Gaming

The ASUS ROG Mothership: A mega review

Do you really need an overkill gaming machine?

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A 10-kilogram package arrived at my office one day, and at first I couldn’t believe it. I was expecting something big to come in, but a 10-kilo box that looks like a PUBG supply crate was out of the picture. Little did I know, I received ASUS ROG’s next big thing — and it’s quite literally big.

Announced back in CES 2019 (as of writing, how timely), the ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700 is the company’s next innovation in gaming laptops. I distinctly remember one famous YouTuber by the name of Linus Sebastian dubbing this the “Surface for gamers.” It comes in a form factor that I didn’t think was possible for a gaming laptop, with arguably the most powerful lineup of hardware included.

But should you be spending your hard-earned money on a monster like this? Let’s take one full tour of the ROG Mothership.

Let’s talk about the package first

Unboxing the entire package was relatively easy, except for the fact that it’s insanely heavy. Inside the one big box are two more boxes and the large ROG Backpack that almost looks (and feels) like a shield. Apart from the ROG Mothership box, you also get the ASUS ROG Cerberus V1 headset for free! I think ASUS ROG really wanted to deliver the full gaming experience, and adding a gaming headset was a nice touch.

Removing the backpack and the headset, the big ROG Mothership box has the device and another box inside of it. It’s no joke when I tell you that the ROG Mothership is close to five kilograms in weight, which is half the weight of the entire package. Of course, the other box contains the rest of what you need for the device: the two big charging bricks, documentation and stickers, and the ASUS ROG Gladius II.

If ASUS really wanted to give you one full gamer package, to me this sort of did it. It’s basically the equivalent of getting a full-fledged gaming PC complete with all the peripherals in one box. Although, ten kilograms is just a lot of heavy-lifting that it mirrors carrying weights in the gym. Nonetheless, once you open up the box, you’re definitely in for the gaming experience of your life.

One stacked spec sheet

Before we go any further, here’s a rundown of what the ROG Mothership offers.

The ROG Mothership comes with a 9th-generation Intel Core i9-9980HK processor coupled with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card. To maximize the potential of a powerhouse combo, ASUS slaps in 64GB of RAM and three 512GB NVMe SSDs (in RAID 0) inside. What you get is the most powerful, quickest, and deepest gaming desktop setup, but for a laptop.

The laptop’s display comes in two options: a 4K one and a 1080p one. The unit for review was a 4K UHD 17.3-inch panel with thick bezels and a huge chin underneath. ASUS claims that the display emits rich and crisp color with a 100 percent Adobe sRGB color gamut. Also, the display supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology for a smoother gaming experience.

On paper, I can tell you that this machine is straight up overkill. On my first time using it, everything just seemed too quick, it’s unfair. Opening up applications, playing RAM-consuming games, hardcore video rendering — this device can handle all of those, and it hasn’t maximized all of its RAM yet.

Is it really a gaming laptop?

When I first saw images and videos of the ROG Mothership back in 2019, I couldn’t believe that ASUS was marketing it as a laptop. The build quality of the device matches that of any 2-in-1 desktop, while throwing in the hefty graphics card. The entire body is encased in CNC-machined aluminum, which is basically thick layers of metal preventing heat from spreading to other components.

Yet again, ASUS claims that it is a laptop for its portability and design. The RGB-chiclet keyboard detaches from the base of the display, and connects wirelessly upon detachment. If you like wires, the keyboard also connects via a USB Type-C cable and charges it in the process. The device itself has a kickstand at the back, almost similar to that of any Microsoft Surface.

To be quite honest, this kind of setup doesn’t feel like a laptop — and it’s not just because it’s five kilos. The metal kickstand feels a little uncomfortable, that after 30 to 40 minutes you will be looking for any flat surface. I also found it a little difficult to manage because the keyboard is in an awkward position when it’s on your lap.

Gaming that’s just extreme overkill for a “laptop”

The ROG Mothership is one massive gaming machine, and I’m not exaggerating. ASUS made the bold yet proper choice to slap in the NVIDIA RTX 2080 inside if they wanted the full gaming experience. Gaming on the device felt buttery smooth and every intense moment felt too easy to handle. But that wasn’t after I had to tweak things a bit.

