When it comes to gaming laptops, ASUS has a more specific means of differentiating between their products. Rather than just a range of gaming laptops distinguishable only by their serial numbers and spec sheets, ASUS names a segment of their ROG gaming laptops a little more creatively.
For today’s example, ASUS has aptly named this gaming laptop the ROG Strix Hero Edition. “Hero” being ASUS’s designation for its ROG laptops that are designed more for MOBA games such as DOTA 2 and League of Legends.
|ASUS ROG STRIX HERO Edition GL503GE-EN008T|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8750H (2.20 - 4.1 GHz)|
|Graphics||GTX 1050 Ti 4GB|
|Display||15.6-inch TN, 1920x1080 120hz, matte finish|
|Storage||256GB SSD + 1TB HDD|
720p 30fps Video
|Input||RGB Backlit full-size QWERTY keyboard with numpad
|Ports||1x Power in
1x HDMI 1.4
1x SD card reader
1x USB 2.0
3x USB 3.1 Gen 1
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
1x Kensington lock
|Power||150W power adaptor|
|Weight and dimensions||Width: 38.4 cm
Depth: 26.2 cm
Height: 2.4 cm
Weight: 2.6 Kg
That doesn’t mean its limited though, as this gaming laptop has the horses to back up its look-at-me aesthetics. Let’s start with that shall we?
aesthetics & build quality
Gaming laptops are generally chunky and hefty devices and the Hero is no exception. It has a polygonal profile that’s found on past ROG laptops. The chassis itself is mostly plastic, but there’s only an acceptable amount of flex even on the lid and screen. The keyboard has almost no flex in most areas
The Hero’s lid is quite eye-catching thanks to the area being split diagonally (which according to ASUS, symbolizes the dividing line in a MOBA game), with one area having a dragon scale-like pattern and the other having a plain stripe matte finish. There’s a red-glowing ROG logo too, although this isn’t RGB-capable.
The dragon scal pattern continues onto the wrist rest area where you’ll immediately be greeted by the RGB keyboard. It’s reasonably bright so you won’t have a problem appreciating the rainbow lighting even in a well-lit room.
At the bottom, there’s a removal panel which gives you access to the hard drive, M.2 NVMe SSD, and the 8GB RAM stick. There’s another memory slot, but you’ll have to remove the entire bottom panel of the chassis to access it.
Connectivity and inputs
On the left side you have your Ethernet, miniDP, HDMI, 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and on the right you get an SD card reader, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C, a USB 3.1 Gen 1, and a USB 2.0 port plus a Kensington security slot.
For wireless connectivity the Hero is equipped with 802.11ac 2×2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0.
ASUS has (rightly) given the Hero a 120Hz 1080p display, which the GTX 1050 Ti on board will be able to drive fairly decently with most games. It’s smooth, it’s responsive, just how gamers like it.
The TN panel covers 94% of NTSC color space, but I’d say it’s really not best suited for professional photo or video editing. It is pretty good for a TN panel, with the colors not being as saturated as some other gaming laptop displays.
There are huge bezels all around the 15.6″ display, but this may have just spared the 720p webcam from being relocated to the bottom. As a 15.6″ model with a traditional numpad, the huge bezels may have been more of an inevitability than a conscious design choice.
Webcam and sound
The two 3.5w stereo speakers are nothing exceptional. There is some bass, so it’s not completely bad and is definitely usable for when you need to blast out some music for your friends. With gamers in mind, however, we would imagine you’d want to hook up your own speaker setup and/or noise cancelling headset.
As for the webcam:
At this point, we all have to accept that battery life for these gaming laptops are almost always going to be an afterthought and it’s no different with the Hero.
With a more powerful Core i7-8750H and GTX 1050 Ti, the Hero had worse battery life than the previous gaming laptop we’ve tested, the ASUS TUF FX504GD. This means you can expect around 2 hours of screen-on time with internet browsing, video playback, and typing/reading documents before the battery dies.
Don’t even think of gaming on battery because that just throttles the performance.
For games, we tested DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In addition, we were able to test GTA V and Battlefield 4 because unlike the FX504GD from before, there was no sluggish SSHD boot drive to get in our way.
All the settings used are on the highest possible settings without any anti-aliasing (at 15.6″ and 1080p, you shouldn’t need it). For GTA V, we did not opt to enable any of the Advanced Graphics options.
Disclaimer: In our testing, CS:GO and DOTA 2 seem to have some weird issue causing the GL503GE to perform lower than expected. Unfortunately, we have been unable to narrow down the issue, although we have no reason to attribute this to any thermal throttling issues as the device didn’t throttle its GPU and CPU clockspeed upon closer inspection.
|DOTA 2||51 fps||70 fps||85 fps|
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive||62 fps||85 fps||158 fps|
|GTA V||36 fps||51 fps||75 fps|
|Battlefield 4||58 fps||93 fps||113 fps|
The numbers don’t tell the whole story, however, because where the Hero distances itself from the FX504GD is in how much more smoother and stable the gaming experience was. Believe us, the difference between the FX504GD’s GTX 1050 vs. the Hero’s GTX 1050 Ti does not justify the sudden freezes and stuttering we encountered on the FX504GD.
The Hero’s use of an SSD as an OS drive frees up a lot of performance from the mechanical 1TB storage drive where we installed all our games. The result is a much higher minimum fps for CS:GO, which translates to much smoother gameplay.
The Hero’s anti-dust dual-fan cooling solution did an excellent job keeping the thermals under control too. The six-core Core i7-8750H and GTX 1050 Ti did not thermal throttle during gameplay. The rear exhaust does get very hot though, so make sure it’s not obstructed during heavy use.
ASUS pegs the GL503GE as a MOBA focused gaming laptop, but frankly, I do not see anything in the Hero which would distance itself from Scar variant aside from a different skin and a less powerful GPU. In fact, saying that MOBA gamers deserve the less powerful model is probably a wrong message that ASUS might want to back away from. I wish ASUS would have at least given an extra column of macro keys to differentiate the Hero better from the Scar.
But labels aside, the GL503GE does a lot of things well as a gaming laptop such as good game performance, nice RGB backlighting, and a responsive 120Hz 1080p display. It even gets the gaming laptop caveats correct too: being hefty, having an edge-y shape, a large power adapter, and styling which would appeal only to gamers.
Even more good news is that none of the FX504GD’s tear-your-hair-out slow SSHD frustrations is present on the Hero. The use of a 256GB PCI-E SSD as an OS drive does not only make the Hero good for gaming, but also makes it perform superbly in everyday tasks.
With the Hero II and Scar II already here, these refreshed models will be cheaper too and right now you can find the GL503GE model for around Php 73,000, down from the original SRP of Php 82,000. Not exactly cheap, but on par with most other similarly spec’d gaming laptops and you do get a GT300 Harrier gaming mouse included in the package.
All things considered then, the GL503GE Strix Hero might just be the definitive 2018 gaming laptop along with its Scar sibling. Good performance and features, with no outstanding faults.
– Good gaming performance
– Adequate cooling with no thermal throttling
– SSD boot drive + HDD storage = Fast and responsive everyday performance
– Smooth and responsive 120Hz 1080p display – RGB backlit keyboard
-Bad battery life (as expected)