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Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 review: The fastest gaming laptop in town

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 review: The fastest gaming laptop in town

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 review: The fastest gaming laptop in town

Shall we just cut to the quick? If you desire the fastest gaming laptop around, this is it. Put your bank on alert, follow the link below and hit the buy button. A handful of days later, you’ll be both a lot happier and a lot poorer.

For this is a no-holds-barred gaming monster. The model we’re reviewing here has a whopping 17.3in screen with a 360Hz refresh rate, Nvidia’s top-of-the-mobile-range GeForce RTX 3080 graphics and AMD’s stormingly fast Ryzen 5900HX processor ready-overclocked.

Perhaps that isn’t enough for you? Allow me to point towards the 2TB of RAID0 storage, 32GB of RAM and the finest mechanical keyboard I’ve ever tested on a laptop. The Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 is, quite simply, as good as gaming laptops currently get.

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 review: Design

As befits a system that launched at £3,499, the Strix Scar is built to last for many years. The lid sets the tone with a thick layer of aluminium alloy to protect the expanse of screen, and this is echoed by a case so rigid that it could go several rounds with a Sherman tank and still come out in one square-ridged lump.

It’s a bulky machine as a result, with the base alone measuring 20mm thick and rising to almost 30mm with the lid closed. With a 395 x 282mm footprint and 2.7kg weight, it’s a laptop that’s far happier sitting on a desk than being carried in a bag.

Asus crams almost all of the ports onto the rear of the chassis to keep the sides clear of trailing wires, but you may still want to invest in a dock. Beside the power input for the chunky 760g DC power supply, there’s a Gigabit Ethernet connector, HDMI output, USB-C port (which you can use for power delivery of up to 100W) and a USB-A 3 port. Over on the left sit two more USB-A 3 ports and a 3.5mm combo jack.

Asus dedicates the rest of the space to aggressive-looking grilles and RGB strip lighting, all of which can be controlled with its Aura Sync software, as can the RGB keyboard and backlit ROG logo on the lid (and ROG peripherals). Put the lights on full disco mode and it’s quite the show, but you can switch them off when it’s time to get down to undistracted business.

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Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 review: Power and performance

I like this flexibility because it means you can jump from being a gamer to a creative professional on the same machine. Thanks to Nvidia’s Studio drivers, and the small matter of the 17.4 billion transistors in the mobile RTX 3080 GPU, there are levels of acceleration here to match dedicated workstation PCs.

For example, I ran this machine through SPECviewperf20’s test for workstations. It was faster than the Acer ConceptD 700 with its desktop Quadro RTX 4000 graphics in 3ds Max (134fps versus 89fps); a match for it in the medical-03 and SolidWorks viewsets; and whilst it did run around 20% slower in other tests, it was only significantly behind in the specialist Siemens NX benchmark.

But it’s games, of course, where the graphics card truly shines. This is the fastest laptop we’ve seen at 1080p in Hitman 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and 3DMark – a testament to Asus’ cooling, the overclocked Ryzen and its choice of the 115W RTX 3080 graphics.

This laptop proved non-too-shabby in our other performance tests as well. While it fell behind its sibling, the similarly specified Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, in our benchmarks and indeed Wolfenstein, I can’t imagine a task that will place this laptop under any lasting strain.

In particular, there will rarely be a time where you’re waiting for the storage subsystem to keep up with you. Asus provides two 1TB PCIe SSDs set up in a striped RAID0 array, and that led to ludicrous levels of speed in our sequential transfer tests: 4,542MB/sec reads and 2,650MB/sec writes. Only the similarly specified Zephyrus Duo can match that.

Such power is only of use if the components can stay cool, which is why Asus makes great play of its upgraded Arc Flow fans and their promise of 35% increase in airflow to the CPU and 21% over the GPU – not to mention the application of a liquid metal compound rather than conventional thermal paste to help dissipate heat from the overclocked 5900HX processor.

The performance in prolonged benchmarks such as Cinebench R23, where it scored 12,057 and 1,467 in the multicore and single-core tests respectively, suggest it’s a setup that works. And while the fan noise is loud when pushed in games, in general this is a quiet-running laptop. If “silent” running is a priority, you can always use Asus’ Armory Crate software to switch to its quietest profile.

Of all the gaming laptops we’ve tested this year, only the Zephyrus Duo can match the ROG Strix for overall speed. However, there’s one area where the ROG Strix Scar storms clear of its pesky brother and that’s battery life: in our video-rundown test, it kept going for a commendable 7hrs 2mins. It helps to have a 90Wh battery tucked inside.

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 review: Display and trackpad

I also prefer the ROG Strix Scar’s more conventional approach to screens than the dual display that gives the Zephyrus Duo its name. This 17.3in IPS panel’s only notable frill is that it has a 360Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time, which means it will have no trouble keeping up with the graphics card within.

In practice, 360Hz is overkill: even in less demanding games you’ll never reach 360fps. In Overwatch, Asus’ own testing suggests a maximum of 311fps, an average of 269fps and a minimum of 225fps, while in our Metro Exodus tests – to provide an example of a typically demanding modern game – those figures were 143fps, 97fps and 51fps.

Competitive gamers might find the higher refresh rate gives them an edge, but mere mortals will be happy with the 165Hz/3ms display that Asus also offers on its Scar range – and if I was buying this laptop I’d opt for that screen, because it not only has a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution as opposed to the 1,920 x 1,080 of my tested unit, but it’s also tuned to the DCI-P3 colour space rather than sRGB.

For instance, the tested 360Hz panel covered 99% of the sRGB space with a 105% volume, but could only cover 74% of the DCI-P3 space. That means certain rich greens and blues will always be out of its reach, which won’t be a problem in games or general use but will be a limitation if you’re watching a film with luscious landscapes. This aside, it’s a top-grade panel: its gamma tracking is excellent, it hit a nigh-on perfect 6480K colour temperature and its maximum Delta E was 0.83.

As mentioned, a 1440p panel would be preferable to 1080p, but this isn’t a killer blow. From normal viewing distances, it looks sharp.

Measuring 130 x 77mm and with a smooth glass coating, the trackpad is the perfect choice for people who love gestures – even if you only stick to pinch and zoom. The mechanical keyboard is again a supreme example of its type, being an equal pleasure to use whether you’re writing a novel or using the WASD keys to navigate dangerous territory. Think crisp action rather than lots of travel, and Asus promises trigger times of 0.2ms (rather than 5ms of typical mechanical switches) due to an optical sensor avoiding the need for a “debounce delay”.

Asus also claims the switches have a rated lifespan of over 100 million presses, and while that’s impossible to test they certainly feel robust. Their sole downside is an inevitable loud click, and some people will feel aggrieved by keys being shunted over to the left due to the number pad.

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Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 review: Verdict

As I said right at the start, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 is as good as it gets for gaming laptops. It would be great if it could be as slim as a Razer Blade, and your back won’t thank you when lugging this 2.7kg machine around, but heavyweight components need to breathe if you want to extract maximum power from them.

This bulk, along with the overdraft-inducing cost, is the price you pay for a laptop designed for one thing: to play games at the fastest possible frame rates. All the quality that Asus packs in for company – and note the speakers are booming with bass – is simply a bonus.

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