The market for gaming laptops has grown in recent years and has changed dramatically: Machines have become more powerful and more expensive and at the same time have become leaner and leaner. The latest Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 pushes itself back to maturity against this trend with relish. It's outrageously a gaming laptop with all of the social design you would expect, and it locks and charges some of the most powerful hardware in the laptop world as well.
The graphic grunt comes from the GeForce RTX 3080 with 6,144 CUDA cores and 16 GB of memory. We're always excited about an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX – in previous reviews it was the most powerful laptop processor money can buy. Elsewhere, the Asus offers a 360 Hz display and lots of RGB LEDs.
This type of gaming hardware doesn't come cheap, however – the ROG Strix model we tested costs a whopping $ 2,999. And when you pack that type of power into a notebook, there are many other considerations too, such as: B. the heat output and the battery life.
Features and design
The first thing you'll notice about the ROG Strix Scar is the abundance of RGB LEDs. As with the previous models, the front edge has a six-zone lighting strip and the keyboard has RGB backlighting per key. New this year is a two-zone light located on the underside of the display. It's one of the most surprising RGB LED installations we've seen on a gaming laptop, and it helps the Asus stand out.
Elsewhere, the scar continues the extravaganza. One side of the lid has a chrome effect logo and more RGB LEDs, and the other side has a dotted pattern that expresses ROG when viewed from the right angle. Much of the base is made of translucent plastic so you can see the fuzzy circuit boards and the metal underneath. A plate made of the same plastic covers one end of the hinge, and Asus includes some replacement plates made of chrome and black plastic.
The Asus looks like a classic gaming laptop, but the Scar also sticks to this familiar blueprint in other areas – for better and for worse.
On the positive side, it has slim bezels and reasonable internal access. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the base. You'll find two M.2 ports and two memory slots, though your configuration will affect how much is free.
On the negative side, the scar weighs about 6 pounds and is 27.5mm thick. So it's a big bruise on a machine – competing 17.3-inch notebooks are usually slimmer. The metal around the keyboard is also a bit of a fingerprint magnet. Slightly inconsistent: the display is sturdy, but there is movement in the keyboard deck and it's pretty easy to bend the base from below. The Asus is strong enough to withstand frequent backpack trips and life indoors, but it's not flawless.
The range of functions can also be a bit mixed. On the left there are two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and a headphone jack. On the back there is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C port that supports DisplayPort and 100 W, another full-size USB port for the power output. There is also an HDMI 2.0b output here, but this version of the connector doesn't support 8K outputs.
That's it for connectivity though – the Scar doesn't have a webcam, card reader, or fingerprint reader, and there aren't any faster USB ports. The Scar's AMD chipset also means it doesn't support Thunderbolt. The Asus website states that this laptop includes an external 1080p webcam, but none in our example, and the retail websites do not list them.
The only feature on the right side of the system is the Asus Keystone II slot. It's a notch that holds a small RFID device called a keystone. When connected, the Keystone can activate personalized settings, launch custom applications or settings, or trigger an encrypted storage drive. It's a little gimmick.
This year's Scar has a new keyboard. It's one of the few laptops with opto-mechanical switches, and the buttons have a decent 1.9mm of travel and 0.2ms response time with no debounce delay. The layout is decent, with additional buttons for changing speaker volume and fan speed, as well as opening the Asus Armory Crate app. It has full-size cursor keys and a numeric keypad. The only problem is that the number pad is shorter which means there are no dedicated PgUp, PgDn, Home or Delete buttons.
The keyboard is excellent: incredibly fast, with a clicky, bouncy feel. These keys are faster and more stable than any on a chiclet device, and this is one of the best keyboards you'll find on any gaming notebook right now.
The keyboard is also louder, so a traditional chiclet keyboard is better if you prefer a device with a softer feel under your fingers.
