As mentioned, there's not much variation in the different configurations available in the UK and US due to the GX700 only being sold by a few vendors in each territory. However, almost no area is left short wherever you buy it from. The GTX 980's 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM is more than enough for even the most demanding games flaunting large and detailed textures, while Intel's overclockable Core i7-6820HK will do the job for years to come.
There's a healthy selection of ports on the machine, including USB 3.1 Type-C for fast data transfer from compatible peripherals and accessories. The only downside here is that there are no ports on the water-cooling unit itself. This forces you to disconnect peripherals each time the laptop part is undocked and taken away, which defeats the object of having the base unit as a permanent docking station.
It's also disappointing that the GX700 only comes with a Full HD display, rather than a 4K one, especially considering its price point and the fact that the components inside are mostly powerful enough to deliver fluid 4K gaming.
Here are the specs of the Asus GX700 sent to TechRadar for review:
- CPU: 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK (quad-core, 8MB Cache, up to 2.70GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 (8GB GDDR5 VRAM), Intel HD Graphics 530
- RAM: 32GB DRR4 (2,133MHz)
- Screen: 17.3-inch FHD anti-glare (1,920 x 1,080)
- Storage: 512GB SSD (PCIe)
- Ports: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x mini DisplayPort, 1 x Thunderbolt, SD card reader,
- Ethernet, headphone jack, microphone jack,
- Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265
- Camera: HD Web Camera
- Weight: 3.9 kg, 4.6kg (with Thermal Dock)
- Size: 16.8 x 12.1 x 1.3 inches (W x D x H) 429 x 309 x 33mm
- Size (dock): 16.4 x 14.4 x 4.4 inches (W x D x H) 417 x 368 x 114mm
It may be the case that the GX700's water-cooling unit is the star of the show, but the desktop-class GTX 980 inside is impressive in its own right. Using the Asus ROG Gaming Control Center it's possible to switch between different performance profiles in seconds. 'Standard' is the only available mode when the laptop is undocked and disconnected from the power supply.
Hook up the 180-watt PSU and you can switch it to 'Optimized', which provides more gaming juice. Connecting up the laptop to the docking station reveals two more settings: 'Extreme' and ' Overclocked', the latter of which lets you crank up the power using the water-cooling unit to unlock the GTX 980's full potential.
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 29,497 ; Sky Diver: 31,195 ; Fire Strike: 12,698
- Cinebench CPU: 883 points; Graphics: 126.27 fps
- GeekBench: 4461 (single-core); 17,371 (multi-core)
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4880 points
- Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Ultra): 280 fps; (1080p, Low): 340 fps (4K, Ultra): 73 fps
- GTA V: (1080p, Ultra): 41.8 fps; (1080p, Low): 176.98 fps (4K, Ultra): 14.54 fps
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 28,850; Sky Diver: 25,452; Fire Strike: 9,446
- Cinebench CPU: 762 points; Graphics: 114.24 fps
- GeekBench: 4,009 (single-core); 15,528 (multi-core)
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 5,027 points
- Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Ultra): 74.61 fps; (1080p, Low): 152.79 fps (4K, Ultra): 65.60
- GTA V: (1080p, Ultra): 35.2 fps; (1080p, Low): 121 fps (4K, Ultra): 12fps
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 27,765; Sky Diver: 24,588; Fire Strike: 9,284
- Cinebench CPU: 700cb points; Graphics: 101.26 fps,
- GeekBench: 3,713 (single-core); 13,943 (multi-core)
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4,660 points
- PCMark 8 (Battery test): 2 hours 43 minutes
- Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Ultra): 61.2 fps; (1080p, Low): 130 fps (4K, Ultra): 49 fps
- GTA V: (1080p, Ultra): 21 fps; (1080p, Low): 112 fps (4K, Ultra): 5 fps
To really put the GX700 through its paces, we benchmarked it in the modes that we can see being used the most. At the very top of the scale there's the Manual (connected to power, overclocked) mode, followed by the Extreme (connected to power, non-overclocked) mode, and finally the Standard (disconnected from power, non-overclocked) mode.
In this mode it's possible to play a range of games at 4K resolution with the graphics pushed up to Ultra. Both Shadow of Mordor (73fps) and Doom (between 50 – 65ps) maintained frame rates above the 60fps mark, depending on the number of enemies on the display, set to 4K. Only our demanding GTA V benchmark, which takes the system's video memory to the absolute limit, failed to reach playable frame-rates with Ultra settings and 4K activated.
Undocking the GX700 is as simple as pressing a button on the front of the base unit, waiting for a two-second beep, and then removing the laptop from the prongs on the base. It's a smooth, fluid motion that takes seconds to perform - and only on a single occasion did any coolant solution leak from the three nozzles that insert into the back of the system. Unfortunately the water-cooling unit has to be returned to Asus to have a coolant top-up, as you can't do it yourself.
Performance dipped a little with the GX700 set to Docked (Extreme), though even in the absence of water-cooling the unit still performed admirably, cranking out 65fps in Shadow of Mordor in Ultra settings and 4K.
Although you'll squeeze out anywhere between five and 10 more frames in games with the GX700 overclocked in Manual mode, we imagine most gamers would stick to Extreme simply because it doesn't require a reboot each time it is activated. Which, if you're frequently travelling from your home base to somewhere else to game, would wear thin quickly.
During our anecdotal battery life test, the GX700 lasted just 2 hours and 10 minutes when playing Doom on the Undocked (Standard) mode, so don't expect to get through most game's campaign away from a plug socket.