For starters, gaming on a 4K panel is great and all. But the flipside is that this display only clocks a 60Hz refresh rate, which to pro-gamer standards is slow. I understand that you grab high quality images and colors while playing some video games. For the most part, you have to deal with a 60FPS cap which isn’t bad, but an RTX 2080 wasn’t built for that.

Dialing the in-game resolution down was the best workaround I could find, and it worked wonders. Shadow of the Tomb Raider sneaked in above 60FPS at its highest possible settings, while battle royale games like Fortnite and Apex Legends poured in 140 FPS. In-game details remained accurate all throughout 30 to 40 minutes of gameplay, which is what you expect from a 4K panel.

If you do plan to get this monster, I highly recommend switching to the 1080p display option. The added benefit is the fact that the 1080p option comes with a 144Hz refresh rate, rendering images significantly faster. While you sacrifice a little bit of image quality, I think it’s a worthy trade off.

An overkill gaming PC needs an equally overkill cooling system

Cooling the ROG Mothership is one hefty task, and the way ASUS did it was ideal. Apart from separating each component through CNC-machined aluminum sheets, eight heat pipes push hot air to the top and sides of the device. Through careful calibration on the ROG Armoury Crate, the fans inside will pump out as much hot air as possible to keep major components cool.

Based on my experience, it did a fairly good job with that. The device didn’t seem to experience any drastically high temperatures during prolonged activity. Although, if you plan to maximize or even overclock your CPU and GPU, you will experience that. It happens to a point of near uncomfortability, in that you wouldn’t be able to store the device for 30 more minutes.

The fans also tend to get unbearably loud during gameplay that I’m glad they included the headset with the package. Even while idle, the fans tend to kick in and force a ton of air out which shouldn’t really happen. But again, if it’s meant to cool all the heavy components inside then it’s alright.

Expected short battery life

The ROG Mothership, as powerful as it is, doesn’t last very long. As with most gaming laptops, battery life isn’t necessarily their strongest feature and this device confirms it. On most productivity uses, I got an average of three hours before completely depleting the battery. To me, that doesn’t seem too appealing by any laptop standards.

When you’re gaming full time, it actually gets much lower than that. On average, I got around two hours before having to plug one of the two charging bricks. These show that this was clearly better off as a full-fledged desktop instead. If there’s any great takeaway, it’s that one full charge is relatively fast. Using just one brick fully charged the device in three hours, while using both bricks saves about 45 minutes. 

Finally, is this your GadgetMatch?

Here’s the thing: the ROG Mothership is a beast. It’s got every piece of gaming hardware anyone could ever ask for, in a form factor you wouldn’t expect it to be in. The package itself is just complete for anyone aspiring to take gaming seriously. For the most part, everything about it checks out.

But for US$ 6499.99/PhP 399,995, I feel like you would need to shell out a kidney to get this device — and it’s not worth it. Honestly, you could get every piece of hardware, or even just go for SATA SSDs and slap them into a gaming rig for way less. Heck, you could even get the same peripherals and I feel you would still be spending less than the Mothership.

All in all, the ASUS ROG Mothership is one heavy, beefy monster of a gaming laptop. The power it possesses truly fits those who want to dream of the best. But if you’re anyone who doesn’t earn one million a year, it’s best to invest in a gaming PC instead.

Gaming

Lenovo Legion S7 review: Is it too slim for your liking?

A continuation of power, performance, and portability

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Legion S7
Is the Lenovo Legion S7 too slim?

Every gaming laptop out there just seems typical, complete with the RGB and the hefty design. Yes, there have been other laptops that are starting to break the mold. However, they did so while sacrificing some huge features in the process. Although, that hasn’t stopped most manufacturers like Lenovo from trying their hardest.

What we have here is the Lenovo Legion S7, with the “S” literally standing for “slim.” On paper and by design, it’s possibly one of the slimmest gaming laptops currently available. Just from the unboxing experience alone, it raises a few eyebrows design-wise and the hardware inside it. Beneath its slim chassis, there lies the beast, as they say.

