This is our detailed review of the 2020 Asus ROG Strix SCAR 15, in the top-tier G532LWS configuration, with a Core i9-10980HK processor and RTX 2070 Super graphics.
During the last month, we’ve used both the 15 and 17-inch ROG Strix Scar variants as our daily drivers, and gathered out thoughts in this article, as well as in the Scar 17 review published recently.
Both are premium full-size performance laptops built on the latest hardware platforms available to date, and bundled with fast storage and screens. The Scar 15 is the slightly more compact and more affordable option, starting a $2199 at the time of this review (follow this link for updated info) for the 2020-model with RTX 2070 Super graphics, and the one that makes the most sense as a versatile all-round performance notebook for school/work and gaming in the spare time.
We’ll tell you what to expect from this laptop down below, where it shines and where it could be improved, so you’ll be able to decide if this is the right buy for you or not.
The specs sheet as reviewed
|ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 15 G532LWS|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 300Hz, matte, AU Optronics B156HAN12.0 panel|
|Processor||Intel Comet Lake Core i9-10980HK, 8C/16T|
|Video||Intel UHD and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB (115W, Overclocked, GeForce 445.87), with Optimus|
|Memory||32 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (2x DIMMs)|
|Storage||2x 1 TB PCIe SSD in RAID0 (Samsung PM981), 3x M.2 slots, with RAID 0/1 support|
|Connectivity||WiFi 6 (Intel AX201) 2×2 with Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8168/8111)|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2 gen1, 1x USB-C gen2 with video&data, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone&mic, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||66 Wh, 280 W power adapter|
|Size||360 mm or 14.17” (w) x 275 mm or 10.82” (d) x 24.9 mm or .98” (h)|
|Weight||2.32 kg (5.1 lb), .92 kg (2.02 lbs) power brick and cables, US version|
|Extras||per-key RGB backlit keyboard with NumPad, 2x 4.2W bottom stereo speakers, no included webcam, Keystone|
Our unit is an early sample offered by Asus for the purpose of this review, and it performed just as we would expect from the final retail models.
Retail 2020 ROG Strix SCAR 15 G532LWS configurations might be available with different amounts of memory and storage, but the same 300 Hz IPS FHD screen and RTX 2070 Super 115W GPU, and either an i7-10875H or i9-10980HK processor.
There are also more affordable lower-tier 2020 Scar 15 variants with RTX 2060 90W (G532LV) or RTX 2070 115W graphics (G532LW), built on the exact same chassis.
Design and exterior
The 2020 ROG Strix Scar 15 is built on the same chassis previously used on the 2019 model, with some exterior design changes.
Plastic is still used for the interior, with a smoother finishing and more subtle graphics elements implemented in the top-left side, and the underside is still made out of rougher plastic. The lid-cover is metal though, and this time with an anodized rougher feel that looks professional and feels interesting to the touch.
Asus did not ditch their RGB elements, there’s still and ROG logo on the lid and a light strip around the entire chassis, but they allow individual control over these elements in the Aura Creator software now. That’s not a very intuitive app, and I had to watch a tutorial to figure it out, but it will do the job. For me, that meant creating a profile that shuts off the logo and light strip independently of the keyboard’s illumination.
Overall, this Scar 15 is a bit chunkier than other full-size 15-inch laptops of this generation, with a big chin beneath the screen and an extra hump behind, that integrates part of the cooling module and the IO. It also weighs around 2.32 kilos, which is slightly lighter than the 2019 generation, but make sure to also account for 1 kilo 280W power brick required on the i9/RTX 2070 Super configuration.
The thermal module draws fresh air from the bottom, through the keyboard and through the cuts in that hump, and expells it through the back and right-side cut. The GPU side gets two radiators and extra heatpipes, while the CPU side gets a single radiator.
This notebook is built really well. There’s almost not give in the main chassis and keyboard deck, and the screen is among the sturdiest you’ll get on a 15-inch notebook these days.
Asus also made sure to blunt all the interior edges and corners, to add grippy (but tiny, we’ll further touch on that in the thermals section) rubber feet on the bottom and implement a strong hinge mechanism that still allows smooth one-hand operation. The screen only leans back to about 150 degrees though, and the status LEDs and power-button are always lit and placed in the way, beneath the display. At least they’re not bright.
