For years ago, Asus ROG laptops have been a standard for full-size performance and gaming laptops with beefy specs and cooling solutions to match.
However, with the technology progressing and people looking into more portable options, the big-boy ROG laptops have recently got into a shadow cone. As a result, Asus decided to move away from their bulky ROG design last implemented in the 2019 ROG G703GX, and instead integrate top-tier specs into a tweaked SCAR 17 chassis with the 2020 update.
Here enters the ROG Strix SCAR 17 G732LXS, a 17-inch gaming laptop built on Intel 8Core i7/i9 processors and an overclocked Nvidia RTX 2080 Super 150W graphics chip, but this time around in a more compact form-factor that weighs 2.9 kilos (vs 4.5 kilos of the G703) and requires a single power brick at full load, unlike the previous generation that required two.
Sure, the G703 implemented a more powerful desktop-grade 200W RTX 2080 GPU, a larger battery, and extra memory/storage options, but all these came with a high price and limited portability, so I feel that newer model is a better-balanced notebook. Still, the big question is how the redesigned model handles demanding loads and gaming in terms of overall performance, thermals and noise levels, and we’ll answer it in this article.
We’ve spent the last month with this ROG Strix SCAR 17 an put it through its paces in order to gather all the impressions and thoughts in this review, so you’ll know what to expect from this product and whether this is the right buy for you or not.
The specs sheet as reviewed
|ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17 G732LXS|
|Screen||17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 300Hz, matte, AU Optronics B173HAN05.1 panel|
|Processor||Intel Comet Lake Core i7-10875H, 8C/16T (i9-10980HK option also available)|
|Video||Intel UHD and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 8GB (150W, Overclocked, GeForce 446.14), 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||400 mm or 14.17” (w) x 293 mm or 11.53” (d) x 27.9 mm or 1.1” (h)|
|Weight||2.91 kg (6.4 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 17 G732LXS configurations might get different amounts of memory and storage, but the same 300 Hz screen, RTX 2080 150W GPU, and either an i7-10875H or i9-10980HK processor. We’ve also reviewed the i9-10980HK in the ROG Scar 15 chassis, and include our findings in this article, so you/ll know what to expect from that configuration as well.
There are also more affordable lower-tier 2020 ROG Scar 17 variants with RTX 2060 90W (G732LVS) or RTX 2070 Super 115W graphics (G732LWS), and those are slightly slimmer and lighter, and get a simplified thermal design in comparison to the LXS reviewed here. We might test the G732LWS as well if there’s enough interest.
Design and exterior
The ROG Strix Scar lineup has been completely redesigned in 2019, and the 2020 updates are built on the same chassis.
The 17-inch variant is fairly compact, but still a bit longer than other laptops in its class, with a big chin underneath the screen and a hump behind, that accommodates parts of the thermal module. Furthermore, this particular G732LXS variant gets a thicker bottom panel, in order to accommodate the beefier thermal module required to cool the power-hungry Comet Lake processors and the 150W GPU.
As far as weight goes, this tips the scales at around 2.9 kilos (6.4 lbs), with the included 280W power brick accounting for .92 kg (2 lbs) extra in your backpack. You’ll have to bring this main charge along all the time, as this won’t last much on battery and does not support USB-C charging.
When it comes to the choice in materials, the laptop’s lid is made out of aluminum, with what looks like an anodized finishing, but the interior and D-panel are plastic. The palm rest is smooth and might not feel as premium as some of the metal-crafted options out there, especially those in the thin-and-light space, such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus or Razer Blade lineups, but I could live with it just fine.
I’m not entirely sold on the design lines, though, with the graphic elements on the interior and the RGB elements: the ROG logo on the lid, and the massive light-strip at the bottom. I understand that some might like them, and I do feel that the light strip looks cool in the dark, but the ROG lit logo isn’t something I personally appreciate. Asus finally offer individual control over these elements now, so you can switch them off if you want to. That’s possible in the Aura Creator software, where the ROG logo and light bar elements are set as individual options, but the software is not that intuitive and I had to watch a tutorial to figure it out.
