The ROG Scar 17 is one of the most popular full-size uncompromised performance/gaming laptops you can find in stores, and as of 2021, ASUS’s most powerful gaming notebook.
reviewed and appreciated the 2020 Scar 17, but complained about the hot thermals and high noise levels with games, the somewhat limited air intakes, and its small battery, among others. The 2021 ROG Scar 17 comes in to address some of those complaints, while also bringing in a redesigned chassis, new screen options, and an updated keyboard with optical-mechanical switches.
These aside, the 2021 ROG Scar 17 ditches the Intel hardware in this variant for
AMD’s Cezanne 5000 Ryzen 9 processors, paired with up to Nvidia RTX 3080 16GB graphics, but in a less powerful implementation compared to the previous generation.
We’ve spent the last week with an early retail version of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 G733QS, and gathered our thoughts and impressions in this article. We’re still going through our tests, so if you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch in the comments section at the end.
We’ve also reviewed the smaller Scar 15 in the meantime, if interested in that one instead.
Important: Our initial article was published around late-Jan 2021, based on tests ran on the drivers and software available at that time. In the meantime, we’ve updated the article several times, and the latest variant is based on the more mature software available as of mid-March 2021 (BIOS 313 and the various fixes available up to this point, GeForce 461.92 GPU drivers).
Update: If interested, our review of the updated 2022 ROG Scar 17 is also available here.
Specs as reviewed – ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733QS 2021
2021 ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733QS
Display 17.3-inch, 16:9, non-touch, matte, Sharp LQ173M1JW04 panel
FHD 1920 x 1080 px IPS, 300 Hz 3ms with 100% sRGB, with AdaptiveSync
165 Hz QHD and 360Hz FHD panels also available
Processor AMD Cezanne, Ryzen 9 5900HX, 8C/16T
Video AMD Radeon Vega + Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop 16GB (up to 130W, GeForce 461.92 drivers)
Memory 32 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (2x DIMMs, up to 64 GB)
Storage 1 TB NVMe SSD (2x M.2 PCI x4 slots)
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 and charging, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone&mic
Battery 240 W power adapter + USB-C charging up to 100W
Size 395 mm or 15.55” (w) x 282 mm or 11.1 (d) x 27.5 mm or 1.08” (h)
Weight 2.7 kg (5.95 lbs), .73 kg (1.6 lbs) power brick and cables, EU version
Extras mechanical per-key RGB backlit keyboard with NumPad, quad speakers, no included webcam, Keystone
Specs-wise, this is one of the most powerful Scar 17 configurations available over here, but is only paired with a FHD 300 Hz panel, and not the newer and more interesting 165Hz QHD that makes the most sense on this product. We’ll talk about it in the dedicated Screen section.
That aside, for those of you shopping on a more limited budget, Asus will also offer the 2021 Scar 17 with Nvidia RTX 3060 and 3070 graphics.
Design and construction
Design-wise, Asus went with a cleaner black theme on the 2021 Scar 17 and subtle branding elements that focus on the ROG brand, and less so in letting you know this is an Asus laptop. I like this.
The lid is metal and mostly matte, with a glossy pattern on the left bottom side that weirdly spells ROG. In fact, there are all sorts of hidden easter-eggs messages and graphics on this laptop, and I’ll let you discover them.
The interior and the bottom are both plastic, a rugged kind for the underside, and a smooth soft kind for the interior. This feels nice to the touch, but it’s extremely prone to showing smudges and finger-oil, and it looks kind of gross if you’re not wiping it clean every day. I’ve included a picture of how my unit looked after about 3 days, and keep in mind my hands are very dry and I’m testing the laptop during the winter, with inside temperatures in the 22-24 C.
The other particularity of this plastic interior is that the top right part is translucent and lets you peek at the internal components underneath. That’s cool and geeky.
At the same time, Asus also put the status LEDs behind this translucent plastic part, which amplifies them and makes them very annoying when using the laptop in a dark room, especially since they’re right in your line of sight, under the screen. There’s also still a red bright light in the power button, always on, and I wish Asus would have just implemented their simpler power buttons with integrated finger sensors on this series, the ones available on the Zephyrus models.
This 2021 Scar 17 still includes RGB light bars, now around the front edge and half of the laterals, as well as under the screen, alongside that cut in the chin. I’m not big into RGB, but it grew on me in the last years, and I understand why some of you enjoy this. For the rest of us, all the RGB elements can be configured in the AURA Creator app available as part of Armoury Crate. By default, all the RGB light bars and the ROG logo on the lid are tied to the keyboard’s illumination, but they can be customized in the app. It’s still not the most intuitive piece of software, but it gets the job done once you figure it out (and you’ll find videos on Youtube explaining it).
Aesthetics aside, I should mention that this 2021 ROG Scar 17 is up to 10% more compact and lighter than the previous generation, and gets a more compact power brick as well, making the whole package easier to grab along to school or work. There are smaller bezels around the screen, and still no camera, and a smaller notch in the bezel, but you’ll still see the cables at the back through it, something people have complained about in the past.
