ASUS ROG STRIX Hero II (GL504)
Note: The ASUS ROG STRIX Scar II is essentially the same laptop as the Hero II but optimised for FPS titles with WASD keys highlighted and the option to go for a GeForce GTX 1070. The ASUS ROG STRIX Hero II as per the review unit received is optimised for MOBAs with the QWER keys highlighted.
It could be said that from a GPU perspective, gaming laptops haven’t seen much in the way of advancement in the past year or so. But that hasn’t stopped hardware makers like ASUS from introducing several hardware improvements and overall design updates to its 2018 line-up. Case in point, the ASUS ROG STRIX Hero II (GL504). A truly impressive laptop with a brilliant 144Hz display, 8th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, fast memory, and sleek new look.
And it’s the new look that sets the scene for what’s under the hood. From the tiered aluminium finish to the custom boot-sound to the RGB strip that runs underneath the bottom panel. The new ASUS ROG Strix Hero II is more powerful and portable than ever before.
Under the Lid
Although the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 is the perfect workhorse GPU for a 1080p display, the addition of the new Intel Core i7 8750H in addition to 2666MHz DDR4 memory results in an image that has no trouble reaching the higher end of the new 144Hz display. In fact, when you throw in the on board M2 SSD storage the overall design of the Hero II features no real bottleneck or area that might leave you feeling a little short-changed when it comes to gaming.
Well, battery life may not exactly be perfect under full load – but that’s not exactly a new issue when it comes to gaming laptops.
Processor: Intel Core i7 8750H
Display: 15.6" IPS FHD (1920 x 1080) panel with 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms GTG response time, 100% sRGB colour gamut
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
Memory: 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 (32GB supplied in review unit)
Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and 1TB FireCuda SSHD
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces: 1 x Type C USB3.1, 3 x USB 3.1 ports, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x HDMI, 1 x mini Display Port, 1 x Headphone
Weighing in at roughly 2.4 kg, there seems to be a real effort to keep things compact and portable with the Hero II. A design philosophy we can get behind, especially when you factor in that with the 15.6” display this can comfortably fit in most backpacks. As with most makers of gaming laptops the overall size and weight comes down to the custom cooling, with the Hero II sporting an ASUS certified HyperCool Pro thermal solution - designed to keep everything from the GPU to the CPU and even memory from melting a hole on your desk. More a fancy name than something the cooling world has never seen before, under load HyperCool Pro makes its presence known, sound-wise, and does its job admirably.
Look and Feel
Okay, so the ASUS ROG STRIX Hero II (and Scar II) is one fine looking machine. Which in 2018 is a definite selling point. The modern angular design, aluminium frame, large ASUS ROG logo and RGB strip, backlit keyboard with funky ASUS ROG font on the keys, all highlight the excellent build quality. Perhaps the real star of the show is the partially detached display and the narrow-bezel design which results in a noticeably smaller form factor than last year’s model. Which, when coupled with the rubber frame, plays into the whole idea of portability and being able to quickly pack and fit the Hero II in just about any backpack.
The sleek angular design carries over to both the vents that elevate in-use, keeping the Hero II quite thin at 2.61 cm. From a pure visual design perspective, the ASUS ROG STRIX Hero II and Scar II is one of the best looking in the company’s long history. Once we learned that the look and feel was born from trying to go for a Cyberpunk aesthetic – well, it wasn’t hard to figure out why it screamed out “cool” as soon as it was unpacked.
Now, the Hero II is marketed as the MOBA laptop. With the Scar II being the FPS version. Hardware-wise they’re essentially identical – so we didn’t really switch up our test line-up. The new 144 Hz display, CPU, memory speed boost, and overall high-for-a-laptop GPU clock speed turned in impressive results across the board. The 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H six-core CPU clearly doing its thing here.
For the 1080p display included, which is impressively crisp and bright when gaming, the difference is night and day when performance dips below 60 frames-per-second when compared to 60 Hz display. Firing up MOBA titles like DOTA 2 and Heroes of the Storm, optimising for performance higher than 100 frames-per-second was a breeze – but even in visually intensive titles like Assassin’s Creed Origins which hovers in the 50-60 fps range at max settings (which isn’t required for a 15.6” 1080p display), the higher overall refresh rate keeps it all looking smooth.
As expected, the 3D Mark results benefited from the CPU bump to Core i7-8750H.
The ASUS ROG STRIX Hero II, or the FPS-focused ASUS ROG STRIX Scar II, is an exceptionally well-designed gaming laptop. ASUS has not only gone for a cool new visual re-design, but the narrow-bezel display, thinner and lighter form factor, and improved hardware under the lid all add up to something far more impressive than previous models.
Sure, things like overall noise and battery life under full-load could be improved with the Hero II – but even on that front you get pretty good results with the GeForce GTX 1060 variant. And when not gaming, switching to onboard Intel Graphics makes the Hero II as portable as it is powerful.