- Rapid 1080p gaming performance
- Smart physical design
- Solid screen and keyboard
- Little headroom for VR or future gaming
- Middling specification
- Average battery life
- 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-6300HQ processor
- 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
- 17.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 G-Sync IPS screen
- 8GB 2,133MHz DDR4 memory
- 128GB SATA Samsung CM871a SSD
- 1TB hard disk
- Windows 10 64-bit
- 1yr RTB warranty
- Manufacturer: Asus
- Review Price: £1,200/$1,800
WHAT IS ASUS ROG STRIX GL702VM?
Asus’s ROG Strix brand is the company’s way of producing quality mid-range gaming hardware without the extreme performance – or price tag – of the pure ROG machines. The GL702VM is a clear mid-range machine, undercutting its rivals while still maintaining appealing performance and design.
The key component at play is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. It’s a new Nvidia core powered by the efficient Pascal architecture, which means there’s barely any difference between this mobile chip and its desktop equivalent.
There are more powerful gaming laptops around: the XMG P507, for example, can be configured with the GTX 1070 and a similar specification to the Asus, but it will cost a few hundred pounds more.
The processor is another mid-range component. The Core i5-6300HQ is Intel’s entry-level quad-core laptop chip, with a speed of 2.3GHz and a Turbo peak of 3.2GHz – a little lower than the Core i7 that’s a step above.
The rest of the specification includes a 128GB SSD, a 1TB hard disk and 8GB of RAM. That’s fine, but the Strix’s budgetary limitations are obvious: the SSD is a slower SATA model, and the memory runs at an underwhelming 2,133MHz. In higher-end laptops you could expect a blazing fast PCIe SSD and faster memory.
Interior connectivity includes normal Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band wireless, and the outside serves up standard ports: USB 3 and 3.1 connectors, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs and an SD card slot.
I’ve reviewed the GL702VM-GC003T, and only one alternative is available. The GL702VM-GC010T costs £1,350/$2,025 and has twice as much memory and a Core i7 processor, but still retains the GTX 1060 GPU and Full HD screen.
DESIGN AND BUILD
This laptop might be at the lower end of the gaming notebook spectrum, but Asus hasn’t skimped on the physical design. The Strix is built around black aluminium and plastic, with orange accents on logos, the trackpad and the keys themselves.
It’s a good-looking system, and its dimensions aren’t overly huge either: it weighs 2.7kg and is 24mm thick; both figures undercut chunkier rivals.
If there’s one area where the GL702VM suffers, though, it’s build quality. The screen is wobbly, and there’s too much give in the wrist-rests. The base panel is sturdier, but it can’t be opened – which means all of the components are locked down unless you’re happy to void the warranty.
KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD
The WASD keys are bright orange, and the entire ‘board has red backlighting with adjustable brightness. It also has a numberpad, a full-sized return key, and an Asus ROG button that loads the laptop’s Gaming Center app. Gaming Center monitors clock speeds and temperatures, switches between gaming profiles, and can be used to open the screen and audio utilities.
The keyboard is one of the best I’ve used on a gaming laptop – for typing, at least. The keys are consistent with and have a decent amount of travel travel, and their action is soft and quiet.
That makes it great for typing, but less so for gaming – it just doesn’t have the firm snap of the best gaming notebooks. Make no mistake, the Strix’s keyboard is fine for gaming, but top-tier players will want something with a more definite response.
The trackpad encounters similar issues. It’s fine for general computing, but its two buttons are soft and push down a little too far, which means they’re not as snappy and responsive as those on the best gaming laptops – or the best gaming mice.
Pairing the GTX 1060 with a Full HD screen is a sensible choice that leads to balanced performance. At this resolution, the Asus had no trouble with modern games, with averages beyond 60fps in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Dirt Rally and GTA V.
That’s an important marker, because the screen runs G-Sync at a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz – so if a game can run at 60fps, you’re going to get the absolute best out of Nvidia’s game-smoothing technology.
Only the toughest challenges push this GPU to the limit. I loaded Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which is one of the most demanding games around, and the Asus averaged 37fps with a minimum frame rate of 29fps. That’s fine, but it means that this GPU doesn’t have as much headroom to cope with the demanding games that will emerge in a few years’ time. You’ll either have to drop the graphical settings or maybe switch to a lower resolution. For the the next couple of years, though, you’ll be fine.
If you’re going to be using a 1440p monitor, some games will require some settings tweaking for smooth 60fps gameplay, and VR titles might also need a bit of fiddling. But the GTX 1060 is certified as fast enough for VR and if you have a headset, you should get reasonably good performance.
If you want proper 1440p and VR grunt, you’ll want a laptop with the GTX 1070 instead. The difference is significant: the Asus scored 8,456 points in 3DMark: Fire Strike, but the XMG P507 with its GTX 1070 scored 12,604 points. That difference allowed the XMG to run some games at 4K.
