When it comes to gaming laptops, Asus products are among the most appreciated and sought after out there, especially those in their Republic of Gamers (or ROG) family.
Recently, Asus also announced a newer series of gaming products, named ROG Strix, which from what I understand is reserved for their second tiers of gaming dedicated products, while only the high-end devices will get the standard ROG branding in the near future. Confusing, in Asus’s good and long standing tradition.
The ROG Strix GL502 and the GL702 are the first notebooks to be released in this ROG Strix line, and while the former has been launched a few months ago, the latter has yet to hit the stores just yet, at the time of this articole. That’s why you’ll probably find the post very interesting, as it gathers my impressions after spending about two weeks with a pre-production version of the 17-inch Asus ROG Strix GL702VT laptop, one identical in most ways to the final product, from what I can tell.
You’ll find the specs sheet below and then we’ll get in depth with each and every aspect. As a disclaimer, this product came from Asus for the purpose of this review and was sent back after the article was published.
Specs as reviewed
|Asus ROG Strix GL702VT|
|Screen||17.3 inch, 3840 x 2160 px, IPS, matte, non-touch|
|Processor||Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ CPU|
|Video||Nvidia GTX 970M 6 GB|
|Memory||32 GB DDR4 (2xDIMM)|
|Storage||512 GB M.2 NVME SSD + 256 GB M.2 SATA SSD + 2 TB 2.5″ HDD|
|Connectivity||Wireless AC (Qualcomm Atheros AR9565), Bluetooth 4.1, Gigabit Ethernet|
|Ports||3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Thunderbolt 3, miniDP, HDMI, mic/headphone, SD card reader|
|Operating system||Windows 10|
|Size||413 mm or 16.25” (w) x 281 mm or 11.06” (d) x 28 mm or 1.1” (h)|
|Extras||backlit keyboard, HD camera, upwards facing stereo speakers|
Keep in mind this is a test-configuration and most retail versions will be different in some way. Asus will offer different storage options, a choice of either a FHD or an UHD screen and probably 16 GB of RAM on most models.
On top of these, they will have a ROG Strix GL702VM model available as well, indentical to the GL702VT tested here, but with one exception: it will include an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics solution, which is 50% faster than the GTX 970M chip. A larger selection of portable laptop with Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics is available here. An ROG Strix GL702VS model with Nvidia 1070 graphics will also be available in stores later this year.
Design and first look
The ROG laptops of the last years were consistent in getting a mostly black and red color scheme. That’s no longer the case here, as the official colors of the ROG Strix series is Black and Copper (which is mostly a type of orange). You’ll find orange elements all over the place, from the hood to the interior and the underbelly, and while I personally find these annoyingly obvious and obtruding, some of you might feel otherwise. One thing is pretty clear though, you’ll have a very hard time getting this notebook accepted in strict professional environments.
But enough with the ranting, let’s have a proper look at the Asus GL702. This is a pretty slim and light device for a gaming notebook with powerful hardware and if you’re into glowing orange accents, you might even like how it looks.
The chassis is made from rough plastic, and so are the sides and the underbelly, the interior is made from a textured plastic meant to mimic brushed aluminum, while the hood is actually covered in a sheet of dark metal. The build quality is decent, not spectacular though, in most ways in line with the previous Asus GL7xx notebooks, with the lid cover, upper interior and keyboard area flexing quite obviously in daily use. The lid feels especially weak, so I’d be careful when placing the laptop in you backpack.
That aside though, and the fact that the dark lid and interior show smudges and prints easily, I have not much else to complain about. I will have to get back to the orange elements on the hood and the fact that they are faintly backlit, which will make them stand out in a dark room even more. Asus went for a similar approach on the ROG G752, however on that one the light bars could be switched off from the ROG software, but I couldn’t find a way to do the same on this ROG Strix GL702.
On the practical side, the GL702 is pretty well designed. The screen is held in place by two hinges, which look small but actually feel strong and sturdy. The screen leans back to only about 120-130 degrees, but that’s not a big issue on a computer that’s going to spend most of its life on a desk, and you can actually lift the screen easily with a single hand. The interior is roomy and provides a good use experience, despite the fact that the edges are rather sharp and will put a strain on your wrists. Just a small one though, as the notebook’s profile is fairly low and the arm-rest big enough to accommodate your hands comfortably.
If you’ll flip the laptop over you’ll notice the large and very grippy feet, the air intake grills and the massive exhaust on the back, pushing hot air away from the user, which is another aspect to appreciate. Accessing the hardware, on the other hand, is not as simple as on the older GL Asus notebooks, as it requires to remove the entire back panel. It’s not a tedious task, you will have to unscrew the handful of Philips screws that hold the back panel in place and than popit open with some plastic priers, but it’s still more complicated than it used to be.
