This article gathers all our impressions on the 17-inch Asus TUF FX705 mid-range line of gaming laptops.
We’ve spent a few weeks with a high-end FX705 GM configuration (i7-8750H processor, GTX 1060 graphics, dual-storage) and we got to know its strong points and quirks.
This laptop has a few aces down its sleeve: the sturdy construction, the compact and fairly light form factor (for a 17-incher), the performance, the 144 Hz IPS display and last but not least, the aggressive pricing. It’s not without flaws or strong competitors though, but it is nonetheless one of the better offers in its class and I’d expect many of you to have it in your visor in the months to come.
Read on to find where the Asus TUF FX705 GM excels, where it leaves room for improvement and how it fares against the alternatives out there.
Specs as reviewed
|Asus TUF FX705 GM Gaming Laptop|
|Screen||17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, 144 Hz, IPS, non-touch, matte|
|Processor||Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-8750H CPU|
|Vide0||Intel HD 630 + Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 (2x DIMMs)|
|Storage||256 GB SSD (M.2 PCIe) + 1 TB 5400 rpm HDD (2.5″)|
|Connectivity||Gigabit LAN, Wireless AC (Intel AC 9560) , Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||1 x USB-A 2.0, 2 x USB-A 3.1, HDMI 2.0, LAN, mic/headphone, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||64 Wh, 180 W charger|
|Size||400 mm or 15.74” (w) x 280 mm or 11.02” (d) x 27.6 mm or 1.08” (h)|
|Weight||5.75 lbs (2.6 kg) + 1.1 lbs (.5 kg) for the charger|
|Extras||AURA 4-zone RGB backlit keyboard, webcam, DTS headphone output|
Design and exterior
The Asus TUF FX705 is a fairly thin, light and well built computer.
It gets small 7.2 mm bezels around the screen, but a thicker 14 mm forehead that accommodates the camera and microphones, as well as a big chin that pushes the screen upwards. That aside, at 5.8 lbs (2.6 kg), it’s lighter than most other 17-inchers and merely a bit heavier than most mid-range 15-inch laptops.
The reduced size and weight, corroborated with the strong lid, make the FX705 a perfect laptop for those of you who lug around your laptop in your backpack. The TUF series is also MIL-STD-810 certified, which means it’s “certified to survive the day-to-day hazard” according to Asus. All laptops should do that imo, but hey, this should be tougher and more reliable than the average bunch.
The lid is made out of a thick piece of metal and is much stronger than on other Asus laptops, with almost not give or flex. The rest of the construction is entirely made out of plastic, but it’s mostly the tougher good quality kind, and while there’s still some flex in the keyboard deck, this laptop feels overall sturdy and well crafted. Some of the materials are subjectively ugly though, like the textured plastic around the screen.
This series is also cleaner looking than Asus’s other gaming lines. The FX705 is available in Gold Steel or Red Matter color schemes, and we got the former, which is mostly dark-gray, with a subtle golden ASUS backlit logo on the hood. It’s lit by the panel, so cannot be switched off, but at least there are no other lights and obnoxious design elements to deal with. The Red Matter version gets a red backlit logo and some red-accents around the lid and on the palm-rest, so is not as clean as this one.
As far as practicality goes, the FX705 sits well on a desk, thanks to its multitude of rubber feet on the belly, gets a spacious palm-rest with blunt edges and corners around, and two strong hinges keep the screen in place as set-up. They allow to open the display with a single hand and lean back to up to 145 degrees, enough for desk use.
I do have to mention the awkwardly placed status LEDs, just beneath the screen, and the fact that the power button is always lit, which can get annoying when watching a movie in a dark room.
Cooling is extremely important on a gaming laptop, and the FX705 shares the design with the smaller FX505, with intakes on the belly, on top of the keyboard and on the side, and outputs on the back edge. We’ll talk in-depth about the cooling system and its behavior further down.
One final aspect to mention here is the IO, which offers the basics you’ll need on such a computer (3x USB-A slots, HDMI 2.0, LAN, audio output), but without any USB-C and without a card-reader. On top of this, all the connectors are grouped on the left edge, which is good news for right-handed users, but at the same time might kill this for lefties.
All in all, Asus did good with the TUF FX705. It’s a well built computer with a fairly compact and light build, little design fluff and few ergonomic flaws. It is however mostly made out of plastic, so it doesn’t feel as premium as some of the other options out there, and only gets a very basic set of ports.
Keyboard and trackpad
As far as I can tell, Asus offers the FX705 with two keyboard options: a red backlit version and a 4-zone RGB Aura keyboard, similar to the one of the ROG GL704 Scar II models. We got the latter on our unit.
