The Asus ROG GL504 has great build and top-of-the-line performance.
It has RGB lighting everywhere which would appeal to a lot of gamers.
However, it does not come cheap, with prices starting at Rs 1,39,990.
There has always been a clear and distinct line of difference between a performance laptop and a gaming laptop. However, that line seems to be blurring faster than ever. With every passing quarter, PC makers are launching new gaming laptops that are thinner than their predecessors. These thin gaming laptops come with little or no compromise on performance, making it not only a great feat of engineering but potential competitors to performance notebooks.
While earlier people picked performance laptops based on their preference for lightweight decision and access to whatever latest processor Intel offers in the consumer segment. Now, gaming laptops not only offer the latest processor for computing and graphics, they provide that system in a compact form factor. When it comes to building thin and light gaming notebooks without compromising there are not a lot of choices and Asus claims to have come closest with the Rs 1,39,990 ROG GL504. So, does this machine offer game without giving you backache? Read our review to find out.
Design and Display
The Asus ROG GL504, also popularly called the Scar II, comes with a single major ambition of enhancing the gaming experience over its predecessor. In order to make that possible, Asus has focused on certain areas, that can often be neglected by manufacturers to deliver improved performance. With ROG GL504, Asus has been a commendable job to trim down the bezels around the display. This is particularly important because a thinner bezel could allow you to cram in more of screen real-estate without increasing the footprint. Think of it like buying a 13-inch laptop and getting 14-inch display in return; it definitely does not hurt.
Asus says that it has reduced the bezels around the display by 1.52cm and the overall frame seems much narrower than the one on the first-generation Scar. There are a lot of other design changes being introduced to complement the narrow frame design. For example, the display is now covered by a secondary rubber rim, which acts as a shield and protects the screen from being hit when you close the device.
The main chassis is made of aluminum and the display lid has a textured finish called diagonal cut. The Asus ROG logo on the lid gets the “RGB Everything” treatment and can be configured with a number of colors using Asus’ Aura Sync technology. This time around, Asus has also added a LED strip at the front, which is reminiscent of what Razer has done with its notebook.
On the inside, Asus is not actually using metal but a form of plastic that only feels as rigid as a metal-build seen on other premium laptops. The panel surrounding the keyboard is also textured, which makes it smooth to touch and acts as a great palm rest. While plastic generally tends to have a flex, this one seems to have been built phenomenally well. More than the composition of materials, it is the feel and texture of compounds that matter the most. The thinner bezel, however, leads to a camera module placed at the lower side of the display and it is placed at an off-angle, which makes it less obtrusive when compared to the camera placement on the Dell XPS 13.
If you are even interested a little bit in gaming then you already know that more than the chipsets powering the device, it is the display that matters most. When it comes to gaming and e-sports for that matter, all the major players are engaged in what can be dubbed as the ‘FPS’ game. If hardware enthusiasts cried for maximum clock frequency on their processors, the gamers just want maximum frames-per-second possible. In order to achieve high frame rates, you need, of course, the latest and greatest hardware but also a display to render that kind of frame rate.
The ROG GL504 Scar II is outfitted with a 15.6-inch Full-HD LCD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display has a fast refresh rate of 144Hz, which is 2.4 times faster than the 60Hz panel found on most traditional displays. The faster display means that you can react to your game transitions quickly. This comes especially handy while playing first-person shooter games where even a little lag could mean that you are dead (Yes, I’m talking about PUBG).
It is not just the faster refresh rate that makes the ROG GL504’s display great but also the response time of 3ms. For display manufacturers, the ultimate goal is push more frames and bring down the reaction time. On the ROG GL504, that goal seems to have become more than a reality. The reaction time of just 3ms is something I could not realize immediately but over a period of time, you will know that you are dealing with a panel that renders graphics much faster and lets you react quickly. I am not someone who cares much for the whole ‘PC Master Race’ ideology, and I don’t even spend many hours gaming, but it seems rather easy to say that ROG GL504 has one of the best displays on a gaming laptop right now.
