ASUS ROG Strix G531GT Review: a lot to love, but is it worth it?

Rating: 8.5/10

Yay:

  • 120Hz display is crisp and smooth
  • Great performance
  • Amazing thermals
  • Keyboard is mostly good
  • RGB is love

Nay:

  • No USB Type-C or SD-Card slot
  • Fans tend to get loud

Introduction

ASUS has finally launched the all-new ASUS ROG Strix lineup here in India. Affectionately called the SCAR III, the laptop aims to combine the core ROG elements with the latest hardware to deliver a stellar performance. And to be honest, for the most part, the ROG Strix G531GT delivers on that front. I did do a quick first impression of the laptop, so make sure to read that before proceeding with the review that follows. I’ve had this machine with me for a good amount of time now, and I’ve used it quite extensively to answer most of my own questions I had back then. And hopefully, I can answer the main question of whether this machine is worth the price tag of Rs. 1 lakhs.

ASUS ROG Strix G531GT review unit specifications

Before I get started with the full review, let me get the specifications out of the way. Here’s a brief look at the important hardware that you need to know about.

Processor 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9750H
Memory 16GB DDR4 at 2667MHz (1x16GB)
Storage 1TB SSD PCIe
Display 15-inch vIPS FHD display with a refresh rate of 120HZ/3ms
Graphics NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650
Ports 3x USB 3.1, 1x HDMI, 1x RJ45, 1x 3.5mm audio jack
Operating System Windows 10 Home Plus Single Language, English

Design And Build Quality

As I highlighted previously in my first impressions as well, the ASUS ROG Strix G531GT comes with a ton of RGB. There’s RGB lighting all under the frame of the laptop, as well as a backlight under the keyboard. And since this is ASUS, you obviously get the company’s Aura sync feature. But the ROG Strix isn’t all about lights. The laptop does feel quite premium. Weighing in at 2.3kgs, it isn’t the heaviest gaming laptops out there either.

However, not everything is that merry with the device. I’ve come to expect super premium builds out of the ROG systems, and while this seems premium, the truth is that this is premium plastic. The entire frame is built quality is made out of plastic. However, there is hardly any flex near the keyboard area, which is a plus. Heck, even the display, despite being as slim as it is, doesn’t show any physical weakness. The keyboard is surrounded by this linear texture that makes it keep quite good. Personally, I find it way better than most other rubberized or matte surfaces, since they often attract a lot of fingerprints.

The laptop isn’t the thinnest of the lot, and you’d expect that it would allow for better airflow. However, we only see two air vents on the back side of the device. I will be talking more about that in the Thermals section below. On the whole, the ROG Strix does offer a look similar to the previous Scar II models while still feeling a tad bit fresh. Clearly, ASUS is following the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra, and so far, I’m not complaining.

However, one part that I am going to be complaining about is the lack of a webcam. I mean, forget weird placements and crappy quality, ASUS just decided to omit it altogether from the body itself. And I’ll be honest, I’m not mad with that part. What I am mad is that they aren’t providing an external webcam in the box like they used to in some of their earlier models. You see, if you can’t figure out how to position it on your device with the right viewing angles and low bezels, it is okay to remove it. What’s not okay is to deprive the customer of the functionality altogether. ASUS has provided an external webcam previously, and I just can’t see why that is not the case this time around.

Ports And Connectivity

When it comes to ports, the ROG Strix is average, when you consider its target audience. Oriented towards gamers, the laptop comes with 3x USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm audio jack on the left side. The right side remains completely empty, while on the back, you get an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and a DC charging port.

Now, while this sounds good, I’m not entirely happy with the I/O on board. For starters, why is the right side completely empty? ASUS could have easily shifted one USB port over there. Moreover, the three USB ports are stacked so closely together, I can very well image certain peripherals blocking the other ports. Also, this is 2019. Why is there no USB Type-C port here? I’m not asking for Thunderbolt 3 or anything, but USB-C is pretty much a standard now. Also, considering the price bracket, I know a lot of content creators would be interested in this thing. Sadly, there is no SD Card slot here either.

While ASUS does manage to offer a decent port selection, they clearly have left a lot of stones unturned.

