I’ve reviewed a bunch of laptops this year, some of which have been portable powerhouses or have offered a fascinating twist on the conventional design. Fantastic machines with beefy hardware for gaming, but with a more niche focus in mind. That’s all well and good, but sometimes you don’t want fancy technology shifting your attention away from the primary reason for buying a notebook. When you’re business in the streets and high-definition gaming under the sheets, have a tried and tested setup is oftentimes more appealing than a device that packs in an extra screen.
That’s where the Asus ROG Strix SCAR III enters the scene. It’s an absolute unit, an old school bruiser of a machine with specs to match its looks. And if you’re looking for a gaming powerhouse machine that can also help you form a six-pack on each of your vertebrae when you lug it around, it just might be the gaming laptop for you.
Let’s talk looks, or specifically, how the ROG Strix SCAR III is a more blue-collar design than what I’m used to lately. It’s nowhere near as ostentatious as other designs I’ve seen this year, but it’s still a typically Asus laptop when you gaze on it: There’s a subtle selection of lines a faux-aluminum on its chassis, RGB-lighting to remind everyone around you of the ROG branding, and even more lighting around the side that’s admittedly eye-catching stuff.
The keyboard has a nice clickiness to it, the touchpad is your back-up mouse when necessary and also replaces the numpad, and the whole design is capped off in black and grey tones. Stylish, but in a manner that’s wonderfully subtle and about five years into the future with its aesthetics. It’s also a thicc boy, weighing in at 2.85KG and measuring 399(W) x 293 (D) x 26.2(H) mm for the 17-inch model. There’s also a 15” screen that weighs a few grams less, which is exactly the amount of grey matter I’ve sacrificed while pondering why I measure screen size in Imperial and weigh items in metric.
As for inputs? You’ve got a lot of them: Three USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a headphone jack, the necessary power port, another USB Type-C port, an HDMI 2.0B port and a final RJ45 port. Asus also packed a weird little dongle feature into the ROG Strix III, a a physical NFC key which allows you to save your game profiles that you can take with you to other Asus laptops that have a Keystone slot. Which right now, is one other laptop, the Asus ROG Hero III.
It’s a neat but limited idea, although I do like the Shadow Drive idea that you can also access with the Keystone, which allows you to protect sensitive data on a sequestered part of your hard drive. It’s Fort Knox for your most important information, and that’s a bit of physical security that I can easily get behind. The game profile idea though? Nah. Still it’s a bonkers addition that makes me think of Asus as the Lancia of laptop manufacturers: Making stuff that nobody thought of because why the hell not.
Internally is where you can find the heart of the beast:
- Intel Core i7-10875H 10th Gen @ 2.3GHz
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB GDDR6
- 32GB DDR4 RAM
- 1TB SSD
That’s some chunky specs right there, and while you’re not going to be using the superb screen (more on that later) for 4K gaming, whatever you do play is going to work like an absolute treat on this system. What you’re not going to find are superfluous bits of hardware. There’s no webcam because no one wants to see your ugly face anyway (I said while gazing into a mirror), there’s no optical drive because get on the cloud already granddad and there’s nary a slot for an SD card or whatever the hell those PCI express thingies were which I still have on my relic of a Sony laptop.
Can it play games gud?
Yup! As usual I put the laptop through my personal gauntlet of games: Hotline Miami, Oregon Trail, and Final Fantasy 8 Remastered. Once the graphics department got through bludgeoning me with leftover Voodoo 3000 graphics accelerator cards, I applied some heftier games to the testing process. Gears 5, Hellblade Senua’s Saga, and Forza Horizon 4 all ran fantastically as you’d expect from the RTX 2080 card inside, with only the most minor of toggles needed to prioritise frame-rate over all the bells and whistles graphical options.
That being said, running the ROG Strix III at hot levels resulted in some loud venting, so prepare to pop a headset on your head and keep some wienies on the side for instant air-frying if you’re planning to push these hardware specs to the limit. The real treat though is the screen that these games are transmitted on, which happens to be an ungodly IPS panel with 240Hz and 3ms specs attached to it.
It’s not that you’re going to be capable of playing that many games at a frame-rate that would melt your face off, but seeing it in action? It’s smooth beyond words even without Nvidia G-Sync (HOW EVEN?), the colours look amazingly vibrant, and it’s decently-sized to a point where you can actually appreciate what you’re seeing instead of angrily demanding if this is a gaming screen for ants.
Few games can make full use of this technology right now and those games that do will properly risk melting a laptop-sized hole in your desk when they are eventually released, but it’s a nice bit of forward-thinking from Asus when it comes to portable hardware.
There’s not much more to be said for the ROG Strix SCAR III that I haven’t mentioned a dozen times already in other laptop reviews. As a workhorse, it’s a superb device for drafting office documents even if it is a bit of overkill but I don’t care. I actually had this laptop with me when I was testing out the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, and as a capture unit it was bloody impressive to see the gorgeous gameplay of those consoles beautifully translated to the ROG Strix SCAR III screen.
Doing just that only murdered the battery life though, as those captures gave me about 90 minutes of full-power use before I was reminded that I hadn’t plugged it in and it was running on electrical fumes. Still, that’s not too shabby! And in economy mode with some more tinkering, you can easily grab five to six hours of workable time from the device.
Last Updated: November 25, 2020