Performance and Gaming
The review unit seeded to us by Asus, ahead of the launch, came with Intel’s 8th generation Core i7-8750H coupled with 16GB of RAM and 256GB PCIe SSD storage. The Core i7-8750H is a six-core CPU with base frequency of 2.19GHz and turbo frequency of up to 4.09GHz. The Coffee Lake architecture means that there are 12 threads that allows you to run multiple programs efficiently, without affecting the performance of others.
The six-core Intel Core CPU is paired with NVIDIA’s GTX 10-series graphics processor. Our review unit came with GTX 1060 and 6GB of GDDR5 video memory. If you want even more performance then there is also option to get GTX 1070, which also bumps the memory to 8GB GDDR5. On paper alone, it seems like we are dealing with a lot and in real life, the sheer performance coming out of this machine can be overwhelming.
For example, while playing games like PUBG and Fortnite, you can realistically get up to 144 frames per second. Most of the time, I found my internet dragging the performance down of gameplay, but I was practically never let down by the hardware. However, if you are someone who plays more e-sporty titles such as DOTA 2 then you are going to get more performance than you would need. Other games like Dirt 3 and The Crew also delivered great overall performance. Talking about performance, I mainly looked at things like frames delivered during the game, response time and most importantly, how quick these games reacted to every change in sequence or scenario.
In terms of benchmarks, the Asus ROG GL504 scored 4621 in single-core and 17722 in the multi-core test on Geekbench. It also came alive in OpenCL test where the machine scored 19061. In the OpenGL test, the ROG delivered 73.78 frames per second and remember, you can get a lot more by switching to the variant with the Nvidia GTX 1070 and 8GB of video memory, which is priced at Rs 1,79,990.
The performance was also nicely held up by the cooling mechanism with the laptop managing to stay cool for most of the time. Asus says it has achieved this with hypercool technology which uses a dual-fan design with an upgraded 12V fan that has more blades and 0.1mm thermal fins. There are also tunnels for self-cleaning the dust and Function + F5 initiates fan overboost, which can be a bit noisy but leads to more effective cooling.
Software and Battery Life
The ROG GL504 runs Windows 10 Home with the latest April Creators Update. As one would expect, it comes with all the bells and whistles of modern Windows that Microsoft wants consumers to experience. You get support for Cortana, which can hear you even from far away. There is the Windows Ink feature, which comes in really handy when you take quick notes or access sticky notes. There is a revamped Task View, which stores history of your activity across devices. People’s Bar comes handy when you are playing team-based games and want to communicate over Skype and not something like Discord.
In addition to Windows, Asus had added its own software like Aura Sync tool that lets you control the RGB lighting of your keyboard, the front LED strip and the logo. There are a number of effects and combinations that you can build but I settled for the rainbow effect which produces a rolling multi-color glowing effect. There is also software to control things like performance and activate game mode which technically lets you push the machine to its extreme.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The Asus ROG GL504 comes with a full-size RGB backlit keyboard that supports Aura Sync technology. The keyboard has a very good travel of 1.8mm, which may not sound as generous as the travel on Cherry MX switch-based mechanical keyboards but does the job well for a laptop keyboard. Asus is using transparent keycaps for W, A, S and D keys, which looks like a nice touch but has no value in practical use apart from distinguishing them from the other keys.
In terms of experience, the keyboard does the best job but the trackpad is definitely not something that gamers would approve of. The trackpad is good for basic taska like moving windows around and switching between tabs but for precision activities like gaming, it does not quite make a fit. This is one such laptop where you should bring your own gaming mouse along for long sessions.
Watch: Monster Hunter World Gameplay
There is no denying that Asus is taking the lead when it comes to development of this new form of gaming laptops. The ROG GL504 is prime example of modern gaming machines becoming thinner, lighter and yet packing graphics performance that most gamers demand in this segment.
I have not tried a lot of gaming notebooks this year but it is easy to say that ROG GL504 should be your top pick especially if you want the best display this industry could offer and of course, if you have a lot of money to spare. It’s particularly useful if you carry your laptop around with you wherever you go, since the form factor will make it considerably easier on your back.