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

Google is closing down Stadia

Ending mid-January 2023

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The concept of cloud gaming is pretty simple. With a decent internet connection, players can have access to the best games today without the need for expensive hardware. However, for all the promise that the technology held, cloud gaming’s journey has been rough. Today, one of the technology’s biggest names is closing up shop. Starting early next year, Google is shuttering Stadia.

According to a blog post from the Stadia team’s vice president Phil Harrison, the device never really took off in the way the company was expecting. As such, the entire team is shutting down and moving on to other ventures inside the company. However, Google still hopes to use the technology (and the lessons associated with the failed venture) to other branches.

Now, for consumers, the Stadia store is now closed. Anyone who purchased hardware or games through the Play and Stadia Stores will receive refunds during the shutdown period. (However, Stadia Pro subscribers will not get refunds. On the upside, they won’t get charged for additional months.)

The service will shut down on January 18, 2023. In the meantime, Stadia users can still access their library until that date.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now. Previously, the company also shut down the team’s in-game development, limiting what the service offered.

If you’re enjoying cloud gaming as a technology, Google isn’t the only player around. Amazon and Xbox both have their own services dedicated to cloud gamers.

SEE ALSO: Google will alert you if your info pops up in a search

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Razer, Qualcomm tease gaming handheld device

Officially debuting next month

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The Steam Deck really set off a new wave of hype for handheld gaming consoles. Chipping away at the Switch’s dominance, the next generation of mobile gaming wants to wrest gamers away from the clutches of smartphones and Nintendo. Today, another player is joining in (or returning to the fight). Razer and Qualcomm are teaming up for their own handheld gaming device.

Well, it’s not an official reveal yet. During MWC Las Vegas, Verizon teased the upcoming partnership and revealed a few details about the device. Much like the new Logitech G Cloud, the Razer Edge 5G, as it’s called, will run on Android and will play the usual cloud gaming services.

Since the partnership involves Qualcomm, expect a good processor inside, too. Plus, with Verizon’s partnership, the device will come with 5G connectivity, as the name also implies.

The Logitech G Cloud also came with a Snapdragon chipset. However, it has a smaller model, the Snapdragon 720G, skipping out on Qualcomm’s handheld gaming platform. Presumably, Razer’s device will come with the G3x Gen 1. When the platform launched, Qualcomm did tease a product with Razer. It’s the device’s first appearance since last year.

Unfortunately, the teaser video does not reveal much outside of what we already know from previous teases. Thankfully, it won’t be long before the official reveal. Razer is expected to unveil the product during RazerCon on October 15.

SEE ALSO: RazerCon 2022 set on October 15

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Steam announces when next sales are

Autumn, Winter, Spring

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Christmas is right around the corner. If you want to get a head start on buying something for yourself, it’s important to know when the biggest sales are. Now, gamers have a date on when they can bust out their wallets. Valve has officially announced when the autumn, winter, and spring Steam sales are happening.

The next sale — the traditional Autumn Sale — will happen between November 22 through 29. It’s quite a big gap for a head start, but it should give gamers a healthy library to play when the Christmas vacation starts.

On the other hand, if rush shopping is more you, the Winter Sale will happen between December 22 through January 5. It’s a Christmas treat.

If you’re familiar with Steam’s usual calendar of sales, you might not have heard of a Spring Sale before. Traditionally, the platform holds the Lunar New Year Sale in lieu of a seasonal theme. This time, Steam is keeping things consistent. The newly dubbed Spring Sale will happen between March 16 through 23. It’s also a later date than the previous Lunar New Year Sale.

Steam sales are usually a treat for gamers who play on a PC. Though the platform frowns on gigantic 95 percent off discounts now, platform-wide sales events can still house delectable bargains. Now, whether or not you’ll have time to play all of them is another story altogether.

SEE ALSO: Steam: No more 95% off sales

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