The ASUS Scar II gaming laptop with RTX graphics has been heavily requested on the channel, so let’s find out why so many people are interested in it. In this review we’ll take a look at performance, thermals, overclocking, battery life and basically everything else you’d want to know to help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider buying.
Starting with the specs my unit has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics, 16GB of memory running in dual channel, a 15.6” 1080p 144Hz IPS-level screen and a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD, but there’s also a 2.
5 inch drive bay for additional hard drive or SSD. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. I’ve got the GL504GV model here, but it’s also available with RTX 2070 graphics in the GW version if you’re after more power, you can find up to date prices linked in the description.
The laptop has a brushed metal lid with ROG logo, while the interior is a carbon fiber texture with camo pattern. All edges and corners were smooth and overall it felt well built. The dimensions of the laptop are 36.
1cm in width, 26.2cm in depth, and about 2.6cm in height, so not thin, but not quite thick either. The weight of the laptop is listed at 2.4kg on the ASUS website, and I found mine to weigh a little under this, then under 3.
2kg with the 230 watt power brick and cables for charging. The 15.6” 1080p 144Hz screen has a 3ms response time like many other ASUS gaming laptops, making it a great option for gamers, although no G-Sync here, however I’d argue that’s less important with high refresh rates anyway.
The bezels are also quite thin, at around 8mm based on my own measurements, though there’s a much larger chin below the screen. I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 97% of sRGB, 68% of NTSC and 73% of AdobeRGB, so decent results for a gaming laptop.
At 100% brightness in the center I measured 331 nits with a 840:1 contrast ratio, so again fairly decent. I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and there were some issues that could be noticed while viewing darker content, particularly down the bottom left, however this will vary between laptops and panels.
There was some screen flex, however overall the metal lid felt solid and the hinges out towards the corners helped with stability. There were no issues opening it up with one finger, with the battery up the front and cooling towards the back the weight felt evenly distributed.
Rather than trying to cram the camera above the display in the thin bezel, ASUS have placed it down the bottom on the right. This is what it looks like with the screen in a normal position, with me just looking straight ahead at the screen, so you’d have to tilt the screen back quite a lot if you want to attempt to get yourself in frame.
It looks ok and the microphone sounds ok, but it picks up a fair bit of its own fan noise despite sounding quiet, and the fingers get in the way of the camera when you use the numpad a bit. The chiclet keyboard was good to type with and has 4 zones of RGB backlighting which can be controlled with Aura Sync or through the Armoury Crate software.
The WASD keys are clear just in case you forgot this was a gaming laptop, and there are additional volume control, microphone mute, and shortcut to the Armoury Crate software buttons up the top left. Keyboard brightness can be controlled between three levels by holding the function key and pressing the up or down arrow keys, but there are more adjustments through the software.
It’s got 1.8mm of travel distance, and here’s how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. There was a little keyboard flex while pushing down hard, but overall it was quite solid, and even sturdier in the wrist rest areas where you’re more likely to actually be pushing down.
ASUS note the multi-layered weaved material on the interior is smudge proof and will stay free of fingerprints, and I must admit it did a very good job, only the touchpad and keys had visible smudges after hours of game benchmarking.
On the left there’s the power input, gigabit ethernet, mini DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0b outputs, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt here unfortunately, 3.5mm audio combo jack and the left speaker.
On the right there’s the right speaker, full size SD card slot, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, air exhaust vent and kensington lock. On the back there are air exhaust vents towards the left and right corners with subtle ROG Strix branding in the center, and the status LEDs can be seen here due to the cut out in the bottom of the lid.
The front is smooth plastic with a customizable RGB light bar in the center. On the brushed metal lid there’s the ROG logo which also has RGB lighting. Both the front light bar and lid logo will match the keyboard effect by default, or you can also customize them separately, where lights 1 to 4 are the keyboard zones, 5 is the logo on the back and L and R are the left and right sides of the front light bar.
By default the laptop also plays this sound on boot. Fortunately you’ve got the option of disabling this through the Armoury Crate software. Underneath there are only small vents for air flow, but we’ll see if this is a problem for thermals soon.
It can be removed by taking out 12 screws with a Phillips head screwdriver, the two front corner screws are smaller than the rest. Once inside from left to right we’ve got the WiFi card, single M.2 slot for the included SSD, 2.
5 inch drive bay, battery and two memory slots. There’s only one stick of memory shown here as my review unit came with single channel, but I swapped this to dual channel to show optimal performance, as the ASUS website does specify dual channel memory, so not sure why my review unit was single channel or if that’s a mistake.
The speakers are found towards the front left and right corners, and they sound great for a laptop, there’s some bass present although not as good at higher volumes and here’s what we’re looking at in terms of maximum volume while playing music.
Powering the laptop is a 66 Watt hour battery. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and all RGB lighting off. While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 4 hours and 34 minutes and was using the Intel integrated graphics in this test with Nvidia Optimus.
While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 11 minutes all up, however with 8% charge left and an hour and 4 minutes in the frame rate dropped to 5 FPS and was no longer playable.