These aside, the laptop is surely very well built, with a sturdy main chassis, no flex in the keyboard deck, and a strong screen, held in place by two strong hinges. They allow to easily pick up the display and adjust the angle with a single hand, as well as lean it back to about 145 degrees, which is OK for a full-size 17-inch laptop that’s going to spend most of its time on a desk.
Asus also implemented grippy (but tiny, and we’ll further touch on that in the thermals section) rubber feet that keep this well anchored on the desk, and made sure to blunt and round the edges and corners. You’ll still feel the front lip pressing onto your wrists in some situations, due to the laptop’s thicker profile, but that won’t be a problem on a larger desk with ample arm-support.
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, as these are still placed just under the screen. They’re dim though, and barely, barely noticeable when using the laptop in the dark. And so is the always-lit power button, although I hope Asus will address both of these on the future 2021 SCAR update, implementing their newer power button with the smart finger-sensor and throwing the status LEDs on the sides.
Back to those ports, though, I have to mention that the USB-C port still doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3 or charging, only data and DP video, and there’s no card-reader, and I just think that implementing one of those would have been more useful than the Keystone. And while we’re nitpicking, this SCAR generation still doesn’t get any sort of biometrics or an internal webcam, and it’s up to you to judge whether you can accept these aspects or not.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on the ROG Strix SCAR series is similar to the ones Asus also put on their ROG Zephyrus S15, and includes a NumPad section on this 17-inch model.
It’s a standard chiclet layout with spaced out, but small, arrows keys, a narrower NumPad 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, just like on the S15, the deep actuation point and the switches’ increased resistance takes a toll on my accuracy, as someone used to softer and shallower keyboards available on ultrabook these days. You’re going to like this a lot more 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.
Speaking off, 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, but the surface still rattles when tapped, something I wouldn’t expect on a premium laptop.
As for biometrics, there are none on this 2020 ROG Strix SCAR 17.
Just as you’d expect from a proper gaming laptop, this is equipped with a 300 Hz 3ms FHD IPS matte display (the same Asus also include on the ROG Zephyrus S17), a fine option for daily use, and an excellent option for gaming.
There’s no GSync support on the Scar series, though, unlike on some top-tier Zephyrus S models or the previous ROG G703. Instead, this only gets an Optimus mode.
Implementing GSync on this configuration would have required a motherboard redesign, in order to accommodate the required MUX switch, and Asus decided against it on this generation. In all fairness, GSync support isn’t required on a 300 Hz panel anyway, even with this sort of hardware specs, and is available for external monitors.
Gaming aside, the panel offers deep blacks and excellent contrast, wide viewing angles, and pretty good colors, at 72% AdobeRGB coverage in our tests. It’s not very bright, though, with a measured maximum brightness of 334 nits with default settings, but is one of the best in terms of illumination uniformity, and we’ve only noticed little light-bleeding around the edges, unlike on other 300 Hz panels tested recently.
Here’s what we got in our tests, with a X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUO519D (B173HAN05.1);
- Coverage: 97.0% sRGB, 72.6% AdobeRGB, 74.8% DCI P3;
- Measured gamma: 2.19;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 334 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 15.66 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1360:1;
- White point: 7400 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.24 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
- Response: 5.6 ms GtG (source).
Calibrating the panel in order to address the skewed default White Point limits the maximum brightness at around 300-nits, which is perfectly fine for indoor use, but not great for bright-light environments.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a top-specced configuration of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17, in the G732LXS configuration with an Intel Core i7-10875H processor, 32 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, 2 TB of storage in Raid0, and dual graphics: the Nvidia RTX 2080 Super dGPU and the Intel UHD within the Intel platform. We’ll also cover the i9-10980HK CPU option available on this laptop, and how it compares to the i7.
Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit is an early-production model with the software available as of late-May 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 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. Out Scar 17 model comes with the Core i7 CPU, but we’ve also tested the Core i9 option on the similar Scar 15 chassis.
