Asus ROG Strix Scar II review: Colourful, portable gaming laptop impresses

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There are a lot of gaming laptops to choose from in the marketplace, but the Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) line offers some of the best choices for the serious gamer. And the Asus ROG Strix Scar II is no exception.

The Strix Scar II is a stylish workhouse of a machine that offers a premium experience for gamers. Available with either a 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch screen, it is a relatively compact and light machine. They’re both only a little more than 2.6 cm thick and weigh 2.4 kg and 2.9 kg, respectively. While not as light or thin as an Ultrabook, the Strix Scar II is more portable than many of the gaming laptops I have come across over the years.

Like with many of Asus ROG laptops, the Strix Scar II is available in multiple configurations, from the processor (Core i5 or Core i7) to different Nvidia graphics cards and so on.

The 15.6-inch model I tested (GL504GS) is somewhere in the middle in terms of specs of the Strix Scar II line but it still impresses.

My test laptop used a hexa-core Intel Core i7-8750 processor with a clockspeed of 2.2 GHz, a 1 TB main hard disk drive, a 256 GB solid-state drive and 16 GB of RAM which can be expanded up to 32 GB. The machine loaded programs quickly and handled running multiple memory-intensive programs at once with ease.

The GL504GS uses the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card with 8 GB of dedicated memory, which provides smooth playback for video and game animations. The top-end Strix Scar II laptops use the more recent RTX series cards, which technically can render graphics faster but I didn’t have any problems running games or other content on the GL504GS.

Some might be a little disappointed that the monitor is only HD (1,920x,1080) and not 4K but it has a 144 Hz, 3 ms refresh rate so the response time is fast compared to many other monitors, which is something you want if you spend a lot of gaming.

The Strix Scar II’s keyboard is also designed to improve the gaming experience. The multi-coloured backlit chiclet keyboard is responsive and feels good to type on. But it also comes with tweaks to make it more appealing to gamers. The WASD keys (often used as secondary arrow keys) are white instead of black so they stand out.

There are also additional keys to control volume and FN keys that give additional functionality to a bunch of other keys on the keyboard. Some of these functions can be found on many other laptops, such as control media payback, screen brightness and turn on airplane mode. But some are less common, such as controlling the fan speed, disabling/enabling the touchpad and accessing the computer’s second monitor settings with a keystroke.

The keyboard also has a ROG key that launches the Republic of Gamers Center shows how your device is operating: amount of currently RAM in use, hard-drive space, CPU/GPU speed and so on. You can do some of the things you can from the keyboard, such as overboost the fan and disable the touchpad but you can also adjust game visuals (with presets for different types of games), free up memory and create game profiles with different settings

And the sound is great. The laptop has two 1 W speakers which provide good-quality sound that reverberates through the whole machine. It can be a bit bassy at times, which may not be to everyone’s taste but overall the internal sound is impressive.

Being a gaming machine, means the Strix Scar II can also handle other graphic and memory-intensive content such as video and graphic editing programs. It’s a great machine overall, even if the black, angular chassis with its matte patterned finish and logo that lights up may make it look a bit too much like a game console for some people.

Prices vary for the Asus ROG Strix Scar II based on the specs, but a GL504GS laptop similar to the one I tested is available on Newegg,ca for $2,229.

ASUS ROG STRIX SCAR II (GL504GS) KEY SPECIFICATIONS

OS
Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro

DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
36.1 cm x 26.2 cm x 2.61 cm, 2.4 kg

CPU
Intel Core i5-8300H or Intel Core i7-8750H

RAM
Up to 32 GB of 2666MHz SDRAM (Dual-channel)

STORAGE
HDD: 2.5-inch 5400 rpm 1TB SSHD or 2.5-inch 5400 rpm/7200 rpm 1TB HDD
SSD: M.2 NVMe PCIe (128 GB/256 GB/512 GB)

GRAPHICS CARD
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8 GB GDDR5 VRAM

DISPLAY OPTIONS
15.6-inch non-glare full HD (1920×1080) IPS-level panel, 144 Hz, 3 ms, 72% NTSC

PORTS
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-C)
2 x USB3.1 Gen 1
1 x USB3.1 Gen 2
1 x mDP 1.2
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x RJ-45 jack
SD card slot
1 x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1 x Kensington lock

For specifications of the other configurations, check out Asus’ website.

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