PCWorld (USA)

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition: This all-amd laptop is affordable and very fast

It offers an amazing amount of performanc­e and value.

- BY GORDON MAH UNG

The Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition gets all A’s: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, AMD Radeon RX 6800M, and AMD Advantage, meaning it’s the first machine to meet AMD guidelines designed to make midrange gaming laptops better. And yes, it’s made by Asus, too.

We’ll say this as a public service announceme­nt right now: If you’re on the hunt for an affordable yet stupidly fast laptop on a medium budget, you may want to skip the rest of this and simply buy the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition right now ($1,650 at Best Buy [ go.pcworld. com/16bb]) because of its stunning

price-to-performanc­e ratio. But if you prefer to be a little more cautious and actually finish reading this review, we’ll break down what’s inside.

SPECIFICAT­IONS

Asus doesn’t skimp with the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition. Considerin­g the price, the 16GB of DDR4/3200 RAM and 512GB NVME SSD are solid components, actually very typical of this price range. If they’re not enough for you, both could be upgraded at a later date. Heck, the laptop even comes with Windows 10 Profession­al, which can cost $60 to $70 or more on most laptops. Here’s the longer specificat­ions list:

CPU: 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX

GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6800M ( go.pcworld. com/rx6m) with 12GB of GDDR6

RAM: 16GB DDR4/3200

Display: 15.6-inch, FHD (1920x1080) Ips-level 300Hz panel with Freesync

Storage: 512GB NVME SSD

Dimensions: 14x10.25x0.8 inches

Weight: 5.1 pounds; add 2.1 pounds for the 280-watt AC adapter

Operating system: Windows 10 Pro

CONNECTIVI­TY

The ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition locates most of its ports at the rear, including:

• One USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-a

• One USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-c • One HDMI 2.0b • Gigabit ethernet running off of a Realtek controller

As with every AMD laptop we’ve seen, the USB-C port doesn’t include Thunderbol­t support, but it does have Displaypor­t as well as Usb-power Delivery up to 100 watts.

The right side doesn’t feature any ports, which makes sense for the majority of gamers who are righthande­d (sorry, southpaws). Asus does integrate another pair of USB-A ports on the left side, along with an analog combo jack.

DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY

We should warn you that if you’re looking for a thin gaming laptop with an all-aluminum body—the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition isn’t it. The lid and keyboard deck are aluminum, but the bottom and sides are unabashedl­y plastic.

It’s also relatively chunky, at about 28mm (1.1 inches) at its thickest point (not including the feet). That’s not necessaril­y a bad thing, as thicker laptops tend to allow more room for cooling. We’ve seen many thinner laptops struggle with thermal throttling as their components heat up.

The 280-watt AC adapter can justifiabl­y be called a power brick considerin­g its 2.1-pound weight. You could also power the ROG Strix G15 on a 100-watt USB-C charger, but don’t expect the same experience compared to the full-fat charger.

In the case of the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition, Asus puts the thicker, plus-size body to work in cooling. In a first, the company said it has actually used the more efficient liquid-metal thermal interface material on both the CPU and the GPU. Laptops with more efficient liquid metal on the CPU have been available for a few years, but no one until now has used it on the GPU. Vendors have always told us it made more sense to use it on the heat-intensive CPU.

KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD

The trackpad is fairly smooth, with Microsoft Precision driver support. Our unit had a slight trackpad bounce to it, which we’ve seen occasional­ly when the trackpad isn’t firmly mounted, resulting in a slight rattle. We think it’s an anomaly of our unit but are obligated to mention it.

The keyboard is a standard rubber-dome keyboard with decent travel and no major layout issues. The backlighti­ng of the keyboard is RGB, but lit by zones rather than per key. Asus does such a wonderful job with the rainbow unicorn vomit that most people won’t know the difference. There’s also perimeter RGB lighting around the base of the laptop.

WEBCAM AND SPEAKERS

We first want to compliment Asus for its pair of 4-watt speakers. Compared to many 15.6-inch gaming laptops we’ve tested, they offer far more bass, midrange and presence than most smaller gaming laptops do. You can again thank the larger body for that, because more space for speakers typically means better audio.

One problem we found was with the laptop’s webcam, which you can see in the image below compared to MSI’S GE76 Raider’s 1080p webcam (upper left) and the 720p webcam of an HP Elite Dragonfly (upper right.) As you can see, the webcam in the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition (bottom left) offers impressive Oled-like deep black levels.

We’re kidding! The Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition—a new laptop being offered in the year 2021—does not have a webcam. We could understand, if not agree with, the company’s rationale for omitting a webcam from the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 ( go.pcworld.com/wb14): Real gamers, Asus suggested, would buy their own high-res webcam. Consider that the ROG Zephyrus G14 was introduced at CES in January 2020, in those last innocent days before the pandemic began a wave of lockdowns, remote working, and social distancing. We barely cared about webcams before then. Now, nearly 18 months on, omitting a webcam from a laptop seems ridiculous.

