Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023): Two-minute review
Asus' flagship portable gaming machine, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023), sits at the top of the performance tree, packing (in our review sample) a 13th-gen Core i9, an RTX 4090, and a cooling solution which helps them run at their best.
But there's a price to pay to be cutting edge of the best gaming laptops. Not a physical one, thankfully, but a monetary one. And we do wonder how many people will stump up the funds to buy one.
That investment isn't just in top-line internals. It goes towards a screen that impresses with every look, a slim-bezeled QHD+ panel with fabulous colour reproduction, excellent response times and a 240Hz refresh rate which keeps absolutely everything smooth. It gets you a case with some luxurious and unique design touches, highly impressive lighting, and the ability to expand the SSD and RAM if you need to in the future.
Money buys you one of the best laptops you can buy today. It's a joy to use, and unbelievably capable. But that same investment might be able to buy you two perfectly passable laptops, or a kitted-out desktop machine which will move around about as much as you'll want to shift this heavy mobile monster.
Don't get us wrong, we love the Scar 18. We would pick one up if we had the ready cash, and we'd only regret it a little in a couple of years when similar power will be available for half the money. If the never-ending march of technology doesn't worry you, this is the perfect choice.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023): Price & availability
- How much does it cost? Around $6,500 / £4,000 / AU$7,500
- When is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia
Judging the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 on its price is difficult, given that Asus has thus far been cagey about what exactly that price is in some regions. We know that the UK configuration reviewed here lists for £4,000 – that converts to around $4,995/AU$7,540 – and you can get a version in Australia with 64GB RAM for $7,499 in local currency.
US prices are harder to come by, though unofficially we've seen listings placing this anywhere between $5,000 and $6,500.
Whatever the final price in your region ends up being, it's safe to say that this is very expensive indeed, as you'd expect from a machine which pushes every envelope it's possible to push.
The Alienware m17 R5, for example, looks like a bargain by comparison, and it's a beast of a laptop in its own right. By way of contrast, though, a Razer Blade 18 with a comparable spec sheet lists for £500 more, so maybe this is a bargain after all? It's not, but that might be the convincer you need if you're on the fence.
- Price score: 2 / 5
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023): Specs
Officially the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) G834 comes in five barely-differing configurations, two each for the US and Australia, and one for the UK.
The common thread is the Intel Core i9-13980HX, and the 18-inch panel stays the same; both US configurations receive a total of 4GB storage over a pair of 2GB NVMe M.2 SSDs and an excessive 64GB RAM; the others either sport a pair of 1TB SSDs or, in the case of Australia's lowest spec, a single paltry tebibyte alongside 32GB RAM. We're reviewing the UK spin here.
Note that you might not actually be able to find the specific specs that Asus lists, since at press time most are not officially available from its various online storefronts.
|Component||G834JZ-N6027X - US||G834JY-N6044X - US||G834JY-N6005W - UK||G834JY-N6057W - AU||G834JZ-N6020W - AU|
|CPU||13th-gen Intel Core i9-13980HX (36MB cache, 2.2GHz / 5.6GHz boost, 24 cores)||13th-gen Intel Core i9-13980HX (36MB cache, 2.2GHz / 5.6GHz boost, 24 cores)||13th-gen Intel Core i9-13980HX (36MB cache, 2.2GHz / 5.6GHz boost, 24 cores)||13th-gen Intel Core i9-13980HX (36MB cache, 2.2GHz / 5.6GHz boost, 24 cores)||13th-gen Intel Core i9-13980HX (36MB cache, 2.2GHz / 5.6GHz boost, 24 cores)|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 laptop spec, 12GB GDDR6, overclocked||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 laptop spec, 16GB GDDR6, overclocked||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 laptop spec, 16GB GDDR6, overclocked||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 laptop spec, 16GB GDDR6, overclocked||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 laptop spec, 12GB GDDR6, overclocked|
|RAM||64GB DDR5-4800 (2x SODIMM)||64GB DDR5-4800 (2x SODIMM)||32GB DDR5-4800 (2x SODIMM)||64GB DDR5-4800 (2x SODIMM)||32GB DDR5-4800 (2x SODIMM)|
|Storage||2TB + 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD||2TB + 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD||1TB + 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD||1TB + 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD||1TB NVMe M.2 SSD|
