While there is a plethora of gaming laptops available to fit every budget and gaming need, few laptops make you question your own sanity. The ROG G701 is that and much more, or maybe just that. Let us explain.
Remember the liquid-cooled behemoths - GX700 and GX800? Yes, those were by Asus ROG and they bare the same resemblance to our star at hand - the G701. A swift glance and you might not be able tell much of a difference between the three. If not for their features, they’d be as confusing as Neil Nitin Mukesh in a roll call.
So, if you’ve missed your attendance to grab the GX700 or GX800, the ROG segment now has an ‘affordable’ version of those two monsters. Though ₹3,49,990 is not remotely ‘affordable’ for the best of gamers, but if you wish to carry around desktop-sized power in your bag, read on.
Asus ROG G701: Design and build
Since our first encounter with the GX700, we absolutely loved the Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper Colour scheme. It was a breath of fresh air in the mix of black-clad gaming laptops. The GX800 followed the same footsteps and now the G701 does the same. It looks good alright, but now the color pallette needs to change. We ain’t complaining, but Asus should have made some effort decorating this differently. It feels like we’re getting the same laptop minus the fancy liquid cooling unit. If you go on the Asus ROG website you’ll notice that all of the G series laptops look alike.
That’s not pointing fingers at the ROG build quality here, no sir. It’s shelled in a sturdy body with metal finish on the lid and on the edges. With soft rubberised plastic surrounding the trackpad and keyboard, it gives a friendly feel to your skin too. We especially love the rear air vents of the cheaper cousin - the ROG G752VY. The orange-ish colour on that thing is better looking than the boring black vents of the G701. Also, the under panel and the plastic around the screen could’ve been better. Even the top and the bottom halves of the laptop’s body are not in a seamless sync. Think of it like two sturdy shells clamped together. When you’re paying ₹3.5 lacs for a laptop, these little details might tick you off. All-in-all, it’s got the premium treatment from Asus, but there still seems room for improvement here.
Asus ROG G701: Screen, keyboard and audio
Pay attention here, this might completely change the reason why you would want to fling a sack full of cash at Asus. The 17.3 inch display on this baby packs 4K resolution. That means you can squeeze out every last frame rate possible from that beast of a GPU - the Nvidia GTX 1080.
That’s not it. The IPS panel is an absolute stunner with amazing viewing angles and superb colour reproduction. But what about G-sync? It’s here alright, with 120Hz G-sync enabled we barely missed our benchmark monitor. It even sports anti-glare so that you don’t get distracted by any funny reflections of yourself.
Sadly, there’s no mechanical keyboard here, just a simple ole Chiclet keyboard. On the bright side, the keyboard is generously spaced with sufficient per-key surface area. It’s capable of registering 30 keystrokes at once and also has five macro keys with a dedicated video recording button. However, we did find some flex in the keyboard surface, like small packets of air stuck under the keyboard area. Weird because when the internals of this laptop are so top-specced, the keyboard feels a little left out in the ‘I am the best’ parade.
Can you imagine an ROG product without RGB? No, right? Those two go hand-in-hand, yet here Asus did something most gamers might hate. They knowingly removed multicolor RGB lighting for the keyboard. While it’s a debatable topic, I don’t see any reason why Asus wouldn't put it in a ₹3.5 lac laptop. Too bad you have to settle for red backlit that doesn’t ever dare to disco.
Speaking of disco, audio is clearly not a focus here. During silent performance sessions, the speakers are quite audible. However, we strongly recommend using headphones while gaming because the laptop gets very, very noisy. If you have a good pair of headphones, the ESS Sabre DAC does a good job of delivering high quality audio (32bit/384kHz sound output).
Asus ROG G701: Performance
Lets address the elephant in the room. The G701 is, in all its performance mode, a complete beast of a laptop. Think of it like a desktop PC crammed into a laptop chassis. The Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card can reach clock speeds of 2100MHz, that is more than the GTX 1080 founder’s edition desktop GPU that we have in our test bench.
Combined with more-than-you-need 32GB RAM and Intel Core i7-7820HK processor, it’s an absolute powerhouse for gaming performance. In our synthetic tests we found the 3D Mark scores in Firestrike to be 15,394 and VR Mark Blue Room scores came out at 2250. Those numbers mean that the G701 is proudly sitting above all your standard gaming laptops. Going far as to crushing some gaming desktops as well. Though numbers hardly matter in real-world performance, allow us to explain it in gamer sense.
Firing up Doom took nothing less than a standard head scratch before you go around splattering demon insides over the wall. Thanks to those fast M.2 SSDs (2x512GB) that are configured in RAID 0, you spend more time in-game than on the loading screen. We cranked up the graphics to Ultra and enabled that 120Hz G-sync running at 4K. The game ran on 70 to 80 frames without any hiccups. Note that if you enable V-sync, it will lock down the framerate to 60. That comes handy when the laptop can’t deliver 120 frames or above.
Further expanding our tests and going bonkers on this machine, we played Middle Earth: Shadow of War. At 4K resolution with maxed out graphics the laptop delivers up to 45-50 frames constantly. That’s the same level of graphic fidelity as our benchmark gaming PC with a desktop GTX 1080. Surprise, surprise! Moving ahead, Gears of War 4 in 4K was an absolute stunner as well. Delivering same level of performance as Shadow of War. Even thinking about it while writing gets us drooling.