Once inside, you’ll notice the two RAM slots in the middle, the three storage options, the WiFi module on the right side and the battery. On top there are the two main fans and their coolers with orange fins, another small fan meant for air intake and the complex heatpipes system. We’ll talk more about their performance further down.
I’m especially happy of the IO configuration on this computer, with most important connectors being lined on the right edge and well spaced to be able to use them comfortably. There’s the PSU here, a LAN port, the miniDP and HDMI video outputs, and USB 3.1 Thunderbolt 3 port , an USB 3.0 slot and the headphone/mic jack. There are two more USB 3.0 slots on the left side, a card reader that won’t fit flush an SD card and a Kensington Lock. On the front edge you’ll find a few status LEDs, while the rear edge gets the cooling grills I mentioned earlier.
Unlike the GL502, the larger GL702 actually gets a Thunderbolt 3 port, which means it can work with external graphics units and other compatible accessories. You can find a more detailed list of notebooks with Thunderbolt 3 ports here.
Keyboard and trackpad
I’m a big fan of the keyboard on this ROG Strix GL702VT. We got along very well from the beginning and my typing speed and especially the accuracy improved to levels I rarely reach on any test laptop, after typing a few thousand words on it. I “blame” the the solid mix of feedback, stroke depth and soft-finishing for this, which simply make this keyboard very hard to be rivaled by anything else, at least for me. Even the slight flex in the upper portion wasn’t something that bothered me in daily use.
The keyboard is backlit (with three intensity levels) and keeps the orange/black theme of the whole laptops, with the WASD keys being emphasized. The directional keys are not, and that’s probably because these ones and the entire NumPad section keys are cramped, narrower than the others. And as an extra aspect to mention, Asus went for a pretty funky font for the keys, yet one that I personally found quite appealing and easy to read.
The touchpad sits beneath the keyboard and is both large enough and properly emphasized from the arm-rest around it, both functionally (it’s slightly recessed) and aesthetically (gets a narrow orange border around). Its surface is smooth, actually too smooth for my liking, and it also felt very fast out of the box. This is a Precision trackpad, so there are only a couple of basic adjustments offered, which for me were not able to make this trackpad perform properly.
Everyday swipes and gestures worked fine, however, I struggled with very precise swipes and taps, as light actions were not always registered and I had to come back and tap harder quite often. On top of that, the surface rattles when tapped and the physical clicks are clunky.
I do have high demands from a trackpad, and this one doesn’t meet all my expectations. However, the trackpad is not entirely flawed and is actually usable when needed. On top of that, since the GL702 is a gaming machine and you’ll probably have a mouse connected most of the time, there’s a fair chance you’ll actually not care about these quirks at all.
The screen on the other hand is something of the greatest importance, and the reviewed GL702 came with the splendid UHD panel made by AU Optronics (model name: AUO109B ), which we also encountered on a few other premium notebooks like the Asus Vivobook Pro N752 or the Acer Predator 17.
This is a matte panel with a diagonal of 17.3-inches and wide-gamut color coverage. It’s also bright enough for most conditions, including well-lit rooms, and offers solid contrast. The screen came precalibrated on this laptop, yet we were able to address a few issue with our colorimeter and you can find our improved color profile here, if you want to use it on your unit.
We also ran our standard tests with the Spyder4Elite and you can find the results below.
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics B173ZAN01.0 (AUO109B);
- Coverage: 100% sRGB, 98% NTSC, 100% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.4;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 313 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 700:1;
- White point: 6700 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.45 cd/m2;
- Average DeltaE: 2.12 uncalibrated, 1.77 calibrated.
It’s worth adding that this panel only offers a refresh rate of 60 Hz and does not support GSync, which some of you might want in a gaming notebook. You’ll have to aim for the higher-tier ROG G752 for those.
The GL702 will also be available with a FHD panel, especially for the more affordable configurations, which doesn’t offer the same color coverage and accuracy, but is better suited for gaming on a GTX 970M machine like this one, and will help with battery life by a fair amount.
Hardware, performance and upgrade options
We tested a beefier configuration of the ROG Strix GL702VT notebook here, with a Core i7-6700HQ processor, 32 GB of RAM, hybrid storage and Nvidia GTX 970M graphics with 6 GB of VRAM.
As an important note, our test unit came with the Intel HD graphics integrated withing the CPU disabled, something Asus have done in the past for their top ROG lines, but not for the GL series. This particular aspect helps keeping CPU temperatures down, but at the same time has a major impact on daily use battery life, as you’ll see once we get to that section further down. I cannot confirm that the final retail versions will get the disabled integrated chip or that was just an error with our sample, but I’ll get back with an update once I know more.
