Asus ROG Strix GL702VM

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS - Andrew Wil­liams

The Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is the kind of lap­top you need if you’re a se­ri­ous gamer, but don’t have the cash to spend on the very best pro­ces­sors and graph­ics cards. It’s not cheap, but is far less ex­pen­sive than the lat­est MacBook Pro.

Don’t think it’s rid­dled with com­pro­mises ei­ther: its Nvidia GTX 1060 is sig­nif­i­cantly more pow­er­ful than the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion GTX 980M, and you’d have to spend al­most £2,000 to get a lap­top with one of those.

Price

You can buy the en­try-level Asus ROG Strix GL702VM for £1,129 from Ama­zon. As we’re talk­ing about a gam­ing PC, and one re­leased as the pound if weak, that only gets you mid-grade core spec­i­fi­ca­tions. It has a high-power vari­ant of In­tel’s Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, a 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive. You may find gam­ing lap­tops with more RAM and a faster CPU at a sim­i­lar price, but to buy one would prob­a­bly be a mis­take. For gamers, GPU power means more than al­most any­thing else.

Asus also of­fers a higher-end ver­sion of the GL702VM that up­grades the RAM to 16GB and the CPU to an In­tel Core i7. It costs £1,349, a £150 up­grade. Both vari­ants come with a one-year col­lect and re­turn war­ranty.

De­sign

For the past cou­ple of years, Asus’s G752-style lap­tops have pro­vided mod­els easy to rec­om­mend. The ROG Strix GL702VM we’re re­view­ing here isn’t nec­es­sar­ily worse, but it is quite dif­fer­ent.

This is a much slim­mer and lighter lap­top than the G752. This makes han­dling heat and noise trick­ier, and leaves the GL702VM with a shal­lower key­board, but many peo­ple may find this lap­top far eas­ier to live with.

Its 17.3in screen will seem im­pos­ing if you’re used to 13in mod­els th­ese days, but its weight and thick­ness are not. At around 2.7kg, it’s too heavy to carry around all day, not to men­tion too large to fit in most ruck­sacks. How­ever, mov­ing it from room to room isn’t some­thing to dread, which can be the case with some 4kg gam­ing beasts.

That’s not to sug­gest the GL702VM is ashamed of its gam­ing habit, though. The slim­mer frame rules out any truly out­landish fan out­lets, but you do get plenty of flour­ishes from Asus’s Re­pub­lic of Gamers (ROG) se­ries hand­book.

The logo and a pair of dec­o­ra­tive slashes into the lid light-up red, as does the key­board back­light. There are sim­i­lar non-lit flashes of red on the key­board it­self, and even the un­der­side.

Typ­i­cal of al­most all high-end gam­ing lap­tops, the GL702VM has a metal lid but the rest is plas­tic. There’s a brushed-like fin­ish to the key­board sur­round, but the main de­sign in­tent here is moody-look­ing red on black. No-one is try­ing to pre­tend this is a gam­ing ul­tra­book.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

The Asus doesn’t have an op­ti­cal drive, which you will still find on the firm’s largest gam­ing lap­tops, though con­nec­tiv­ity is com­pre­hen­sive. The sheer breadth of sock­ets a lap­top has to in­clude to get this cov­er­age is sig­nif­i­cant. On the left side are a mini Dis­playPort with Thun­der­bolt, HDMI, USB-C an Eth­er­net ports, and a USB 3.0. On the right are two ad­di­tional USB 3.0 sock­ets and a full-size SD card slot.

Key­board and touch­pad

There’s a well-spaced but fairly con­ven­tional lap­top key­board,

with­out the ex­tra travel seen in heavy-duty gam­ing lap­tops like the Asus G752 and Alien­ware 17. Key ac­tion feels high-qual­ity and there’s a pleas­ant re­sis­tance to the keys, but pre­dictably slightly shal­low. We find it com­fort­able to type away day­long on, though, and anti-ghost­ing tech lets you tap keys as fast as you like with­out any missed presses.

It has a red back­light, match­ing the other bits of flair on the lap­top. If you’re in a sit­u­a­tion in which you can’t use the light, the WSAD keys are bright red to make them stand out even if light­ing is poor. Nec­es­sary? Prob­a­bly not, but as Asus both­ered mak­ing this move some­one must have asked for it.

