ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 review: glorious overkill

ASUS’ Republic of Gamers (ROG) has been introducing a variety of new and powerful gaming laptops in the country. The Zephyrus G series is my recommendation for users who are on a budget. However, for the more seasoned gamers that have deeper pockets, the ROG Strix Scar 15 is perhaps an optimal choice. The variant I have is priced at Rs 2,64,990 and it comes with the most over-the-top specs that modern-day laptops can possibly have. This includes the 12th-gen Intel i9 12900H chipset, with the graphical capabilities handled by NVIDIA’s RTX3070ti. Not many laptops can attack your wallet the way this one can, so in this review let’s try to find out how good the device is and if you should buy it.

Build, design and display

The Scar lineup keeps up the tradition of offering a unique design and build that clearly identifies it as a gaming machine for hardcore users. On the keyboard, there is a translucent portion that gives an obfuscated view into the internals housed inside the device. The signature ROG logo is emblazoned prominently on the lid and is illuminated with RGB lighting. A strip running on the bottom edge of the chassis, just below the display is also lit up to provide a diffused underglow that should remove any doubt regarding the laptop’s gaming focus. As if that wasn’t enough, ASUS provides the user with replaceable Armour Caps that customise the look below the hinge.

Keystone 2, a magnetically detachable NFC chip, is present on the right, which among other things, will allow you to access encrypted partitions within the laptop when inserted. In terms of appearance, apart from the translucent section, the chassis has a completely black colour scheme. The laptop is obviously not very portable owing to the heavy hardware and the extremely large AC adapter that comes alongside it, which is a must for operating the Strix Scar 15.

Apart from that, I found the hinge mechanism to be quite fluid for opening and closing the lid. A series of white LED lights indicate if the laptop is charging, on battery, or on sleep. The overall build is rigid, sturdy, and well made with a multitude of thermal vents to manage heat dissipation. There’s no denying that the Strix Scar 15 is a gamer’s dream, at least from the outside. 

The laptop is loaded with the latest selection of I/O ports for ease of accessibility. Most of them are concentrated on the back of the device, including two USB C ports with DisplayPort capabilities while Thunderbolt 4 and power delivery are available on only one. A 2.5G LAN port and an HDMI 2.0 port are present alongside it. On the left of the device is where you can find two USB A 3.2 ports, along with a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo. One thing missing on the device is a webcam which has become quite common on the list of omissions from ASUS in its gaming lineup. Biometric authentication for quick access to the system is missing as well.

Moving over the display, ASUS is using an extremely high refresh rate 240Hz QHD 15.6-inch LCD panel for providing the visual experience. In my experience, the Taiwanese giant puts in class-leading screens on its gaming machines although there may be a few exceptions here and there. The Strix Scar 15’s 8-bit display is compliant with Dolby Vision HDR but there is no Pantone validation for high-end colour correction work. At 350nits of peak brightness, the screen is not exactly the brightest but that doesn’t pose any problem for indoor usage. 

For the purposes of gaming, the screen supports Adaptive-Sync to reduce frame rate tearing. ASUS’ Armoury Crate setting also enables Panel Overdrive which reduces display latency to almost 3ms. I played quite a few AAA titles on the laptop including CyberPunk 2077 and God Of War, both of which were relayed through the display in exquisite detail.

Ray tracing, which the GPU can support at higher settings, adds more realism, colours and textures while playing the titles and the panel plays an important part in displaying every detail with accuracy. To my eyes, the Strix Scar 15’s screen accomplishes its task of providing splendid visuals while running intensive titles, but it might not be ideal for professional photo or video editing work.

Keyboard and trackpad

The 15-inch display provides ample room for the keyboard to be spaced out and the absence of a dedicated numpad increases the keys’ real estate. Apart from the regular chiclet-style six-row layout, there are dedicated hotkeys for volume controls, ASUS Armoury Crate, fan speed and disabling the microphone. Arrow keys are shrunken in size and double up for other functionalities. The keyboard would not be complete from ASUS’ side without an outrageous amount of RBG customisation that can be accessed via the Armoury Crate. Backlighting can be adjusted to three levels of brightness. In terms of the typing experience, the keys have decent travel and fast response which facilitates precise esports gaming. The palm rest is coated with a matte finish that avoids smudges or fingerprints to some extent.

The trackpad on the bottom is spacious enough for regular work but I didn’t like the latency or the touch response. Using an external mouse with the device might just be a good idea. Also pressing on the top right of the trackpad opens a capacitive numpad although you will not be able to access the trackpad for navigational purposes till the latter is closed. 