But is this a gaming laptop worth considering given its potential sacrifices? Let’s find out.

Ticks all the boxes for general performance

 

Every gaming laptop brings impeccable performance for most day-to-day tasks, and the Lenovo Legion S7 is no exception. Of course, the biggest contributor to great performance lies within the hardware, and this machine certainly brings the firepower with an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU inside.

As advertised, the Legion S7 provides performance suitable for any task thrown at it. Whether you’re working on work documents or creating your next gameplay video, the laptop handles these things with relative ease. Also, you can effectively multitask on this device no problem with 32GB of RAM to support.

Now, the Legion S7 comes with Windows 10 pre-installed, which was alright. However, seeing how most people were hopping onto Windows 11 at the time, it made sense to upgrade the software first since it’s possible. In the three weeks that the laptop was tested, software issues didn’t occur so that’s a good start!

Decent competitive gaming performance

Legion S7

When talking about gaming performance, there’s two things to factor in: the GPU, and the display. For the Lenovo Legion S7, an NVIDIA RTX 3060 with a 165Hz anti-glare FHD display seems like the ideal combo for a gaming device suitable for casual and competitive gamers out there. In reality, this lived up to expectations quite well.

For casual and competitive titles, the Legion S7 provides great performance and frame rates with a smoother feel to them. Sure, a FHD display limits the full dynamic color range compared to the 4K option for this device. But when playing competitively, that hardly ever matters. Games like VALORANT and Halo Infinite felt pretty smooth and looked vibrant when playing.

Legion S7

With RTX on, some games look pretty good but with the obvious frame rate sacrifice, especially with cranked up settings. Although, unlike other RTX mobile GPUs, the frame rate sacrifice isn’t as much, which was pretty good. For example, games like Fortnite and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy had about an 8 to 10 percent drop in FPS with RTX on vs. RTX off.

Battery life is just good enough for mini breaks

Legion S7

Much like every other gaming laptop out there, this device doesn’t last particularly long when used for casual or competitive play. On average, the Legion S7 lasts about 6-7 hours just on productivity and casual gaming on the side. When cranked up to perform at competitive levels, it cuts the lifespan to just 2-3 hours, which was expected.

To its credit, the Legion S7 comes with a 230W battery pack that will nest it back to full health in at most 3 hours. With Rapid Charge Pro turned on through Lenovo Vantage, it cuts the charge time by just an hour. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s quite fast and would actually give you a short break after playing your heart out.

Some questionable design features

 

As much as the Lenovo Legion S7 boasts impressive gaming performance, there are a couple of things that hold it back from its true potential. For one, it’s quite slim and has the potential to get quite hot when playing too much. Sure, Coldfront 3.0 will do what it can to keep things cool, but it still gets warmer quite fast so it’s something worth noting.

Second is in port selection, particularly with what they gave up for this machine. Fortunately, they kept the charging port and two USB Type-A 3.0 ports at the back so nothing got in the way. However, for a gaming laptop to exclude an Ethernet port and an HDMI slot is quite alarming. 

Sure, it’s to highlight the WiFi 6 capabilities along with using the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports at the right side of the device. However, having a Gigabit Ethernet port significantly improves network performance especially for competitive play. Also, most external gaming displays still come with HDMI ports so it was a missed opportunity.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For what it’s worth, the Lenovo Legion S7 is an ideal gaming device for both casual and competitive gamers. It’s slim form factor combined with powerful hardware provides the power and portability that the Legion brand consistently delivers. With a high refresh rate display and RTX-capable GPU, it even provides a solid boost to gaming performance.

Of course, even the Legion S7 has some hits and misses in there. From questionable exclusions to just decent battery life, it fails to maximize its potential to be truly something better than before. Still, with what it has going for it as presently constructed, it’s still a great gaming device on-the-go.

