Review: ASUS ROG GL502
When it comes to PC gaming, I’m something of an enthusiast. I’m the type of guy that takes the PC Master Race joke a bit far in paying out his console mates, but all in jest and the attempt to see what they’re missing out on.
When I think of PC gaming, I think desktops with beastly graphics cards, plenty of memory, solid state drives, and monitors capable of smashing out 144 frames per second (or higher).
When it comes to gaming notebooks, the common misconception is that they’re under-powered for the premium you would pay to purchase one by comparison of building your own desktop beast. Over the last few years however, this has started to shift in that the performance is almost on par with desktop rigs that can handle some of PC gaming’s latest titles.
Enter the ASUS ROG Strix GL502, one of the latest bit portable PC gaming kit in the form of a notebook.
The GL502 features:
- Intel i7-6700HQ clocking in at 2.60ghz on stock settings
- 8GB of DDR4 memory (with options up to 16GB)
- Integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX970M combo using the Optimus GPU switching technology
- 256 gigabytes of Solid State Drove storage using Samsung’s MZVPV256 on a PCIe socket configuration.
This notebook has been built to play games like Tom Clancy’s: The Division, where graphical detail on the highest settings can be particularly resource intensive. We tested this unit out with Tom Clancy’s: The Division, League of Legends, and a few other titles in the time that we had with it.
Performance wise, the unit handles quite well with Tom Clancy’s: The Division maxed out detail settings using the native screen resolution of 3840 by 2160 at 60FPS. The high screen resolution allows for some serious pixel density on a smaller 15.6 inch IPS display panel, meaning the image is sharper and more defined, with the some really amazing color display to boot.
While the game performs well, the LCD screen panel is where it falls short somewhat. There was some really noticeable screen ghosting with scenes involving high movement, as well scenes where the frames weren’t changing as much. Screen ghosting is where the frame changes and you can still see elements of the previous frame on screen, creating a blur effect that doesn’t make for good visual experience. For still images and still frames it’s beautiful, but high movement scenes and the like not so much.
Testing using actual gaming as a benchmark is one thing, however for those who are more into the numbers and the nitty-gritty side of things, we’ve done some testing using benchmark software too. Using 3DMark 11, we scored X1530 using the GTX970M and the Intel Core i7-6700HQ on the default 1080p settings. As for how it stands against other gaming PCs, check out the handy graph below.
One of the interesting things about this result is that my own personal gaming desktop still ranks higher than this, with a six year old motherboard, processor and memory. The only upgrade I’ve made to my PC recently is the addition of a GTX1070, which scored X7896 using the same test settings. If I had the dosh to upgrade my entire rig to current gen hardware, imagine the disparity between the results.
That should give you enough of an idea as to how this unit performs. But how does it look?
The GL502 has a chassis made of both plastic for the most part, with a metal alloy cover for the backside of the LCD panel. It features a brushed metal finish on the metal plating, as well as an imitation brushed metal look on the plastic where the key panel is situated.
One thing that we did question was that the materials used feel sturdy enough to protect the unit, but it might not survive a fall from hip-height. We say this because we put a minimal amount of pressure on some of the paneling and noticed that it caused the surface to warp slightly, whereas other notebooks take considerable pressure to get to that point. This is a bit of a concern as the idea behind a notebook is allow for portability, but not at the expense of being damaged when you’re en route to a convention or a LAN gaming session with your mates. Obviously we didn’t test dropping the unit because it was loaned to us, but based on the feel of it, we think this might present an issue if you’re the type to batter your carry bag around.
The keyboard panel itself is quite pretty, featuring a black and red color scheme inline with the Republic of Gamers brand. Each of the keys are backlit, so if you’re the type of person to play in the dark like your optometrists worst nightmare (like I do), then you’ll be able to see what keys you’re pressing — that is if you haven’t learned to touch type yet. The WASD keys feature a full red key set, so you can instantly position your fingers to zip around your games like a pro.
Typing is an absolute pleasure on this keyboard. The tactile feel of every keystroke is very similar to typing on my normal mechanical keyboard, but with fluidity between each key press. The placement of some of the multi-function keys can be somewhat annoying to work out, such as NumLock, Scroll Lock etc. They occupy the same keys as the numbers of the numberpad, and require additional keys to activate. That’d be the only gripe we have with that.
As far as the extra features that the GL502 has, it features 3 USB 3.0 sockets, along with an additional USB Type-C connection, an SD card reader, and a single 3.5mm connection for headset audio — which means if you’re wanting to use both a mic and headset, you’ll need one of those single-line inputs or a splitter to use it (or, just stick with a USB audio headset and save yourself the hassle). It also features a dual-band wireless receiver allowing you to avoid the nasty radio frequency interference by connecting to a 5Ghz frequency, however it still features the 2.4Ghz compatibility if your router doesn’t have 5Ghz.
There is no physical optical drive though, so you’re restricted to using an external optical drive or installing stuff via USB storage. All I can say is GG RIP games that come on a physical disc. We can see why this is though, as the unit itself is quite thin so unless they included a slot-based optical drive subtracting from the available space for other components, achieving this size wouldn’t be possible.
Speaking of physical size, the actual dimensions sit at 390mm wide, 266mm deep, and 23.5 mm high with the 4-cell battery attached. The total weight sits at 2.2kg with the battery included. The powerpack that is used to convert power to the battery is quite small, and maintains a surprisingly good temperature compared to other battery packs I’ve used.
Finally, we have the Battery Life to talk about. I’m quite impressed with this to be honest. Doing your run of the mill browsing and doc work, the battery lasts between four and five hours, while gaming on max settings would see the battery lasting for almost 2 hours which is pretty good.
Overall, the ASUS ROG Strix GL502 is a solid bit of kit for the on-the-go gamer. It gets the job done with enough blitz and style, despite some of the drawbacks we’ve mentioned. While we probably wouldn’t pay the current retail price for it (sitting somewhere around the $2,200 AUD mark from some online retailers), we could see where some people would as an option to play games on PC where physical space is limited.
|Overall, the ASUS ROG Strix GL502 is a solid bit of kit for the on-the-go gamer. It gets the job done with enough blitz and style, despite some of the drawbacks we've mentioned. While we probably wouldn't pay the current retail price for it (sitting somewhere around the $2,200 AUD mark from some online retailers), we could see where some people would as an option to play games on PC where physical space is limited.||3.9 3.9 ( on 4 rating)|