Looking at the D-Panel design, you’ll notice that the intake cuts are not positioned on top of the fans, like on the ROG Scar 17, instead, they’re mostly placed around the fans and towards the middle of the laptop. with a few other cuts in certain locations. That aside, there are still no audio cuts in the bottom panel, as the sound comes out through some narrow cuts on the sides.
As for the IO, it’s spread around the left and back edges, with the right only including the Keystone. That’s a gimmick in my book and won’t further comment on it.
It’s nice to see the ports and power plug on the back though, allowing for uncluttered sides when hooking up peripherals. You’ll still see the cables through the weird cutout beneath the screen, whose purpose is to display the status LEDs with the lid closed.
That aside, I still find all those USB-A slots grouped together on the left edge rather inconvenient, and the USB-C port still doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3 or charging, only data and DP video. There’s also no card-reader on this laptop, any sort of biometrics, or an internal webcam.
Keyboard and trackpad
The ROG Scar 15 gets pretty much the same keyboard that Asus includes in their ROG Zephyrus S15 ultraportable, with a standard chiclet layout, small arrows keys, a spaced-out column of function keys at the right, and an extra set of media keys at the top-left.
The keys are softly coated and feel nice to the touch, and the overall implementation is quick and quiet.
However, this particular keyboard was not as stiff as the one on the S15 or on Scar 17, and the softer feedback allowed me to type more accurately than on those. That’s because I’m used to softer and shallower keyboards, but you might feel otherwise, especially if you’re coming from an older laptop or a desktop keyboard.
The illumination is bright and even and allows per-key RGB control, with a couple of effects available in the Armour Crate app. The F1-F12 writing on the top row of function keys is not backlit, though, so finding the right key in the dark is a guessing game and takes time to get used to.
This aside, there’s very little to complain about. Light doesn’t creep out from under the keys, there’s a physical indicator in the Caps Lock key and the illumination activates with a gentle swipe over the touchpad.
For mouse, Asus went with a fairly small and immovable plastic surface, with smooth dedicated click buttons. It works fine with everyday use and gestures, and the surface is solid and doesn’t rattle when tapped like on the larger ROG Scar 17.
This also acts as a virtual NumPad with the press of the button area in the top-right corner.
As for biometrics, there are none on this 2020 ROG Strix SCAR 17.
The 2020 ROG Scar 15 gets the 300Hz IPS matte AU Optronics panel that’s pretty much the go-to in this class right now, also included on the Asus Zephyrus S15 and most other premium gaming notebooks of this generation. Lower tier models might only ship with the 240 Hz IPS FHD Sharp panel that we’ve tested on the 2019 Scar 15, which is almost identical to this one in terms of specs, but uses PWM at sub 20% brightness levels. The 300 Hz option does not.
Both options are excellent options for gaming, with fast refresh and response times (with Overdrive activated). There’s no GSync support on the Scar series, though, unlike on some top-tier Zephyrus S models. Instead, this only gets an Optimus mode.
Gaming aside, both panels offer deep blacks and excellent contrast, wide viewing angles, and nice colors, at 73-75% AdobeRGB coverage in our tests. Neither of these is very bright though, with a measured maximum brightness of a little above 300 nits with default settings, but they’re alright in terms of uniformity and light-bleeding. That’s random though, and the Au Optronics 300Hz panel is known for bleeding issues on various implementations, so hope you’ll not draw the short stick.
Here’s what we got in our tests of the 300 Hz panel option, with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUOBC8C (B156HAN12.0);
- Coverage: 98.7% sRGB, 71.0% AdobeRGB, 73.6% DCI P3;
- Measured gamma: 2.18;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 324 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 17.15 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1336:1;
- White point: 6700 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.24 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
- Response: ~ms GtG (TBD – expect around 7 ms).
The panel is well calibrated out of the box, and calibrating it further limits the maximum brightness at around 300-nits, which is fine for indoor use, but not ideal for bright-light environments.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a top-specced configuration of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 15, in the G532LWS configuration with an Intel Core i9-10980HK processor, 32 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, 2 TB of storage in RAID0, and dual graphics: the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super dGPU and the Intel UHD within the Intel platform. An i7-10875H processor is also available as a more affordable option for this laptop, and we’ll cover it as well down below, and tell you how it compares to the i9.
Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit is an early-production model with the software available as of early-June 2020 (BIOS 303, Armoury Crate 2.7.8, GeForce Game Ready 446.14 drivers). Based on our findings and experience with these platforms, very little can change with future software updates, so our results are mostly what you’ll get with the retail models.