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The Steam Deck finally launches on February 25

Starts shipping out February 28

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The Nintendo Switch was one of the boldest experiments in gaming. Could a console successfully meld home-based gaming with mobile gaming? The answer is: It certainly could! The Switch, despite its flaws, is still one of the most successful consoles that Nintendo has ever released. Now, years after its launch, other brands are finally returning or introducing themselves to the mobile gaming market. Valve, after announcing the device last year, is finally launching its own take, the Steam Deck, on February 25.

Last year, Valve, the company behind Steam, announced the Switch-like gaming console for PC gamers. As what that implies, the Steam Deck can play your Steam library inside its lithe but powerful frame. Squeezed in by two controllers, the 7-inch device blasts through games with a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, an AMD APU, 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of SSD storage.

Naturally, the Steam Deck incited a lot of hype for gamers. It was finally possible to easily play PC games while on the road. However, despite the hype, the device went through an unsurprisingly rocky launch schedule. Initially pegged for a holiday launch, it was pushed back due to ongoing shortages.

Now, we finally have a date. On February 25, Valve will start sending out order emails to those who previously bought reservations, as stated in their latest blog post. Customers will then have three days to push through with their order. Shipments will start flying out on February 28.

Those who haven’t reserved yet can still do so for US$ 5, but the waiting time might take a while since Valve is so close to launch. The Steam Deck will start selling at US$ 399 and will go up to US$ 649 for the most premium model.

SEE ALSO: Steam launches first portable console, the Steam Deck

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Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection review

Is it worth the upgrade?

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Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection

The Uncharted franchise has been a PlayStation darling ever since it came out on the PlayStation 3. The series wrapped up Nathan Drake’s story in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and spun off a new adventure with some supporting casts on Uncharted: Lost Legacy on the PlayStation 4. Both titles get a new lease of life with a PlayStation 5 remaster called Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection just in time for the showing of the Uncharted film. 

It’s a no-brainer that this remaster’s release was timed to coincide with the film. In fact, in some locations, tickets to the film are part of the promotion. But what exactly does this remaster have to offer and will it make you watch the film? These are what I’ll try to answer here. 

My first Uncharted 

There’s no shortage of breathtaking sceneries like this throughout the game.

Unlike many who played the two games part of this remastered collection, this is my first encounter with the franchise. It’s a shame, but I was dealing with life during the entire PlayStation 3 generation. Can’t really blame me. I digress. 

Given that, you can imagine how blown my mind was after going through Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection. It’s the definitive action-movie-that-you-can-play experience, reaffirming my love for the action genre. Naughty Dog did away with staple game elements like skill trees and levelling up in favor of a balls-to-the-walls action adventure, beautiful set pieces, great dialogue, and characters you’ll grow attached with. 

I watched a few recaps of the first three Uncharted games to get myself acquainted. And while it wasn’t enough to fill me in entirely on the franchise’s lore, it played its role in making me somewhat familiar with the game. 

A quick overview 

I’ll keep this whole thing relatively spoiler-free to preserve the experience for those like me who haven’t played the game before. But what exactly is going in these two games? 

Uncharted: A Thief’s End is the fourth installment of the franchise and neatly wraps up the story of main character Nathan Drake. In this game, he has left his treasure hunting days behind and is living a relatively normal life with his wife Elena Fisher. 

However, a certain figure from his past re-enters his life and forces his hand. He joins this person in the hunt for Pirate Henry Avery’s lost treasure. What follows is a dose of high-octane action featuring wall climbing, gun fights, and more. 

Meanwhile, Uncharted: Lost Legacy focuses on supporting characters from the previous games. You play as Chloe Frazer – treasure hunter and former flame of one Nathan Drake. Here, she’s accompanied by one of A Thief’s End’s antagonists, Nadine Ross. 

It’s an unlikely pairing and one that was tense at the start but finds its footing as you go around rainforests in India in search of the Tusk of Ganesh. It plays similarly to A Thief’s End but with new weapons such as a silenced pistol. There’s also a new mechanic that lets you go back into stealth mode if you hide long and well enough after an encounter with the bad guys. 

So, what’s new? 

Like many PS4 games remastered for the PS5, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection adds familiar upgrades we’ve seen implemented in the past year. These are faster (practically non-existent load times), graphical improvements, 3D audio implementation, and taking advantage of the Dual Sense controller. 

