Asus ROG Strix G15 review: the gaming laptop that lights up
“The Asus ROG Strix G15 offers just enough power to justify its 144 Hz refresh rate.”
Solid gaming performance
RGB lighting is unmistakable
High refresh rate
Thick and chunky
No webcam or secure registration
Higher refresh rates have become the main theme for gaming laptops in recent years. Thanks to the performance increase, even gaming laptops at the budget level receive refresh rates of more than 60 Hz.
Asus’ eye-catching new gaming laptop, the ROG Strix G15 for $ 1,000, is one of the cheapest laptops you can get with a 144 Hz screen. My test device was only equipped with an Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti, the entry-level option for serious mobile games.
Is that enough to properly power a 144 Hz display? Let’s find out.
Asus designed the ROG Strix G15 in collaboration with BMW, which at first sounds interesting. Unfortunately, the car-inspired aesthetic is nothing new – it has been in the DNA of gaming equipment for many years.
The design collaboration leads to a plastic gaming laptop with many ribs, lines and structured materials. This is fake brushed metal that you can feel at your fingertips. Nevertheless, I prefer the look over something gaudier like the Acer Predator Helios 300.
The ROG Strix G15 is made entirely of plastic, although the structural integrity of the ROG Strix G15 is rather tank-like. The lid is the only weak point. It is easy to bend or bend and the hinge slams the lid unless it is at least 50% open.
The all-round light bar brightens your desk with a dash of RGB color.
My device came completely in black and Asus says it is a “professional person”. Frankly, nobody will confuse it with anything other than a gaming laptop. Laptops like the Razer Blade or MSI GS66 Stealth are better suited for a meeting (if you still have them).
What the ROG Strix G15 has are lights. A lot of lights. The keyboard has a backlight for each key. This is just the beginning. The ROG Strix G15 has an “all-round light bar” that brightens your desk with a dash of RGB color. The LEDs themselves are not directly visible and leave a diffuse glow underneath. It’s a nice effect that sets the Strix G15 apart from the sea of other black gaming laptops.
The ROG Strix G15 is not thin or light. It weighs 5.7 pounds and is just under an inch thick. Even the Dell G3 gaming laptop, which is chunky in itself, outperforms the Strix G15 in portability. The Strix G15 also has a large footprint thanks to the placement of the connections on the back. To compensate, the laptop has a solid chin bezel. There is a significant gap between the display and the rest of the case. This means that the screen sits higher than some 17-inch laptops when open.
The ROG Strix G15 has a typical keyboard layout, although there are some eccentricities. I like the colorful WASD buttons and the additional function buttons on the side. Asus has also pulled some important keys from the function bar, e.g. B. the volume control. Unfortunately, the buttons used are mushy and feel imprecise.
The touchpad works well for a gaming laptop in this price range. It has a smooth surface and traces well enough, although Asus has opted for old-school, left and right physical buttons that feel dated and cut into the usable touchpad area. As with many Asus laptops, you can turn on a digital number pad on the touchpad because the keyboard lacks one. It works pretty well, but the accountants won’t be happy.
The ROG Strix G15 follows the trend to move many less used ports into the background. Here are your video output options, whether via HDMI 2.0 or USB-C. The USB-C connector is not a Thunderbolt 3 and does not support a power supply. To charge, you have to stick to the proprietary barrel connector, which is also on the back next to an RJ45 Ethernet socket.
The only ports on the sides of the device are three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports and a headphone jack. The right side is completely port free.
The Strix G15 does not include a webcam like most Asus gaming laptops sold today. This decision makes sense in a vacuum, as Asus knows that gamers who stream need a better external webcam. However, this decision is timed poorly due to the sudden popularity of work from home.
Finally, the Strix G15 does not include an IR camera or fingerprint reader for secure Windows Hello logins. It includes the latest Wi-Fi 6 for connectivity and Bluetooth 5.0.
The display makes the ROG Strix G15 an interesting gaming laptop. But not because the picture quality of the panel is so impressive. It’s sub-par in almost every way, and the colors are the biggest downside.
It only affects 65% of the sRGB color space, which is poor compared to 98% of a laptop like the Razer Blade or MSI GS66 Stealth. Even the affordable Dell G5 SE reaches 98%, as do midrange laptops like the Lenovo Yoga C640. It has a light green hue, which makes my skin look almost sick in a YouTube video we recorded. However, this is less noticeable in games.
It’s not a bright panel with a maximum of 278 nits, but the matte finish helps avoid sharp reflections. Let’s face it, you’ll likely be playing games in dimly lit rooms anyway.
The refresh rate is the outstanding feature of the display. A year or two ago, 144 Hz was the standard for high-end gaming laptops like the Razer Blade. Nowadays 300 Hz screens have raised the standard, while the ROG Strix G15 can be configured up to 240 Hz. At this price, it is still rare on gaming laptops, which makes the screen of the ROG Strix G15 a highlight of its gaming experience.
