ASUS ROG Strix GL502 Gaming Notebook Review

Last month we were on hand at a press event that NVIDIA held when they announced the GeForce GTX 10-series of GPUs was coming to notebooks. While we were excited to hear about how NVIDIA was able to stuff full desktop version Pascal GPUs into gaming notebooks for unreal performance. The power savings NVIDIA achieved by moving to the 16nm FinFET manufacturing process means that gaming notebooks are going to be better than ever. In fact, NVIDIA has said that all the GeForce GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 graphics solutions that are going into gaming notebooks will be VR-ready and are up to 76% faster than the previous Maxwell-based GPUs that are now being replaced. We got a chance to try some notebooks with the GeForce GTX-10 series GPUs and were blown away by them despite having early drivers. The bad part was is that we had to leave the event sans and notebook and source a review unit on our own. GeForce GTX 10-Series Notebook GPUs The good news is that our friends over at ASUS was able to hook us up with an ROG Strix GL502VS-DB71 15.6" gaming notebook that is now available to purchase online for $1699. The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 gaming laptop has been around for a number of months and has gotten a reputation as being one of the best all-around gaming laptops on the market. If you already own one you might as well stop reading as everything from this point on is going to be upsetting. ASUS GL502VS Gaming Notebook ASUS has taken the GL502VT gaming notebook and made a number of key improvements despite the fact that it's only been out a few months. For starters the GeForce GTX-900 series graphics have been replaced by the newer GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs, you have an NVMe PCIe SSD instead of an M.2 SATA III SSD and the USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port has been updated to a Gen 2 USB 3.1 Type-C port. This means you have faster graphics, storage and USB interfaces in the latest GL502VS gaming notebook! The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 can be configured with other components and will be sold with other part numbers. The ASUS GL502VS-DB71 is priced at $1,699.00 shipped from Amazon (about £1299 or $2,250 AUD) and is the model that we will be benchmarking today. Here are the full specs of this specific model:
GL502VS-DB71
Processor Intel Quad Core i7-6700HQ 2.6GHz (Turbo up to 3.5GHz)
Operating System Windows 10 64-bit
Memory 16GB DDR4 2133 MHz (up to 32GB)
Display 15.6" FHD 1980 x 1080 G-SYNC with 160-degree viewing angle
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5
Storage 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD
Card Reader 2-in-1 Card Reader
Camera 1280x720 HD Webcam
Networking Intel 8260 2x2 802.11ac
Built-in Bluetooth V4.2
Gigabit Ethernet jack
I/O 1x Combo audio jack
1x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)
3x USB 3.0
1x Mini DisplayPort 1.2
1x HDMI 2.0
1x AC adapter plug
Audio Dual 2W 18mm speakers
Battery 62Wh 4-cell Lithium-Ion
Power Adapter 180W
Input : 100 -240 V AC, 50/60 Hz universal
Dimensions (WxDxH) 15.35 x 10.47 x 1.2 inch
Weight 4.9 lbs
At just 1.2” thick and 15.35” x 10.47” in size and 4.85 lbs in weight, the ASUS ROG Strix GL502 15.6" gaming notebook doesn't really feel that cumbersome. The bulky gaming notebooks from a decade ago are long gone and now are seeing compact and potent gaming notebooks coming to market.   [gallery ids="185764,185753,185754,185755,185756,185757,185758,185759,185760,185761,185762,185763,185765,185770,185766,185767,185768,185769"] The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 has been around for 4-5 months, so we'll spare you the basic details and just get straight to performance. The image gallery above shows all the ASUS stock photos that feature all the sides of the notebook. When it comes to I/O you'll find a combo microphone-in/headphone-out audio jack, an SD card reader, three USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 Type-C port, one Ethernet port, and HDMI and mini DisplayPort outputs.