So, what about thermals and drawbacks? Yes, the G701 internals heat up and that too at an alarming rate. Playing in 4K can be a disaster if your system is not equipped with handling the heat and the G701 had its moments of scare. The CPU and GPU temperatures would exceed beyond 85°. We even had a random freeze while playing Gears of War at 4K. That was enough to scare us to tone down the graphic values and switch to 2K. At 2K resolution, we got better framerates and better thermal management from the laptop. We dearly missed that boulder- sized liquid cooling module that the GX700 and GX800 came with. However, don’t let these hot topics give you the wrong idea, even a desktop with GTX 1080 will have heating issues on 4K settings. After toning down the graphics on 4K without downscaling the resolution, you might be able to get some breathing space for the GPU.
There’s no doubt in the sheer performance of the G701 in terms of high-end gaming. It’s built to deliver blazing-fast speeds, over-the-top gaming performance and look absolutely stunning while at it thanks to that G-sync 120Hz 4K screen. Though all that comes at a very steep cost and thermal scares.
Asus ROG G701: Features and Battery life
To compensate for the average audio, Sonic Studio II software offers a good equalizer that opens up a host of tweaking features to suit your liking. It helps you make the most of the audio DAC and flush out quality audio for your games and live streams. One the other hand, the Sonic Radar II feels a bit unwanted because it simply shows you relative position of the enemy based on gunshot, footsteps and other in-game sounds. It works sometimes, but it just feels like cheating while playing CS:GO and other competitive games. I don’t see any reason why you would want to use it as much.
A more practical software is the ROG Gamefirst IV. It gives you a proper live summary of your system. You can overclock the CPU and GPU using the software and also control a host of other features like fan speed, lighting, etc. Best, however, was the ROG Gamefirst mobile app. It’s basically the same software on your phone. You can change settings while gaming and the laptop will respond instantaneously. It still needs a bit of polishing in terms of connectivity but once hooked, boosting fan speeds from your phone and watching it actually happen was mind blowing. As the technology interaction is becoming unified and more seamless, we would definitely love to see more features added to the smartphone app to gain control over your laptop.
So far down into the review and we still haven’t mentioned the weight and battery life. That’s because like all high-end gaming laptops, we’ve come to make truce with these problems. The battery life is poor (obviously). So, for the sake of review numbers I can tell you that the battery will last a mere 2-3 hours for anything except gaming. In reality, the laptop is married to its charger. Sit next to a plug point and be prepared to have trouble moving it around because of that massive power brick. Both the laptop and the power brick are a back-breaking 4kgs.
On standby the laptop wasn’t brilliant as well, it will drain to zero if you put it on sleep mode overnight. Still, during my review I came to terms with that formidable weight and power-hungry appetite. Which makes you think whether you should let these issues trouble you after we have ultra-thin gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus and Acer Predator Triton 700 in the market?
Asus ROG G701: For the sane or insane?
The G701 is a powerful device, it offers desktop-like performance without a shred of doubt. High-end gaming? It’s got your back (however broken it is). Awesome 4K screen to indulge? Stare on. It checks the right boxes, but lacks a few features that otherwise should have been present.
So, the burning question here is why would you consider any high-end gaming laptop over a desktop or the new slim designed Max-Q based gaming laptops.
Take Asus’ very own Zephyrus for example. It’s got everything you might ask from a powerful gaming laptop and compared to the G701 - it sheds a ton of weight, has similar if not super powerful specs and sports a 1080p display with 120Hz G-sync. They both have our favourite GTX 1080 inside but the Zephyrus gets its Olive Oyl-fashion body thanks to Max-Q tech. Which is Nvidia’s way of saying - we toned down the power a bit so it can fit into smaller places. And at ₹2,99,990, its ₹50,000 less than our fat friend here. So, the question is, do you want that native 4K screen along with desktop-level GPU horsepower?
Well, if you’re a running the marathon of PC master race by all means, the G701 is a much powerful laptop. Just don’t get burnt while you’re at it.
Another question you might have is - what features are absent here that we’re ranting about?
You see, the MSI has something similar in their closet. The MSI GT75VR Titan has an Intel i7-7820HK with 32GB RAM and a GTX 1080 inside. It costs ₹3,24,990 without 4K and G-sync. But the 1080p panel here is 120Hz. Want 4K? MSI says for ₹20,000 extra they will import a 4K version of the same laptop on special request. So, that brings the cost to about the same as the G701.
We haven’t tested the GT75VR Titan, but from the specs you get the same level of hardware juice and better yet, you get a Steelseries mechanical keyboard with per key RGB! For shame Asus. It’s got a 120Hz panel but no G-sync which is fine because Nvidia’s G-sync tech comes at a hefty price and we get why Asus was unable to add those extra-fancy features. In my gaming opinion having G-sync is not necessary if your screen has 120Hz refresh rate. V-sync will do just fine.
Asus ROG G701: Verdict
With all said and done, the Asus G701 is - I repeat - a gaming powerhouse. Pure, unadulterated native 4K gaming at 120Hz with blazing-fast performance. While the sturdy body and unique design is a ROG speciality.
It will easily replace a gaming desktop without ever feeling lonely on high-end specs. That 4K screen and G-sync is an absolute treat. Playing videogames on this is fun and involving as any gaming rig. You can hook it up to multiple screens or a bigger monitor if you feel the need for more pixels.
However, it’s a sober laptop, one that sits in the corner and brims with power. No shiny keyboard and fancy lighting parade happening in and around the laptop. It’s built for gaming and gaming only. We love the G701, but it lacks some features that are clearly given by its competition.