During last year’s Computex, it has been revealed that ROG will release specially engineered gaming laptops to meet the demand of different genre of games. The result is SCAR Edition & HERO Edition for FPS and MOBA games respectively. Today, what we have in our labs is the ASUS ROG Strix SCAR Edition GL503VS gaming laptop. Let’s have a look what makes this laptop so special for FPS gamers.
ASUS ROG Strix SCAR Edition GL503VS Specs
- 15.6-inch Full HD 1080p IPS-level panel, 144 Hz, 7ms
- Intel Core i7-7700HQ
- NVIDIA GTX 1070 8 GB GDDR5
- 16 GB DDR4
- 256 GB M.2 NVMe SSD + 1 TB 2.5-inch SSHD (FireCuda)
The lid is consists of a piece of brushed aluminium while the rest of the chassis is plastic. Nonetheless, the overall construction is very robust and premium. The display hinge gives a reliable vibe and the opening angle is good.
The keyboard surface, while it is made out of plastic with carbon-fibre-lookalike design, the robustness is surprisingly better than what I expected. Hence, the keyboard felt really sturdy when I type on it.
- SD card reader
- Thunderbolt 3
- 2x USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen2)
- Kensington lock
- Charging port
- Gigabit Ethernet
- miniDP 1.2
- HDMI 2.0
- 2x USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen2)
- 3.5mm combo jack
User can easily access the open compartment at the bottom and upgrade the RAM, M.2 SSD and 2.5-inch drive.
The 15.6-inch display runs at Full HD resolution. The IPS panel has great colour reproduction and the viewing angle is excellent (178 / 178). You can even use it for creative productions if you don’t mind the reduced sharpness due to the anti-glare matte surface.
Most importantly, since this gaming notebook is targeted towards the FPS crowd, it comes with a 144 Hz refresh rate and G-Sync. Take note that this configuration only applies to the GL503VS SCAR Edition which has an NVIDIA GTX 1070. For GL503VM SCAR Edition, you’re getting a 120 Hz TN panel without G-Sync and paired with an NVIDIA GTX 1060.
Back to the SCAR Edition, the overall gameplay experience on this laptop is as expected from the panel & GTX 1070, buttery smooth frames with no stuttering and tearing. Worth mentioning is that G-Sync will only work when the laptop is connected to the charger.
The stereo speakers are side mounted and fire outwards. I like this kind of speaker configuration as it creates a rather wide soundstage which tricks you into believing the sound is coming from your surrounding.
Yes, they sound pretty alright for a pair of laptop speakers and could get decently loud if needed. The mid and vocals are bright and clear but it severely lacks the bass for obvious reasons.
What I really appreciate is the dedicated buttons for volume control and microphone mute. Perfect for those who are using a headphone without in-line volume controls.
Speaking of headphones, the 3.5 mm combo jack is either hit or miss. Unless you have a headphone that supports combo jack, else you have to resort to USB audio out.
The Sonic Studio application allows you to customise the sound profile for each application. It even has the casting enhancer to improve your vocals, especially during live streaming sessions.
Keyboard & Trackpad
The chiclet keyboard doesn’t feel mushy and I appreciate we’re getting the number pad even though they are kind of squished to the right side. That includes the arrow cluster as well. That being said, I always mistakenly pressed the “Num Lock” when I actually wanted to press the “Backspace”.
Of course, the keyboard has RGB backlit but they are divided into 4 zones instead of per-key illumination.
The lighting configuration is done through the ROG Aura Core application from the ROG Gaming Center suite.
The trackpad uses Windows Precision driver and the tracking is excellent. Pretty sure anyone in their right minds would not intend to use a trackpad for gaming. Still, it would serve you well for regular usage.
As usual, the ASUS ROG Gaming Centre comes preinstalled on all their ROG laptops. It is a software suite that aims to improve one’s gaming experience.
The suite includes:
- ROG Aura Core
- ROG GameFirst IV
- ROG Sonic Radar III
- ROG Sonic Studio III
The GameFirst IV is like a built-in QoS feature since it is capable of monitoring the network activity and then allows the user to define which application should enjoy the higher network priority. For instance, putting the CS: GO as the first priority to minimise the network latency.
Performance & Thermals
Gaming performance is expected from the GTX 1070. It flies through the games without having any hiccups.
Thermals are disappointing, during an Overwatch session, the GPU hits 90-degrees Celsius while the CPU fetches a scorching 100-degree Celcius. CPU thermal throttling is a norm but so far we have not directly encountered any degradation in the gaming experience. Except for the annoyingly noisy cooling fan. In order to keep the temps in check, the fans would ramp up the RPM now and then which indirectly contributes to the overall noise pollution. I wonder if anything has gone wrong with my sample GL503VS, and we’ll be reaching out to ASUS for further clarification.
A single full charge will last you at most 2 hours of usage and mind you that we are not even playing any games and the battery profile is set to “Better Battery”. While you can explicitly set in the BIOS to use the iGPU, but it will only give you an additional 45 minutes of battery life (more or less).
So, definitely need to make sure the power brick is always travelling with you.
All in all, at the price of MYR 9,399, you’re buying into a whole new experience of FPS gaming on a laptop. While there are a lot of gaming laptops with i7-7700HQ and GTX 1070, but you can’t say the same to the 144 Hz high-refresh-rate monitor that comes with the ROG Strix GL503VS SCAR Edition. It is the key differentiator from the other laptops especially when you’re into fast action FPS games.
- Excellent build quality
- Great selection of I/O
- Excellent display, IPS, 1080p, 144 Hz, G-Sync
- Surprisingly good sounding speakers
- Excellent gaming performance (i7-7700HQ + GTX 1070)
- Fast storage (NVMe SSD + SSHD)
- User upgradeable (RAM and Storage)
- Squished number pad at the right side
- Disappointing thermals
- Short battery life