The Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531 has been available in stores for a few months now, and we’ve finally got to spend time with it and gather our full impressions below, with the strong points and the quirks.
This follows up on the popular Asus ROG Scar II GL504 and is Asus’s mid-range gaming laptop for 2019/2020. It gets the latest technologies, bells, and whistles, but in a full-size body and with a more affordable price-tag than the ultraportable ROG Zephyrus models.
As a mid-range series meant to cater to different needs and budgets, there are multiple G531 variants available. Our review unit is the top-of-the-line Scar III G531GW model, in perhaps the best-value configuration with a Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia’s full-power RTX 2070 graphics chip, dual storage, and a 240Hz matte display. At the time of this article, this variant retails for around 1900 USD in the US, and roughly 2000 EUR in Europe.
I’ll also add that our review unit is a retail version identical to the ones you’ll be able to buy yourselves. It was offered by Asus for this review and returned afterward.
The specs sheet as reviewed – Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GW
|Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GW|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 240Hz, matte, Sharp SHP14D3 panel|
|Processor||Intel Coffee Lake-R Core i7-9750H, six-core|
|Video||Intel UHD 630 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB 115W (GeForce 436.48)|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 2666 MHz (2x DIMMs)|
|Storage||512 GB SSD (M.2 80 mm PCIe x2 – Intel 660p SSDPEKNW512G8) + 2.5″ bay (1 TB Seagate ST1000LX015)|
|Connectivity||Intel 9560 AC 2×2 WiFi with Bluetooth 5.0, Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit LAN|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C gen 2 with DP, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||66 Wh, 230 W power adapter|
|Size||360 mm or 14.19” (w) x 275 mm or 10.83” (d) x 26 mm or 1.02” (h)|
|Weight||2.4 kg (5.3 lb), .80 kg (1.76 lbs) power brick and cables, EU version|
|Extras||RGB backlit keyboard with per-key control, stereo speakers|
This is one of the better value configurations of the Scar III G531GW, with the dual-storage and the 16 GB of RAM. You can configure it with up to 32 GB of RAM and a better/faster SSD, of course, and Asus also offers an optional Core i9-9880H eight-core processor in some regions. That’s not going to help with gaming but can help in work-related activities that benefit from the extra cores.
Design and exterior
Unlike most other laptop lines that are smaller and more compact than their predecessors, the SCAR III is a bit larger than the previous Scar IIs. I’d reckon that’s primarily to address the major culprit of the Scar II G504GWs: CPU/GPU thermals.
If you’ll go through the forums you’ll find a lot of buyers complaining about the thermals and occasional throttling on the 2018 Scar II RTX 2070 configurations. Those issues were mostly fixable with undervolting, as explained in our review, but with this generation, Asus didn’t want to take any chances and completely redesigned the entire chassis, as well as the thermal module inside.
As a result, the Asus ROG Scar III G531GW gets a hump behind the screen, which makes it deeper (and thus overall larger) than pretty much all the other 15-inch gaming laptops of the moment.
It also makes it fairly heavy, at about 2.4 kilos, so this is not as portable as a ROG Zephyrus, for instance. As far as I can tell, that hump integrates parts of the thermal module and includes multiple air-intakes that supplement those on the bottom. The exhausts are placed on the sides and the back.
The build quality hasn’t suffered it’s a little sturdier than in the past. There’s very little flex in the main-deck or the lid, and there’s no squeaking and creaking when grabbing and moving the laptop around. The ergonomics are pretty good as well, with both the silver metal exterior and the carbon-fiber plastic interior doing a great job at hiding smudges. The arm-rest is generous and there are no sharp corners or edges, which makes the laptop comfortable to use in most cases, despite its fairly tall front profile.
I’m not the biggest fan of the overall design lines, though. The gaming accents have been tamed a little bit between generations, but there’s still a loaded mix of materials and finishes that you’ll have to accept. Oh, and peel off those stickers on the interior asap.
That aside, Asus hasn’t ditched the lighting on this series, in fact, they’ve enhanced it. Aside from a big ROG logo on the hood, there’s also a light strip around the front and sides now, both RGB capable. Although I’m normally all about muted designs, for some reason I like the bottom light-strip, but Asus should have offered more control over these RGB elements. Right now, they are tied in with the keyboard’s illumination and cannot be controlled individually.
