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Hands On : Asus ROG Strix G15 Review

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This Strix G15 G512 is the most affordable Asus ROG notebook of the 2020 generation, and that alone makes it an option for many of you looking for a versatile, robust, and powerful work/gaming notebook. The sturdy build quality, the good inputs, a fair selection of ports, the punchy audio, and the excellent performance across the board are some of this lineup’s main selling points, but at the same time the CPU/GPU run very hot on this G512LV power-hungry model, and Asus only offers a slow and washed out 144 Hz panel on most of the mid-tier configurations, which could break this notebook for some of you.

This is our detailed article of the Asus ROG Strix G15, in the higher-end G512LV configuration with an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics, in the updated and overclocked 115W variant.

Right now, the Strix G15 is the most affordable ROG series in Asus’s 2020 lineup. It also shares most of its traits with the higher tier ROG Strix Scar family that we’ve already reviewed here on the site, but with a few compromises in the IO, choice of materials, and surprisingly, screen quality (on this early review unit, and that could differ on the retail versions available in your region).

We’ve spent a couple of weeks with both the 15 and the 17-inch ROG Strix versions. This article gathers all our thoughts and impressions on the 15-inch G15 model, with the solid traits and its quirks, while the 17-inch model will be detailed in a separate article.

Asus offers the Strix G15 in a couple of different configurations, with Core i5 to i7 processors, various amounts of RAM and storage, and various Nvidia graphics chips, from the GTX 1650Ti and up to an RTX 2070 Super on the highest-specced models. They also offer either a choice of 144 Hz, 240, or 300 Hz screens, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

While our review unit is the G512LV variant, most of our findings apply to all the other variants of this laptop.

Design and exterior

Unlike the ROG Strix Scar series, the ROG Strix notebooks are entirely made out of plastic. Good quality plastic, but still, plastic, so don’t feel as nice to the touch as some of the other choices. These laptops are sturdily built though, with a rock-solid main chassis and only some give in the lid, so nothing to complain about that front.

Asus offers the ROG Strix G15 in a couple of different color schemes, and what we have here is the Glacier Blue model, the lighter variant. This does an excellent job at hiding smudges, but at the same time gets something I resent on modern laptops: a silver keyboard with white writing. The other two variants, Original Black and Electro Punk, both get a darker color scheme and a black keyboard.

All options get an RGB lightbar around the entire front and laterals, which looks quite cool and can be controlled and switched off from the Aura Creator software. That’s not the most intuitive piece of software, but it works.

Build aside, the ROG Strix inherits its design lines of the previous Strix models from 2019. That makes them slightly larger than the average 15-inches available these days, with that hump on the back that helps with cooling the laptop and incorporates part of the IO, and the massive and strong hinges that keep the screen in place as set-up and allow single-handed adjustments but also limit the lean-back angle to about 145 degrees.

The spacious interior with a centered keyboard, the grippy rubber feet on the bottom, the speakers that fire through tiny cuts on the sides, and the friendly lips and corners are some of this series’ other particularities. At the same time, the narrow rubber feet allow for little ventilation underneath the laptop, and the peculiar thermal design obstructs the fans from easily grabbing fresh air, with that closed back panel on top of them. That’s the same design Asus use on the ROG Scar lineup, and we’ll explain its drawbacks in the following section.

Furthermore, the ROG Strix also groups the IO weirdly, with all the USB-slots cramped on the left side, no ports on the right, and the other connectors on the back. I appreciate this part, as the PSU and video outputs are back there and keep the sides clutter-free, even if you’ll still see the cables through that cut in the screen’s chin. Speaking off, this laptop gets small bezels around the sides and top, but a fairly hefty chin, and doesn’t include a webcam or any sort of biometrics, much like the entire 2020 ROG lineup. It also lacks Thunderbolt 3 support or a card-reader, features creators might miss on what could otherwise be a versatile work/play computer.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard looks and feels similar to the one implemented on the higher tier ROG Strix Scar lineup, and this sort of minimalist centered layout is rather unique in the mid-range 15-inch segment these days, where most of the competition offers a more complex keyboard with a Numpad Section.

This G15 doesn’t include a NumPad section, something I for one don’t mind, but could be a deal-breaker for some. It’s still highly functional and I appreciate the extra column of dedicated function keys at the right and the media/power controls at the top-left. Not a big fan of the tiny arrows, though, but I could get used to them.

