Asus ROG Strix Scar II review: A scar every gamer would love

Asus adds another top-notch gaming laptop to its ROG portfolio.

By Vishal Kawadkar

    Asus offers some of the good mid-range gaming laptops with their ROG Strix lines. The company launched its ROG Strix Scar and Hero laptops at Computex last year. In 2018, it completely revamped the 15-inch models with design, screens, and innards.

    The Scar was crafted for FPS games, while the Hero focused on the MOBA styled games. The Scar devices checked almost all boxes, including a high refresh rate 144Hz IPS-type display and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. The new ROG Strix Scar II GL504GS brings pretty much the same, but with a few tweaks in the design department. As the trend for narrow bezels continues to catch fire, Asus also wants a piece in it.

    Asus ROG Strix Scar II gaming laptop review

    So, should the Scar II be your ultimate gaming laptop? Or there's something else out there that would prove to be a better alternative. Let's find out in our review.

    Full specifications

     

    • 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 144 HZ, GSync, matte
    • Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8750H, six-core
    • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 vRAM)
    • 32GB DDR4-2400 (2x DIMMs)
    • 256 GB SSD (M.2 80 mm NVMe) + 1 TB HDD (2.5″ bay)
    • Intel 802.11AC WiFi 9250 Wave 2 with Bluetooth 5.0, Realtek RTL8168 Gigabit LAN
    • 3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C gen 2, HDMI 2.0, miniDP 1.2, LAN, SD card reader, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock
    • Baterry 66 Wh, 180 W power adapter
    • Windows 10
    • 361 mm or 14.21" (w) x 262 mm or 10.31" (d) x 26.1 mm or 1" (h)
    • 2.42 kg (5.33 lb), .61 kg (1.35 lbs) power brick
    • RGB backlit keyboard - 4 zones, stereo speakers, HD webcam

     

    Design

    The Scar II is boxier in size this time around. It has simple rendered corners with the brushed texture. It comes with a smaller footprint and has narrower bezels which makes it more appealing. But, that doesn't actually make a huge difference to the actual form factor of the device. It is still on the thicker side of laptops.

    The thick chin bezel pushes the display higher into a more ergonomic position to the user's eyes. The position of the webcam is, however, the catch here, it's placed on the right corner of the chin, which is really annoying. It would have been forgivable to some extent if the camera was placed in the center like we've seen on the Dell XPS 13.

    We've seen many gaming laptops suffer from build quality issues. Thankfully, the Scar II is intact in that department. The chassis is sturdy and there's no sign of a flex on the lid, keypad or the keyboard.

    Asus used a unique treatment for the lid and faux carbon fiber print for the palm rest offering a premium gaming feel. The palm rest also features an anti-fingerprint coating which actually does a good job of masking smudges and fingerprints. The keyboard also has white WASD keys, as they are the most used keys in any FPS game.

    There's more to this design than just the big branding logos. Asus has excessively used the camo texture, which in our opinion looks tacky. The laptop, apart from the RGB keyboard lighting, has an additional RGB light strip on the bottom lip and a ROG logo on the lid, which can be turned off.

    Display

    For the Scar II, Asus went with a matte 15.6-inch IPS FHD display developed by AU Optronics. It has a refresh rate of 144Hz and is something similar to the one seen on MSI GS65 Stealth Thin.

    The display isn't something that a user would use for color accurate tasks, as it only covers 75 percent of the Adobe RGB gamut. But, apart from that it's an impressive display for everyday use, multimedia consumption, and especially gaming, thanks to its higher refresh rate.

    Sadly, the Scar II misses out on the G-Sync (Nvidia's anti-screen tearing technology). But the sheer power of the GTX 1060 GPU pretty much makes up for the loss. You can hardly feel the difference, the display produces vivid viewing experience with smooth visuals. It is basically the same panel which we've seen on the Zephyrus GM501 laptop, but sans the massive bezels. The slim bezels on the Scar II make for a better and immersive experience while gaming.

    Audio

    The audio quality of the Scar II is definitely something that will take you by surprise. The speakers churn out a punchy audio with deep and throaty bass that makes multimedia and gaming a treat without taking help of an external audio source. This is by far the best sounding gaming laptop speakers we've come across. They are loud and clear offering unmuffled audio backed by loads of bass.

    The company has also included its Sonic Radar III which makes a radar overlay while gaming. It also pinpoints where sounds like enemy gunshots or footsteps are coming from in the gameplay. The software is capable of calculating the direction of in-game sounds if the game supports 5.1 channel audio. This feature analyses and simulates the game's audio. It is a tool for rookies to practice binaural hearing in games, so that they may gain the upper hand in future battles.

