ROG has been experimenting on their products all these while and last year we saw the company dropped a huge surprise on us with the announcement of the ROG Mothership – a Microsoft Surface Pro on steroids with fully custom CNC-machined chassis.
Months after the announcement, in June 2019, ROG Malaysia has made it available locally at the price of RM26,999. This much-delayed review will bring you guys on a ride to learn more about this ridiculous gaming powerhouse.
What comes in the box
- ROG Mothership
- 2x 280W charger
- ROG Ranger BP3702G Backpack (not shown)
- ROG Cerberus gaming headphones (not shown)
- ROG Gladius II gaming mouse
- Product documentation
- ROG Metal Earth mini sculpture
- Ownership certificate, design history & cardboard frame
As ridiculous the product may seem to be, the company even included a special thank you note from the lead designer, complete with a cardboard photo frame so that you are always being reminded on how much effort they have spent on this product.
|Intel Core i9-9980HK (liquid metal TIM)
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
|17.3-inch Full HD IPS 144Hz 3ms
|2x 32GB DDR4-2666
|3x 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x 4 SSD RAID 0
|1 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen1
3 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen2
1 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2 (With DisplayPort 1.4)
1 x ThunderBolt 3 (USB Type-C)
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x SD card reader
1 x 3.5mm Mic-in
1 x 3.5mm Audio combo
2 x DC jack
1 x RJ-45 jack
1 x Kensington Lock
|410 * 320 * 29.9 mm
Around the Device
Traditional clamshell laptops usually have limited airflow due to the under-chassis intake vents has little room to breath. That’s the reason why we often see gaming laptop owners would prop up their laptop to better cool the laptop components. That’s what makes the ROG Mothership superior as it took the inspiration from the Microsoft Surface Pro and add it with a little bit of ROG DNA. The end result is the standing design with all the hardware component positioned behind the screen and significantly improves the airflow.
The kickstand at the back automatically deploys when you place the Mothership on the table. The trick is as simple as two switches cleverly placed under the Mothership.
The chassis is fully CNC-machined from a solid aluminium block to provide a robust and premium user experience. That includes all the vents, ports as well as those flashy ROG lines on the body.
Obviously, the ROG Mothership will come with all the best ports you could get on a PC.
On the left
- Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2)
- 1 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen1
- 1 x 3.5mm Mic-in
- 1 x 3.5mm Audio combo
- 1 x Gigabit RJ-45
- 2 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen2
On the right
- 1 x SD card reader
- 1 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2 (With DisplayPort 1.4)
- 1 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen2
- 1 x HDMI 2.0
- 2 x DC input
Flipping down the keyboard panel reveals the 17.3-inch Full HD 144Hz IPS display at the front. So far, I have been really impressed with the ROG Mothership but not that I would say the same to the display.
You see, 2019 has been the booming year for display technology. Brands and companies have started to put 144Hz displays on their entry-mid level gaming laptops and 240Hz displays on their mid-high level options. Granted the Mothership’s 144Hz display supports NVIDIA G-SYNC for the tear-free viewing experience, but looking their ROG Zephyrus S GX701, that laptop has a 300Hz G-SYNC Pantone Validated screen.
Given the timeline of announcements and actual release date, we can only blame on the ROG Mothership’s delay in shipments caused it to be under shadowed by its other newer product.
Don’t get me wrong, the display is still exceptional for running games at high frame rates, especially when the RTX 2080 can go wild with the improved thermal capabilities. Just that we have to be reminded with the fact that the Mothership as ROG’s flagship device should come with all the bells and whistles.
Keyboard & Trackpad
As we move our attention to the RGB keyboard, ergonomic enthusiasts will definitely scream in agony. Good news is that the design of the keyboard allows it to be detached and used either in wired mode or 2.4GHz wireless mode. While wireless mode allows a more versatile user experience and cleaner desk setup, gamers who want to excel in the scoreboard would still gladly have the keyboard connected via the hidden USB Type-C port at the top left corner.
The trackpad, on the other hand, is rather forgettable as no gamer in their sane mind would challenge an FPS game on it. ASUS has made the trackpad slightly ever more useful with the addition of number pad overlay on it.
We often ignore the built-in speakers on a laptop or AIO because most of them are just being useful as a speaker while not sounding spectacular. The stereo speakers on the ROG Mothership sounds surprisingly good even with the use of typical speaker drivers. The better sound quality is most probably contributed by the front-firing speaker placement under the display bezel. With that said, do take note that using the Mothership while having the keyboard attached will deteriorate the sound quality significantly.
Performance & Thermal
That goes without saying, the ROG Mothership has an exceptional performance under its hood. The Intel Core i9-9980HK and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 is capable of kicking in tonnes of frames rates in-game thanks to the improved thermal design. First of all, the use of liquid metal TIM is already a huge performance boost and secondly, the upright design of the chassis allows uninterrupted cool air intake from the back. All in all, if you’re a current owner of any other portable desktop, you will be thrilled to find what this machine is capable to offer.
Our only complaint regarding the laptop’s cooling is even at quiet mode, the cooling fans are still annoyingly whiny.
In terms of upgradability, ROG has made it known to us that the SSD and RAM can be upgraded if desired, however, they do not recommend users to take apart the ROG Mothership due to its intrinsic construction.
Wrapping up ROG Mothership Review
At this point, some may argue with the steep price of RM26,999 and the term “portable” as carrying the ROG Mothership & the 2x power bricks do not make me feel lightweight at all. However, could you imagine the hassle of transporting your gaming desktop together with the monitor? This kind of ultra-high-end enthusiast gaming laptop even though is extremely thick and heavy, they are still the number one choice for gamers who has a day job that requires them to travel. I mean, you wouldn’t want to leave your RTX 2080 equipped gaming desktop at home for two weeks right?
All in all, if ROG has set out to create a portable gaming machine that has superior cooling capabilities, I have to congratulate them for achieving their goal. The ROG Mothership is a gaming beast that once again raises the bar of a portable gaming machine. While the design is heavily inspired by the Microsoft Surface Pro lineup, the R&D team has made enough effort in transforming the end product into something we have never seen in the gaming universe.
- Excellent build quality & design
- Superb choices of IO ports
- Detachable dual function keyboard
- Good speakers
- Excellent performance
- Excellent cooling
- 144Hz refresh rate only
- Noisy fans