Hands on: Asus ROG GX700 review

The world's first liquid-cooled gaming laptop

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Absurd and a little insane, Asus makes the first liquid-cooled gaming laptop a performance demon with desktop caliber graphics.

For

  • Insane performance
  • VR gaming on a laptop
  • Cool styling

Against

  • A potentially absurd price
  • System doesn't drain when undocked

Liquid cooling your PC is rite of passage that separates the casual gamers from the hardcore enthusiasts. And so when Asus announced integrated liquid cooling into a 17.3-inch gaming laptop, I was totally stoked. However, after spending a short afternoon playing on this desktop-equivalent gaming laptop, I’m finding there’s more to this monster than the sheer absurdity of it.

Call me a nerd or geek if you want, but there’s something about the Asus ROG GX700 that makes it the epitome of cool. Its styling is completely unreserved as a sleek gaming machine that’s surprisingly thin (about an inch thick) given it’s packing a ton of internals, traditional heat sinks and new liquid cooling channels.

Asus ROG GX700 review

The design as a whole follows Asus’ new ROG black and dark copper color scheme. Meanwhile, the frame features a slight curvature throughout with snipped corners, which makes it look a bit like a laptop out of Battle Star Galactica.

Every little detail screams “I was made for gaming,” from the flared rear vent covers to the little chevron you’ll find on the back pointing down to the liquid-cooling connector.

Asus ROG GX700 review

The power of liquid cooling

Of course, the real show stealer here is the liquid-cooling module, which looks like a cross between a metallic beetle and an air filter. The attachable liquid-cooler is massive too so you’ll need a good two- to three-feet of space, just make sure it and the GX700 can fit on a desk. Tucked inside its angular shell lies a water pump and radiator that’s designed to help dissipate the intense heat from the desktop-grade Nvidia GTX 980 built into the GX700.

To correctly align the two halves together, the liquid-cooling dock has four prongs built into a tray found at the front of the peripheral. The GX700, meanwhile, has corresponding holes that align the laptop so it’s at the right height, pitch and angle. From there, it’s a simple matter of pushing down the massive metal switch on the back to extend the liquid-cooling connector.

It’s not an exaggeration to say this is the coolest part of the laptop.

Asus ROG GX700 review

Connecting the system will truly unlock the system for overclocking on both the GX700’s Intel Core i7 6820HK processor and Nvidia GTX 980 graphics card. This elevates the machine for the most intense gaming experiences including driving virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

While not connected, Asus explained its beastly gaming laptop can fully utilize the desktop graphics chip at its normal clock speed. Unfortunately, Asus’ solution doesn’t fully drain the system. So the GX700 will always have the extra weight of the cooling solution inside it, which remains inert without a dock to circulate the liquid.

Asus ROG GX700 review

Built to win

Liquid-cooling aside, the GX700 is a solid gaming laptop equipped with all the right stuff. The built-in screen is a sharp and bright 17.3-inch G-Sync screen with an optional 4K resolution. Meanwhile, the trackpad feels buttery smooth with deep actionable mouse buttons, and a red-backlit keyboard featuring 2.5mm key travel.

At purchase, you’ll be able configure this system with a maximum 64GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage. On the ports front, the GX700 is outfitted with a full spread of USB 3.0, USB Type-C, mini DisplayPort and HDMI ports.

Asus ROG GX700 review

The only thing you’ll find lacking on this laptop is an optical drive. Asus argues it omitted this feature because it wanted to make sure the laptop was still portable.

Asus has yet to announce availability and pricing, but the most recent reports suggested the Asus ROG GX700VO would drop in the UK for a tear-inducing £4,000 (around $6,200).

Asus ROG GX700 review

Early verdict

Let's face it, the Asus ROG GX700 wasn’t made for the average gamer. Instead it’s going after a much more dedicated audience who wants the best experience for their digital fragging. And from what I’ve experienced thus far, the GX700 delivers on this in spades whether you want to play games at 4K or in the even more immersive VR space.

Beyond being a great machine for the next few years, the Asus ROG GX700 cracks open a whole new world of possibility for laptop gaming. Will a Titan card be the next chip to come to laptops? What of desktop processors that have already made their way to machines like the Origin EON15-X? Could liquid cooling be integrated internally in the gaming laptop without the aid of an external dock?

But for now the only question you should have on your mind is: Can I really afford all this?

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.

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