As far as the typing experience goes, I’d expect most of you to get along well with this keyboard. It proved fast, accurate, and reliable during my time with the test unit, so nothing to complain about here.

However, you might struggle to find the right key on this implementation if you’re not an experienced touch typer, due to the limited legibility of the silver keys on this Glacier Blue version, especially if you opt for a brighter illumination color. That’s not going to be a problem with the darker color options, which get black keys. The keyboard implements 4-zone RGB lighting on this device, and the LEDs are bright and uniform at the highest setting, with little light creeping from beneath the keycaps despite their fairly deep stroke.

For mouse, Asus went with their standard plastic touchpad with dedicated click buttons. It’s a sturdy and reliable implementation that works well with everyday use, and the click buttons are smooth and quiet. They do feel a bit cheap to the touch, though, and the whole touchpad is rather on the small side and cramped.

As for biometrics, there aren’t any on this laptop.

Screen

Asus offers three different screen options for this ROG Strix 15 G512 series, all matte, non-touch and 15.6-inches in diagonal:

  • 144 Hz with ~60% sRGB coverage, sub-300-nits brightness and fairly slow response times;
  • 240 Hz 3ms panel with 100% sRGB coverage and ~300 nits of brightness;
  • 300 Hz 3ms panel with 100% sRGB coverage and 300+ nits of brightness.

We got the 144 Hz option on our test unit, which I would have expected on the lower-tier G512LU (with 1650Ti graphics) and G512LI (With 1660Ti graphics) configurations, but also equips the 2060 G512LV model in most areas. In fact, this is the same screen Asus offers on the more affordable TUF A15 lineup.

This is not an awful screen, but at the same time is not a good match for a 1200+ USD/EUR laptop in 2020. Sure the 144 Hz refresh might sound enticing for gamers, but this is not one of those fast 144Hz screens and the slower response (around 33 ms GTG according to NBC) translates in ghosting in the faster-paced games. On top of that, this is merely a 60% sRGB panel, so the colors and images look washed out, and it’s also not very bright either, at sub 300-nits maximum brightness, so will struggle in brighter environments.

On the plus side, this panel proved uniform in our tests and offered good blacks and contrast levels, decent viewing angles, as well as little to no light bleeding around the edges.

Here’s what we got in our tests, with a X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:

  • Panel HardwareID: Panda LM156LF-2F01;
  • Coverage: 59.1% sRGB, 40.9% AdobeRGB, 42.0% DCI P3;
  • Measured gamma: 2.12;
  • Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 281.90 cd/m2 on power;
  • Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 15.22 cd/m2 on power;
  • Contrast at max brightness: 1301:1;
  • White point: 7200 K;
  • Black on max brightness: 0.21 cd/m2;
  • PWM: No.
  • Response: ~33ms GtG (source).

Now, if you’re coming from an older laptop with a TN screen, this will be an upgrade, but at the same time you’ll definitely get nicer options in this segment these days and Asus should have implemented one of those faster 144 Hz 100% sRGB panels on this series.

As it is, you’re forced to go with the 240 Hz screen option for improved colors, slightly higher brightness, and much faster response times. That’s an excellent panel, but since it might not be an option on the lower-tier configurations, it might not be within your budget on this G512.

As for the 300 Hz screen option, that’s only available for some of the LW and LWS configurations with 2070/2070 Super graphics, and the same panel available on the ROG Scar 15.

Hardware and performance

Our test model is a mid-specced version of the Asus ROG Strix G15, in the G512LV configuration with an Intel Core i7-10875H 8Core processor, 32 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, 1 TB of storage in RAID0, and dual graphics: the Nvidia RTX 2060 dGPU and the Intel UHD within the Intel platform. An i7-10705H processor is also available as a more affordable option for this laptop, and we’ll cover it as well down below.

Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit is an early-production model with the software available as of mid-August 2020 (BIOS 310, Armoury Crate 3.0.4.0, GeForce Game Ready 446.14 drivers). Based on our findings and experience with these platforms, little can change with future software updates, so our results are mostly what you’ll get with the retail models.

