It's astonishing how far gaming laptops have come in such a relatively short time. Gone are the days of tremendous power for portability trade-offs. The bulky, steaming-hot monsters of yesterday look downright primitive compared with today's svelte machines. Even relatively affordable laptops, like the Asus ROG Strix GL503, are bursting with the kind of power that was simply not possible in a laptop just a few years ago.
While powerful compared to the laptops of yesteryear, this year’s Strix doesn't stand out against the backdrop of modern gaming laptops. The GL503 lacks ‘wow’ factor, sticking to a 1080p display and a GTX 1050 graphics card, given its price against key rivals. It's not as powerful as neither the MSI GE62 Apache Pro, which sports a GTX 1050 Ti, nor the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming with its GTX 1060, and it lands between the two in price in spite of it.
Here is the Asus ROG Strix GL503 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.8GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB GDDR5 VRAM); Intel HD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (dual channel; 2,400MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) anti-glare panel
Storage: 1TB FireCuda SSHD
Ports:1 x USB 3.1 Type-C,4 x USB 3.0, 1 x RJ-45 LAN, 1 x HDMI, 1 x mini DisplayPort , 1 x SD card reader, 1 x combination audio jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac (2 x 2), Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: 1080p webcam
Weight: 5.09 pounds (2.3kg)
Size: 15.1 x 10.3 x 0.9 inches (38.3 x 26.2 x 2.29cm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
The Asus Rog Strix GL503 configuration we tested will set you back $1,099 (£1,473.99, AU$2,599), but there are more powerful configurations available. The Hero Edition ups the display refresh rate to 120Hz, pumps the graphics card up to a GTX 1060 with 6GB of video memory and adds a 256GB solid-state drive for $1,599 (£1,409.99, AU$2,599.00).
Up against the Apache Pro and the Inspiron, the GL503 falls squarely in the middle when it comes to price. It's hard to really balance out a meaningful comparison of value against the Apache Pro. Spec-wise, they're nearly identical, with the Apache having a stronger GPU and thus better scores in benchmark testing. It's $300 more than the GL503 in the US, but in addition to the better GPU it also comes with a 256GB SSD on top of a 1TB HDD.
We haven't yet tested out the Dell Inspiron 15 7000; but, on paper, it already beats the GL503 in value. You get the 1060 GPU in a super-thin frame starting at just $899 (£799, AU$1,199).
The Asus Rog Strix GL503 is definitely a gaming laptop. The top features the ROG logo in a beautiful reflective metal lid. The lid itself brushed metal, but it goes a step further by adding lighting to the logo. By itself, it looks great, but the addition of light makes it look awesome.
The interior is also extremely attractive, with a programmable, full-sized RGB keyboard. The chiclet style keys feel a little mushy, but travel is just right and overall it feels comfortable to use. The trackpad is entirely adequate, with no notable good or poor qualities.
However, the trackpad suffers from the same problem as the rest of the laptop in that it's a magnet for fingerprints. No amount of hand washing is going to stop you from sullying the obsidian black of your GL503. It just wants to pick up a reminder of you every single time you touch it.
It's especially bad on the metal parts. Just one touch is all it takes, and the prints don't fade away. They can be wiped off with a soft cloth, so definitely pack one in your laptop bag.
The GL503 is thinner than the Apache Pro and a little lighter, too. At just over 5 pounds (2.2kg), it's about average for a gaming laptop. There are no surprises with the power brick, either. It's one of the smaller ones we've tested, which is great news if you're going to be schlepping the GL503 around in a laptop bag.
The 1080p display on the GL503 is easily its finest feature. Games and movies look fantastically crisp, clean and colorful. When watching Guardians of the Galaxy on the GL503, we had to double-check the specs to make sure it wasn't a 1440p or UHD screen. This is absolutely the best part of the laptop.