Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix GL503 Review: Too little or too much?

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As much as we enjoy reviewing new-age, hyper-expensive gaming laptops, we have to go back down to earth and look at machines that regular consumers can actually afford.

For this round, we’re looking at the ROG Strix GL503. The name is a little daunting at first, but it’s quite memorable after what we’ve been through.

It’s one of ASUS’ midrange gaming laptops, armed with a sleek and solid body that gives it a premium feel beyond its price point, as well as a CPU and GPU pairing fit for certain types of AAA video games.

That’s the gist, but there’s a lot more to it.

What does it feel like?

Despite being on the more affordable side of gaming laptops, the brushed metal casing of this Strix takes some cues from the far more expensive Zephyrus of ASUS. That’s a good thing, because the Strix GL503 feels like it can take a beating but doesn’t feel that heavy at 2.3kg.

And since we’re dealing with a 15.6-inch model here, it fits perfectly in a backpack designed for slim 15-inch notebooks. Its power brick is on the heavy side though, adding weight to what could’ve been a more travel-friendly gaming machine.

How many peripherals can you connect?

This being a relatively standard-thickness gaming notebook at 23mm, input-output ports weren’t compromised:

  • 3x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • 1x USB-C
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x mini-DisplayPort
  • 1x Ethernet LAN
  • 3.5mm headphones/microphone port
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC card reader

That’s as complete as it gets for a mobile computer. ASUS labels the ROG Strix GL503 as VR-ready, but getting acceptable frame rates might be a stretch with this configuration.

What’s inside?

Here’s a quick rundown of the specifications:

  • 15.6-inch 1080p display (60Hz)
  • Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor (2.8GHz)
  • 8GB DDR4 memory (2400MHz)
  • 128GB M.2 SSD, 1TB HDD
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB)

Looking at the standard refresh rate of the display, high-speed Core i7 processor, and entry-level graphics chip, we already know what we’re in for: low to medium visual settings for graphics-intensive games, yet smooth frame rates for MOBA titles and first-person shooters.

You could also argue that the RAM is lacking. Fortunately, installing more is as simple as popping open the panel underneath and sliding in an additional stick.

How does it perform on benchmarks?

We ran our standard selection of synthetic and gaming benchmarks to see what the Strix GL503 could do. Here’s what we got:

  • Unigine Superposition: 4212 (1080p, Medium)
  • Cinebench R15: 85.74fps (OpenGL), 744cb (CPU)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: 59.4fps (1080p, Lowest)
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: 48.1fps (1080p, Low)

That’s close to what we expected even before running the stressful software. For the two games listed, you’d have to tone down every major graphics settings to achieve frame rates close to 60fps at a resolution of 1080p.

Clearly, gameplay is a lot smoother when playing titles such as Overwatch and CS:GO, which are what this laptop targets in the first place. The same goes for MOBA games like League of Legends and Dota 2, which demand more CPU power than graphics processing.

Can it stay cool?

One advantage of using a non-anorexic gaming notebook is the extra space allotted for a possibly better cooling system. Indeed, the Strix GL503 can keep itself cool for the output it delivers, though it’s still best left on top of a table rather than on a lap.

Not once did the CPU or GPU exceed 70 degrees Celsius during intense gameplay. Of course, fan speeds had to kick it up a notch to stay consistent, yet it was never really loud enough to fill up a room — something a Predator would do.

Are the keyboard and trackpad up to par?

Benchmarks give you a rough idea of what to expect performance-wise, but they don’t paint the entire picture. How you interact with the games plays a big part, and this is handled primarily by the keyboard and either the trackpad or bundled mouse.

My experience with the keyboard wasn’t so great. While I liked how I could customize the RGB lighting to nail certain keys more precisely, I found the buttons to be overly squishy because of the soft material. It didn’t gel well with the trackpad, which felt too tough to press in comparison to the keyboard.

ASUS must have anticipated these complaints and included a decent gaming mouse in the package. It’s mandatory to use even while you aren’t gaming. Its ergonomics are actually quite good for right-handed use and it never failed me while playing something as fast as Overwatch.

Anything else to know?

We don’t normally bother to extensively test a gaming laptop’s battery, although it’s worth noting that the Strix GL503 has satisfactory endurance for its class. When taking it to a coffee shop to get some writing done, I was always surprised to get almost four hours of life out of it. That’s double what gaming laptops this size used to get me, and nearly as much as what power-hungry convertibles do for me now.

