It’s been a little while since I’ve gone hands-on with with a high-end gaming laptop, mainly focusing on handheld PCs such as the ASUS ROG Ally, AYANEO 2S and Lenovo Legion GO this year, but I’ve been hands-on with the new ASUS ROG Strix Scar 18 2024 edition, I was simply blown away by the performance in what is a reasonable sized laptop for the specs and display that it is packing.
This is an 18-inch laptop with a gorgeous ROG Nebula HDR Mini LED display with 2304 dimming zones and 1,100 nits of peak brightness as well ad Dolby Vision. I believe that this is the first time that an 18-inch ROG laptop has had a Nebula HDR Mini LED display, and it absolutely stands above the rest of the laptops that I’ve used in my time.
As far as the specs of the display go, it has a 1600p display with a 240hz refresh rate as well as NVIDIA G-Sync support. At first, I was wondering if a 240hz display was necessary, and if the GPU would be able to hit it, but it absolutely could (more on that later).
Despite the fact that the Strix Scar G18 has an 18-inch display, I was shocked with how light it was. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a monster of a unit, but at only 3.00kg it actually really retains its portability, to the point that you’d be more inclined to take it with you for gaming on the go. The bezels have been made a bit smaller, which really highlights that gorgeous display even more.
The actual design of the laptop is really solid as well. It feels traditional in the right places so that you can take it into a work place, but then is also surrounded by RGB lighting across the entire front and back of the laptop, throughout the keyboard and that iconic ROG logo on the top as well. It’s all customisable via Aura Sync through Armory Crate as well. There’s five customisable hot-keys on the keyboard as well that are set to quickly take you to Armory Crate or control the performance modes.
As far as ports go, you’ve got 1 x Thunderbolt 4 port, a secondary 3.2 Gen2 USBC port which can also charge up to 100w PD, the power jack which can charge the battery up to 50% in 30 minutes, a HDMI 2.1 port, an ethernet port and an audio jack. On the right side, you’ve got 2 x USB 3.2 Typ-A ports, so you’re absolutely covered.
In terms of other capabilities, the laptop supports Wi-FI 6E and has a 720p webcam which I absolutely would have loved to have seen upgraded to 1080p as I feel like that’s just the standard these days, especially for a flagship device. The speakers are absolutely fantastic and support Dolby Atmos as well.
My particular unit has an Intel Core i9-14000HX processor as well as an NVIDIA RTX 4090GPU with 16GB of VRAM and it absolutely blitzed anything I threw at it. Playing games at 1600p in ultra with the highest ray-tracing turned on as well as DLSS 3.0 where possible resulted in buttery smooth frame rates.
F1 2023 ran at 227 FPS, Horizon Zero Dawn ran at 151FPS and Forza Horizon 5 ran at 184FPS, but the most impressive was Cyberpunk 2077 which even with all of the bells and whistles turned on was able to clear 100 FPS at 116 FPS, which is fantastic given that this is one of the harder games to run. This is obviously helped by DLSS 3.0 including frame generation and ray-tracing generation.
The laptop is just a genuine joy to game on thanks to how well it runs games, and the previously mentioned display that absolutely makes games pop. If you’re buying this for the sole purpose of being able to take a very capable gaming rig on the go with you, you won’t be disappointed in that regard.
It won’t be too surprising but the fans are fairly noisy when you’re playing in Turbo mode. Not super distractingly if you’re wearing headphones or have the game turned up on the speakers, but it’s worth mentioning. The same goes for heat, which again, wasn’t super next level, and to be honest the heat dissipation is quite impressive given the size of the laptop. but it’s definitely hot in areas to the point that you wouldn’t ever want it in your lap.
When it comes to battery life, if you’ve used a Windows gaming laptop before, you know that it’s probably not going to last your day. It’s getting better thanks to the likes of NVIDIA Optimus technology which cleverly switches between the discrete GPU and the integration graphics depending on what’s needed, but realistically you’ll last somewhere between the 4-7 hour mark whilst running on the lowest power setting, but obviously you’ll want to be connected when gaming to take advantage of that sweet 4090 GPU.
I’ve become really fond of ASUS ROG products this year, testing the likes of the ASUS ROG Ally and the ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate. What I really like about their products is the fact that they seamlessly blend hardware and software to allow you to easily take advantage of the power in easy to understand ways.