And that’s because most of the IO is lined on the back, with only two USB-A slots and the audio jack on the left, and the KeyStone on the right. I still find this to be a gimmick and would have preferred an SD card-reader instead. All in all, this Scar 17 offers most of the ports you’ll ever need, aside from that card-reader, and aside from Thunderbolt support, since this is an AMD laptop. The USB-C does support data, DP, and charging at up to 100W. As for the HDMI port, that’s only 2.0b as far as I can tell, as it is hooked into the iGPU and Vega graphics do not support HDMI 2.1.
This Scar 17 is still built to maximize airflow and cooling potential, with two high capacity fans inside and intakes happening through the keyboard, through the back hump, and through the bottom, now with unobstructed cuts over the fans. There’s still limited space underneath the laptop, though, with low profile rubber feet, and I was perhaps expecting something else, given the experience with the previous Scar 17 with its choked intakes. We’ll carefully look into this matter in the performance and thermals sections down below.
Those rubber feet are otherwise grippy and keep the laptop firmly anchored on a desk. Down there you’ll also notice the two speaker cuts, which are now supplemented by two extra front tweeters firing through the cuts under the screen.
Asus made sure to put blunted edges and corners around the main chassis, which are crucial on this sort of a taller laptop, as they would otherwise aggressively dig into your wrists. They also made sure the screen can be easily picked up and adjusted with a single hand, while the hinges are still firm enough to keep the screen in place without wobbling or moving with daily use. I still would have liked the screen to go past 140-degrees on the back, but that’s not that much of an issue on this sort of a desktop replacement notebook that will spend most of its life on a desk.
Overall, this 2021 Scar 17 is a fine piece of craftsmanship and design, more portable and more refined than the previous generation. It’s still not perfect, though, and I’m not a big fan of the smudgy plastic used for the interior and those pesky lights in the status LEDs and power button, both under the screen. Oh, and there are still no biometrics, card-reader, or included camera on this laptop.
Keyboard and trackpad
Inputs are brand new on this 2021 ROG Scar 17, with a redesigned keyboard with optical-mechanical switches and a larger clickpad, replacing the immovable touchpad with physical buttons from the past.
First off, the layout includes a full set of main keys, properly sized and spaced, and a rather weird NumPad section with full-sized and nicely spaced arrow keys. This NumPad will take some time to get used to, as well as the fact that there are no dedicated keys for Home, End, PgUp, PgDn or Insert. Instead, most of these are secondaries tied to directional keys or other keys in the Numeric section. At the same time, this sort of simplified layout translates into a less cluttered Numpad and arrows section.
Then, these keys use optical-mechanical switches, with the exception of the five multimedia keys in the top-left part, which are still rubber domes. Mechanical laptop keys feel weird at first, with a clicky and bouncy response and tighter feedback than the regular rubber dome implementations, so they need time to get used to.
I for one have experienced mechanical laptop keyboards on a couple of different laptops in the past, and having typed several thousands of words on this Asus implementation, I haven’t changed my mind: this is not for everyone and overall I still prefer a good rubber dome keyboard in a laptop, for two reasons: the slightly mushier feedback and the much quieter actuations, as these clicky mechanisms will attract unwanted attention in quiet environments. You might feel different about it, though, so I’d suggest giving it a try if the noise aspect is not a concern to you.
For what is worth, I should add that I’ve been using a mechanical keyboard with MX Brown switches for a couple of months now as my daily PC typer, and I was expecting that to help me adapt quicker to this laptop mechanical keyboard. It didn’t, this just feels different, with the shorter stroke and lighter resistance.
Bottom point, I’m left with mixed feeling having used this new ROG keyboard, and can only suggest giving it a try and see how it works for you. Some of you will enjoy it, but it’s not for everyone.
On to that new clickpad, it’s glass and much larger than before, but no longer offers those quiet physical click buttons. Instead, physical clicks are fairly clunky now and the surface rattles with firmer taps. Overall though, this proved to be fast, reliable, and accurate during my time with the laptop, and a pleasant experience as long as I remembered to tap it gently, very gently.
As for biometrics, there are still none on this 2021 ROG Strix SCAR 17.
Asus offers a couple of different screen options for this 2021 ROG Scar 17, all 17.3-inch, 16:9, matte and non-touch:
FHD 300 Hz 3ms with 300+ nits of brightness and 100% sRGB colors;
FHD 360 Hz 3ms with 300+ nits of brightness and 100% sRGB colors;
QHD 165 Hz 3ms (??) with 300+ nits of brightness and 1005 DCI-P3 colors.
We only got that former option on this test unit, which is similar to the 300 Hz screen in the previous ROG Scar 17, although it’s a Sharp panel now, and not an AU Optronics. Nonetheless, this is a solid option for everyday use and an excellent option for gaming.
