Asus ROG Strix Scar II Review: How does the RTX 2070 fare?

Asus’ ROG Strix Scar II is its gaming solution aimed primarily for FPS players. Packing immense power in a portable form factor, how much value does it provide?

Design and build

The finish of the laptop screams stealth. Its lid is made from a brushed aluminium that makes for a dual-tone grey look. Inscribed into the lid is the Republic of Gamers (ROG) logo which is RGB lit. In fact, RGB has quite an influence on the look of the laptop. The four-zone keyboard lighting as well as the wide bar across the front of the device.

Figure 1: The dual-tone grey finish on the laptop lid

In the keyboard region too, you will find a dual-finish. On the right diagonal is a camouflage area whereas on the left side diagonal, you will see a carbon-fiber like pattern. This enhances the overall look of the laptop combining well with the near-bezel free 144Hz 17.3-inch Full HD display.

Figure 2: The I/O selection found on the right of the laptop

Coming in at 2.9kg, you cannot complain for a laptop of this caliber. The build is strong, sturdy and has a solid core. And at the same time, there is enough exhaust ventilation around the device. For someone who often likes to travel with gaming laptops, the build and portability of this one is certainly a plus and will last through rough travel.

Figure 3: For a gaming laptop at 17.3-inches, it is relatively sleek

As for I/O, you will find three USB-3.1 ports, an HDMI port alongside the Ethernet and power port on the left side of the device. On the right is the SD card reader, a Type-C connector and an additional USB 3.1 port. Other ports include a mDP 1.4 port, an RJ-45 jack and the Kensington lock. Additionally, on the left, you also find a 3.5mm microphone and headphone jack combo although separate ports for the microphone and audio would have been better suited for hardcore gamers.

Figure 4: While HD, the camera quality and placement is underwhelming

Much of what the laptop comes with is great. But one complaint I have is with its poor HD camera. It is placed in a rightward position near the bottom bezel of the screen making it awkward for video calling and for using Windows Hello to unlock your laptop.

Trackpad and keyboard

On many occasions, gamers tend to rely on external keyboards and mice for gaming. But if you do wish to game natively on this laptop, the experience is decent. For the trackpad, you get a generous area in the center. Its responsiveness is good and using it is not a major issue. But in combination with the buttons, the experience can be a bit frustrating. The trackpad buttons feel spongy and actuate a bit too deep for my liking.

Figure 5: The trackpad buttons are a bit mushy feeling

Conversely, the keyboard on the Strix II is impressive. It uses a technology that helps to register key-presses faster than the regular keyboard. A 0.25mm depression on the keys allows for better grip whereas the transparent WASD keys help with visibility. Although, I do not see why manufacturers feel the need to do this considering the core market for such laptops is professional gamers who are well-versed with such things. Anyways, additional features such as n-key rollover and anti-ghosting help with detecting precise keyboard strokes regardless of the number of keys being pressed.

Figure 6: RGB lighting on the keyboard is a nice touch for those who like it

Looking at the keyboard’s layout, there are some minor issues. While most of it is spacious, the number-pad on the right seems cramped. Positioned close to it are the arrow keys which also do not provide enough room for a comfortable experience. These quirks may be a bit too specific but one flaw that I have encountered frequently is the single height ‘Enter’ key. As someone who writes extensively, this could become an annoyance and take some time to get used to.

Figure 7: While spaced out, the arrow keys and the number pad seem a bit cramped

However, whether you are using the keyboard as a layman or as a gamer, it should be more than adequate. The keys remain consistent, quiet and have a good travel but at the end of the day, they are still chiclet-style keys. This means the buttons do not quite emulate full blown or low-profile mechanical keyboards. For a casual gamer like myself, this may not be an issue. But for more competitive players, the difference is noticeable.

Display and multimedia

As mentioned before, the 17-3-inch display aboard the Scar II is very impressive for its size. Its higher 144Hz refresh rate means the screen will be able to render more frames. And that in-turn means a smoother gaming experience. Sometimes though, the gameplay may not be the smoothest due to a lack of G-Sync technology. Without this, the GPU is unable to match the frames of a game exactly to the refresh rate of the display.

