Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix Scar II (GL704) Review: Feels smaller, performs better

Now with RTX graphics

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This is not the same laptop we reviewed before from ASUS. They do look alike and even have identical names, but this one is the bigger brother. This is the GL704 model of the ROG Strix Scar II with a 17-inch display.

It’s not every day that we get to play with 17-inch laptops, because they are simply cumbersome to bring around. They’re heavy and bulky, plus they don’t easily fit inside laptop bags. This one is different though; it’s like a 15-inch notebook thanks to its ultra-slim bezels.


Not only that, but it also has the latest discrete graphics available for laptops — the GeForce RTX series from NVIDIA.

What is it like to bring around a 17-inch gaming laptop? Here’s my review.

It’s got a high-gloss metal lid

The ROG logo still lights up, too

There are plenty of ports on the left

(L-R) Power, Ethernet, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, 3x USB-A, 3.5mm audio 

With a few more on the right

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

The back is where the heat comes out

Away from the user 

The keyboard is FPS-friendly

You won’t miss the WASD keys for sure 

There’s another ROG logo inside

To remind you that it’s a gaming laptop 

The ultra-narrow bezels are to die for

Kinda reminds me of the Dell XPS 13 

It looks very familiar

The GL704 is essentially an enlarged version of the previous 15-inch variant. Right off the bat, you can tell that this is an ROG laptop. It has the aesthetics of a gaming notebook complete with a camouflage pattern and RGB lights.

The chiclet keys which ASUS calls HyperStrike Pro are not mechanical, but they are clicky and well-spaced. Since the Scar II is designed for FPS games, it has transparent WASD keycaps. If you’re more into MOBA, you should look into the Strix Hero II.

What makes this keyboard game-friendly are the little adjustments that make a world of difference. There are gaps between the function keys for easier identification, the spacebar is slightly extended and reshaped for fewer misses, and the arrow keys are not cramped.

As for the trackpad, it has a smooth surface and it uses Windows Precision drivers. It has support for all the Windows 10 gestures and two separate buttons for left and right click. While the trackpad is a good one, ASUS also bundles the Strix Scar II with a gaming mouse.

Inside the box, you get a free ROG Impact mouse which I find responsive. The mouse has an RGB ROG logo which is customizable via ASUS Aura Sync, as well. It also has a DPI switch smack in the middle that’s handy in combat games. You’ll just have to get a nice mousepad to match the peripheral.

The overall construction of the Strix Scar II is near premium. By mixing metal and hard plastic, you get the best of both worlds. The aluminum cover lid defines the craftsmanship of the laptop, while the majority of the chassis is understandably made out of polycarbonate to help with the thermals.

Speaking of, ASUS is proud of their new HyperCool Pro thermal system which doesn’t only keep the laptop’s temperature in check, but it also expels dust particles and dirt that may get trapped inside the fans.

Specs make the difference

The main reason why you should get the GL704 is its graphics card. It’s one of the first in the market to have the latest GeForce RTX graphics from NVIDIA. The particular model I have for review sports the RTX 2060 with 6GB GDDR6, although it also comes with the more capable RTX 2070.

The full specs of the laptop include an Intel Core i7-8750H processor and 16GB DDR4 memory. For storage, it has a main 256GB PCIe SSD and secondary 1TB SSHD for the large chunk of files like your AAA games.

On the software side, there are a lot of pre-installed apps to complete the ROG experience like the ROG Armoury Crate which acts as a hub to check the laptop’s condition. There’s also GameFirst V for network optimization, ROG GameVisual for tweaking the display, Sonic Studio III for adjusting the audio, and Sonic Radar III for optimizing the surround sound effect on supported games.

There aren’t many titles out there that take advantage of ray tracing, which is the main selling point of the new RTX graphics. Good thing Battlefield V got updated to support ray tracing for improved reflections. However, Battlefield V is such an action-packed game that you might not fully notice the improvements during combat.

Here’s a comparison with ray tracing turned on and off. The game’s settings panel doesn’t allow for complete shutdown of ray tracing, so the closest to off is low. The preset graphics has to be set to low as well, which drastically changes the whole environment.

Anyhow, ray tracing is all about realistic and real-time reflections. You can see the water puddles nicely show the capabilities of RTX. Everything is shinier with ray tracing. In ultra settings, Battlefield V on the Strix Scar II averages around 55fps and spikes above 60fps when there’s not much going on in the scene.

Outside ray tracing, the Strix Scar II can easily handle other popular titles. I was able to enjoy Apex Legends on its highest-possible settings at around 110fps, while Fortnite averages 100fps

Is ray tracing worth the upgrade? That depends on where you’re coming from. Those on GTX-series graphics might not find RTX on mobile to be lucrative enough, and they can skip this for now because the previous generation’s graphics cards are still some of the best out there. Also, the number of titles supporting ray tracing won’t excite the whole gaming population.

It’s not an Ultrabook

Nobody should expect long battery life from a gaming laptop, at least for now. When playing games on the Strix Scar II, you should have it plugged in to ensure that the graphics card is not working with limited power.

When you do need to unplug and use the laptop remotely, you have three hours before the laptop puts itself to sleep and wait for its charger. Charging the Strix Scar II will take about an hour and a half using the included 230W power adapter.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The ROG Strix Scar II is ASUS’ special machine for those who are competitive in FPS gaming. It’s also a treat to AAA-title gamers thanks to its upgraded RTX graphics. It’s the smallest 17-inch gaming notebook with next-generation performance, so what more could you ask for? Aside from a better webcam placement and battery, of course.

