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).

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

Playdate is a handheld gaming system with a crank

Yes, an actual crank

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If you’re bored of the current gaming console landscape or are simply waiting for the next-gen PlayStation to come out, there’s this new handheld system that might keep you a little busy.

From a company named Panic, which is known for developing the popular game Firewatch, comes the Playdate. It may seem like a simple gaming system at first, but look to its right and you’ll see its defining feature: a crank.


The developer says that some titles will use this analog controller exclusively, while some won’t at all (which, to me, sorta defeats the purpose of placing that game on this console). Everything will be played on its monochrome screen with no backlighting.

You can see it in action here:

The spin here is that the Playdate will come with a subscription of 12 games — delivered to you once a week for 12 weeks. It’s part of the initial cost of US$ 149, but there’s no word yet if there’ll be subscriptions after that and how much they’ll cost.

Each game will be a surprise, which may or not be a good thing. Spending this much on an unproven console — and possibly more for succeeding subscriptions — could end up becoming a costly risk.

Orders will be accepted later this year, while actual shipping will happen in early 2020. For now, you can sign up through the official website to receive updates on its progress.

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Gaming

Here’s an early look at the Sony PS5’s raw performance

Spoiler: It’s fast!

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Even though Sony dished out some early info on the upcoming PlayStation 5 (should they choose to stick to the numbered naming scheme) and revealed that it’s more than just a mere upgrade, we don’t have any tangible data on what exactly to expect.

Fortunately, Wall Street Journal tech reporter Takashi Mochizuki was present at Sony’s most recent gaming presentation and had this video to show us:


What you see here is a comparison between the loading times of the PS5 and PS4 Pro. Make no mistake here: The next-generation console is incredibly fast! A lot of credit must be given to the built-in SSD the PS5 will ship with.

This should be taken with a grain of salt, however. Tech demos are often fixed to make the newer (and more expensive) product seem superior. To the next-gen console’s credit, it’ll come with the latest eight-core Ryzen chip and a custom GPU from AMD’s Radeon Navi, which are capable of 8K gaming and ray tracing when put together.

Sadly, we still don’t have a release date and Sony won’t announce anything at E3 next month. For now, savor your PS4 and its growing library of classics.

Via: Kotaku

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Apps

Minecraft Earth is like Pokémon Go but with building blocks

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In a move that makes loads of sense, Minecraft is coming to mobile though an augmented reality app similar to Pokémon Go.

It’s called Minecraft Earth and it’s arriving later this year with a beta phase happening during summer. The developers offered this trailer, but it does little to explain how the system would work.


Check it out:

The official website’s FAQ section, however, delves into more of the info we actually care about.

For one, it’ll be free to play and will include several of Minecraft‘s traditional features including world building and discovering/fighting mobs.

Concerning regional availability, the developers aren’t confirming these details just yet. If it’s anything like the issues Niantic experienced with Pokémon Go before, chances are this rollout will be gradual, too.

Finally, for the “Will Minecraft Earth have loot boxes?” question, the website has a definite “No” to answer that.

Minecraft Earth will be available on both Android and iOS. Fingers crossed that there’ll be no delays. 🤞

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