It’s the same keyboard used on the smaller FX505 version, with a pretty standard layout, but cramped arrow keys and NumPad section. The WASD keys are made from clear plastic, which allows the illumination to shine through. RGB 4-zone illumination is implemented with this keyboard variant, controllable through the TUF AURA software that comes preinstalled.
This keyboard felt differently than on the FX505 we reviewed a while ago. There’s less flex in the main deck on this unit, but surprisingly that didn’t lead to an improved experience. For me, the keys on the FX705 feel like they need an uncomfortably strong press to actuate, which corroborated with their 1.8 mm depth and the fact that I’m used to shorter and softer feedback, took a toll on both my typing speed and accuracy.
Asus advertises some sort of overstroke technology implemented with this keyboard, which in theory should help register strokes without pressing the keys all the way through, but for some reason that didn’t work as expected on this unit.
In conclusion, for me this is not the fastest or most comfortable keyboard to type on, even with several thousands of words in the bag on it. However, it you’re coming from an older laptop or from a desktop keyboard, you’ll probably enjoy it. Gamers will also appreciate some of its features, as the improved reliability (good for up to 20 million key presses) and n-key rollover.
The clickpad on the other hand works very well. It’s a fair-sized plastic Synaptics surface with Precision drivers and it handles everyday swipes, gestures and taps smoothly and reliably. The physical clicks are pretty OK as well, although a bit on the clunky side.
Asus offers the TUF FX705 lines with either a 60 Hz or a 144 HZ 17.3-inch IPS panel, both with matte finishes. We got the latter on our test model.
It’s a fast screen with good response times, so a great option for gamers, especially when paired with the GTX 1060 graphics that can deliver sustained frame-rates with most titles. There’s no GSync, so you’ll still get some tearing and artifacts in certain conditions, but those are far less annoying, or even noticeable, than on a standard 60 Hz screen.
The panel’s quality on the other hand is only slightly above average, with good colors, black-levels and contrast, but rather low maximum brightness and some uniformity issues. Details below, taken with a Spyder4 sensor:
- Panel HardwareID:AU Optronics AUO409D (B173HAN04.0);
- Coverage: 97% sRGB, 70% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 263 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 860:1
- White point: 6800 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.30 cd/m2.
This panel is well calibrated out of the box, but you can still give our calibrated profile a try to get a corrected white point and gray levels.
It’s not going to do anything about the uniformity, but I reckon that’s a quality control issue with our particular unit and you should get a better version on your device. Make sure to test it out and RMA the product in case you draw a short stick.
Hardware and performance
We got to test a mid-range configuration of the TUF Gaming FX705 series, the FX505GM model with the six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16 GB of RAM (2x DIMMs), dual storage and the Nvidia GTX 1060 6 GB graphics chip.
The included 256 GB PCIe SSD offers fast read speeds and average writes, but is faster than the 128 GB version we got on the reviewed FX505 and I’d reckon most will find it good enough. If not, you can always upgrade it.
The components are easily accessible once you get past the back panel, which is hold in place by a handful of Philips screws. Inside you’ll find the two memory slots and the two storage drives. The CPU and GPU are soldered on the motherboard and non-upgradeable.
As far as performance goes, this laptop can easily handle everyday chores, while running cool and quiet. Asus offers three fan profiles: Silent, Balanced and Overboost. I suggest to mostly keep your laptop on Balanced, as the management does a good job at keeping the fans silent with daily use and only kick them on with multitasking and more demanding loads. Further down we will however discuss how the Silent and Overboost modes impact the performance when playing games.
First, we test the CPU’s performance by running Cinebench R15 Multi-Core several times in a loop and log the CPU’s frequencies, temperatures and scores.
Out of the box, the i7 in our sample ramps up to its maximum Turbo Boost Frequencies, but quickly reaches 95 degrees Celsius and stabilizes at about 2.8 – 3.1 GHz and a die-temperature of about 70-75 degrees Celsius. This is an aggressive limitation, more aggressive than on the FX505 we tested a few weeks ago, and translates in scores of only around 1000 – 1050 points in concurrent run of the test. Keep in mind our sample is pre-production, and we expect the final retail versions to perform closer to the FX505.
Either way, we also undervolted the CPU an -100 mV (this article explains what undervolting is and how to perform it) and re-ran the tests. In this case the CPU clocks down a little slower, and stabilizes at around 3.2-3.4 GHz after hitting the mid 90s temperature threshold, which translates in scores of around 1080-1130 points in concurrent runs.
