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.
NVIDIA launches the new RTX 2000 series
Promises movie-like quality for games
Throughout the years, video games have slowly edged closer to movie-like picture quality. As of late, cinematic video games — like The Last of Us — have begun their long renaissance. Now, NVIDIA has unveiled a new series of graphics cards that pushes that boundary even further.
The newly launched GeForce RTX 2000 series leaps miles apart from NVIDIA’s long-reigning GTX 1080 video card. Specifically, the series comes in three variants — the RTX 2070, RTX 2080, and RTX 2080 Ti.
Powered by the Turing architecture, the new series attempts to solve the industry’s problems. Most importantly, the RTX 2000 series highlights ray tracing, a feature missing from video cards before now.
Traditionally, video games have trouble rendering lighting. Usually, games fall into two categories: terribly drawn lighting which clashes haphazardly with stunning textures, or power-hungry graphics that tank your frames-per-second rate to single digits.
Ray tracing vastly improves how light interacts with surfaces. With the feature, the series brings professional-level graphics to a mass market. In terms of performance, the RTX 2000 cards promise six times the capabilities of the previous GTX 1080.
For starters, the RTX 2070 comes with 2304 CUDA cores and 8GB GDDR6 RAM. The midrange RTX 2080 offers 2944 CUDA cores and the same amount of RAM. Finally, the flagship RTX 2080 Ti boasts 4352 CUDA cores and 11GB GDDR6 RAM.
Already, the series promises support for upcoming games: Battlefield V, Metro Redux, Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Upon launch, the RTX 2070 retails for US$ 499. The midrange RTX 2080 sells for US$ 699. Finally, the RTX 2080 Ti sells for US$ 999. All three cards will also come with Founders Edition variants selling for US$ 599, US$ 799, and US$ 1,199, respectively. The series will officially launch on September 20.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is the slimmest gaming laptop available today
But doesn’t compromise performance
Alongside the 17-inch ROG Scar II, ASUS has announced a new ROG device that they claim to be world’s slimmest gaming laptop. The ROG Zephyrus from last year was already thin by gaming laptop standards, but the new ROG Zephyrus S is 12 percent thinner with updated specs.
The ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) still has the look and feel of the original Zephyrus but it’s now only 14.95 to 15.75mm thick. Those numbers might not sound as sexy as other super-slim notebooks, but the Zephyrus S has desktop-grade gaming performance with either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q or GTX 1060 GPU inside its chassis.
Powering the Zephyrus S is a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and storage option of up to a 512GB NVMe SSD.
The laptop’s display is a 15.6-inch 1080p panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and 100 percent sRGB coverage. It’s definitely not the sharpest laptop display, but it’s one of the fastest for smooth gameplay. The display has a thin-bezel design as well, so the footprint of the laptop is just a bit bigger than your typical 14-inch notebook.
ASUS uses their Active Aerodynamic System (same as with other Zephyrus laptops) which opens a vent at the bottom of the laptop when the lid is lifted, and the vent stretches across the entire back of the body. This improves airflow by 22 percent over a conventional design as per ASUS.
Another distinct trait of the Zephyrus S is the keyboard. It’s still on the front of the device, which helps with cooling, but it might not be everybody’s cup of tea. The keys have 1.2mm of travel, N-key rollover, and RGB lighting via Aura Sync over four zones.
As for I/O, it has two USB-C ports (Gen1 and Gen2), two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI 2.0 at the back, and a headphone jack.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) will become available starting September in the US and in October for the UK and Asia. Pricing starts at US$ 2,099 for the GTX 1060 model, while the higher-end GTX 1070 is priced at US$ 2,199.
ASUS’ new ROG Strix Scar II is world’s most compact 17-inch gaming laptop
Thanks to its super-slim bezels!
After going hands on with the ROG Strix Scar II and reviewing the Hero II in full, we wondered what else could be done to improve this second-generation lineup. Well, it looks like ASUS just gave us the answer.
Discreetly launched today, the new 17.3-inch ROG Strix Scar II (model name GL704) is the most compact gaming laptop of its kind, according to ASUS. It’s basically a supersized variant of the already-available 15.6-inch version but with an even badder screen.
It may be worth the wait, because the color-accurate 17.3-inch 1080p display is able to fit into a chassis designed for 15.7-inch panels, effectively providing it a width of less than 400mm thanks to the slim bezels.
The wide keyboard and Aura Sync RGB lighting make a return, along with the fast 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time of the display.
In terms of specs, it can go up to an Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of memory and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. A 256GB SSD plus 1TB SSHD combo maintains the speed and fluidity of the system.
It’ll be available by the end of September in official ROG stores. Pricing begins at US$ 1,699.
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