|Screen||18" 16:10 IPS QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz, 3ms response, G-Sync, Dolby Vision, Pantone Validated||18" 16:10 IPS QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz, 3ms response, G-Sync, Dolby Vision, Pantone Validated||18" 16:10 IPS QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz, 3ms response, G-Sync, Dolby Vision, Pantone Validated||18" 16:10 IPS QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz, 3ms response, G-Sync, Dolby Vision, Pantone Validated||18" 16:10 IPS QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz, 3ms response, G-Sync, Dolby Vision, Pantone Validated|
|Ports||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort, power delivery & G-Sync), 1x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gb LAN port, audio combo jack||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort, power delivery & G-Sync), 1x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gb LAN port, audio combo jack||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort, power delivery & G-Sync), 1x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gb LAN port, audio combo jack||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort, power delivery & G-Sync), 1x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gb LAN port, audio combo jack||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort, power delivery & G-Sync), 1x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gb LAN port, audio combo jack|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3|
|Camera||720p webcam||720p webcam||720p webcam||720p webcam||720p webcam|
|Weight||6.83lbs (3.10kg)||6.83lbs (3.10kg)||6.83lbs (3.10kg)||6.83lbs (3.10kg)||6.83lbs (3.10kg)|
|Dimensions||15.71" x 11.57" x 0.91-1.21" (39.9 x 29.4 x 2.31-3.08cm)||15.71" x 11.57" x 0.91-1.21" (39.9 x 29.4 x 2.31-3.08cm)||13.57 x 9.06 x 0.71 inches (344.72 x 230.14 x 18mm)||15.71" x 11.57" x 0.91-1.21" (39.9 x 29.4 x 2.31-3.08cm)||15.71" x 11.57" x 0.91-1.21" (39.9 x 29.4 x 2.31-3.08cm)|
Asus doesn't specifically offer configuration options beyond its litany of pre-built product tiers. Look around the internet, though, and you'll see vaguely differing specs listed on sites like Amazon that don't quite line up with Asus' official listings – third parties are tweaking these and selling them.
Bear in mind that you can also upgrade it yourself, with non-soldered RAM and a pair of M.2 slots open for whatever you want to put in them.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023): Design
- Well-considered design notes offer a unique feel
- Decent keyboard and trackpad
- Very heavy indeed – though that's not unexpected
It's depressingly inevitable that we come to the point in a laptop review where we must discuss its design and are left with very little to say. That's why it's such a delight to talk about what Asus has done here: the ROG Strix 18 is great looking, and pretty original with it.
The keyboard side of its lower chassis, for example, is made of a smokey translucent grey plastic, almost reminiscent of the mid-90s 'Everything See-through' era but presented with a dash more class and with significantly less to see beneath. It's subtle; we'd imagine the temptation was there to allow the perimeter RGB lights to shine up through it, but they mostly stay confined to their own well-diffused border, illuminating the desk rather than one's face.
The keyboard itself adheres to the current trend of squashed number pads, which we suppose is OK given that there's likely very little serious data entry in the Strix 18's future. Outside of that, it's great. There's a satisfying level of travel to its keys, it's positioned well in relation to the wrists, its RGB effects are totally in sync with the rest of the impressive lighting, and the gigantic touchpad backs it up beautifully.
There are a few little gamer-brand angles, as it were, which follow from the excellent packaging to the vents to the decoration on the lid and main chassis of the laptop, but nothing offensive or gaudy. The hinged lid is stiff, the construction seems very solid and weighty, and the bezels around that gigantic screen are minimal. So the Asus ROG Strix 18 makes its mark through its poise. This is a machine that grabs the eye in all the right ways and doesn't disappoint the fingers either.
Asus loves to put its power cable directly in the centre of the left edge of its laptops, so the positioning here doesn't come as a big surprise. It's microscopically annoying – we'd much rather it tucked itself out of the way and left that space for peripheral ports – but if space must be made for cooling (and given the monstrous amount of vent space on the rear, we're pretty sure that's exactly the reason) then that's fine.
One small positioning niggle aside, then, the rest of the ports are very sensibly arranged, with two Type-A ports on the right edge perfect for peripherals, and a pair of Type-C sockets, HDMI and audio on the left. Realistically this will not be a laptop that moves around often – it's antisocially heavy – so the desktop-friendly layout is one that works well.
