Review

How an ultra fast gaming laptop rekindled my interest in PC gaming

The ROG 17" Strix Scar 2021 is a beastly laptop.
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Console gaming is my jam, and I’ve been lucky enough to own every major console or handheld release across generations. Between the many cartridges and CD’s and controllers all piled up around the house, console gaming has always been my safe space.

I used to do most of my PC gaming in spurts – during the time of Ragnarok Online, Counter-strike 1.3, Diablo II, Overwatch. I even splurged a bit 5 years ago when I picked up an Asus ROG G752, which was such a huge and heavy laptop that I couldn’t even bring it around without pulling a back muscle. But between working from home for the past 5 years and being a father, PC gaming never seemed like an option to me at all. At the end of a work day, I find the need to “disconnect” and spend what little gaming time I had somewhere else.

strix scar 2021 laptop banner
Sleek and subtle.

Enter the ROG 17″ Strix Scar 2021, one of the latest laptop models from Asus, which was probably their way of bringing me back to the dark side of PC gaming. It is quite the powerhouse, and I’ve never really gotten this close to a gaming laptop this sleek and powerful that my hands are sweaty and shaking while I’m typing this up on the actual unit. They would probably kill me if they knew I used it just to browse on social media.

After spending some time with the 17″ variant, it has certainly opened up my eyes again to the joys of PC gaming. So much, in fact, that even if I can’t really afford one, I’ve come to appreciate the technology behind these ultra fast laptops. Did you know that all of those RGB lights can add up to 60 fps to your games (no they don’t)?

As a casual PC gamer who isn’t in the know of the latest tech and parts that make up a top of the line rig these days, there are a number of things I do look for when I window shop for a rig – Design and Build Quality, Cooling, and Overall Utility. These 3 things are a non-negotiable for someone like me who doesn’t have deep pockets, and it may be the same for you. Performance is obviously a big consideration, but since that’s really a factor of your budget, we’ll look at the Strix Scar 2021 from the lens of these 3 categories.

Design and Build Quality

We’ll get to the specs in a bit, but we’ll talk first about the design.

If you’re anything like me, who hates a “loudly” designed laptop that screams gamer, the Strix Scar is very much the opposite. The sleek lines of this laptop exudes a very refined design, accentuated only by single yet shiny ROG logo. It is simple and subtle, just the way I like it.

One nice touch that the Strix Scar has is its customizable armor cap, which you can personalize via the 2 extra caps that come with it or via 3D printing, so you can give your laptop a touch of character that you can call your own. The default gray cap is nice as it is, and I never really bothered to change it because the other designs it came with were a bit too shiny for my taste. Then again, if that’s your style, changing armor caps is as easy as sliding it out and popping a new one back in, all in under 10 seconds.

You certainly won’t get side-glances when you open this laptop in a coffee shop, as there aren’t any details about the laptop that really craves attention, unless you turn on the Aura Sync RGB lighting around the laptop, which is almost a staple with everything “gaming” these days.

One thing I really liked about the Strix Scar 2021 is its slim profile. Might I remind you that this is a 17-inch variant, but can easily fit into backpacks or pouches made for 15-inch laptops. The screen bezel is so thin that it can almost be considered bezel-less (is that even a word), which constitutes to its smaller form factor. Despite its slim profile, the feel of the laptop is pretty solid, and doesn’t feel cheap. When you consider everything packed inside this laptop (which we’ll get to later), it makes the realization even more impressive.

The ports on the Strix Scar 2021 are just enough for what I need. Some users may want another Type-A or Type-C port added, but the ports included on this laptop should be enough for the majority out there. There are 2 USB Type-A ports on the left side along with a 3.5mm jack, and the rest of the ports are situated at the back, which comprise of another Type-A port, 1 Type-C, HDMI, and LAN.

If you don’t have an external Keyboard, there are 3 things I’d like to talk to you about.

First, why?

Second, the keyboard on the Strix Scar 2021 is equipped with what’s called “optical-mechanical switches” which feature a slim profile but with the satisfying clickety-clack of a full fledged mechanical keyboard. Personally, I didn’t like it, just because it made too much noise while typing. To be fair, the noise produced isn’t as loud as other mechanical keyboards, but I would have preferred a more silent approach to complement its subdued design. I also hate that the numpad is positioned slightly higher than normal, which takes a bit of getting used to, but not really a big problem.

Third, and something that’s more aesthetic-driven, is the fact that the palm rest is covered in soft-touch paint, which may sound fancy, but what it really does is keep your laptop looking brand new by minimizing smudges and oil stains. Say goodbye to those shiny circular markings, those can stay on oily faces, but the palm rest on the Strix Scar 2021 is very easy to clean and is kept cool even after hours of use.

In terms of design and build quality, there’s very little that this laptop does wrong.

Performance (and Cooling)

A lot of gamers put heavy stock into the performance of their gaming rigs, and rightly so. Get the best equipment = play the best games = best performance settings = win. It’s a simple equation, and the Strix Scar packs so much power that’s more than enough to make your eyes water.

For starters, here are the major specs for the Strix Scar 2021:

  • Display: 17″ FHD 300Hz
  • CPU: R9-5900HX
  • RAM: 16GB x 2 3200Mhz
  • Storage: 1TB PCIE SSD + 1TB (RAID 0)
  • GPU: RTX 3080 16GD6

For a big majority of users, this is considered overkill. These specs demand a very high price, and not everyone will need this much power for their daily gaming needs. I certainly don’t, but those who do will appreciate how all of this fits into a very small package.