Ideally, the software should let you control the lid-logo, the light-strip, and the keyboard separately, allowing to assign different behavior and switch them off independently. Right now, you can only switch everything off, including the keyboard’s illumination, or you can activate everything together, at three different brightness levels. That’s not the way to do it and I fear it could kill this laptop for professional environments and even for some stricter schools.
While we’re nitpicking, I’ll also mention the rather weird cutout in the screen’s chin, which by the way, is one of the thickest I’ve seen in a while. I like that it pushes the screen up to a more ergonomic typing position, but that cut-out is a little distracting. That aside, I would have also appreciated if the screen would have leaned back past the 130ish angle that it does. That’s OK for desk-use, but limiting for everyday use.
As far as the IO goes, you’ll find a fair selection of ports on this laptop: 3x USB-A slots, 1x USB-C gen2, LAN and HDMI. There’s no Lock though, no card-reader and no Thunderbolt 3 support. I do appreciate the fact that most ports and the power plug are placed on the back edge, out of the way, leaving the edges fairly clean. On the other hand, I don’t like that all the USB-A slots are placed on the left-edge, cramped together in a narrow space.
The reason for that is what Asus calls the Keystone. Physically, that’s a piece of colored plastic with a small chip in it, that attaches in its slot on the laptop’s right edge. Functionally, this is tied up to your ROG ID and stores your personalization settings, as well as provides access to an encrypted Shadow Drive hidden on the computer when the key is not inserted. I’m not sold on this thing. Asus claims this would be useful when multiple people are using the same laptop: you come by with your key, plug it in and the laptop switches to your preferences and settings. But then again, most people don’t share a computer, and even if they are, there’s only a single Keystone included in the pack, so only one user would get the perks. So why not include at least two?
All in all, the Scar III G531 is built well and it’s an OK design, but not one of my favorites. Judging from some of the other RTX 2070 options out there (like the MSI GE65 Raider or the ROG Zephyrus GX502), you don’t necessarily need a big laptop to get good thermals and performance in this day and age. On top of these, I’m not sold on some of the design and ergonomics choices, and I’m not happy with the lack of proper control over the RGB lightning, something most competitors have been offering for years now.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on the ROG Scar III G531 looks identical to the ones on the Zephyrus S/M lines, but for some reason, it felt totally different in use.
I can’t tell for sure what I didn’t like about it, but my accuracy and speed both struggled with it. Perhaps it’s a bit too responsive and unforgiving, but it also failed to inspire confidence, even after typing several thousand words on it. That’s odd because I got along well with this same keyboard on the Zephyrus models, which came close to the shallow feel of the keyboard on my XPS 13. This one, however, felt differently.
The layout, on the other hand, is pretty good. The keyboard is centered on the chassis and lacks a NumPad section, which leaves room for properly spaced (but small) arrow keys and an extra set of Function keys at the very right. There’s also a set of multimedia keys at the top, allowing control over the volume, microphones, fan profile and a quick-launch key for the Armoury Crate app.
This keyboard is also backlit, with per-key RGB control, 3 brightness levels and several lighting styles to choose from. The LEDs get bright at max settings and the light doesn’t creep from beneath the keycaps, however, there’s one aspect utterly wrong with this implementation: the F1-F12 writing on the function keys is not backlit, which makes finding the right one in the dark very annoying. And speaking of annoying things, the power Button integrates an always-on bright red light that’s going to be pesky when watching a movie in a dark room. What were they thinking?
The lack of a NumPad might steer some of you towards the competition, especially on a full-size laptop such as this one. I don’t mind it, but Asus is aware of it and tries to mitigate it by adding NumPad functionality into the clickpad (activated by long-pressing the NumLK area in the top-right corner). It’s OK, I guess, but the experience is nowhere near as having physical buttons.
As far as the mouse goes, it’s rather small and it’s not a clickpad, but instead an old-style plastic touchpad with physical buttons underneath. Not just any buttons, though, actually some of the smoothest and quietest I’ve got my fingers on in a while. The entire mouse experience on this laptop is rock-solid if you can get past the surface’s size.
Lastly, I’ll mention that there are no biometric on this laptop.
For the screen, Asus went with a matte IPS FHD 240Hz panel made by Sharp, the LQ156M1JW09 variant.
This is a fine panel for daily use and an excellent option for gaming, due to the short response times and high refresh rate, even if GSync is not supported.
On the other hand, its color accuracy, contrast, and peak-brightness are only a little above average, so you should mostly keep this computer indoors. At least the screen is matte, with cuts on unwanted glare and reflections. Content-creators will probably want to hook up an external screen for their color-accurate work.
