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Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 review: The ultimate gaming laptop

29 Jun 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,700
inc VAT

Everything you’d expect from a top-end gaming laptop and more, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 is an absolute monster

Pros 
Rip-roaring performance
Impressive 165Hz 1440p display
Ultrafast SSD RAID0 array
Cons 
No webcam
No fingerprint reader
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Asus’ ROG Strix Scar laptops sit at the pinnacle of the firm’s gaming laptop range and usually come fully furnished with the fastest and most powerful components.

That’s certainly the case with 2021’s models, which arrive with the fastest mobile CPUs AMD has to offer and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs, alongside a smattering of other high-end gaming extras.

Indeed that combination makes the Strix 15 a seriously potent gaming weapon and – at the risk of being disproved the moment the next high-powered gaming machine takes flight – it’s 2021’s fastest gaming laptop.

READ NEXT: The best budget gaming laptops to buy right now

Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 review: What you need to know

The secret behind the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15’s success are those two key core components: the CPU and GPU. The former comes in the guise of the monstrous AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, a 3.3GHz, eight-core CPU with support for hyper-threading (for a grand total of 16 logical cores) that boosts all the way up to 4.6GHz.

You can also configure the laptop with the slightly less beastly (but still rapid) AMD Ryzen 7 5700H, which also offers up eight hyper-threaded cores but with a slightly slower base frequency of 3.2GHz and a boost frequency of 4.4GHz.

As for the GPU, you’re getting the crème de la crème of discrete laptop GPUs: the Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series – either the 3070 with 8GB of RAM or the top-end 3080 with 16GB of dedicated RAM – and there’s a range of storage options to choose from, ranging from the “bottom end” model with 512GB to the top-end machine that comes with twin 1TB SSDs in a RAID0 array.

I was sent the top-end combo for this review – with a Ryzen 9 5900HX, 32GB of system RAM, an RTX 3080 with 16GB of video RAM and the twin SSD array – and to say its performance blew me away would be an understatement.


 

Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 review: Price and competition

It’s an impressive beast, is the Strix Scar 15 – a gaming laptop that manages to deliver on all fronts. Not only is it quick, but it’s also beautifully made, nice to use and, perhaps most important of all, reasonably priced.

Now, at £2,700, I’m not going to call our review machine cheap, but considering what’s inside I think this is more than reasonable. Don’t forget, it has AMD’s fastest mobile CPU driving things along with Nvidia’s most powerful GPU, not to mention 32GB of system RAM and a pair of 1TB SSDs.

If that’s too rich for you, you can pick up the cheapest model with the slower AMD Ryzen 7 5800H, an RTX 3070 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for £1,899. That’ll be nearly as quick but for £900 less.

What else is available at this price that can compete with the Strix Scar? Well, there are plenty coming with similar configurations but none that we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing just yet. The closest is Asus’ own 2021 ROG Strix G15, which is similar to the Scar but comes with “only” a 300Hz 1080p display and can’t be configured with an RTX 3080 or AMD’s top-end Ryzen 9 CPU. It’s cheaper than the Scar range, though.

We’ve also reviewed the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XC, but although that laptop is equipped with a GeForce RTX 3070, it’s much less of a gaming machine and more of an all-rounder thanks to its 60Hz OLED screen.

Of the 2021 gaming laptops we have yet to review, the Gigabyte Aorus 15G looks to be the closest competitor right now. Like the Strix Scar, it can be configured with an RTX 3080 (albeit only the 8GB model) and it comes with the older, but still fast, Intel Core i7-10870H CPU. I’ll put my money on the Strix Scar being quicker, although the Aorus does cost less at £2,300.

Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 review: Design

The Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 isn’t the most attractive laptop you’ll ever set eyes on. It’s fairly chunky, too, measuring 354 x 259 x 23-27mm (WDH) and weighing 2.3kg, so it’s not the best laptop for slinging in your rucksack and taking on business trips. The 240W power adapter is a rather hefty 768g, too.

It’s also largely plastic in construction, with only the lid clad in cool-to-the-touch metal. It is, however, much nicer in the flesh, so to speak, with a lovely silken satin finish to the keyboard deck and solid build quality all round.

The keyboard, as you’d expect given the gaming heritage of this machine, has all the RGB bells and whistles, with per-key customisation and an LED RGB light bar stretching around the front edge of the laptop that can be set to match it. There’s even a short RGB strip set into the underside of the display, shining down on the vents at the rear of the laptop, and the laptop comes with spare “shoulder caps” that you can customise the look of the rear-left corner with.

The lights are just the start, however. This keyboard also employs Asus’ optical mechanical switches for that extra precise feel and it’s lovely to both type and game on, with just the right amount of travel, a satisfying click to each keystroke and a sensible layout.

Number pad fans will bemoan the fact that Asus hasn’t made the most of the 15.6in chassis here, but I prefer the roomier feel that this decision confers. The touchpad is spacious, too, and feels smooth and responsive under the finger.

