Are you exclusive enough?
Well, you’ll have no control over your liquid when you read that price tag, but we urge you. Hold it in tight and don’t pass out just yet, this beast is the laptop equivalent of the LaFerrari. And keeping in mind the terms and conditions associated with buying one, in this case too, you don’t choose Asus, Asus chooses you (insert dramatic music). Yup, having the cash isn’t enough, there are just five units available to buy in the country with one of them already pre-booked. And unless you’re the PM or have similar connections, you’re probably not going to be able to get your worthless mortal paws on one.
So, how does one buy it? Why is it so exclusive? What’s the big deal? Well, if you want to buy it, you’ve got to go to an Asus store and put in a request. If Asus thinks you’re worthy enough, you get to have one. Its exclusivity is engendered by its engineering, and what a job Asus has done of that. There’s two Nvidia GTX 1080s, 64GB RAM, 4K IPS display, MechTag keyboard, the stunning Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper Colour scheme and the latest from the Intel stable. The big deal? The liquid-cooling module that cools the two cards as well as the CPU and allows overclocking of both! Boom.
The right suit
The GX700 came as a complete package in a single suitcase. It was a neat offering with TSA-approved locks and even the color scheme matched to that of that laptop’s. In fact it was so good Asus decided to not mess with it and keep it the same. But you can’t advance without change and that change here is that the suitcase now houses only the cooling module (Hydro Overclocking Dock). There’s no provision for the laptop to be housed inside the suitcase and you’ve got to carry it separately.
Which means lugging the thing around. Doesn’t seem that bad? Well it weighs a hefty 5.7kgs, which is a lot more than the GX700 that weighed 3.9kgs. Your back is going to hate you for what you’ll be doing to it. But Asus doesn’t care about your back and that’s why you get a plush backpack that’s an all black and red design and looks pretty good.
Now, this bag is designed to carry the GX800, the Hydro Overclocking Dock and all of the accessories that come with the laptop including the two huge power bricks. That means you could be carrying more than 13kgs. That would be okay if Asus threw in a mule or something gratis, but to carry it yourself, even if you’re the craziest of hardcore gamers, is a task and not advisable. Carrying just the laptop and its power brick is still doable.
We’ve been die-hard fans of the Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper colour scheme that Asus rolled out with its G752 series of laptops. The silver and orangey copper looks absolutely amazing and stands out from the regular black and red fascia other gaming laptops are clad in.
When we spoke about the design of the GX700, which was pretty much the same, we said we wish Asus had made those back vents a nice bright orange, but alas, it's still a dull black colour. We had excused the GX700 because you’d most likely have it docked to the Hydro system for the most part of your gaming, but it’s not the same case when it comes to the GX800.
The GX800 is a powerful beast in itself and docking it to the overclocking system means giving an already enraged and angry, and powerful monster a nuclear weapon allowing it to trump everything you throw at it. So, you won’t be using the dock as often as you would on the GX700 and hence those ugly black vents are going to be in full view. Not nice.
Everything on the docking unit remains the same although we wish the window through which you can see those breathing lights inside was on the back of the unit. Why? Well, because once you dock the laptop into place, you open the lid and voila! Actually, not voila! Neither you, nor anyone else will be able to have a glimpse of that window and the beautiful lights.
As you would have already guessed from the above, nothing much has changed externally. Which is good because it means you still get the same top-notch Asus quality that you pay for. For those not familiar, it feels premium like something that costs ₹8 lacs should and there are no cheap bits here. Everything remains just like the GX700 in terms of build quality.
Fit and finish too is of the highest quality you’d find on a laptop these days. There are no noticeable flaws that we can point out and the laptop feels as sturdy as Bahubali. Just like the GX700, the lid of the GX800 also feels pretty strong and the hinges have great dampening that makes the entire experience that tiny bit better. You see, at this price, it’s details like these that matter a lot too.
Even in the case of the Overclocking system the story remains the same. The unit is as sturdy as an ox and if you want to nudge it, it’s as stubborn as a mule (the one Asus doesn’t give complimentary). Jokes apart, we don’t see how Asus could improve on the quality of both the laptop and the docking unit.
Keys they’re a changin’
The GX800 features Asus’ new MechTag keyboard. It’s designed to feel like the Cherry MX Brown switches, which it does - kind of. Those of you who have actually used a proper mechanical keyboard with Cherry switches will miss the feel of the real thing, but for those who haven’t this might blow your mind. There’s enough travel, but the key registers less than halfway through. This means you don’t have to press the key even halfway through and it would have registered. This is really helpful when you make a quick decision and have to move out of the way before you get hit.
However, we wish Asus had done a better job at the quality of the caps. They feel a tad bit plasticky and we wish they were made better. It’s like touching one of those Logitech keyboards that you could get at the more affordable end of the market. Not that great when the other parts of the laptop feel as premium as a stone from Swarovski.