Overwatch Gaming Performance Benchmarked

Overwatch

Overwatch Overwatch is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It was released in May 2016 and has over 10 million game copies activated, making it one of the biggest game titles around. Overwatch puts players into two teams of six, with each player selecting one of several pre-defined hero characters with unique movement, attributes, and skills; these heroes are divided into four classes: Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. Players on a team work together to secure and defend control points on a map and/or escort a payload across the map in a limited amount of time. overwatch-settings-gl502 Overwatch is using a proprietary game engine and we tested the game title with 'Ultra' and Epic graphics quality settings. Once we had the graphics and display settings figured out we used FRAPS to manually benchmark a section of the game for a couple minutes. We tested at two resolutions during the same online game, so you will have an idea of the general performance at that resolution. The two runs were done at different places in the same map, so the performance lines shouldn't line up at all. overwatch-notebook 1080P Benchmark Results: The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 with the GeForce GTX 1070 8GB graphics card did amazingly well on Overwatch at 1080P.  We were averaging 114 FPS on Ultra IQ settings and 82 FPS with the Epic IQ settings. Some of our best matches in Overwatch have been done on the GL502! battery 1080P Benchmark Results: We aren't sure how many people will try to play games on the battery, but performance was still solid on the battery. We unplugged the laptop in the middle of playing and went from 114 FPS on average to 68 FPS, which isn't bad. This is one tough gaming notebook and can easily play games like Overwatch at Full HD with respectable frame rates both plugged into the wall and unplugged on the go!

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Gaming Performance Benchmarked

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Train Station Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a cyberpunk-themed action role-playing stealth video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. Set two years after Human Revolution, Mankind Divided features the return of Adam Jensen from the previous game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with new technology and body augmentations. top-games-august-2016 This game title hasn't been out for more than a month, but there are already over 35,000 people playing it online and that makes it the 14th most popular game right now according to Steam. That puts it ahead of Skyrim and Fallout 4! deus-ex-settings-very-high This game title uses the Dawn game engine and looks pretty decent. We tested Mankind Divided with the medium, high and very high graphics quality preset with MSAA and VSync turned off. We used the games built-in benchmark. deus-ex-gl502 Benchmark Results: Mankind Divided is very tough on graphics cards, so the fact that we were averaging 67.9 FPS on high was most impressive. We found ourselves playing Mankind Divided with medium quality settings as the minimum frame rate was slight better and the game still looks pretty good with medium IQ settings. 

GTA V Gaming Performance

GTAV Grand Theft Auto V, currently one of the hottest PC games, was finally released for the PC on April 14, 2015.  Developed by Rockstar, it is set in 2013 and the city of Los Santos.  It utilizes the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which Rockstar has been using since 2006, with multiple updates for technology improvements. GTA5-settings GTA5-settings2 In Grand Theft Auto V we set the game to run with high image quality settings as we didn't want the GPU to bottleneck the system too bad, but wanted a setup that your average gamer would actually play on with this system. We used the games built-in benchmark utility to have at least one game we used that could be compared to your setup at home. We averaged all the five of the default benchmark runs and omitted both the minimum and maximum values as those results are garbage due to major inconsistencies. gtav notebook Benchmark Results: When it comes to GTA V we found that the ASUS Strix GL502 was capable of 84.2 FPS ion average with 2x MSAA enabled. We were so happy with this we enabled 8x MSAA and we were still averaging above 65 FPS on average!

ROG Strix GL502 General Performance

What about non-gaming performance? The ASUS ROG STRIX GL502 was built to be a gaming notebook and luckily that means you also have solid all around performance. Take a look at some of these test results! cinebench-gl502 The STRIX GL502 powered by the Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB video card crushed Cinebench R15 by turning in scores of 99.32 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark and 661 cb on the multi-CPU benchmark. Try downloading this free benchmark and running it on your current desktop or notebook to see how your system compares! ASUS GL502 Drive Performance The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 that we are testing was very responsive thanks to having a primary 256GB SSD and a secondary 1TB HDD. We had a limited time to test this gaming notebook, so we just installed everything to the primary drive. You'll want to install Steam and your gaming apps to the primary drive and then change the path do the game file directory to the secondary hard drive. The Samsung SM951 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD had impressive sequential read/write performance scores of 1466 MB/s read and 1235 MB/s write with the drive 82% full and heavily used over the past couple of weeks. The HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630 (0J22423) 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5-inch notebook hard drive topped out at 144 MB/s read and 138 MB/s write on the sequential tests and that is fair for a rotational drive. aida64-gl502 The AIDA64 benchmark results were a bit surprising as we discovered that the GL502VS ships with single-channel memory. ASUS opted to use a single Samsung 16GB DDR4 2133MHz memory module with CL15 timings. This limited the performance to around 16GB/s of bandwidth for the AIDA64 read/write/copy tests, but also means you can add an extra module down the road for additional storage space and to enable dual-channel memory. Jetstream on ROG GL502 Speaking of responsiveness.... How about a score of 177.97 on the JetStream JavaScript benchmark suite? This is a very high score for a notebook and something you can easily run at home on your own PC if you want to see what you get now. Steam VR Test One of the key new features of the ASUS ROG Strix GL502 gaming notebook with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics solution is that it is VR ready. We ran the SteamVR Performance Test and found that it had a very high average quality rating (10.6) with no frames below 90 FPS or CPU bound! 3DMark Time Spy The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 is also ready for DirectX 12 game titles and runs the latest 3DMark benchmark, Time Spy, like a champ. The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 turned in a score of 4,852 points with a graphics score of 5,183 points. handbrake-gl502 The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 gaming notebook doesn't come with an optical drive, but if you wanted to rip a movie and have an external USB drive you most certainly can. We ripped a 1.5 hour long mpeg2 DVD in 21 minutes using the MKV container, high profile preset and an 18 setting for the video quality. The average encoding speed for a 720x480 DVD was 111 FPS, so encoding DVD or Blu-Ray discs is no problem for this gaming notebook. This is a versatile gaming notebook!

