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Asus ROG GX700 VO review: Outrageous performance but impractical

 

Asus GX700 - Setup
Asus ROG GX700 VO (Image: Asus)

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.

Asus GX700 - Luggage
One would imagine that the GX700 VO should fit snugly into a hand-carried bag (front) instead of checked baggage (rear)

 

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!

Asus GX700 - Tower
It must come as no surprise then that the GX700 VO package is about the size of my PC tower.

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.

 

Asus GX700 - COD SS1 Asus GX700 - COD SS2

Screenshots from Call of Duty: Black Ops III (click to enlarge)

Asus GX700 - BF3 SS1 Asus GX700 - BF3 SS2 Asus GX700 - BF3 SS3

Screenshots from Battlefield 3 (click to enlarge)

Asus GX700 - BF4 SS1 Asus GX700 - BF4 SS2 Asus GX700 - BF4 SS3 Asus GX700 - BF4 SS4

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.

Asus GX700 - Dock
Presenting the water-cooling dock – More essential than a Roomba for the performance-minded, but with limited functionality

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 GX700VO - Wrong Mercedes Bro
Johnny went to the Mercedes showroom and told the salesman that he wanted the vehicle with the SBS license plate… (Image: Mercedes)

 

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 Verdict

Performance: 10/10

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.

Features: 7/10

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.

Functionality: 6/10

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.

Practicality: 1/10

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.

Technical Specifications
CPUIntel Core i7-6820HK 8MB Cache @ 2.7GHz (3.6GHz Turbo)
GraphicsDesktop nVidia GeForce GTX 980 with 8GB GDDR5 Memory
Display17.3″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Panel with nVidia G-Sync
Memory32GB DDR4 2800MHz
Storage512GB, comprising 2 x 256GB NVMe M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 (RAID-0)
NetworkRJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
Dual-Band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
AudioDual 22mm Speakers (2W)
Dual mm speakers (1.5W)
31mm subwoofer (3W)
InterfaceUSB 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
CameraFront: HD Camera (1280 x 720p @ 30fps)
Battery90Wh 8-cell Lithium-Ion
AC Adapter19V 180W – Laptop Only (1.22kg)
19V 330W – Dock and Laptop (0.69kg)
Dimensions429 x 309 x 33-35mm (W x D x H)
Weight3.9kg Laptop
4.5kg Dock
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home (64-bit)

SataySauce

Guest writer for Here Be Geeks. SataySauce was once active in the online gaming community but now prefers to spend his gaming time offline so that young punks don't chew him off for being a n00b. He believes he is a geek at heart because he responded with a resounding "Yes!" when asked whether he considered himself a geek during his first job interview.

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