The CPU and GPU are of course non-upgradeable on this machine, but the RAM and storage is. There are two DIMMs and each can take up to 16 GB of DDR4 2133Mhz of memory, and there are three storage options. In our case, we have a 512 GB NVMe Samsung SSD for the OS and programs, another 256 GB SATA Sandisk SSD on an M.2 slot, and finally a 2.5″ inch 2 TB Seagate hard-drive for mass storage. Retail versions might be available in other configurations, so what you should take out of this is that there are three storage options on the GL702, one M.2 NVMe slot, one M.2 SATA slot and a 2.5″ storage bay.
With this kind of hardware, there’s no surprise the laptop performs very well in pretty much any tasks thrown at it, from basic activities like browsing and editing documents, to watching all sort of multimedia content, running demanding software like Adobe Premiere, Eclipse or VMWare, and last but not least, running games.
One thing to mention here is that there’s a lot of bloatware preinstalled out of the box and you’ll want to clean that up, or even perform a clean Windows reinstall, to be able to squeeze the most out of this notebook.
You’ll find some gaming results below. The GTX 970M chip is capable of running most modern titles at 1080p resolutions with High to Ultra details. It can also run older or less demanding games and the native UHD resolution, but in the case of the latest releases you’ll have to trim down the details by quite a lot to get a smooth experience.
|FHD High||FHD Ultra||UHD High|
|Shadow of Mordor||57 fps||48 fps||27 fps|
|FarCry 4||42 fps||34 fps||21 fps|
|Grid Autosport||60 fps||54 fps||41 fps|
|Tomb Raider||60 fps||55 fps||38 fps|
|Bioshock Infinite||60 fps||57 fps||–|
It’s also worth adding that you won’t get the same results when playing games on battery, because the GPU’s frequency is cut down in this case, as you can see in the images below. On the other hand, because the CPU and GPU are performing well in games and don’t get extremely hot, you should be able to slightly overclock the Nvidia chip and get even better results in games, while still running everything safely. There’s a catch though: increased outercase temperatures, as you’ll see a bit later.
I’ve also ran a couple of benchmarks on our configuration and the results are very solid.
- 3DMark 11: P9192;
- 3DMark 13: Cloud Gate –11340, Sky Driver – 12432, Fire Strike – 5924;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3268;
- Cinebench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3596, Multi-core: 12813;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 54.48 fps, CPU 7.42 pts, CPU Single Core 1.54 pts;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 59.74 fps, CPU 678 cb, CPU Single Core 148 cb.
And since this is a computer that’s probably going to see plenty of intense action, I’ve also took it through our stress tests.
With Prime95 running on all cores, the CPU is still capable of running at TurboBoost frequencies with temperatures barely going over 80 degrees. With both Prime95 and Furmark running at the same time, the CPU still doesn’t throttle and the GPU runs at its core highest frequency as well, but temperatures do get higher, with around 90 degrees for the processor and around 85 degrees for the graphics unit.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers and others
There are two fans inside this laptop and they are active all the time, so don’t expect the GL702 to be perfectly quite. In daily use, the fans ramp up from time to time and you might also hear the HDD’s cracking if you’re running something stored on it, but overall the noise levels are acceptable. In fact, this computer remains fairly quiet even on high loads, when the fans are clearly audible, but at the same time are easily covered by the potent speakers.
However, the fact that the fans don’t spin very fast (up to 3600 rpm, according to HWMonitor) and the overall laptop’s design leads to certain points on the case reaching very high temperatures. The palm-rest and low/middle keyboard areas only hit decent temperatures (although too high for my taste, considering this is a 17-inch laptop and not an ultraportable), but the area on top of the keyboard and the similar portion on the underside reach really high numbers.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Need for Speed Most Wanted for 30 minutes
Don’t forget this is a pre-release laptop, but judging by the reports on the Asus ROG Strix GL502 which gets hot in the exact same spots, you should expect the retail versions of the GL702 to reach similar temperatures to those mentioned above.
Connectivity wise, there’s Wireless AC, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet on this notebook. I haven’t done much testing of the wired or Bluetooth connection, but I can say that the Wireless speeds provided by the Atheros AR9365 module are pretty poor, especially in close proximity of my router. The retail versions of the GL502 ship with a better performing Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 module though, so I expect the same from the GL702, that’s why I won’t get in depth on the issues I encounter on this test-unit. Worst case scenario, the Wi-Fi chip can be replaced fairly easily, so there’s going to be a way to get a fast wireless connection on this notebook.
