Asus ROG Strix Scar Edition (GL503VS) Laptop Review
This Asus laptop has power and style, but is it worth the money?
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When it comes to gaming laptops, sometimes it's hard to tell them apart. After all, most of them follow the same blueprint: flashy aesthetic, bulky body, powerful internals. It's been a while since we've seen a unique feature or design. Well, the Asus ROG Strix Scar Edition (available at Amazon) really stands out from the rest.
With its subdued design and broad selection of ports, the Scar has a lot going for it. Did I mention it's one hell of a performer, too? While we love the zippy performance, battery life is abysmal and the starting price is pretty high. Drawbacks aside, if you've got the budget, the Scar is one of the most well-rounded gaming laptops you can get.
About the Asus ROG Strix Scar
The Scar comes in two configurations. The high-end version ($1,899) features a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and a 15.6-inch FHD matte display. Our test unit ($1,599) is armed with an Intel Core 17-7700HQ CPU, a 17.3-inch display, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. Here are the specs at a glance:
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
Display: 17.3-inch (1920 x 1080) nontouch display
Memory: 16GB RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, Ethernet, SD card reader, headphone/mic combo jack, mini display port
Weight: 6.7 lbs
The Scar is upgradeable, too. If you want to swap out the storage, you can remove the slide-out panel on the back of the machine. It's pretty easy to do, actually. Just take out the screw, slide the panel out, and voila! You now have access to the internals. This is awesome if you need additional storage for videos, photos, or gaming.
What We Like
The design is clean and mature
Okay, so, let's get this out of the way. I'm not a fan of the traditional gaming laptop aesthetic. You know, neon LEDs, flashy accents, the whole nine yards. Yeah, it's just not my cup of tea. Fortunately, the Scar is a welcome departure from that particular aesthetic.
With its gunmetal-gray lid and silver accents, it's really sophisticated-looking. It's the kind of machine you wouldn't mind bringing to a business meeting or college classroom. While it's not as lightweight as I'd like it to be, the design is super professional and that's something I can get behind.
This machine is designed for FPS players
Between the Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, the Scar is powerful enough to run virtual reality experiences and photo/video editing programs. It's a gaming notebook, but who said you had to use it specifically for games? At the end of the day, the guts really do matter.
When I played Overwatch on high settings, it hovered around 60 frames-per-second, occasionally dropping to 40 or 50 frames-per-second (depending on activity). You'll probably get the best performance out of AAA titles like League of Legends or Battlegrounds on medium settings, as they're not as visually demanding as other games.
Generous selection of ports
The Scar has four USB 3.0 Type-A ports, one Type-C Thunderbolt 3.0 port, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, a mini-DisplayPort, an SD card slot, and a combo audio socket. This is good if you're looking to hook up to an external monitor or upload photos.
So, whether you're a casual gamer or a creative professional, the Scar can handle FPS titles and photo/video editing. The Scar may be marketed as a gaming machine, but it's so much more than that.
What We Didn't Like
Limited battery life
With great power comes... disappointing battery life. In our intensive PC Mark 8 test, which cycles through a series of power-hungry tasks, the Scar fizzled out in a little over an hour. In our Wifi browsing test, which cycles through less demanding tasks, it managed to hit the two hour mark. It's a slightly better result, for sure, but you'll still want to keep the power brick handy. It's just not designed for long term off-the-charger use.
The cooling system is loud under demanding loads
When things got hairy in Overwatch (aka when I got ambushed), I noticed a significant increase in fan noise. The fans are almost always on anyway, but they're noticeably loud under demanding loads.
I'm not sure if it's a deal-breaker, per se, but the noise could be distracting in a classroom environment. The cooling system is effective and does what it's supposed to do, though. The laptop never got too hot.
If you're on a tight budget, the Scar might not be the best option, as the $1,599 starting price is pretty high. If you're looking for a budget-friendly gaming laptop, we'd recommend opting for the New Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming. It offers zippy performance, has similar specs (including the NVIDIA 1060 GPU), and costs hundreds of dollars less.
Should You Buy It?
If you're looking for a nicely balanced gaming laptop, absolutely
Between the clean design, steady performance, and broad selection of ports, the Scar is a great choice for hardcore gamers and creative professionals. It's powerful enough to run virtual reality experiences (if that's your cup of tea) and photo/video editing programs. Oh, and it's upgradeable too. If you want to swap out the storage, just unscrew the screw and open the slide-out panel on the back. While there's a lot we like about this laptop, we still had a few nitpicks.
Battery life is disappointing, so you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for an outlet or take the power brick with you. In addition to poor battery life, the cooling system is super loud under demanding loads. The noise doesn't bother me much, but it could be distracting in a classroom environment. The starting price is also pretty steep. Nitpicks aside, if you've got the money for it, the Scar is a nicely balanced laptop for the right buyer.