The ASUS ROG Strix Scar III is an impressive looking beast. The carbon-patterned design surrounding the keyboard gives the impression that the laptop has a rugged, almost jagged feel, but this is purely a cosmetic faceplate and is as smooth as any other laptop. It does look rather cool though, and fits in well with the grooved lines near the location of the Keystone (which I will get to later). But what stands out most on the Strix Scar III, after the power button is pressed, is the undercarriage Sync lighting, which not only appears on the front, but wraps around the sides too. I’ll be perfectly honest and say that it looks cool and can be customised so that it matches all your peripherals. It’s a bit like putting a racing stripe on your car – it doesn’t make it go any faster, but certainly catches the eye.
Like the more recent ASUS models, the Strix Scar III features an impressively thin bezel, allowing for a smaller footprint when closed, whilst still providing a full 15.6” screen. The plastic moulded chassis does allow the laptop to be relatively lightweight at just 2.57kg considering the 15.6” screen size. Of course, the chunky power adapter adds some weight to the package if you’re going to be carrying it around for any length of time.
Apart from the Sync lighting, the main feature to stand out on the Strix Scar III is the Keystone. The keystone is a cool feature, but as of now, only works with the Strix Scar III and small number of other ASUS laptops at this stage. I do love the fact that once the keystone is set up, the laptop will automatically default back to your desired setup. It also allows access to an encrypted ‘Shadow Drive’ which allows you have private access to sensitive files. Unfortunately, it will have limited usefulness at this stage in its lifespan. I can definitely see how the ability to transport your customisations from one laptop to the next may be advantageous, especially if upgrading to a new machine down the track, similar to Smart Switch on Samsung mobile devices.
Like the Zephyrus, the touchpad doubles as the numeric keypad, and although you don’t get that same tactile feel that you would from a standard keypad, it works almost as well. As someone who works with numbers a fair bit, this is something that is rather important. But unlike the Zephyrus, the touchpad has moved back to the standard position in the front and has been returned to a full-sized trackpad.
The keyboard itself is responsive, something that both gamers and writers will appreciate. I also liked having the arrow keys separated slightly from the rest of the keys. With the numpad incorporated into the touchpad, this allows the keyboard to feel less cramped. The keyboard also features a couple of power control buttons and one that is a quick access key for the Armoury Crate.
The Armoury Crate basically acts as a control panel for laptop performance and customisations. As mentioned, these customisations can be stored on the Keystone, so that you can port you preferred settings to a different machine. The ROG Aura performs similarly to other ASUS laptops, enabling gamers to customise the colours and flow of the keyboard lights as well as the sync lighting undercarriage.
There are also enough ports to keep most gamers happy. Three USB ports flank the left side of the machine as well as a single headphone jack. Three USB ports seems about right in most cases, allowing for a gaming mouse, an external gaming keyboard or controller and a thumbdrive. The right side simply houses the Keystone, whilst the rear of the Strix Scar III has a HDMI port, a USB Type-C port, the plug for the power adapter and – somewhat surprisingly – an Ethernet port.
The Strix Scar III also filters the heat through vents at the rear of the machine, which in my opinion is the ideal scenario. The fans do a good job of dispersing the heat but are a little on the noisy side – however, it was not as loud as the Zephyrus. When gaming with a headset, this noise is hardly noticeable, although those around you in the room may find this an annoyance.
One feature that some people may find annoying, however, is the lack of a built-in webcam. With the super-thin bezel, there is little room for a webcam. I rarely use the webcam on my gaming rig anyway, so for me it is basically a moot point. But for others who would use it to tele-conference or record themselves whilst gaming, this may be a pertinent issue.
The 1TB SSD is ample to store a decent library of games (although some AAA titles are beginning to take up significant space on hard drives – I’m looking at you Red Dead Redemption 2). But with the SSD, the load times were significantly reduced. Transfer times were also amazingly quick, with a 1Gb file transferred in less than 10 seconds – at 137MB/sec.
The Steam VR test recorded at ‘Well above what is needed for HD VR’ with an average quality rating of 11 (Very High). There were no frames below 90FPS, and indeed the framerate during testing barely dipped below 140 FPS. I wish I had a VR device to test with this machine. In terms of non-VR titles, this is where the Strix Scar III excels. We tested the machine out with Overwatch] (as we usually do), and framerates rarely dipped below 140FPS whilst fully utilising the explosions of colour that Overwatch is known to exhibit. Although Overwatch is not a game that will tax many current machines, it does allow for the colours to shine through, and the Strix Scar III does just that, with vibrant colours adorning the screen throughout. The 240hz refresh rate of the monitor allows the high frame rates to flow nicely through to the screen without any noticeable flickering. This quality was then transferred through to ]Dirt Rally 2.0. With graphics setting turned up to their highest settings, the landscapes were just amazing as the rally cars sped through them at no less than 120FPS.
Unfortunately, a beast of a machine such as this does have its shortcomings – and battery life is the obvious drawback. I was able to get just under 6 hours of regular use (with dimmed graphical settings and the external lighting turned off) which is reasonably good. But this diminishes somewhat as soon as you begin to ramp it up by playing your favourite games on higher settings. With the fans pumping and the screen glaring, I was barely able to get a couple of hours out of it before the low power message appeared and I plugged in the adapter to keep my session going.
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar III is an impressive machine. The gunmetal grey gives it a professional look, which is then counteracted by the bright lights of the Sync lighting – still professional in a gaming sense, but not in a business sense. The Keystone feature seems something of a gimmick at this stage unless you work in an office with multiple Strix Scar III machines or have a bunch of friends who have the same model. Of course, this could be the introduction to an ASUS rollout of the concept. But everything else about the laptop oozes gaming. The flashy colours of the Sync lighting, the superfast transfer rates of the SSD, the high framerates and VR ability, and the 240hz monitor all combine to make the ASUS Strix Scar III the ultimate portable gaming device.
Specifications of review unit
Intel i7-9750H 2.6GHz (9th Gen)
GeForce RTX 2070 8GB
15.6” FHD 240Hz refresh rate
4 Cell Battery
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar III also has a 17” model available.