Summary: Very few don't like this Asus ROG Strix GL504GM 15 inch. Wake up, keyboard / touchpad, screen, speaker, hardware and especially the way this device works in everyday use and with games is the best you can find on a midsize laptop. But there are still some quirks you have to accept, as well as the fact that this computer is more expensive than most other alternatives with similar characteristics.
THE GOOD ONE
good build and more compact than most rivals
a good 144 HZ IPS screen, without GSync
run perfectly and cool with everything you will throw, including games
fair sized battery
loud and loud loudspeakers
the design still screamed GAMING
potential problems of color uniformity and brightness
there is no ThunderBolt 3
more expensive than most other GTX 1060 laptops
Asus offers some of the better mid-range gaming laptops available in stores with their ROG Strix line, and for 2018 they have completely changed the 15-inch model, improving design, screen and internal.
We have seen the ROG GL504 series in the previous article, and in the meantime we also spent more time with the ROG Strix GL504GM SCAR II model and collected all of our shows in this review article.
You will find all about the strong points and quirks in the paragraph below, but as a fast spoiler, Asus does a really great job with this computer.
Not only is it more compact than the previous GL503, but it also functions better, runs cooler, packs a larger battery and 144 Hz screen. There is still no GSync in the GL504GM model that comes with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, and there is no Thunderbolt 3 port too, but besides this, very few actually complain about it. Well, maybe except for the price, because ROG GL504GM is more expensive than similar configured laptops offered by other OEMs, although the overall premium is justified by what you get.
The specs sheet
- Asus ROG Strix GL504GM Scar II Edition – 2018 model
- Screen 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 144 HZ, GSync, matte
- Processor Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8750H, six-core
- Video Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 vRAM)
- Memory 32GB DDR4-2400 (2x DIMMs)
- Storage 256 GB SSD (M.2 80 mm NVMe) + 1 TB HDD (2.5″ bay)
- Connectivity Intel 802.11AC WiFi 9250 Wave 2 with Bluetooth 5.0, Realtek RTL8168 Gigabit LAN
- Ports 3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C gen 2, HDMI 2.0, miniDP 1.2, LAN, SD card reader, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock
- Baterry 66 Wh, 180 W power adapter
- Operating system Windows 10
- Size 361 mm or 14.21” (w) x 262 mm or 10.31” (d) x 26.1 mm or 1” (h)
- Weight 2.42 kg (5.33 lb), .61 kg (1.35 lbs) power brick
- Extras RGB backlit keyboard – 4 zones, stereo speakers, HD webcam
Asus also offers the ROG GL504GS model, similar to GL504GM in all respects, except for the fact that it gets a stronger Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics chip. It's more expensive, but an option for those of you who are interested in playing games at a higher resolution than FHD or keeping a laptop for a very long time. Whatever it is, we will discuss the GTX 1070 model in a different article after we review it, this is all about GL504GM middle class with GTX 1060 GPU.
Design and exterior
Renewing the ROG Strix channel in 2018 follows a trend we've seen with other manufacturers: more compact than its predecessor, with a smaller footprint and a narrower bezel around the screen. There is no doubt that this particular aspect makes it more aesthetically attractive, but I don't think it will make a big difference in actual usage. But I like the fact that the bezel under the panel is bigger and pushes the screen higher to a more ergonomic position before my eyes. What I don't like is the placement of the camera on this frame, and not even in the middle, but in the right corner, which makes it a bit annoying to use.
Apart from this, the GL504 is actually thicker and thicker than the GL503 model, and the overall weight is more important than the size in a large scheme. One step at a time though, this time they are pursuing size, next time they might do something about weight too. Weighing 5.3 lbs, GL504GM is among its direct competitors, heavier than the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin, Gigabyte Aero 15x or even the Lenovo Legion Y730, but lighter than the Dell G7 7588, MSI GE53 Raider or Acer Helios 300, so it's not difficult to do anything.
As far as the build goes, the ROG GL504GM is made sturdy, with no significant flex on the keyboard deck or screen frame, despite the fact that plastic is used for the inner and most outermost chassis, only with sheet metal on the covers. The design line is borrowed from the Zephyrus model, with the construction of the box and the cut side straight with the sloping edge, so that it is not sharp or uncomfortable on the wrist.