The speakers on the ROG Strix GL702 are pretty potent. They are upwards firing, hidden behind the orange grills that flank the arm-rest, and you might cover them with your hands until you get used to that, but I’m overall fine with their positioning. On the acoustic experience, they do lack bass, but sound otherwise quite good and offer enough punch to fill in a mid-sized room easily. I was able to measure up to 94 dB at head level in our standard audio test and I haven’t noticed any distortions or vibrations at max volume, but I’m pretty sure you’ll barely push this past 50% most of the time.
The GL702 also gets a 720P webcam on top of the screen, decent, nothing fancy about it.
While there is a 76 Wh battery on the ROG Strix GL702VT, battery life in daily use is poor, because the Intel HD graphics chip withing the processor is deactivated and as a result, the Nvidia GTX 970M chip is active all the time. On top of that, our configuration also gets the power-hungry UHD screen, so here’s what to expect:
- 20 W (~3 h 50 min of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 28 W (~2 h 45 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 20 W (~3 h 50 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 24 W (~3 h of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 31 W (~2 h 30 min of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
- 56 W (~1 h 20 min of use) – gaming, High Performance Mode, screen at 30%.
The screen’s brightness was set at 30%, which is around 120 nits.
Asus bundles the laptop with a 180W power-brick and a full charge takes between 2 top 3 hours, depending on what you’re running at the time.
Price and availability
Nor the Asus ROG Strix GL702VT or the Gl702VM are yet available in stores in either the US or Europe at the time of this article, so we don’t have exact details on the available configurations and prices.
We do know that the smaller, yet similar in most ways, ROG Strix GL502VT starts at around $1250 for configurations with a FHD screen and no SSD storage, while the top-tier GL502VY versions go for around $1900, but with Nvidia 980M graphics. So I’d expect the GL702 to start at around $1300 for the basic models, with the high end versions with the UHD display and SSD storage going for around $1800-$1900, or more if you opt for a 512 GB SSD out of the box.
The ROG Strix GL702VM will be available in early fall and from what we know so far, a configuration with a 512 GB SSD, 16 GB of RAM, the FHD display and the Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics will sell for around $1800. Follow this link for more details.
A ROG Strix GL702VS might also be available in Fall with Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics.
I’ll update this section as soon as possible.
The ROG Strix GL702VT is designed to offer solid performance in a package lighter and more compact than what most other 17-inch gaming laptops deliver, which are notoriously known for being bulky and heavy.
This however is a darn difficult recipe to master, as high-performance components don’t mingle well with a thinner body. As a result, while the GL702 shows no trace of throttling and speed drops in any circumstances, the outer case temperatures are high, and there’s just no way around this, that’s just physics.
If you can live with this aspect and the rather poor battery life caused by the fact that the Intel HD graphics chip is innactive, the ROG Strix GL702 could be a solid pick for you. The build quality is decent, yet not on par with that of the higher end ROGs, again a sacrifice that was made in order to keep the weight down. The screen on the other hand is splendid for daily activities, the speakers are punchy and the keyboard is one of the better I’ve put my hands on. Just keep in mind that a 970M chip isn’t enough to power the latest games at 4K resolutions, so if you want this primarily for gaming, you’d better opt for the FHD screen or perhaps wait for the Gl702VM model with Nvidia 1060 graphics.
On top of these, I expect the ROG GL702VT to be priced competitively, selling for less than the GL752VT. We’ll see.
There are plenty to like about the ROG Strix Gl702VT, but also a few shortcomings that you’ll have to accept
Aside from the bigger ROG GL752VT or the other massive gaming laptops like the Alienware 17 or the Acer Predator 17, the offer for 17-inch notebooks with powerful graphics and a portable shell is very limited. The MSI GS72 Stealth Pro comes closest, weighing around 6 lbs, and is also plagued by high-temperatures under load and short battery life. Another option is the Aorus X7 Pro, with its SLI Nvidia GTX 970M dual-graphics solution, but this one weighs 7.2 lbs and costs an arm and a leg, so it’s not meant for the average buyer.
So at the end of the day, you’ll have to know exactly what you want. If it’s a notebook that you’ll use primarily for gaming and you don’t plan to move it often, you should go for one of the bigger 17-inch notebooks, hopefully with GTX 980M graphics (or GTX 1070) and maybe extra features like GSync support. On the other hand, if it’s a 17-incher that you’ll use primarily for work and multimedia activities, yet you still want to run games but don’t mind trimming down the details, then something like the Asus ROG Strix GL702VT is going to be a solid option.
Will wrap this up here, but if you have any questions or anything to add, make sure to get in touch in the comments section below. And you should also read our detailed post on gaming ultraportables, if you want to see what other solid options are available out there.