I’m not aware of a battery upgrade option in place of the 2.5 inch drive bay in this model either. I’ll also note that I never saw the battery discharge while the 230 watt power brick was plugged in, so it seems to be adequate, which you’d hope as the RTX 2070 version comes with the same size brick.
Let’s move onto the thermal testing, on the bottom of the laptop there doesn’t appear to be many vents for air flow, however there is also an intake vent above the keyboard to help. There was also a heatpipe shared between the processor and graphics, so a change in temperature of one of these will affect the other.
The ASUS Armoury Crate software provides different modes, silent, balanced and turbo. Balanced mode is essentially stock settings, and gives us a 35 watt TDP limit on the CPU while under a combined CPU and GPU workload, while turbo mode boosts this to 45 watts and also raises the fan speed to help with cooling.
You can also toggle between these modes by holding the function key and pressing the F5 key with the fan icon. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments.
I’ve tested idle down the bottom with the silent profile, and the temperatures were fairly cool. Gaming was tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics.
The stress test results are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test and Heaven benchmark at the same time to fully load the system. We can see that any time turbo mode is engaged the CPU temperatures, shown by the blue bars, increase.
This is because the TDP limit raises to boost performance, and we’ll see how this helps improve clock speed in the next graph. The Thermaltake Massive 20 cooling pad was tested at the top of the graph, and only slightly helped with temperatures, I suspect due to the small air intakes underneath the laptop.
I’ll also note that there was no thermal throttling from any of these tests. These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. With the gaming tests it was possible to boost CPU clock speed by 300 to 400MHz by enabling turbo mode, though there’s no change to GPU clock speeds here as turbo mode doesn’t perform any GPU overclocking, something I noted that it did do in the Zephyrus S.
With turbo mode and my manual -0.1v undervolt applied to the CPU it was almost possible to reach the full 3.9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7-8750H. With the stress tests running we were still about 300MHz behind this maximum possible speed, and the cooling pad at the top of the graph doesn’t change the clock speeds here as there was no thermal throttling, power limit throttling was the issue here, and a cooling pad won’t help with that.
Despite this we’re still able to get a fair improvement with turbo mode and undervolting. These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. With the Aida64 stress test running it was possible to hit the 3.
9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7 with a combination of CPU undervolt and boosting the power limit, max speed wasn’t possible in this test with just one or the other. I’ll also note that raising the power limit of the CPU was only possible in CPU only workloads, increasing the limit did nothing in combined CPU and GPU workloads, it would max out at 45 watts, which is why power limit throttling was preventing higher clock speeds in the combined tests shown previously despite there being some thermal headroom.
Here are the temperatures from the same tests just shown, no change with the undervolt applied, while boosting the TDP raises the CPU temperature by 15 degrees Celsius, but then undervolting brings it back 7 degrees at the max 3.
9GHz speed. To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here. There’s no difference to the single core results, as this isn’t enough load to cause any throttling.
The results otherwise closely match the CPU only clock speeds just shown before. Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test with turbo mode in use, as well as the improvements seen by applying a manual 140MHz overclock to the GPU core with MSI Afterburner, although it was power limit throttling even at stock, which seems to be the case with most RTX laptops I’ve tested so far.
This is why there was no temperature difference between stock and overclocked. As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle with the silent profile enabled it was cool, mid 20s in the center.
While gaming or under stress test with the balanced profile in use the wrist rest was still very cool, and the majority of the keyboard stayed cooled too, barely getting to the high 30s in the center, and mid 40s up the back.
With turbo mode enabled and the stress tests going it was perhaps just a tiny bit cooler, either way it was quite impressive at containing the heat. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests.
The fan speed was constantly ramping up or down while under any sort of load, regardless of the balanced or turbo profile in use. This may be annoying, it changes every minute or so while under load between low speed and high speed, even if you manually set it to 100% this still happens.
Despite this, at idle it was fairly quiet, with no fan changing noticed here. While gaming or under stress test with the balanced profile it wasn’t that loud, and dropped down fairly low at times. With turbo mode it did get quite loud, but again would lower back down for a bit before going back up, personally I’d prefer a constant speed somewhere in between.
Overall I think the Scar II is performing quite well in terms of thermals. It’s not thermal throttling and the temperatures don’t get quite as high as many other laptops with similar specs that I’ve tested.
This appeared to be due to power limit throttling that was put in place for combined CPU and GPU workloads, which as we saw did reduce maximum clock speeds by a little, which is always going to be a compromise to have a cooler machine.
As we’ve seen it is possible to improve combined workloads with undervolting and using turbo mode, while CPU only workloads could also be improved by boosting the power limit. Despite the small air vents underneath it didn’t get too hot, likely thanks to the extra air vent above the keyboard.
I was surprised at how cool the keyboard area stayed during high load too, no problems there, the only annoying thing was the fans constantly ramping up and down, perhaps a future BIOS update will allow them to actually stick at one level, which should further improve thermals, not that they’re a problem anyway.
Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, I’ve tested these games with the these Nvidia drivers and all available Windows updates to date installed. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run.
