Hands on: Asus ROG Strix XG17 review

Portable gaming goodness

What is a hands on review?

Early Verdict

The Asus ROG Strix XG17 is a portable gaming monitor for the most dedicated gamers out there. Whether connected to a PC, console, or mobile phone, you'll get crisp video that is sure to help your gaming cred. The only downside? It's bound to come with a lofty price tag.

For

  • Fast response time
  • Good image quality
  • Lightweight

Against

  • Smart cover needs work
  • Terrible OSD controls

Esports is bigger than ever before – pretty much every online game seems to have a dedicated audience that eats tournaments up. But, people that usually travel for these events are often stuck with whatever displays their gaming laptop offers, but the Asus ROG Strix XG17 aims to change that. 

This is a portable 17.3-inch gaming monitor with a blazing-fast 240Hz refresh rate. That means you can play competitively on the road, whether that's with a laptop or with a mobile phone.

It's an interesting solution to a problem we honestly didn't know existed, but if our time with the Asus ROG Strix XG17 is any indication, Asus might have solved it. 

Asus ROG XG17

Pricing and availability

Asus remained tight-lipped when we asked them for pricing information and availability, but given that the models on display at Computex weren't the final versions, it's safe to say that we'll be looking at a retail release towards the end of this year or even early 2020.

Pricing is another area to be concerned about. You've got a 17.3-inch display running at an insane 240Hz refresh rate, which is bound to be an expensive affair. By comparison, the Asus ZenScreen Go retails at just under AED 1,500 for a Full HD IPS screen running at a paltry 60Hz. The Asus ROG Strix XG17 would most likely sit at around AED 2,200 by our estimates, which is a pretty hefty price tag for a monitor.

Asus ROG Strix XG17

Design

Even though this isn't a retail-ready unit, the Asus ROG Strix XG17 looks great. When we picked it up it felt sturdy yet lightweight, and can easily slip into a backpack or laptop carry case. 

The bezels on the actual display are quite narrow, and won't distract when you're playing an intense round of PUBG. At the bottom is a thin grille with the Asus logo, which we assume is what hides the two 1W speakers. They're loud enough for basic gameplay sounds, but for listening to character conversations we'd stick to using headphones instead for clearer audio.

On the left side you'll find two USB-C ports and a mini-HDMI port which are your only means of connectivity. There's no headphone jack, which honestly doesn't bother us too much as we'd probably just use headphones with the connected device than with the monitor.

This is also where you'll find the volume and power buttons, which also serve as controls for the OSD menu. We found that navigating with these buttons to be really tricky and cumbersome due to their tiny size, so we're hoping that Asus will be able to fine-tune this to make it easier to change the monitor's various settings.

Then, there's the panel itself. It's a 17.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display, which supports 48 to 240Hz refresh rates with a response time of 3ms. We don't know what the color reproduction specs look like, but honestly, it looks accurate enough to our eyes. Colors are nice and vibrant without being over saturated. 

Luckily, the display has a matte finish, too, so you won't have to worry about fingerprints while traveling. And, the back of the display is similarly fingerprint-resistant, so this portable monitor should stay presentable easily. 

Bundled with the monitor is a smart cover, similar to what you'd see with a tablet. While it primarily protects the monitor during travel, it can quickly be unfolded to prop the display up. This too is a prototype, and we found it a bit of a pain to use. There's no indication on the cover or the monitor as to how the cover actually is suppose to unfold, nor which parts magnetically attach to the display. 

Asus did mention that a second accessory is in the works which would potentially allow users to mount the Asus ROG Strix XG17 directly above a laptop screen. We're not sure if this would be a sort of tripod-style mount or it if would physically attach to an existing laptop screen somehow, so we'll have to see what comes in the future. 

Asus ROG XG17

Performance

We really enjoyed our time with the Asus ROG Strix XG17, despite not being able to run all of our standard tests on it. Our first experience was with a connected Nintendo Switch, where the bright colors of the game truly shone through. A 240Hz monitor may be slightly unnecessary for this kind of setup, but the monitor was able to run at the required refresh rate without any issues. 

Next up was a quick session in Tom Clancy's: The Division 2, which looked super-smooth and ran at a comfortable 128fps with a connected Asus laptop. It was great to have the game running on the Asus ROG Strix XG17, while the laptop's monitor could be used for referencing a game walkthrough or for streamers to monitor their Discord server or Twitch chat. 

This is the correct example of what Asus has in mind for how professional gamers would use the ROG Strix XG17. When mounted at eye-level, it becomes a responsive and portable gaming monitor, freeing up the laptop's screen for streamers to run any other programs instead. A dual-monitor setup is a must for any professional streamer, and with the ROG Strix XG17, Asus seems to have crafted the perfect monitor solution. 

Lastly we cornered some laps in a racing game on an Android phone that was connected to the Asus ROG Strix XG17 via USB-C. Again, colors and details shone through on the display, so if you're stuck on a long journey and need to play games or watch videos on a bigger screen, you just have to connect a single cable to your phone to enjoy a better display.

Asus says that the ROG Strix XG17 is capable of up to three hours of use on battery power, but this is definitely going to drop if you're constantly running the display at 240Hz. Having said that, there's no reason why you can't keep the display topped up via a power bank if you have one handy. 

Early verdict

The Asus ROG Strix XG17 is certainly a compelling product. A portable high refresh rate gaming monitor with a 17-inch IPS display is something we weren't expecting to encounter at Computex 2019. 

And, the actual technology is very promising. If you're a traveling esports player that needs a high-refresh display on the road, you definitely want to keep an eye on the Asus ROG Strix XG17. 

However, our recommendation is ultimately going to depend on how much Asus is charging for this monitor, and whether or not the battery life is viable. 

Images Credit: TechRadar

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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.