This year, at CES 2023, there was a new round in the development of gaming laptops. Some manufacturers suddenly increased the standard displays of their laptops, adding literally an inch to the most popular formats of 15 and 17-inch gaming models. Now we have something in between – 16 inches, but really big at 18. The ROG Strix SCAR line did not do without a trend update, and now it will also offer models in new sizes (while keeping the standard ones). Along with this, such laptops are equipped with new flagship processors and graphics cards and also have significant additions for displays. Using ROG Strix SCAR 16 as an example, we will see what such novelties are capable of.
ROG Strix SCAR 17 SE specifications
|ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 16 (G634J)
|IPS, 16”, resolution 2560×1600, aspect ratio 16:10, frequency 240 Hz
|Intel Core i9-13980HX
|32 GB DDR5-4800
|NVIDIA GeForce 4080 (12 GB)
|HDMI 2.1, 2×USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 4, RJ-45 (2,5), 3.5 mm combo jack
|Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth 5.2
|Acoustic system with 4 speakers and a microphone
|Island-type keys with RGB illumination
|Battery and charging
|90 Wh, main power supply unit – 330 W, additional – 100 W
ROG Strix SCAR 16 kit
Unlike many other manufacturers, ASUS cares about pleasant feelings when unpacking a laptop. It’s not often you have to pay attention to things like this in reviews, but the unpacking really made a seemingly normal day at work more interesting. A large black box, larger than some suitcases, contains a branded backpack and another box. It not only looks cool from the outside but also opens in a non-standard way. It added a bit of intrigue to an already seemingly very ordinary process.
But the surprises do not end there. Along with the laptop and the aforementioned backpack, the box comes with two power supplies (powerful/stationary and compact), a removable decorative panel for the top case, and a ROG Gladius III gaming mouse. That is, one could, of course, say that the manufacturer did not provide everything necessary, but against the background of standard configurations, there are enough “bonuses” here. And, most likely, the buyer of such a laptop already has other gadgets.
What you might really need is a hub with more USB-A. This, of course, will not be needed by every user, but sooner or later it may come in handy. We will return to this point a little later.
Design and usability
Having changed the dimensions, the SCAR 16 has minimally updated its appearance. But such updates are hidden in the details, and a person who has not followed the development of the line is unlikely to notice a significant difference in design with previous models. And considering the fact that the company previously managed to bring laptops of this series to a surprisingly good condition, there should be no complaints from fans about the familiar design. In addition, a light facelift was not superfluous here.
You can recognize the new SCARs by the frames of the displays, which no longer have a characteristic cut in the lower part of the screen unit. Previously, there was a backlight under it, which has now been moved to the back of the topcase. This will add atmosphere to a dark room with a slight ambilight effect. The upper part of the top case also remained partially transparent, which I personally like very much against the background of traditional laptops. There are also decorative lines with logos, there are inscriptions, etc. All this corresponds to the style of the laptop and complements its image well. And the lighting along the contour is now bright for an additional accent.
The unusual interchangeable panels next to the hinge also remained part of the design. They can be customized to your liking, and with a 3D printer you can make your own panel for an even more interesting effect (I wouldn’t pass up the bright red one with the Mezha logo, of course). And although it is doubtful that many owners resort to this at all, it is still nice that the manufacturer offers an opportunity for additional self-expression.
The lower part of the case has also not lost its design and looks nicer than most conventional options. And even if it’s not a place that the user constantly sees, it’s still cool that the manufacturer took care of its appearance (it’s like a well-kept engine compartment under the hood of a car, where there are stylized covers, various neat cables, etc.). And, of course, there are a lot of rubber feet that securely hold the laptop on the work surface.
Among the materials, metal, and plastic remained, and I have no complaints about the quality of their assembly. However, any surface of the laptop is very easily covered with traces of hands, which are just as easily removed with microfiber. But for a pleasant look of the laptop, such a cloth should always be kept somewhere nearby.
Probably the only point that I personally do not like are the indicators under the screen. They “moved” a little higher and this time they “look” not up, but directly at the person in front of the laptop. Excessive flickering can interfere, and in general, in 2023, it is already a rudimentary element, especially for such an arrangement. Probably, the manufacturer has a completely different view on this.
