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
There are plenty of ports on the left
With a few more on the right
The back is where the heat comes out
The keyboard is FPS-friendly
There’s another ROG logo inside
The ultra-narrow bezels are to die for
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.
Apple Arcade provides access to over 100 exclusive games
Play wherever, whenever
Apple is taking gaming way more seriously with the introduction of Apple Arcade, the company’s latest subscription service for video games available across its platforms.
In a nutshell, Apple Arcade lets you download and play any game on the service — whenever and wherever. It’s found in a new area with its own tab in the App Store and will offer over 100 exclusive games at launch.
Apple promises new titles launching all the time. Even cooler: They can be played seamlessly between an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and even a Mac computer.
— Michael Josh (@michaeljosh) March 25, 2019
Unlike most online subscriptions, every game is playable offline in case you have no mobile data or Wi-Fi to work with. And because you’re paying for the service, Apple guarantees that you’ll see no ads — something that’s plagued lots of other platforms.
Apple hasn’t revealed pricing details yet, but did confirm that Apple Arcade will come to more than 150 countries and regions in fall 2019.
— Michael Josh (@michaeljosh) March 25, 2019
We also don’t have a list of games yet, but we did see Sonic the Hedgehog prominently featured in the trailer. Check it out:
Nintendo plans to release two Switch models this 2019 — report
A pro and a lite version
If you plan to buy a Nintendo Switch, you might want to hold back for now. Talks about a cheaper and smaller Switch console have been around for more than a year, and it could finally happen. To make things more exciting, we might even have another Switch that’s better than the first one.
The first model is the long-rumored cheaper option. It’s angled to be a successor to the aging 3DS. This makes sense since fans of the popular Nintendo hand-held device need an upgrade. Some also find the Switch to be bigger than they had hoped for, so this is something that might pique the interest of 3DS users.
In order for Nintendo to offer a cheaper Switch, they’ll have to cut features and WSJ cites that this includes the vibration motor in the Joy-Con controllers.
Those who have been asking for a more powerful Switch (like me) will be happy to know that the other new model is reported to “have enhanced features targeted at avid video gamers.” Although, it still won’t be as good as the PS4 or Xbox One X, graphics-wise.
Both new versions are expected to be announced sometime in June at E3 2019 with a possible sale a few months later. It’ll be available in the market in time for the holidays and the release of new games like Pokémon Sword and Shield.
You may not be able to play PUBG for more than 6 hours in a day
Still better than banning the game completely
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds mobile edition needs no introduction. It has been the most trending multiplayer game for the last year and the trend shows no sign of cooling down. The game has been a hit in countries like India and players are hooked on it for hours.
Though, the game has received intense scrutiny from authorities because of its addictive stance. There have been multiple reports of addiction death and authorities have been scrambling to ban the game. Parents are worried about their children not being able to concentrate on studies and educational institutes have reported lower attendance as well as poor academic performance.
To counter bans and indirectly help players avoid addiction, PUBG is testing a six-hour per day gameplay limit. According to SportsKeeda, the app is sending a health reminder to players after six hours of gameplay and asking them to take a break. The game also has an age verification request now, which asks players if they are over the age of 18.
— Satiz MSD’ian 💛 CSK 💛 (@SatizMSDian) March 22, 2019
The new limit isn’t active for all users right now and is currently in a testing phase. While some users are reporting seeing the message after two to four hours of gaming, some are being locked out after six hours of usage. It seems only players in India are seeing this at the moment and other regions haven’t been affected.
This restriction comes after the game was banned in Gujarat and multiple arrests were made by the police. The Chinese government recently banned PUBG Mobile for players under the age of 13.
There is no official word from PUBG Mobile on this health reminder-based daily gameplay limit yet. The addition may irk some users, but it’s the first step towards ensuring the game isn’t outright banned.
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