Figure 8: The 144Hz panel and its bezel-less look complements the laptop well

The panel is a non-glare IPS LCD type at Full HD resolution. It comes with 100 per-cent sRGB coverage and some good contrast and brightness levels reaching 300 nits. This is particularly useful when binge-watching your favorite series. And combined with the 3ms response rate, the display provides a wholistic gaming experience too. For audio though, the speakers are average. They are loud but not clear. Bass also seems to be lacking and if anything, you are better off using external speakers or a headset.

Specifications and performance

Under the hood, the GL704GW is equipped with some hefty hardware. You find Intel’s i7-8750H with no overclocking capabilities and 24GB of DDR4 2666Hz dual-channel RAM memory upgradeable up to 32GB . Storage wise, this variant is equipped with a 5400rpm 1TB SSHD and a 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD for your operating system. Speaking of this, it is no surprise to see Windows 10 aboard.

Figure 9: Asus’ laptop comes equipped with high-end internals

However, besides Windows 10, you also find Asus’ fair share of additions. The most notable one is its Armoury Crate, designed for users to monitor the performance of their machine. Here, you can set different profiles for the laptop as well as make your own custom ones.

And it is here that you will be able to toggle Asus’ Aura technology. This not only allows you to control the RGB light effects on your laptop but also synchronize them to your Asus supported peripherals using AuraSync. There are other tabs pertaining more towards Asus’ featured applications and highlights but I stayed away from these. Additionally, you can even customize all of this straight from a connected Android or iOS mobile device which is neat.

Delving into the performance side of things, the laptop is equipped with an RTX 2070 GPU. This is coupled with 8GB of DDR6 VRAM which makes for an impressive showing on paper.

BenchmarkScore/FPS
Cinebench (OpenGL)88.19 FPS
Cinebench (CPU)1199
Unigine Heaven (High Quality)4545/180.4 FPS
Unigine Heaven (Ultra Quality) 4337/172.2 FPS

When running a typical CPU and GPU benchmarks, it scores well as it should. But we are more concerned about how the laptop performs when gaming.

High Settings (FPS)Highest Settings (FPS)
Fortnite11396
PUBG6256
CSGO6856
Titanfall 2147126
Far Cry 57065

Above is a matrix of results for popular first person shooter games at different settings. For the most part, the experience on the laptop is very good. Well optimized games notch up a good frame rate running on high settings. Some games do show dips below 60FPS at the highest settings however on screen, it remains playable and relatively smooth.

During the course of our testing, we saw CPU and GPU temperatures rise to above 85°C. Such temperatures are not a problem if you are gaming on a table but if you plan on gaming on your lap, you may feel discomfort. As far as noise goes, the laptop is relatively quiet at idle but loud when gaming. This is not a major deal though because when gaming, we often use our headphones for audio which effectively cuts out most of the ambient noise.

Battery life

Asus’ Strix Scar II comes with a 66Wh battery and a 230W power adapter. Usage times on battery will amount to two hours before plugging in whereas using the laptop for gaming will yield a life of 45-minutes to an hour.

Figure 13: The provided charger that comes with the laptop

This is not a very impressive showing but that is to be expected. With the hardware power on-board, this laptop is meant for stationary gaming. However to encourage usability on-the-go, a USB-C charging feature via a power bank could have been implemented like that found on Asus’ newer Zephyrus lineup.

Pricing and availability

The Asus GL704GW with an RTX 2070 GPU is available in major retail stores priced at Dh9,699. Bundled with the box, you will receive a laptop bag, Asus’ Gladius 2 mouse and its gaming headset.

A slightly smaller 15.6-inch GL504G variant with 16GB RAM as well as a much higher-end G703 GX with an Intel i9-8950HK and the RTX 2080 GPU are also available starting at Dh9,299 and Dh17,999 respectively.