Asus ROG GX700 VO review: Outrageous performance but impractical
Make no mistake, the Asus ROG GX700 VO is one monster of a machine that – with its water-cooling docking port – delivers gaming performance that puts most desktops to shame. Loaded with an over-clockable Intel Core i7-6820HK, 2 SSDs in RAID-0 configuration, 32GB of RAM, and a desktop nVidia GeForce GTX 980 packed with 8GB memory, there is very little to nitpick when it comes to the laptop’s performance. Unfortunately, the package falls short of what many would expect from the ROG series of laptops, of which I’m a happy owner of a lighter G551 unit.
At S$6,198, this “desktop” masquerading as a laptop will cost more than your wife’s medical bills from pregnancy through delivery. Yes, I know many of you are more interested in catching Pokemon, but gamers buying this would still have to overcome a bout of cognitive dissonance when they realise that the same budget can buy them 3 MacBooks. Cost aside though, the biggest problem with the GX700 VO is that its stellar performance is overshadowed by a critical shortcoming – its incredible bulkiness.
The unit was delivered in a travel suitcase that included a water-cooling dock and 2 separate power adaptors. You would imagine that the suitcase should weigh no more than 7kg and fit into the overhead compartment of an aeroplane … But no! The combined weight of the dock and GX700 VO is 8.4kg, and the suitcase rivals the size of my checked luggage!
There were other minor bugbears with the GX700 VO. For one, a 4K screen should be par for the course for a 17.3″ IPS screen at that price point, but it wasn’t. The screen also suffered from some backlight bleeding, which made its edges appear slightly washed-out in-between cutscenes for games. However, the display’s saving graces are its smooth 75Hz refresh rate, and bright, matte screen, which made watching HD videos a pure joy.
I loaded up the FPS classic Battlefield 3 (yes, yes, I’m an old man), Battlefield 4 (on a 1-week trial), and Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Steam’s free weekend), running them at the highest quality. The GX700 VO did not disappoint. StarCraft 2, a personal favourite, was beautiful as well. Check out the screenshots below.
Screenshots from Call of Duty: Black Ops III (click to enlarge)
Screenshots from Battlefield 3 (click to enlarge)
Screenshots from Battlefield 4 (click to enlarge)
Despite that, I had higher expectations for a desktop-replacement the size of Mother Russia. The water-cooling dock is absolutely essential for the discerning gamer. It keeps the rig as silent as a sleeping baby and ensures that it performs at its best. However, I’ve come to expect expansion ports that are typical of office laptops, and the GX700 VO came up short. Another thing that’s disturbed me about ROG laptops are their weak speakers. I would have loved it if a more robust set was outfitted onto the dock to give it a boost. There is more than enough room to do so.
In terms of battery life, like most performance-geared laptops, the GX700 VO couldn’t hold up for long when unplugged from the socket. The 90Wh battery lasted just under an hour when I ran my ancient copy of Battlefield 3. In addition, compared to the phenomenal performance of the GX700 VO when docked, I felt a noticeable dip in the framerate as the GPU was clocked down to match its mobile brethren. Gameplay was still smooth, but no longer flawless.
Don’t get me wrong though. It is clear that Asus spared no expense in jazzing up this rig, but shelling out so much dough for one unit is like going to the Mercedes showroom with the budget for an SLS AMG and coming home with a double-decker bus.
Asus has traditionally made some smart trade-offs in favour of ergonomics and weight. Unfortunately, the GX700 VO is geared purely for performance. The proud claim of launching the world’s first water-cooled laptop rings hollow when the unit is far from portable. Nonetheless, it’s one hell of a machine, and owners of the GX700 VO wouldn’t feel the need to upgrade their rig for several years to come.
The GX700 VO is everything and the kitchen sink. Its performance exceeds most desktop gaming PCs, and would undoubtedly beat practically all laptops currently available in the market.
The SSDs running on RAID-0, 6th generation Core i7, wireless ac adapter, and future-proof USB Type-C ports are plus points. Water-cooling keeps the laptop incredibly silent, but there is no practical reason to overclock an already high-end CPU and GPU. The display is very good but not perfect, and 512GB of storage is low when 1TB should be the minimum spec.
The GX700 VO is more a desktop-replacement. It’s not a viable gaming laptop when unplugged from the socket due to the enormous strain on its battery. Moreover, performance is only at its peak when docked. Doubling the size of the battery would have enabled at least 2 hours of gameplay and not increased its weight substantially since the laptop is already bulky.
The travel suitcase is over-the-top. A better alternative is to offer a laptop backpack and a separate case to carry the water-cooling dock on the rare occasion. In addition, considering the dock’s large footprint, it is more practical to run a PC in SLI configuration.
Value for Money: 2/10
Starting at S$6,198, you’re probably better off buying 2 desktop gaming PCs with similar or better specifications. The wireless ac adapter, USB Type-C, and DisplayPort ports put the GX700 VO ahead of the curve, but it is still overpriced.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6820HK 8MB Cache @ 2.7GHz (3.6GHz Turbo)|
|Graphics||Desktop nVidia GeForce GTX 980 with 8GB GDDR5 Memory|
|Display||17.3″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Panel with nVidia G-Sync|
|Memory||32GB DDR4 2800MHz|
|Storage||512GB, comprising 2 x 256GB NVMe M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 (RAID-0)|
|Network||RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet|
Dual-Band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
|Audio||Dual 22mm Speakers (2W)|
Dual mm speakers (1.5W)
31mm subwoofer (3W)
|Interface||USB 3.0 (3 ports, inclusive 1 Ai Charger)|
USB 3.1 Type-C
USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3.0, 4K @ 60Hz)
HDMI 2.0 (4K @ 60Hz)
Mini DisplayPort 1.3 (8K @ 60Hz / Dual 4K @ 60 Hz)
Headphone / Mic
2-in-1 Card Reader
|Camera||Front: HD Camera (1280 x 720p @ 30fps)|
|Battery||90Wh 8-cell Lithium-Ion|
|AC Adapter||19V 180W – Laptop Only (1.22kg)|
19V 330W – Dock and Laptop (0.69kg)
|Dimensions||429 x 309 x 33-35mm (W x D x H)|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|