Here’s what we got in our tests,
with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
Panel HardwareID: Sharp SHP14E1 (LQ173M1JW04);
Coverage: 98.6% sRGB, 73.9% AdobeRGB, 76.5% DCI-P3;
Measured gamma: 2.16;
Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 350.15 cd/m2 on power;
Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 16.44 cd/m2 on power;
Contrast at max brightness: 1205:1;
White point: 6500 K;
Black on max brightness: 0.29 cd/m2;
Asus pre-calibrates all the ROG laptops from the factory now, and little could be improved with our further calibration run. The panel also came out uniform and with almost no noticeable bleeding around the edges on dark backgrounds.
I’m stocked about that QHD 165 Hz panel, though. The sharper resolutions and richer colors (100% DCI-P3 support) make it a more competent daily/professional driver, and the 165 Hz refresh paired with what Asus advertise as fast response times should also pair well with the RTX 3080 GPU in games. Looking forward to giving this a try once available, and curious about how much will Asus charge extra for it.
I should also touch on the fact that there are only 16:9 panels on the 2021 ROG Scars, and not the 16:10 panels offered by some of the competition. As far as I can tell, those QHD 16:10 panels are exclusive to Lenovo for now and only available as 16-inchers, so they wouldn’t have been suitable for the Scar 17. That aside, those are also only 100% sRGB, and not 100% DCI-P3 as these 16:9 panels are, and when given the choice, I for one would favor the nicer colors over the extra screen real-estate, if I can’t get both (and it looks like that’s not an option, for now).
Finally, I’ll add that ActiveSync is supported on all screen choices for the 2021 ROG Scar series now, which handles tearing in games and seamlessly commutes between the AMD iGPU and Nvidia GPU based on the task at hand. Previously, Asus used a physical MUX switch to route the signal through either of the GPUs, with a restart required in between when commuting between modes, in order to implement GSync support on some of their products (but not on the 2020 Scar 17). That’s no longer needed here, though, but as a result the HDMI port is hooked into the Vega iGPU, so it does not support HDMI 2.1, from what I can tell right now.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a top-specced configuration of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17, code name G733QS, built on
an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX 8C/16T processor, 32 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz memory in dual channel, 1 TB of SSD storage, and dual graphics: the Nvidia RTX 3080 dGPU with 16 GB of vRAM and the AMD Vega iGPU integrated within the AMD processor.
Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit was sent over by Asus and is a retail model identical to the ones you can get in stores, running on the software available as of late-January 2021 (BIOS 308, Armoury Crate 184.108.40.206, GeForce 461.23 drivers).
Update: I’ve rerun most of the benchmarks and gaming tests with the updated drivers and software fixes released as of March 20th, 2021 (BIOS 313, GeForce 461.92 drivers). The results and findings below have been updated.
Spec-wise, this 2021 ASUS ROG Scar 17 is built on the latest AMD and Nvidia hardware. The Ryzen 9 5900HX is the top mobile-processor in AMD’s Cezanne Ryzen 5000 platform, with 8C/16T, clock speeds of up to 4.6 GHz, and a designed TDP of 45W. However, Asus offers a couple of power profiles in the Armoury Crate that allows you to juggle with the power-envelope, thermals, and noise levels based on your needs.
Compared to the previous Ryzen 7 4000 processors on the 2020 Asus TUF A15s, the 5900HX is a significant step forward in terms of IPC and single/multi-core performance, as well as a refinement in many other ways. We’ll cover it in-depth in a separate article, once we get to test a couple more 2021 Ryzen laptops. We’ll also pitch it against the
Intel Core i9-10980HK processor in the 2020 Scar 17 in this article, down below.
As for the GPU, Asus top the 2021 Scar 17 series at an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 running at 115W, so a beefier Max-Q variant, already overclocked out of the box on the Turbo profile. Furthermore, the system can push this to up to 130W in supported loads with Dynamic Boost, a technology that allocates extra power from the CPU to the GPU when required (for instance, in games). In comparison, the 2020 Scar 17 was built on a 150W RTX 2080 Super, and I was curious to find out how the drop in GPU power impacts the 2021 model’s performance. We’ll get to it in a bit. Resizable BAR Support is also available on this gaming laptop with BIOS 313.
As for the RAM and storage options, the laptop still comes with two accessible memory DIMMs and two M.2 SSD slots. Our unit shipped with 32 GB of RAM in dual-channel and a middling SSD. I was expecting better, given what we got on the lower-tier Asus TUF A15. This one performs stably in our tests, though, without overheating or suffering any performance losses with longer file transfers. It is nonetheless only half the speed of the more premium SSD options out there.
Getting inside to the components is fairly easy, you just have to pop-up the back panel, hold in place by a couple of Philips screws. Make sure you’re using the right screwdriver head, those front screws are extremely weak and you could risk damaging them and not be able to open the laptop. Also, be careful when you lift up the bottom panel, it’s attached to the mainboard by two ribbons that power the LED strips on the front. Pulling too hard might cause those to disconnect, in which case you’ll need to reslot the connectors in their place.
