Following in the footsteps of the Asus ROG Strix GL502, which we heralded as one of the best Asus laptops for gaming thanks to its combination of portability and power, the Asus ROG Strix Scar Edition has all the makings of a solid gaming machine. And, we mean that both literally, with its hefty built, and figuratively, with its gaming performance.
Unfortunately, it’s also inherited some of the GL502’s shortcomings, the worst of which is its battery life. Compared to Alienware 17 and the Gigabyte Aero 15’s batteries, the Strix Scar Edition’s battery life is pretty unimpressive.
Thankfully, the laptop makes up for that with sleek, subtle gaming style, lots of gaming firepower, a fantastic keyboard and surprisingly robust sound. That package ain’t too shabby, and makes it easier to overlook the underwhelming battery in exchange.
Here is the Asus ROG Strix Scar Edition GL503VS configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.8GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5); Intel HD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1080p) IPS (144Hz with 72% NTSC color range)
Storage: 256GB SSD (M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4); 1TB HDD (2.5-inch SATA, 6.0 Gb/s, 5,400RPM)
Optical drive: None
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 (Type-C), 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1, mDP 1.2, HDMI 2.0, RJ-45 Jack, 2-in-1 card reader, 3.5mm headphone and mic combo jack
Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet with GameFirst IV traffic management; Intel 802.11ac (2x2 antennas) + Bluetooth 4.1 LE
Camera: Front HD camera (1,280 x 720p @ 30fps)
Weight: 5.5 pounds (2.5kg)
Size: 15.1 x 10.3 x 1 inches (38.4 x 26.2 x 2.54cm; WxDxH)
Price and availability
With the exception of the new incredibly slim gaming line of the ROG Zephyrus computers, starting at $2,399 (about £1,979, AU$3,549), the ROG Strix Scar Edition is among the more expensive in the ASUS gamer-centric line, coming in at $1,599 for the 15.6-inch GL503V model. Though honestly, for that price, the computer packs quite a punch.
In fact, comparing it to the MSI GE63VR Raider at $1,999 (about £1,129, AU$1,989), which does have double the RAM, the ROG GL503V is able to otherwise go pound-for-pound, including a higher refresh rate (144Hz versus 120Hz) and its multifaceted gaming center. Unfortunately, it also shares the Raider's poor battery performance.
The Gigabyte Aero 15, another alternative coming in at $1,999 (about £1,499, AU$2,639), is a step up price-wise. However, it also features the 8th generation Intel Core i7 and smaller form factor. Alas, a slightly less powerful GPU in the 6GB Nvidia GeForce GXT 1060, less storage and similar other features like 16GB RAM don’t do it any favors. Depending on your needs, it's a toss up between the Aero 15 or the ROG GL503V for a better purchase.
Asus has managed to find that sweet spot between that aggressive, in-your-face gaming form and the look of a typical laptop just by toning down the design. Don’t get us wrong; the Strix Scar Edition’s aesthetic is definitely inspired by the first-person shooter (FPS) games it’s specifically created for.
According to Asus, the gunmetal grey finish of its lid mimics an assault rifle, the slashes carved across the lid and on the right palm rest of the keyboard imitate the trajectory of a bullet, and the area around the keyboard boasts a a woven Kevlar design. In addition, users are able to personalize the colors of keyboard backlighting for a more immersive gaming experience.
Still, Asus managed to incorporate all these elements in the design in a more subdued way, so that users can still take this laptop to a coffee shop looking a bit more ready for business. It’s a look that we’re definitely into, even if there are a few small things we don’t quite appreciate about the overall design.
One minor point of contention we have is the fact that, while the gunmetal and woven kevlar finishes give it that sleek, stylish look, they do retain fingerprints like no one’s business. A few games with the the Strix Scar Edition, and you’re already looking at obnoxious finger and palm tracks that make it look oily and less attractive. If you’re a tad anal about that sort of thing, you’re going to find yourself constantly polishing this gaming laptop.
One major design flaw we have to mention is the trackpad. First of all, the trackpad doesn’t always feel accurate. For example, when changing your point of view in a game using the trackpad, it doesn’t always pick up the continuous movement. As a result, you end up having to do a few more swipes to your target position.
Secondly, there’s a lot of travel on the trackpad buttons. This not only makes them feel like they’re made of cheap material, but also demands harder presses from you. When you’re in the middle of a game that requires fast responses, you either end up pressing too slowly or you don’t press down far enough to even elicit a response.
To be fair to the Strix Scar Edition, there’s more to love about its design than not. Despite the two hard drives and a graphics card, for example, it only weighs 2.6kg. And, it does feel like it’s built with the sturdy stuff, giving it that heft every gaming laptop requires.
Lastly, to support its more challenging tasks—gaming, for example—the laptop boasts a three-way cooling system. Essentially, it’s made up of three fans that automatically adjust depending on how hard the CPU, GPU and VRAM are working, intake vents above the keyboard and under the chassis for great airflow, a trapezoid-cut lid that’s specifically designed to allow the underside to breathe.
Made for gaming keyboard
The Strix Scar Edition’s keyboard is indeed made for gaming, as Asus claims, what with its responsive, fast actuating keys with a shorter travel distance and a higher firing point on them, a nice 0.25mm-deep keycap curve that cups your fingers in place, and the N-Key rollover for precision pressing.
We also like the fact that they intentionally separated the volume, mic/mute, and ROG Gaming Center hotkeys to prevent accidental presses during games, as well as the alternate uses of the function keys that are very much tailored for gaming.
The only thing to complain about is the weird placement of the arrow keys. They’re wedged between the number pad and the right control key with no space to isolate them, and it just feels a little crowded, especially when you’re using them for gaming. It’s not a big deal, but it is a tad annoying and it takes some getting used to.
Dedicated access bay
On the back of the Strix Scar Edition is a dedicated access bay for convenience when you need to upgrade your RAM or a second hard drive. This easy-to-access compartment gives you immediate access to two storage and two RAM slots without having to remove the entire back panel.
You can pop open this panel with just a few quick turns of the Phillips Head screwdriver, as it’s locked in place only by a single tiny screw hidden behind a rubber lid.