Enjoyable day-to-day use
Performance doesn't stand out
Display is lacking
No Nvidia G-Sync
The Asus ROG Strix G512LI is an affordable gaming laptop in a difficult position. Its MSRP is $999.99, but its real-world price varies significantly between retailers. I found the model reviewed for as little as $849 and as high as $1,099. That's affordable, but it's also not among the least expensive gaming laptops available.
Gamers buying in the $1,000 price range expect to see a boost in performance, build quality, and display quality compared to the barebones, ultra-budget models sold between $500 and $800. The G512LI doesn't deliver. It's barely quicker than gaming laptops that sell for several hundred dollars less. That might be excused by a standout feature but, aside from its neon pink trim, the G512LI is a basic gaming laptop with no tricks up its sleeve.
About the Asus ROG Strix G512LI
Here’s the specifications of the laptop we reviewed:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10750H
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
- Memory: 8GB
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- Display: 1920 x 1080 resolution at 144 Hz
- Ports: 3x USB-A 3.2, 1x USB-C 3.2, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x 3.5mm combo audio, 1x Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless: WiFi 6, Bluetooth
- Battery: 51 watt-hour
- Charger: 150 watt, 20 volts at 7.5 amps
- Weight: 5.29 pounds
- Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches
- Warranty: One-year limited warranty
The hardware inside Asus’ ROG Strix G512LI is typical for a budget gaming laptop, though the Intel Core i7-10750H processor is now challenged by alternatives from AMD, such as the Ryzen 5-4600H in Acer’s Nitro 5. The ROG Strix GL512LI we tested has Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Ti, a step up from standard GTX 1650 found in the most affordable gaming laptops. It also has a 512GB solid-state drive, which is important. This is a slim SSD for some games, like Call of Duty, but it’s much better than the 256GB SSD found in ultra-budget gaming laptops.
What we like
Asus launched the ROG Strix G512LI close to the release of the famous (and infamous) mega-hit game Cyberpunk 2077. The laptop isn’t officially partnered with that title, but it pays homage with an “Electro Punk” theme that includes neon pink plastic trim and WASD keycaps in the same eye-searing color. It also has an RGB backlit keyboard that can be customized in Asus’ rather clunky Aura Sync software.
It’s loud, and it’s tacky, but we like it. The look immediately distinguishes the ROG Strix G512LI from its competition and helps distract from the fact that, like most budget gaming laptops, the G512LI is big, chunky, and clad in plastic. Dell’s Inspiron G5 and G7 remain the refined choice among budget gaming laptops, but the G512LI is great if you want a brash, in-your-face look.
It’s a good everyday laptop
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The Asus ROG Strix G512LI is large even for a 15-inch laptop. Standard laptop bags and sleeves will struggle to contain it. If you can accept that, however, you’ll be pleased with the payoff in utility.
More laptop means more space for ports. The ROG Strix G512LI has three USB-A 3.2 ports, plus a USB-C 3.2 port that supports DisplayPort alternate mode. There’s also a full-sized HDMI port and a Gigabit Ethernet jack. This is all the connectivity a gamer needs.
We enjoyed the keyboard, which provides long key travel and pleasant actuation. There’s no numpad, which is bad news for accountants, but ditching it leads to a spacious, comfortable layout. The laptop has room for spacious palm rests that won’t leave your wrists dangling an inch above your desk. The touchpad feels cheap, but it’s responsive and large. The size is handy when using Windows’ multi-touch gestures to navigate between apps.
These traits make the G512LI a good choice for students. You can bang out a term paper in comfort before popping into Apex: Legends to blow off some steam.
It has decent battery life (for a gaming laptop)
The ASUS ROG Strix G512LI hit four hours and four minutes of battery life in our automated loop of simulated web browsing. That falls far short of an ultra-portable laptop like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, but it’s not bad for a gaming laptop. The Acer Predator Helios 300, for example, managed just two hours and 30 minutes. Four hours of web browsing endurance is enough to visit a coffee shop or handle most study sessions.
What we don’t like
The display isn’t a bright spot
On paper, the Asus’ ROG Strix G512LI has a promising display. It provides 1,920 x 1,080 (1080p) resolution with a 144 Hz refresh rate, which is solid for a budget laptop. Unfortunately, image quality is mediocre at best.
The screen’s brightness is average for a budget laptop. Asus uses an anti-glare coating, so its modest luminance is enough to overcome ambient light. Still, you’ll feel the urge to squint if sitting near a sunlit window or in a brightly lit office.