The GL702VM’s large 17in frame also pro­vides room for a full num­ber­pad, al­though the row of ded­i­cated macro keys seen in some of Asus’s largest lap­tops is ab­sent.

Sim­i­larly, the track­pad is fairly con­ven­tional. It’s rel­a­tively small for a lap­top this large, but no gam­ing lap­tops have huge track­pads, un­der the as­sump­tion many will plug in a mouse any­way.

The track­pad’s sur­face is very smooth, and uses in­te­grated but­tons that aren’t too noisy or dif­fi­cult to click. How­ever, in its cur­rent state does have an an­noy­ing driver is­sue that causes the cur­sor to leap across the screen at times, seem­ingly a re­sult of too-high sen­si­tiv­ity con­fus­ing the pres­ence of a sec­ond fin­ger for a swipe. Be pre­pared to have to fid­dle around with driv­ers and/or Win­dows 10 set­tings to get the GL702VM’s pad work­ing as in­tended.

Dis­play

With a 17.3in dis­play, the screen doesn’t look any­where near as pix­el­packed as some of trendier slim and light lap­tops found at this price. How­ever, this is still ar­guably the best res­o­lu­tion for the ma­chine.

Its graph­ics card can han­dle some de­mand­ing games at QHD res­o­lu­tion, but for 4K gam­ing you’ll need more power than this lap­top can pro­vide.

This is an IPS LCD dis­play with a matte fin­ish, turn­ing re­flec­tions into much more dif­fuse, much less dis­tract­ing, splodges of light. Dis­play qual­ity is very good, if

not quite among the very best lap­top screens. Its top bright­ness, for ex­am­ple, is 320cd/m2 where we recorded 380cd/m2 from the Asus G752. The GL702VM’s is less sear­ing, but as th­ese lap­tops are un­likely to be used out­side in bright sun­light of­ten, its no big deal. 320cd/m2 is still pretty bright.

Con­trast, too, is a lit­tle be­low the 1000:1 we like to see in a topend lap­top at a solid 812:1. Like other matte-fin­ish lap­tops, you’ll no­tice this as a slight blue tint to the screen’s backs when the back­light in­ten­sity is high.

Colour per­for­mance is good but not stan­dard-set­ting, cov­er­ing 85 per­cent of the sRGB colour stan­dard. We’d be hard-pressed to no­tice any un­der­sat­u­ra­tion with our eyes, though, par­tic­u­larly as the GL702VM’s screen also cov­ers colours out­side the sRGB spec­trum, too. For those into screen per­for­mance, it cov­ers 62.4 per­cent of Adobe RGB and 71.9 per­cent of DCI P3.

If our re­cep­tion of the screen sounds luke­warm, it’s only be­cause it’s roughly what we ex­pect of a high-end lap­top. It’s still a very ca­pa­ble dis­play.

Per­for­mance

The screen has the chops to fit in with its high-end ri­vals, but in the vari­ant we’re us­ing at least, the GL702VM has a real mix of en­trylevel and high-end hard­ware.

8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 128GB SSD are the min­i­mum you’d want in a sys­tem this ex­pen­sive. There’s a 1TB hard drive too, but as it’s so much slower than the SSD you may

With a 17.3in dis­play, the screen doesn’t look any­where near as pixel-packed as some of trendier slim and light lap­tops found at this price

be left jug­gling games to keep your most-played ones on the solid-state stor­age. Games in­stalled on the SSD will load quicker.

The CPU is sim­i­lar. It’s a Core i5-6300HQ rather than an i7, gen­er­ally favoured in gam­ing PCs. It’s a quad-core CPU, so still faster than the dual-core i7 pro­ces­sors you’d see in a £1,200 to £1,400 ul­tra­book, but as our gam­ing tests show, the ex­tra CPU power may be worth the up­grade.

Run­ning the built-in Thief bench­mark, the CPU ac­tu­ally bot­tle­necks per­for­mance, man­ag­ing an av­er­age 66.4fps at 1080p ul­tra set­tings, and 75.5fps at 720p, low set­tings. This is to an ex­tent a quirk of the bench­mark, which is very CPU-in­ten­sive, and the fan­tas­tic re­sults when play­ing Alien: Iso­la­tion are more in­dica­tive of how good a gam­ing ma­chine this is.