Apart from the choices in ingredients, 2018 ROG Strix saves most of the design gimmicks that scream GAMING. The exterior is quite simple at least, with metal brushed on the hood, but also with the large backlit ROG RGB logo here, which will make this notebook difficult to accept in a tighter business environment. There is also a light bar on the front lip, and although I usually hate the light bar, this one is quite smooth and gives a nice touch to the laptop. My sample has some problems with the Aura software which controls keyboard illumination and makes it possible to control logos and light blades too, so I don't know if there is a way to independently control both of them from the keyboard. This is something I have to examine further.
Then there is the interior, with a carbon fiber mixture on the armrest and the lower half, combined with a camouflage pattern for the rest. All these design elements are somewhat inspired by the weapons that give the series name, the FN SCAR riffle, and suggest this is a laptop for FPS games, which strengthens with fast on-screen hardware and screens, but severely limits the pool of potential buyers who might not appreciate gimmicks like that or just want a computer that they can also use to work. That's subjective, of course, so in the end it's up to you if this laptop looks to rub you in the right way or not.
When it comes to more practical aspects of using this computer every day, there are several things that need to be complained about. It sits well on the table thanks to the large rubber feet at the bottom. It gets all the right ports lined up on the sides, with most of them placed on the left edge, leaving room for the mouse on the right. It also gets a good docked screen that leans back to around 145 degrees, continues in place by two small, but sturdy hinges. The screen is also easily adjusted with one hand, and there is even a button on the lips that allows you to easily lift it.
Cooling is of course an important aspect of gaming laptops, and the ROG Strix GL503 model previously struggled with this aspect. With GL504, Asus enhances the outer and inner design of the cooling system, with a larger fan and a more complex heatpipe system inside, but also a wide intake and output grills in the bottom panel, above the keyboard and behind and right edge, for extra GPU cooling. We will discuss more about this in the Emission section.
One of the last aspects that I don't like when using this laptop is the fact that the power button is always on and the status LED is placed below the screen and can be a little annoying when playing games in a dark room or especially when trying to watch movies at night.
Overall, I feel that the ROG Strix GL504 has increased in the previous GL503 model in terms of building and designing. More compact and with few exceptions, ergonomic to use. At the same time, with some competitors adopting smoother design lines by 2018 with fewer graphic patterns and elements, Asus's decision to keep using the aggressive GAMING design is contradictory and may lead some potential buyers away, while at the same time may still attract other people.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard hasn't changed much from GL503 and in fact from the previous ROG Strix laptop, and that is good news, because this is a good typer with the right feedback and no major layout problems.
The direction buttons and NumPad parts are a bit narrow, but besides that, there are few complaints complained about. In addition to the normal key set, Asus includes several additional multimedia buttons at the top, and as a special feature of this series, the WASD button is made of clear plastic, allowing illumination to become more visible.
Speaking of illumination, the keyboard comes with four RGB zones which can be tweaked from the included AURA software. That's good, but other OEMs really offer the ability to control each key individually, so sticking to zone lighting might not satisfy some voter users out there.
As far as typing goes, this keyboard is fairly fast and accurate, with a nice feedback and click response that don’t require much time to get used to. It’s not exactly down my alley, as the keys feel a tad mushy and I had to hit them a little harder in order to actuate properly, but for most users I’d reckon it will do just fine. Keep in mind this keyboard is also a little on the loud site, due to its longer travel, so might not be ideal for typing in very quiet places.
The trackpad on the other hand is pretty much excellent, with a glass surface and Precision drivers, as well as smooth and quiet dedicated click buttons. Well done here.
For the screen Asus went with a matte IPS FHD panel made by AU Optronics, with 144 Hz refresh rate and very similar to the one MSI uses on the GS65 Stealth Thin.
It’s not the kind of screen you’ll use for color accurate work, as it only covers 75% of the Adobe RGB gamut, but that aside it’s a fairly solid option for everyday use, multimedia and especially gaming, due to its higher refresh rate. Details below.