The ROG Strix G15 may only have a poor Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti for graphics on board, but don’t underestimate it. Modern 3D titles can be played back without any problems even at maximum settings. It can reach 64 fps (frames per second) in Fortnite, 56 in Battlefield V and 63 in Civilization VI. These are high enough, although they don’t use the 144 Hz refresh rate much. If you only play with maximum settings, you won’t notice the difference between this and a standard 60 Hz screen.
But it really seems if you reduce the graphics settings a bit. Frame rates increase significantly, and you feel the true power of a higher refresh rate. At medium settings, Civilization VI plays at 108 fps, while Fortnite reaches 86 fps at high settings (less than Epic). Interestingly, it matches the performance of the equally equipped Dell XPS 15 in almost every game for $ 600 less.
The problem? Not all games are as good as these easier titles. Battlefield V is a good example that still only achieves an average of 60 fps at medium settings. Of course you can set it to low if you really want to break 60 fps, but it’s not fun. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an even better example. In the middle setting “high”, the game on the ROG Strix G15 only achieves an average of 42 fps. With Ultra High it is only 23 fps.
The system keeps the surface temperatures surprisingly cool even while gaming.
That is why Asus classifies this laptop as “E-Sport”. If you’re trying to play something more sophisticated – or just want to see more graphic details in your games – the ROG Strix G15 isn’t for you.
Here the AMD-based Dell G5 SE is a convincing argument in itself. The AMD Radeon RX 5600M of the Dell G5 SE far outperforms the Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti – in some cases even 48%. On the other hand, Dell sells the G5 SE without 144 Hz in lower configurations. The high refresh rate of the ROG Strix G15 is more suitable for a certain type of player.
Of course, Asus also offers more powerful configurations of this laptop. For example, an attractive option could be the $ 1,500 model, which is equipped with an RTX 2070, a refresh rate of 240 Hz, 16 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of solid-state memory. Razer offers a very similar blade configuration for a whopping $ 500 more.
In addition, the ROG Strix G15 has a cooling advantage over smaller gaming laptops. The system keeps the surface temperatures surprisingly cool even while gaming. This comes at the expense of fan noise (and case thickness), but you’ll appreciate the cooling temperatures on the palm rests after long gaming sessions.
Performance in content creation
When it comes to non-gaming performance, the Dell G5 SE is again a problem in comparison. It has an eight-core processor compared to the six-core option in the ROG Strix G15. This means significantly better performance in high threading applications. With a focus on gaming, this may not be a deal breaker for the ROG Strix G15.
My test device came with the Intel Core i7-10750H, 8 GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD. The performance in Cinebench R20 worried me a little. The single-core value even lagged behind measly 15-watt laptops like the Microsoft Surface Book 3. Thanks to the two additional cores, the Dell G5 SE was 26% faster in the multi-core test from Cinebench.
This directly led to how quickly the ROG Strix G15 also ran when encoding video. The Dell G5 SE was 27% faster encoding a 4K film trailer to H.265 in Handbrake. Of course, the ROG Strix G15 was not designed for this type of workload, but if you want to create content on the side (which doesn’t depend on the quality of the screen), the ROG Strix G15 can do the job.
The ROG Strix G15 also has an empty M.2 slot for future expansion. You can also upgrade the RAM up to 32 GB.
The ROG Strix G15 is not suitable for long sessions outside the wall.
Three hours and 50 minutes in our light web browser test are not good even for a gaming laptop. The Dell G5 SE lasted more than six hours in the same test.
The Strix G15 has proven itself in the video playback test, in which a local 1080p video clip is repeated until the battery is empty. The Strix G15 lasted eight hours and beat the Dell G5 SE by an hour and a half. Unfortunately, this doesn’t match the battery life of a typical workload.
In my daily workload, which consisted of a dozen browser tabs and some applications, it took about four hours on a single charge. There are far better gaming laptops for battery life.
The Asus ROG Strix G15 is a good choice for a certain type of player. It is the cheapest 144 Hz gaming notebook you can buy and offers just enough power to use it in some games. The image quality of the display is disappointing and there are a lot of frills missing from more expensive gaming laptops. Most gamers will be happier upgrading to a laptop with at least one Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti, but the ROG Strix G15 is a good place to start if you need cash.
Are there alternatives?
The Dell G5 SE is a problem for the ROG Strix G15. It is more powerful in almost every way. If you can raise the price to $ 1,050, it even comes with a 144 Hz screen. However, the ROG Strix G15 offers a higher refresh rate in cheaper configurations and has a more polished housing.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i for $ 920 is one of the few cheap gaming laptops with a high refresh rate. It’s 120 Hz instead of 144 Hz, but you probably won’t notice the difference. It comes with a slower Core i5 processor, but it’s also a little cheaper than the ROG Strix G15.
How long it will take?
The ROG Strix G15 is a well-built laptop, but its graphics card isn’t the fastest. In a few years, you may find that newer games find it difficult to play smoothly. However, the ability to update RAM and memory is a plus for the durability of the ROG Strix G15.
Asus offers a standard one-year warranty on its laptops. After that you are alone.
Should you buy it
Yes. If you’re an e-sports player who cares more about frame rates than graphic details, the ROG Strix G15 gives you just enough power.