Alien: Iso­la­tion runs at a blis­ter­ing 197fps at 720p, low set­tings and a, well, still-blis­ter­ing 135fps at 1080p max set­tings. This is sig­nif­i­cantly faster than the re­sults of the first GTX 1060 lap­top we re­viewed, pre­sum­ably be­cause the driv­ers have im­proved so much since launch.

For most gamers who want a 1080p lap­top, the Strix GL702VM is ex­actly the sort we’d rec­om­mend. GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 lap­tops are eye-wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive, and their power only cur­rently use­ful in mod­els with screens of res­o­lu­tions in ex­cess of 1080p.

It’s dif­fi­cult to over­state how much bet­ter the GTX 1060 is than last year’s GT 960M. Not only are the new lap­top cards much closer to their desk­top coun­ter­parts than be­fore, Nvidia also made huge per­for­mance strides more gen­er­ally with the Pas­cal gen­er­a­tion.

De­spite hold­ing the Thief test back, the In­tel Core i5-6300HQ pro­ces­sor is also very ca­pa­ble. It’s more pow­er­ful than the CPU of the £2,000 MacBook with Touch Panel, for ex­am­ple. You can edit video with this lap­top. It scored 9393 in Geek­bench 4, and you can ex­pect a score around 12,000 points from the Core i7 £1,349 ver­sion.

In PCMark 8 it scores 3633 points — a great re­sult for an In­tel Core i5 ma­chine.

One con­se­quence of a rel­a­tively slim frame, con­sid­er­ing the pow­er­ful GPU, is that at times of strain the fans have to work quite hard. Most of the time the Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is near-silent, and give out a fairly light in­of­fen­sive whoosh dur­ing light gam­ing. Af­ter a while, the un­der­side and area above the key­board get warm, even­tu­ally spread­ing into the key­board it­self, but no parts be­came wor­ry­ingly hot dur­ing test­ing.

How­ever, max the sys­tem out and af­ter 10 min­utes or so the fans do kick up to a higher gear. There’s no high-pitch whine, but the noise is no­tice­able.

Au­dio

The speak­ers do have a chance of com­pet­ing with it, though, thanks to a bulky, thick tone. There’s more bass than the av­er­age, and a smooth mid-range that’s bet­ter for games and movies than a bog-stan­dard thin lap­top speaker.

Tre­ble clar­ity is lim­ited, mind, mak­ing the GL702VM sound quite sul­try and dark next to some­thing like the MacBook. At times we were also left wish­ing for 10- to 20 per­cent ex­tra vol­ume, but we imag­ine many of you would use a head­set or head­phones for any se­ri­ous gam­ing any­way.

Bat­tery life

The use of an HQ-se­ries CPU rather than a low-power U-se­ries one in­stantly tells you this lap­top’s bat­tery life is not go­ing to be stel­lar. How­ever, it is still bet­ter than some gam­ing lap­tops, last­ing four hours 55 min­utes when play­ing a 720p video on loop at 120cd/m2 screen bright­ness.

That’s fairly good for a lap­top not de­signed for ul­tra-por­ta­ble use, enough to last for long meet­ings, train jour­neys or what­ever rea­son you might have for need­ing to be away from the plug for a while.

You won’t get that sort of stamina when gam­ing, though. Ex­pect around 90 min­utes when the lap­top is maxed-out or close to it.

Ver­dict

We have just one is­sue with the Asus ROG Strix GL702VM: its track­pad does some strange things, most likely be­cause of driver is­sues. Op­er­at­ing un­der the as­sump­tion that this can or will be fixed, this is a great gam­ing lap­top. It’s not in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive by to­day’s stan­dards, but still gets you desk­top-grade gam­ing power, a good dis­play, solid build and fair bat­tery life. Thanks to the great power of Nvidia’s lat­est lap­tops graph­ics cards, this could well be the only gam­ing ma­chine you need. And this par­tic­u­lar one is hun­dreds cheaper than some oth­ers us­ing the same GPU.

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