There’s a market for laptops with large screens and solid performance in a package that’s not going to break the bank and is not going to be a burden to carry around either.
The Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is one such machine, a gaming laptop with Intel HQ processors and Nvidia 1060 graphics that starts at around $1400 and weighs just under 6 lbs. This is not the most powerful 17-inch notebook you can find out there, but it’s a nice balance between speed, portability and price and will do well as an all-round multimedia device that can also handle FHD gaming smoothly, especially since it comes with a GSync screen.
The ROG GL702VM has been available in stores for quite a few months now, so you’ll find plenty of opinions about it online, but I finally got to spend some time with it myself and I’m going to share my impressions and findings below. By the end of this post you’ll know where this laptop shines, where it fails, and how it compares to other notebooks with similar traits, like the MSI GS73, Acer Aspire Nitro V17, Acer Predator Helios 17 or the HP Omen 17.
Specs as reviewed
||Asus ROG Strix GL702VM
||17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, 75 Hz, IPS, matte, non-touch, GSync
||Intel Skylake Core i7-7700HQ CPU
||Nvidia GTX 1060M 6 GB
||16 GB DDR4 (2 x DIMMs)
||128 GB M.2 NVMe SSD + 1 TB 2.5″ HDD
||Wireless AC (Qualcomm Atheros AR9565), Bluetooth 4.1, Gigabit Ethernet
||3x USB 3.1 Type A, 1x USB 3.1 Type C Thunderbolt 3, miniDP, HDMI, mic/headphone, SD card reader
||76 Wh, 180 W power brick
||413 mm or 16.25” (w) x 281 mm or 11.06” (d) x 24.7 mm or 0.97” (h)
||2.7 kg / 5.95 lbs
||backlit keyboard, HD camera, upwards facing stereo speakers
Asus also offers an ROG GL702VS model with Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics and a 120 Hz matte screen. That one starts at around $1800 and is both thicker and heavier than the GL702VM version tested here. Follow this link for more details.
Design and first look
The GL702VS is a bit different than the Asus GL702VS we tested last year. It’s both a little thinner (0.97″ vs 1.2″) and a little lighter (5.95 lbs vs 6.4 lbs), but my favorite change is the silver color scheme. In fact, this laptop is available both in black or in silver, and there are a few reasons why I for one would pick the latter.
First of all, the lid cover is made out of brushed aluminum, and you probably know how badly smudges and finger oils catch to black metallic surfaces. Well, they are far less visible on the silver variant, and the same can be said about the interior, despite the fact that its made out of plastic. Besides this, the orange accents look more tamed down, more muted on the silver variant. They create more contrast with the black surface of the black model, which makes them pop-out, and that’s not something I personally appreciate. In fact, I’m not a big fan of these orange glowing accents at all, especially of those on the lid which are backlit by the panel and cannot be individually switched off, but that’s just me, you might feel otherwise.
With the exception of the ROG logo and light bars on the main hood, the branding is fairly subtle and there are no lights on the inside, except for the small LED on the Power Key, which is always lit and a little annoying when watching a movie in a dark room. You do get some logos and engravings on the interior and underbelly, as well as some interesting design lines, but these fit well on a gaming machine, without being too obvious. Even so, I’m not sure you could get this ROG laptop accepted in some of the stricter work and school environments, but you could cover the hood with a decal and that should make it subtle enough.
Looks aside, this laptop has a fairly compact footprint, although it’s not the smallest or the thinnest 17-incher with similar traits out there. Still, a few mm here and there are not going to matter in actual use.
Speaking of that, the GL702VS is pretty comfortable to carry around and use everyday. It gets a roomy interior with speakers on the sides (and some ugly stickers you should peel off quickly), nicely rounded corners and blunt edges, and pretty good hinges. They seem small on a first glance, but actually keep the screen well in place and are smooth enough to allow opening it with a single hand. The screen leans back to about 145 degrees, which is enough for a laptop that’s going to spend most of its time on a desk.
In fact, this notebook sits well on any flat surface thanks to the grippy rubber feet on the bottom, and down here you’ll also notice a fair amount of air intake cuts. There’s no quick-way access to the hardware, but the entire bottom panel is hold in place by a few screws and easy to remove.
The plastic main-frame doesn’t feel that strong though, as is shows some noticeable flex, especially towards the upper part of the keyboard, and there’s some flex in the metallic hood as well. Besides that, some might actually find the plastic finishing of the interior a bit cheap when compared to the competition that rely heavily on metal or at least soft plastic for their cases, and there’s a point to that.