Here’s what to expect, according to our Sypder4 sensor:
- Panel Hardware ID: Sharp SHP14D3 (LQ156M1JW09);
- Coverage: 98% sRGB, 72% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 269 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 730:1;
- White point: 9000 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.37 cd/m2;
- PWM: Yes, 250 Hz at <20% brightness;
- Response time: ~17 ms GtG (3 ms advertised, with Overdrive).
The panel came poorly calibrated out of the box, with a skewed White Point, so you should make sure to calibrate it if color accuracy is important for you.
That aside, we didn’t notice any major light bleeding or color/luminance imbalances on this thing. Asus does use PWM at lower brightness levels (under 20%) at 250 Hz, which is noticeable by most people. However, you’ll hardly ever use the laptop at those low brightness levels, perhaps only when reading or browsing in a completely dark room.
Hardware, performance, and upgrades
Our test model is a highly specked configuration of the Asus ROG Scar III G531GW. It comes with the Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16 GB of DDR4 memory, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 115W graphics chip, one M.2 PCIe SSD and an extra HDD for mass-storage.
Our review unit is a retail model with mature drivers from Nvidia (Version 436.48) and the 306 BIOS version, the latest available as of mid-October 2019.
The amount of RAM and the included SSD might vary between regions. Our unit came with a rather slow Intel 660p QLC SSD, and there are faster options out there. The Zephyrus S GX502 came with the same drive. We’ll also add that the laptop gets two M.2 slots and supports RAID 0/1 configurations.
While the CPU and GPU are soldered on the motherboard, the memory and storage are upgradeable. Getting to them is fairly easy, you need to remove the back panel held in place by a few Philips screws, all visible around the sides. The back is tied to the main-laptop by two ribbons that power the LED strips, so don’t pull too hard on the back and be careful not to sever the connections. Inside you’ll also get access to the thermal module, battery, and speakers.
The ROG Scar III is primarily a gaming-notebook, especially in this GW configuration with the RTX 2070 graphics. It also gets Optimus, though, and a power-efficient Silent profile in Armoury Crate that favors low-noise for everyday use, both when plugged in or on battery. Here’s what to expect in terms of performance and thermals with browsing, text-editing, and Netflix.
Let’s move on to the more demanding chores, though. First, we test the CPU’s performance in demanding loads by running Cinebench R15 for 10+ times in a loop, with 2-3 sec delay between each run, which simulates a 100% load on all the cores.
The ROG laptops get three standard power profiles in the Armoury Crate control software:
- Turbo – favors performance raises the fans speeds, the CPU TDP limit and applies an overclock on the GPU;
- Performance – a balanced mode, sets the CPU to its standard 45W TDP and applies standard GPU settings;
- Silent – greatly lowers the fans noise, but throttles the performance of both the CPU and GPU.
On Turbo and stock settings, the CPU settles for around 3.5-3.6 GHz after several Cinebench runs, scores of around 1130 points, a TDP of around 60 W and temperatures of around 90-91 degrees Celsius. The Turbo profile raises the TDp limit, and as a result, the CPU runs at higher clocks that translate in high scores and raised temperatures. Thermal throttling is the limiting factor here.
We proceeded to improve this behavior by undervolting the CPU. In this case, on Turbo our unit proved stable at -125 mV, which resulted in pretty much flawless CPU performance: 3.9-4.0 GHz, 65W+ TDP, 1250+ points and temperatures of around 95 degrees Celsius.
We then switched to Performance (Balanced) while maintaining the undervolt. In this case, the CPU drops to 45W+ and the scores average around 1150 points, but the temperatures drop as well to 86-88 degrees.
Finally, we switched to the Silent profile, which further limits the CPU to 25W, but with reduced noise and temperatures. You’ll find more about all these scenarios in the logs below, which also includes the laptop’s performance on battery.
All in all, the ROG Scar III G531 does not disappoint, allowing excellent CPU performance once undervolted, on the Turbo profile. That, however, comes with high temperatures and loud fans, so most of you will probably prefer to keep the laptop on the Performance mode. Finally, Silent is excellent for less-demanding chores, keeping the noise and temperatures in check, while slightly chocking the performance, but not to the point that it would affect your activities in any way.