Spec-wise, the 2020 Strix SCAR 15 gets either an 8Core Intel Comet Lake i7-10875H processor or an 8Core i9-10980HK. The latter is a higher-clocked version of the former, able to run at higher single and multi Turbo Speed frequencies, if enough power is supplied. It’s also an overclocked processor. Our Scar 15 review model comes with the Core i9 CPU.
As for the GPU, what we have here is the top-tier Nvidia 2070 Super in a full-power 115W implementation, but with variable TDP and frequency limits between the several performance modes available in Armoury Crate:
- Silent – prioritizes lower fan-noise and reduces CPU/GPU speeds and power – GPU limited (at 65W?);
- Performance – balanced profile with stock CPU/GPU settings – GPU runs at 115W and stock frequencies;
- Turbo – High-Performance profile with increased CPU power allocation and overclocked GPU (115W, +100 MHz Core/+130 MHz Memory).
- Manual – same as Turbo, but allows to manually create fan curves for the CPU and GPU based on temperature thresholds, as well as further overclock the GPU.
The updated Intel platform also supports 3200 MHz DDR4 memory. Our configuration gets 32 GB of RAM in dual-channel, and there are two DIMMs available inside.
As for the storage, our unit gets two Samsung PM981 SSDs in Raid0. Retail configurations might not ship with Samsung PM981 drives though, as Asus tends to include mid-level Intel drives on most of their configurations, so you might want to double-check this detail with the supplier.
Getting to the components is fairly simple, you just need to remove the back panel held in place by a few Philips screws, all visible around the sides. However, the back is attached to the main-laptop with two ribbons that power the LED strips, so careful not to sever the connections. Inside you’ll get access to the thermal module, battery, speakers, wifi chip, and the three SSD slots. The 2020 Scar 15 update no longer includes a 2.5″ storage bay, which has been replaced with two extra M.2 slots, for a total of three. That explains the slight drop in weight between generations.
This ROG Strix Scar 15 is not just a performance laptop, it can also handle everyday multitasking, browsing, and video, while running quietly and coolly on the Silent profile. Here’s what to expect:
Nonetheless, you’re not going to buy this for Netflix, so demanding loads is where the platform shines.
On to those, we’ll start by testing the CPU’s performance in taxing loads, and we do that by running Cinebench R15 for 15+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run.
On stock Turbo settings, the i9 processor stabilizes at 80+W after a few runs, which translates in frequencies of 3.6+ GHz and temperatures of 80+ C, as well as scores of ~1600 points.
Our unit came with XTU support and a default +50 mV applied overvolt. We were able to reduce to voltage to -80 mV, but with occasional crashes in combined loads, so we dialed back to -50 mV to prevent any stability issues. We also ran our tests on Turbo with stock voltage, and gathered our results down below.
I also mention that dropping over to the default Performance profile limits the CPU at 70W, with quieter fans. The Silent profile further limits the processor at 35+ W. Finally, on battery, the power is limited at up to 45W in the Performance mode (Turbo is disabled in this case). Details below.
For comparison, the i7-10875H CPU that we’ve tested in the ROG Scar 17 and Zephyrus S15 runs at 70+W on Turbo, with a slight drop in performance compared to the i9 (of within 5%), but lower temperatures. Undervolting was only possible through the included BIOS option on the i7 configuration, and once undervolted, the i7 ended up scoring roughly 8-10% lower than the undervolted i9 in this test.
We’ve also thrown in a few other i7-10875H implementations down below, as well as the 6Core i7 in the previous 2019 ROG Scar 15 and the AMD Ryzen 4000 platforms on the Asus Zephyrus G lineup, which match the 8Core Intel i7 in performance at pretty much half the power requirements.
Next, we’ve further verified our findings with the longer Cinebench R20 loop test and the gruesome Prime 95. With Prime, the i9 CPU kicks in hard at almost 140W for about 20-30 seconds, and then drops and stabilizes at 80W.
We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the default Turbo profile.
3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit passed it without a problem. Luxmark 3.1 fully loads both the CPU and GPU at the same time. The GPU constantly runs at around 115W in this test, and the CPU kicks in hard at first, but then stabilizes at around 50W. On battery, both the CPU and the GPU drop to lower power settings (30W – CPU, 20W – GPU).