A machine this good comes at a price. It starts at PhP 124,995 (US$ 2,400) which gives you RTX 2060 graphics. If you want to have a more powerful 17-inch gaming laptop, you could get the RTX 2070 variant for PhP 149,995 (US$ 2,885). Both variants are available in ROG SM Megamall and ROG Concept Stores in the Philippines.

A piece of advice: If you’re getting a gaming notebook and have the money for it, you should go for the high-end model because you won’t be able the upgrade the graphics chip after purchase.

SEE ALSO: The ASUS ZenBook S13 does the job while looking good

Gaming

We’ve been calling PlayStation’s X button wrong all this time

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Regardless of which gaming console you have, the X button unites us all. Every console available today — the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch — has some form of the same button. That said, what do you call it? Both the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch use other letters — Y, A, and B — for their other buttons. Naturally, majority vote calls for pronouncing it as the “ex” button.

However, Sony doesn’t use the same letter scheme. Instead of letters, the PlayStation’s DualShock controller uses shapes: Triangle, Circle, Square… and X? Do we still call it the “ex” button? According to the official PlayStation Twitter accounts, absolutely not.


In a now-infamous series of tweets, Sony has laid down the verdict in an argument we’ve probably never even thought about. Apparently, PlayStation users should pronounce each button according to their respective shapes. According to that logic, the X button should be called the Cross button.

As you might expect, the revelation didn’t go well with the gaming community. Twitter users have outrageously and creatively expressed their dismay.

In response to the outrage, the PlayStation account posted a three-option poll asking what gamers call the controversial button. The more traditional X button won by a landslide: 81 percent. Meanwhile, a joke answer — “+ rotated 45°” — got 11 percent of the votes. The “correct” answer — “Cross” — got only 8 percent.

That didn’t stop the memes. Twitter user @TheDrencom posted a more hilarious compromise. PlayStation even retweeted and allowed the weird alternative. Should we call it the “no pizza” button?

The Cross button’s supporters also had a few things to say in their defense. Based on the actual geometry of the icon, it’s more accurate to say “Cross,” rather than X.

Of course, Sony owns the PlayStation. They can call it whatever they want. Still, the console already has a massive following calling it by a more ubiquitous name. Are you going to call it the Cross button now?

SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

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Gaming

Apple Arcade aims to make your iPhone a gaming phone

100+ exclusive gaming titles

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Apple is known for its hardware lineup, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The iPhone accounts for a huge chunk of the company’s revenue and has been the sole product to propel the brand towards a trillion-dollar valuation.

But with changing times, it’s essential for every business to slowly evolve. And, we’re witnessing this change with technology companies around the world. Instead of relying on first-hand hardware sales, brands are now monetizing virtual data.


Arcade, which was demonstrated during the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPhones on Tuesday, is an attempt to turn the mobile gaming industry on its head and add an extensive new revenue stream to the company’s books.

It boasts over 100 unique titles, including Beyond a Steel Sky, a sequel to the classic adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky, with art by Watchman comic book legend Neil Gibbons.

Apple said games will be exclusive to Arcade and not available on other services. The subscription service will be available across Apple devices, and Arcade will work with Microsoft Xbox One S and PlayStation DualShock 4 controllers, which should make for more varied gameplay.

The gaming subscription service will release on September 19 and costs just $4.99 / £4.99 / INR 99 a month. This is automatically a Family Sharing plan, allowing for up to six family members to share the same subscription for just one monthly fee.

For iOS devices, Apple Arcade will arrive Sept. 19 with iOS 13. Apple Arcade will be available Sept. 30 on iPadOS and TVOS 13 devices and in October on MacOS Catalina.

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Gaming

From Jedi to Avenger, Lenovo announces AR game Marvel: Dimension of Heroes

Your turn to save the world

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dLenovo made us live our Jedi dreams in 2017, now they want us to be an Avenger. Announced at IFA 2019 is the company’s follow-up to fan favorite AR game Star Wars: Jedi Challenges — they’re taking us to another universe with Marvel: Dimension of Heroes.

The hardware you’ll need

Much like Jedi Challenges, you’ll need nearly the same hardware to make Dimension of Heroes work. There’s the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, the Tracking Beacon, and instead of a Light Saber replica, you get a pair of Universal Controllers.


Of course you’ll also need a compatible smartphone to run the game. Basic requirements are as follows: Has to be larger than 4.3 inches to align with phone tray display cutout. For iOS devices, it has to have at least a 1.4 GHz Dual Core chip along with 1GB RAM. For Android phones, it needs at least a 2.0 GHz Quad Core chip with 2GB RAM. You can check the full list of compatible devices at lenovo.com/miragear.

Play as your favorite Marvel Superhero

There aren’t a lot of details available as to how the game will play out. The only clue so far is that you have to “defend your reality” as any of the six superheroes headlining the game. The six are original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Avengers Captain America and Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fans of the MCU should easily recognize the mentioned superheroes as they prominently feature in the last two Avengers films — Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

In early 2018, I had the chance to speak with some Lenovo Executives and they did mention working on a Marvel AR game. More popular characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man were mentioned but they’re noticeably missing in this lineup.

While Spider-Man’s future in the MCU is looking bleak, I personally am still hoping we get an AR game featuring the wall-crawler.

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