Next, we move on to test the performance in combined CPU and GPU tests. We do that by running the 3DMark Stress test, as well as the Luxmark 3.1 test. The laptop passes the 3DMark tests both with stock settings and in a Tweaked Manual configuration, which pushes the CPU to the max, applies the undervolt, and adds a 200 MHz Clock/300 MHz memory overclock to the GPU. We’re going to use this Tweaked profile for the reminding of our tests and compare it to the stock Turbo mode. From the logs below you’ll notice that the CPU/GPU temperatures drop by a few degrees on the Tweaked profile, due to the CPU’s undervolt.
The Luxmark stress test shows that the CPU and GPU can both run smoothly in longer demanding loads, with the CPU averaging a TDP of 45 W and the GPU averaging its 115W stock TDP. Things differ when unplugging the laptop, though, as in this case the CPU is limited to 25W+ and the GPU drops to around 27W+ on this implementation, which is backed up by the gaming experience on battery, as you’ll see below. Corroborated with the Cinebench CPU test, all these suggest that the Scar III will struggle with demanding chores while unplugged.
Next we’ve added a set of benchmark, for those of you interested int he numbers. Firstly, here’s what we got on the stock Turbo profile.
- 3DMark 11: 19301 (Graphics – 24600, Physics – 12580);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 16964 (Graphics – 19540, Physics – 16252);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7263 (Graphics – 7413, CPU – 6520);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 4324;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 4450;
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5120, Multi-core: 23596;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1138, Multi-core: 6024;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1208 cb, CPU Single Core 171 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2737 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 215.22 fps, Pass 2 – 79.44 fps.
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 48.06 s.
Then we reran some of them on the Tweaked Manual profile: -125 mV undervolted CPU and overclocked GPU:
- 3DMark 11: 20122 (Graphics – 25808, Physics – 12686);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 17151 (Graphics – 19908, Physics – 16210);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7511 (Graphics – 7680, CPU – 6681);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 4435;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 4598;
- PCMark 10: 5549 (Essentials – 8748 , Productivity – 7331 , Digital Content Creation – 7232);
- PassMark: Rating: 5309, CPU mark: 14776, 3D Graphics Mark: 3097;
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5162, Multi-core: 23656;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1129, Multi-core: 5992;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1163 cb, CPU Single Core 176 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2942 cb, CPU Single Core 426 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 216.02 fps, Pass 2 – 79.48 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 44.58 s.
As expected, undervolting the CPU helps boost both the CPU and GPU scores by about 5%, and that’s because the GPU is already overclocked on the standard Turbo profile (+120 MHz core/+200 MHz memory). The major gain of the Tweaked profile is in the reduced CPU temperatures, which allows the GPU to run at higher clocks without hitting thermal limits. The GPU runs at around 70-75 degrees in most cases in this implementation.
Of course, it’s interesting to see how the Scar III compares to the Scar II and other RTX 2070 115W laptops available out there. We’ve reviewed most of them, and we’ll cover this extensively in a different article. In the meantime, head over to our reviews for more details: ROG Scar II, ROG Zephyrus S, MSI GE75 Raider.
Before we get to the gaming section, I’ve also run some of the workstation benchmarks on this product, so you’ll know how it compares to some of the RTX Quadro alternatives on the market. We’re only looking at the performance here, but other aspects need to be considered when shopping for a performance laptop, like stability or optimized drivers, as well as the simpler designs and better screens you’ll normally get with the Studio branded options.
- Blender – BMW GPU Car scene: Time – 6:39.24;
- Blender – Classroom scene: Time – 14:05.99;
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: 32594;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Catia: 111.21;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 21.65;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical: 46.85;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase: 94.64;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX: 14.82;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 64.37.
Here’s a list of our RTX Quadro notebook reviews, for comparison. The RTX Quadro 4000 is the same-tier alternative for the GeForce RTX 2070 inside this ROG Scar III.
Finally, let’s look at some gaming results. We ran a couple of games representative for DX11 and DX12 architectures on a few different profiles, with stock or tweaked settings, and at the screen’s native 144 Hz resolution or on an external 4K monitor hooked up via HDMI. This section of our reviews and is sponsored by Acer, who supplied us with their Nitro XV273K 4K 144 Hz gaming monitor for our tests (follow this link for more details).
|FHD Turbo||FHD Tweaked||FHD Tw Performance||UHD Tweaked|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||92-110 fps||96-118 fps||90-106 fps||36-42 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON, DLSS OFF)||48-58 fps||48-60 fps||46-56 fps||18-20 fps|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||100 fps||104 fps||96 fps||39 fps|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||134 fps||133 fps||126 fps||49 fps|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||86 fps||87 fps||85 fps||39 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||87 fps||88 fps||81 fps||32 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||86-118 fps||92-126 fps||76-116 fps||38-52 fps|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Far Cry 5, Witcher 3 and Shadow of Mordor, an older and less demanding title.
