- Great Specification
- Sufficient Ports & I/O
- Good Build Quality
- 144Hz Display
- Unimpressive Thermals
- Gets hot - just like that
- No G-Sync
- Unjustifiable Price Tag
Last week, Asus Malaysia graced us with their new Republic of Gamers laptop that was announced back at Computex 2018. If you remember, they made their debut with the Asus ROG Strix Scar II and Hero II. They have revamped the design from the ground up. To take a closer look, the Scar II is considered to be the one that is equipped with the top-of-the-line performance and power. Lucky for us, we received the one with the GTX 1070 under the hood. How does it last? Is it better than the Scar I which was announced (and refreshed) last year? Or is it something we don’t really need for now? Time to find out in our Asus ROG Strix Scar II review.
Design and Build Quality
Like I said in the introduction – the new Asus ROG Strix Scar II has been revamped from the ground up. The moment you look at it; it does not look anything like its predecessor. In fact, it shares more of its design with Asus very own and possibly the gorgeous Zephyrus / Zephyrus M (we are reviewing that as well, so stay tuned). The laptop in general doesn’t look flashy and it does have look that pretty much blends into a workspace without screaming gaming. The dual-pattern brushed design is possibly one of my favorite look on a laptop and this kills it. The ROG emblem is at the side – has RGB this time around.
Lifting the lid up, you’ll notice that the display has been moved up to give this bezel less look to it and the webcam has been moved down – to an awkward location. If you’re someone who uses the webcam quite often, you might want to place your laptop on an incline. Other than that, below the display – it sports a ROG Logo as well. Moving on to the keyboard area, the whole inside is curved inwards instead of having a sink design. The whole carbon fiber weaved pattern and the camo finish sure is a nice design. I like it how subtle it is but not that striking. The soft touch finish is really nice.
In terms of build quality, the laptop is completely constructed in polycarbonate except for the brushed metal finish on the top. The hinges holding the laptop is very sturdy and doesn’t drop when there’s any movements – which is a nice touch. The plastic finish on the laptop does not feel cheap but it doesn’t try to be premium either. The soft touch finish is super nice to the hands – just like how the XPS 13 had. There isn’t much of a flex near the keyboard area – making the body sturdy. At the bottom, you’ll know that there isn’t a D-Door for easy access – which means you’ll have to remove the whole shell in-order to change something – which could be a bit frustrating.
Oh and there’s a LED strip on the front side – to give you more RGB in life.
I/O & Connectivity
The ROG Strix Scar II has a lot of I/Os. On the left side, the laptop has a DC In, an Ethernet RJ45 port, a Mini Display port, HDMI 2.0, 2 x Full Side USB, a USB C port and a Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack. On the right side, the laptop has another USB, an SD Card slot and a Kensington Lock.
As for the connectivity, the Strix Scar II is equipped with a RangeBoost Technology for the WiFi. It supports Dual-band 5G/2.4G 802.11ac Wave2, MU-MIMO and 160MHz bandwidths as well. Connecting your Bluetooth devices should be fine as it is equipped with BT 4.2.
The Asus ROG Strix Scar II comes in two different variant – one with a 1060 and the max-ed out variant – 1070. We received the GTX 1070 equipped laptop. You can check out the rest of the spec below.
On the front of the laptop, it houses a 15.6” Full HD Display with Anti-glare IPS-level Panel. The display has a 144Hz Refresh Rate with 3ms Response time. The brightness goes up to 300 nits.
The moment you look at the display, you’ll realize it has a very thin bezel going around. They actually moved the display to the top to give a much more immersive feel and a seamless finish to it. They did move the front facing camera to the bottom but it’s at a very awkward position. Other than that, it has a big chin at the bottom – which is weirdly distracting. As it’s a gaming monitor, what matters the most is the fact that whether it can handle games at the frame rates Asus promised. With that said, we did try some game titles on this laptop – Need for Speed: Payback, Evil Within 2 and Batman.
With Need for Speed: Payback – the average refresh rate was about 104Hz while playing the game. There was a drop during the night mode, so it dropped to about 90-95. Evil Within 2 on the other hand gave about 85-95 during game play and during the videos, it hit about 100+. Batman on the other hand ran just fine. Despite it being ran on a 144Hz display, it did run into some problems like where the frame completely dropped drastically and had a very bad stuttering experience. The tearing was a bit noticeable even with the high refresh rate while moving in games like Evil Within 2.
It would have been better if the Scar II had a G-Sync enabled feature on top of it.
