Asus unleashed three new ROG Strix gaming laptops, and we got some hands-on time with these impressive machines.
The ROG Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III will be available in Q2 and pricing has not yet been announced for those models, while the Strix G is available today for $999.
Of these three laptops, the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III are the most similar as the differences between these two gaming rigs are strictly aesthetic, while the entry-level Strix G differs in design and key features.
|ROG Strix Scar III||ROG Strix Hero III||ROG Strix G|
|Display||15.6-inch, 1080p; 144Hz or 240Hz 17.3-inch, 1080p; up to 144Hz||15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080; 144Hz 17.3-inch, 1080p; 144Hz|
|CPU||Up to Intel Core i9-9880H||Up to Intel Core i7-9750H|
|RAM||Up to 32GB|
|Graphics||Up to GeForce RTX 2070|
|Storage||Up to 1TB SSD|
|Size||15-inch: 14.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches 17-inch: 15.7 x 11.6 x 1 inches|
|Weight||15-inch: 5.7 pounds 17-inch: 6.3 pounds||15-inch: 5.3 pounds 17-inch: 6.3 pounds|
GeForce RTX-Level Gaming
Shared among the three ROG Strix III gaming laptops are the latest Nvidia graphics cards, as they each can be configured with up to a GeForce RTX 2070. With that capable card, these laptops can play the latest PC games at high settings, including those that support ray tracing for photorealistic reflections, shadows and lighting.
Asus says its ROG Boost technology can improve gaming performance beyond the GPU's out-of-box performance. Whether that's true or not, you shouldn't have problems hitting 30 frames per second at very high settings whether you're playing Fortnite or Metro Exodus.
A Stroke of Personality
On the right side of these laptops is what Asus calls Keystone, a new feature unique to the ROG Strix. It's a physical thumb drive-sized "key" that uses NFC to store your preferences. Just insert the key and your laptop and will transform. The physical dongle worked well during my demo, instantaneously changing the keyboard and light bar lighting effects the moment I plugged it in. While Keystone seems useful for large families that share one computer, its functionality is limited to lighting effects and some key gaming settings found in Asus' Armoury Crate software
The Keystone is available only on the ROG Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III models, not the Strix G.
New Intel 9th Gen CPUs
Along with those brawny graphics, the ROG Strix laptops yield the newly-announced 9th Gen Intel Core i9 processors. The Strix Hero III and Strix Scar III can be configured with up to a Core i9-9880H CPU while the ROG Strix G goes up to an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU.
Dedicated gamers and power users, like those who do 3D modeling or complex computing, will appreciate the extra oomph offered by the Core i9-9880H while everyday gamers will be well-served by the Core i7 version.
For reference, the new Core i9 CPU promises up to 18% higher frames per second and 28% faster 4K video editing when compared with the equivalent 8th Gen chip.
Other useful features enabled by the new chips include support for Intel Optane Memory H10 with SSD, high-capacity Intel SSD 660p storage and Wi-Fi 6, the latest wireless standard that enables faster internet speeds across more devices.
Design: A Bed of RGB
If you're the type of gamer who likes to fiddle with their keyboard backlighting, then you'll appreciate the colorful design of the ROG Strix Scar III and ROG Strix Hero III. My eyes were immediately drawn to the light bar that lassos around the front and side edges of the Strix Hero and Strix Scar like under-glow on a tricked-out car. Those LED, along with the Strix Scar and Strix Hero's bright RGB backlit keyboards, can be customized with Asus' Aura Sync software.
While they're not quite as slim as the Zephyrus laptops, the new Strix III laptops have a similarly sleek, premium aesthetic. And while there's no escaping the gamer-focused LED lighting, the laptops' metal-brushed finishes look elegant and give the ROG Strix a certain sophistication. That's especially true of the III G, which sports an understated design with a mono-color black finish and solid black logo.
Asus put a lot of emphasis into the cooling of these laptops, which is a relief considering the power they pack. The Strix has an asymmetrical lid cutout designed to increase airflow along with 33% thinner fan blades.
At 14.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches and 5.7 pounds, the 15-inch model felt small enough to fit into a backpack for gaming on the go, while the 17-inch version (15.7 x 11.6 x 1-inches, 6.3 pounds) is best suited for stationary use at a desk.
I got some time with the Strix Scar III keyboard and while it felt fairly shallow, I appreciate its traditional location on the back of the deck. The transparent WASD keys are also a nice touch.
Display: Optional 240Hz
The ROG Strix Scar and Strix Hero will be available in 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch versions. Both 1080p displays looked vivid and bright in a dimly lit event space. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test the one feature that makes these displays standout: a 240Hz refresh rate.
Most 1080p displays on today's premium gaming laptops top out at 144Hz, so this is a big step forward for Asus. Available only on top-tier models, the 240Hz refresh rate, 3 millisecond response time display is meant for esports teams and professional streamers who need the fastest refresh rates to keep up with fast-paced first-person shooters.
The more entry-level Strix G also comes with 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch display options, but refresh rates max out at 144Hz.
The Strix Hero III, Strix Scar III and Strix G seem like solid additions to Asus' gaming laptop portfolio. The new laptops come with the latest 9th Gen Intel Core H-series CPUs along with RTX GPUs. Those new components already warrant a refresh, but Asus went a step further by adding a stunning light bar, a brand new 240Hz display and the unique Keystone feature. We're psyched to get these laptops into our lab for testing, so stay tuned for more coverage in the coming weeks.