Asus ROG Strix Scar III Laptop Review
Avid gamers looking to play the latest and greatest AAA titles without breaking the bank will love the look, and performance, of the Asus ROG Strix Scar III. With sweeping lights, surprisingly good speakers, and a bold design, this budget gaming laptop is certainly not a shrinking violet. It wouldn’t be a particularly bold claim to call this laptop one of the best gaming laptops for 1500 available.
Naturally, its status as a budget gaming rig means that concessions would have to be made in some areas, and there are some noticeable flaws. It’s a little bulky, and the absence of a webcam means that you’ll have to look for other solutions if you want to beam your exploits live on Twitch. Nevertheless, the Strix Scar III scores top marks in a lot of other areas, ensuring that gamers on a tight budget do not have to sacrifice quality and performance.
Under its hefty chassis, the Strix Scar III packs a 9th gen Intel Core i7-9750h processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD storage, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GPU. That’s some serious hardware for serious gamers.
Design and Appearance
Big lights will inspire you. Or at least, they’ll give you the impetus to crush the opposition.
At least that seems to be what was running through the development team in Asus’ mind when they were brainstorming possible design ideas for this laptop. From the ROG logo on the lid to the side edges of the laptop, RGB lighting seems to be the running design theme. Each key on the keyboard also features customizable RGB lighting.
Beyond that, the aluminum lid sports a textured, brushed design, with two-third of the lines brushed in one direction and the last third veering off in the other and covering the screen. Inside, the chassis is made of plastic, with a color that tilts more towards dark gray.
The keyboard serves its purpose well, whether that is typing or gaming. The backlit keyboard holds up quite well under sustained use, even though it tends to flex uncomfortably at times. Under the keyboard sits the touchpad, which also doubles as a numpad. The Strix Scar III is rather light for a 15-inch laptop, weighing 4.3 pounds and measuring 14.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches, although it’s a touch thick.
Ports and Connectivity
There’s a decent arrangement of ports across both flanks, and around the back, of the Asus Strix Scar III.
The ROG Keystone, a magnetic, encrypted key that contains information such as unique lighting effects for the laptop, is located on the right side. It can also unlock a section of your hard disk that has been locked.
However, you’d need to create an account with Asus before you can get access to the Shadow Drive. The Keystone is also compatible with Asus’ Armoury Crate software, which allows you to customize the laptop’s Aura Sync lighting, monitor components, manage cooling fans, and more. It takes some trial and error to figure out how to effectively browse and arrange the software, though.
The laptop’s left flank is a little more congested, with three USB 3.1 Type-A ports and a headphone jack parked there. At the back of the laptop, you’ll find the traditional power jack, along with a USB Type-C DisplayPort 1.4 port and an HDMI port for connecting to external displays. In case you were wondering, there’s no microSD slot to be found anywhere on this laptop.
Connectivity is supplied by Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 5, although Wi-Fi 6 is conspicuous by its absence.
Display and Audio
Speaking of displays, the Strix Scar III boasts a vivid, 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen, with a silky smooth 240-Hz refresh rate. The 1080p resolution guarantees that games seem sharp without taxing the GPU, and the 144Hz refresh rate allows esports titles to operate at high frame rates while maintaining a fluid appearance.
A brightness of 314 nits ensures that gaming in bright lighting or outdoors isn’t a problem, and a black level of 0.19 nits is noteworthy – it’s lower than most gaming laptops, giving dark regions more depth.
The sideways-firing speakers on the Strix Scar III are surprisingly good. They reproduce sounds really well, and if you listen carefully, you can even pick out the bass sounds. Importantly, they are loud enough to drown out the noise of the fans. More on that later.
The Strix Scar III is a performance monster. It would be hard for it not to be, what with the impressive hardware stacked underneath its hood. An Intel Core i7-9750h processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage ensure that this laptop is virtually overpowered for general day-to-day computing tasks, which it executes with accomplished panache. It will handle multiple browser tabs, transcode videos, cycle through numerous open programs, and even perform photo editing tasks without even seeming to put so much effort into either of them.
The Strix III’s Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM is powerful enough to run most games, including AAA titles, at impressive speeds, and with excellent graphics quality. On the not-so-positive side, the laptop runs hot when it has to support heavy games, and the fans go into overdrive as well.
Heat and Noise Emission
The Strix Scar III runs cool enough when it handles normal windows tasks, and the fans only start up occasionally then. However, when it performs heavier tasks such as gaming and video editing, the temperature begins to steadily increase, and the fans become really noisy. While the laptop never becomes so hot as to be toasty, it does become uncomfortable after a while. It’s better to place it on a table while gaming, rather than on your lap. Fortunately, Asus also gives you full control of the fans (as with the Asus Strix G we reviewed).
Gaming laptops usually do not post amazing numbers in the battery life department, so the 5 hours of battery life offered by the Strix Scar III is impressive for the fact that it ranks among the highest in its category – but be sure to read through the Rog Strix Scar II review too. Naturally, gaming will bring down the battery’s runtime.
The Strix Scar III comes with the inevitable Windows 10 bloatware such as Gardenscapes and Candy Crush Saga. For Asus-branded software, you get the Armoury Crate, which gives you control of the laptops, fans, CPU, and GPU. You can also adjust the key lighting, aggregate games from different launchers, and build performance and lighting profiles based on what you’re playing or doing in the same app.
GameVisual changes the color of your display, while GameFirst V monitors and restricts your network traffic for certain programs. The MyAsus software may also perform system diagnostics and hardware inspections on your machine.
The Strix Scar III is not really a budget (sub-$600) gaming laptop, however, it inevitably does not quite measure up to the standards set by other much pricier options in some areas. The absence of a webcam is mystifying, and the chassis is a bit bulky, unattractively so.
However, look beyond those flaws and you’ll find a high-performing laptop, complete with serious-looking specs and a superb battery. The Nvidia GeForce GPU is good for most games, and the Strix Scar III’s amazing speakers practically guarantee an immersive, engaging gaming experience. If you don’t want to spend a small fortune on a gaming rig, you can get similar levels of performance with this laptop, and at a far lower price.