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ASUS Scar II (GL504GS) Gaming Laptop Review

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ASUS Scar II (GL504GS) Gaming Laptop Review

The ASUS ROG Strix Scar II gaming laptop has been heavily requested on the channel for a while now, and I can see why, it’s got nice specs and looks pretty good, so let’s take a closer look and help you find out if it’s a laptop you should consider buying.

Starting with the specs my unit has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, so 6 cores 12 threads, 3.9GHz all core turbo and 4.1GHz single core turbo. I’ve got 32GB of memory running at DDR4-2666 in dual channel, the most it supports, although most configurations for sale come with 16GB in dual channel.

For the storage it’s got a single M.2 slot with NVMe support and I’ve got a 512GB NMVe SSD installed. There’s also a single 2.5 inch drive by, and I’ve got a 1TB SSHD installed here. For the graphics there’s an Nvidia 1070 which power the 15.

6” 1080p 144Hz IPS display. For network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth version 5.0. The Scar 2 features a grey brushed metal lid and smooth carbon fiber texture black interior with a camo pattern taking up half of it.

All corners and edges are completely smooth and overall build quality felt quite good. The dimensions of the laptop are 36.1cm in width, 26.2cm in depth, and 2.6cm in height, so a little smaller than many other 15 inch laptops due to the thin bezel which generally means an overall smaller body.

The weight is listed as 2.4KG which is about what I found mine to weigh, and with the 230 watt power brick and cable included the total weight increases to over 3kg. It’s got an AUO 15.6” 1080p 144Hz IPS panel with a 3ms gray-to-gray response time, no G-Sync here though, and as already shown it’s got fairly thin bezels.

No issues with viewing angles, colours were still perfectly clear for me on any angle. I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 97% of sRGB, 67% of NTSC and 73% of AdobeRGB, so not bad for a gaming laptop.

At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 330 nits in the center, and with an 870:1 contrast ratio, so again fairly decent for a gaming laptop, overall I thought it looked pretty good. I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, for the most part it was fine, although there were some minor imperfections detected, mainly the top right corner, but I never noticed any of these while normally using the laptop, however this will vary between laptops anyway.

There’s some flex to the screen while pushing it, likely as it’s on the thinner side with small hinges in the far left and right corners. It can also be easily opened up with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution as we’ve got the battery towards the front.

The 720p camera is placed awkwardly down the bottom right side. The camera doesn’t look great and the placement is pretty bad, it’s right down the bottom right corner, so even sitting in the of the laptop I have to put the screen right back and the angle still looks weird.

The microphone sounds alright, but as there’s basically always fan noise you’ll be able to hear some of it. The chiclet keyboard was great to type with and has a 1.8mm travel distance. The keys are backlit with RGB lighting in 4 different zones with some basic effects which can be controlled through the Aura core software.

The WASD keys are completely clear, the numpad is a little cramped but not too bad, and the arrow keys are a little small. Here’s how the keys sound to type with to try and give you an idea of what to expect.

There was some keyboard flex while pushing down hard, but I never found this to be a problem during normal use. Above the keyboard on the left are hotkeys for volume up, down, mute, and the last one opens the ROG gaming center software which lets you monitor the system.

To the right of this there’s an air intake vent to help keep the internals cool, and the power button on the right. The touchpad was smooth to the touch and worked well, it uses precision drivers it doesn’t click down.

It’s also got separate left and right click buttons which have a grippy matte texture and were quiet to press. Moving onto the I/O, on the left there’s the power input, gigabit ethernet, mini DisplayPort 1.

2, HDMI 2.0 output, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, although no mention of Thunderbolt here, 3.5mm audio combo jack and the left speaker. On the right there’s the right speaker, an SD card slot, USB 3.

1 Gen2 Type-A port, air exhaust vent and Kensington lock. The two 3.5 watt speakers are found on either side towards the front, and they sound really good for laptop speakers, definitely some of the best I’ve tested in a while.

They do sound a little muffled at high volumes but there was some nice bass present. Speaking of sounds, like some other ASUS laptops it plays this short sound on boot by default. Luckily this can be disabled through the BIOS, I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to boot that up in a quiet room.

On the back there’s just air exhaust vents towards the corners, and you can see the status LEDs here when the lid is closed. The front has an RGB lighting bar which can be controlled through software, more on that next.

On the back of the brushed metal lid there’s the ROG logo on the side, and it lights up with the same effect that the keyboard and light bar have been configured with, in this case the rainbow effect.

You can’t give separate lighting effects to the front bar, keyboard or lid, but you can set different static colours individually to the three areas. The ASUS website notes that the body has a smudge proof surface, and while fingerprints are hidden pretty well there are still visible smudges, although quite hard for me to pick up on camera, either way as a smooth surface they’re easy to wipe away.