Inside you’ll see that Asus bumped the battery to 90W and ditched one of the M.2 slots as a result, leaving just two. There’s still a fair bit of unused space, though, especially under the keyboard and around those surprisingly small speakers, and that’s because the same design needs to also fit into the tighter Scar 15. Regardless, perhaps Asus could have put some beefier speakers on this 17-inch model, just like some of the other manufacturers do in this class.
Specs aside, Asus offers four power profiles for the ROG Scar 17 G733QS:
Silent – quite fan-noise and limited CPU/GPU speeds and power – dGPU is limited;
Performance – balanced profile with stock CPU/GPU settings, averagely noise fans – GPU runs at 115W and stock clocks;
Turbo – High-Performance profile with increased CPU power allocation, faster-spinning fans, and overclocked GPU (115-130W, +100 MHz Core/+150 MHz Memory).
Manual – like Turbo, but with the ability to custom tweak the CPU power and GPU power/clocks, plus create manual fan profiles based on temperature limits.
Turbo/Manual are only available with the laptop plugged in and are meant for gaming and other demanding loads. Performance is a jack-of-all-trades, while Silent is made for video and daily light-use.
As a novelty for this year, the Scar 17 completely shuts off the two fans while running the Silent profile, as long as the CPU/GPU stay under 60 degrees C, leading to a quiet daily-use experience. Here’s what to expect in terms of performance and temperatures with everyday multitasking, browsing, and video.
On to more demanding loads, we start by testing the CPU’s performance by running the Cinebench R15 test for 15+ times in a loop, with 1-2 seconds delay between each run.
The Ryzen 9 processor stabilizes at 75+W of sustained power on the Turbo setting, which translates in frequencies of 4+ GHz, temperatures in the 90-92 C, scores of ~2200 points, and the fans spinning at about 44-45 dB at head-level. We’re not seeing any performance degradation on any sort of throttling for the entire duration of the test.
Switching over to the Performance profile translates in the CPU running at 65W and temperatures in the mid-80s for the first 8-10 loops, with the fans spinning quieter, at 40-41 dB at head-level. After a while, the system decides to gradually limit the CPU’s power to around 45 W, which causes a slight drop in performance, but also allows the CPU to run cooler, in the 70-75 degrees Celsius.
On Silent, the processor runs at 54W for the first 2-3 loops, and then quickly stabilizes at ~45W with barely audible fans (sub 35 dB) and middling temperatures (high-70s C). It returns scores of around 1850+ points, roughly 17% beneath those registered on the noisier, hotter and more power-hungry Turbo profile.
Finally, the CPU power stabilizes at ~45 W on battery, on the Performance profile, with still excellent scores of around 1850+ points. Details below.
To put these findings in perspective, here’s how the Ryzen 9 5900HX fares in this test against a couple of other AMD and Intel 8C/16T current processors:
~3-5% faster than the
Ryzen 7 5800H in the Asus TUF Gaming A15; ~20% faster than the Ryzen 7 4800H in the 2020 TUF A15, and 12% than the same processor in the Lenovo Legion 5;
~15-20% faster than the Core i9-10980HK undervolted in the Asus ROG Scar 15 and MSI GE66 Raider;
25+% faster the Core i7-10875H in the 2020 ROG Scar 17.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the longer Cinebench R20 loop test and the gruesome Prime 95, on the Turbo profile. The CPU stabilizes at 75+ W in Turbo on Cinebench R20, and only around 54W in Prime95, with lower sustained temperatures in the 70-75 degrees Celsius.
We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook. 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 just fine. We haven’t run Luxmark 3.1, which also fully loads both the CPU and GPU at the same time, because this test is no longer properly supported by the Ryzen 5000 platform.
Next, we ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks, on the stock Turbo profile in Armoury Crate.
3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 24733 (Graphics – 28338, Physics – 24918, Combined – 12587);
3DMark 13 – Fire Strike Ultra (DX11 4K): 7637 (Graphics – 7468, Physics – 24828, Combined – 4088);
3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 70036;
3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 11146 (Graphics – 11433, CPU – 9759);
3DMark 13 – Time Spy Extreme (DX12 4K): 5490 (Graphics – 5694, Physics – 4567);
AIDA64 Memory test: Write: 40361 MB/s, Read: 47468 MB/s, Latency: 92.0 ns (not properly supported);
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 7429;
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 19773;
Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 44.55 average fps;
PassMark 10: Rating: 5160 (CPU mark: 24522, 3D Graphics Mark: 14114, Disk Mark: 25504);
PCMark 10: 7167 (Essentials – 10717, Productivity – 9498, Digital Content Creation – 9814);
GeekBench 5.33.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1467, Multi-core: 8296;
CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 2217 cb, CPU Single Core 236 cb;
CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 5095 cb, CPU Single Core 565 cb;
CineBench R23 (best run): CPU 13090 cb, CPU Single Core 1448 cb;
x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 28.22 s.
Compared to the i9 + RTX 2080 Super configuration of the
2020 Scar 17, the updated 2021 model ends up about 10-20% faster in single-core and multi-threaded CPU loads, and about 10-15% faster in GPU loads. Not impressive, but not bad either, considering there’s a lower power GPU in the 2021 model and as you’ll find out down below, this runs 4-6 dB quieter in demanding loads and games.