In the global sense, minor changes are not very noticeable in everyday use, so SCAR remained a fairly familiar laptop. There are no completely exotic additions with an ultraviolet flashlight or KeyStone, which we saw not so long ago in previous generation, but it does not greatly affect the user experience. Well, when buying a gaming laptop, you should expect that it will not be thin and portable (35.4×26.4×2.26-3.04 cm, 2.5 kg). Although working with him is still very pleasant and relatively convenient.
ROG Strix SCAR 16 ports
Ports for connecting external devices remain a separate advantage of gaming models. On the body of this model, you can see the connector for power, 2.5 gigabit RJ45, HDMI 2.1, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 4 and a combo jack for a headset on the left, and two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 on the right. There are two things here that can affect usability although not in all cases.
First, I’m much more comfortable with some of the ports (power, HDMI, Ethernet, etc., especially with the usually thick and awkward cables) located behind the topcase. ROG has already practiced this before. Secondly, there are only two USB-A, and both are located on the right, where they can be attached to the mouse during games or work (if the user is not left-handed). For such a case, I used the hub. Another one will be needed if you need to connect more accessories at the same time (mouse, microphone, wireless headset, etc.). Many new models of accessories are no longer necessarily connected via USB-A, but changing already existing gadgets just because there are not enough ports in the laptop sounds expensive.
ROG Strix SCAR 16 display
Some updates have reached the SCAR screens as well, and they have received a new name – ROG Nebula HDR Display. There are not many options for our model. This is a 16-inch matrix with a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10. The increase in the screen has definitely benefited the user experience. Users who previously worked on, say, 15-inch laptops with 16:9, will not have to get used to such an increase in size for a long time. It is much more pleasant to work this way. Even the frames in the display, as for a game model, are quite neat.
Indeed, this is a fast matrix, the refresh rate of which reaches 240 Hz, and the response speed is 3 ms. The system allows you to disable acceleration and refresh rate to save energy, but I personally never had such a desire, because it has a noticeable effect on the comfort of work, especially when working with a large amount of different content. Not to mention the games.
But that’s not the most interesting thing either. The matrix has a Mini LED backlight. And there is a lot of it here, as evidenced by HDR support. The colorimeter showed from 112 to 924 cd/m² in the Mini LED mode, and from 58 to 569 cd/m² in the normal mode. This is probably a record among what I have seen in laptops. Even with a matte finish, as players need. But, unfortunately, such a screen has its own peculiarities: most likely, Windows is not yet well prepared for a large number of dimming zones, so large halos around bright objects on a dark background may be visible in the system interface and applications. Fortunately, the effect is barely noticeable when viewing HDR content. And with such a reserve of display illumination, the possibility of automatic brightness adjustment is greatly lacking.
The second problem that is noticeable during operation is significant fluctuations in the calibration of the image (which may be a problem of the test sample itself). In the settings, you can find many display modes for different genres of games, movies, etc., as well as several color profiles. Among them, the closest to the desired is the saturated color mode (Vivid) in combination with the sRGB profile (as in the measurements below). In other cases, gamut and color coverage may suffer. But with the specified combination, the image looks good and is pleasant for work and games.
Measurements in Vivid mode with sRGB profile:
In general, the display is still not bad, and after understanding its features, you can find the right set of settings for your own preferences and different situations. It might be a bit more difficult for design or photo/video users. But the average user of such laptops should be satisfied with the image.
Manipulators and multimedia
I traditionally liked ROG Strix SCAR 16 keyboard. This is a full-sized version of the island type, only without the NUM block (although it is in the trackpad). Separately, there are dedicated keys for controlling the sound, operating mode and calling the proprietary ARMOURY CRATE application, the functions of which can be changed if necessary. But you need to get used to one thing – the media playback control keys, which are located on the right edge of the keyboard. Those users who work without looking at the keyboard can sometimes hit, for example, Play instead of Backspace (as it happened to me).
But otherwise, it’s one of the best keyboards I’ve ever worked with. Two-millimeter key stroke, clear mechanisms with quick operation, pleasant and not too loud sound — all this allows you to work and play comfortably. And, of course, there is RGB lighting with a set of different modes and the possibility of synchronization and personal customization.