What’s good is that there still are those five shortcut keys on top that allow you to access your preferred gaming profile that you set up in the ROG Gaming Centre and your macros. You also get the fully loaded version of Asus Aura that allows you to customise the keyboard according to your whims and fancies. There’s nine different modes for the RGB lighting with each of them having its own customisable options.
Now, for example if you select the ‘Wave’ mode, you can further customise the flow of direction of the RGB lights and the speed at which it will flow. We absolutely love this keyboard and its ROG Aura software that is super-easy to use and as intuitive as opening a door without a lock. While we are on the topic of lighting aesthetics, you also get to choose whether the orange ROG logo lights on the back of the lid stay on or off.
The touchpad, although won’t be used much for gaming, still needs a shoutout. It seems to be of similar size to that of the GX700 and we like how it’s laid out. The big size helps massively when you’re an extensive Windows 10 gesture worm who loves to use them. The buttons offer a satisfying click and feel pretty much on point when it comes to tactile feedback. No faults here for us to point out then.
Ports of the future
It is pretty obvious that with such monstrosity, you get the latest and the greatest to go with it. And Asus delivers with aplomb. You get a regular microphone-in jack along with a headphone-out jack that supports SPDIF. You get the USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, which can be a display out and supports up to 40Gbps transfer speeds. Then there are the regular USB 3.0 Type-A ports, you get three of those, and besides these, there an RJ45 LAN jack, an HDMI port and a mini display port. You also get a Wi-Fi extender tower that will let you catch your Wi-Fi signal from miles away and keep it stable while you score those kills.
Four times the FHD
A clear winner in our books, the 4K display on the GX800 is easily the best we’ve laid our eyes on. The contrast and colour are outstanding here. It can shame any lesser laptop display when you compare it and you almost start using it as a benchmark for other displays you set your eyes on. Even while surfing the web, the tiny bits like the blue of the Facebook logo or the red and white of YouTube make you go - ‘Ahh, so this is what it should actually look like.’.
The darker areas in a game are also displayed with a sort of neutrality that makes you think - ‘This is just right.’. While going through the tutorial of Friends in High Places in Battlefield 1, the snow-capped Vosges Mountains looked absolutely stunning as the sun bled its shimmery orangish-red tinge on the snow. Nvidia G-Sync, there were no signs of tearing either.
The realistic scale and the scenic background made us feel like all of it was a very well designed movie shot. And that’s exactly what a capable panel like this should do to your games - make them come to life.
The cool Kaby
Asking about the performance of the Intel Core i7 7820HK processor on the GX800 is like asking if the LaFerrari goes fast. Which it does, with figures like 2.4 seconds to reach 100kmph from nought. But what if it is a liquid-cooled, overclocked and maxed out? Well, we don’t have a 0-100 rating for a CPU, what we do have are comparatively boring benchmark results.
PC Mark 8 Home 3.0 garnered a score of 4855, in the Creative 3.0 test the GX800 scored 8866 and in the Work 2.0 it scored 4843. All impressive scores as expected. Well, with 64GBs of RAM and a CPU that can be overclocked to 4.4GHz, anything below those scores would be a disaster. These are also an improvement over the GX700 which scored 4203 on the PCMARK 8 Accelerated 3.0 and 3869 on the PCMARK 8 Home Conventional 3.0.
We don’t need to say it, but words like lag, slow, stutter, hang etc. don’t exist in the GX800’s dictionary. This is also thanks to ROG HyperDrive RAID 0 SSD that’s got MLC NAND (multi-level cell) flash memory technology. All that translates to super-fast transfer speeds of an average read speed of 850 MB/s and write speeds of 782 MB/s, which easily outperform and mock, ahem, ‘lower-end’ laptops.
Wanna play some Gwent?
Cards are great. Specially when they spell out Nvidia GTX 1080. But that gets better when there are two of those that are liquid-cooled and can be overclocked to 2075MHz. That’s not all though, you can also overclock the VRAM and DRAM to speeds of 5200MHz and 2800MHz. That’s a lot of overclocking and that translates to scores of over 10,200 on the 3D Mark FireStrike Ultra benchmark and some impressive FPS results from a bunch of games.
This one’s no slouch, then. While the GX700 struggled to pump out results in the Ultra HD resolution, the GX800 takes it in its stride and performs wonderfully well. Games like Battlefield 1 with maxed out settings didn’t see a frame drop below 85. Heavier games like GTA V with everything set to ‘Ultra’ performed extremely well and stayed at the similar 82fps mark. Nothing we tried would phase the GX800.
And all this was achieved without overclocking the GX800! But we were surprised that when we did dock it, we got a little less than expected boost in FPS from the same games. The average gain in FPS was about 8-15FPS. We were expecting more, but that would need a miracle. Rise of the Tomb Raider also saw a healthy 88FPS and an increase to 92FPS when connected to the overclocking module. We got similar results from Resident Evil 7 with the frames not dropping below the 84FPS mark. Older games like Fallout 4 never dipped below 90.