We also ran some tests on the Silent profile, if you’re interested in running demanding loads at low noise levels (<39 dB or less).
3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 14145 (Graphics – 13800, Physics – 18900, Combined – 11888);
3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 4805;
3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 9115 (Graphics – 9447, CPU – 7602);
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4796;
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 8019;
Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 40.30 average fps;
PassMark 10: Rating: 2467 (CPU mark: 21612, 3D Graphics Mark: 6299, Disk Mark: 26240);
PCMark 10: 6576 (Essentials – 9788, Productivity – 9165, Digital Content Creation – 8570);
GeekBench 5.3.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1470, Multi-core: 8169;
CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1899 cb, CPU Single Core 232 cb;
CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 4760 cb, CPU Single Core 560 cb;
CineBench R23 (best run): CPU 12322 cb, CPU Single Core 1421 cb;
x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 29.88 s.
We’re still looking at excellent results, with barely any decrease in single-core tests, and a 5-10% toll in the multi-threaded CPU tests. The GPU ends up being limited in the longer combined tests, though, which we’ll further illustrate once we get to the gaming section below.
Finally, we also ran some Workstation related loads on this Ryzen 9 configuration, on the Turbo and Silent profiles:
Blender 2.90 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 3m 14s (Turbo), 4m 24s (Silent);
Blender 2.90 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute: 34s (CUDA), 15s (Optix);
Blender 2.90 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 8m 24s (Turbo), 12m 10s (Silent);
Blender 2.90 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 2m 04s (CUDA), 53s (Optix);
Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: -;
SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax: 203.85 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – Catia: 153.29 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – Creo: 178.1 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 26.33 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 230.56 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – Medical: 66.83 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase: 130.76 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – SNX: 20.82 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 96.38 (Turbo).
And the newer SPECviewperf 2020 test:
SPECviewerf 2020 – 3DSMax: 137.01 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 2020 – Catia: 66.81 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 2020 – Creo: 82.98 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 2020 – Energy: 26.39 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 2020 – Maya: 245.11 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 2020 – Medical: 31.45 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 2020 – SNX: 20.75 (Turbo);
SPECviewerf 2020 – SW: 175.45 (Turbo).
Again compared to the 2020 i9 model, this Ryzen 9 update ends up marginally faster in the Blender and the Specviepwerf CPU-heavy tests, and roughly 10% faster than the 8Core i7 configurations. The updated Nvidia GPU shows its strength in some of the graphics tests, though, such as 3DSMax or Studioworks.
With these out of the way, let’s look at some games. We ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the stock Turbo, Performance, and Silent profiles, on both FHD (internal screen) and QHD (external monitor) resolutions. Whisper Mode is enabled in GeForce Experience on the Silent mode, and I’ll explain why further down. Here’s what we got:
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
+ RTX 3080 Laptop 115+W
FHD Silent (WM on)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF) 132 fps (65 fps – 1% low)
126 fps (63 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
123 fps (68 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF) 70 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
65 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
54 fps (33 fps – 1% low)
49 fps (38 fps – 1% low)
(DX 11, Best Looking Preset) 112 fps (62 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
113 fps (63 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA) 112 fps (84 fps – 1% low)
108 fps (83 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
109 fps (65 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF) 77 fps (43 fps – 1% low)
71 fps (41 fps – 1% low)
56 fps (38 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (38 fps – 1% low)
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
(DX 11, Ultra Preset) 206 fps (146 fps – 1% low)
197 fps (142 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (60 fps – 1% low)
158 fps (118 fps – 1% low)
Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA) 108 fps (67 fps – 1% low)
109 ps (68 fps – 1% low)
58 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
92 fps (61 fps – 1% low)
Rise of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA) 126 fps (63 fps – 1% low)
119 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
121 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA) 107 fps (49 fps – 1% low)
105 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (60 fps – 1% low)
98 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
(Vulkan, Ultra Preset) 186 fps (142 fps – 1% low)
184 fps (142 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (60 fps – 1% low)
168 fps (130 fps – 1% low)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4) 130 fps (102 fps – 1% low)
118 fps (96 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (60 fps – 1% low)
113 fps (82 fps – 1% low)
Battlefield V, 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
Those above are rasterization tests, and here are some results for RTX titles.
Ryzen 9 5900HX + RTX 3080 Laptop 115+W
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF) 98 fps (64 fps – 1% low)
92 fps (61 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
83 fps (63 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, DLSS Quality) 59 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
55 fps (45 fps – 1% low)
48 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
45 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA, RTX Ultra) 81 fps (32 fps – 1% low)
77 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
59 fps (29 fps – 1% low)
67 fps (30 fps – 1% low)
We’re looking at roughly 10-15% higher framerates in games compared to the 2021 Scar 17 running on the RTX 2080 Super 150W, and ~20% in Battlefield V with RTX On. A fair increase, but perhaps not as much as you might have expected. Keep in mind we’ve run our tests on the early drivers available as of January 2021, so the performance might improve with future updates.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Battlefield V, and Witcher 3 on the various profiles.