As for the GPU, what we have here is the top-tier Nvidia 2080 Super in a full-power 150W 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 is limited to 115W;
- Performance – balanced profile with stock CPU/GPU settings – GPU runs at 150W and stock frequencies;
- Turbo – High-Performance profile with increased CPU power allocation and overclocked GPU (150W, +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 thermal module on this Scar 17 version is beefed up in order to cope with the 150W GPU, while the standard RTX 2070 models get the same cooling from the 2019 model, meant to handle a 115W GPU. Asus also apply liquid metal compound on the CPU from the factory on their entire 2020 ROG lineup, which somewhat helps reduce temperatures.
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, so you could install up to 64 GB of memory on this laptop with the right memory sticks.
As for the storage, our unit gets two Samsung PM981 SSDs in Raid0, making up for one the faster storage solutions available for laptops out there, aside from the CPU attached implementations available on a few models. Retail configurations might not ship with Samsung PM981 drives though, so you might want to double-check this detail with the supplier.
Getting to the components is fairly simple. You need to remove the back panel which is 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 also get access to the thermal module, battery, speakers, wifi chip, and the three SSD slots. This 2020 Scar update no longer includes a 2.5″ storage bay, which has been replaced with an two extra M.2 slots, for a total of three.
You’ll notice that a lot of space is left unused on this recycled design once the 2.5″ has been replaced with two extra M.2 slots. With some tweaking, Asus could have move those SSDs to the side and free-up room for a large battery, and they could have also included an SD card-reader on the right edge. Or larger speakers.
This ROG Strix Scar 17 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 i7 processor stabilizes at 70+W, which translates in frequencies of 3.5+ GHz and temperatures of ~70 C, as well as scores of ~1550 points.
Undervolting is disabled by default with the retail BIOS on i7 17-inch Scar, but there is a Voltage control option in the Advanced BIOS settings, which allows BIOS level undervolting at up to -80mV. Our sample performed stably at -80 mV, which translated in sustained 3.7+ GHz and scores of 1600+ points, within the same 70W power envelope.
Dropping over to the Performance mode returns similar scores, at the same 70W power limit, but with quieter fans and slightly higher temperatures of 73+ C. The Silent profile, on the other hand, limits the processor at 45+ W.
Finally, on battery, the power is limited at up to 45W in the Performance mode (Turbo is disabled in this case). Details below.
In comparison, the i9 processor in the ROG SCAR 15 stabilizes at 80+W and runs and slightly higher clocks. It also came with a default +50 mV applied overvolt (so it heats up quickly in this test), and with XTU support (alongside the BIOS undervolting option).
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. It still ended up outscoring the i7-10875H by more than 10% in this test.
In all fairness, though, we most likely hit a poor bin on this Scar 17 model, as the same i7-10875H processor performed slightly better in the smaller Zephyrus S15 and the 17-inch Gigabyte Aorus 17G tested recently.
Nonetheless, all these Intel Comet Lake processors require a lot of power at max-load, and the fact that the Ryzen 7 and 9 processors in the more compact Zephyrus G14 end up matching the i7-10875 at pretty much half the power consumption (35W vs 70W) shows the current state of AMD’s Zen2 platform and how much Intel need to catch up with their next-gen hardware. The i9 still ends up outmatching the Ryzen CPUs, but undervolted, running at 80+W, and with more complex cooling.
Next, we’ve further verified our findings with the longer Cinebench R20 loop test and the gruesome Prime 95. With Prime, the i7 CPU kicks in hard at around 115+W for about 20-30 seconds, and then drops and stabilizes at 70W.
We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the 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 150W 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 on the tested Scar 17 model, with the Core i7 processor.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 21013 (Graphics – 25277, Physics – 20984);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 6152;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 9948 (Graphics – 9968, CPU – 9840);
- AIDA64 Memory test: Write: Read: 48533 MB/s, Read: 46533 MB/s, Latency: 59.3 ns;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5317;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 16474;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 40.55 average fps;
- PassMark: Rating: 7517 (CPU mark: 20780, 3D Graphics Mark: 13522, Disk Mark: 27491);
- PCMark 10: 5746 (Essentials – 10008, Productivity – 9088, Digital Content Creation – 5663);
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5877, Multi-core: 33437;
- 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.