The 130×85 mm trackpad located in the center under the keyboard, as mentioned above, has the function of a virtual NUM block. For the case when the mouse is not at hand, it will be perfect for normal work. There were no problems with positioning or recognizing gestures. In addition, it did not need to be turned off during games, because in such a position it did not interfere at all.
In addition, the kit offers the ROG Gladius III branded asymmetric mouse. Personally, it reminded me of the almost legendary Razer DeathAdder, although symmetrical controllers are more convenient for me. The dimensions of the Gladius III body are 126×67×45 mm, and the weight is 79 grams. The mouse will also offer an optical sensor with a resolution of 26,000 DPI, new Push-Fit Switch Socket II switches, a soft and very comfortable Paracord cable (2 m long), as well as illumination of not only the logo and the wheel, but also the decorative inscriptions on the left sidewalls (quite original).
The situation with the sound is also not bad. The laptop has four speakers, two of which are placed under the screen and two more in a standard position on the bottom panel, closer to the user. This makes the sound more voluminous. Unfortunately, these are still not the best speakers possible, but at the same time, they are among the best that can be found in gaming laptops. Of course, ardent music lovers will not like listening to music. But for accompanying movies or videos, listening to new releases on Spotify or playing games without headphones, they will be enough. Yes, the quality could really be better, so headphones or external speakers will still be needed. On the other hand, compared to most, the speakers are really good.
ASUS is also returning webcams to gaming lines. Some models did without them for some time. Unfortunately, the miracle didn’t happen and it’s still a mediocre webcam with HD resolution that won’t be able to provide images at the level of the front camera of even a mediocre smartphone. But it is already there, and it will be enough for work calls or communication with loved ones. But what I would really like to add are infrared sensors for facial recognition (or a fingerprint scanner in the power button). Why this moment is missed in gaming laptops, even in the high-price category, is still a mystery to me.
Next to the camera are two microphones. At first, it may seem that they “hear” too much and are not of very high quality. But in the settings of the Realtek Audio Console, there are items with noise reduction, which will really leave only the voice of the owner and isolate all extraneous sounds. Of course, they will not compete with the quality of external microphones, but for normal (not gaming or professional) use, they will be completely fine.
Performance and software
The Ukrainian department of ROG offers several configuration options for the Strix SCAR 16 model. The cheaper one has Intel Core i5-13450HX, NVIDIA GeForce RTX4050, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage. The more expensive one is much more interesting – i9-13980HX, RTX4080, 32 GB of RAM, and a terabyte of permanent memory. At the same time, these configurations have the same other components, along with dual-band Wi-Fi 6E 2×2 and Bluetooth 5.2. (Though the cheaper model only has two speakers.) In other countries, there are more options available.
The test specimen has a 24-core Intel Core i9-13980HX (8 powerful cores up to 5.6 GHz, 16 energy-saving up to 4 GHz, 36 MB cache, up to 65 W), NVIDIA GeForce RTX4080 (12 GB GDDR6, up to 2330 MHz, up to 175 W), 32 GB RAM DDR5-4800 (with support for up to 64 GB) and a terabyte of PCIe 4.0 NVMe. With both RAM and storage, the user is given options for custom additions and configuration changes.
As before, SCAR has several modes of operation, but here it has its own peculiarities. For example, Turbo mode will give the processor 55 W of voltage, and to get the maximum, you need to set the necessary parameter manually. There are also several modes for the graphics card, including Ultimate, in which the system will not even switch to integrated graphics (Intel UHD Graphics) during simple tasks. This, of course, will not add battery life points, but should add a few frames in games, because then the image is output directly from the discrete graphics card (the same NVIDIA Advanced Optimus technologies with MUX Switch). But at the same time, you can choose the required number of active cores in the settings if you want to save as much energy as possible.
So, choosing the most powerful preset from the manufacturer and turning on the powerful power supply, we tried to run the usual set of tests, which did not disappoint. There is a significant increase in all indicators (except for the drive, which was not slow before), compared to a similar configuration of the previous generation.
