If you’re a PC gamer who needs a machine with serious specs but you don’t want to give up portability, then the ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VS is a laptop to consider. ASUS has managed to pack all the same specs in a smaller footprint in a 15″ form factor, compared to the 17″ form factor of its larger sibling, (the ASUS ROG STRIX GL702V (reviewed previously). If the GL702V and ASUS ROG GR8 II (read our review) are any indication, the $1,699 GL502VS should impress with its ability to power through the latest games.
The GL502VS is the top-spec model in this size and comes suitably equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, clocked at 2.8 GHz, which boosts to 3.8 GHz when needed. Assisting the i7 is 16 GB of DDR4 RAM at a clock speed of 2400M Hz. As with its larger sibling, the GL502VS is also upgradeable to 32GB if needed at a later date.
One of the most important specs in a gaming machine is the GPU and in this area, ASUS has certainly delivered. They have stuffed a GTX 1070 boasting 8 GB of GDDR5 VRAM into this laptop, giving it one of the best performing graphics cards in the mobile space. To ensure that games look great, this monster GPU has been coupled with a 15.6″ screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution running at 120 Hz with support for NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology. Outputs include an HDMI port and a Mini Display Port in case you want to use an external monitor.
To ensure short load times, you’ll find a 128 GB M.2 SATA drive for the operating system, alongside a 1 TB 2.5″ 5400 RPM mechnaical hard drive. Connectivity is provided by an Intel 8260AC Wi-Fi card which delivers 2×2 streams of 802.11AC and adds Bluetooth 4.2 to the mix. Gigabit wired connectivity is also available via a flip down port on the left side of the laptop. All of this is packaged into a chassis just over 30 mm tall and 2.3 kg in weight.
ASUS ROG lineup has typically been polarizing in terms of visual aesthetic. ROG components have typically favoured red on black (Myst Black) colour schemes with angular plastic covers. The GL502VS deviates somewhat from this tradition by also offering an “Armor Titanium” and red colour scheme, which was the model I received. A pair of red LED accents on the lid flank the ROG logo in the center. The angular motif remains through the base, most evident on the underside of the laptop.
The back lit, chicklet-style keyboard may be the most divisive element of the GL502VS. The back-light features three brightness levels in addition to being disabled, the WASD keys have red edges to allow for easier identification, and the W key has a raised nub to help your finger locate the key while gaming. I found the keys too soft, the font difficult to read easily, and the dedicated ROG button was annoyingly placed. I often overshot the backspace key and would up launching the ROG Gaming Center. The key can be disabled in the accompanying ROG Gaming Center application but I’d rather it be located a different place and remain usable.
The ROG Gaming Center is one of the few pieces of software pre-installed on the GL502VS. Additionally, ASUS includes XSplit Gamecaster, Splendid for display tweaks, and Sonic Radar and Sonic Studio for audio. ROG Gaming Center also includes a shortcut to the GeForce Experience for GPU driver updates and settings. For some reason, ROG Gaming Center did not show CPU stats though everything else worked well.
At idle, the GL502VS’s GPU sits around 45°C to 47°C which is a bit higher than the number Terry saw on the GL702V in his review. Ambient air temp may play a factor but likely the difference is largely due to the GL502VS having the same specs in a smaller footprint.
Exploring the demon-infested Martian landscapes in Doom resulted in the GL502VS holding steady at the 60 FPS cap. Even in the thick of battling a wave of demons, the GL502VS didn’t miss a beat which is more than I can say for my aim. The area around the vents did get warm but not uncomfortably so.
In the PCMark 10 test the GL502VS scored an impressive 4,714 which is not surprising, given that this laptop has top end specs. GPU temperatures did get up to 77°C during the rendering section of the test and the fan noise was quite noticeable once 70°C was exceeded. In the 3D Mark Fire Strike benchmark the GL502VS racked up a score of 12,824, falling between the scores of the GL702V and the ROG GR8 II. Unigen’s Superposition benchmark resulted in scores of 7948 on high settings and 3317 on extreme settings. The detail and ray tracing in the Superposition benchmark looked life-like on the GL502VS’s screen.
All of this computing power does come at a cost to battery life. Light use brought 3-4 hours of battery life or a couple of days in sleep whereas heavy use produced less than 2 hours before the warning prompts to plug in appeared.
SummaryIf you are looking for a truly portable yet very powerful gaming laptop the ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VS merits serious consideration. The GL502VS is a solid performer while remaining a more compact and less costly version of the GL702V making it easy to throw in a messenger bag or backpack to game on the go.
As with many gaming laptops you’ll want to sit near an outlet when playing games but the GL502VS makes an excellent choice for LAN parties or getting together at a friend’s house.