Hands on with the ROG Zephyrus S and ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704) — slim bezels are a must-have feature in gaming laptop!
ASUS actually flew us to Taiwan to show us their latest laptops in the ROG lineup. The laptops include the ROG Zephyrus S and ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704). These laptops are alike in the way they cram bigger screens into smaller bodies than previously possible, thanks to slim bezel displays. But there’s where the similarities end.
ROG Zephyrus S (GX531)
ROG’s latest “daughter”, as an ROG representative put it, is one cool looking laptop. It’s slimmer, has a smaller footprint, yet packs a powerful six-core CPU and a GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q inside. And we are in love with it (her?) already.
For starters, ASUS used the 1080p 144 Hz 3ms IPS-level display first found in the ROG Strix SCAR/HERO II. This is apparently a screen that ASUS worked closely with AUO to bring better screen-to-body ratio without sacrificing on what gamers need. There is also 100% sRGB coverage so you can enjoy vivid, vibrant colors. Thanks to the slimmer bezels, the ROG Zephyrus S is smaller. Way smaller than a conventional 15.6″ laptop.
But what’s even more interesting was that now the ROG Zephyrus S can actually take advantage of the Intel integrated GPU when it’s running on battery power. Along with that, the screen will also automatically run at a more sedentary 60 Hz to conserve more power. This will help a lot when it comes to battery life, as the ROG Zephyrus and ROG Zephyrus M that came before did not have the ability to do this. Unfortunately this is a feature that will be limited to the newer models with the Armoury Crate software.
The fans been upgraded, with 83 blades per fan. While we didn’t see the fans directly, we saw that the laptop actually raises off the surface less than the original ROG Zephyrus did. 0.2mm less, to be exact. That, coupled with the smaller footprint and reduced height may have caused ASUS’ engineers to decide not to toss in a GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q here like what we saw in the Zephyrus. The ROG Zephyrus S does come with more heatsinks than the ROG Zephyrus does, four heatsinks instead of three in the latter. The keyboard is positioned right at the edge of the body, to allow for intake vents above the keyboard. We didn’t get the opportunity to fire up any games to test its performance though.
Now whether you are comfortable using the keyboard like this is quite subjective, but the keyboard here feels decent. The travel is slightly shorter than your usual gaming keyboard, and for those who want to use the numpad, the trackpad beside it can change into a touch-sensitive numpad. There is Aura Sync here, so you can synchronize the RGB across the range of ROG peripherals in the market.
Speaking of peripherals, there are enough ports to connect them to. You get three USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports and also a rear HDMI 2.0 port. There is no LAN port for wired network connections, but the WiFi 802.11ac 2×2 Wave 2 capabilities of the ROG Zephyrus S should keep even the most demanding users happy.
The ROG Zephyrus S is milled out of a single block of aluminium for better chassis rigidity and durability. We actually got to play with the unpainted lids and they were pretty sturdy. The entire laptop weighs in at just 2.1 kg, pretty light for the performance it packs.
ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704)
When the SCAR II/HERO II laptops were introduced, we were somewhat curious about the missing GL7xx this generation. Well, now it’s here. This laptop might seem very familiar. That’s because it is actually very similar to the ROG Strix SCAR II (GL504GS) that we just recently reviewed and took apart. The main difference is the larger 17.3″ screen crammed into a 15.7″ body. The ROG Strix SCAR II features the same 144 Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, just like the rest of ROG’s slim bezel lineup right now.
While the ROG Strix SCAR II (GL504) with the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB came with only four heatpipes while the GeForce 1070 8GB variant comes with five, the bigger model here actually has five heatpipes to cool down the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, power delivery system and the Intel Core i7 8750H. That should stand to improve thermals. The larger model also comes with more USB Type-A ports to facilitate more peripherals.
The rest of the features we have already seen on the ROG Strix SCAR II (GL504) is the lightbar at the front edge of the laptop, 4-zone RGB backlighting on the keyboard and also the camera which is located on the lower bezel. Not exactly a smart place to put it. When we asked some ASUS representatives at the venue, they told us that the focus on the ROG Strix HERO II/SCAR II laptops were sleek bezels on three edges: the top and sides. Thus sacrifices like the camera had to be made. Curiously enough, they decided against that for the ROG Zephyrus S we saw today.
We didn’t get to test WiFi performance at ASUS’ office, but this laptop features the RangeBoost feature for a more consistent WiFi experience. One thing we are pretty sure about though. While the size may be quite deceiving for a 17.3″ laptop, the weight surely isn’t. It weighs a whole 0.5 kg more than the ROG Strix SCAR II (GL504GS) we tested, and the weight is really quite noticeable.
That ends our quick preview and hands-on session of the ROG Zephyrus S and ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704). We will definitely be taking a closer look at the ROG Zephyrus S when it comes to Malaysia, so stay tuned!