The trackpad is big and sleek, but anyone who's serious should plug in a proper mouse instead. The buttons are moderate in speed, but their clicking movement is slower and spongier than a decent mouse. The pad is to the left of the machine so it's too easy to accidentally trigger with the keyboard.
The impressive 17.3-inch display is located above the keyboard. The model we tested uses a 1080p IPS panel with a refresh rate of 360 Hz, adaptive synchronization and a response time of 3 ms.
The Scar panel has fought its way through every task true to form, with extremely smooth games in fast-paced esport titles and high-quality single-player experiences.
It has impressive levels of quality. The brightness level of 319 cd / m2 combined with a black point of 0.24 cd / m2 results in a contrast ratio of 1,329: 1, which is absolutely stable for an IPS panel – this means that you get impressive depth and nuances without becoming oversaturated its colors.
The Asus display also has a fantastic Delta E of 1.25 and a color temperature of 6,476K. They are both excellent and make sure that the colors are displayed accurately. The screen is also consistent: evenness tests have shown that the panel has only lost around 5% of its backlight intensity in most sectors, so the images are not distorted. The Grain Panel has reproduced 97.6% of the sRGB color gamut at 102.1% volume, so almost any hue you need is reproduced without oversaturation.
The display shows only minor problems. The brightness is good enough for indoor gaming but not high enough for outdoor gaming or work. It also cannot render the Adobe RGB or DCI-P3 color slides, so HDR games and certain color sensitive workloads are not feasible here.
The speakers are superb, with impressive bass, mid-range clarity, and high-end tones that are vibrant without being thin. The 4W speakers and 2W tweeters are well balanced and have good depth. This audio kit is easy for games and media – and far better than most laptop audio hardware.
The RTX 3080 of this computer uses the usual 6,144 CUDA cores and the fantastic amp architecture. Asus has provided the more powerful version of the card with 16 GB of GDDR6 memory at 14 Gbit / s. We covered this GPU in more detail in our review, but in addition to all of the generation upgrades we discussed, you'd want to know that Asus is running the RTX 3080 in this laptop with a power consumption between 115W and 130W with Dynamic Boost 2.0, which delivers the latter. Those are hefty numbers, even though the RTX 3080 laptop core can theoretically reach a maximum power of 165W.
The high-end graphics hardware is located next to an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX. It's a stunning laptop chip with 8-core / 16-thread design and Zen 3 architecture. It has theoretical base and boost speeds of 3.3 GHz and 4.6 GHz.
The specification is rounded off by 32 GB dual-channel DDR4 with 3,200 MHz and a RAID 0 array that uses two 1 TB Samsung PM981 SSDs. You get 1.84 TB of formatted space, plus great read and write speeds of 6,964 MB / s and 5,650 MB / s, which is great for content creation and fast load times. However, RAID 0 does not mean data redundancy.
Connectivity is via dual-band 802.11ax wireless, Bluetooth 5.1 and Gigabit Ethernet. It is disappointing that there is no 2.5 Gbps or 10 Gbps Ethernet on this computer. This specification corresponds to that of the Asus Zephyrus Duo GX551, which we tested in February. Asus clearly doesn't want to mess with a good cause too much.
If you want to take a closer look at the core components, you're in luck: We have already covered the laptop core Ryzen 9 5900HX and GeForce RTX 3080 in separate reviews.
The scar's RTX 3080 is impressive. In Assassin's Creed Valhalla the average was 76.3 fps and 94.9 fps through Far Cry New Dawn. In Red Dead Redemption 2 it averaged 93.9 fps, and in Shadow of the Tomb Raider it averaged 111.5 fps and then hit 85.9 fps with ray tracing enabled. In Rainbow Six Siege at medium settings and 1080p, the GPU delivered an average of 235 fps.
|Game Benchmarked||1080p Ultra settings
(min / average FPS)
|Far Cry New Dawn||72.4 / 94.9|
|GTA V.||81.9 / 116.8|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||77.1 / 111.5|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||61.3 / 93.9|
|Assassin's Creed Valhalla||53.6 / 76.3|
|Border areas 3||62.6 / 92.3|
Those are tremendous results, which means this laptop can play anything at 1080p, including ray-traced titles. There is enough power to play tough single player games consistently at frame rates over 60 fps. We recorded frame rates at over 60 frames per second when we put these games on the toughest graphics settings, so you'll have plenty of headroom going forward.