For comparison, expect roughly 2-10% improved performance on the i9-10980HK model in CPU-heavy workloads, with a marginal impact in combined loads.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: Physics – 23523;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: CPU – 9858;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 42.65 average fps;
- 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.
Getting back to our i7 configuration, we also ran some tests on the Silent profile, if you’re interested in running demanding loads at low noise levels (<40 dB).
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 18300 (Graphics – 23607, Physics – 16956);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 5872;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8874 (Graphics – 9137, CPU – 7632);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 14115;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 35.94 average fps;
- PassMark: Rating: 5626 (CPU mark: 16631, 3D Graphics Mark: 11135, Disk Mark: 20848);
- PCMark 10: 4418 (Essentials – 8164, Productivity – 6974, Digital Content Creation – 4111);
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 974, Multi-core: 6983;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1443 cb, CPU Single Core 153 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3273 cb, CPU Single Core 360 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 185.02 fps, Pass 2 – 88.11 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 43.16 s.
We’re looking at a roughly 15-25% decrease in CPU and GPU performance compared to the Turbo profile, but significantly reduced noise levels as well: up to 39 dB at head level, versus up to 51 dB on Turbo.
Finally, we reran some of the tests on the -80mV Undervolted Turbo profile, which resulted in a small 2-5% increase in most benchmarks.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 21663 (Graphics – 26057, Physics – 21798);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 6180;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 10093 (Graphics – 10092, CPU – 10101);
- PCMark 10: 5680 (Essentials – 9857, Productivity – 8855, Digital Content Creation – 5697);
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1273, Multi-core: 8577;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1859 cb, CPU Single Core 203 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3991 cb, CPU Single Core 475 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 34.88 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. That’s why we didn’t pursue further overclocking in our tests, but you can dig into this if you want to, as well as consider a slight GPU undervolt in MSI Afterburner, in order to maximize the performance and temperatures.
Finally, we also ran some Workstation related loads on this i7 configuration, on the Turbo and Silent profiles:
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 4m 32s (Silent), 3m 44s (Turbo), 3m 27s (Turbo UV);
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute: 50s (CUDA), 26s (Optix);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 14m 21s (Silent), 12m 3s (Turbo), 11m 17s (Turbo UV);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 2m 40s (CUDA), 1m 32s (Optix);
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: 36541 (Turbo);
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax: 190.7.52 (Turbo), 164.47 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Catia: 153.45 (Turbo), 126.51 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo: 188.32 (Turbo), 155.77 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 23.16 (Turbo), 21.14 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 226.74 (Turbo), 185.05 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical: 63.15 (Turbo), 55.79 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase: 115.11 (Turbo), 105.71 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX: 22.38 (Turbo), 19.87 (Silent);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 92.13 (Turbo), 66.87 (Silent).
And here’s what to expect from the i9 model in these tests:
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 3m 27s (Turbo), 3m 14s (Turbo UV);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 11m 17s (Turbo), 10m 37s (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/Silent modes, on FHD (on the laptop’s display) and QHD (on external monitor) resolutions. Here’s what we got:
|Core i7-10875H + RTX 2080 Super 150W||FHD Turbo||FHD Turbo UV||FHD Performance||FHD Silent||QHD Turbo, external|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||138 fps (96 fps – 1% low)||–||130 fps (111 fps – 1% low)||122 fps (103 fps – 1% low)||109 fps (64 fps – 1% low)|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON, DLSS OFF)||75 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||–||67 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||60 fps (50 fps – 1% low)||–|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||105 fps (78 fps – 1% low)||115 fps (81 fps – 1% low)||110 fps (81 fps – 1% low)||97 fps (57 fps – 1% low)||98 fps (59 fps – 1% low)|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||219 fps (141 fps – 1% low)||229 fps (146 fps – 1% low)||239 fps (154 fps – 1% low)||182 fps (110 fps – 1% low)||209 fps (150 fps – 1% low)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)||90 fps (71 fps – 1% low)||103 fps (78 fps – 1% low)||85 fps (66 fps – 1% low)||76 fps (53 fps – 1% low)||91 fps (66 fps – 1% low)|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||135 fps (74 fps – 1% low)||137 fps (74 fps – 1% low)||132 fps (61 fps – 1% low)||115 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||111 fps (70 fps – 1% low)|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||113 fps (77 fps – 1% low)||118 fps (82 fps – 1% low)||113 fps (75 fps – 1% low)||103 fps (54 fps – 1% low)||84 fps (66 fps – 1% low)|
|Strange Brigade (Vulkan, Ultra Preset)||186 fps (136 fps – 1% low)||192 fps (142 fps – 1% low)||178 fps (132 fps – 1% low)||173 fps (122 fps – 1% low)||–|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||98-132 min-max fps
(115 fps avg, 78 fps – 1% low)
|96-148 min-max fps
(119 fps avg, 86 fps – 1% low)
|96-134 min-max fps
(115 fps avg, 83 fps – 1% low)
|85-113 min-max fps
(100 fps avg, 70 fps – 1% low)
|71-101 min-max fps
(86 fps avg, 68 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 these settings.
