While dedicated PC gamers have traditionally preferred a desktop rig for the greatest gaming experience, the increasing power of mobile devices are starting to blur the lines.
Take the ASUS ROG STRIX GL702 17″ Gaming Laptop for example. This reasonably svelte device packs an Intel Core i7 7700HQ processor, up to 32 GB RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, sporting 8GB GDDR5 VRAM. It’s the kind of premium firepower that manufacturers couldn’t have hoped to have packed into a mobile device until recently. But ASUS knows a thing or two about small form factor gaming.
For proof, take a look at the ASUS ROG GR8 Gaming Desktop I reviewed earlier in the year. Good looks, compact dimensions and powerful performance – everything you need in a small format gaming PC. So the ASUS ROG STRIX GL702V comes from a good stable – let’s see how it runs.
Priced at a little under $2000 for this top-spec model, the GL702VS arrives ready for action. The highly-capable 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core offers a burst speed up to 3.8 GHz with 16 GB DDR4 RAM (2400 MHz) in support. While most should find the base RAM to offer more than enough horsepower for games, you can double up to 32 GB RAM in the future.
Of course, a strong gaming devices relies on a competent GPU. ASUS has somehow managed to slot in an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with 8 GB GDDR5 VRAM. It’s not the most potent GPU on the planet, but is only a couple of notches down from the best and has the power to drive most modern games at very high settings.
They’ll be played on an integrated 17.3″ 1920 x 1080p monitor supporting a 16:9 aspect ratio. Running at 120Hz, the panel supports NVIDIA G-Sync for stability with a matte, anti-glare coating boosting visibility.
From a storage perspective, you’ll find twin drives available for operating system, games and apps. A 512 GB M.2 SATA drive promises to boot Windows and start games at pace while a 1 TB 2.5″ traditional spinner offers a wealth of space for your gaming library.
The benefit of a 17″ laptop is that there’s plenty of room for connectivity – no expensive peripheral docks required! An SD card slot, 3 USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a USB 3.1 Type-C port is joined by a single Thunderbolt 3 port (via USB Type-C) offering scope to further upgrade your experience via an external GPU. A choice of HDMI and Mini Display Port ports allow you to hook up to a larger monitor and there’s the usual 3.5 mm Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack, integrated microphone and speaker.
Add Gigabit Ethernet, integrated 801.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4, and you have a very capable mobile gaming platform indeed.
So, a 17″ laptop with monster specs. This thing isn’t going to be pretty, right? Well, compared to today’s razor thin laptops, the GL702 carries a little heft but ASUS have done what they can to shape a good-looking device. At 2.9 kg it’s also not the lightest, but shouldn’t give you a back problem when carried in a decent bag.
A brushed aluminium top, with red illuminated accents adds premium style but a plastic base cheapens the feel of the device, somewhat.
Open the lid and you’ll see there’s room for a full size, illuminated, chiclet-style keyboard with a number pad. You don’t get the kind of travel you receive from a mechanical gaming keyboard, so if you’re more used to a desktop gaming keyboard, expect a period of adjustment.
On a practical note, while you may love the look of ASUS’ Republic of Gamers branding, the heavily-styled typeface is tough to read on a keyboard, particularly in red out of black. Maybe I’m just getting old… There are small design flourishes to notice however – the traditional WASD direction keys benefit from a little extra illumination
Credit to ASUS, the pre-installed Windows 10 Home build is relatively clear (although nowadays unwanted demos, adverts and other crapware tends to be a gift from Microsoft rather than the OEM). There are a number of typical ASUS ROG apps – a ROG Gaming Center providing system diagnostics, the GameFirst IV network optimiser, XSplit Gamecaster, audio tweaking software and an ASUS support app, but otherwise there’s nothing too obtrusive.
NVIDIA GPU updates are handled by the GeForce Experience app, which also provides suggested and automated configurations for an expanding library of games, alongside streaming support and more.
When it comes to performance, the powerful components housed in the ASUS GL702V do take their toll on performance. With light use, you can expect to get 3-4 hours from a full charge, but under heavy load, the laptop was ready to shut down before the two-hour mark.
An idle CPU temperature of 42°C is a little concerning but understandable given the compact form factor and limited, fan-assisted cooling. Similarly, the GeForce GTX 1070 was measured at 40°C while idling. Ambient noise from the fans at idle is noticeable but not distracting.
I then fired up some synthetic benchmarks to see how GL702V coped under load. A score of 4934 in PCMark 10 shows, as you’d probably expect, that this powerful laptop makes short work of typical home and office tasks. Even better news is that the device didn’t break a sweat delivering the goods on those office tasks,although temperatures exceeded 93°C during the graphic workouts. As you’d expect, fan noise increased in line with the additional heat but while I’m a little uncomfortable seeing the CPU temperatures exceed 90°C, the fan noise never became unbearable.
A 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark of 13107 is extremely good for a laptop, easily beating the ASUS GR8 II compact gaming desktop I tested earlier in the year. Real world performance was similarly impressive and the GL702V’s 120 Hz monitor really shone, with beautiful color rendition and noticeable depth.
At 1080p, the notebook managed to play the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, Tomb Raider and Overwatch with ease at very high settings, hitting a fluid 50-60 FPS average. Further optimisations can be made with NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience app, which automatically balances frame rate and graphic quality based on in-house testing by the GPU specialist.
One issue to mention in passing is that during my time with the GL706V is did experience a couple of blackscreen issues where I was forced to reboot the laptop. I’m assuming this is a video driver issue and one that will (hopefully) be sorted out via a future driver update. But it took the edge off an otherwise impressive performance.
SummaryIf you need a large, high performance laptop for gaming on the go, then the ASUS ROG STRIX GL702V 17″ Gaming Laptop offers everything you need for a great experience – at a price. There’s no doubt that ASUS has packed this notebook with premium components – hence the price tag – but alongside that concern, you’ll also find battery life to be meagre. Don’t expect to enjoy extended gaming sessions on the road without a power socket nearby.
Heat output and fan noise will definitely rise the more you push this device – this is cutting-edge technology in a compact chassis, after all. You won’t find the keyboard gets too hot, but the top edge of the chassis certainly warms up after a while. But as a mobile PC you can take to friends’ homes and elsewhere for LAN parties, the GL702V is an accomplished performer.