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUO82ED (B156HAN08.2);
- Coverage: 97% sRGB, 73% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.32;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 321 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 750:1;
- White point: 6600 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.37 cd/m2.
In addition to this, this panel does not use PWM for brightness modulation and also quite fast, which will once again satisfy those interested in the game. But I see significant color problems and uniform luminance with our samples, as you can see in the picture above, so you want to look beyond this problem and find out if it's an isolated event, or something that interferes with all GL504 models. I might put my money in quality control issues with our sample, because I have never seen anyone else complain about the same word play.
Hardware and performance
We had to test the high end configuration of the ROG Strix GL504GM notebook, with an Intel Core i7-8750H six core, 32 GB RAM (2x DIMM), dual storage and Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip.
The SSD that is included is fast enough, while HDD, well, this is a 5400 rpm HDD ... Asus will mostly sell this laptop with 16 GB RAM, but the hardware is easily upgraded if you want to add more. You must remove the entire rear panel, keep it in place by a handful of Philips screws, to enter the internal part, because there is no quick access.
Most of you will be interested in how this laptop deals with games and heavy load activities. We will get it in seconds, but first this is what is expected in terms of performance and temperature with the daily usage scenario.
Okay, with that out of the way, let's jump to the actual test. First we tested the CPU performance at 100% load, simulated by running Cinebench R15 in a continuous loop on the Balanced fan profile. Asus also offers an Overboost profile that drives fans to a higher speed, but also makes laptops very noisy, so we do most of our testing on fan profiles that are more humane. As you can see below, there is absolutely no performance degradation, the CPU runs at a constant TDP of around 43-44W, but reaches a high temperature of 95-96 Celsius.
Given that our undervolting CPU is a safe procedure that improves performance and lowers temperatures, we cancel the laptop with ThrottleStop (the process described in this article). Our sample is not stable at -120 mV, so we hit the -100 mV voltage to get rid of the damage and then we run the Cinebench R15 loop test again. The picture below shows that the CPU running at an average TDP is around 52 W higher in this case, but also at a lower temperature of only 86-87 Celsius. There is no significant performance improvement, because the default settings are running at a constant maximum Turbo frequency, but undervolting makes sense here, because it increases laptop thermal.
Those interested in numbers will find our benchmarks results below, on the default out-of-the-box settings:
- 3DMark 11: P13877 (Graphics: 14595, Physics: 12388);
- 3DMark 13: Time Spy – 4052, Fire Strike – 10235, Sky Diver – 29661;
- 3DMark 13 Graphics: Time Spy – 3811, Fire Strike – 11466, Sky Diver – 39166;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 4001;
- PCMark 10: 5121;
- PassMark: Rating: 5839, CPU mark: 14386, 3D Graphics Mark: 9381;
- GeekBench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 4068, Multi-core: 22744;
- GeekBench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 5039, Multi-core: 22113;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 103.12 fps, CPU 1224 cb, CPU Single Core 172 cb.
We also ran some of them on the -100 mV undervolted profile:
- 3DMark 13 Graphics: Fire Strike – 11413;
- GeekBench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 5037, Multi-core: 22317;
- CineBench R15: CPU 1226 cb, CPU Single Core 173 cb.
As already mentioned above, undervolting has limited to no impact on the actual performance numbers, as the default configuration offers pretty much what you can expect from this kind of hardware.
As far as gaming goes, here’s what to expect.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers and more
Asus developed an attractive cooling solution for this laptop, an improvement from what they previously used on the GL503 series. It got two 12V fans and three heatpipes, with a redesigned layout, with long and thick heatpipes for the CPU and GPU, but also special heatpipes for each. The GPU heatpipe is longer and the GPU fan actually gets two radiators, one behind, and the other on the side.
As suggested by what we discussed in the previous section, this implementation does an excellent job of maintaining the i7 and GTX 1060 configurations at bay. Asus offers three fan profiles, like most of their latest ROG laptops: Silent, Balanced, and Overboost. I recommend always keeping the laptop on Balanced, because the temperature remains good and not too noisy. With everyday use, the GPU fan is turned off most of the time in Balanced mode, and when the CPU fan is active, it is barely audible even in a quiet environment. Switch to Silence makes little or no difference. However, I saw quite a lot of electronic noise in our samples, and you will also hear HDDs that rotate when active.
