Hands on: Asus ROG Chimera G703 review

The first 144Hz gaming laptop is a beauty

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Once you see 144 fps on the Asus ROG Chimera G703 you won’t want any other gaming laptop.

For

  • Buttery smooth 144 fps with Nvidia G-Sync
  • The highest-end gaming laptop parts

Against

  • Thick, and we mean 'thicc'

 Last August we saw the first few gaming laptops with 120Hz displays hit the scene, alongside the introduction of Nvidia’s 10-series Pascal graphics. Now little more than a year later, Asus is upping the ante with the 144Hz ROG Chimera – and we don’t ever want to go back to the regular world of 60fps gaming.

The 17-inch gaming laptop from Asus is among one of the fastest in the world not only because of its high refresh display, but also thanks to the pairing of an Intel Core i7-7820HK processor with a Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU. Although Asus hasn’t revealed pricing or availability, you can expect to pay a pretty penny above $2,000 bucks for all this power.

Design

 Between Max-Q and all the slimmer gaming laptops we’ve seen over the year, it was almost mind boggling to see a thick gaming laptop that’s 2-inches (5.1cm) thick. The 17-inch Asus ROG Chimera is big honking machine and a clear descendant of the Asus ROG G752 with its titanium and copper color scheme.

This all-aluminum laptop feels completely solid and has soft-touch rubber flourishes in all the right places, like the keyboard deck and palm rests. Similarly, the Asus mechanical laptop keyboard feels on point, with 2.5mm of key travel and a fully customizable RGB lighting setup.

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 There’s also a new row of handy shortcut keys for quick access to the Xbox Dashboard in Windows 10, customizing the laptop’s Aura lighting and other gaming specific functions.

The biggest thing you’ll notice about the Asus ROG Chimera is its massive heating vents that fan out to the sides. When this machine runs at a full tilt it’s going to need a considerable amount of cooling, but the G703 looks equipped for the task. 

Features

 Of course, the headlining feature of the Asus ROG Chimera is its 144Hz Full HD display, which is the quickest refresh rate we’ve ever seen on any notebook. The high-refresh rate adds an extra silkiness to gameplay if you’ve never seen one. Forza Horizon 3 and Halo Wars 2 ran distinctly smoother during our hands on with the game.

Putting the visual aspect of a high-refresh rate display aside, the 144Hz screen will be invaluable to competitive gamers as it’ll keep up with their twitch-sensitive movements. The only aspect of the display we’re not sure about is the 7ms response time, which is pretty high for something built specifically for gaming.

Just looking at the screen is a joy too as colors pop off the display and contrast levels – from what we saw – were widely represented. For those who would rather have a high-resolution over frame rate, the G703 will also be configurable with a 4K display as an alternative.

As for specs, the ROG Chimera starts with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor that’s upgradable to an Intel Core i7-7820HK for overclocking potential. Meanwhile, the only graphics card listed for the G703 is the Nvidia GTX 1080 with 8GB of GDDR5X video memory. The gaming laptop also supports DDR4 memory but Asus has yet to specify the capacity or speed of RAM that will be available.

Storage starts with a 256GB PCIe Gen 3 SSD paired with an 1TB SSD, both of which are upgradable to 1TB and 2TB, respectively.

Early verdict

 The Asus ROG Chimera’s 144Hz display could well steal your heart away, with internals powerful enough to smoothly hit the top level of PC gaming. However, without knowing the price, it’s too early to say whether a machine of this caliber will be worth it without breaking the bank. Stay tuned for our full review coming soon.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.