Asus ROG Strix GL502

In the world of the best gaming laptops, we’ve seen a ton of competitors like the Razer Blade and the MSI GS65 Stealth all vying to create the thinnest gaming machines. The concept of the gaming laptop that’s thin and light enough to travel with is extremely compelling. And, for years, we had to compromise in power to get a portable gaming machine.

Those days are over now that the Asus ROG Strix GL502 has arrived. It’s one of the first ultra-light gaming laptops that managed to find a balance between power and portability. With its 1.2-inch frame, this 15.6-inch laptop comes loaded with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 and 8GB of VRAM – a graphics card that used to be exclusive to hulks like the Gigabyte P57X.

Beyond its raw components, though, the Asus ROG Strix GL502 delivers on all fronts with a colorful screen, various inputs – and flashy aesthetics.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Design

Asus has slowly been edging its way away from the done-to-death black and red color scheme found on most gaming laptops. Instead of crimson highlights, the GL502 has orange trim accenting its black paint job. It's not a grand departure like the titanium and copper design found on the Asus ROG GX700 and ROG G752, but it's a start.

Though, we almost wish Asus would have stuck to the purely black and red motif, as the keyboard backlighting is still red.

Aside from the new paintjob, Asus has seriously upped the profile of this machine with a new look that's in line with the rest of its ROG series. Whereas the Asus ROG G501 closely copied the MacBook Pro look, the GL502 stands on its own with an attractive and aggressive design.

Brushed aluminum screen lids are fairly common on gaming laptops, and so, you'll also find one on this Strix machine. But, the GL502 also features an extra flat edge stamped with the Republic of Gamers tagline. 

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

The rest of the chassis is made out of plastic, which might seem disappointing at first, but it feels solid as any full-metal gaming laptop. What's more, Asus has given the keyboard deck a similar brushed finish to its top lid, while the underside carries a mechanical design etched into the panel.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

There's a load of branding here, between the Strix logo cut into the keyboard deck and Republic of Gamers featured prominently on the top and bottom of the laptop, but you can't deny that there isn't a single boring side to this 15-inch beauty.

Beyond looks, the Strix's largely plastic exterior also helps keep weight down to a mere 4.9-pounds (2.22kg). To put that in perspective, it's more than a half pound heavier than the Razer Blade and MSI GS60 Ghost Pro but the Strix features higher-spec parts. Still there are heavier 15-inch laptops like the Alienware 15 and the 5.29-pounds (2.4kg) Gigabyte P35X v5.

It's also isn't the world's thinnest gaming laptop measuring in at 15.35 x 10.47 x 1.2 inches (38.99 x 26.59 x 2.34 cm; W x D x H) – 0.3-inches thicker than its Maxwell-powered predecessor – but this is largely to make room for a much more efficient cooling system.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Beware of blast

Ultra-thin gaming laptops haven't been the coolest of customers. More often than not, they either get excruciatingly hot, moo like a cow with loud fans or end up throttling components to stop the whole machine from melting itself down. Asus is the first company to make sure its svelte gaming machine is adequately cooled without any of those downsides.

On the rear edge of the GL502, you'll find two thick heatsinks, and they're not just painted orange for show. This large exhaust system pushes out a constant stream of air hot enough it could double as a space heater. Internally the laptop features Asus' new 'dual thermal design,' which runs two separate lines of copper heat pipes and fans to cool the CPU and GPU individually.

Thanks to this efficient cooling system, the GL502 never really gets toasty on your lap, and the fan noise doesn't get too rowdy either. Heck, you might even find a use for all the hot air coming out the back to keep your coffee hot.

The Asus ROG Strix GL502 can be configured with a variety of components. But, with a starting price of $1,399 (about £1,055, AU$1,850), it definitely isn't a budget buy even if it nets you a 1TB hard drive disk (HDD) and 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060. For a slightly lower price, you can get the highest-end version of the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 or Lenovo Ideapad Y700, but you'll be limited to the Nvidia GTX 960M for graphics.

The configuration you see below will run you $1,699 (about £1,280, AU$1,055) , which is a considerable bargain compared to the $2,199 or AU$3,299 (about £1,649) you would pay for a comparable Razer Blade with a 3K screen.

Unfortunately, the version of the ROG Strix GL502 we reviewed here appears to have been discontinued, but, we still expect it to be included with all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday laptop deals that are rapidly approaching. You might not find it new, but you’ll be able to get your hands on a refurbished model for cheap. 