CPU PERFORMANC­E

We’ve already tested Ryzen 5000 ( go. pcworld.com/ry50) and specifical­ly the

Ryzen 9 5900HX ( go.pcworld.com/ry59), as well as the Radeon RX 6800M ( go.pcworld. com/rx6m) that are featured in the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition. To see how they all work together in this laptop, we’ll start with some CPU tests.

The score for Maxon’s older Cinebench R15 pretty much says it all. This 3D-modeling test favors high-performanc­e cores. The ROG Strix

G15 Advantage Edition wins big even against laptops that weigh more or use desktop CPUS.

The vast majority of software does not use all of those cores, though, so it’s important to get a feel for just how fast the CPUS are at single-core or single-threaded tasks. The ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition again shows very well—only the Asus ROG Flow X13 ( go.pcworld.com/flx1) and its Ryzen 9 5980HS surpass it. We haven’t yet completed a formal review of Intel’s Tiger Lake H laptops, but based on our review of the Core I9-11980HK ( go. pcworld.com/crhk), we expect that Intel’s 11th-gen CPUS will make this fight more interestin­g.

Our final CPU test uses an older version of Handbrake to convert a 30GB, 1080p movie file using the Android Tablet preset. You can again see the ROG Strix G15 takes slightly less time to convert the file than a desktop Core i9-9900k CPU mounted in a much larger laptop. Ryzen 5000 is the real deal.

GRAPHICS PERFORMANC­E

Moving on to graphics performanc­e, the big question is, how does AMD’S Radeon RX 6800M do against what has largely been an

all-nvidia show for years now?

Pretty well, actually. The Radeon RX 6800M doesn’t outpace the higher-wattage RTX 3080 Laptop GPUS, but it’s a worthy competitor for convention­al gaming tasks, as you can see from the results of the graphics subscore of 3Dmark.

Moving on to gaming, we first run Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1920x1080 resolution set to Very High and in DX11 mode. You can see the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition’s performanc­e doesn’t rank quite as high, but it’s in the neighborho­od of the Asus ROG Flow X13 with the external Geforce RTX 3080

Laptop at 150 watts, and not too far behind the Gigabyte Aorus 17G with its Geforce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU at 105 watts.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is fairly old at this point, though. Once you move to more modern and strenuous games, the gaps close up more. As you can see below, using Metro Exodus with the Extreme Preset, the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is right in the ballpark with a lower-wattage Geforce RTX 3080 Laptop part, as well as a midrange-wattage Geforce RTX 3080 Laptop part.

We again recommend that you read our review of the Radeon RX 6800M ( go. pcworld.com/680m) for more in-depth testing of the ROG Strix G15’s GPU, but we can summarize it as a very worthy competitor for the vast majority of games people play. If, however, you move to games that use Microsoft’s Directx Raytracing, Nvidia’s Geforce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU has a clear advantage. Nvidia also has an advantage in many content creation applicatio­ns. But for

most gaming situations, Radeon RX 6800M stands out quite well.

BATTERY LIFE

Our last test looks at the battery life of a laptop by measuring how long it can loop a 4K video while in airplane mode, with earbuds connected at medium volume and the screen set to a relatively bright 250 to 260 nits. For gaming laptops, we also shut off the RGB while looping the video.

Most gaming-focused laptops tend to have lackluster battery life. We’d say the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition performs adequately at just over six hours of playback.

BOTTOM LINE

The Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition offers top-notch CPU performanc­e, very competitiv­e gaming performanc­e, and a solid value for the price. In that price range, we could find only a single Geforce RTX 3070 Laptop-based gaming laptop—the vast majority used Geforce RTX 3060 or Nvidia’s last-generation GPUS. Most of those gaming laptops are also built around Intel’s older 10th-gen or even 9th-gen CPUS, which are massively outclassed by the Ryzen 9 5900HX inside the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition.

You’re basically getting the one of the fastest laptop CPUS available, with a GPU that can run with Nvidia’s best in convention­al gaming, all for an affordable price. It’s simply the best deal in town right now.

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 ??  ?? The back of the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition has a Realtek-based Gigabit ethernet port, full-size HDMI port, and USB-C and USB-A ports.
The back of the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition has a Realtek-based Gigabit ethernet port, full-size HDMI port, and USB-C and USB-A ports.
 ??  ?? The left side of the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition features a pair of USB-A 5Gbps ports and an analog combo audio jack.
The left side of the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition features a pair of USB-A 5Gbps ports and an analog combo audio jack.
 ??  ?? You can easily swap out the red corner accents of the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition for either a clear or silver color. All three options are included with the laptop.
You can easily swap out the red corner accents of the ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition for either a clear or silver color. All three options are included with the laptop.
 ??  ?? The webcam on the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is so small that...it doesn’t actually exist.
The webcam on the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is so small that...it doesn’t actually exist.

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