Display

Moving on to the display, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar III comes with a 15-inch vIPS FHD display with a refresh rate of 120Hz/3ms. The display is nice and crisp, and the higher refresh rate definitely makes the normal use case also look appealing. ASUS hasn’t shared an official figure for the color gamut, but in our testing, the device did seem to offer average color reproduction. I say average ‘coz the sRGB coverage is at just 57%. To be fair, gamers wouldn’t mind it that much. But, it is still a horrendously low figure.

Which is why, if you’re a content creator, this display isn’t going to be that great. On the plus side, the laptop does come with ASUS’ own Game Visual that allows you to tune and set different profiles for the display. It is 2019, and I like what ASUS has done with the bezels. Except for the humongous chin at the bottom which also hides the controller beneath, the bezels are minimal on the ROG Strix G531GT. All in all, the display on the device is good, but I really feel it could have been better, especially for this SKU.

Keyboard

The keyboard on this laptop is near-perfect. Yes, near perfect, ‘coz despite the flaws being basically nitpicked, they are still flaws. But let’s talk about the positives first. The key travel is just perfect, and it makes this slight click-ety sound that gives you the audio experience of a mechanical switch. Yeah, I know that’s quite weird, but I seem to like it a lot. Over to the top, you get a hotkey layout comprising of the volume toggles, a mic mute/unmute button, fan profile switcher, and a quick access key to the ASUS Armory Crate software. On the right edge, you get a dedicated column for Home, PgUp, PgDown, End, and PrtScr. Personally, I like this layout, since these keys and be reprogrammed for hotkeys within games. Do I miss a full-sized keyboard on a 15.6-inch laptop? Yes. Is it a deal breaker? Not really.

However, what I don’t like about the keyboard is arrow keys. I mean, just look at them and then look at the rest of the keys. For God’s sake, I cannot find one reason as to why are they so differently sized. Dividing the up and down key is one thing, but ASUS has just gone a different route altogether. It literally makes no sense. If you make use of these keys a lot, trust me, you’re gonna have a hard time training your muscle memory, simply because of the size. 

Nonetheless, the keyboard here is pretty damn good, and if I were rating components individually, this would still gather a 9 out of 10. It still manages to nail down the core use of a keyboard, and the RGB lighting is always the icing on the cake.

Touchpad

With most gaming laptops that I’ve tried, the touchpad has mostly been a huge disappointment. That’s simply because most OEMs just assume that considering this is a gaming laptop, the consumer will, ultimately, buy a physical mouse. Which is why a lot of cost-cutting is done in the touchpad department. Now, I’m not saying that the touchpad on the ROG Strix Scar III is phenomenal and has no issues. No, I’m not saying that. However, it clearly is way better than the chunk of gaming laptops that you have in the market in this price segment.

The touchpad is decently sized, and it also comes with Windows Precision drivers. There are also the physical left-click and right-click buttons, which are quite responsive. Considering how much I’m accustomed to one-finger and two-finger tapping, moving back to the buttons on the ROG wasn’t an issue. Those buttons are that good. However, I have to say that it was more of a necessity than a choice. That’s because, despite all that’s great about the touchpad, the surface isn’t that smooth. There is a lot of recession, and while the gestures do work and the tapping experience is decent, it clearly isn’t up to the mark. That said, it still works decent, which is pretty much what you should expect from a gaming laptop. 

Audio

Judging by the looks of it, the speakers on the ASUS ROG seem average. There are just two slits on either side of the laptop from with the audio comes out. But boy was I taken aback when I fired these things up. The laptops exhibit a spectacular amount of bass for onboard speakers. And they can get quite loud too. As for vocals, you can use the equalizer to switch to a vocal boost profile.

Which reminds me of the ASUS ROG Sonic Studio III. This is the company’s own software that allows you to modify and fine-tune the audio settings as per your preferences. This is a perfect example of hardware and software working hand in hand.

Performance

Moving on to performance, which is what most people are interested in. This is my first GTX 1650 laptop, so I wasn’t sure of what to expect. However, I do understand that the GPU is a mid-tier graphics card. In my SKU, I have it coupled with the Intel i7-9750H processor, which is clearly the second most powerful mobile chipset out there currently, behind the i9. So obviously, I was curious to find out how the GPU would perform in games.

As you can see from the benchmarks below, the GPU performs just the way you’d expect an updated GTX 1050 Ti mobile GPU to perform. It can run most games on a mix of Low/Medium settings, while graphics intensive games such as Metro Exodus and Far Cry 5 do struggle. As such, if you want to get playable framerates on those games, you’d have to drop down your resolution to 720p for optimal performance.