The RTX 3080 can also handle esports games at the frame rates required for the 360 Hz display, especially when you're ready to drop some of the eye candy. If you want to output to VR headsets and 4K screens, this laptop can handle that as well. However, you may need to lower the GPU settings a bit to ensure consistent smooth performance.
Unsurprisingly, there's little between this Asus and the dual-screen machine we tested earlier this year: the scar is a bit faster, no doubt thanks to driver updates and software improvements. The RTX 3080 in our in-depth test was slightly faster than this laptop, but the MSI computer in this article ran its RTX 3080 at TDPs between 135W and 155W. And finally, you shouldn't expect the RTX 3080 laptop to run with the Desktop card matches – laptop GPU is 25% slower on average.
In all of the results mentioned so far, the Asus performance setting was used for performance mode, which is the device's default option. As with most Asus gaming notebooks, Windows, Silent and Turbo options are also available.
The GPU runs at around 1,400 MHz in performance mode. Activating turbo mode increases this speed to around 1,500 MHz while gaming. In practice, that tiny speed boost doesn't mean much extra performance – the laptop was a few frames faster in some games, but that's it. The Windows option reduced the GPU speed to almost 1,400 MHz, which reduced the speed by a few frames.
The most interesting option is Silent Mode, where the GPU peak is around 1,100 MHz during gaming. And although the Asus is not perfectly quiet, it hardly makes any noise – it is extremely quiet. It is impressive that the Asus ran at a smooth 60 fps in our gaming tests in silent mode, which means that you can play single-player games at an absolutely solid frame rate without any noise. This is an excellent choice for balanced gameplay.
When running games in performance mode, the scars generated 45 dB of fan noise. That's not terrible – no louder than other gaming notebooks, a little quieter than the GX551, and quiet enough that speakers or a headset drown it out. In turbo mode, the noise level rose to an irritating 58 dB. Speakers or a headset will still take care of this, but it's a hefty increase for a relatively small increase in frame rate. We liked how the Asus behaved in silent mode: its maximum noise level of 32 dB when games are barely audible.
We didn't have any problems with the GPU temperatures either – the graphics core reached a maximum of 85 degrees in the most demanding benchmarks, which is manageable.
The processor of choice is great for content creation, creative work, and multitasking. It is also ideal for single-thread tasks and consistently outperforms Intel silicon, while with the Ryzen 7 5800H it offers a small lead over cheaper laptops.
The 5900HX in the Asus wasn't quite as fast as the chip in the XMG laptop that we used in our CPU test. In the single and multi-core tests of the Cinebench R20, the Asus delivered results of 559 and 4824 – both are slightly behind this CPU and slightly ahead of the 5800H. It was slightly slower than the CPU we tested in Blender, with an overall score of four minutes and nineteen seconds, and delivered speeds of 48.72 MB / s and 689.02 MB / s in the 7-Zip compression and decompression tests, with both results a few megabytes behind the XMG.
In the PCMark 10 application test, the Asus scored 14,055 points, which was marginally better than the 5900X and 5800H we tested, but the Scar's Essentials score of 10,412 was slower than both, albeit by a small margin. The scar scored 1.31 in the high-end Matlab R2020 benchmark. That is a bit behind the XMG-based 5900HX and is on par with the 5800H.
This may not be the best implementation of the Ryzen 9 5900HX, but it's still a great chip, and it still outperforms anything Intel can offer until we could test the company's new 11th generation performance CPUs.
