Hands on: Asus ROG Strix SCAR II GL504GV review

The mid-range gaming laptop, now with RTX graphics

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

Asus ROG Strix SCAR II features the latest NVIDIA graphics which will be able to run most graphics-intensive titles for the remainder of the year and then some. The Full HD display with a high 144Hz refresh rate makes for a smooth gaming experience, as a gaming laptop would warrant.

For

  • Snazzy looks
  • Display with 144Hz refresh rate
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics

Against

  • Odd camera placement

With NVIDIA announcing their next generation RTX graphics card, it was inevitable for gaming laptop manufacturers to come out with upgraded products. Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Asus has upgraded its Republic of Gamers (ROG) lineup with NVIDIA RTX graphics suite.

We got to try our hands on the mid-range Asus ROG Strix SCAR II gaming laptop and even though there’s no striking change on the outside, we flexed its muscles a bit. Let’s jump right in.

Price and availability

The Asus ROG Strix SCAR II GL504GV has been launched in India and is priced at Rs 1,64,990. There’s a second variant, the GL504GW which has 8GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics and 512GB SSD. It retails for Rs 2,09,990.

As for the availability, the upgraded ROG Strix SCAR II is available on Amazon India, Flipkart and with offline Asus laptop retailers.

Design and Display

Built for FPS gaming, the Strix SCAR II has a design language that picks up a thing or two from the world of action titles. There’s a brushed aluminum finish on the lid and the keyboard deck sports a camouflage pattern. Gaming products feel unfinished without the presence of some snazzy RGB lighting and so on the SCAR II, the ROG logo on the lid, the colour bar on the front edge and the keyboard come together to showcase a light show of your own. On the keyboard base, there’s a soft-touch carbon fiber finish making the SCAR II one good-looking gaming machine.

One of the striking features about the Strix SCAR II is the 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) IPS panel having a refresh rate of 144Hz. The SCAR II features extremely narrow bezels on three sides and has a thick chin which also houses the camera. It’s a strange decision to go with the kind of offset camera placement that Asus has gone with on the Strix SCAR II, but again, the camera has never been one of its strong suites.

Asus claims that the SCAR II has 2.33cm narrower bezels than the first SCAR gaming laptop. The high refresh rate and 3ms response time negates most in-game motion blur.

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Performance and Keyboard

The ROG Strix SCAR II features the HyperStrike Pro keyboard which is inspired from desktop gaming keyboard layouts. A couple of key elements about the chiclet-style keyboard include a gap between the function keys to enable easier identification, segregated arrow keys and a redesigned space bar. It makes use of the ROG Overstroke technology which allows faster key actuation and a 1.8mm travel distance between keys.

During our initial use, we encountered no issues with the keyboard apart from the RGB light settings which got stuck strobing the red colour at times. 

The Strix SCAR II has the HyperCool Pro thermal management system which consists of two 12V fans, three outlets and an anti-dust system which ejects dust particles through a separate outlet. There are three modes, Silent, Balanced and Turbo for varying levels of usage pattern. For general reading and browsing the web, Silent mode is recommended while Balanced mode is great for binge-watching. While these two modes keep the noise from the fan between 35dB to 45dB, Gaming mode produces around 50dB sound with the highest fan speed, optimal for gaming.

The SCAR II is powered by 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H processor but the most welcome upgrade comes in the form of NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics backed by 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSHD + 256GB SSD. The six-core CPU provides a 23% boost in performance enabling an advanced gaming experience. On the SCAR II, one can play games, record it or live-stream it simultaneously. 

Boasting of the latest NVIDIA tech, the Strix SCAR II can churn out more from RTX supported titles like Battlefield V and Hitman 2. Especially on the Battlefield V, courtesy of real-time ray tracing coupled with 144Hz refresh rate, the visuals look slick and more real than ever. 

At the moment, games which fully support the new RTX graphics are quite a few in number but that is expected to grow this year. Having said that, battle royale titles like PUBG and Apex Legends ran on high settings without any lags and frame drops. It looks like the SCAR II can easily take on anything we throw at it, but we're more interested in its performance over the course of a regular usage. 

We will be testing the ROG Strix SCAR II GL504GV in much detail which will form the basis of our final review.

Early Verdict

Asus ROG Strix SCAR II definitely looks promising and powerful to churn most graphic-intensive titles. The higher refresh rate also works to Asus’ advantage and the minimal-bezel display allows an immersive gaming experience. It is certainly one of the gaming laptops that one should be on a lookout for in the mid-range segment.

We will be taking the Strix SCAR II GL504GV through our extensive performance, battery and video tests to see how it really performs over time. Stay tuned.

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.