with are Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Horizon Zero Dawn.
When taking the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 into games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Horizon Zero Dawn which are all very demanding games are easily handled by the extremely capable Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, its 8 cores and 16 threads that idle at 3.3GHz and boosts to a staggering 4.6GHz is almost unheard of when it comes to laptops and it effortlessly handles everything you throw at it. To put it into perspective a vast majority of PC CPUs are less powerful than this laptop processor and that, in all honesty, is very scary!
Combine the 5900HX and 32Gb of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3200MHz and as if that was not scary enough all of that is topped off with an Nvidia RTX3080 laptop GPU that has a staggering 16Gbs of VRAM. If there were any doubts of what this monster is capable of the numbers and specs should send shivers through your spine. Time to put this beast to the test and see how the 360Hz monitor handles it. Let us take a look.
1080p, RTX on, DLSS on, DX12, Ultimate settings
FPS - 74FPS
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
DX12, Highest settings
FPS - 107 FPS
Horizon Zero Dawn
1080p, Ultimate settings
FPS - 94 FPS
Although this is a small sample to test, these titles are all extremely demanding and for the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 to be able to push out 60+ FPS on titles that are known to bring capable PCs to their knees is a testament in itself.
Nothing we do or say is going to make the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 any cheaper, and that will be what makes or breaks this item for many. But if you are someone who wants a premium gaming rig, that can easily be put in a bag and be taken with you then this is the ultimate gaming-on-the-go laptop you can find. It is the price of a full-blown PC indeed but it can also perform just like one! With the CPU, GPU, RAM, and NVME combo there is hardly anything that the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 cannot do. Pair it with its industrial, but flashy, design and ASUS has found the perfect combination of enough flash to talk the talk and enough hardware grunt to walk the walk
Bottom line, there are not many gaming laptops that can give you what the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 can, and for that, we recommend it to any aspiring, current, and future esports and content creators. If you are willing to bite the bullet and build a gaming PC, there is no reason you shouldn't buy the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 and take your gaming monster with you.
special thanks to ASUS South Africa for the review content