ROG Strix Scar III
The textbook definition of ‘yeah, it’s alright’.
- Keyboard is very responsive
- Runs old and new games extremely well
- Fantastic screen
- Touchpad is too close to the keyboard
- Fans are way too noisy
- Too bulky to be portable
In reality, the Scar III doesn’t really do much that other gaming laptops don’t. While you’d be perfectly happy with its performance, you might be better off with building your own PC with the same components - unless you need the laptop form factor, you’re not missing anything here.
After I first saw the ASUS ROG Strix Scar III at IEM Sydney back in May, I was immediately taken aback by the wave of nostalgia it invoked in me.
I was a part of the original Minecraft generation, playing religiously from 2010 to 2014; the friends I made online introduced me to some of my all time favourite games, including Team Fortress 2, Portal, Saints Row The Third and many more.
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar III allowed me to relive the glory days in 2019, boosted by an RTX 2070 graphics card and 9th-Gen Intel i7 processor. However, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s not a bad gaming laptop, but it’s pretty much the same as the others in its bracket. In terms of performance, you’re not really getting much else here that you wouldn’t elsewhere.
The specs for our ASUS ROG Strix Scar III review sample were as follows:
Processor: Intel Core i7-9750H
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display:15.6-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS-level panel, 240Hz, 3ms, 100% sRGB
Ports: HDMI + 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack + 1x USB-C 3.1 (Gen 2) + 3x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen 1)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11ac) + Bluetooth 5.0
Keyboard: Aura Sync, per-key RGB
Weight: 2.57 kg
Dimensions: 36.0cm x 27.5cm x 2.49cm
Battery: 66Wh battery
Audio: 2x 4W speaker with Smart AMP technology
What did we like about the ASUS ROG Strix Scar III?
When I was testing this laptop with my own Steam library, I realised very quickly that a lot of my games were from 2013 and earlier. I thought multiplayer online FPS Team Fortress 2 was the best place to start.
I was initially skeptical about the keyboard, as it didn’t look like the keys had a lot of depth to them - but I was wrong. The travel distance between the key and switch is just enough to feel responsive and satisfying, but not clicky enough to be annoying. ASUS have also packed in their AuraSync RGB lighting system, controlled by Armoury Crate.
TF2 ran like an absolute dream, maintaining a consistent 60-70 FPS with no lag and no frame rate issues. It looked great on the 15.6-inch screen, bolstered by an RTX 2070 graphics card - perfect for taking out Scouts with maximum efficiency. It feels more or less identical to the Zephyrus M and GX701 in that regard.
Newer games run very well on the system, too. We tested both Apex Legends and RAGE 2, and both were able to run on Ultra settings at 60FPS - though not without some drawbacks (see below).
The screen is definitely great, but the most interesting part for me was the trackpad. Unlike the Zephyrus S, ASUS have left the trackpad in its traditional position below the keyboard, with the same separate mouse buttons and keypad integration. It’s comfortable and easy to use, though most of the time you’d be using a mouse for the laptop’s core purpose - gaming.
How does the Strix Scar III stack up in benchmarks?
In terms of benchmarks, the Scar III is fairly similar to a lot of laptops we’ve covered this year - which isn't necessarily a good thing.
The Scar III is pretty much in the middle of the pack when it comes to gaming. While it’s not far behind ROG's flagship Zephyrus S GX701 in 3D-rendering test Timespy, it fails to distinguish itself from other gaming laptops in its category. It's not the best, but it's not the worst.
Also, the Scar III is touted as being “VR ready”, but you would be better off purchasing something else. Yes, it'd certainly run VR, but bare bones and certainly nothing high-end. VR Mark placed this one last in the class.
It's the same story, sadly enough, for the results from PC Mark, which tests PC functions like video conferencing and word processing. In practice, though, I found web browsing and word processing to work like a charm, so take this with a grain of salt - it will still work fine.
The battery life, on the other hand, not so much. Battery Eater estimated a minimum battery life of 1 hour and 21 minutes on maximum fan settings - which is pretty much on par with everything else in its class.
What we didn’t like about the Strix Scar III
Unfortunately, it just keeps getting worse for this laptop. While the Strix Scar III certainly has impressive gaming power on paper, it can be a little clunky in practice.
The most prominent thing I noticed when first using this laptop was that the touchpad is just too close to the bottom of the keyboard. As a native touch-typer, my thumbs pretty much always rest on the spacebar - and I kept accidentally switching on the trackpad’s integrated numpad when I was playing games. I have pretty small hands, so if it’s happening to me, it’s probably happening to everyone.
Speaking of the keyboard, as someone who has never used Armoury Crate before, it was quite intimidating. I could just barely work out how to change the keyboard’s default colour cycle, and I didn’t even try to program the provided Keystone. It’s just sort of thrown at you with no instructions.
In addition, while the Strix Scar III might be a fantastic gaming machine, it kind of fails at being a laptop. Weighing in at 2.57kg, it’s not completely impossible to carry this thing around, but honestly… why would you? At 36cm x 27.5cm x 2.49cm, it’s pretty hard to fit into a backpack or a laptop bag. It’s pretty much on par with its predecessors in that vein. It’s also practically impossible to use on your lap because of its cumbersome weight.
I haven’t even gotten to my biggest complaint about the Strix Scar III - the fans. Dear God, the fans. They’re so loud. Honestly, it sounds like a jumbo jet is taking off, but it’s just this thing trying to render RAGE 2. I had to ramp the fans up to Turbo to get RAGE 2 to run at a consistent frame rate. The noise isn’t not so noticeable when you’re wearing headphones, but it’s pretty distracting if you aren’t - it tends to drown out the speakers.
The Bottom Line
I had a really good time with the ROG Strix Scar III, but I couldn’t help feeling that part of that was the nostalgia factor - I haven’t had a decent gaming PC for a little under five years.
In reality, the Scar III doesn’t really do much that other gaming laptops don’t. While you’d be perfectly happy with its performance, you might be better off with building your own PC with the same components - unless you need the laptop form factor or ROG's AuraSync lighting, you’re not missing anything here.
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