Next, we ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks, on the stock Turbo profile in Armoury Crate.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 20056 (Graphics – 22154, Physics – 23523);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 5030;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8511 (Graphics – 8311, CPU – 9858);
- AIDA64 Memory test: Write: Read: 48461 MB/s, Read: 44732 MB/s, Latency: 57.3 ns;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5242;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 16383;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 42.65 average fps;
- PassMark: Rating: 7490 (CPU mark: 21306, 3D Graphics Mark: 13251, Disk Mark: 18939);
- PCMark 10: 5452 (Essentials – 9986, Productivity – 9441, Digital Content Creation – 4665);
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 6017, Multi-core: 34760;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1383, Multi-core: 8793;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1912 cb, CPU Single Core 208 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 4251 cb, CPU Single Core 499 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 264.12 fps, Pass 2 – 108.88 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 35.74 s.
For comparison, expect roughly 2-10% lower performance on the i7-10875H model in CPU-heavy workloads, with a marginal impact in combined loads.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: Physics – 20984;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: CPU – 9840;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 40.55 average fps;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1279, Multi-core: 8577;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1858 cb, CPU Single Core 201 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3861 cb, CPU Single Core 455 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 249.32 fps, Pass 2 – 101.18 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 36.97 s.
We also reran some of the tests on the -50mV Undervolted Core i9 Turbo profile. Our unit was not stable at -80 mV, unlike the i7.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 19927 (Graphics – 22248, Physics – 23840);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 4982;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8598 (Graphics – 8352, CPU – 10330);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5338;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 43.99 average fps;
- PassMark: Rating: 7523 (CPU mark: 21594, 3D Graphics Mark: 13356, Disk Mark: 19050);
- PCMark 10: 5812 (Essentials – 10009, Productivity – 9257, Digital Content Creation – 5749);
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1324, Multi-core: 9034;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1991 cb, CPU Single Core 210 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 4383 cb, CPU Single Core 498 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 32.58 s.
Our early review unit performed stably in CPU tests on the Silent profile, but crashed often in combined tests, so we’ve only included a few test results for this Silent profile, which keeps the fans’ noise at <40 dB. Take the findings with a big lump of salt, though.
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1312, Multi-core: 7193;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1569 cb, CPU Single Core 192 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2637 cb, CPU Single Core 452 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 52.17 s.
As far as the GPU goes, it is already overclocked on the Turbo profile (+1oo MHz Core, +130 MHz Memory), and pushing it to +130 MHz Core/+150 MHz Memory on the Manual profile returns minor to no gains, so we did not pursue this any further in our tests.
Finally, we also ran some Workstation related loads, on the Turbo profile:
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 3m 27s (Turbo), 3m 14s (Turbo UV);
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute: 50s (CUDA), 25s (Optix);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 11m 17s (Turbo), 10m 37s (Turbo UV);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 2m 59s (CUDA), 1m 46s (Optix);
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: CPU not recognized;
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax: 171.35 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Catia: 141.86 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo: 169.94 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 23.08 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 222.26 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical: 55.16 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase: 102.82 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX: 21.21 (Turbo UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 88.85 (Turbo UV).
And here’s what to expect from the i7 model in these tests:
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 3m 44s (Turbo), 3m 27s (Turbo UV);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 12m 3s (Turbo), 11m 17s (Turbo UV).
Now, as far as gaming goes on this laptop, we ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the default Turbo/Performance modes, on FHD (on the laptop’s display) and QHD (on external monitor) resolutions. Here’s what we got:
|Core i9-10980HK + RTX 2070 Super 115W||FHD Turbo||FHD Turbo UV||FHD Performance||QHD Turbo, external|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||113 ps (90 fps – 1% low)||116 fps (85 fps – 1% low)||107 fps (83 fps – 1% low)||87 fps (76 fps – 1% low)|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||145 fps (105 fps – 1% low)||152 fps (111 fps – 1% low)||140 fps (102 fps – 1% low)||106 fps (81 fps – 1% low)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)||85 fps (68 fps – 1% low)||88 fps (70 fps – 1% low)||82 fps (65 fps – 1% low)||66 fps (53 fps – 1% low)|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||109 fps (68 fps – 1% low)||113 fps (68 fps – 1% low)||108 fps (66 fps – 1% low)||95 fps (57 fps – 1% low)|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||101 fps (66 fps – 1% low)||99 fps (71 fps – 1% low)||96 fps (62 fps – 1% low)||67 fps (54 fps – 1% low)|
|Strange Brigade (Vulkan, Ultra Preset)||153 fps (117 fps – 1% low)||–||146 fps (111 fps – 1% low)||–|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||83-123 min-max fps|
(105 fps avg, 74 fps – 1% low)
|84-124 min-max fps|
(106 fps avg, 76 fps – 1% low)
|80-115 min-max fps|
(101 fps avg, 75 fps – 1% low)
|62-85 min-max fps|
(74 fps avg, 57 fps – 1% low)
- The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
- Red Dead Redemption 2 Optimized profile based on these settings.