We’ll start from the bottom up this time. The Silent profile limits the framerate at ~60 fps in most titles, which translates in GPU clock speeds of around 1 GHz and temperatures of 65-72 C, with exceptions such as Cyberpunk. By default, Whisper Mode 2.0 is active in GeForce Experience at 60 fps and Balanced fans, and the profile allows consistent performance with good temperatures (sub 80C on both CPU/GPU) and quiet fans (under 38-39 dB).
Deactivating Whisper Mode leads to a rather blotchy experience at this point, with the GPU running at 115W for a little bit, and then dropping to 55W and limited frequencies in the 500-800 MHz. When this happens, the fps drop to as low as 30 fps in some of the more demanding titles, while for the limited time it works at the higher power limit, the temperatures rise up quickly to temperatures in the 80s. So overall this needs to be tweaked, and until it does, I recommend keeping the Whisper Mode enabled, it seems to do a good job at what it needs to do.
Switching over to the Performance profile bumps the CPU and GPU power and clocks. The GPU runs at stock clocks and between 110-130W of power (with Dynamic Boost) in this mode between the tested titles, with the fans spinning quietly, at around 41-42 dB at head-level. All these translate in high internal temperatures, with the GPU averaging 85+ C across the tested titles, and the CPU averaging 80+C in the tested titles, and as high as 95+ C in FarCry 5 and Battlefield V. Ouch.
As a result, gaming on Performance is hardly an option on this laptop due to the high temperatures, unless we’re looking at older or less demanding titles. Furthermore, the GPU ends up thermally throttled to a lesser or greater degree on this mode once the heat builds-up, which impacts the fps. Most of the results above are shorter-term tests and might not properly picture the differences between Turbo and Performance, so I’d suggest primarily looking into titles such as Cyberpunk, Battlefield, and Witcher 3, as those results are based on longer gaming sessions and not pre-built short benchmarking runs.
Switching over to Turbo bumps up the fans to 44-45 dB at head-level, adding a higher CPU power-allocation and overclocking the GPU. The faster-spinning fans allow the GPU to run closer to its designed 130W of power in those titles that properly support Dynamic Boost 2.0, and around 115W in those that do not.
Since FarCry 5 or Battlefield 5 do not seem to support Dynamic Boost, the CPU still runs very hot in these titles, at 95+ C. The Dynamic Boost settings are entirely controlled by Nvidia, so perhaps this will be tweaked later on.
Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead, or Witcher 3 support Dynamic Boost 2.0, and in these titles, the CPU runs at lower power, and the GPU ramps up to 130 W, which results in temperatures of 76-90 degrees Celsius on the CPU and 80+ for the GPU.
Based on these findings, we can conclude that the 2021 Scar 17 runs internally hot with most of the AAA games that we’ve tested. Dota 2 is an exception, as that’s capped at 120 fps by default and much friendlier power/thermals.
We measured similar temperatures on the 2020 Scar 17, but that one was also significantly noisier, at 50+ dB at head-level on Turbo. However, lifting it up from the desk in order to facilitate better airflow underneath made a significant impact on the temperatures and performance on the 2020 model, so we went ahead and raised up this 2021 model as well.
Raising up this 2021 Scar 17 from the desk doesn’t help as much, despite the fact that this still gets small rubber feet on the bottom that choke the intakes. This is most likely because the fans spin slower on this updated model. Even so, raising up the bottom still helps shed 2-3 degrees off the CPU and GPU in our tests, both on Turbo and on Performance. The components still end up running hot though, with 83-90 C of the CPU and 78-80 C on the GPU on Turbo, and higher on Performance.
I’d expect a thermal pad placed underneath should further help with the temperatures, but I don’t have one to test out.
Finally, here’s what happens when playing games on a QHD external monitor connected via UBS-C(DP), on Turbo, with the laptop sitting on the desk or raised up. We’ve also tested FHD gaming performance on an external monitor in a follow-up article linked below.
Keep in mind that this laptop does not get an MUX switch, and the internal display is connected through the iGPU with Optimus. This takes a toll on the gaming performance, especially at FHD resolution and in high fps titles, which can be circumvented if you connect an external monitor via USB-C, which is directly connected to the Nvidia graphics chip (and not through HDMI, as that’s also routed through the Vega iGPU).
We’ll have to check if the Manual profile would allow us to push the fans a little further and help lower those component temperatures (update, it does). I’m also interested in limiting the CPU and allow extra headroom for the GPU, which we’ll also test in a future update.
Update: Here’s the follow-up article with more details on the Manual mode, the impact of Advanced Optimus in games, the laptop’s performance while connected via USB-C, and the impact of Whisper Mode, among others.