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Performance

The Asus ROG Strix GL502 is a rock star when it comes to Full HD gaming, For the last few weeks, we've been using the 15-inch notebook as our primary Hitman playing system, and it's been an absolute joy with the settings turned all the way up for a near constant 60 frames per second (fps) frame rate.

With Doom, a much more intense first-person shooter game, I was able to kick the graphical settings up to Ultra and see a steady 60 fps runtime as well. Deus Ex Mankind Divided was the only title that protested against me pushing the Strix to its limits, however, this issue likely stemmed from the buggy PC port rather than Asus' hardware.

Nvidia's next generation Pascal graphics offer a considerable jump up in power and the results are startling in our benchmarks results.

Backing up the claims we just made, our benchmarks show the Nvidia GTX 1070 virtually doubles the gaming potential of the GL502. The Division and GTA V play at much faster and smoother frame rates, thanks to the Pascal bump.

Of course this shouldn't be too surprising when the Nvidia GTX 1070 comes from a newer architecture, features 2GB more video RAM and is meant to replace the Nvidia GTX 980M.

Nvidia GTX 970M-powered gaming laptops, like the Aorus X3 v3 and Razer Blade. In more than a few cases – including the most intensive 3D Mark and GTA V benchmark tests – the Strix completely blows Maxwell out of the water.

Asus also has a much better cooling system to take into account. It's more than likely that both the Razer and Aorus were buckling under throttling constraints when we ran these challenging benchmark tests.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Battery woes

While Nvidia promised its new Pascal architecture would deliver gaming laptops with 30% better battery life, we're not seeing the claims hold true with the Asus GL502. Lasting for a maximum of 2 hours and 52 minutes while playing Guardians of the Galaxy on loop at 50% brightness, the Pascal-powered Strix runs out of juice much faster than it's Maxwell-equipped predecessor.

Rather than turning in a average run time of 5 hours and 14 minutes, the GL502 joins the three-hour-or-shorter run club alongside other other power hungry gaming laptops.

With regular usage, expect to get between three to four hours of battery life, if you're not doing much and being extremely conservative about the screen brightness.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Screen and speakers

While battery life is a mild disappointment, the quality of the screen and speakers on the GL502 are impeccable. We've pretty much adored the screen on every Asus device from the ZenBook series to the company's most affordable Chromebook, but the vibrancy of colors seen on the Strix is on a whole other level.

Hues are represented brightly and distinctly on the 15-inch screen, and then a helping splash of rich contrast elevates image quality even higher.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Visuals are only the half of it. The Asus ROG GL502 also sounds excellent, thanks to a pair of surprisingly powerful speakers. Though they might only look like two tiny slivers on the side of the keyboard deck, the tweeters on this system can push out plenty of sound, representing the cacophonous battles in Overwatch handily.

Efficient cooling has been the biggest hurdle for thin gaming laptops to get over. While MSI, Razer, Gigabyte and more have been trying to crack the code, Asus has done a stellar job of shrinking down the 15-inch gaming laptop to a more portable size and squeezing in the performance we expect from a much larger machine.

We liked

The Asus ROG Strix GL502 is stylish without out being overtly obnoxious about it. Beyond its sharp looks, there aren't many other gaming laptops this thin and light that can be equipped with an 8GB Nvidia GTX 1070. Even with a 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060, this machine more than kills it with Full HD gaming now and for years to come. Plus, there's the super vibrant screen and potent speakers help round out the entertainment experience with this amazing machine.

We disliked

The biggest detraction we can give this 15-inch gaming laptop is battery life, three-to-four-hour battery life is unpleasant considering the nearly six hour usage we got out of its predecessor. Once again, you'll have to worry about being left hanging like other machines that only last for three hours and keep you anchored to the plug.

Asus ROG Strix GL502 review

Final verdict

It's rare for us to be this thoroughly impressed with a gaming laptop. Aside from the knock against battery life, there's not much wrong with the Asus ROG Strix GL502. In fact, almost everything else about the machine is stellar, from its crisp keyboard and loud speakers to its stunning screen for a solid Full HD gaming experience. This is one of the best all-around gaming laptops we've ever reviewed, hands down, and we recommend it if you're in the market for a solid mobile PC gaming system.



from TechRadar - Technology Reviews http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/laptops-portable-pcs/laptops-and-netbooks/asus-rog-strix-gl502-1326519/review