Our instrumented tests recorded poor color performance, and these results certainly agreed with our first impressions. Images look muted, dull, and muddy, lacking the vibrance found on more expensive gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 15 and Acer Predator Helios 300.
It’s not entirely fair to compare the G512LI to its pricer peers, of course. A higher budget naturally leads to better performance. Still, video games are all about the visuals, and a poor display saps some thrill from the experience. Given the choice, we’d readily trade the speedy 144 Hz refresh rate for better image quality.
Game performance doesn’t stand out
The 144 Hz refresh rate isn’t much use, anyway, because the Asus ROG Strix G512LI isn’t quick enough to make the most of it.
Yes, it provides some advantage in older eSports titles like Counter-Strike and League of Legends, but the six-core Intel processor and modest Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti graphics chip will struggle with newer games. Watch Dogs: Legion, Shadows of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Exodus will run at between 30 and 60 frames per second at medium to high settings.
This is the reality of gaming on a budget laptop in 2021, but the ROG Strix G512LI doesn’t go the extra mile. Its game performance is in line with the more affordable Acer Nitro 5, which we recently reviewed.
The Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti that powers the G512LI is in an uncomfortable spot. It’s priced above the ultra-affordable GTX 1650 gaming laptops, but that puts it only a couple hundred dollars below laptops with Nvidia’s RTX 2060. The RTX 2060 is twice as quick and supports new features like Nvidia DLSS and RTX Ray Tracing.
There’s more bad news. The G512LI is missing a key feature: G-Sync. For those unfamiliar, G-Sync can synchronize the refresh rate of a laptop’s display to exactly match the framerate delivered by an Nvidia GPU. This lets gameplay look smooth even at low framerates. Its absence means you’re more likely to see stuttering, tearing, and other unsightly flaws.
Asus’ ROG software isn’t enjoyable
Asus is no stranger to gaming, which is why it operates the Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand with its own distinctive style separate from other Asus products. When it comes to software, however, this leads to some problems.
The ROG Strix G512LI has a key with the ROG logo printed on it located above the function row. Pressing it opens a tool called Armoury Crate which serves as a command center for the laptop’s features. Armoury Crate can control the laptop’s performance profile, keyboard backlight, and in-game profiles, among other things.
It also includes plenty of unnecessary bloat. There’s a game library, a news feed, and a featured tab that lists game deals, most of which are imported from Steam. These features are fairly easy to ignore which, I imagine, is what most users will do. Still, they add unwanted buttons to an interface in need of refinement.
Should you buy it?
No. The Asus ROG Strix G512LI is affordable, but it’s not a good value.
The Asos ROG Strix G512LI offers a cool design aesthetic, good utility, and plenty of ports. But the price just isn't there. The market for budget gaming laptops is extremely competitive. A price gap of a hundred dollars can mean the difference between a great laptop and one that you should pass on.
This laptop’s performance doesn’t justify spending the $100 to $200 premium you’ll pay over a more affordable laptop with an Intel quad-core or AMD six-core processor and Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics. We recently tested the more affordable Acer Nitro 5 configuration and found its performance was neck-and-neck with the ROG Strix G512LI.
The disappointing screen and lack of G-Sync further sour the price. We can accept such sacrifices in ultra-budget gaming laptops, but the G512LI is in a different league. Gamers should expect more when dropping up to a grand on a new laptop.
In fairness to Asus, most of these problems are not exclusive to the ROG Strix G512LI. The budget gaming laptop market is in an awkward place because Nvidia still hasn’t released a replacement for the aging GTX 16-series GPUs. There’s a huge gap between affordable laptops with older Nvidia hardware and new laptops with RTX 20-series or RTX 30-series hardware. It’s rare for an expensive laptop to provide more value than a budget model, but that’s true of gaming laptops right now, and will remain true until a new entry-level laptop GPU is available.
Still, a gaming laptop is expected to game, and that’s where the G512LI falls short. It won’t hit 60 frames per second in demanding titles at medium to high settings and, because of its disappointing display, every game will look less impressive than it could. The competitive Acer Nitro 5 won’t fix these problems, but it will leave a few extra bucks in your bank account.
Meet the tester
Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC hardware nerd. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has over a decade of experience covering PC hardware. Matt often flies the virtual skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to grow the perfect heirloom tomato.
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