Buy the ROG Strix Scar 15 from Asus


Connectivity is substantial, with a pair of USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports on the left edge, and a single USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 at the rear alongside another USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, plus a Gigabit Ethernet socket, one HDMI 2.0b port and the system’s DC power input. Wireless comms are handled by a 2x2 Intel AX201 card, which delivers Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

What you don’t get, as with other ROG Strix laptops, is a fingerprint reader or a webcam, but that’s okay in my book. Most built-in webcams are a bit rubbish and you can always use your phone camera to make calls if you leave your USB webcam at home.

READ NEXT: The best budget gaming laptops to buy right now

Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 review: Display

One of the main differences between the ROG Strix Scar 15 and the Strix G15 we reviewed earlier in 2021 is the display. The Strix G15 we tested had the 300Hz, 1080p display in place and, while good, it’s not a patch on the 165Hz 2,560 x 1,440 display here.

At this resolution, refresh rate and screen size, you’re getting the best of all worlds: enough resolution to use the laptop all day for work and everyday tasks; a high enough screen-refresh rate to do justice to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU; and colour performance to put many creative professional laptops to shame.

Its maximum brightness and contrast ratio of 357cd/m2 and 928:1 are fine, but it’s the display’s colour performance that steals the show. The screen is tuned to the DCI-P3 colour space, reproducing an impressive 97.5% of that gamut. Not only that but it’s also highly colour-accurate within that colour space, garnering a superb 0.54 average Delta E.

If you want to work in a colour space that isn’t specifically DCI-P3, then you’ll still need to calibrate the display but, for gaming and watching video, this is one heck of a screen.

Asus Strix Scar 15 review: Performance

Now we arrive at the most important part: performance. You’d expect this to be good, given the components squeezed in. After all, you’re essentially getting the fastest AMD CPU available right now – the eight-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX – backed up by 32GB of system RAM, the best mobile GPU in the world in the Nvidia RTX 3080 with 16GB of dedicated video memory, plus a rapid pair of 1TB PCIe SSDs in RAID0.

However, I wasn’t quite expecting how good it turned out to be. In nearly every benchmark we run, this Asus Strix Scar 15 came out on top. It’s the fastest laptop we’ve ever tested, even outstripping last year’s Alienware Area-51m, although bear in mind that this was tested with an RTX 2080 GPU.

The benchmark graphs above tell you all you need to know about this laptop’s performance levels. Suffice it to say, you’ll be able to play most games perfectly happily without having to drop the detail levels at the native 1440p resolution of the display. Not only that, but the CPU has enough grunt to leave the Strix’s rivals in the dust when it comes to more humdrum or creative tasks.

Perhaps most impressive of all, however, is that SSD RAID0 array, which returned lightning-fast sequential read and write times of 4,165MB/sec and 3,013MB/sec – these are also record-breaking numbers for a laptop.

READ NEXT: The best budget gaming laptops to buy right now

Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 review: Verdict

No two ways about it, the Asus Strix Scar 15 is the most impressive gaming laptop we’ve ever reviewed. From its CPU to its GPU, it outpaces the competition and it does so at a price below £3,000. Although still expensive, this is remarkable.

Add in a fabulous display and a wonderful keyboard and you have the complete package, with the only thing to complain about being the lack of a built-in webcam and fingerprint reader.

Given what a beast the Asus Strix Scar 15 is, however, I’m happy to overlook such piffling weaknesses. If you’re in the market for the best gaming laptop money can buy, look no further. This IS the laptop you’ve been waiting for.

Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 (2021) specifications

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 (GA503QS)

ProcessorAMD Ryzen 9 5800HXAMD Ryzen 9 5900HS
RAM32GB32GB
Additional memory slotsNoNo
Max. memory64GB48GB
Graphics adapterNvidia GeForce RTX 3080Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
Graphics memory16GB8GB
Storage2TB1TB
Screen size (in)15.615.6
Screen resolution2,560 x 1,4402,560 x 1,440
Pixel density (PPI)188188
Screen typeIPSIPS
TouchscreenNoNo
Pointing devicesTouchpadTouchpad
Optical driveNoNo
Memory card slotNoYes
3.5mm audio jackYesYes
Graphics outputsHDMI 2.0bHDMI 2.0
Other portsUSB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 x 2; USB Type C 3.2 Gen 2 x 1; Gigabit Ethernet x 1USB Type-C x 2, USB Type-A x 2, RJ-45
Web CamNoNo
SpeakersStereoStereo
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
BluetoothBluetooth 5.1Bluetooth 5.1
NFCNoNo
W (mm)354355
D (mm)259243
H (mm) max27.219.9
Dimensions, mm (WDH)354 x 259 x 27.2mm355 x 243 x 19.9mm
Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable2.31.9
Battery size (Wh)9090
Operating systemWindows 10 HomeWindows 10 Home

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