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 88-92 C in demanding titles, with the GPU averaging 82+ degrees C. That’s about 10 degrees hotter in each case than on the 2019 ROG G703GX.
Undervolting makes very little difference, as it allows the CPU to run at slightly higher clocks, but the same kind of high temperatures, with 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 73-75 degrees in all titles, and runs at up to 10% higher clocks, and the CPU stabilizes at 82-88 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.
The impact is even greater on the Performance and Silent profiles. The fan noise drops to about 47-48 dB at head-level on Performance, with a slight CPU limitation and the same high GPU temperatures. Once pushed up, though, the GPU runs cooler and delivers excellent performance.
On Silent, the GPU is limited at 115W with the fans running at 38-39 dB, but it actually thermally throttles under 100W in every title we’ve tested.
Once you lift up the laptop, though, the GPU cools down and comfortably runs at 115+ W and around 74 C, while the CPU is limited to around 25W and temperatures under 80 degrees C. In this scenario, the ROG Scar 17 provides excellent performance, almost the same kind you can expect from an RTX 2070 Super or RTX 2080 Super Max-Q implementation at full blast.
I’ve added a quick comparison down below of this Scar 17 on Silent next to the RTX 2070 Super 115W powered Scar 15 and RTX 2070 Super Max-Q powered Zephyrus S15, both on Turbo.
|FHD Silent – Scar 17
RTX 2080 Super 150W
|FHD Turbo – Scar 15
RTX 2070 Super 115W
|FHD Turbo – Zephyrus S15
RTX 2080 Super 90+W
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||122 fps (103 fps – 1% low)||–||117 fps (83 fps – 1% low)|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON, DLSS OFF)||60 fps (50 fps – 1% low)||–||68 fps (52 fps – 1% low)|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||97 fps (57 fps – 1% low)||113 fps (90 fps – 1% low)||115 fps (92 fps – 1% low)|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||182 fps (110 fps – 1% low)||145 fps (105 fps – 1% low)||158 fps (109 fps – 1% low)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)||76 fps (53 fps – 1% low)||85 fps (68 fps – 1% low)||85 fps (65 fps – 1% low)|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||115 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||109 fps (68 fps – 1% low)||136 fps (76 fps – 1% low)|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||103 fps (54 fps – 1% low)||101 fps (66 fps – 1% low)||102 fps (72 fps – 1% low)|
|Strange Brigade (Vulkan, Ultra Preset)||173 fps (122 fps – 1% low)||153 fps (117 fps – 1% low)||156 fps (121 fps – 1% low)|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||100 fps avg, 70 fps – 1% low||105 fps avg, 74 fps – 1% low||108 fps avg, 51 fps – 1% low|
Just remember that you somehow have to lift up the laptop from the desk to get the best possible gaming experience, or perhaps put this on a proper cooling pad.
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 keyboard. You should also not worry about any heat impacting the screen, as the laptop’s interior barely gets past 40 degrees Celsius on any of the power profiles.