The purple bars show the results with ray tracing disabled, while the green bars show RTX on. The RTX results were alright for medium and low, at least for a laptop, and it actually played ok with RTX on at high and ultra, although for a first person shooter game personally I’d want more FPS and stick to RTX off.
Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets. It played well even with max settings, still perfectly smooth with fairly high frame rate, with 37% higher average FPS possible at minimum settings.
Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark, and with ultra settings the average frame rates were fair for this test with almost 60 for the 1% low, with of course higher possible at lower settings.
Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and due to a recent game update the replay I’ve used is a fair bit different compared to my previous tests, so these results can’t really be compared with my past results.
Regardless even with max settings over 100 FPS was easily possible in this well optimized game. Overwatch is another well optimized game and was tested in the practice range, as other players, bots and even different maps in actual gameplay affect the frame rate and this allows for consistent testing.
The 300 FPS frame cap wasn’t hit here, however the results are still extremely high, able to take advantage of the high refresh rate panel even at epic settings. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and the results at highest settings were a little behind another RTX 2060 laptop I’ve tested, the Aorus 15, though still good results and easily playable no problems.
CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and like always high frame rates were coming out of this test, with 200 just possible with all settings at minimum and not much of a drop with everything at medium.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and is a game I’ve found to benefit from Nvidia’s new turing architecture. The frame rates are super high as expected, however it’s worth noting I always use the defaults the built in presets set, so 50% render scale and T-AA.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and over 100 FPS averages were possible at ultra settings, although there wasn’t really much of a difference at the lower levels. I did note that these results were ahead of the 2080 Max-Q in the Alienware m17, and I used the exact same replay file, which seems to be due to throttling in the m17, but still interesting that a 2060 can come out ahead.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, and I was getting above 60 FPS with very high settings, though still alright results maxed out as this game doesn’t really need a high frame rate to play well, though higher is certainly possible with lower settings.
Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and it was running very smoothly without any problems at all, not surprising given it runs on just about anything.
Watch Dogs 2 is a resource intensive game, but despite this even ultra settings was able to average 60 FPS, which is plenty given this is a game that I think runs perfectly fine with a solid 30 FPS. The Witcher 3 was also running well with hairworks disabled, with 100 FPS possible at high settings, while low settings allowed us to make use of the 144Hz display, not that this game really benefits much from a super high frame rate.
I’ve tested 20 games in total in the dedicated gaming benchmark video, check the card in the top right corner if you want to see more results. Let’s also take a look at how the Scar II compares with some other laptops to see how it stacks up, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different versions of Nvidia drivers.
In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the Scar II up the top shown by the red bar, and out of this random selection of laptops it’s a little behind the other 2060 laptop I’ve tested, the Aorus 15. Here are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark, this time the Scar II was ahead of the Aorus 15 with RTX 2060, this just goes to show it varies by game.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings, in this one the Scar II was behind the Aorus 15. Overall the gaming performance from the Scar II was quite good, the i7-8750H CPU, dual channel memory, and RTX 2060 graphics with 144Hz screen make a nice gaming machine, and it was great to play on.
If you’re after more performance there’s always the RTX 2070 version too. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, Port Royal and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.
As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of overclocking the graphics and undervolting the CPU to increase performance, so let’s see how these changes actually help in gaming. Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark at 1080p.
At ultra settings there was a 3% improvement to average FPS with the CPU undervolted, power limit boosted, and graphics overclocked, the best case scenario. The 1% low rose by 5.6%, I’m guessing due to that extra CPU performance, so it is possible to get some improvements with simple tweaks.
I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD that was installed was offering good read speeds, but not too much above SATA SSD speeds on the writes though. The SD card slot was similar, with better reads than the writes.
For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US we’re looking at around $1700 USD for the same specs, while here in Australia it’s going for $2400 AUD.
Both are currently on sale, I suspect that may be due to 9th gen CPUs being just around the corner, so this will likely change, again check the links in the description. This is about the same price as the Scar II with GTX 1070 graphics, I’ve previously compared the 2060 with 1070 in laptops and there was minimal difference, so probably depends more on whether you want the RTX features offered by the newer model, or the extra 2gb but slower memory with the 1070.
So what do you guys think about the ASUS Scar II gaming laptop? Overall I thought it was performing quite well in the games tested, as we’ve got some nice specs for gaming here, including the i7-8750H CPU, RTX 2060 graphics, dual channel memory, and 144Hz display.
Despite the decent specs, it’s not getting too hot. The thermals were pretty good compared to the competition and there was never any thermal throttling, though this seems to be due to power limitations that exist for combined CPU and GPU workloads, however as we saw it still performs well and improvements could be made.
I also thought the battery was decent for a gaming laptop, perhaps just a bit above average, and if you like RGB lighting well there’s heaps available here. Otherwise I didn’t like the positioning of the nose camera down the bottom right, the lack of Thunderbolt, there was more backlight bleed than I’d like, and the fans constantly ramping up and down could be a little annoying, but hopefully that one gets fixed in the future.
Let me know what you guys thought about the ASUS Scar II gaming laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new here get subscribed for future laptop videos like this one.