Clock rates explain the slight differences in performance. In the Scar's standard performance mode, the CPU achieved a peak value of 4.5 GHz in single-thread tasks and a value of 4.2 GHz in multi-core benchmarks, with the former number being slightly slower than the theoretical speed of the CPU . By activating the Turbo mode, the Asus Draw level was reached with our 5900HX in multi-core tests, but it did not have a major impact on the single-core performance.
The CPU reached a peak value of 2.8 GHz in silent mode, which has an impact on performance. The Cinebench result sank to 4049. But if you can cope with everyday workloads, that's enough. The Windows option acted as an intermediate station between the silent and the performance mode, with the CPU reaching a peak value of 4 GHz.
When running work benchmarks in performance mode, the scar's 39dB noise level is decent and easy to work with, and it was quiet in silent mode. The Asus increased to around 55 dB in Turbo mode and when running work benchmarks, which is extremely loud. In Turbo mode, the CPU temperature reached a maximum of 95 ° C.
Since the CPU temperatures are kept below 90 ° C and the noise level is more manageable with any other performance option, the turbo mode is not really worth it. As with our gaming tests, it offers a tiny advantage in addition to a lot of additional noise and heat.
Fortunately, the Asus' exterior stayed pretty cool regardless of the benchmarks or performance option. The base plate and the area above the keyboard were only slightly heated and only a small amount of warm air was vented from the sides. Outwardly, it's in better health than most gaming laptops.
And as usual, you don't expect a lot of battery life from this gaming notebook. Regardless of what you do with the performance modes and brightness, you won't benefit from this computer for more than 90 minutes while gaming – and GPU performance will be limited when using the battery.
If you squeeze the hardware while working, the Asus lasts less than three hours. At best, we had a lifespan of 6-7 hours between this laptop, but at that point the computer was doing low-end tasks like surfing the web and running office tools.
The Asus we tested is the top-end model. Fortunately, cheaper specs are also available. The $ 2,199 version of this system falls on an RTX 3070, cutting the SSD size in half. It uses a display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and a refresh rate of 165 Hz, so it is sharper. There's also a machine for $ 2,699 that combines the 1440p screen with an RTX 3080. All of these devices use the Ryzen 9 5900HX.
You can also get a machine with the 1440p display and RTX 3080 or 3060 in a 15.6-inch chassis starting at $ 1,599 if you want something smaller. Just look for the G533, not the G733.
For whom is that?
It feels like a lot of the gaming laptops you can buy right now are almost ashamed – they try to put high-end hardware in designs that are better suited for the boardroom.
The latest Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 "is not like that. This device has its gaming origins with lots of RGB LEDs and logos and supports the bold design with impressive performance in key areas.
The RTX 3080 masters every game task with 1080p: In addition to the intelligent silent mode, which aims at a performance of 60 fps, it offers the grunt for first-class single-player games with ray tracing function and executes every esports title at a reasonable speed. The AMD processor doesn't quite run at top speed, but it is still exceptionally fast and can handle difficult content creation tasks.
The display makes games look amazing, the speakers are great, the opto-mechanical keyboard is snappy and sturdy, and the RAID array is fast. The Asus is a decent thermal generator too – there are occasional instances of being particularly noisy or hot, but these are rare. For the most part, the G733 is cooler and quieter than its predecessors and other laptops in its class.
Of course, there are certain areas where this gaming laptop – like many others – gets stuck. Battery life isn't great, but gaming laptops never have much going for them in this department. The Asus lacks functions such as a webcam, card reader and fingerprint reader. The screen cannot display HDR or Adobe RGB content, the trackpad is only average and the Asus is relatively robust, but also thick and heavy. And of course, this high-end machine isn't cheap.
The problems and tradeoffs make the Asus not for everyone, especially if you need a machine to work and play with. However, if you're looking for a large notebook that will absolutely love gaming, then the latest ROG Strix Scar 17 is for you – it's bold, fast, and powerful.