When working only from the battery, the laptop does not have such exceptional capabilities, but it will still provide better performance than ordinary “office” models (even more so, with such a configuration). At the same time, I personally did not feel a particular difference during everyday work both with and without the mains. Well, this is hardly a frequent case for such systems, when maximum power is required and there is no outlet available. In any case, you can comfortably work on ordinary tasks or watch a TV series on the way.
|3DMark (CPU Profile, max threads)
|CineBench R23 (single/multi core)
|2 103/29 411
|1 560/14 868
The gaming benchmarks were also pleasing. In each of the tested games, at high graphics settings and full display resolution, you can see more FPS than last year’s models. Such a laptop will allow you to turn off performance indicators and simply play most games at maximum image quality settings. Or look for balanced options and once again get pleasantly high performance indicators. In any case, such a system is absolutely capable of replacing a desktop computer (albeit at a higher final cost).
- CS:GO — 360+
- PUBG — 150
- GTA V — 136
- Shadow of the Tomb Rider — 151
- Metro Exodus — 129
- Cyberpunk 2077 — 82/100 (2560х1440/Full HD)
Ironically, the system stability test was the only thing that, sorry for the tautology, was not stable. Therefore, it is difficult to say exactly about the absence of throttling at the moment. But according to my own feelings, even after a couple of hours in the game, it was not possible to see any problems with performance. At the same time, the system behaves well regardless of the loads and tasks: you can spend a couple of hours in the game, return to work for a few hours, play some more, while changing the performance modes and some settings, and always get the expected behavior from the computer.
The cooling system has been updated. Now there are 7 pipes, three fans, and a vapor chamber and liquid metal Conductonaut Extreme (Thermal Grizzly). There are also plenty of outlets for hot air. And all this gives results. But due to such components as in this model, the user will have to put up with the constant operation of the cooling system. Yes, in office mode, the fans are very quiet and practically do not interfere, but they still work. The temperature of the CPU in this case was at the level of 50-55°C, and the working surface remained cool. But with the load, the cooling system is clearly audible (therefore, it is better to play wearing headphones). And in such conditions, you can heat the insides up to 90°C and relatively quickly melt the candy next to the ventilation holes. And in this mode, you can feel the warmth under your hands, but there will be no discomfort from it at all.
The situation with additional software has not changed for a long time. Among the programs needed for laptop settings are the well-known MyASUS and ARMOURY CRATE. It is through them that you can change the battery behavior settings, get updates, adjust the backlight, choose operating modes and display colors… Of course, it would be more convenient if the manufacturer had one unified solution for all laptops (or left MyASUS for ZenBook, and ARMOURY CRATE for game lines) so as not to search for separate settings in different applications. But there are no objections to their work.
ROG Strix SCAR 16 battery life
The latest generations of Intel have become much better at dealing with the battery life of laptops. Especially gaming ones, which have always suffered from excessive energy consumption. ROG Strix SCAR 16 didn’t get the record battery capacity — 90 Wh — but it still has some charge to work with. In the daily office routine with energy-saving mode and with comfortable backlight settings, the SCAR 16 lost 15-20% per hour, and watching a two-hour movie could cost the batteries a third of the reserve. But you and I remember that gaming laptops are still not bought for long battery life. Here it is more of a bonus than a necessity.
Regardless of the activated backlight mode, it lasted almost 7 hours in the office test, which is very cool for such a configuration. It is also worth noting that in Mini LED mode, the minimum brightness of the display is higher than the standard value of 100 cd/m² for our tests. And it is worth considering that the high level of brightness of the display will also significantly reduce the time of operation without connected power. No miracle happened with the game test, but there is still a small progress – 1 hour and 20 minutes.
It is nice that two power supplies are also provided for different situations. The gaming one has a power of 330 W and weighs 1.1 kg. Yes, it will add weight to the backpack, if you need it with you. With it, a fully discharged battery can be charged in an hour and a half. The “portable” version will provide only 100 W and, of course, it will not use the most productive operating modes. But it weighs only 400 grams and has USB-C, which will also allow you to charge, for example, a smartphone or other gadget. And it takes 2 hours and 10 minutes to fully charge the laptop battery with it.