We even tried playing two games at once and even with Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare running simultaneously, the GX800 didn’t break a sweat. This blew our mind, so we loaded up Fallout 4, and then we noticed the loading time go up and framerates drop, but the very fact that it could handle it, says a lot about its capabilities. And let us remind you, all of those games were set at 4K and Ultra settings.
The point here is that Asus has made it possible to truly game in 4K resolution without the need to dial down the settings or compromise on any visual aspects in the game. Problem is, it comes with a hot price tag and is so exclusive, you might not get your hands on one. Shame.
Without the docking unit, the GPUs hover around the 80° mark and CPU was a close 75°. However, dock that cooling unit and without increasing the fan speed or anything, just at default settings, it brought the temps down to 68° for the CPU and 54° for the GPU and that’s pretty amazing. It shows that Asus obviously had the cooling of the GPUs at priority.
However, under more demanding conditions, you do need to turn up that fan speed and that creates quite an audible whir from the docking unit as well as the laptop. This isn’t really comfortable and we wish it were more silent, but oh well, you can’t have everything we guess. But at this price, we should. What helps the case is that there’s no trace of heat coming through to the surface unlike the GX700.
This has been made possible because the latest version of the Hydro Overclocking System paired with ROG GX800, has a new dual Hybrid Chamber Cooling design to draw heat away from the graphics cards and processor. Overall it improves on what the unit of the GX700 was capable of and does a better job of cooling the unit in its entirety without which, the GX800 sounds like a regular laptop with air cooling.
Just like the GX700, the GX800 has a 4.0 configuration, and while the audio on the previous model was not at all satisfactory, in this new one it is a whole new story altogether. Asus claims this is the world’s first gaming laptop with two 34mm x 11mm 2W tweeters at the base of the display that direct sound toward you.
That’s not all, just like you cup your hand against your puny cellphone speaker to ‘increase’ the volume, Asus has added Two 28Ø 2W squawker speakers under the keyboard that reflect sound off of the table and give you a similar effect like your hand would against your cell phone speaker. Only this is just bigger and better and that’s because your desk has better sound displacement properties than your paw. Go figure. Jokes apart, the audio on the GX800 is the best we’ve heard so far from any laptop’s external speakers. There’s superb definition in terms of laptop sound and the output is well balanced. Explosions don’t sound overly boomy and are just right.
But this is taken to a whole new level when you plug in headphones. It’s proper audiophile stuff going on here and you can hear it. Asus has included a ESS Sabre DAC and amp combo that allows for playback of 32bit/384KHz, which means pristine quality audio. What further adds to the drama is the extremely useful Sonic Studio software that allows you to take control of the sound. You get traditional controls and features like the Profile Manager, Equalizer, Asus Perfect Voice, Casting Enhancer and much more.
Your phone, your Pip-Boy
The ROG Gaming Center is the Pip-Boy of the GX800. A cool new addition to the now upgraded ROG Gaming Centre is the ability to control your entire rig from your phone. Yes, you can download the ROG Gaming Centre app on your Android phone and all you need to do is scan the code that the software on the laptop displays. As simple as getting Whatsapp for web.
This app allows immense control over the system remotely. So, you can check system information like CPU Clock Frequency, Temperature etc. You can also switch between the Turbo Gear options for overclocking and select any of the three available and change them. Also available is the ability to switch Game Profiles, but what’s really cool is that you can launch all the utility apps from your phone. Need the ROG MacroKey up and running? Done. Faan Boost, ROG Aura, Asus Splendid tech? No, really, that’s splendid.
So, you probably won’t be able to buy one and even if you manage to, you’d be paying a hefty price for it. If you have that kind of money to throw on this beast, by all means, indulge. And it’s worth mentioning that unlike the GX700, this one is quite capable even without the Overclocking module. So, you won’t need to carry it around and break your back while at it. The laptop by itself is pretty okay at 5.7kgs, but you do need to factor in the power brick and other accessories you might be carrying with it. In the end it all depends on how strong your back is.
For those of you who think this is just Asus showing off its might and engineering prowess, well you’re absolutely right. And they’ve done an amazing job of it. However, we are Stuff India and we have to complain about something, right! So, here’s something to think about. The GPUs cannot be upgraded and are soldered to the motherboard. On top of that, this kind of a cooling arrangement is extremely custom and future cards might not even support the infrastructure. Lastly, if anything goes wrong, you won’t be able to switch out just that component. But we’re sure Asus will completely fix all your problems should you face any. So, good luck to the lucky ones who get to buy this, for the rest of us mortals, we’d stick to building a PC with similar specs, for you know, budget reasons...