A great laptop at a very reasonable price: the best gaming laptop of 2021 so far
- Plenty of power for AAA gaming
- Ergonomically sound
- Superb 300Hz screen
- USB speeds limited to 5Gbits/sec
- Lacks an integrated webcam
The Asus ROG Strix G15 is a mid-range gaming laptop that doesn’t look particularly special. It’s fairly bulky and comes with the usual selection of RGB lights and gamer-style logo adorning it. But it has a hidden superpower. Two, in fact.
It’s the first laptop we’ve tested and reviewed in 2021 to come with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3000-series graphics, the mobile version of the firm’s celebrated desktop GPU. And it’s the first laptop to touch down in the Expert Reviews lockdown Labs (my house) with an AMD eight-core Ryzen 7 5000-series CPU on board.
Those two components combine to produce a gaming laptop capable of challenging the very best Intel-Nvidia machines we’ve seen in recent times and at a price that’s surprisingly reasonable. It’s the gaming laptop to beat so far in 2021.
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Asus ROG Strix G15 review: What you need to know
As well as offering up the bleeding edge in internal performance components, Asus has lavished the ROG Strix G15 with plenty of other high-end features.
Our review sample comes with a 15.6in 300Hz Full HD (1,920 x ,1080) 3ms response display that has a claimed 100% sRGB coverage. There’s also a higher-resolution WQHD 165Hz option with broader DCI-P3 colour coverage and a lower-spec 144Hz panel with only 62.5% sRGB coverage.
Elsewhere, the laptop also has an easy overclocking Turbo mode and, naturally, there’s RGB lighting all-round. Dolby Atmos speakers complete the offering and the laptop is supplied with 16GB of RAM and either a 512GB or a 1TB NVMe SSD.
Asus ROG Strix G15 review: Price and competition
For this review, we were sent the Strix G15 (G513QR-HF010T) with the eight-core Ryzen 7 5800H and Nvidia RTX 3070 (8GB), a model that will set you back £1,700. That might sound expensive but considering the desktop version of this GPU costs nigh-on £500 on its own and that you’re getting this wrapped up in a laptop including a decent display, 1TB of storage and a fast CPU, that’s not a bad deal at all.
In terms of competition, the only machine we’ve tested in the past year or so that comes close in terms of performance per pound to our review model machine is Asus’ own TUF Gaming A15 FA506IV. This has now been updated for 2021 with the RTX 3060 and has had its price slashed to a mere £1,200. It has that 144Hz display, though, which is dull and drab.
Otherwise, you’re looking at machines running combinations of previous-generation CPUs and GPUs, like the Gigabyte Aorus 15G I tested early last year. That laptop cost £2,199 and employed a combination of Intel Core i7-10875H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super GPU. At the time, it was cutting edge and pretty good value for money; the reviewed Asus ROG Strix G15 is faster, has a better display and is considerably cheaper.
Asus ROG Strix G15 review: Design and key features
Like most laptops of its ilk, the Asus ROG Strix G15 wears its gaming credentials proudly on its sleeve. The Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) branding is everywhere, from the logo on the lid to the ROG lettering stencilled subtly on the keyboard surround, and it’s heavily laden with RGB lighting.
There are RGB lights backing the keyboard and, in case you needed further reminding that this machine is intended more for play than work, there’s also a strip of LEDs that wraps around the underside of the front portion of the laptop – the “Aura Sync Light bar” – and lights up your desk in cheerful, multi-coloured hues.
The chassis is made from plastic and doesn’t quite feel as bulletproof as the all-metal Gigabyte Aorus but the plastics employed are of a high quality and don’t creak or squeak when twisted. It’s also possible to specify which colour you want the “aluminium” shoulder cap on the left to come in, and even customise it with your own 3D printed pieces.
As you might expect, though, at this price you’re not getting Ultrabook weight and slimness and the ROG Strix G15 is quite a lump as a result. It tips the scales at a shoulder-straining 2.3kg (plus an extra 0.7kg for the power adapter) and measures 354 x 259 x 27mm (WDH).
It’s a solid laptop, otherwise, and the keyboard is great. Each key has plenty of travel and a lovely soft-yet-positive landing that means it’s comfortable to both game and type on for hours. And for those that are really into their RGB, per-key lighting is customisable via the AURA Creator app.
