Woah, woah, woah, hold on now. A great man once said - What’s in a name. Now, what does that teach us? It teaches us that names are not important, it is the character that matters. A quick thank you to captain obvious is in order, but jokes apart, Asus and its Strix division has done something new here.
And that new bit is the design, which we will talk about slightly later. The more pressing issue on hand is the competition in this category and with these specs. There’s the MSI GE63 Raider and a new creature that lurks in the dark, the Dell Inspiron 7577 and its USP is way better than the rest - the price. But more on that later. Let’s set our eyes on our Hero here.
Asus Hero Strix Design - Moh Maya
We were almost starting to get used to the slick look that the Strix series offered. Previous models looked striking in the orange and black cladding and it was a different take on how a gaming laptop should look, but it did look good. There’s now a refresh of design for our new Hero in town.Instead of the orange and black, now what greets the eye, or hurts it (depends on your taste) is the new Maya pattern along with deep blue colour waves. In all honesty, it doesn’t look bad. It’s the sort of design that’s not in your face, but you can’t miss it either. There’s a sense of balance here and we like that.The design trickles down to the keyboard area as well and it is quite obvious that pulling the Hero out in a board meeting would be more than embarrassing. Make no mistake, this looks like a proper gaming laptop, just not overdone. Which is good. The big Strix logo at the back lights up in red and it looks good in its entirety. Our only question is - Was it needed?
Asus Hero Strix - Keyboard/trackpad - No steel here
The RGB keyboard on the Hero looks great. The QWER keys come highlighted hinting at the MOBA-esqued thought to design as well as layout. It is a pretty standard, but good 4-zone keyboard with a 0.25mm keycap curve, which really feels great to touch (like most curves do). It feels like a little hug that your fingertips get from the keyboard.
Not surprisingly at all, gaming and typing lengthy reviews is a joy and the ergonomics of the keyboard are great. The slightly expanded spacebar is a great feature and the smart management of space by shifting the arrow keys down a notch doesn’t hinder the experience here and everything just falls in place naturally.
The ROG Aura software that manages the keyboard and its customisability is as great as it has always been. Essentially, we have no gripe with the keyboard, but that’s not considering the brilliant Steel Series keyboard that MSI offers on the similarly priced and specced GE63 Raider. That one gives you per-key RGB and the Steel Series software completely blows any other competition out of the water. You can get GIFs to play on your keyboard. How bad-a** is that!
The trackpad is made well too. There’s some design elements on the lower part of it as well, but apart from that it’s a fairly standard one you get at this price.
Asus Hero Strix Display - Hero gets hurtz
The best bit about the Hero is that gorgeous Full HD display. It’s a cool 120Hz stunner with a response time of 3ms, which is more than enough if you’re going to use it to play MOBA games. We tested out a few first person shooters and well, it was headshots aplenty during our three hour feud in Counter Strike. Let’s not get into who shot whom, but it was fast nonetheless.
The display also can be set to different modes depending on what type of game or the type of media you’re consuming. We really like the FPS mode as this appears to be the best for gaming overall. The sRGB mode chalks out a balanced picture for your regular day-to-day tasks and there’s other modes for movies and MOBA games too.
Even though you can select from the multiple modes on the Hero, we didn’t find a way to customise either one of them any further. The MSI Raider on the other hand, along with its True Colour tech, allows intricate customisation within the particular modes too. But is it really needed? Well, unless you’re a designer with a very specific set of needs, no, it isn’t required. The different modes offered here are more than enough for any average gamer.
While the display blew us away with its excellent colour and contrast delivery while playing games and consuming media, the audio on the Hero didn’t manage to ring our eardrums. That’s not to say the laptop doesn’t get loud, but it’s not the best offered here at the price. The MSI trumps it on audio quality thanks to the Dynaudio nomenclature. If it’s any compensation, the Sonic Studio software allows a lot of tweaking and a full equalizer.
Asus Hero Strix Performance - Hit the bench
The Hero was made to obliterate the lesser puppers totting the Nvidia GTX1050s. Of course, it costs much more, but the benefits are in accordance to that. You get a lot more firepower at your disposal when you have the bigger GTX1060 steadily breathing under your fingertips and it shows, quite evidently while playing demanding games like Shadow of War and Wolfenstein.
Unlike the lesser minions with the GTX1050, with the Hero, you can bump up the settings to a crisp Ultra and still get served a steady 50-55 FPS in Shadow of War. Wolfenstein and Gears of War go higher and play a lot more smoother though. Not surprised? Well, we weren’t either.
What did surprise us was the benchmark results. The Hero scored a cool 3774 in the Time Spy benchmark and 9863 in the Fire Strike test. On Sky Diver, it managed to obtain a cool 24707. Healthy scores then? Yes, indeed, but when compared to the MSI Raider’s 3932 on Time Spy and 10231 on Fire Strike, the Hero falls short a bit.
But in real-world gaming scenarios, the Hero is right up there raiding it with the MSI. And if you’re thinking about how the Dell fares, well as expected, it comes in at third place and is beaten by both the Hero and the MSI.
Asus Strix Hero Software and Battery Life - Dead Center
The main bit that keeps gaming laptops from exploding is the software. In the Hero’s case, the ROG Gaming Center takes on this duty. We’ve been big fans of the ROG Gaming Center all because of its intuitive nature and simplicity. It is a tad better and more rounded than the MSI Dragon Center and well, the Dell doesn’t get any such frills. No, it won’t explode, that was a joke. Also, it isn't made by Samsung.
You also get Sonic Studio and recording software which is neatly presented and intuitive as well.A mobile app is soon becoming the norm now and the Hero comes with one too. It is easy to set up and allows you to change profiles seamlessly while gaming.The Hero has quite the stamina too to support the software and games. It lasts an entire day of regular use and offers close to 4.5 hours of gaming.
The Hero Strix brings in a new design and offers a lot for the money it asks. But the competition is tough. One offers a better keyboard and greater audio prowess, while the other undercuts it by quite an amount without compromising much on the performance. We are at a fix here. We like the Asus for its design and build, the MSI Raider for its keyboard and audio and the Dell for its price. So, should you chose the Asus over the MSI and Dell? If you’re an Asus licker, by all means, go for it. We would focus on saving our money and compromising on the fancy keyboard and other frills and still get similar performance.