Underneath is pretty clean looking, the rubber feet did an excellent job at preventing movement and there are some air vents towards the back. It was pretty easy to open up using a phillips head screwdriver.

Once inside from left to right we get easy access to the WiFi card, single M.2 slot, single 2.5 inch drive bay, two memory slots and battery. Powering the laptop is a 66 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, lighting effects off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for only an hour and 10 minutes, not great.

It wasn’t possible to swap over to Intel integrated graphics, you only seem to be able to use the Nvidia 1070 which burns more power as a result. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 56 minutes, but after about 10% remaining it dropped from a solid 30 FPS to around 10 and wasn’t very playable, overall I was disappointed by the battery life, you’ll definitely want to bring the charger with you.

While gaming I also found the battery to discharge even while plugged in, it didn’t happen in all games and some more than others probably depending on resource usage, maybe up to 10% lost in 30-60 minutes, however despite this I didn’t see performance loss which is usually the case.

It’s also worth considering I tested gaming with overboost mode enabled, so this may be reduced if you game in the silent or balanced profiles, but that would also mean less performance. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees celcius, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment.

Also keep in mind there’s a heatpipe shared between processor and graphics, so a change in one component may affect the other. Starting at the bottom of the graph, at idle the temperatures are a little warm shown by the light blue bars, even though the fan was still somewhat audible, as you’ll hear soon.

Moving up to the green bar I was testing gaming by playing Watch Dogs 2 as it uses a good combination of CPU and GPU, and this gave us the highest temperatures while gaming. The yellow bar had the fans maxed out by enabling ASUS’s overboost mode, which also raises the TDP of the CPU from 35 watts to 45 watts, so there’s no temperature change here on the CPU as it’s being sent more power, although the graphics drop by 6 degrees from the faster fans.

With the fans back at stock speeds in the balanced profile but with a -0.090v CPU undervolt applied, shown next in orange, both CPU and GPU are only 1 degree cooler than without undervolting, though we’ll see how this affected performance in the next graph.

With a combination of faster fans from overboost mode and undervolting applied, we see our best gaming temperatures and performance in light red. The stress tests were done by running Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark at the same time in order to attempt to fully utilize both the processor and graphics.

Moving up in the graph and starting with the dark red bar there was the usual power limit throttling taking place. In the pink bar with overboost enabled there was still power limit throttling but also intermittent thermal throttling now too.

Back on balanced mode in the purple bar with the undervolt applied there’s a small difference, and then another slight drop to CPU temperature with both fans maxed out and undervolt applied, shown in dark blue, although we’re seeing 6 to 7 degree improvements on the graphics here from increased fan speed.

These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. Again starting down the bottom in green while gaming, we can see a fairy nice improvement to CPU clock speed by enabling overboost mode, as the CPU TDP rises from its 35 watt cap to 45 watts, although in the orange bar without overboost we can still get a nice improvement with the -0.

090v undervolt only. With both the undervolt and overboost mode combined though we’re seeing the full 3.9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7 chip in the red bar. Similar story for the stress tests, where the combination of undervolt and overboost mode give us the full performance of the CPU even under this worst case scenario test, better than many other 8th gen laptops I’ve tested.

These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. There are three built in profiles on the laptop called silent, balanced, and overboost. These limit the CPU to 30, 35 and 45 Watt TDPs respectively and the fan speed also increases with each profile to aid cooling.

We can see that under CPU only stress test we get slightly better results with each profile, though not quite full speed unless we also apply the undervolt, shown at the top in red. To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here, with the older 7th gen 7700HQ just there for comparison.

Even without the undervolt applied the 8750H score with overboost mode is a little ahead of many other similarly specced laptops I’ve tested, with full performance achieved with our undervolt, so a good result.

Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test both at stock and with a 200MHz GPU core overclock applied, although on average in this test we’re only seeing a 100MHz boost due to power limitations on the graphics, I wasn’t able to modify this with MSI’s Afterburner.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was mostly in the low 30s but rises to mid 30s in the center and up the back. While gaming this increases to the low 40s in the center and up to 50 right up the back, a pretty similar result to while running the stress tests, though perhaps a little warmer up the back.

With the fans maxed out in overboost mode the temperatures seem to drop down by a few degrees. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was a little louder than most other laptops with the fans still quite audible, despite the somewhat warmer idle temperatures shown earlier.