On the downside, I was disappointed by how the speakers cracked at high volumes. It doesn’t just happen during explosive moments in video games, but also while watching YouTube videos at max volume. For something that has all this space for proper acoustics, having ample audio output to match the colorful display and keyboard would’ve only been fitting.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s easy to get blinded by the glitzy designs and incredible thinness of higher-end gaming laptops, but it’s mobile machines like the Strix GL503 that are perfect for playing popular games at optimal settings.

With a starting price of US$ 1,199 — or PhP 69,995 for this particular model provided by ASUS Philippines — you definitely get what you pay for out of a sub-US$ 1,500 laptop. No design cues are going to wow you and there aren’t any special features that make this an instant buy.

There are configurations available to upgrade the graphics chip up to a GTX 1070, but that’ll make the price dangerously close to US$ 2,000 and would hamper the per-buck performance the lower-end models offer.

When it comes down to it, the ROG Strix GL503 is the gaming-optimized notebook you’d travel with for quick gaming sessions. Just don’t forget to bring a decent pair of headphones and mouse along.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG Strix GL702VM Review: Portable gaming powerhouse

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Gaming

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is now available

The first laptop with a whopping 300Hz refresh rate

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ASUS ROG continues to roll out more premium gaming devices, with the latest one coming from the Zephyrus lineup. The two new Zephyrus laptops now come with the highest refresh rate on any device along with powerful hardware.

Starting today, you can get your hands on the new ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701. The new  Zephyrus S comes with a 17.3-inch IPS FHD display with a whopping 300Hz refresh rate. To complement this high of a refresh rate, ASUS ROG even slapped in either an NVIDIA RTX 2070 or NVIDIA RTX 2080 inside. Along with the latest Intel Core i7 processor inside, the ROG Zephyrus S GX701 looks to be the ideal gaming laptop for the pros.

Depending on the unit you get, you also get up to 32 GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. All of these contribute to unparalleled performance for any task you throw at it, or any game you throw at it. Both units also come with Gigabit WiFi adapters for better wireless connectivity and Bluetooth 5.0. When you purchase the whole package, you also get a free ROG Backpack, Cerberus Gaming Headset, teh ROG Gladius II, and an ROG Eye webcam.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is available in all ASUS and ASUS ROG Concept Stores. The 32GB RAM, RTX 2080 unit is priced at PhP 209,995, while the 16GB RAM, RTX 2070 unit comes in at PhP 169,995.

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Gaming

FFVII remake teasers now comes with behind the scenes footage

A look into the iconic theme song and squad

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A delay in release did not stop Square Enix from teasing Final Fantasy fans even more. This time, however, the company is  just giving us two things to prepare our minds and hearts for the remake.

The first one, as you’ve seen from the header image, an HD recreation of Cloud Strife and his trusty motorcycle. An entire cast literally joins him in the picture, including Aerith, Tifa, Barret, and even Red XIII. Looks like this is just feeding more details on character art, more than anything else.

The second one is actually a behind-the-scenes look into the end theme of the whole remake. Nobuo Uematsu guides us through the creative process behind the end theme, including the recording sessions for it. To see more of it, here’s the entire behind-the-scenes footage:

Square Enix’ remake of Final Fantasy VII will be released on April 10, 2020. It will only be available for the PlayStation 4, and pre-orders are still being accepted.

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Apps

NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is ready for gamers

Another cloud gaming competitor

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NVIDIA’s game streaming service, GeForce NOW, is ready for gamers looking for alternatives to Google’s Stadia and Microsoft XCloud. NVIDIA is looking at its support for more devices and compatibility with existing game stores as its edge against competitors.

Luring in gamers

NVIDIA GeForce NOW is now available for general audience after it entered beta last year. Starting today, gamers can opt for either of the two tiers: Free and Founders.

Gamers on Free tier have to contend with a one-hour gameplay limit. Plus, they maybe put on a wait list for a certain game if there is too much demand. Meanwhile, gamers on Founders tier have priority access to games, a six-hour gameplay limit, and support for RTX.

Unlike its competitors, NVIDIA’s game streaming service supports more devices. It is available now in Windows, macOS, Android and SHIELD TV platform, with Chromebook support coming in the future.

This game streaming service also works differently than Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s XCloud. It streams supported games from the Steam library, Epic Games Store, Battle.net, and Uplay.

There is no need to purchase a game as gamers can simply stream it if the service supports it. Smooth gameplay is guaranteed with support of up to 1080 at 60FPS.

Pricing and availability

GeForce NOW is available on all 30 countries across North America and Europe. Beta users are migrated automatically. For those planning to pay for the Founders tier, they will only have to shell out US$ 4.99 per month.

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