ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 18 Review
Are you looking for a top of the line gaming laptop with no performance compromise? Are you after a device that performs so well that you likely will not have to upgrade it for the next few years? Is mobility in some form something you want?
We tested exactly that laptop for you: The ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 18 edition.
This is a computer that has a GPU so strong and a CPU so fast that I couldn’t find a game demanding enough to make it stutter. Not even Crysis Remastered or Jedi Survivor on its highest settings at 2560×1600 resolution, not even when that speedy Core i9 is running at a sweltering 97 degrees.
Thanks, ASUS, for giving my gaming PC an insecurity it never had before.
As I alluded earlier, the specifications in the ROG Strix SCAR 18 are beefy:
- Core i9 13980HX CPU
- NVIDIA RTX 4090 16GB GPU
- 32 GB DDR5 RAM
- 2 x 2TB SSDs running in a RAID 0 configuration
- Wifi 6E
- Realtek 2.5 Gigabit ethernet
- Two thunderbolt ports
- Two USB type B 3.1 ports
- One HDMI 2.0 output
- 2560×1600 IPS LCD running at 240hz (QHD) – Non-HDR
- 720p webcam
ASUS decked out this machine to make it do everything but the canny-eyed among you reading this will notice a compromise here. More on that in a bit!
It’s got bigger screen real estate than a 1440p, thanks to the 16:10 aspect ratio. I’m a huge fan of this for many reasons. 16:10 monitors have a higher vertical pixel count. This is great for anyone looking for more working space. It’s less “cinematic”, sure, but anyone looking to work and play will appreciate the extra pixels on this display.
Let’s move onto performance. Obviously, since the SCAR 18 runs a RTX 4090. Combined with the fast 13th generation Core i9 processor, it’s not slow, not by a mile. Crysis Remastered at QHD resolution runs at an average of 60 frames per second at its highest setting.
Jedi Survivor didn’t slow down and stayed above 120 frames per second at high settings. The Core i9 rarely jumped over 50% during some of the most demanding titles I’ve run.
The trackpad is massive. It’s almost as good as an Apple trackpad which is a huge compliment to ASUS. I enjoyed the keyboard which had healthy travel on each key.
If there was one complaint it was that the keys felt a little small for my fingers, and I don’t really have big hands.
Audio visual experience
I felt the speakers performed very well. I tested a few Blu-ray movies, games and YouTube clips that I knew had good sound. The volume was clean and I didn’t hear any distortion at higher volume levels. I would’ve been very disappointed if this was lacking on the Strix SCAR 18.
Maybe there’s a way in the next iteration of the SCAR 18 to have a little more bass on those drivers, though.
The screen was pleasant to look at with a smooth matte finish, buttery smooth 240hz and a very useful QHD resolution. I saw no latency worth commenting about and it was a real pleasure to look at with its wide range of colour, no matter what I displayed. Unfortunately you won’t get HDR on this screen but you won’t miss it.
With Great Power…
I loved playing on this laptop when I could run it at full tilt, which leads neatly into some compromises owning these.
High-end components will demand a big battery. You’ll get a 90Wh battery, combined with the power hungry components, you will achieve only around 30 minutes while gaming and just over 2 hours of battery life while not gaming. That was with battery saver mode on.
Now, for a big beefy gaming laptop, that isn’t half bad but you’ve got a dependency: electricity. When the power goes off and you don’t have a backup to keep those Eskom juices flowing, you’re in a bind.
That said, if you can spend over R80,000 for one of these beauties, you’re likely running solar and don’t think about load shedding.
Then there’s the noise.
Hot components need to stay cool and the SCAR 18 did a great job at this, though for the titles with most demanding graphics, the CPU would hit 97 degrees. The fans ramped up very aggressively and the white noise generated by these overtook the speakers.
Naturally, using headphones, this would never be an issue, but the Strix SCAR 18 is loud, and you should be prepared for this. My suspicion is that if there were a Core i7 version of this laptop, it would be much much quieter.
Lastly, there’s the 720p resolution webcam. For the princely sum of R80,000 and more, I would’ve wanted to see a much higher quality camera on this laptop.
For me, it’s a strange sacrifice seeing so many high end components in this laptop and having one component that seemed to come from an entry level as opposed to the enthusiast tier everything else sits at.
Who is the ROG Strix SCAR 18 for? It’s for someone who has the money to spend, who wants a no compromise laptop that will provide excellent performance no matter the task. It’s for a person who wants a machine that can do it all provided it’s going to be on power. It’s for the person who doesn’t want to run a high end gaming desktop.
I think for what it does well, it’s exceptional. For what it does not do well, it disappoints deeply because of the cost of entry owning one of these. That said, as a pure performance laptop, it surprised me – which is a rare thing these days.