The performance on the Scar II is swell. Thanks to the Intel Core-i7 8750H topped by 16GB of RAM, it was really smooth and the whole experience was just fine. Having a dedicated graphics card – the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB VRAM was amazing because editing videos and exporting picture out of Lightroom was quick. It took about 10-15 minutes to export 29 pictures from RAW to JPEG with High Compression rate. Whereas a 5 minutes Full HD video with 29fps took less than 20 minutes to export.
The Primary HDD on the Scar II is a SSHD which means loading game off took roughly about 11 seconds. The bootup time of the laptop via the 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD took about 3-5 seconds. Other than that, the read and the write speed of the SSD was the following – took about 2363.3MB/s Read and 1035.1MB/s Write speed. The SSHD on the other hand gave about 73.71MB/s Read and 72.95MB/s Write speed. The temperature was about 30 degrees and 44 degrees respectively.
One of the hyped up feature that Asus claimed about the Scar II is the thermals. It was said to feature an Advanced Anti-dust Cooling System. It has a dual 12V fans and an anti-dust tunnel to avoid all the dust. This is done to make sure that the laptop does not collect any dirt during the process. They have three different modes for the fan – Quiet, Balanced and Overboost. Quiet and Balanced has more of a quiet sound or a moderate sound that sounds alright. Overboost on the other hand, sounds like a jet turbine and increases the airflow to make sure the temperature is fine.
But it’s saddening to say, the Scar II did not handle the temperature really well. We played some of the games I mentioned above in Balanced mode. In the first 15-20 minutes, it shot off from 47-50 degrees to 80+ degrees. After an hour, the laptop went up to 90+ degrees. We toggled the overboost mode to make sure we get good thermals. For some reason, it felt gimmicky as the temperature went 3 degrees higher and then dropped to 88. Honestly, for a gaming laptop – the thermal is pretty bad on the CPU counter part. The GPU was 5-10 degrees less than the CPU most of the time.
The Asus ROG Scar II has a 66WHr Lithium Ion Battery under the hood and it comes with a 230W Power Adapter – for the 1070 powered Scar II. According to PCMark 8, the laptop scored about 2 Hours 25 Minutes under Balanced mode. But I did perform a real life, day-to-day test to see whether the laptop actually lasts that long.
During my first test, I used the laptop entirely for entertainment where I watched/streamed shows on iflix and also listened to some music as well. The laptop showed the Battery Low warning with 10% battery left. It lasted about 1 Hour 48 Minutes. In my second test, I used the laptop for work and music. It gave me 10 minutes extra and that was it – I had to find for the nearest outlet to charge my laptop. The charging took a bit of time but considering the fact that it is a gaming laptop, I am very sure that you’d be finding a good place with available plug points around.
Keyboard, Trackpad and Speaker
Talking about keyboard, the Scar II has a Chiclet style keyboard with a key-travel of 1.8mm. Also, it has anti-ghosting and N-Key Roll Over. For some reason, the keys on the Scar II feels rigid but none the less, it’s tactile in everyway possible. I didn’t like the key travel as it did also feel a bit mushy and gave some weird feeling while typing. As the body is redesigned, they didn’t eliminate the number pad, which is a good thing. But what they did was crammed up the Arrow Keys – which I am not a fan of. Other than that, it has 4-zone RGB backlight that you can control with the help of Aura Sync.
The trackpad on the other hand has a really huge space to move and navigate around. Also, thanks to the dedicated left and right button, it was amazing to use without any glitches. It comes with Windows Precision Driver and that means, you get good response rate and it works with all the Windows Gestures. Neat.
If you’re wondering about the speakers – it has 3.5W Side-firing speakers with Smart AMP technology. It sounds alright – if you were to crank it up to the maximum volume, you still get decent listening quality with no issue.
The Asus ROG Strix Scar II is an upgrade from the predecessor but there are some serious problem with the laptop in general – first and foremost, the thermal is just bad. Secondly, having a 144 Hz display is great but when you look at Asus ROG lineup, there’s another laptop that has a 144 Hz display with G-Sync enabled – that is the Zephyrus M. Not just that, the Zephyrus M boasts a Metal build. For RM 8499, the Scar II does have a bit of flaws and if you were to top up roughly about RM 300, you could get the 1070 Zephyrus M – which has a better build quality and a G-Sync Display.
If you want something that’s portable with more ports and a SD Card slot, sure – go for the ROG Scar II but the GTX 1060 variant looks a lot more something that can be recommended as it comes at RM 6799.
The Asus ROG Scar II is a good laptop with some impressive features and it definitely is a power house. If only the thermals and the pricing was better, I would have recommended it.