Bottom point, here’s a quick summary of this 2021 ROG Scar 17 based on the Ryzen 9 5900HX + RTX 3080 115+W platform, in comparison to the 2020 model based on an i7/i9 Intel processors and RTX 2080 Super 150W graphics.
the 2021 model is about 10-20% faster in CPU single/multi-threaded loads;
the 2021 model scores about 10-15% higher in GPU benchmarks and AAA games;
RTX performance is about 15-20% better;
the CPU/GPU still run hot on the Turbo profile, especially the CPU in those titles that do not shift power onto the GPU with Dynamic Boost 2.0;
the Performance profile is hardly an option for AAA gaming, due to even higher temperatures;
the Silent profile pushes a 60 fps limit in most games with Whisper Mode on, with good thermals and quiet <39 dB fans;
Silent mode performance is glitchy right now without Whisper Mode, with the GPU variating between different power levels and leading to annoying fps variations;
the previous 2020 model ran cooler once you lifted it up from the desk, but also 4-6 dB noisier, which is a significant noise difference;
the previous 2020 model returned better performance on the Silent profile, with the GPU capped at ~115W sustained, with still fair temperatures and sub-40 dB noise levels.
So, what do you think?
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
ASUS have slightly updated the thermal design of this 2021 Scar 17 in comparison to the previous generation. I’m looking at smaller fans, but with an updated fan-blade design meant to increase airflow and reduce resonance, as well as a different thermal solution for the VRMs, with the dedicated heatpipe no longer connected to a radiator this time around.
Asus also mentioned they’ve put higher-quality VRMs on this series, as well as liquid metal on the AMD CPU, something they couldn’t properly do before, due to the CPU’s more complex design in comparison to the Intel options.
I’d reckon those smaller fans paired with the quieter fan profiles get the “blame” for the high CPU/GPU temperatures.
Sure, at 44-45 dB at head-level on Turbo, this 2021 Scar 17 is a far friendlier laptop that you can use without having to put on headphones, or lock yourself alone in your gaming den. However, I for one am not entirely comfortable with a
gaming laptop that constantly runs at 85-95 C on the CPU and 80+ on the GPU with AAA games. Those are within the designed thermal limits and the Scar 17 doesn’t throttle in any way, but I would still prefer lower thermals by 5-10 degrees, as extreme heat and electronics don’t do well together long-term, and I’d expect most of you to plan on keeping this kind of a laptop for several years.
As far as the outer case temperatures go, those are alright, with high-30s to low-40s around the WASD region and high-20s around the arrows, but certain spots do go above 50 degrees Celsius, which never happened on the 2020 model. Again, that’s due to the slower-spinning and thus quieter fans on this 2021 update.
Gaming aside, this laptop is a breeze with everyday use, with multitasking, browsing, or video streaming. The 0dB Technology implemented on this generation allows the two fans to completely switch off with light use on the Silent profile, as long as the hardware stays under 60 C, which is most of the time. And that’s both on battery or when plugged in.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Silent profile, fans at 0 dB
*Gaming – Silent – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Silent profile, fans at 38-39 dB
*Gaming – Performance – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 41-42 dB
*Gaming – Turbo, on desk – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 44-45 dB
*Gaming – Turbo, raised from the desk – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 44-45 dB
For connectivity, there’s Wireless 6 and Bluetooth 5 through an Intel AX201 chip on this unit, as well as still only Gigabit Lan. Our sample performed well on WiFi both near the router and at 30+ feet with obstacles in between.
The audio has been updated from the previous generation Scar 17, with this 2021 model now getting two mains speakers on the bottom, and two extra tweeters firing through cuts under the screen, between those hinges.
The quality is pretty good for laptop speakers, even if those bottom speakers are smaller in size than I expected. Don’t expect much bass, but overall you should be fine watching movies or running games on these speakers. They also push up to about 82-84 dB at head-level, with little vibrations or distortions at higher volumes.
Asus didn’t skimp on the headphone output either, although I can’t find any details on the hardware used to drive the 3.5 jack, knowing that has been a priority for them on past ROG models. Something to further look into.
Finally, the camera… well, there still isn’t any, and that FHD external webcam that Asus are bundling in some parts of the world with their higher-tier ROG laptops is not included here.
There’s a 90Wh battery inside all the 2021 ROG Scar models, both the 15 and 17-inch options, a welcomed upgrade from the 66 Wh in the previous generations.
Here’s what we got on our review unit in terms of battery life, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
11.5 W (~6-8 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
8.5 W (~10+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
8 W (~10+ h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
14.5 W (~5-6 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Performance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
80 W (~1+ h of use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, Performance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON, no fps limit.
These are some solid runtimes and significantly better than what we got on the 2020 Scar 17 when tested. The system automatically switches the screen to 60Hz while on battery and on the iGPU, with ActiveSync, plus the AMD platform prooves surprisingly efficient with lightweight loads. There’s also an iGPU/dGPU toggle in Armoury Crate that you can use to completely shut off the Nvidia card while unplugged, making sure no rogue program running in the background would wake it up and eat into your battery life.
This ROG Scar 17 G733QS configuration comes with a 240W power-brick, smaller and lighter than the 280W variant on the previous model. The battery fills up in about 2 hours, with fast-charging for the first half an hour, and USB-C charging is supported, up to 100W.
