Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) review: Gamers just can’t ignore it
The Asus ROG Strix Scar (2023) is an out-and-out gaming beast that is meant for professional gamers. I mean those who participate in tournaments and play games religiously. For anyone else, the Scar 18 makes less sense, not only because it is labelled a gaming machine but because you probably don’t need that prowess. It is also an expensive laptop, starting at Rs 2,79,990 and going all the way up to Rs 3,59,990, which may be just too much for most customers who don’t game.
I have been using the Asus’ latest gaming laptop for a while and I can confirm that I am absolutely impressed by what all it brings to the table. Let me elaborate, but before that let us get the specifications of the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) out of our way. (These specifications are for the high-end model, which I have been reviewing.)
|Processor: 13th Gen Intel® Core™ i9-13980HX Processor 2.2 GHz (36M Cache, up to 5.6 GHz, 24 cores: 8 P-cores and 16 E-cores)|
|Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4090 Laptop GPU, ROG Boost: 2090MHz* at 175W (2040MHz Boost Clock+50MHz OC, 150W+25W Dynamic Boost), 16GB GDDR6|
|Display: ROG Nebula Display, 18-inch QHD+ 16:10 (2560 x 1600, WQXGA), IPS-level, Anti-glare display, DCI-P3:100.00 percent, Refresh Rate:240Hz, Response Time:3ms G-Sync, Pantone Validated, MUX Switch + NVIDIA Advanced Optimus, Support Dolby Vision HDR: Yes|
|Memory: 32GB DDR5-4800 SO-DIMM x 2, Support dual channel memory|
|Storage: 2TB + 2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 Performance SSD (RAID 0)|
|I/O Ports: 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI 2.1 FRL, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort / power delivery / G-SYNC, 1x 2.5G LAN port, 1x Thunderbolt 4 support DisplayPort / G-SYNC|
|Keyboard and Touchpad: Backlit Chiclet Keyboard Per-Key RGB, Touchpad|
|Camera: 720P HD camera|
|Audio: Smart Amp Technology, Dolby Atmos, AI noise-cancelling technology, Hi-Res certification, Built-in array microphone, 4-speaker system with Smart Amplifier Technology|
|Network and Communication: Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Triple band) 2*2 + Bluetooth® 5.3 Wireless Card (*Bluetooth® version may change with OS version different.)|
|Battery: 90WHrs, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion|
|Power Supply: ø6.0, 330W AC Adapter, Output: 20V DC, 16.5A, 330W, Input: 100~240C AC 50/60Hz universal, TYPE-C, 100W AC Adapter, Output: 20V DC, 5A, 100W, Input: 100~240V AC 50/60Hz universal|
|AURA SYNC: Yes|
|Device Lighting: Aura Sync Light Bar, Aura Sync logo, Aura Sync Rear Glow|
|Weight: 3.10 Kg (6.83 lbs)|
|Dimensions (W x D x H): 39.9 x 29.4 x 2.31 ~ 3.08 cm (15.71″ x 11.57″ x 0.91″ ~ 1.21″)|
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 design and display
As you would expect, the Strix Scar 18 is a hefty gaming machine that you would not want to move much or put on your lap. I moved the laptop probably once or twice during my entire testing period. But if you overlook that part — which you would, the Scar 18 is an attractive laptop. The RGB lighting running across the chassis grabs attention immediately, even in a dark room. It is also what gamers would appreciate, especially since you can customise the patterns for this light strip. The ROG logo lights up to add to the laptop’s overall appeal.
I also liked how the translucent plastic pieces on the sides and the back of the keyboard platform break the monotony of a typical gaming laptop. I found what Asus calls Armour Caps also inside the box. It’s essentially a protection for the hinge, but the moment you use it, it becomes a part of the laptop’s design. The sides of the laptop have ample ports. I never faced a problem using any accessory, including a LAN cable. But unfortunately, there is no SD card slot on the laptop, which I did not miss but some people might.