While gaming and under stress test the results were about the same and not too different from most other gaming laptops I’ve tested, but then with overboost mode enabled the fans do get quite loud. Overall the performance was pretty good for an 8th gen i7-8750H laptop, almost all laptops I’ve tested with this CPU have power limit throttling, and while that was still the case here it was less of an issue compared to many others, and could be fully eliminated even under stress test with a combination of overboost mode and extra undervolting applied.

Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, all games were run at 1080p with the latest Windows updates and these Nvidia drivers. ASUS’s overboost mode was also enabled to give us full performance of the i7 CPU.

Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and even at epic settings we’re averaging above 100 FPS, with high settings getting us above the refresh rate of the display, while the 1% low results at medium settings are above it, so it’s running very smoothly.

Overwatch was tested playing in the practice range, and again at epic settings the results are very nice, with even the 1% low not too far below the refresh rate of the display, it played excellent even at max settings.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, still a newer title for me so not much to compare it with, though it is performing a bit better than the MSI GE63 that I’ve recently tested with the same hardware, so seems like good results.

PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and although this is a less optimized game I thought the frame rates were actually pretty decent, with 1% lows at ultra settings still averaging above 60 FPS, so quite playable with good settings.

CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical benchmark, and the results were again pretty nice for this hardware combination compared to other laptops tested. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and was another that ran well at basically all setting levels, with 1% lows at higher setting levels not far behind the refresh rate of the display, so even the dips in performance are pretty good.

Far Cry 5 was also tested with the built in benchmark, once again pretty good results from this test, above 60 averages for 1% low and fairly high average frame rates. Assassin’s Creed Origins was another that was tested with the built in benchmark, and yet again pretty good frame rates for this test, especially considering that I don’t think you really need a high frame rate to play this one.

Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, these results are not the same as actually playing the game, and for this test the results were pretty decent compared to other laptops as there wasn’t quite as much CPU throttling here.

Watch Dogs 2 is a demanding game, although it doesn’t really need a high frame rate to play, but despite this even at ultra settings we’re able to average 60 FPS which is pretty impressive. Ghost Recon is another demanding game and was tested using the built in benchmark, pretty much no laptop will really play this well at ultra settings, but should run well at lower levels.

The Witcher 3 played great at anything below Ultra, it was still definitely playable at ultra settings but it just felt nicer stepping down slightly to high settings, as shown by the jump in frame rates.

I’ve got a few more games covered in the dedicated gaming benchmark video if you’re interested. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.

All of the games tested are giving us pretty nice results, I think Nvidia 1070 graphics are a really great option if you’re looking at running games above 100 FPS, a good match for the 144Hz 1080p screen in the Scar 2, although it does of course depend on the specific game and the setting levels in use as we’ve just seen.

As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of overclocking the graphics, so let’s see how this actually helps improve gaming performance. The exact same Windows updates, game updates and Nvidia drivers were installed so there shouldn’t be any changes other than these CPU undervolting and graphics overclocking changes.

Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark, the average frame rates were only just a little better with a 4.8% improvement at ultra settings with the overclocking and undervolting applied. Fortnite also saw the same 4.

8% improvement at max settings to the average frame rates, although this varies between setting levels, however apart from low settings the trend appeared positive. It does seem like we can gain a little extra performance with the overclocking and undervolting, though nothing too amazing considering the results are already quite good.

As for storage, in Crystal Disk Mark the 512GB NVMe SSD is giving us really nice read and write speeds, while the 1TB 5,400RPM SSHD is giving us around the typical speeds of a regular hard drive. I wasn’t able to get the SD card recognized by the laptop even with drivers installed, not sure why, but I haven’t been able to test its speeds.

For updated pricing you can check the links in the description, at the time of recording here in Australia this model goes for around $2800 AUD, while in the US it goes for around $2000 USD, but these are the much more common 16GB memory 256GB SSD versions.

Based on the specs and form factor I feel like it’s a competitor to the ASUS’s own Zephyrus M, although that one is a couple hundred dollars cheaper, let me know if you’d be interested in a comparison video.

So what do you guys think about the ASUS Scar 2 gaming laptop? Overall I was pretty impressed with the performance and the fact that we were able to get full use out of the 8750H CPU with some undervolting, even under stress test.

The thin bezel 144Hz screen looks great and is an excellent match up with the Nvidia 1070 graphics. I personally don’t mind the camo design but that will always be a subjective thing, the only thing I really didn’t like is the poor battery life and the fact that battery still drains quicker than I’d like while gaming and plugged in.

It would have been great if it had the option of swapping to Intel integrated graphics given it doesn’t have G-Sync anyway but that wasn’t possible. Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and leave a like to let me know if you found the review useful.

Thanks for watching, and don’t forget to subscribe for future tech videos like this one.

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