Visual improvements

Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection

The way the light behaves is an absolute marvel

In terms of graphical improvements, there are three modes you can play in. These are Fidelity, Performance, and Performance+. These breakdown as follows: 

  • Fidelity – Plays at native 4K with a 30fps frame rate
  • Performance – Prioritizes a 60fps frame rate
  • Performance+ – Pushes frame rate to 120fps but at only a 1080p resolution

Personally, the TV I use doesn’t support 120fps so I primarily played in Performance mode. Initially, I tried Fidelity mode which is what I thought would be best given my experience with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. But the Uncharted games are more action-focused, players will benefit from a smoother frame rate. 

Nearly every scene looks and feels like a cinematic

Fidelity mode certainly gives you that blockbuster motion picture feel especially during cinematics. However, the shift from cinematics to gameplay appears more pronounced which can be a little bit jarring. Additionally, the gameplay action doesn’t feel as dynamic in this mode. 

Performance mode, meanwhile, has a more seamless cinematic to gameplay transition. In fact, during the first few hours of the game, I caught myself standing around thinking I was still in a cinematic. The picture looks smoother without losing much in terms of the movie-like experience.The frame rate was consistent throughout with zero lag or jaggedness. 

If your TV supports it, it might be worth your while to shift over to Performance+ mode. The high frame rate will certainly aid in the inevitable gun combat sequences. 

3D Audio and Dual Sense

The 3D audio and Dual Sense additions were really pronounced during parts of the game when it was raining. At the time, I was playing at night with the windows closed. I really thought it was raining outside, but it really was just in game. And I wasn’t even playing with headphones on! 

While raining, you can feel the Dual Sense control rumble a little bit as if it was being hit with raindrops. The controls also affect the trigger buttons where there’s a heavier, more pronounced feeling when you’re pressing R2 to fire guns. There are plenty of more subtle but definitely noticeable implementations that add to the overall experience. 

The Dual Sense was also pretty useful in these lock pick sections

The Dual Sense improvements are also felt during the driving sections of the game. Not only do you feel the terrain as you move around. The trigger buttons also react to whatever surface you’re trying to traverse giving more resistance where appropriate. 

Is it worth the upgrade or new purchase? 

There’s incredible, edge-of-your-seat action throughout

I’ll speak first from my experience. As someone who played the games for the first time on a PS5, it was definitely one hell of a gaming experience. If these are titles you skipped from the previous generation or you just jumped into gaming consoles on the PS5, this is certainly worth every penny. 

Playing the included games alone is already a treat. But the PS5 improvements elevates everything by engaging more of your senses as you play. 

Local pricing isn’t available yet but it’s already listed for pre-order in the US. It’ll set you back US$ 49.99. The upgrades are a little trickier. 

Here’s the detailed information from the PlayStation blog.

  • Players who purchased Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, or Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End & Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Digital Bundle have the option to pay 10/€10 to upgrade to Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Digital Version. The upgrade will be available starting at launch on January 28, 2022.
  • Owners of PS4 disc copies must insert them into the PS5 every time they want to download or play the PS5 digital versions. PS4 game disc owners who buy the PS5 Digital Edition disc-free console will not be able to get the PS5 version for the discounted price.
  • PlayStation Plus members who claimed Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End via their PlayStation Plus subscription are not eligible for the $10/€10 digital PS5 upgrade.

In certain territories, purchasing or upgrading gives you a free ticket to watch the Uncharted film starring Tom Holland (Nathan Drake) and Mark Wahlberg (Sullivan). That’s certainly a nice incentive. Asked if the promo will be implemented in Southeast Asia, PlayStation said they are still ironing out details with Sony Films as of the time this was published.

It’s hard for me to make any definitive recommendation on this situation. The US$ 10 may be better spent as an addition to purchase any new games you may be eyeing. But if you have that extra mount, the upgrade doesn’t hurt at all. 

One thing is true, whether you’re jumping in fresh or are looking dive in for another playthrough the games in Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection are certainly worth the time and experience.  

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