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.
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.
[irp posts=”18002" name=”ASUS ROG Strix GL702VM Review: Portable gaming powerhouse”]
You may soon be able to resell games bought on Steam
Valve isn’t giving up though
Marketplaces like Steam offer much more than just a place to buy games. It’s a community that lets you enjoy multiplayer modes, explore DLCs, and constantly keep in touch with your fellow gamers. This combination has made Steam the most popular destination for gamers as well as game developers.
Steam users from France could soon have a new option though. A new ruling by the French court has the potential to radically alter the way people buy, sell, and play video games. It ruled that European Union law allows Steam users to resell their digital games, similar to any other physical product.
According to French site Numerama, users are free to resell digital games bought on Steam and this precedent could further apply to other digital content as well.
UFC Que Choisir (Federal Union of Consumers) filed a suit against Steam four years ago against a number of clauses in the Steam Subscriber Agreement. Essentially, the agreement says that consumers don’t actually buy products on Steam, instead, get subscriptions to access and use content and services.
The court also took Valve to task for other practices, such as holding onto Steam Wallet funds when players leave the platform and unclear moderation policies.
Though, no changes to Steam will be made until an appeal is settled. On the other hand, UFC Que Choisir has said they plan to directly challenge other digital products and platforms.
The case is crucial for the online distribution industry and could bring about a massive change in France as well as the European Union. For digital companies, that’ll be a nightmare since they’ve never expected their virtual offerings to be resellable.
Apple Arcade games you should play
They all seem super fun!
When you think about gaming, Apple isn’t the first company that comes to mind. They’re probably not even in the top five. But that could soon change with the introduction of Apple Arcade.
Apple Arcade is the company’s new gaming service and it’s now available in Singapore. There’s a 30-day trial and after that it’s just SG$ 6.98 per month and you can use it across multiple Apple devices. Well, that is when the devices finally get iOS 13 which is soon!
With Apple Arcade you gain access to over 100 new and exclusive games for a small monthly fee. It’s a welcome change of pace from the mobile gaming scene that’s plagued with micro transactions.
If you’re overwhelmed by THAT many games, Apple helped us out by sharing their recommendations. Here they are. Also, fun fact: the first two games here are made in Singapore.
Cat Quest 2
Cat Quest 2 s a 2D open-world action role playing game set in a fantasy realm of cats and dogs. Under threat from a continuing war between the cats of Felingard and the advancing dogs of the Lupus empire, experience the journey of two kings on a journey of paw-some discovery to reclaim their throne.
BattleSky Brigade Harpooner
BattleSKy Brigade Harpooner is a shoot em up and “fishing” game. Shoot open barrels and enemies and avoid obstacles on the way up, like a classic vertical shoot em up. Reel yourself back in when you run out of rope and collect what you shot open. Set in an adorable world, help Pim become the best scavenger in all the Wyldes.
Sayonara Wild Hearts (Annapurna)
Sayonara Wild Hearts sets players on a music adventure where every level is a song, and every collectible is captured by being awesome, riding motorcycles, skateboarding, dance battling, shooting lasers, wielding swords, and breaking hearts at 200 mph.
Skate City (Snowman)
Skate City is where players can capture the heart and soul of street skating in a personalized style and enjoy the feeling of cruising the city streets that soon become the ultimate playground.
Where Cards Fall (Snowman)
Where Cards Fall is a slice-of-life story where you build houses of cards to bring formative memories to life by creating pathways through dreamlike puzzles to navigate the insecurities and emotions of high school and beyond.
Cardpocalypse (Versus Evil)
Make friends, play cards, twist the rules, become a Mega Mutant Power Pets master, and try to save the world in Cardpocalypse, a single-player role-playing game about being a 90’s kid.
Hot Lava (Klei)
Hot Lava transports you back to your childhood imagination requiring you to use your skills to conquer treacherous obstacles in nostalgia-packed environments flooded with hot molten lava.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot will be out early 2020
Epic fights and interesting side quests to come!
If Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball FighterZ wasn’t hyped up enough for you, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot might be what your missing.
This isn’t just about epic fights that Dragon Ball FighterZ blew up and is now know for. If you haven’t known, this time, you get to try exploring what used to just be a backdrop. The game allows you to play through most of Goku’s life. It’s an action role-playing game that lets you immerse yourself in Goku’s story as you progress further into the plot.
If you don’t find the appeal in playing out Goku’s life, you might want to reconsider. The game looks pretty cool and the views can be stunning when you’re flying in third-person perspective. When fights break out, it’s a whole different story.
The perspective shifts to an over-the-shoulder fighting game. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot looks to be an interesting addition, drifting away from just letting us play hyped up fighting scenes. The game also lets you roam, mine, fish, and complete side quests.
The game is going to be based off the anime. If you’re a huge fan of the anime, this is your shot to play it out in whole new immersive perspective.
When the heck is this game getting released? Luckily, it isn’t too far from being released. Bandai Namco just announced that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is coming out on the 17th of January 2020 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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