As far as the sides go, they include most the IO on the laterals, with some subtle status LEDs on the front lip and the hot-air exhaust grills on the back. There’s pretty much everything you’ll need on this laptop, which includes 3 USB type A slots and an USB Type C with Thunderbolt 3, miniDP and HDMI for video output, as well as a card-reader, LAN port, Kensington lock and an audio jack. Most of these connectors are placed on the right edge though, including the PSU, which means the right side of the laptop can get quite cluttered with cables if you plan to hook up multiple peripherals.
As a side note, from what I can tell the Thunderbolt 3 port is hooked up via just 2x PCIe lines and won’t get the full bandwidth performance of its 4x PCIe counterpart.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard hasn’t changed from the older GL702s and that’s great news, as I got along great with it.
The keys have a nice smooth finishing, deep travel and proper response, so the typing experience is solid once you get used to their feedback. I did run quite a few missed strokes in the first hours of using it though, and I can’t tell for sure why, it’s probably a combo of resistance and stroke depth that I needed to adjust to, as I’m more accustomed to shorter travel keys.
These keys are also very quiet, including the Space key, and backlit with orange/red LEDs and 3 levels of intensity to choose from. The illumination is activated by swiping fingers over the trackpad. And as a side note, this keyboard does include anti-ghosting technology, which means up to 30 keys can be pressed and registered simultaneously, a trait gamers will find useful.
On the other hand, the keyboard’s layout could use a redesign. The main keys are properly spaced and sized, yet the NumPad and arrows are narrow and cramped. On top of that, there’s the Power button integrated as the top-right key and there’s a completely useless Gaming Center key where you’d expect the NumLock key to be.
Some people complain on the forums about the font Asus chose for the keys, which looks a little funky, but I can’t see how that could be a real problem for anyone. It’s just a font after all, not the standard one most use on their laptops, but still clear and easy to read.
The trackpad hasn’t changed from the older GL702s either, and that’s unfortunately bad news.
This is a Elan trackpad with Microsoft Precision drivers, and it works alright most of the time, yet I ran into occasional issues with precise strokes (trying to thick a small select box or click on a small button, for instance) and also noticed some jumpiness, especially when having one finger on the click areas. Performance when clicking and dragging proved quite erratic as well. These don’t occur all the time and cannot be easily reproduced, but I ran into them often enough to be annoying.
That aside, the trackpad is spacious and made out of plastic. That means some might not find it smooth enough and it rattles when tapped a little firmer. The click buttons are decent though, with good and fairly quiet clicks.
Acer puts a matte 17.3-inch screen on this laptop with an IPS 75 Hz panel and GSync support, one that’s quite popular on top-tier 17-inchers, as it’s also an option on the Alienware 17, the Asus ROG G752 or the GL753 series.
The refresh rate and GSync make it a particular good choice for everyday gaming, but professionals might find the 23 mm Black to Black response time a little lacking for competition gaming (source).
That aside, as well as the light bleeding the creeps from the lower edge of the panel noticed on our sample, where the bezel pinches the screen, there’s not much to complain about this panel, as you can see from the info below taken with a Spyder4 sensor.
- Panel HardwareID: LG Philips LP173WF4-SPF3 (LGD04E8);
- Coverage: 94% sRGB, 70% NTSC, 73% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.0;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 321 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 690:1;
- White point: 7200 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.47 cd/m2;
- Average DeltaE: 2.11 uncalibrated, 1.00 calibrated.
The screen’s gamma is skewed out of the box, and as a result colors get a blueish tint, but that can be mostly addressed by calibrating the panel or using our calibrated profile available here. Even so, this panel might not be good enough for color-accurate work, but it will do for occasional tasks, movies, games and pretty much every other use scenarios. The panel is also bright enough to be taken outside or in well lit offices, if required.
Asus used to offer an UHD screen option with 100% Adobe RGB gamut on the older GL702 models on top of the FHD variant, but that’s not longer the case on the 2017 GL702VM and GL702VS models, which both only get high refresh rates FHD panels.
Hardware, performance and upgrade options
The Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is available in a few different configurations in stores and we got to test the base one, which comes with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics with 6 GB of VRAM, a 128 GB M.2 SSD and a 1 TB HDD.
Higher tier options include up to 32 GB of RAM and a faster SSD, as the one included here is only a SATA drive, but the M.2 connection is hooked up via 4x PCIe lanes and supports M.2 PCIe and NVMe 80 mm SSDs.
