ASUS had a grand appearance at Computex two months ago, mainly because the ROG Phone stole the show. But that wasn’t the only hero product the Taiwanese brand had up its sleeve.
The ROG Strix Scar II and Hero II, which are successors to the popular Strix line of gaming laptops, shared the spotlight, as well. I had the privilege of going hands-on with the Scar II and was largely impressed by its aggressive design and balanced features. Missing, however, was the Hero II.
Although the Hero II is mostly identical to the Scar II, its primary difference is the audience it caters to: MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) gamers. Those who enjoy titles such as League of Legends and Dota 2 are more inclined to go for this variant over the Scar II, which is targeted more towards fans of Overwatch and Call of Duty.
Truth be told, there isn’t much to compare aside from a set of keyboard adjustments and certain specs (the Scar II can be equipped with a GTX 1070 while the Hero II settles for a GTX 1060), and if you’ve read my initial impressions of the Scar II, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from the Hero II, which is finally in my hands.
It comes with a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display
Bezels are kept to a minimum on the sides and top
But that moves the webcam to the bottom bezel
The keyboard has good travel and RGB lighting
And the QWER keys are more prominent for MOBA games
Even the bundled mouse has its own RGB lighting
There’s additional lighting below the trackpad
And the ROG logo’s color syncs with the rest of the laptop
These are the ports on the left side
And these are found on the right
You’ll only find exhaust vents on the rear
How well does it perform?
If there’s one thing you can rely on with this machine, it’s the hardware. From the 8th-generation Core i7-8750H processor with six cores and Hyper-Threading to the full-powered GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip, the Hero II is equipped to compete.
And you shouldn’t expect anything less specs-wise, because you need all the power you can get to maximize the high-caliber 144Hz panel. The display, by the way, doesn’t come with NVIDIA’s proprietary G-Sync tech to prevent tearing and stutters at certain frame rates, so it’s all on the components to keep things running smoothly.
My setup also comes with 16GB of memory and a speedy 128GB SSD + 1TB SSHD, making this as complete as you’d expect out of a US$ 2,000 mobile rig.
It goes without saying that the Hero II can handle the latest AAA games on medium to high graphics settings, though hitting 144fps may be a struggle on some titles. Not that hovering between 80 to 100 frames per second is bad, but it’s a shame that you can’t make full use of the super-fast panel.
Here are a few benchmark numbers to give you a better idea:
- Unigine Superposition (1080p Extreme, DirectX): 2097 points, 15.69fps (Average)
- Cinebench R15: 1193 (CPU), 94.48fps (OpenGL)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (Very High settings, DirectX 12): 64.47fps (Average)
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Ultra settings, DirectX 12): 34.9fps (Average)
Can it stay cool?
ASUS made sure to equip both Strix II laptops with sufficient cooling to prevent the mobile components from melting on your desk. Its system is called HyperCool Pro, and it includes two 12V fans with the ability to boost them using built-in software.
As for actual temperatures, the CPU would hit 81 degrees Celsius under the heaviest of loads. At the same time, the GPU goes as high as 71 degrees Celsius in the same conditions. While these are fine for air cooling standards, the fans do get a bit loud when being pushed too hard.
You can choose between Silent, Balanced, and Overboost for the fans — the third one is obviously the loudest. And even though the system’s fans are relatively quiet while the system is idle, I don’t appreciate the placement of the rightmost fan, which hits my mouse-using hand. Laptops normally position this to the left where hot air shoots away from the user.
On the bright side, using it on your lap is pleasant. At 2.4kg in weight, it’s not that heavy and doesn’t get warm enough to cause discomfort underneath.
Does it last long enough away from a wall?
This is probably the biggest fault of this Strix generation. For the thickness the Hero II brings to my lap, I would’ve expected much better battery endurance on a full charge.
Even without touching a single game and using the Hero II purely for surfing the web and watching a few videos on Netflix and YouTube, it rarely lasts over three hours. This is after bringing the laptop’s battery to 100 percent and lowering the screen’s brightness to 50 percent.
That’s disappointing by any laptop standard (unless you count the monsters we used in the past), although the Hero II obviously isn’t meant for non-gaming use on the go in the first place. Keep it plugged in and find another laptop to take on work trips — problem solved.
What else is there to know?
Battery life aside, the Hero II is a surprisingly good multimedia device because of the loud and clear stereo speakers. They’re positioned to the sides unlike the usual bottom-firing speakers, and have strong bass even though they output only 3.5 watts of power. Coupled with the thin bezels and color-accurate panel, watching movies on this laptop is a great alternative to just gaming on it.
This Strix also features multi-antenna Wi-Fi for better wireless internet connectivity. I tried this out in different locations with varying degrees of distance from routers, and I’ve been impressed with the range. The Hero II picks up signals flawlessly, so I don’t have to rely so heavily on the Ethernet port.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The Hero II wins for two reasons alone: its super-slim bezels around the fast display and well-rounded specs. I can’t get enough of the color-accurate panel and the lack of distractions around it, while the 8th-generation processor and desktop-grade graphics provide all the power needed for competitive gaming.
There are only a few drawbacks here, namely the overbearing thickness for a midrange setup and horrible webcam placement. I also wish the fans were positioned better, but at least they keep the system well cooled.
My other critique is about the way ASUS treats this Strix generation. I honestly would’ve preferred ASUS keeping the Strix II branding sans the Hero and Scar variants. MOBA gamers play FPS (first-person shooter) games too, and vice versa.
The Hero II configuration I got to review retails for around US$ 2,000, but that can easily change with some component tweaks, such as going for a slower Core i5 processor and taking in less RAM. No matter what, however, the solid physique and sleek design come along for the ride.
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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