You won’t be able to use the laptop on Turbo while hooked over USB-C, but those 100W are still more than enough for everyday multitasking and even some occasional workloads, in case you don’t want to bring along the heavier main brick when on the go. The USB-C charger is not included in the box with this model, but Asus says you will be able to find a ROG branded 100W PD charger in most stores this year (they said so last year as well, and it didn’t happen).
Price and availability- ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17
The 2021 Asus ROG Scar 17 is listed in some areas of the world at the time of this article.
The Ryzen 9 + RTX 3080 + 300 Hz screen variant tested here is available for 2500 EUR in this part of the world and ~3000 EUR in Germany.
In the US, the ROG Scar 17 G733QR model with the same Ryzen 9 processor and 300 Hz screen, but RTX 3070 graphics, starts at $1799.
No word on the lesser GPU options for now, or those FHD 360 Hz/ QHD 165 Hz panel configurations, so we’ll need to update once those are available as well.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region at the time you’re reading this article.
Final thoughts- ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17 review
This 2021 Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 is
one of the most powerful full-size performance/gaming laptops you can get right now with AMD Ryzen 5000 hardware and Nvidia RTX 3000 graphics, and that alone will put it on many maps.
Compared to the previous generation, this is quieter and friendlier to use with daily multitasking and casual tasks, 10-20% faster in games and workloads, and perhaps even more in those applications that can benefit from the GPUs extra CUDA cores and vRAM. On top of these, this also runs significantly quieter with games than the previous generation, to the point where you don’t have to put on headphones to play your games, especially since Asus have also updated the speakers on this 2021 model.
But there’s a catch: both the CPU and GPU run hot with games. Out of the box, on Turbo, expect 85-95 Degrees C on the CPU and 80+ C on the GPU with modern AAA titles. These are well within the designed thermal limits and we’re not looking at any throttling or performance losses, but electronics and high temperatures don’t do well together, and I’d be more comfortable with the CPU around 85 and the GPU around 75 on a computer that would run games for many hours every day throughout the next couple of years. Also, keep in mind these are brand new products and the thermal performance would somewhat naturally degrade over time, as the fans clog up with dust (even if they are designed to prevent it) and the thermal paste on the GPU ages.
As it is, there might be ways to improve on those CPU/GPU temperatures if you’re willing to tweak the fan profiles and the CPU’s behavior. We’re still looking into these tweaks and we’ll update in a future article in the next couple of days.
Update: Here’s the follow-up article with more details on the Manual mode, the impact of Advanced Optimus in games, the laptop’s performance while connected via USB-C, and the impact of Whisper Mode, among others.
Update2: We’ve also reviewed the smaller ROG Scar 15 in the meantime, if interested in that one instead.
Hardware aside, the 2021 Scar 17 is more compact and lighter than the previous generation, slightly refreshed in terms of looks, gets some interesting screen options, especially with that QHD 165 Hz with 165 Hz refresh and 100% DCI-P3 colors, and updated inputs, with a larger clickpad and a mechanical keyboard. This is not necessarily a positive update, mechanical laptop keyboards are weird on laptops with their springy feedback and clicky, noisy actuations, so you’ll have to give it a try and see how it does for you.
I still have some other nits with the series, such as those annoyingly placed status LEDs or the smudgy plastic material used for the interior, plus still the lack of modern features such as biometrics, camera, and a card reader. For the most part, though, going with this Scar 17 will come down to its pricing and whether you’re fine with those high internal component temperatures or not.
For what is worth, Asus will offer lower-tier configurations of the Scar 17, starting at an RTX 3060 dGPU, and those might prove better value than this higher-tier option. I only hope they will be available with the QHD screen, that panel option would be a must for me if I were to decide on the 2021 Scar 17.
As for the competition, so far there aren’t any other 17-inch premium performance laptops based on AMD 5000 platforms out there, so you’ll have to go with Intel models. Among those, the Gigabyte Aorus/Aero, the Razer Blade Pro, the Dell Alienware m17 or the
MSI GE76 Raider would win my attention, and you should look for our future reviews (especially with the updated Intel 11th gen hardware, later in the year). At the same time, if you’re willing to go with a smaller screen, the 16-inch Lenovo Legion 5 Pro and Legion 7 should also be on your lists.
Update: We’ve also put up together a
comparison of the Scar 17 against two other popular RTX 3080 laptops that we’ve reviewed here on the site, the Lenovo Legion 7 and the Asus Zephryus S17.
Update: Eluktronics and XMG have a similar kind of 17-inch laptop with Ryzen and up to RTX 3080 150W graphics, so you should put those in your list as well, if available in your region (Thanks M& heva in the comments section). Also, check out this article for a larger list of performance-laptops built on Ryzen 9 specs.
That pretty much wraps up our review of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733QS. I’ll still keep this around for a little while once we ran a couple of more tests and try to figure out if we can properly tweak those thermals, so make sure to post your feedback and questions down below.
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