Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

It's hard not to love a gaming laptop this good

TODO alt text

The Asus ROG Strix GL502 can be configured with a variety of components. But, with a starting price of $1,399 (about £1,055, AU$1,850), it definitely isn't a budget buy even if it nets you a 1TB hard drive disk (HDD) and 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060. For a slightly lower price, you can get the highest-end version of the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 or Lenovo Ideapad Y700, but you'll be limited to the Nvidia GTX 960M for graphics.

The configuration you see below will run you $1,699 (about £1,280, AU$1,055) , which is a considerable bargain compared to the $2,199 or AU$3,299 (about £1,649) you would pay for a comparable Razer Blade with a 3K screen.

Unfortunately, the version of the ROG Strix GL502 we reviewed here appears to have been discontinued, but, we still expect it to be included with all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday laptop deals that are rapidly approaching. You might not find it new, but you’ll be able to get your hands on a refurbished model for cheap. 

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Benchmarks

Here's how the Asus ROG Strix GL502 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Cloud Gate: 23,181; Sky Diver: 26,396; Fire Strike: 12,514
Cinebench CPU: 674 points; Graphics: 109.97 fps
GeekBench: 3,383 (single-core); 12,559 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,928 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 13 minutes
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 2 hours and 52 minutes
The Division (1080p, Ultra): 72 fps; (1080p, Low): 142 fps
GTA V (1080p, Ultra): 50 fps; (1080p, Low): 126 fps

And here's how the Maxwell-powered model performed:

3DMark: Cloud Gate: 21,081; Sky Diver: 19,403; Fire Strike: 6,515
Cinebench CPU: 679 points; Graphics: 105 fps
GeekBench: 3,623 (single-core); 13,255 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,358 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 5 minutes
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 5 hours and 14 minutes
The Division (1080p, Ultra): 34 fps; (1080p, Low): 86 fps
GTA V (1080p, Ultra): 29 fps; (1080p, Low): 131 fps 

Performance

The Asus ROG Strix GL502 is a rock star when it comes to Full HD gaming, For the last few weeks, we've been using the 15-inch notebook as our primary Hitman playing system, and it's been an absolute joy with the settings turned all the way up for a near constant 60 frames per second (fps) frame rate.

With Doom, a much more intense first-person shooter game, I was able to kick the graphical settings up to Ultra and see a steady 60 fps runtime as well. Deus Ex Mankind Divided was the only title that protested against me pushing the Strix to its limits, however, this issue likely stemmed from the buggy PC port rather than Asus' hardware.

Nvidia's next generation Pascal graphics offer a considerable jump up in power and the results are startling in our benchmarks results.

Backing up the claims we just made, our benchmarks show the Nvidia GTX 1070 virtually doubles the gaming potential of the GL502. The Division and GTA V play at much faster and smoother frame rates, thanks to the Pascal bump.

Of course this shouldn't be too surprising when the Nvidia GTX 1070 comes from a newer architecture, features 2GB more video RAM and is meant to replace the Nvidia GTX 980M.

Nvidia GTX 970M-powered gaming laptops, like the Aorus X3 v3 and Razer Blade. In more than a few cases – including the most intensive 3D Mark and GTA V benchmark tests – the Strix completely blows Maxwell out of the water.

Asus also has a much better cooling system to take into account. It's more than likely that both the Razer and Aorus were buckling under throttling constraints when we ran these challenging benchmark tests.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Battery woes

While Nvidia promised its new Pascal architecture would deliver gaming laptops with 30% better battery life, we're not seeing the claims hold true with the Asus GL502. Lasting for a maximum of 2 hours and 52 minutes while playing Guardians of the Galaxy on loop at 50% brightness, the Pascal-powered Strix runs out of juice much faster than it's Maxwell-equipped predecessor.

Rather than turning in a average run time of 5 hours and 14 minutes, the GL502 joins the three-hour-or-shorter run club alongside other other power hungry gaming laptops.

With regular usage, expect to get between three to four hours of battery life, if you're not doing much and being extremely conservative about the screen brightness.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Screen and speakers

While battery life is a mild disappointment, the quality of the screen and speakers on the GL502 are impeccable. We've pretty much adored the screen on every Asus device from the ZenBook series to the company's most affordable Chromebook, but the vibrancy of colors seen on the Strix is on a whole other level.

Hues are represented brightly and distinctly on the 15-inch screen, and then a helping splash of rich contrast elevates image quality even higher.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Visuals are only the half of it. The Asus ROG GL502 also sounds excellent, thanks to a pair of surprisingly powerful speakers. Though they might only look like two tiny slivers on the side of the keyboard deck, the tweeters on this system can push out plenty of sound, representing the cacophonous battles in Overwatch handily.