Keep in mind though that with the video ports placed on the back, using this in a vertical stand might be tricky.
Finally, gaming on battery is not really an option based on our experience with this sample, as both the CPU and GPU fluctuate and throttle in this case.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The thermal module has been specifically designed for this RTX 2080 SUper 150W implementation of the ROG Strix SCAR 17, with two high-capacity fans and an ample array of heatpipes and thermal plates, with two separate radiators for both the CPU and the GPU. Asus also apply liquid-metal thermal compound on the CPU from the factory, and there are actual intake cuts in the D-panel on top of the fans, unlike on the 15-inch ROG Scar 15.
Nonetheless, as explained above, a complex thermal module isn’t going to do much without proper airflow around those intakes, that’s why the components run hot here as long as the laptop sits on the desk, and raising it up by an inch or two translates in significantly improved temperatures and performance.
As far as external temperatures go, this laptop barely goes past 40 degrees on any of the working modes, with certain small parts around the radiators heating up on Silent.
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. There were no electric noises on this unit, but that’s no guarantee you won’t’ get any with yours.
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 – 47-48 dB with games (45 dB Armoury Crate), 43-44 dB with Cinebench loop test;
- Silent – 38-39 dB with games (35 dB Armoury Crate), 38-39 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 – Silent– playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Silent Profile, fans at 38-39 dB (35 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 of the underbelly, 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 (on the Music profile in Audio Wizard), and the sound comes out clean and fairly reach on the lower end, for a gaming laptop.
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 17, 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%):
- 15 W (~4+ 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;
- 14 W (~4 h 30 min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Silent Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 22 W (~3h 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, 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 17 is listed in some areas of the world at the time of this article.
The RTX 2080 Super variant tested here, but with the i9-10980HK processor, starts at $2999 in the US and around 3500 EUR in Germany.
An i9-10980HK model paired with RTX 2070 Super 115W graphics (Scar 17 G732LWS) is also listed from $2699, or 3000 EUR over here.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region at the time you’re reading this article.
On paper, the 2020 ROG Scar 17 is a downgrade in terms of specs and performance compared to the 2019 ROG G703 it’s replacing, as it no longer gets a 200W GPU, a 100W+ processor, 4 sticks of RAM, a big battery or GSync.
At the same time, though, this is a much more portable laptop that only requires a single power-brick at full-load, and it’s still outperforming most gaming notebooks out there. We’ll pitch the two side by side in a future article, but for the most part, the 2020 Scar 17 is a close match to the previous model in combined loads, and only looses in demanding CPU chores, where the i9 in the previous implementation could constantly run at around 180W on Turbo, with the associated power draw and noise levels.
The 2020 model also runs quieter than the G703 at full-blast and its chassis keeps cool with games and other taxing loads. Heck, it’s even a solid performer on the Silent profile, with the fans spinning bellow 40 dB, where it almost matches what many of the other top-tier gaming laptops can do on their Turbo profiles.
But there’s a catch: you need to lift this laptop from the desk in order to allow for proper airflow into the fans and radiators. For some reason, Asus implemented very thin rubber feet on this laptop, which are about 2 mm in height, and that’s choking the thermal module and causes the hardware to heat-up. If you’re willing to “tweak” this aspect, the ROG Scar 17 in this RTX 2080 Super 150W implementation might be the most versatile gaming notebook of its generation, allowing for excellent performance on Turbo, and an unmatched balance of framerates and reduced noise on Silent.
Of course, there are also a couple of aspects to consider here, such as the lack of certain features (biometrics, webcam, Thunderbolt 3, card-reader, GSync), the limited runtimes on battery, and the $3000 price tag. If the gaming performance is what you’re primarily after and if this is within your budget, I’d expect the ROG Strix Scar 17 to do good by you. Otherwise, you could look into lower-specced and more affordable 17-inch laptops, such as the Alienware Area 51, Gigabyte Aorus 17, the MSI GE75 Raider, or the lower-tier ROG Scar 17 versions, or their more compact 15-inch alternatives, including Asus’s own ROG Strix Scar 15.
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.