Max settings baby.

First off, and this should come as no surprise because of the installed SSD, but this laptop is blazing fast. Upon pressing the power button, you can expect to be on your desktop in less than 10 seconds. That’s less time than it would take for you to order for lunch online. Everything about the laptop is designed to get you doing what you need to be doing in record time – whether you’re doing some heavy gaming or just window shopping on social media, the SSD provides a transformative experience that everyone should get familiar with.

Second, because of the RTX 3080 installed, almost every game you throw at performs in tip top shape. From light games like Dota to heavy epics like Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3, the Strix Scar 2021 can be your gaming rig of choice for a long time, not only because of the latest parts but because of how the laptop is designed to take care of itself.

I tried various games on the laptop, from Dota 2 to Rage 2 to Subnautica and even Cyberpunk 2077. There was nothing that the machine couldn’t handle, and while I need to get used to gaming on a 17-inch screen again since I mostly play on a TV, games look and play well on its 300hz panel.

As I often game on my PS5, of course I had to try remote play on the laptop as well and to no surprise, there was no problems from setup to actual gaming. Of course, the input lag is due to the network more than the hardware, so if you plan to steam games or do remote play from your consoles, this is one more thing the Strix Scar 2021 can do for you without any problems.

One understated design choice that I appreciated with this machine is its cooling. Compared to my 5 year old rig, parts of the laptop that I would normally position my hand in (while not using an external keyboard) would feel warm to the touch. Of course, this is not ideal, and over the years various laptop manufacturers have improved their cooling capabilities over time.

The Strix Scar 2021 has a number of features that put a premium on cooling. Liquid metal compound is used to lower its CPU temperatures, paired with hardware and software operated cooling, and this laptop can easily handle the most rigorous of tasks. Your hands will never be in contact with a hot (or even warm) part of the laptop, and that’s fantastic.

Overall Utility

It stands to reason that if your laptop is capable of heavy gaming, then it can handle most anything you throw at it. It’s not wrong to think that way, which is why most consumers would aim for gaming specced machines. In this case, the Strix Scar 2021 can also be your everyday laptop for whatever you need.

We’re going to look at a couple of practical examples.

The Strix Scar 2021, for its monstrous specs, is very light. Measuring at 354.9 x 259.9 x 22.69~27.2 (mm) and weighing at a paltry 2.3KG, this laptop is going to be thinner than and lighter than a lot of things that you own. It’s actually mind-blowing to think that technology has advanced so much in a span of 5 years that a top of the line laptop back in 2016 is almost twice as heavy and twice as thick.

5x as powerful in about half the size.

There are obvious benefits to this, but none more than the portability it offers. This laptop is very easy to carry around, and at any point in time that you have to do ANYTHING at all, even game at ultra settings, you can do it no sweat. Not all lightweight laptops can boast to do the same thing.

I type a huge amount of things on a daily basis, and it would be an awfully stupid statement to say that the laptop can handle it without problem, for obvious reasons. What I want to point out is that in my experience, I went through a number of full hour workdays (8-9 hours) while unplugged. In those 8-9 hours, I would have typed 4-5 articles, be 100% online for my day job, take on virtual meetings, browse social media, and some Youtube or Spotify in between. That’s fantastic battery life, which is a testament to how efficient its hardware and software works together to meet the user demands.

When I needed to jump in on a gaming session, I just plug in the laptop, giving it the juice to switch on performance mode, and transport me to my Dota 2 session within seconds. It’s hard to get used to how fast everything is, but time is money, and the Strix Scar 2021 will surely save you a lot of it.

RTX 3080 to type articles. Nice.

The laptop, upon purchase, also carries with it a number of peripherals that will complete your setup from day 1 – an ROG Chakram Core Mouse, ROG Delta Headset, GC21 Webcam, 100w PD Charger, and an ROG backpack. Don’t expect best-in-class performance from these peripherals though. They’re serviceable as inclusions in the package, but you can do so much better when you choose to upgrade.

What we liked:

  • Monstrous specs in a lightweight package
  • Small enough profile to pass as a 15-inch laptop
  • Top-notch cooling
  • Fantastic battery life

What we didn’t like:

  • Unreasonably expensive
  • Optical-mechanical keyboard could be better

Verdict: Buy it! (if you have the budget)

It’s very hard to justify spending PHP200K for a gaming laptop. The Strix Scar 2021 is a heavy investment for a majority of people, and those who can afford this type of technology probably have a decked out desktop as well. Whatever the case may be, this product is top of the line for a lot of reasons, but even for practical examples as stated above, the Strix Scar 2021 does very little wrong, as expected from its hefty price tag.

From build quality to performance to overall utility, the Strix Scar 2021 is design to take and shrug off abuse, but even with a laptop as powerful as this, its sleek profile keeps it casual enough to bring around anywhere for whatever you need from it.

I probably cannot afford something like this in my lifetime, but in case I have some extra cash lying around somewhere, I’ll probably buy 1 just to brag about some irrational purchase to myself in the future.

Author

Father. Gamer. Editor in Chief of One More Game. Not a Trophy or Achievement hunter but plays games by the boatload, look him up on PSN or XBL! Would love to see a Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger, Lufia, and Breath of Fire 2 remake done in his lifetime.

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