First, here are the stock Turbo logs:
Then, here’s what happens when switching to the Tweaked Turbo profile with the undervolted CPU and the overclocked GPU:
Given how loud the fans are on Turbo (49-50 dB at head-level), we then switched to the Performance mode which lowers the fan noise to 46-47 dB.
Lastly, we commuted to the Silent profile, which should, in theory, sacrifice the performance to some extent, but still allow a good gaming experience with much quieter fans. For some reason, things didn’t work as expected here. In the beginning, the GPU runs at about 1.2 GHz, just as expected from this mode, but it aggressively clocks down after a few minutes, which makes games unplayable. Going through the logs, I noticed that a few seconds after the GPU goes past 77-78 degrees Celsius, the clocks drop to 300 MHz and stay there for a while until the core cools down, and eventually jumps back to higher speeds. But then the cycle repeats itself once the high temperatures are reached again, which suggests an aggressive thermal limitation backed within the settings.
Keep in mind we are testing a retail variant of this laptop with the latest drivers and BIOS available as of mid-October 2019. At the same time, we haven’t encountered such behavior on other ROG laptops tested lately. I don’t know if this is an isolated bug or a wider-spread issue, but make sure to test it on your laptop within the return window if you plan to run games on the Silent profile.
Finally, we unplugged the laptop and that caused another major hit on the performance, with both the CPU and especially GPU being capped down to low frequencies and TDPs. Gaming on battery is a no go in these conditions.
In conclusion, the ROG Strix Scar III is an excellent performer once undervolted and overclocked. The CPU runs fairly hot out of the box, but that’s no longer a problem once tweaked. At the same time, the GPU runs cooler than most other RTX 2070 laptops we’ve tested in the past, except the larger 17-inch MSI GE75 Raider.
Surprisingly, though, we ran into trouble playing games on Silent, which hasn’t happened on other ROG laptops. I haven’t seen many complaints about it on the forums, so hopefully, it was an isolated issue. Make sure to test it on your samples if you’re planning on running games on this profile that should somewhat sacrifice the fps counts, but also run much quieter than the others.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The ROG Scar III G531GW gets a complex thermal module, with two high-capacity fans and multiple heat-pipes and heat-plates spread over the CPU/GPU and VRMs/MOSFETs. Asus even added a thermal pad on top of the SSD to keep the drive’s temperatures low.
As explained above, this cooling implementation is mostly capable of squeezing excellent performance out of the components, aside from the Silent profile. It does so by running noisy, though. On Turbo, the fans hit 49-50 dB at head-level with games and demanding loads, while on Performance they average about 46-47 dB. That’s an improvement over the older Scar II, but still high noise levels by today’s standards and you’ll pretty much need headphones to cover them up while playing games.
The noise drops to 40-41 dB on Silent while running games, but as shown above, that’s not something we could reliably do on this unit. You should use the laptop on Silent/Performance with daily use, though, in which case the fans remain active, but spin fairly inaudibly at around 36-40 dB.
We did, however, notice a fair bit of electronic grinding that takes over once the fans quiet down. Unfortunately, that’s been a known issue for most current performance laptops, but it stands out on this unit more than on others.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix on Edge for 30 minutes, fans on Auto (36-40 dB)
*Load Tweaked Turbo – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Tweaked Turbo profile, fans on Auto (49-50 dB)
For connectivity, there’s an Intel 9560 2×2 Wireless AC implementation inside this laptop, with Bluetooth 5.0, as well as Gigabit Lan through a Realtek module. We’ve mostly used our sample on wireless, and it performed well both near the router and at 30+ feet away, with obstacles in between. By now, though, this is previous-gen technology and not as fast as the WiFi 6 implementations on the late-2019 notebooks.
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 went with larger chambers than on the ROG Scar II or the ROG Zephyrus, and as a result, we measured high volumes of 82-84 dB at head-level, and the sound comes out clean and fairly reach. We didn’t notice any obvious distortions or vibrations, and the bass was noticeable from around 85 Hz. All out tests were conducted on the Music profile from the Sonic Studio III app that comes includes in Armoury Crate.