As mentioned earlier, our early review unit crashed when running games on the Silent profile, so we couldn’t run tests on this profile. I’d expect the GPU to run smoothly at 65W on the retail models.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Witcher 3 on the stock Turbo profile.
Both the CPU and GPU run hot, with the fans spinning at 50-51 dB at head-level. The CPU stabilizes at 87-93 C in demanding titles, with the GPU averaging 82+ degrees C.
Undervolting the CPU makes very little difference, as it allows the CPU to run at slightly higher clocks, but the same kind of high temperatures, with almost no impact over the GPU.
Instead, raising up the laptop from the desk by as little as an inch immediately causes the temperatures to drop in all the tested titles. The GPU drops to around 77-78 degrees, and runs at marginally higher clocks as well, and the CPU stabilizes at 86-90 degrees in our tests. This pretty much suggests a design flaw: with the tiny rubber feet and the minuscule amount of space underneath the laptop, the fans cannot draw enough air to properly cool the components while the laptop sits on the desk.
Furthermore, we noticed the exact same flaw on the larger ROG Scar 17, and in that case, raising the back from the desk translates in an even greater positive impact over temperatures and performance. I’d reckon the intake designs on the bottom have a role in this difference, as they’re positioned on top of the fans on the Scar 17, and around the fans on the Scar 15. However, the Scar 17 also get larger and most likely higher cfm fans.
Switching the laptop over to the Performance profiles tames down the fans to about 45-46 dB, with a slight performance decrease, as well as a slight decrease in CPU temperatures. Raising the laptop from the desk helps in this case as well, allowing the CPU to stabilize at around 85 degrees, and the GPU at 78-80 degrees C.
We couldn’t’ properly test our laptop on Silent, but expect the GPU to consistently run at around 65W, with 80-85 C CPU/GPU temperatures and noise levels under 40 dB.
You might also be interested in how this performs with the lid closed, when hooked up to an external monitor and keyboard/mouse.
Both the CPU and GPU heat-up while the laptop sits on a desk, and the temperatures drop when raising up the laptop, just as explained above. I didn’t notice any difference in framerates or temperatures when using the laptop with the lid open or closed in this scenario, which suggests that the vast majority of fresh air is sucked in from the bottom, and not through the interior. You also should not worry about any heat impacting the screen, as the laptop’s interior reaches temperatures in the mid-40s on the hottest interior spots.
Keep in mind though that with the video ports placed on the back, using this in a vertical stand might be tricky.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The thermal module implemented on the 2020 ROG Scar 15 hasn’t changed from the 2019 model. It still consists of two high-capacity fans and an ample array of heatpipes and thermal plates, with a single radiator for the CPU and two for the GPU side. As a novelty, Asus apply liquid-metal thermal compound on the CPU from the factory on this 2020 model.
Nonetheless, as explained above, a complex thermal module isn’t going to do much without proper air intakes, that’s why the components run hot as long as the laptop sits on the desk, and raising it up translates in noticeably improved temperatures, with both the CPU and GPU running 4-5 degrees cooler in this case.
As far as external temperatures go, the laptop barely hits mid-40s C in the hottest parts on any of the working modes, with most of the areas running in the 30s, which are excellent temperatures for a 15-inch laptop with this sort of specs.
Both fans remain active all the time though, even with light use, but they spin quietly on Silent and you’ll only notice them in a quiet room. I did notice some electric noises on this sample, which can be a random issue with modern laptops. Make sure to listen for them on your brand new laptop.
Here’s a round-up of our fan-noise measurements:
- Turbo – 50-51 dB with games (47 dB Armoury Crate), 50-51 dB with Cinebench loop test;
- Performance – 45-46 dB with games (45 dB Armoury Crate), 41-42 dB with Cinebench loop test;
- Silent – 38-39 dB with games (37 dB Armoury Crate), 33-35 dB with Cinebench loop test, 30-33 dB with Daily use.