In other words, undervolting leads to a slight 3-8% performance increase in demanding CPU loads, even in this thermally limited implementation, which bottlenecks the CPU at only around 75 degrees Celsius. For comparison, the same CPU runs at around 85-90 degrees Celsius in other implementations in the same conditions, which translates in higher-frequencies.
We’ve also ran our set of standard benchmarks, and here’s what we got:
- 3DMark 11: P12537 (Graphics: 13976, Physics: 9695);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 9793 (Graphics – 10918, Physics – 15699);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 3709 (Graphics – 3566, CPU – 4803);
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3984;
- PCMark 10: 4988;
- PassMark: Rating: 5323, CPU mark: 12057, 3D Graphics Mark: 8608;
- GeekBench 3.4.2 32-bit: Single-Core: 3875, Multi-core: 21506;
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 4897, Multi-core: 19042;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 99.21 fps, CPU 1131 cb, CPU Single Core 177 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 195.22 fps, Pass 2 – 63.94 fps.
We also ran some of them on the -100 mV undervolted profile:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 9843 (Graphics – 11008, Physics – 15793);
- GeekBench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4911, Multi-core: 19394;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 95.77 fps, CPU 1191 cb, CPU Single Core 177 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 198.16 fps, Pass 2 – 69.61 fps.
Just as noticed in the Cinebench experiment, undervolting translates in minor improvements in those tests that put a taxing load on all the 6 cores of the i7-8750H CPU.
Asus might allow the CPU to spur higher on the final version of the FX705, but at the same time this limitation might be necessary in order to keep the GPU at bay in games. The FX705GM with the i7 CPU and GTX 1060 graphics gets a more complex cooling implementation than the TUF FX505GE model tested before, in a slightly bigger chassis.
Here’s what we got with this unit, while running Far Cry 4, one of the more demanding titles out there, at FHD resolution and maximum settings:
- out of the box, Balanced fan profile, the CPU stabilizes at around 3.5 GHz / 94 C, and the GPU at 1.62 GHz / 85 C;
- with the undervolted CPU, Balanced fan profile, the CPU stabilizes at around 3.8 GHz / 95 C and the GPU at 1.64 GHz / 83 C;
- activating Overboost minimally decreases the CPU/GPU temperatures by 1-3 degrees, with no significant impact on performance;
- on Silent Mode the GPU’s frequency drops to only about 1.1 GHz, which results in a significant performance decrease.
The performance is pretty good. The GPU drops a little bit under it maximum Turbo frequency in gaming sessions, but both the CPU and GPU run at very high temperatures. Undervolting the CPU allows it to run at maximum Turbo Frequencies while playing games, but has a minor impact on the GPU and overall gaming performance. Switching to Overboost pretty much only results in a noise increase (up to 56-57 dB at head level), while switching on Silent makes the laptop much quieter (42 dB at head level), but with a hit on performance.
All in all, the cooling is a limiting factor on this test unit. For comparison, the similarly specked ROG GL504 Scar II allows the GPU to maintain faster speeds of around 1.72 GHz in FarCry, at lower temperatures (CPU – 80, GPU – 78 C).
The table below gathers the gaming results of this TUF FX705, as well as those registered on the ROG GL504 with GTX 1060 graphics and the TUF FX505 with GTX 1050 Ti graphics. The 17-inch model is also available with 1050 Ti graphics, and these numbers will tell you how the two configurations should fare one against the other. Don’t explain the GTX 1050 Ti models to run much cooler though, as they get a simpler cooling design.
|FX705 – 1060 FHD Ultra||FX505 – 1050 Ti FHD Ultra||GL504 – 1060 FHD Ultra|
|Shadow of Mordor||88 fps||58 fps||102 fps|
|Tomb Raider||92 fps||64 fps||98 fps|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||58 fps||44 fps||62 fps|
|Bioshock Infinite||101 fps||73 fps||109 fps|
|FarCry 4||76 fps||52 fps||87 fps|
Even if it performs 5-10% poorer than with other implementations in this FX705, the GTX 1060 GPU remains a significantly faster option than the 1050 Ti alternative. You’ll still have to accept the high CPU/GPU temperatures which in time might lead to reliability issues, that’s why I’d recommend going for the ROG GL704 Hero II instead if you’re after a compact 17-incher with GTX 1060 graphics, it’s not just a better performer, it’s a better overall laptop. You will however have to pay a premium over the TUF FX705.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers and others
Asus implemented a complex cooling solution on the TUF FX705GM, with two large fans (with dust exhaust channels) and several heatpipes, not identical to the implementation on the ROG GL 2018 series, but fairly close. That’s why I find the high CPU/GPU temperatures a little surprising and I advise you to further look into reviews of the final retail models to see how those handle heat (and how they perform).