- Design score: 4 / 5
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023): Performance
- Absolutely class-leading speed
- Runs cool and quiet – except when it doesn't
- Incredible screen speed, consistency and resolution
Here's how the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Night Raid: 72,856; Fire Strike: 33,795; Time Spy: 19,305
GeekBench 6: 2,870 (single-core); 16,477 (multi-core)
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 128.2 fps; (1080p, Low): 278.8 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 115.01 fps; (1080p, Low): 121.39 fps
Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 163.1 fps; (1080p, Low): 199.7 fps
CrossMark: Overall: 1,951 Productivity: 1,777 Creativity: 2,373 Responsiveness: 1,435
Techradar Battery Life test: 7 hours and 13 minutes
PCMark 10 Battery Life test: 5 hours and 35 minutes
Before we get to the game performance (it's inevitably great, don't worry) there are a couple of key things to talk about. First, the screen: it's not just larger than most laptop panels, it's an absolute treat.
The resolution is fantastic, even if not 4K. The colour reproduction – which, according to ASUS, covers 100% of the DCI gamut – is superb, and there's complete consistency corner-to-corner. But those facts don't really sell just how pleasant this screen is to be in front of. It turns the ROG Strix Scar 18 from an almost unattainably strong and somewhat precious machine to one which begs to be used as much as possible.
Point two, though, is slightly more of a downer. As befits a laptop which squashes the highest-end components it possibly can into a small space, cooling ends up a tough ask. While the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) happily keeps up, it does so through fans that (at least while gaming) start loud and ramp up from there. That said, when you're running on its onboard graphics, which switch automatically from the discrete package when you don't need it, there's very little noise to speak of – and without the fan noise, the decent speakers get a good chance to ring out.
And so to gaming, which is an outstanding experience. We don't really need to say much more, particularly if you've glanced at the benchmark numbers or the specs. This is as good as it promises to be: a muscular machine which tears through top-end titles with surprising grace. It shrugs off Cyberpunk 2077, blazes through Dirt 5, and coped with everything else we threw at it without even a slight complaint.
If you're somehow in need of additional raw power Asus' well-worn tools can provide it, but the real luxury here is being able to pump the brakes and still enjoy more power than you could reasonably expect – or, more power than you'd expect from a cheaper machine, at least. For the money, the ROG Strix Scar 18 would have been an absolute disaster if it hadn't been spectacularly good. It is. Phew.
- Performance score: 5 / 5
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023): Battery
- Mid-range battery life
- 5 hours and 35 minutes in the PCMark 10 battery test
If you were expecting the Scar 18 to have incredible battery life, you're probably not super-familiar with the gaming laptop meta. If you expected the opposite, though, you might be surprised: this sits somewhere in the middle.
Yes, gaming depletes its juice fast. Pulling the kind of wattage a stressed RTX 4090 and Core i9 demand is going to strain any battery, and it's probably not something worth considering unless you're looking to get less than a couple of hours' action.
On the desktop, though, this very much proves the quality of Intel's 13th-gen E-cores. It runs cool and quiet, and we found it lasts for about an hour longer when grinding through non-demanding work than it did when subjected to the PC Mark test – and we were pleased with the results of our standard movie-looping benchmark test.
- Battery score: 4 / 5
Should you buy the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023)?
|Price||This is startlingly expensive in its fully-loaded configuration. You're paying for power, sure, but it's not hard to get by with a machine that costs half as much.||2 / 5|
|Design||We love the risk that Asus has taken with the Scar 18's semi-transparent plastics. This doesn't overdo the flashiness, and it's as practical as it is good-looking.||4 / 5|
|Performance||There's absolutely ludicrous power on offer here – as there should be – but the Scar 18 can scale itself back when it needs to. It's a laptop for all seasons.||5 / 5|
|Battery||The Scar 18's staying power is not outrageous by any means, but it's more than enough for a desktop replacement machine – and entirely adequate when doing actual desktop work.||4 / 5|
|Average rating||Unattainable for most, but offering everything it can for those lucky enough to get their hands on it, this is a premium machine which doesn't cut any corners.||4 / 5|
Buy it if...
You absolutely must be on the cutting edge
These are the best specs you can buy in a gaming laptop, bar none. If you cannot stand to sacrifice a single thing in your mobile games, this is the machine for you.
