Asus ROG Strix GL502 Gaming laptop – First Impressions

Asus has officially announced the new ROG Strix GL502VT gaming laptop.  The teaser video lacks significant detail, so please read on to learn more about the specs and rich featureset.  The launch of a new laptop with an Nvidia GTX 980 when the 1070/1080 series is just around the corner is interesting.  Regardless, the 900 series is still a beast of a graphics card and with a 6th gen i7, I’d imagine you would be happy either way.  The design, aesthetics, and performance seem incredible.  Looking further into the specs of the machine, and it’s clear that Asus has made one beast of a machine in a very portable package.

 

The Asus ROG Strix GL502 packs the latest Intel 6th Gen processor (Skylake) with an Nvidia GTX graphics card.  The standard card is a GTX 970M, with an optional upgrade taking you to the GTX 980.  Video RAM ranges from 3 to 6GB depending on what card you choose.  No word on if they will refresh this model with the latest 1070/1080 chips from Nvidia that are due to hit the masses soon.  Regardless, the GTX 970/980 cards feature class leading performance with minimal power consumption.  This allowed Asus to pack the ROG Strix GL502 into a tight chassis weighing 4.85 pounds and less than an inch thick.

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Equally impressive is the IPS 15″ 4k screen, with a 178 degree viewing angle and 98% Adobe RGB.  Macbook say whaaa?  To ice the cake, the laptop features a native USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, supporting transfer rates up to a theoretical 10Gbps.  If only storage mediums could right that fast!  Also featured on the side of the chassis is a mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0, gigabit LAN, SD card reader, and a combo headphone jack.  CPU wise, you can choose between an i5 6300HQ or an i7 6700HQ.  You can also equip the laptop with up to 16GB DDR4 RAM, which should have been a standard fare giving the powerhouse CPU/GPU and screen combo.  I really wish this supported 32GB of RAM because this has the prowess to be a serious 3D content creation machine.  Unfortunately, the 16GB limitation is due to a single SO-DIMM socket.  Regardless, DDR4 helps mitigate some of the capacity shortcomings by offering an insanely fast bandwidth.  This helps move textures quickly from RAM to GPU for smooth visuals.  For storage, you can choose amongst mechanical drives between 1 and 2TB, the 1TB being the only option with a 7200rpm drive.  On the SSD side of things, you can choose between 128 and 512GB on the SATA3 side, and 256 or 512GB on the PCIE Gen3x4 side.  Wifi features a dual band adapter with 802.11 AC supported (WIDI as well), along with a Bluetooth v4.0 adapter.  The four cell battery should fair well under light to moderate loads, but expect to plug in if you’re running the GTX 980 at full tilt for an extended period of time.

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In order to save space on the chassis design, the GL502VT features a chiclet gaming keyboard with 1.6mm of travel distance when depressed.  The backlighting is red, with bright red WASD keys for quick recognition of where your hands need to be when gaming.  Should you decide to use the built in microphone system instead of a gaming headset, the array of microphones on the top of the screen are designed to filter out ambient noise.  This will supposedly help combat noisy environments like a LAN party, where the noise floor is fairly high.  I’d imagine most serious gamers, especially those who invest in this type of hardware, will lean more towards a pro gaming headset.  Either way, it’s a nice feature, and something you should test out next time you’re in a noisy environment.

 

Lastly, the ROG Gaming center software is designed to bring this all together.  It offers profile management for power settings, media, and network enhancements.  You can disable the WIN key, optimize your display, and combat lag when dealing with high-action low latency matches.  The machine hits on a lot of important notes, and really makes you question whether you need a huge powerhouse laptop like an Alienware 18 or not.  For those who travel often, the lighter chassis and jam packed features are certainly welcome.  All in all, this is a serious contender to the best machines on the market from Alienware, Razer, and a couple others.  It’s worth checking out, and will fully satisfy the ROG loyal customers out there.

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