Upgrading the RAM and storage requires opening the entire back panel, but it’s only hold in place by a dozen Philips screws and fairly easily to take apart. Once inside, you’ll be able to access the two storage drives, the two RAM DIMMs, the Wi-Fi chip and the battery. The screen’s metallic hinges, the speakers’ chambers and the entire cooling solution are also visible here.
When it comes to performance, I haven’t noticed any issues on our test sample, with the storage, CPU and GPU working at full blast. There is however a fair amount of bloatware that comes preinstaled on the laptop, so you might want to get rid of that or get a clean Windows install on your unit.
I’ve added benchmark results below, for those of you interested in numbers, as well as info on temperatures and frequencies in various use scenarios, including gaming.
- 3DMark 11: P12418;
- 3DMark 13: Sky Driver – 22497, Fire Strike – 9004, Time Spy – 2482;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 4364;
- Geekbench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3836, Multi-core: 14046;
- Geekbench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4576, Multi-core: 14028;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 64.48 fps, CPU 8.13 pts, CPU Single Core 1.62 pts;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 98.93 fps, CPU 735 cb, CPU Single Core 144 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 170.03 fps, Pass 2 – 45.65 fps;
- x264 HD Benchmark 5.1 64-bit: Pass 1 – 79.62 fps, Pass 2 – 16.79 fps.
This laptop also handled gaming flawlessly while plugged in to the wall, an gaming on battery as well. Most laptops throttle the CPU and GPU in games, but that wasn’t the case here (we did notice occasional drops in CPU frequency, but without a noticeable influence on frame rates).
||FHD Ultra – GTX 1060
|Shadow of Mordor
Keep in mind this laptop supports GSync, which is going to sync the images to the screen’s 75 Hz refresh rate and make the gaming experience more reliable and smoother.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
There are three fans inside the GL702VM, a smaller one used to suck air in from the belly and two bigger ones used to push out hot air through the grills on the back edge. They seem to be individually controlled, with the intake and the CPU fan active pretty much all the time, but the GPU fan only kicking in when required.
Unfortunately Asus stuck with this design that uses shared heat-pipes that go along both the CPU and the GPU, which has proven to be rather inefficient on the older GL702s. Given this newer GL702VM is actually thinner, that should have triggered some questions from the engineers. It didn’t, and as a result both the internals and the outer case run very hot on this laptop.
The CPU averages roughly 90 C and the GPU roughly 85 C while gaming for a longer time. As a comparison, the 17-inch Nitro VN7-793G averages under 75 C for both (source) and is actually 3 mm thinner than this Asus, while the MSI GS73 reaches fairly similar temperatures (source), but is a much more compact and thinner device. Bottom point, those are very high temperatures for an i7-7700HQ and a GTX 1060 in such a shell. They shouldn’t have a major impact on the laptop’s long term reliability, but they do make it feel uncomfortable in use.
For once, there’s the fan noise. We measured roughly 46 dB at head level in gaming, with the fans spinning at 5000 rpm. The included Asus Control Center allows us to manually tweak the fans, and the maximum rpm you can set them to is 5300 rpm, with a slight bump in noise and little impact on the temperatures. I prefer to leave the fans on Auto though and I think most potential users would want to keep them on Auto as well.
That aside, there are also the outer case temperatures to consider, illustrated below. High 40s and low 50s is high for a 17-incher with this kind of hardware, pretty close to the MSI GS73, which is a much thinner computer, and quite a few degrees Celsius above the Acer Nitro V17. I keep referring to the Acer because it is the only other modern and thin 17-incher I’ve tested recently, and to the MSI because it is after all the reference in terms of thin 17-inchers.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Need for Speed Most Wanted for 30 minutes
When it comes to daily use, the ROG Stric GL702VM runs fairly quiet, with the CPU fan active most of the time but spinning slowly (~2000 rpm, 35 dB at head-level) and barely audible in a normal environment. The hardware and outer case temperatures are still however higher than on other laptops with similar specs.
The temperatures issue is not isolated by any means. I initially thought that perhaps I got a dud unit, but going on the forums or on Amazon I noticed many users complaining about high temperatures on their units. There are however some ways to address these. The easiest would be to undervolt the CPU, that should lower internal temperatures by 5-7 degrees. Check out this guide for more details. The best would be to undervolt and also repaste the CPU/GPU, but that’s going to void warranty.
Connectivity wise there’s Wireless AC, Bluetooth 4.1 and Gigabit LAN on the GL702VM. Asus went with an Intel 8260 wireless module that performs well when in close proximity of the router, and still decently at 30 feet with two thick walls in between, although at this point the speeds drop to the point where I actually noticed buffering when loading a 4K stream from Netflix. So if you have dodgy Internet signal in your home or office, this one might struggle.