And here’s what we measured in terms of chassis temperatures.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Silent Profile, fans at 27-33 dB (23-29 dB in Armoury Crate)
*Gaming – Turbo – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Turbo Profile, fans at 50-51 dB (47 dB in Armoury Crate)
*Gaming – Turbo, raised – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Turbo Profile, fans at 50-51 dB (47 dB in Armoury Crate)
For connectivity, there’s Wireless 6 and Bluetooth 5 through an Intel AX201 chip on this unit, as well as Gigabit Lan. Our unit performed well both near the router and at 30+ feet away with obstacles in between, without drops or other issues.
As far as the speakers go, there’s a set of them firing through narrow cuts on the lateral sides, and they’re quite good. Asus included physically larger speakers than on their ROG Zephyrus lineups, and as a result, we measured high volumes of 82-84 dB at head-level, and the sound comes out clean and fairly reach, for a gaming laptop. You’ll still need to use headphones to properly cover the fan noise on Performance/Turbo.
As for the camera, there’s isn’t any on this laptop, but there’s a pair of microphones at the bottom of the screen. An external FHD webcam might be bundled in some regions, but is not included everywhere.
There’s only a 66Wh battery inside this ROG Strix Scar 15, so it comes to no surprise that this won’t’ run for very long on a charge, even with Optimus.
Asus made sure that the screen automatically switches over to 60 Hz when unplugging the laptop, and that helps with runtimes a fair bit. On top of that, I’d also suggest switching off the light bar and backlit ROG logo when looking to maximize runtimes, as we did in our tests.
Here’s what we got on our unit, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120-nits (60%):
- 20 W (~3+ of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 15.5 W (~4+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 15 W (~4+ h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 24 W (~3-h of use) – browsing in Edge, Performance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 70 W (~50 min of use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, Performance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON, no fps limit.
Asus pairs the laptop with a fairly chunky 280W power-brick (for the i9/RTX 2070 configurations, or a more compact 230W for the others), which weighs .92 kilos with the included cables in this US version. You’ll pretty much have to bring this along everywhere, as USB-C charging is not an option here.
Price and availability
The 2020 ROG Scar 15 is listed in some areas of the world at the time of this article.
The RTX 2070 Super variant tested here starts at $2499 MSRL for the i9-10980HK configuration with 32 GB of RAM, 1 TB of storage, and the 300 MHz screen. The same goes for around 2800 EUR in Germany.
An i7-10875H model with the same RTX 2070 Super 115W GPU, but 16 GB of RAM, 1 TB of storage, and the 240 Hz display starts at $2199, and this looks like the better value option here. Just make sure that RAM is dual-channel.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region at the time you’re reading this article.
The 2020 ROG Strix Scar 15 is mostly a hardware update of the 2019 model, with a few extra tweaks. Among those, there’s the slightly cleaner interior and exterior design, as well as the improved control over the RGB elements. At the same time, the laptop remains fairly chunky for this day and age, and lacks certain features available with the competition, such as biometrics, certain IO options, an included camera, up-firing speakers or a larger battery.
Performance-wise, though, this remains a beast and one of the most powerful 15-inch notebooks out there. All configurations ships with 8Core processors now, with a significant multi-threaded performance boost over the 6Core 9th gen configurations, and the RTX 2070 Super graphics in the higher-tier models provides a roughly 10-15% increase in GPU scores and gaming framerates.
At the same time, the internals still run hot on all the power profiles, slightly hotter than the previous generation on this i9 tested model, and the fans spin up loudly on Performance or Turbo. Raising the laptop from the desk in order to improve airflow underneath lowers the internal temperatures, which suggest a design flaw, with those minuscule rubber feet that choke the thermal module, something Asus would hopefully consider and address in their 2021 Scar update.
At the end of the day, the 2020 ROG Scar 15 remains a solid option in its class. However, I feel that it might not be as competitive as in the past and it would have to compensate with more aggressive pricing this time around, as the competition launched brand-new designs this year, such as the MSI GE66 Raider or the Lenovo Legion 7i. We’ve yet to review them, but we will in the weeks and months to come, and we’ll have a proper side by side at that point.
With that in mind, we’ll wrap up this review here, but I’d love to hear what you think about this notebook, so get in touch down below with your feedback or if you have any questions about them.
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