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ASUS

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The Strix GL503VD is one of the newest gaming laptops from the ASUS’ ROG brand, with an all new design, and a well-balanced array of components that puts it as perhaps, the sweet spot for someone who wants to have a capable gaming laptop without burning a very big hole in the wallet.

ROG Strix GL503VD Specs

– Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8 GHz
– 8GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM
– 128GB M.2 SSD + 7200RPM 1TB  HDD
– 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX1050
– 15.6-inch Full HD IPS Display, 60Hz
– Windows 10 Home
– Ports: LAN Port, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, Headphone/Mic Combo jack, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x SD Card Reader

An all new design

The GL503VD veers away from designs of the past, and introduces itself with a whole new look. The ROG logo that’s usually in the middle of the lid, is now on left side. The surface now shows a brushed metal finish which makes it look and feel premium and well-built. It’s as thick as what you’d expect from a gaming notebook at this price point, but not enough to make it look bulky.

Looking at the front, there’s a set of dedicated keys quickly muting the microphone, adjusting the volume, and firing up the ROG Gaming Center, which we’ll talk about in another section of this review.

The keyboard is equipped with RGB backlighting, which can be customized using the Aura Core app. I like that you can change the intensity of the lighting. Though not mechanical, the keyboard feels sturdy, and is comfortable to type on. Spacing between keys is also sufficient. The power button has been separated from the rest of the keys, which means there are less chances of you accidentally pressing it while in the heat of battle.

The only thing I have with this keyboard is that while there’s a notification LED for Caps Lock, there’s none for Num Lock. Not even an on-screen notification.

As far as ports are concerned, you do get a slew of them, which should be enough for most tasks. There’s an SD card reader, a dedicated LAN port in case you don’t have Wi-Fi in your place, a Mini DisplayPort and HDMI port for your external monitor, a total of 5 USB ports, 3 of which are high-speed ones, 1 is a Type-C, and the other is a standard USB 2.0 port.

Moving on to the screen, the laptop has a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS  display with 60Hz of refresh rate, which should be enough for most titles, though you’d probably crave a little for more when playing FPS games. It uses an IPS panel, so colors appear more vibrant and are much more accurate. You can even change the color temperature using the Splendid app.

An unexpectedly decent performer

Don’t let the benchmark scores fool you. Of course, it may not be as powerful as the more expensive models, but for what you pay, i’d say you’re getting good value. The combination of an i7-7700HQ and a 4GB GTX 1050 surpassed my expectations as far as actual gaming performance goes.

 

PLAYERUNKOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS or PUBG has just come out of early access, and is more optimized than ever.  You can get good frame rates at Low and Very Low settings. And while it’s actually still playable at medium, but the overall experience isn’t as smooth.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a very demanding game combining fast-paced action with a beautifully crafted environment, but frame rates were consistently at good numbers even at medium setting.  

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is another AAA title that’s known to be very punishing even for decently specced machines. Still, it’s very much playable, with only occasional drops below 40 fps at medium settings.

Project Cars, which involves very fast movement with all the weather effects such as rain and fog, proved to be a challenge, with below 30 fps drops at medium setting. It still runs smoothly at low settings, which actually still looks just as good as medium.

Ashes of the Singularity is an extremely demanding title. As such, the frame rates aren’t as good, but still passes the 30 to 40 fps range for most of the time, very much playable.

While the GPU thermals are great, the CPU readings aren’t as good, but are still decent. Especially when you consider that these are quite powerful components packed into a small case.

Storage and Memory Woes?

If you’re planning to install your games on the SSD, you might have to invest in an upgrade to a larger capacity, as the default configuration only comes with a 128GB drive. If you also play a lot of titles that are memory intensive like Watch Dogs 2, you may want to invest in upgrading the RAM to 16GB.

The usual suite of ASUS apps

As expected, you’ll be welcomed by the usual ASUS apps. Fortunately, most of them are actually useful, such as Sonic Studio 3, which lets you adjust the sound settings to your preference, and the Splendid Utility, which lets you change the display’s color temperature.

There’s the ROG Gaming Center, which sort of works like a hub for monitoring and optimizing the machine’s performance.  For aesthetics, the Aura Core app lets you customize the Keyboard’s RGB lighting, something I use very often.

The first thing you might want to consider removing is the pre-installed anti-virus, and just run on Windows Defender. Trust me, it’s all you’ll need.

One of the best speakers i’ve listened to

I rarely use the term best, but for the GL503VD’s speakers, i have to really say it. They’re really good. The sound is crisp, loud, and clear. Bass is also present, just enough to give body to the sound signature.

Dismal battery life (as expected)

I know, it’s always expected. But should poor battery life be a norm for gaming laptops? I don’ think so. Still, at least you get a few hours of uptime.

Final Verdict

If you’re on the hunt for a gaming laptop that has a well-balanced price to specs ratio, the Strix GL503VD better be on your list. Wait, it should be at least on your top three.

For its price, you’re getting decent performance across various titles and genres, AAA games included. The GTX 1050 isn’t the beefiest card out there, but it certainly is more than capable enough, and ran good frame rates on almost every game I tested it with. Adding icing to the cake, a pair of good sounding speakers.

Of course, there are things that can be improved, such as the lack of an LED light for Num Lock, the CPU thermals, and the dismal battery life (though that’s expected).

The GL503VD presents a well-balanced mix of performance, aesthetics and overall quality, which makes it an extremely good deal for its PhP69,995 price tag.

The Good

  • Sleek new design
  • Decent gaming performance
  • Good sounding speakers
  • Responsive keyboard with customizable RGB lighting

The Not So Good

  • CPU thermals can be improved
  • No LED light for Num Lock
  • Dismal battery life