Affordable gaming laptops that suit your needs perfectly are always challenging to find and that's simply because of the sheer number of things you need to take into account before splashing the cash. Well, ASUS is one brand which is among the few out there in India to have something for you, regardless of how niche your requirements are. Even if we talk about gaming laptops, ASUS offers a wide range of products under its affordable TUF range and the more premium ROG (Republic of Gamers) range.
Then again if you are particularly looking for a gaming laptop that brings you the ROG experience without you having to sell an arm and a leg, the company has the ROG Strix G.
The Strix G series is available in a smaller 15-inch (G531) as well but the one I got my hands on is the larger 17-inch model which bears the G731 moniker instead. Now, talking about the ROG Strix G G731 in particular, this is more of an entry-level ROG product which the Taiwanese company launched in the latter half of 2019. So what you get here is quite an able gaming laptop that's on par with most other offerings under INR 1 lakh, with last year's hardware. That said, there are a number of things which set this laptop apart from the crowd and my experience with it over the past few weeks have been nothing short of great. Wonder why? Well, you'll have to read on to find out.
No points for guessing here — the ROG Strix G731's design is clearly inspired by that of the ROG Strix III from last year. Provided you've had a look at the ROG Strix III, you'll notice design that's quite similar to the Strix III, including that distinctive RGB LED strip at the bottom. The lid and the keyboard deck come with this faux brushed metal finish too, giving it that edgy, gaming laptop aesthetic that ROG loves showing off on its laptops. I also really dig the light strip that runs across the bottom edge of the laptop — this one's definitely going to turn heads.
But because ASUS had to cut costs here the entire casing here is made out of polycarbonate. Despite the heavy use of plastic though, it doesn't take anything away from how good this laptop looks.
The bezels around the display are also fairly thin, allowing ASUS to fit in a large panel without the chassis feeling obnoxiously big. I would like the hinge to be a tad sturdier, while allowing the screen to fold beyond the 120-degree limit, but I doubt any gamer will have a problem with that.
As for the deck itself, there is minimal flex, and overall the machine feels sturdy. It is a bit on the heavy side, tipping the scale at 2.7 kilos, but that is something that once expects from a gaming machine, especially if its a 17-inch one.
You get all basic ports including three standard USB ports utilizing the USB3.2 (Gen1) standard, an HDMI port, an ethernet port and a headphone and mic combo. Surprisingly there is no USB Type-C which is honestly a big miss although higher configurations do offer this port. Also, there is no SD card slot or a webcam, which will be disappointing for those who'd want to stream every now and then. Apart from that, there's an Intel Wireless-AC 9560 Wi-Fi card offering 1.73Gbps of maximum speeds along with Bluetooth 5.0.
The chicklet-styled keyboard was pleasant to use and I really don't think you'll run into any issues as such with it. It offers decent key-travel although the spacing does take a while getting used to. There is RGB backlighting too, but it is limited to single-zone and not per-key RGB.
The touchpad comes with dedicated left and right mouse buttons and uses Microsoft's precision drivers for tracking. The overall touch and gesture response are on point, although I wish the trackpad was a just a bit larger, utilizing the larger keyboard deck.
Most affordable gaming laptops come with sub-par speakers and the ROG Strix G sadly, doesn't change anything about that. The speakers are good enough for the occasional YouTube binge but for if gaming audio performance matters to you, it is advisable to settle for headphones or external speakers.
The display panel on the Strix G makes use of an IPS panel with 1080p resolution. ASUS’ strangely omits this bit of detail from its website, but you can get the panel in 60Hz, 120Hz and even 144Hz refresh rate option. The one I got offered is a standard 60Hz model which is isn't too bad given that won't be expecting crazy frame rates with mid-tier hardware.
The display here does offer decent looking colors (covering a healthy 93% of the sRGB color gamut) and brightness (peaking at 303 nits). It isn’t up there with high-end notebooks though, so I wouldn't particularly recommend you stick to this configuration if you plan on editing photos or video. Other than that, I think the display is perfectly good for gaming, although I'd definitely try out the higher refresh rate options and understand the trade-off before buying it.
Now, the unit I received for review from Intel features a fairly powerful 9th-gen Intel Core i5-9300H quad-core processor which clocked at 2.4GHz with boost speeds going up to 4.1GHz. Taking care of the graphics is an NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1650 GPU offering 4GB of video memory and 8GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 2666MHz which is further expandable to 32GB.
For storage, you get a 512GB NVMe SSD. The notebook can also be configured with Intel’s more powerful Core i7 9750H six-core processor, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia RTX 2070 and dual-storage option. ASUS India’s website currently only mentions the option of either the Nividia GTX 1650 or the GTX 1050, although I'm told that there were certain variants on sale with NVIDIA’s RTX 2060 and 2070 GPUs online, until a couple of months ago.
Given the fact that this system is meant to cater to an entry-level gamer or someone who likes to indulge in esports titles, I did get a stable 74-78fps on games like PUBG and Apex Legends at medium settings and up to 100fps if you further dial down the graphics settings. I also played a hell lot of Destiny 2 on the machine at medium graphics and I was able to consistently hit a constant 60fps at medium settings.
I was satisfied with the gaming performance while thermals were pretty much in check too with the center of the keyboard and the rear getting warm to touch under heavy loads. Since hot air flows out through the back of the laptop, there's also no worry of heat affecting your gaming experience.
As is the case with all ROG laptops, there is a dedicated key to switch between fan speed profiles while you can also use the dedicated ROG Armory crate software for enhanced control of the system as well as the lighting at the bottom and the keyboard. For regular tasks like surfing the web and watching videos, this is a mighty powerful machine.
The battery is rated at 66Whr which is pretty average for a 17-inch notebook. It lasts about 2 hours and 25 minutes of basic use at peak brightness, but that' number drops to about an hour if you're gaming. Do bear in mind that you'll also notice a fairly big dip in performance once you're on battery, so it goes without saying that you'd rather not forget taking that power brick around everywhere. The company does offer a fairly compact 150W charger to juice up the machine.
There is a lot to like about the ROG Strix G G701. The performance of the hardware is reliable while the overall design looks good especially because of the RGB light strip that runs across the side. For an entry-level ROG gaming laptop, ASUS has tried its best to provide the best experience at the asking price. There are a few shortcomings but I don’t believe that they are big enough to bother the customer.
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The range is made for someone who wants to jump on to some popular games, especially in the e-sports segment. High-end gaming titles should be supported, but don't expect a lot. Also, the high-refresh display is quite a big miss if you're buying a gaming laptop in 2020.
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