Performance and battery

The meat of the Strix Scar 15’s pricetag lies in its performance and graphical capabilities. Talking about the former, the laptop has a 12th-gen Intel i9 12900H processor, part of the chipmaker’s latest Alder Lake lineup, running things. It is among the best silicone on offer from Intel at this point, just behind the 12900HK that MSI provides on the GE76 Raider. Regardless, the Scar 15 is one of the most capable performers currently in the laptop world. The 14-core CPU has maximum clock speeds of up to 5GHz and up to 20 threads running on it. Apart from that, the device has 32GB of dual-channel 4800MHz DDR5 RAM and 2TB of M.2 PCIe SSD.

It stands to reason that seeing such specs on paper, tasks that constitute my day-to-day workload are carried out efficiently and without problems. Benchmark numbers are there to back up these claims. The laptop achieves one of the highest Cinebench R23 multi-core scores I’ve seen on a Windows machine at 15,849. The result is mimicked on Geekbench as well with multi-core tests yielding a result of 12,898. PCMark 10 checks the viability of the device for handling everyday tasks and the device gets a very healthy score of 7,615. I ran CrystalDiskMark to assess the speeds of the SSD and got exceptional read and write speeds of 7,088MB/s and 5,124MB/s respectively. 

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GPU-wise, the device comes with the 8GB of NVIDIA RTX 3070Ti GPU although you also have a version with the 3080Ti. Before, I get into how good the graphical prowess of the device is, MUX Switch must be mentioned. Very briefly, while running any GPU-intensive title, the discreet GPU has to relay with the integrated graphics before getting access to the display. MUX Switch negates this process by directly allowing the display to connect with the GPU and bypass the CPU’s integrated graphics. This allows the device to overcome the bottleneck and generate better graphics along with higher fps counts. Apart from that MUX also increases battery life by allowing the integrated graphics, which draw lower power, to take over for non-strenuous tasks without getting the dedicated GPU involved. ASUS has installed MUX on all its ROG laptops this year, and it can be accessed via the Armoury Crate. All my games were set on MUX’s Discreet GPU option for maximum performance.

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With 150W of power being drawn by the GPU, you can expect the device to get a bit hot, but at no time did the thermal management on the device let me down. The fan speeds can make a loud din when set to Turbo mode so my suggestion is to play any intensive titles with a pair of headphones. GPU temperatures seldom touched above the 90-degree mark when I checked on Armoury Crate although there is some CPU throttling that occurs when its temperatures cross 95 degrees.

God Of War at Ultra graphic options churns out a cool 80fps without ray tracing enabled. On CyberPunk 2077, with ray tracing at Ultra and graphics at High, I got 45-50fps and with ray tracing at low the count went up to 70fps. Both games were set on QHD resolution and adaptive sync enabled. Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark at the Highest graphics delivered 92fps. Call of Duty Cold War at Ultra graphics and ray tracing enabled yielded  85-95 fps. CS: GO and Valorant delivers 200fps and 160fps at maximum settings. I also ran 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark which outputted an incredible 11,475 on the Time Spy test. In effect, gaming on this device is nothing short of flawless and you are definitely getting your money’s worth.

Speakers on the device are not exactly the best in the business. You get two main units just below the chassis and an additional couple of tweeters on either side. The sound quality is good enough for close viewing but when you are sitting a bit further away, it becomes a lot less clear.

Even by the low standards set by high-end gaming laptops, the Strix Scar 15 battery life can be classified as underwhelming. This is understandable given the heavy hardware being operated on the 90Whr cell but with just three hours of screen-on time on moderate usage, it seems like a cause for concern to me. The massive 280W adapter can juice up the device in about two hours and you do have the option to charge via the USB C port at 100W as well.

Verdict

The niggles I have regarding the Strix Scar 15 mostly involve the lack of a web camera and biometric authentication. The battery life could also be improved a bit considering the sizeable 90Whr cell housed inside. However, apart from that, the ROG Strix Scar is a near-perfect gaming companion at the top end of the market. It certainly lives up to the specifications on the sheet and has the thermal management in place to keep the graphics pouring in any kind of intensive game. Obviously, this is an expensive purchase, but if you are the kind of gamer that just wants the best hardware for the money, then the ROG Strix Scar 15 could be your answer.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros

  • True gamer aesthetic
  • Breakthrough performance
  • Excellent display with Dolby Vision
  • MUX Switch

Cons

  • No webcam
  • Poor battery life even by gaming laptop standards
  • Biometric authentication is absent