Spec-wise, the 2020 Strix G15 gets 10th gen Intel Comet Lake processors, either the 8Core i7-10875H, the 6Core i7-10750H, or the 4Core i5-10300H. Our review unit gets the 8Core i7, but we’ve also reviewed the more widespread 6Core i7 on the 17-inch ROG Strix G17, and included our findings below.

For the GPU, what we have here is the Nvidia 2060 in the updated 2020-edition 115W implementation, but with variable TDP and frequency limits between the several performance modes available in Armoury Crate:

Silent – prioritizes lower fan-noise and reduces CPU/GPU speeds and power – GPU is limited at 55-75W between titles;
Performance – balanced profile with stock CPU/GPU settings – GPU runs at 115W and stock frequencies;
Turbo – High-Performance profile with increased CPU power allocation and overclocked GPU (115W, +100 MHz Core/+120 MHz Memory).
Manual – same as Turbo, but allows to manually create fan curves for the CPU and GPU based on temperature thresholds, as well as further overclock the GPU.
The updated Intel platform also supports 3200 MHz DDR4 memory. Our configuration gets 32 GB of RAM in dual-channel, and there are two DIMMs available inside. As for the storage, our unit gets two Intel 660p SSDs in Raid0.

Getting to the components is relatively simple, you just need to remove the back panel held in place by a few Philips screws, all visible around the sides. However, the back is attached to the main-laptop with two ribbons that power the LED strips, so careful not to sever the connections. Inside you’ll get access to the thermal module, battery, speakers, wifi chip, and the three SSD slots. There’s no 2.5″ storage bay on this laptop.

This ROG Strix G15 is not just a performance laptop, it can also handle everyday multitasking, browsing, and video, while running quietly and coolly on the Silent profile.

Nonetheless, you’re most likely going to run more demanding applications on this sort of a laptop. On to those, we’ll start by testing the CPU’s performance in taxing loads, and we do that by running Cinebench R15 for 15+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run.

On stock Turbo settings, the i7-10875H processor stabilizes at 87+W after a few runs, which translates in frequencies of 3.7+ GHz, temperatures of 85+ C, and scores of 1650+ points. This is the most powerful implementation of this i7 processor tested so far.

Undervolting support is disabled by default, but you can undervolt it in the BIOS, down to -80 mV. We reran the tests on this Turbo UV profile, and it allowed the CPU to run at 4.1+ GHz and similar 87+W of power, which translated in scores of around 1800 points.

As mentioned already, most ROG Strix G15 configurations ship with the i7-10750H processor, and here’s how that CPU performs in this same test (results based on the Strix G17, which is identical to this one, just in a larger chassis). Once more, this is the fastest i7-10750H implementation we’ve tested so far.

To put these results in perspective, down below I’ve added a few other 8Core laptops available right now, both from Intel and AMD. The 8Core i7 in this Strix G15 performs well and outmatches the other implementations of this processor, due to the high power supplied to the CPU in this notebook. However, the i9 in the Scar 15 beats the i7, and so does the 8Core AMD Ryzen 4800Hs in the Asus TUF A15 and Lenovo Legion 5, both at lower power.

Next, we’ve further verified our findings with the longer Cinebench R20 loop test and the gruesome Prime 95. With Prime, the i7 CPU kicks in hard at almost 120W for about 20-30 seconds, and then drops and stabilizes at 87W.

We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the default Turbo profile.

3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit passed it without a problem. Luxmark 3.1 fully loads both the CPU and GPU at the same time. The GPU constantly runs at around 115W in this test, and the CPU quickly stabilizes at around 50W. However, both run at high temperatures in the 85+ for the GPU and 90+ for the CPU.

Both the CPU and GPU run hot, with the fans spinning at 47-48 dB at head-level. The CPU stabilizes at 90-95 C between the tested titles, with the GPU averaging 80+ degrees C and up to 85 C in some cases.

Undervolting the CPU makes no real difference over the gaming performance or temperatures, as it allows the CPU to run at slightly higher clocks, but the same kind of high temperatures, with almost no impact over the GPU.

Raising up the laptop from the desk by as little as an inch doesn’t help very much either on this laptop, and that’s rather surprising, as it does help on the ROG Scar 15/17 or the ROG Strix G17 that we’ve tested. On this unit, though, it merely allows the components to run 1-3 degrees cooler, with a greater impact on the Performance and Silent modes.

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