    Keyboard and Touchpad

    The keyboard used here is solid, and the 1.8mm travel distance makes it even better. It is one of the few keyboards that offer a satisfying feedback and is apt for long typing sessions. The keyboard offers dedicated keys for adjusting the volume, launching the ROG gaming center, and muting the mics.

    The WASD key cluster comes with transparent keycaps, which also indicates that the laptop is targeted at FPS gamers. The ROG Hero II, however, highlights the QWER keys, as it's built for MOBA-oriented games. The Scar II uses the Windows Precision Touchpad. It is accurate and precise and has all the WIndows 10 gestures under its belt.

    Gaming Center

    The ROG Gaming Center is like the laptop's dashboard, detailing system information, CPU and GPU clock speed and temperature, and memory. It also provides configuration details and memory optimization functions. Listed on the bottom of the dashboard are ROG apps and functions like ROG Aura keyboard lighting control, GPU Mode switching, Fan OverBoost fan mode options, GameVisual display mode control, Game First V network optimizer, Sonic Studio III sound amplifier, and Sonic Radar III audio visualization.

    The discrete and integrated graphics switching function can be called by the GPU Mode button located at the bottom of the Game Center. The current GPU mode is shown underneath the button; users can switch between Discrete Graphics and Optimus modes. Whenever the GPU mode is changed, the system must be restarted; thus, save your game or work and close all programs prior to changing the mode.

    GameVisual provides 6 preset modes for such end-user-needs as FPS, RTS/RPG, sRGB, Racing, Cinema, and Scenery. First-Person Shooter (FPS) mode, for example, enhances brightness, making areas of contrast more clearly visible. RTS/RPG focuses on vivid colors, allowing gamers to see finer details of game worlds; while the scenery is oriented toward displaying standard colors. Gamers gain a better visual experience with GameVisual.

    Performance

    For the hefty price you pay to get the Scar II, it would be criminal to not expect a top-notch gaming performance from the laptop. Well, fortunately, it does deliver on that in style. Gaming on the Scar II was a smooth experience - not just for the popular FPS titles, but other graphics intensive games as well. The 8th Generation Intel Core i7 8750H is a beast when it comes to per core performance and now comes with 12 logical cores with hyper-threading technology. It is perfect for both gaming and work demands.

    As for the productivity, the laptop doesn't make a lot of noise and keeps cool while performing other tasks apart from gaming. The dual 12V fans, multiple heat-pipe designs, and exclusive anti-dust tunnels enhance the cooling system's lifespan. It also lets the users control the fan speed, which greatly helps amplify the performance of the GPU. It has three modes -- Silent, Balanced, and Overboost.

    By default, the laptop uses the Balanced fan mode, which gets loud while gaming. Asus has done a brilliant job to overcome the heating issues on the Scar II. Although the fan vents tends to turn hot, the palm rest still remains cool without causing any inconvenience to the users.

    ROG Strix Scar II comes with the RangeBoost zero blind spot technology. Via the proprietary 4 antenna configuration, which is 2x2 + 2x2 connection mode, the laptop can switch between different main and aux antenna according to signal strength. This optimizes the laptop's radiation pattern for reducing blind spots so that gamers won't have to worry about their Wi-Fi connection when they're gaming.

    As for the battery, Scar II still has a lot to improve on. The battery backup of the laptop was underwhelming, and considering the fact that other laptops such as Gigabyte Aero 15X and Razer Blade are slimmer but have a bigger battery, it seems disappointing. But since it's a gaming-centric laptop, it's evident that battery life wouldn't be the company's priority for its target audience.

    Verdict

    There's isn't much to dislike about this gaming machine, unless you are a querulous user. The Scar II offers a great gaming performance alongside a brilliant display, tremendous speakers, and the sturdy hardware.

    Well, there are still few areas like the placement of the webcam, the missing Thunderbolt 3, and the not so attractive camo texture, but these aren't something that would be a deal breaker. Of course, there are costlier GTX 1060 laptops in the market, but they come in portable form factor, unlike the Scar II. But, if you look beyond these small hurdles, this could be a great alternative for you.

    Priced at Rs 1,79,990, the Asus ROG Strix GL504GM Scar II is an excellent mid-range gaming laptop and makes for a good gaming and overall experience. If you are someone seeking for a device that can act as both gaming and a work machine, the Scar II can be a safe choice.

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