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ASUS ROG Strix G531GW Scar III Review: Unadulterated RTX Power

We review the ROG Strix Scar III!

The ROG Strix Scar line is now on its third generation and this particular iteration gets a massive makeover from its predecessor. The new notebook gets a new aesthetic that provides better cooling, as well as more powerful chips for better performance.

But is this enough for this gaming laptop to stand out against its rivals?

Cleaner and subtler than before

ASUS refined the Scar III’s aggressive lines with a more subdued design that still screams gamer, only not as loud. The aluminum top lid is decked in gunmetal gray, and the metallic silver ROG logo lights up when the laptop is powered on. There’s around an inch of space at the back allotted for the airflow intakes.

The lid has an asymmetrical cut, and its hinges are angled in such as way that it provides adequate airflow to the Scar III’s 3D Flow Zone.

Compared to the Scar II‘s keyboard top case, you get a straightforward carbon fiber print–gone are the camo details and the specially-marked WASD keys. We prefer this design better as it maintains its gamer aesthetic in a subtle way.

The revamped design does not necessarily mean that the Scar III isn’t visually loud. If you really want to be obnoxious outdoors, you can pump up the lightbar on the Scar III – which is now of the wraparound variety – to the max to show everyone you’re all about that #RGBLYF.

The RGB-lit keyboard has a good amount of key travel, and we had a good time with it as we were typing this review. The trackpad’s clever numpad feature is an added convenience, and we appreciated the extra set of keys while we use the Scar III’s supplied Gladius II gaming mouse. The Keystone on the right side of the laptop stored all of the laptop’s essential settings and keep your files secure with Shadow Drive. You set up both via Armoury Crate.

Revamped port layout a plus for cable management

Instead of placing all the ports at the left and right side of the laptop like the Scar II, the Scar III’s ports are placed in the left and back of the laptop instead. The more crucial ports (AKA the ones rarely removed when plugged in) are placed in the back, while the more frequently-used ports remain on the left side. Cable management is better with this kind of layout, especially when you use the Scar III while plugged in.

If there is room for improvement for the port layout, we think that the USB-C port should have been located on the left side of the laptop.

Crazy display that delivers

One of the Scar III’s bragging rights is its display, as its 15-inch panel boasts of an insanely high 240Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time. Beyond numbers, the Scar III’s display delivers, as everything is very fluid–from scrolling through pages, typing out articles, to editing photos on the go.

Some might ask if 240hz matters: when it comes to gaming, the high refresh rate does help improve your gameplay as long as the game you are playing supports it–more on that in the performance part.

Color accuracy is decent with the Scar III, though you might want to switch to the laptop’s various display settings (done via the FN + V command) to set it to your liking.

When it comes to audio, the Scar III’s speakers produced decent output with adequate lows and mids. We would recommend keeping the volume at around 50 to 70% to avoid any distortion. While the speakers are good enough for games, most gamers would opt to plug in their headsets instead.

All the power you need, and more

ASUS went all-in with the Scar III variant we have for this review: our unit came with a Core i9-9880H 8-core processor, a full-sized RTX 2070 GPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD.

In FurMark’s GPU Stress Test, temperatures peaked at around 87 degrees Celsius when we ran the benchmark tool at Full HD with 8x MSAA. Throughout the test, the keyboard area remains cool to the touch, with the top part–the one closest to the 3D Flow Zone–being warm.

The stuffed spec sheet delivered both in benchmarks and in actual gameplay. with Unigine Heaven, we were doing an average of 106 FPS and managed to peak close to the display’s refresh rate limit at 213FPS for select scenes.

When it comes to actual gameplay, FPS games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive can go anywhere between 160 to 200FPS at ultra settings, and can go higher if you enable turbo boost. As for battle royale games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite, we were averaging around 60 to 80FPS in max settings.

We tried Quake II RTX to see the Scar III’s ray-tracing capabilities, and the laptop delivers: at 1920×1080/240hz, we were averaging around 60 to 70FPS throughout the whole game–regardless if turbo boost is enabled.

Beyond games, the Scar III is a suitable companion for content creators. Using Lightroom for editing photos for the site and other side projects, the Scar III performed like a charm. Editing photos on the go is possible, but you have to be aware of its rather mediocre battery life.

 

Forget about battery life

With that amount of power on board, the Scar III’s 66WHr, 4-cell battery is not going to give you good mileage. Using our video loop test–where the laptop is set at 50% brightness with 50% volume–the Scar III lasted for 3 hours and 20 minutes in silent mode before the battery died. In performance mode, we only managed 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Playing graphics-intensive games on battery power is not possible with the Scar III. On our experience, we encountered severe frame drops while playing Quake II RTX after 5 minutes. Should you want to game on the go, you are better off in finding a coffee shop with a power outlet and a fast internet connection.

Power comes at a price

At Php 169,995, the Core i9 variant of the Scar III is one of the most expensive (if not the most expensive) model under the ROG Strix line. While it is Php 10k more expensive than the top-tier Zephyrus S GX502 with RTX 2070 and a 240hz display, the top-tier Scar III G531 sacrifices thickness for a more powerful Core i9 Processor.

On the current market, the top-tier Scar III variant’s price is competitive for a laptop equipped with a 9th-generation laptop-grade Core i9 Processor and RTX 2070 GPU. However, if you do not need that Core i9 muscle, you can opt instead for the Core i7 version: while you only get a 1TB +128GB SSD storage configuration and a 144Hz display, this variant is Php 20k more affordable than the Core i9 version.

The ROG Strix Scar III is available at ROG Mall of Asia and other ROG Concept stores.

ASUS ROG Strix Scar III (G531GW) Specs

  • Intel Core i9-9880H processor
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM
  • NVIDIA RTX 2070 Discrete GPU with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM, Intel UHD630 Integrated GPU
  • 15.6-inch (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920×1080) with 240hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and 100% sRGB coverage
  • 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 4-cell 66Wh battery

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