Reviewed: Asus Strix GL503 Gaming Laptop

If I didn’t have a full-time job writing features and making tech reviews, I would be doing a lot more gaming. It has happened in the past that I didn’t leave home for a stretch during the summer break because I was at home playing some AAA title–I didn’t have a choice. I played on a desktop, and while LAN parties were a thing back then, I could never really get anyone to drive me to a friend’s house so we could all get together there. Times have changed since the heady days of my youth, and now we have every ambulant gamer’s best friend, the gaming laptop. Today, we take a look at one of the latest from the Strix line of capable mid-rangers, the GL503.

Design: 4.5/5

The laptop is unmistakably Asus. A brushed metal lid, the red Strix logo that lights up when the laptop is powered on, aggressive accents–there’s really only one manufacturer that makes their laptops this way, and I’m quite a big fan of it. Tipping the scales at
2.3 Kg, and at 38.4 x 26.2 x about 2.3 cm, it’s actually quite a reasonable size for the kind of power it brings to the table. It has a solid hinge, that when opened up, reveals four-zone RGB chiclet keys. The same reddish-orange accents that you find outside and under the lid are present, peeking just inside the exhaust ports, bringing the whole design together. It’s a handsome laptop, and unmistakably Asus.

Hardware: 4.5/5

There’s a lot of solid hardware under the hood of this laptop. The beating heart of it is an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor that ticks away at 2.8 GHz, and boosts all the way to 3.8 GHz. Our test unit had this paired with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1 TB HDD, and a
128 GB SSD for both plenty of storage, and quick
read/write speeds. Being a Strix laptop, the GL503VL has discrete Nvidia GeForce 1050 graphics, with 4 GB of GDDR5 RAM. The screen is a 15.6-inch, full-HD affair, with an anti-glare coating.

For those people who game with a lot of peripherals, you’ve got one USB 2.0 port, three USB 3.0 ports, and one Gen 1 USB C port. You’re also going to find all the standard ports and connectors, including LAN, a 3.5-mm combo jack, an HDMI port, and a mini display port.

User Experience: 4.5/5

While most gaming laptops, my own personal one included, are generally quite thick, bulky, and only pass as laptops by the barest of standards, the GL503 is surprisingly easy to carry around. It’s neither too heavy, nor too thick, and while it’s not the thinnest and lightest gaming laptop out there, carrying it around is much less of a chore than others I have owned or reviewed.

Gaming-wise, this is a device that lives up to its Strix badge. Less demanding games, such as Overwatch consistently have frame rates in the 50s, on high settings, and even demanding titles such as the most recent Wolfenstein game are perfectly immersive at high. Turn the setting up to Ultra, however, and something like Middle-earth: Shadow of War starts to drop to the low 20s. It’s a 1050 in there, but you can tell it’s trying its hardest thanks to the drone of the fans on the laptop chassis.

The same fans do a fine job keeping the temperature numbers down, but you can quite clearly hear the effort they’re putting in. It’s not such a problem with headphones on, but it’s more than audible over the speakers, should you go that route.

What’s remarkable about the laptop though, is battery life. While you won’t really be able to game very well without being plugged in, with regular work, the screen at about 30 percent, a constant connection to the Internet, streaming music, and the occasional video, it managed to give me about six hours of run time before begging to be plugged in. Should you have other needs apart from gaming, this is actually a laptop that would serve you well. Thanks, SSD!

The screen is too pretty. Wide viewing angles, vivid colors, and a bright picture, without tearing are always pleasant to see, and having them on a laptop such as this just makes the deal that much sweeter.

Software additions, such as the Gaming Center app, which lets you monitor the system status, to see if changes you made have an impact on how the laptop is running, and ROG GameFirst IV were actually quite useful, though I did find that I used them once to get the laptop dialed in, then left to run in the background. I suppose that’s a testament to the fact that they’re doing their jobs. Should you experience strange behavior from your games, this might be a good first place to check.

Value: 4/5

The GL503 can be had locally for about PHP 70,000, and while that’s not the cheapest gaming laptop you can get, it’s still an ROG gaming laptop, with a very capable 1050 under the hood. Overall, the price-for-performance ratio is compelling, and while you could build a desktop for less, remember that this is quite the portable gaming rig, even measured against others in its class.

Bottomline:

It’s a gaming laptop that won’t hurt your back or your bank account too much.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE March 2018 Issue.

Reviewed by Ren Alcantara

 

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