Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix Hero II review

Not limited to MOBA gamers

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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

This panel has a 144Hz refresh rate and 100 percent sRGB color gamut

Bezels are kept to a minimum on the sides and top

This gives the display a more immersive feel

But that moves the webcam to the bottom bezel

It’s not even centered, so video calls are terribly awkward

The keyboard has good travel and RGB lighting

Four distinct buttons on top control volume, the mic, and the Gaming Center

And the QWER keys are more prominent for MOBA games

I like how each key has a slight curve to get a better feel of them

Even the bundled mouse has its own RGB lighting

Even though the trackpad is decent, you’re better off using the mouse full-time

There’s additional lighting below the trackpad

I never found this useful, but it certainly looks good

And the ROG logo’s color syncs with the rest of the laptop

This is yet another purely cosmetic yet appreciated feature

These are the ports on the left side

(L-R) Power, Ethernet, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, 2x USB-A, USB-C, 3.5mm audio

And these are found on the right

(L-R) SD card slot, USB-A, Kensington lock

You’ll only find exhaust vents on the rear

The hinge is designed in a way that doesn’t block air flow

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.

Gaming

ICYMI: The World University Cyber League 2020 has begun

The best gamers from the brightest in the region duke it out for gaming supremacy

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Tencent Sports wanted to up the competition a little bit more in Southeast Asia, following Esports’ rapid rise in the region. Obviously, the best option for that is to hold a tournament to bring in the best of the best for some healthy competition. With the help of Mineski Global, they’ve done exactly just that, and are now on their final stages of the entire tournament.

The World University Cyber League 2020 started last June 28, and featured players from four markets in Southeast Asia. This time around, these players don’t come from established teams and franchises from their home countries. Instead, they are university-sponsored students, as they compete for a prize pool of over US$ 5,000. The Philippines host the SEA qualifiers, through Mineski Global’s Philippine division and its Youth Esports Program.

Students from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are competing across three different games. The roster of games Tencent prepared include popular mobile games like Clash Royale and PUBG Mobile, and an Esports classic in League of Legends.

Qualifiers will end on July 9, with the best teams moving to the WUCL Finals from July 10-15. To know more about the WUCL, you may visit their official website.

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KFC announces its own gaming console with a built-in chicken cooker

Might be a gag

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It’s fair to say that the console wars have begun. Over the past few months, Sony and Microsoft have launched amazing, hype-inducing tidbits at the adoring audience of gamers. With both consoles finally getting their individual chances at the spotlight, are you getting the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X?

Strangely enough, a surprise contender wants to join the next-generation conversation. Earlier last month, KFC Gaming (yes, it’s real) released a teaser video for an upcoming branded console, the KFConsole.

The console is shaped like a KFC chicken bucket, complete with red and white underlights. Sitting close to the bottom, it has the standard disc slot and a power button. Inside, the console sports a “Zinger processor chip clocked at 11GHz.” It has cross platform compatibility and 4K/120fps support.

However, the console’s biggest feature goes beyond gaming. Most of the console’s front is a “chicken chamber,” obviously for cooking chicken. It gives another meaning to an overheating gaming machine.

The short teaser video ends with a probably launch date: November 12, 2020.

Now, if you’re hoping to grab your own gaming bucket, the console is likely an elaborate gag. Though the company has not confirmed the console’s legitimacy, it’s unlikely that a modern gaming console can have a huge “chicken chamber.” Next-generation consoles are already huge without an oven in them.

That said, KFC has released very-real gaming-related campaigns in the past. Very recently, the company launched an official island on the popular island simulator, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Who knows? They might actually launch something on November 12.

If they do, they are in good company. In the past, Razer has also done a similar off-brand prank to promote a toaster. However, because of universal demand, the gaming company eventually made a real toaster. KFC might fall into the same trend. We definitely wouldn’t say no to our very own chicken chamber.

SEE ALSO: Sony announces huge list of games for the PS5

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Microsoft to hold a big Xbox event on July 23

Time to showcase the console’s new games

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Last month, Sony hosted the most eventful games showcase for the PlayStation 5. Besides a game for everyone, the event finally unveiled the mysterious console in all its glory. Naturally, all the hype is on the PlayStation 5. To those intently following the console wars, the inherent question is what Microsoft has up its sleeve for the Xbox Series X.

Now, Microsoft has confirmed that it is taking the same route as the PlayStation 5. Specifically, the company will hold a similar games showcase on July 23. The event will likely feature all the current projects from the Xbox Games Studios. This includes the new Halo Infinity, a potential return to Fable, Psychonauts 2, and Gears of War.

Of course, as with the PlayStation event, we weren’t really expecting anything. However, the event probably has a few tricks up its sleeve. If anything, it will also showcase the console itself. Though we already know what it looks like, Microsoft can still reveal a few more details about the upcoming console, especially if it hopes to upend the hype generated by the PlayStation 5.

Recently, a leak hinted at a more affordable console in the series. Given that the PlayStation 5 will also have a Digital Edition, the Xbox Series X might go the same route.

The series will likely launch sometime during the holiday season.

SEE ALSO: Will PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X games be more expensive?

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