Finally, Asus completely ditched the webcam for the ROG Scar III, much like on the 2019 Zephyrus lineups. However, they don’t include one in the pack either. You do get internal microphones, though, placed beneath the screen in a position that can easily pick unwanted keyboard chatter.
All the ROG Scar GL531 models get an averagely sized 66 Wh battery. There’s Nvidia Optimus to tame the GPU with daily use, and the screen automatically switches to 60 Hz while the laptop is unplugged, but even so, you’re not going to get very long runtimes on this product.
Here’s what we got in our test, with the screen set at 40% brightness, which is roughly 120 nits:
- 14 W (~4 h 40 min of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Silent Power Profile, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13 W (~5 h of use) – 1080p Youtube fullscreen in Edge, Silent Power Profile, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.5 W (~5+ h of use) – 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Edge, Silent Power Profile, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13 W (~5 h of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Silent Power Profile, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 22 W (~3h of use) – browsing in Edge, Performance Power Profile, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 42 W (~1 h 30 min of use) – Gaming – Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Performance Power Profile, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON.
Asus pairs this configuration with a 230 Wh power brick. It’s averagely sized and the European version weighs around 1.76 lbs (.8 kg), including cables. A full battery charge takes a little under 2 hours.
Price and availability
The Asus ROG Strix Scar III GL531GW is available in most regions of the world as of October 2019.
The most widely spread configuration includes the Core i7-9750H processor, 16 GB of RAM (2x 8 GB), the RTX 2070 8GB graphics chip and a 1 TB NVMe SSD, as well as the 240Hz matte screen, for an MSRP of $2299 in the US. However, you can often find this selling for as low as $1900, and probably even less towards the Holiday season.
There are multiple configurations available in Europe, with the mid-level ones starting at 1900 EUR. However, that’s with less storage and with a 120 Hz IPS screen.
Some shops also bundle the laptop with a mouse/mousepad and a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
The 2019 ROG Strix SCAR III is a complete revamp of the previous Scar II models. As mentioned from the beginning, Asus acknowledged the thermal/performance limitations of the previous generation, especially in the GW versions with RTX 2070 graphics, and designed a product that no longer compromises on these crucial matters.
You should still undervolt the CPU on this variant, but once that’s done, both the CPU and GPU run at 5-7 degrees cooler than on the Scar II GL504GW, on the Tweaked profiles. For comparison, the thinner ROG Zephyrus GX502 runs hotter, especially on the CPU side, and the larger MSI GE75 Raider barely runs within 2-3 degrees cooler on its MaxBoost fan profile. These kinds of performance and thermals come with a price, though: fan noise. The fans rise to about 50 dB at head-level, which is on par with other full-size gaming laptops and even a little quieter than some of the 2018/2017 models, but you’ll still need headphones to cover them up.
Asus does offer competent software that allows to juggle with the performance/thermals and noise by opting between the Turbo/Performance/Silent profiles. For reasons that I couldn’t’ figure out, our sample throttled badly on Silent, and that didn’t happen on past ROG laptops. They ran slower and hotter in this mode, but without completely ruining the gaming experience.
With those out of the way, potential buyers of the ROG Scar III would also have to make due with some of its other aspects. For instance, it’s a fairly large, thick and heavy computer, so not the easiest to carry around every day. It also doesn’t get a very bright screen or a large battery and lacks certain IO options, like a card-reader or Thunderbolt 3. On top of all these, I didn’t get along that well with the keyboard on this notebook. Although it looks identical to the one on the ROG Zephyrus models, it felt different in daily use, more unforgiving and unprecise.
So at the end of the day, this is an excellent choice for those who primarily favor performance and thermals in a notebook that would rarely leave your desk. If that’s you, there are few other alternatives out there, like the MSI GE65 Raider or perhaps the Aorus 15, each with their strong points and flaws.
However, if you’d rather get a more balanced computer, something a little more compact and easier to carry around, something that can last longer on a charge and still offer great performance with games, I’d go with the ROG Zephyrus S GX502 instead. Yes, it runs hotter and even noisier when pushed, but it’s a better all-rounder, it includes GSync and it’s not a lot more expensive.
With that in mind, we’ll wrap up this review of the Asus ROG Scar III GL531GW here. The comments section is open for your feedback and questions, though, so get in touch.