As far as speakers go, the GL702VM gets front-facing stereo speakers. They flank the palm rest, so are fairly easy to cover with your hands, but that doesn’t have a noticeable impact on the audio coming out.
These speakers are fairly loud, measuring a maximum of 82 dB at head level, and sound quite nice, with clear sound, no distortions at high volumes and even a little bass. They do send vibrations into the frame, even at lower volumes, but again that doesn’t have an impact on the actual audio quality, it’s just something you’ll feel when you’ll have your hands on the palm-rest.
Last in this section is the webcam, a 720p camera placed on top of the screen. It’s not much, as you can see above, but it will do the job for occasional calls.
There’s a 76 Wh battery on the Asus ROG GL702VM, but the existence of GSync support means the Intel graphics integrated within the CPU is deactivated and the dedicated Nvidia chip runs all the time. Albeit id does run at lower frequencies when not at full load, it still takes its toll on battery life and as a result you can’t expect much here on a charge (the screen’s brightness was adjusted 30%, which is roughly ~120 nits):
- 16.2 W (~4 h 40 min of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 16.1 W (~4 h 40 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.9 W (~5 h 50 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 17.0 W (~4 h 25 min of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 23.8 W (~3 h 10 min of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 78.0 W (~55 h of use) – gaming, High Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
The laptop comes with a fairly compact 180 Wh power brick and a full charge takes at least 2 hour and 30 minutes.
Price and availability
The Asus ROG GL702VM has been available in stores for quite a while now.
The base level configuration is identical tot he one we have here and has a list price of $1499, but I’ve seen it going for under $1400 in quite a few places as of mid June 2017. Follow this link for updated configurations and prices.
This base model only comes with a 128 GB SATA M.2 SSD, so you’ll probably want to upgrade that to a faster NVMe drive. You can find configurations already bundled with larger and faster SSDs, as well as more RAM, for $1600 to $1900, but at that point you could be getting a GTX 1070 laptop instead. My advice is to get the base model and upgrade the SSD (and RAM if you feel like that’s required) yourselves.
You could also find configurations with Skylake Core i7-6700HQ processors, these go for as low as $1200 and the slightly slower processor isn’t going to make a difference in daily use or gaming.
The Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is one of the most affordable 17-inch laptops available with modern HQ processors and Nvidia 1060 graphics, starting at under $1400 at the time of this post. It’s also one of the more portable ones, with a total weight of under 6 lbs and maximum thickness of under 1 inch. And then it’s also a nicely built computer with a good keyboard, proper IO, good speakers, a 75 HZ screen with Gsync perfectly matched for the hardware inside and definitely not least, excellent performance across the board.
But there’s one particular domain where this laptop comes short: the cooling solution: both the internal and outercase temperatures are higher than I’d expect from such a device, and by quite a significant margin. That translates in noisy fans and hot surfaces, but it could also take a toll on the laptop’s long term reliability. There are people on the forums and on Amazon claiming their unit died after just weeks or months of use, and that’s either a coincidence, poor quality control, or more likely a mixture of these two. As for the temperatures, there are way to lower them without diminishing performances, through undervolting and repasting the CPU/GPU, but as a potential buyer I just don’t want to have to rely on such tricks to get my computer to work properly.
So that leaves you, as a potential buyer, with two options, either get the Strix GL702VM or not. If you do, make sure to buy from reliable sources that accept warranty claims and treat RMAs properly, just in case you draw a short straw, and then invest the money you save up by not going with another more expensive option into extended warranty. Unless you plan to repaste it, in which case the extended warranty won’t do you any good, since you’ll void it anyway.
If you don’t, you’ve got other options to consider, yet most of them will be a heavier, more expensive and for the most part, without a GSync screen. Check out the Acer Aspire Nitro V17, the Acer Predator Helios 300 17, the HP Omen 17, the MSI GS73 and GE73 Raider, or even the bulkier Asus ROG G752, Alienware 17 or Acer Predator 17. Or you can have a look at this extensive list of portable laptops with Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics.
So bottom point, there are few to no other laptops that can rival the GL702VM in terms of price, features and performance, but going for one of these might spur surprises, as the cooling solution and reported quality control issues with the panel and keyboard could spell trouble down the line. It’s up to you!
That wraps up our review of the Asus ROG Strix GL702VM, but the comments section below is open for discussion, so get in touch if you have anything to add or any questions, we’re around to reply.
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