You need to see your games clearly
The ROG Strix Scar 18's display is magical. It's smooth, it responds fast, its resolution is excellent, and it's enormous for a laptop.
You're the creative type
This isn't just a gaming machine; for video editing, 3D modelling or any other creative pursuit it'll have more than enough muscle to keep up if you're dead set against macOS.
Don't buy it if...
You're not incredibly rich
Riding the bleeding edge of technology is fun for those that can afford it, but you'll kick yourself a year down the line if you're still paying this off.
You plan to game on the go
The ROG Strix Scar 18 is prohibitively heavy, and its battery won't last forever if you're running games. It's more a desktop-hugger than a portable powerhouse.
You don't like headphones
The speakers are fine, but they're overpowered by some serious fan noise when things get hot – and they inevitably will. You can tweak the intensity, but headphones are recommended.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023): Also consider
|Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023)||Alienware m18||Asus ROG Zephyrus M16|
|Price:||£3,999.99||$3,549 / £3,299.99 / around AU$5,316||$3,499.99 / £3,299.99 / around AU$5,218|
|CPU||Intel Core i9-13980HX||Intel Core i9-13980HX||Intel Core i9-13900H|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090|
|RAM||32GB DDR5||32GB DDR5||32GB DDR5|
|Screen||18" 16:10 IPS QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz, 3ms response, G-Sync, Dolby Vision, Pantone Validated||18-inch (2560 x 1600), 16:10 QHD+, 165Hz||16-inch QHD+ 16:10 (2560 x 1600, WQXGA) Mini-LED, 1,100 nits brightness, HDR, DCI-P3: 100%, Refresh Rate 240Hz, Response Time: 3ms, G-Sync|
|Storage||1TB + 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD||1TB SSD||2TB SSD|
|Ports||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort, power delivery & G-Sync), 1x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gb LAN port, audio combo jack||4x USB 3.2 Type-A ports, 2x Thunderbolt 4 Gen 2 Type-C ports with DisplayPort Alt Mode/USB4, 1x Ethernet port,1x audio port, 1x HDMI 2.1 port, 1x power-adapter port, 1x mini-Display port, 1x SD card slot||1x 3.5mm combo audio jack, 1x HDMI 2.1 FRL, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x Thunderbolt 4, microSD reader, Kensington Lock|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3||Wi-Fi 6E AX1675, 2x2, 802.11ax||Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Triple band) 2 x 2 + Bluetooth 5.2|
|Camera||720p webcam||1080p FHD IR||1080p FHD IR|
|Weight||6.83lbs (3.10kg)||8.90 pounds (4.04kg)||5.07 pounds (2.30kg)|
|Dimensions||15.71 x 11.57 x 0.91-1.21 inches (39.9 x 29.4 x 2.31-3.08cm)||16.15 x 12.59 x 1.05 inches / 410.3 x 319.9 x 26.7 mm (W x H x D)||3.98 x 9.69 x 0.83 ~ 0.90 inches / 35.5 x 24.6 x 2.11 ~ 2.29 cm (W x H x D)|
If the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...
Proof, perhaps, that you can get a similar package for a little less money, the m18 almost manages to match the Scar 18 beat-for-beat, though its screen doesn't quite reach the same lofty heights, and it's somehow even heavier.
Read our full Alienware m18 review
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16
Even Asus offers similarly-equipped hardware on a marginally more reasonably budget; if you're happy to shrink down a little, this is more suitable for a trip from place-to-place in your bag.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review
How I tested the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023)
- Tested for a week's work and play
- Used for (probably too much) gaming, and desktop work
- Tested using the TechRadar benchmark suite and personal experience
I was lucky enough to have the ROG Strix Scar 18 on my desk for a full week, acting as both my work machine and my after-hours gaming powerhouse. It was a big upgrade, and a disappointment to have to box it back up again.
I ran it through the usual selection of TR benchmarks, studied its screen using online tools, tinkered with the lighting and performance levels using Asus' included applications, and generally got a full feel for how good the Scar 18 is to use day-to-day.
That's my usual process, one I've followed for over 25 years in tech journalism – it's not just what a laptop can do on paper, it's about how it feels once it's in one's hands.
First reviewed May 2023