The processor is a decent mid-range part. Its Geekbench single- and multi-core results of 3,036 and 9,271 mean games will never be bottlenecked, but the latter score is significantly quicker with a Core i7, because Hyper-Threading makes a huge difference to multi-tasking.
The final key component, the SSD, is similarly mid-range. Its sequential read and write speeds of 514MB/sec and 478MB/sec are fine, and quicker than any hard disk, but they’re reigned in by the upper limits of the SATA interface. Any laptop with an NVMe M.2 or PCIe SSD will have much quicker loading and boot times.
The mid-range components are fine when it comes to playing games and handling work on this machine’s 1080p screen, and they also contributed to reasonable thermal results.
The Asus is impressively quiet. When it’s idling the fans can barely be heard, and this laptop isn’t much louder when it’s pelting through games. It’s noticeable, but it’s far quieter than the vast majority of gaming notebooks – so, for me, that’s a success.
The CPU and GPU’s peak temperatures of 90°C and 86°C are a little higher than I’d expect from this class of laptop, but they’re not dangerous. Barely any of that heat made it to the outside of the chassis, which is good – the keyboard and base became only slightly warm, with most of the heat vented from the rear.
SCREEN AND SOUND QUALITY
The 17.3in screen has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. That’s broadly fine for gaming, movies and work, but its density level of 127ppi is low when compared to higher-end laptops.
A higher resolution and density will give more screen real estate and sharper, more precise images and games. This isn’t essential, but it’s a good bonus if you have the extra cash.
The Asus is better in other areas. It has 60Hz Nvidia G-Sync, which is entirely standard – even on most more expensive gaming laptops – and it has a matte finish.
The Asus is reasonable in benchmarks, but it never gets beyond that level. Its contrast level of 900:1 is decent, and enough to provide vivid colours and a fair bit of punch when combined with the screen’s 0.35-nit black level.
A Delta E of 3.43 is entirely average, and its colour temperature of 7,610K is too cool – it makes colours look a little pallid. That latter figure remained steady when I switched to the laptop’s Vivid mode, but the Delta E did improve to 0.91 – a great result. That Vivid option is what I’d use day-to-day.
Uniformity is a little better, with a swing of around 10% between the furthest edges. That’s on a par with gaming laptops that cost twice as much, so it does mean that consistency is good on the Asus.
The 1080p resolution, inclusion of G-Sync and broadly decent benchmark results give the Asus a good bill of health: this screen has ample quality for gaming and watching movies. However, if screen quality is important then it’s worth saving up to acquire a panel with a higher resolution and more accurate colours.
The XMG with a more affordable specification would fit the bill, thanks to its better contrast and colour accuracy – despite that machine’s smaller 15.6-inch panel.
The Strix’s audio gear is controlled by an app called AudioWizard, but it can’t quite work magic on this laptop’s two speakers. The default mode is called Soundscape, and it provides reasonable high-end noise and treble punch – but with underwhelming bass. The Battlefield and War Room options are far too bassy to the detriment of the rest of the range, while the Multimedia option is too quiet.
The Action option is best: it drops the volume a little but provides decent balance, with a little more bass than the Soundscape mode.
Despite that, Strix’s speakers never ascend beyond just decent – the highest tones are still a little tinny compared to the best laptop speakers, and those machines have subwoofers too.
The lesser GPU and Core i5 processor do bode well for longevity, but the Strix’s 76Wh power pack isn’t huge – many other gaming laptops with more powerful components have larger batteries.
That means the Asus’ battery life is entirely ordinary. In the low-intensity Powermark test it lasted for 3hrs 42mins, which is a little on the low side. In a gaming test with the screen at full brightness it managed 1hr 10mins – perhaps a tiny bit longer than many gaming laptops, but not enough of a lead to make a difference.
The message remains the same as it does with all gaming notebooks: don’t go too far from a plug socket.
SHOULD I BUY THE ASUS ROG STRIX GL702VM?
The latest Asus laptop undercuts many of its rivals at the checkout and still manages to deliver a high-quality gaming experience.
The GTX 1060 is the ideal partner for the decent 1080p screen, and the speakers, physical design and ergonomics are all decent.
However, the lower price does inevitably result in a few drawbacks. The laptop doesn’t have the power to output to a higher resolution or a VR headset, and the lesser components mean less future-proofing. Build quality is also slightly wanting for a machine costing this much.
Other gaming laptops are faster and sleeker – but they’re also more expensive. This is a superb choice for solid gaming pace that won’t break the bank.
There’s little headroom for VR and future-proofing, it’s ergonomically middling, and it doesn’t have the features or power of pricier rivals. That said, the GTX 1060, solid Full HD screen and decent components elsewhere mean the GL702VM is an excellent and affordable gaming laptop.