As mentioned before, Asus offers three fan profiles you can toggle between: Silent, Balanced and Overboost. I’d recommend keeping Balanced active all the time.
With daily use, the CPU fan is active all the time, but at barely audible levels in a quiet room, when you’ll rather hear the spinning HDD’s noise. With games, the fans ramp up to about 52 dB at head-level on Balanced and get noisier on Overboost, to about 56-57 dB, but with little to no impact on performance. Switching to Silent does make the laptop much quieter (41-42 dB), but at the same time takes a significant toll on performance.
As for the outer shell temperatures, the FX705 remains fairly cool while running games, with only certain spots on the underbelly, on top of the GPU, reaching higher levels.
*Daily Use – Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Far Cry 4 for 30 minutes
The TUF FX705 series gets a Wave 2 Intel Wi-Fi module with Bluetooth 5.0, alongside Gigabit LAN. Out test unit performed flawlessly on wireless, and just like the 15-inch FX505 version, is one of the fastest laptops we’ve ever tested with out setup, both near the router and at 30 feet with 2 walls in between.
The speakers on this unit were a little quieter than those on the FX505, at up to 76 dB at head-level. The sound still comes through small cuts on the sides and is rather tiny, with little on the low-end, but the mids and highs are fairly good. The FX705 also keeps the ability to output surround sound to headphones and external speakers through the 3.5 mm jack.
The camera is placed on top of the screen, even with the smaller bezels (unlike on the GL704s), and offers decent shots in well lit rooms, but fairly washed out.
There’s a 64 Wh battery on the Asus TUF FX705, which is about average for a 17-inch laptop these days. There’s Optimus on-board, but also powerful hardware and a hungry 144 Hz 17-inch screen, so you’re not going to get great battery life with this laptop.
Here’s what to expect, with the screen set at 40%, roughly 120 nits of brightness.
- 14.5 W (~4 h 25 min of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.5 W (~5 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12 W (~5 h of use) – Netflix in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.5 W (~5 h of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 18 W (~3 h 30 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 52 W (~1 h 20 min of use) – gaming on battery, High Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
You should get longer runs if you opt for the 60 Hz screen version or switch the keyboard’s illumination off.
This particular configuration of the TUF FX505 comes with a 180 Wh power brick and a full charge takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Price and availability
The Asus TUF Gaming FX705 is not yet available in stores at the time of this article (September 2018), but as far as we known right now, is expected for Q4 2018.
Asus offers configurations with GTX 1050 Ti (FX705GE) and GTX 1060 graphics (FX705GM), and the latter should sell for a few hundreds less than the similarly specked ROG GL704 models, which start at $1799 for the 1060 / 144 Hz screen configurations.
We’ll update this section once we know more.
Just like we concluded in our article about the 15-inch FX505, the bigger 17-inch FX705 series is also one of the better value devices in its class.
It’s compact and well built, looks simple enough that will be accepted in stricter work/school environments, offers an RGB keyboard and optional 144 Hz IPS screen, performs fairly well, runs cool and lasts for a fair while on a charge. At the same time, it does have its quirks: the keyboard requires firmer strokes to actuate, there’s no card-reader or USB-C port, the GTX 1060 GPU only runs at about 90% of its abilities (inside this test unit), the cooling keeps the CPU and GPU at high temperatures, the speakers are merely average and the IPS screen is not very bright or color-uniform.
Given the hot components and snipped GPU performance, I’d primarily recommend going for one of the more affordable FX705GE configurations with GTX 1050 Ti graphics. The GTX 1060 models are definitely better at handling modern games, but if the final retail models behave like our test unit, I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with a computer than keeps the CPU/GPU at 85-95 C with games, this can lead to reliability issues down the road. Thus, I’ll once more stress to check out other reviews to find out exactly how the retail versions of the FX705GM perform and handle heat.
Asus plans to compensate for the FX705’s shortcomings with an aggressive pricing, in order to compete with the other affordable 17-inch laptops on the market. The Lenovo Legion Y730 is a close competitor you should check out when available, while the 17-inch Acer Predator Helios is a cheaper, but bulkier option, with a smaller battery.
This aside, if the budget allows and you’re after a GTX 1060 configuration, you should also consider devices like the Asus ROG GL704 or the MSI Raider GE73, which are overall better laptops with nicer builds, keyboards, screens and thermals, but not necessarily better-value options for your money.
This pretty much wraps-up our review of the Asus TUF FX705GM. The comments section below awaits your feedback, opinions and questions though, and we’re around to help out if we can.