Opening the lid is comfortable and can be done with just one hand. Inside it is a big display. Even though it’s not an AMOLED panel, I like how good it is at producing rich colours. Everything looks great on the screen, including Netflix and Prime Video shows and movies, thanks to Dolby Vision support. It can also get quite bright, but Asus has got some certifications to prove the display will not affect your eyes much. It is one of the best laptop displays I have used for watching movies, but that is not the primary goal.
How do games look? I’d say amazing. Taking help from Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, the display has very low latency when showing minute movements in games such as Call of Duty: Warzone. It is also among the smoothest displays, making games appear more appealing. Since this is a large display, a lot of elements in a game are visible, making it easier for me to have a sense of what I’m dealing with as a game character.
Unfolding the machine also reveals an interesting keyboard, decorated by RGB lighting to spice up the experience. Asus offers its own software called Armoury Crate, to let you customise things to the last detail. There are several customisations available through Aura Sync, so you never get bored of a pattern for the laptop and connected accessories. The keyboard has some dedicated buttons to fire up some applications instantly. It was convenient for me not to navigate around to turn a setting on or off. It is a full keyboard, meaning you get the dedicated number keys on the right. It can be useful in some cases, but I feel it makes the keyboard design slightly dated. Oh, and the touchpad is spacious enough to comfortably rest your palm and do the navigation. The glass coating on it reduces friction to make the finger move around freely.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 performance and battery
The model I have been reviewing is top-of-the-line, featuring one of Intel’s most powerful Core i9 processors. While it is capable enough to handle some heavy graphics and resource-intensive games, the HX processor allows you to overclock the processor to gain more power. In tandem with Nvidia’s top laptop graphics card with its dedicated memory, this laptop almost leaves no stone unturned to give you the best gaming experience. I can say that after long hours of playing CoD: Warzone, Forza Horizon 5, and Flight Simulator — which are some of the games that demand high-end hardware.
Right from the start till the end of my session, I expectedly did not see a stutter or lag at any point. Graphics load fairly quickly and appear vividly, thanks to support for HDR. Most games averaged a frame rate of over 120fps while ensuring the brightness does not falter in tricky scenes with HDR. All of that makes the processor run like crazy, but Asus has tweaked things around to make heat dissipation faster and more efficient. I played games in both default and Turbo modes to gauge how hot the laptop could get. In the former, I could not extend my session beyond 15-20 minutes because the body gets toasty very quickly, but in Turbo mode, the fan overworks to make the areas where I was likely to rest my hands cooler — although at the cost of loud fan noise. This also makes the game response better by reducing latency. Most modern games, including Cyberpunk 2077, run without a hiccup. Although, you will see a small lag when the laptop switches between iGPU and dGPU — which is normal.
The rest of the things, such as accessing the internet with as many as 20 Chrome tabs open and editing photos on Photoshop, are a breeze on the Strix Scar 18. Although I doubt why anyone would buy this laptop for video editing, it can offer you the power to do that in case you like to record your gameplay and edit it to post on your social media accounts.
Gaming laptops max out on hardware in most departments except for the battery. Because so much is happening at high throttles, the battery life takes a dip. On average, the laptop lasted for about two hours on normal usage but about an hour when gaming at high graphics and performance settings. That is why I always kept the laptop hooked to the power. The 330W AC adapter is not only heavy but also needs a 16A power outlet. Most modern homes have it but only a handful, which you would require to run home appliances. So you either sacrifice an outlet just for the laptop and get yourself a dedicated power output. The laptop also consumes a lot of power, just in case.
In the sea of gaming laptops, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 can stand out because of its slightly unconventional design. Sure, it is a no-holds-barred machine, but that is true about most gaming laptops. For Scar 18 to become your choice, you will have to make peace with the fact that its battery life is poorer than most other gaming laptops and that it also is slightly heavier. Other than that, I do not see a reason why a gamer would ignore the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18, especially if they are willing to spend around Rs 3.60 lakh.