There’s no number pad, which is surprising given the size of the laptop, but this gives the keyboard plenty of room to breathe. The cursor cluster sits neatly in its own little space below the keyboard on the right-hand side, with no other keys nearby to accidentally press. The stack of media keys off to the right are, likewise, separated from the main keyboard by a small gap, making it less likely that you’ll hit them by accident. The touchpad is superb. It’s nice and big and feels beautifully smooth under the finger with left and right mouse clicks that are light without feeling insubstantial or rattly.
Oddly, the Strix G15 has no integrated webcam but the rest of the package is fairly straightforward and there’s nothing major missing, connectivity wise. You get three USB-A 3.2 gen 1 ports (5Gbits/sec), one USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbits/sec) with DisplayPort and USB Power Delivery, one HDMI 2.0b output, and a 3.5mm headset jack, all scattered around the left, right and rear edges.
It’s mildly disappointing that there’s no external connectivity faster than 5Gbits/sec but that’s the only reason for complaint. Wireless is handled by an Intel AX200 card, delivering 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 connectivity.
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Asus ROG Strix G15 review: Display
With a choice of three different display types, it’s important you choose the right one. The laptop on test here has the Full HD 300Hz panel, which is 100% sRGB and it’s impressive. You’ll also find models with a WQHD 165Hz panel calibrated to DCI-P3, although these laptops have yet to be released in the UK.
The cheaper G513IR-HN016T and G513QM-HN042T models come with an inferior 144Hz display only capable of reproducing 62.5% of the sRGB colour gamut and will likely look pretty dreary.
The 300Hz panel on our review laptop is, however, pretty impressive. It isn’t the brightest I’ve ever seen on a laptop, only reaching 312cd/m2 at max brightness but it’s richly colourful, capable of reproducing 99.6% of the sRGB colour gamut and colour accuracy is pretty darned good as well with a highly respectable average delta E colour accuracy score of 1.43.
Add a matte finish that holds distracting reflections at bay and that ultra-smooth 300Hz refresh rate to keep games playing as smoothly as the graphics card can keep up with, and there’s very little to complain about. In fact, the only issue I have with the Asus ROG Strix G15’s display is that, with so much power on tap, it seems almost unnecessary to limit yourself to 1080p.
Asus ROG Strix G15 review: Performance
As you can see from the benchmark results, the combination of the Ryzen 7 5800H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is more than powerful enough to keep that 1080p display fed with high-frame-rate action. Indeed, on most counts, this £1,700 machine outperforms the most expensive, exotic gaming laptops I tested in 2020.
You can see this clearly in our most demanding game benchmark – Hitman 2 – where the G15 steps out in front of both the Razer Blade Pro 17 and the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Both of those use the top of the range (albeit from the previous generation) GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU.
The advances, particularly on the GPU front, are perhaps best illustrated in the Wolfenstein Youngblood tests (above). These demonstrate how much better the RTX 30-series mobile GPUs are at coping with Ray Tracing effects. The graphs show that Ray Tracing has an impact, as always, but that enabling Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) is no longer required to boost frame rates. Indeed, there’s only a five frame difference between the DLSS and native benchmark results when Ray Tracing is enabled.
It’s not all about gaming, however. With the help of the new eight-core 3.2GHz Ryzen 7-5800H CPU, the G15 also performed better than both the Razer Blade Pro 17 and the ROG Zephyrus in our sustained abuse, CPU-intensive, in-house 4K media benchmarks. The only area where it comes up short is the shorter, more bursty workloads represented in the Geekbench 5 results.
The good performance continues with the laptop’s 1TB SSD, which returned speedier results for sustained reads than all the laptops I’ve selected as comparators here. Noise and cooling are impressive, too: even when the fan is spinning at full chat it doesn’t sound overly irritating and both the wristrest and keyboard stay cool and comfortable to the touch while gaming.
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Even battery life is reasonably impressive, with the 90Whr cell inside the ROG enabling the Strix G15 to last a full 8hrs and 2mins in our video rundown test. That’s not exactly world-beating but it is a lot better than most rivals, including the 2020 Razer Blade 15.
Asus ROG Strix G15 review: Verdict
There’s plenty to like about the Asus ROG Strix G15. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the gaming laptop to beat in 2021 so far. It’s reasonably priced, faster than anything I tested in 2020 and has a decent display as well. Just watch out for those cheaper models, which utilise a lower quality 144Hz display.
The only caveat to this recommendation is that the G15 is only the first in the new wave of RTX 3000 based laptops and you may want to wait until the dust settles before making your choice. My guess, however, is that the G15 will still be there or thereabouts when it comes to the final reckoning.