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.

Accessories

SteelSeries adds world’s lightest gaming mice to Aerox series

The Aerox 5, Aerox 5 Wireless, and Aerox 9 Wireless
g

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Aerox

SteelSeries continues to expanded its award-winning Aerox series, adding three new ultra-lightweight gaming mice to the collection.

The new Aerox 5, Aerox 5 Wireless, and Aerox 9 Wireless mice are now available, offering gamers even better precision, speed, and comfort.

Dubbed as the world’s lightest multi-genre and MMO/MOBA gaming mice, the latest peripherals come with customizable features.

Aerox

These include programmable buttons for instant access to a gamer’s preferred shortcuts, as well as syncing RGB lighting for a more personalized gaming experience.

Pricing, availability

The three new Aerox mice are now available at SteelSeries’ official Lazada and Shopee stores, as well as Challenger, Courts, Endless passion, Tec Drome, Xtreme, and other major channels.

Refer to the table below for the prices and specs.

Model Specs Price
Aerox 5
  • 66g
  • 9 programmable buttons
  • TrueMove Air sensor
  • 100 percent Virgin Grade PTFE feet
  • 3 RGB zones with Brilliant PrismSync Lighting
  • Water-resistant AquaBarrier with IP54 safety rating
SG$ 149
Aerox 5 Wireless
  • 74g
  • Up to 180 hours of battery life
  • 40 hours of use on a 15-minute charge
  • TrueMove Air Sensor
  • Quantum 2.0 Wireless and Bluetooth
SG$ 229
Aerox 9 Wireless
  • 89g
  • 12 programmable buttons
  • Up to 180 hours of battery life
  • 40 hours of use on a 15-minute charge
  • Quantum 2.0 Wireless and Bluetooth
  • Golden Micro IP54 Switches
SG$ 249

In addition, any purchase of SteelSeries entitles customers to a free one-month GeForce NOW cloud gaming subscription.

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Gaming

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II release date, official artwork revealed

There’s also a hint for a giveaway contest

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Modern Warfare II

The wait is finally over for gamers as new details for the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II have finally surfaced.

First, the release date of the much-anticipated sequel of the 2019 reboot, Modern Warfare II is on October 28, 2022.

As if that’s not enough to get people excited, Activision also had a massive cargo ship sailing at Port of Long Beach in California for the game’s official artwork reveal, teasing enthusiasts even more.

The ship contained an image of the Operative Ghost, as well as more characters on cargo containers. The entire reveal may be watched here.

New characters, giveaway

Aside from the release date and official artwork, new characters are also expected to join Task Force 141, which includes key members like Captain John Price, Sergeant “Soap” MacTavish, Sergeant Kyle “Gaz” Garrick, Simon “Ghost” Riley, and Colonel Alejandro.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was announced earlier this year, with details for the storyline set to follow, that’s why fans are urged to stay tuned.

Developers have also hinted at a potential giveaway contest, mentioning that soon players will have “a chance to own a piece of this dock-spanning art and be a part of our history”.

Interesting, huh?

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Gaming

Sony’s Days of Play sale for PlayStation peripherals, titles is on

Get up to 80 percent off on gaming titles

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Days of Play

Just in time for mid-year sales, Sony announced the start off its sixth annual global Days of Play sale.

Happening until June 8, 2022, the sale offers special promotions for customers on various PlayStation peripherals like the PlayStation VR and DualSense Wireless Controllers.

Furthermore, selected PS5 and PS4 Blu-ray Disc version titles will sell for up to 80 percent off on the PS Store.

Offers will be available at all PlayStation authorized dealers and Sony stores.

Sales offers

For all Days of Play offers throughout the 15-day sale, refer to the table below.

Product/Title Special Price
PlayStation VR with PlayStation Camera PhP 14,990
DualSense Wireless Controllers

Colors:

  • Original White
  • Midnight Black
  • Cosmic Red
  • Starlight Blue
  • Nova Pink
  • Galactic Purple
PhP 3,490
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Game of the Year Edition (PS4) PhP 990
The Last of Us Part II (PS4) PhP 990
God of War PlayStation Hits (PS4) PhP 550
Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition

PlayStation Hits (PS4)

PhP 550
Sackboy: A Big Adventure (PS4, PS5) PhP 1,490
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5) PhP 1,990
UNCHARTED: Legacy of Thieves Collection (PS5) PhP 1,490
The Nioh Collection PhP 1,990

 

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