Both fans increased with the game. In Balanced mode, we measure around 51-52 dB at head-level, which is noisy, but not more noisy than other laptops with similar hardware. Switching to Silent mode lowers the sound to only 41-42 dB, but at the same time also affects performance, so that is not recommended in most situations. Switching to Overboost increases fans and makes them much harder, up to 56-57 dB at the head level, while slightly lowering the CPU / GPU temperature by 2-3 degrees Celsius compared to the Balanced profile, but given the fact that the temperature is within the Balanced limit, especially after draining the CPU, I see no reason to use Overboost on this laptop.
The ROG GL504 GM gets a 66 Wh battery, a bump from the 62 Wh one used on the previous lines. It’s still fairly average in size, but bigger than what most other OEMs put on some of the more affordable alternatives. There’s also Optimus implemented on this notebooks and no GSync, but even so the high-refresh rate does take its toll and the battery life expectations are about average.
Here’s what we got in our test, with the screen was set at 30% brightness, roughly 120 nits:
- 17 W (~3 h 50 min of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 16 W (~4 h 10 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 14 W (~4 h 40 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 14 W (~4 h 40 min of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 19 W (~3 h 30 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 44 W (~1 h 30 min of use) – gaming on battery, High Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
Asus pairs this configuration with a 180 Wh power brick. It’s averagely sized and weighs around 1.35 lbs (.6 kg) for the European version, including cables. A full battery charge takes about 2 hours.
Price and availability
The ROG Strix GL504GM Scar II Edition is available in most regions of the world as of July 2018.
The most widely spread configuration and the one that makes the most sense to buy gets you the Core i7-8750H processor, 16 GB of RAM (1 stick), the GTX 1060 6GB graphics, a 256 GB PCIe SSD and a 1 TB HDD, as well as the 144HZ matte screen, for an MSRP of $1699 in the US. In Europe you can find slightly lower end configurations with just a 128 GB SATA SSD for around 1500-1600 EUR, so I’d expect the GL504GM to get cheaper in the US as well in the following months.
There is very little that is not liked about this Asus ROG Strix GL504GM 15 inch. Wake up, keyboards, screens, speakers, hardware and especially the way these laptops work in everyday use and with games are the best you can find on a full-range mid-range device. Of course, there are still some habits that you have to accept, such as an ugly webcam, electronic sound, lack of a Thunderbolt 3 connection or debatable design decisions with all lights and graphic patterns, but for the most part this should not be a problem solver for most You.
Prices on the other side may be. If you are looking for the best game performance you can get for your money, this is not a laptop to get it. Acer Helios 300, for example, offers the same type of hardware and the same 144 Hz screen with only $ 1,200 at the time of posting, even though it's in a larger body and with a smaller battery. Then there is also the Sager NP7851 / Clevo N850EP6 and the Lenovo Legion Y730 will soon be available, both of which are similar in terms of specifications, with smaller batteries, but also more affordable. And then if you don't care about the 144 Hz screen, you can also consider laptops like Alienware 15, MSI GE63 Raider, Asus TUF FX505, Asus TUF FX504, Dell G7 7588 or HP Omen 15.
Last but not least, if the game is all you are interested in, you can also consider one of the old GTX 1070 options out there with the 7th CPU gene-core gen, like Asus ROG Strix GL503VS, Alienware 15 or Acer Predator 15, which will perform better in games, even though it has a slower processor.
On the other hand, it's true that there are also more expensive GTX 1060 laptops out there, such as the MSI GS65 Thin, Gigabyte Aero 15X, Asus Zephyrus S GX531 or Razer Blade 14, but they are premium ultraportables with smaller, lighter and overall better. build.
So when you look at the whole package, all in all the Asus ROG Strix GL504GM Scar II is a mid-range gaming laptop that is very good and has to serve you well, but you have to accept that you will pay premiums in most areas for more form factors compact, 144 Hz screen, larger battery and a fairly perfect overall performance. Be sure to buy your unit from the store that allows easy returns if you end up drawing a short stick, because Asus's quality control is not very good in recent years.
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