Thermals And Upgradability

The ASUS ROG Strix SCAR III comes with a dual fan system, which is pretty obvious. But what is peculiar is that it only offers two heatpipes on the system. This is definitely a very low number, considering there will be a lot of heat accumulated within the system. And it clearly shows. In my testing, I was able to hit the 74-degree Celsius mark within the first 20 mins of benchmarking. While continuing the load, the temperatures did settle around the 78-degree mark. However, I will give credit where it is due, which is that there was no throttling what so ever. Though, to be fair, considering the GPU that I have, there isn’t a lot to throttle in the first place, if you know what I mean. 

In terms of upgradability, the ROG SCAR III is an interesting machine. You get a single stick of 16GB installed here while having the secondary slot free. The SSD is also installed in the M.2 slot, so you can upgrade that as well if you wish to. However, there is also space for a 2.5-inch HDD in the bottom-left corner of the laptop. The thing is that the SATA connector for it isn’t present there. Instead, you get the SATA connector along with the HDD ribbon cable which then plugs into the HDD slot over there. To be honest, I don’t really see the point of it, since a lot of manufacturers, including ASUS themselves, do give an empty 2.5-inch HDD slot with the SATA connector already installed on the motherboard. This method clearly increases the chances of you losing that cable, which would then result in you having to pay for a new one at one of ASUS’ service centers when you decide on upgrading the storage.

Battery Life

Battery life is never a gaming laptop’s strongest suit, and the ROG Strix G531GT is no different. Unfortunately, its battery life is pretty mediocre. It comes with a 66Wh battery, which on paper, definitely sounds good. Sadly, the real world story is a different case altogether. While trying to play Apex Legends and PUBG Lite on the go on this laptop, the device lasted a measly 1 hour 46 mins. That is pretty darn bad. As for normal workloads, the system was able to output close to 4 hours, which is more of a figure that you’d expect from this hardware. ASUS’ Armory Crate does come with a variety of power profiles, allowing you to squeeze as much juice out of the device as possible. Sadly, as good as it is, it’s not enough for me to recommend that you use this to game on the go. Video editing might suffice but gaming for one is definitely not something that this laptop can do for long on the go.

On the positive side though, the laptop does come with a beefy charger, that juices this baby up in less than 2 hours. It isn’t the fastest chargers out there, but it is pretty good for a gaming laptop, and I don’t have much to complain about.

Should You Buy the ASUS ROG Strix G531GT?

Throughout my review, I’ve been waiting to explain my understanding of this laptop, and thus, I’ve been waiting to get to this point. The final verdict. Is the ROG Strix Scar III worth it? Well, yeah. But not this specific SKU.

You see, if you’re in the market to get a good gaming laptop with a GTX 1650 and you like the look of the ROG Strix G531GT, get it. That said, you should go for the Intel i5 variant. The processor is as capable as the i7 in terms of gaming, and considering the GPU, you’d still get almost identical frames as shown above. What’s more, is that you’d end up saving Rs. 20,000 in that process, since the base variant starts off at Rs. 80,000. Sure, you’d be trading off on the fast storage and RAM as well, but that can be upgraded later on depending upon your needs, and the final build would still offer better value for money.

So, who is this specific SKU for? Like I’ve been subtly highlighting throughout this video, this is for content creators. You see, when someone who edits videos for a living wants to buy a Windows PC, he/she will look into gaming laptops. Obviously. And the ASUS ROG Strix G531GT is actually a good option for them. The problem is that it does come with certain flaws with makes recommending this a hard point. The display isn’t accurate enough for video editing, and the lack of an SD card slot and a mediocre battery only make things worse. That said, the Strix Scar III is probably the only laptop in the market right now that will allow you to purchase a laptop with this combination of CPU and GPU, which just so happens to be perfect for a content creator on a budget.

In a nutshell, if you can live with the slight inconveniences, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar III G531GT is a great buy, and it gets the Mr. Phone stamp of approval.

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Varun Mirchandani
varun.mirchandani@u2opiamobile.com

Varun is your go-to guy for everything related to technology. Someone with a keen interest in the Android world, he installs a new custom ROM every week and is always living on the bleeding edge of technology. When not writing for Mr. Phone, you can find him gaming on his beastly gaming rig which is also his prized possession.