ASUS RoG Strix GL503VS Scar
CAN IT MAKE THE FIRST CUT IN GENRE-SPECIFIC GAMING LAPTOPS A DEEP ONE?
ASUS’S WAFER-THIN MAX-Q poster boy, the RoG Zephyrus, was one of the most desirable gaming laptops of 2017, but all of its innovative features came with a considerable $5,000 price tag, landing it well outside an affordable price bracket for most gamers. While in many respects ASUS’s new Strix GL503VS Scar is clearly in a different league, it has enough powerful components to achieve comparable performance, and at a price of around $2,000 less. While that comparison might make it seem good value, we’d caution not to mistake the carbon-fibre clad Scar with a ‘budget’ gaming laptop.
An expectedly powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU is supported by a hefty 32GB of RAM (double any other unit we’ve recently tested) and a speedy 256GB NVMe SSD and 1TB HDD storage setup. The additional RAM does boost general computing tasks, with the device performing 16% better than ASUS’s Zephyrus (see issue 68, 48) in PCMark 10 benchmarks, but it basically doubled the media encoding speeds of any other laptop we’ve tested with the same CPU and 16GB of RAM. This surprising power boost did come at a cost, though, pushing the device to thermal thresholds of 100ºC. We didn’t observe any throttling, the 99–100ºC mark seemed to be the genuine upper cap when performing intensive media encoding processes and this was the only task that pushed the device above about 94ºC, but it is still a thermal point that’ll damage internal components if sustained over a long time.
The GL503VS Scar is a variation of the GL503VS and GL503VS Hero models from the RoG Strix range, one that ASUS claims is specifically designed for FPS gaming. We are a little sceptical of this new marketing convention, since the optimum requirements of a MOBA or FPS game will vary from title to title. You can, however, generally say that a MOBA will require less GPU power and, currently, this point of difference is the main distinction we’ve noted in the MOBA configurations that are available. Looking at the GTX 1070 GPU, the 32GB of RAM and the 144Hz 7ms response IPS display, this laptop offers an exceptionally well structured configuration for people looking to play graphically demanding games at a competitive level, FPS or otherwise. When it comes to real-world game tests the Scar gets 79, 44, 46.4 and 91.22fps averages in our most current benchmark titles The Division, Far Cry Primal, Ghost Recon Wildlands and Rise of the Tomb Raider, respectively. Compare this to the Zephyrus’ 84.9, 51, 52.6 and 94.3 respective averages and you see just how close the GL503VS’s GTX 1070 GPU performs against the latter’s Max-Q GTX 1080.
Those high-performance components heavily tax the battery, though, with the Scar lasting less than 2 hours when playing movies and only 1 hour and 22 minutes in PCMark 8’s Home benchmark. In addition to this, the system is also automatically set to use passive cooling when on battery power (which curbs performance rather than engaging fans), so this isn’t a system you’ll be able to game on without being attached to power. That said, if you're OK with a portable 2.5kg gaming rig and 144Hz screen combo designed to handle FPSes (and basically any other genre) with aplomb, then this powerful device is one of the best gaming laptops we’ve tested for costs less than $3,000.