Final Thoughts on the ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VS

We've been using the ASUS ROG STRIX GL502 gaming notebook for several weeks and recently took it on a 5-state road trip. Being able to play all the game titles we want to play while traveling has been amazing and we didn't have to sacrifice image quality settings in any of our game titles! Keep in mind that this notebook has the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 video card inside and that you can always step up to the model that has the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X memory if you want even more gaming performance. Gaming is more than just FPS numbers though and we found the 1080P display brightness on the Anti-Glare Matte Type Screen to be satisfactory and the speakers were great for both gaming and movie watching. The refresh rate is maxed at 60Hz on the panel, but does support NVIDIA G-Sync technology that synchronizes display refresh rates to the GPU in your GL502, eliminating screen tearing and minimizing display stutter and input lag. Our only dislikes on this 15-inch gaming laptop would be battery life (around 4-5 hours with general use and not gaming) and the wide bezel around the display. Bezels have gotten so thin these days and our daily driver is a Dell XPS 13 with an InfinityEdge display, so going from that to the GL502 is a huge difference. To be fair is there ever a notebook review that doesn't wish the battery lasts longer?   ASUS ROG GL502 The system does get rather warm while gaming, but all the hot air is exhausted out the back of the notebook and shouldn't bother you at all. We opened up the ROG Gaming Center with the convenient keyboard button and found that we were running at 78C on the CPU and 82C on the GPU in a typical air conditioned room. Not too bad for a notebook this powerful! You can also use the ASUS GameFirst III utility to enable network traffic shaping for better network utilization. ASUS really has a solid gaming notebook here when it comes to both the hardware inside and the software needed for a great gaming experience. rog-gaming-center Inside the ASUS GL502 we love that you can easily upgrade the memory, SATA drive, M.2 PCIe SSD and the wireless card. The battery too can be replaced, but hopefully you won't ever have to worry about that thanks to the notebooks 3-year warranty.  None of these items are soldered down and can be easily swapped out down the road as you just need to remove some Philips screws to remove the back panel.  This is a big deal for those that like being able to access hardware and swap things out, so kudos to ASUS for making it easy on the GL502. ASUS GL502 Inside One thing that we did notice is that only one of the two memory slots are being used and that this notebook features a single-channel 16GB 2133MHz DDR4 memory module. You could easily purchase another 16GB module for a dual-channel memory setup while at the same time doubling the amount of system RAM to 32GB.   Those modules are still expensive though as you are looking at $169.99 shipped at Newegg for another module. Memory Slots One thing that we did notice is that only one of the two memory slots are being used and that this notebook features a single-channel 16GB 2133MHz DDR4 memory module. You could easily purchase another 16GB module for a dual-channel memory setup while at the same time doubling the amount of system RAM to 32GB.   Those modules are still expensive though as you are looking at $169.99 shipped at Newegg for another module.   We've never been this impressed with a gaming laptop and this is the first time we've used a laptop for a Full HD gaming experience and not missed having a desktop. Gaming notebooks have come far over the past decade and this is without a doubt one of the best all-around gaming notebooks that you can buy today.  The $1,699.00 price tag from Amazon isn't exactly inexpensive, but the ASUS ROG STRIX GL502 delivers when and where it needs to. The ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VS easily gets our top Editors Choice award as LR Editors' Choice Legit Bottom Line: The ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VS plays the latest game titles in Full HD with ease thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core processor!