(Pocket-lint) - The 2021 model of the ROG Strix Scar 17 sees Asus continuing a trend of crafting some seriously nice-looking gaming laptops that pack in specs that won't disappoint.
On paper, this Scar 17 seems to promise it all. Not only sporting all the looks of its predecessor, but also a performance boost in terms of both processing power and battery life thanks to a healthy mix of AMD and Nvidia internals.
Throw in some eye-catching underlighting, a stunning 360Hz screen, an optical-mechanical keyboard, and you've certainly got a head-turner. But is the Strix Scar 17 all style and no substance? We've been testing it out to find out.
AMD and Intel internals
- 17.3-inch IPS-level panel: either WQHD (2560 x 1440) 165Hz / FHD (1920 x 1080) 360Hz
- Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, Up to 64GB DDR3 3200Mhz RAM
- Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics (with ROG Boost to 1645MHz)
- Up to 2TB RAID 0 NVMe SSD
There are several reasons the 2021 model of the Strix Scar 17 is appealing. For many, it'll be the RTX 3000-series graphics card that is unobtainable in the desktop world.
That graphics power helps with the second main draw - the 360Hz refresh rate screen if you pick the Full HD option. With a smidge over 17-inches of screen (on the diagonal) at your disposal, as well as adaptive sync and a high refresh rate, the Scar 17 looks the business when gaming.
The additional specs include as much as 64GB of RAM (it's 32GB as standard), up to 2TB of fast NVMe storage and, of course, a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU.
From our various play sessions we're happy to report Strix Scar 17 delights just as you'd expect. That AMD processor and the clever battery optimisation in Nvidia's latest GPUs also means you can use it for working, surfing and other things for hours on end as well.
- Liquid metal thermal compound cooling
- Four fan outlets for improved cooling
- 3dB quieter than the previous model
- Aura Sync Light Bar, Logo and Bezel glow
Aside from what looks like some serious specs for gaming, this latest Scar 17 also has plenty to offer in the looks department.
As you'll see from our photos, the Strix Scar 17 is very much RGB friendly. There's lighting control via an Aura Sync compatible light bar around the bottom, the logo on the lid, and an under glow from the screen too.
Alongside the usual per-key RGB illumination on the optical-mechanical keyboard, these accents will either draw you in or push you away - depends if you're into the whole RGB thing.
You can, of course, turn lighting off or you can leave it glowing in various ways throughout the day. We really enjoy the way the light glows on the desk and the various highlights it leaves across the chassis as well.
There are other intriguing aspects to the design - including the customisable armour cap, which is essentially a 3D printed section of the laptop that you can remove and replace with your own 3D printed designs.
There are also nice little accents like the Roman Numerals MMVI on the rear cooling vent to signify the year Asus' Republic of Gamers brand was formed (that's 2006, in case you're wondering).
The body has an oddly semi-translucent strike across the middle of it, which lets you see some of the internals. We're not really sure whether we like that part of the design or not, it's certainly going to be divisive.
On the right-hand side, there's also a dock for the Keystone II NFC-enable keys. These can be used to set personalised settings and change between them by simply swapping the keys. We've seen that before on the Strix Scar III and it's more of a gimmick than anything else, but a fun part of the whole package.
The Scar 17's chassis also feels solid and boasts a nice premium finish without being excessively weighty. As is current standard, the display on this laptop is also relatively bezel-free - meaning you get a heck of a lot of screen real-estate, but also that there's no room for a web camera!
Competitive gaming thrills
- Optical mechanical gaming keyboard: 1.9mm travel, 0.2ms response time, 100 million clicks
- 90Wh 4-cell Li-ion battery (up to 12-hours per charge), USB-C rapid charging
- Smart amp speakers with 5.1.2 virtual surround sound
- Two-way AI noise cancellation mic
- Benchmarks - PC Mark, Time Spy, Time Spy Extreme, Port Royal, FireStrike, Firestrike Ultra, DLSS
In our mind, it's the display of the Scar 17 that makes this laptop particularly interesting. There are two options to choose from, depending on which model you choose: WQHD (2560 x 1440) with 165Hz refresh rate, or FHD (1920 x 1080) with 360Hz. It's the latter we tested.
We also managed to push various games to high frame rates to justify the setup. We played Dirt 5 at a maximum of 175fps, Rainbow Six Siege topped out at 233fps, and benchmarks showed that even Battlefield 5 would get over 100fps easily enough. Pretty tasty.
The screen on this monitor is rich in colour, with great viewing angles. We didn't rate it much for outside use, though, as it's not bright enough to counter sunlight sufficiently. But for gaming inside it's great day or night (because, well, you're in a darkened room, right?).
Nvidia's latest graphics cards also make it far more plausible to game on this sort of laptop without being constantly plugged into mains power too. The experience isn't always perfectly smooth, but we found we could get around 50fps from Assassin's Creed Odyssey on the Scar 17 while playing with just the battery. You get much higher frame rates when plugged in.
On older models it wasn't even worth trying to go cable-free - as the laptops would simply drop to less than 10fps or run out of battery in 10 minutes. Maybe both if you were especially unlucky. That this is no longer the case is glorious. Now you can get your game on, wherever you are.
We will note though, that the Scar 17's speakers aren't loud enough to game on exclusively - unless you're in a quiet room with no noise that'll interfere with your fun. Maxed out, we couldn't hear the game audio well if someone happened to be watching TV nearby for example. Not that we like trying to cause havoc with our family's TV-watching evenings.
That said, the cooling on this Scar laptop is good enough that our gaming sessions weren't constantly ruined by obnoxious and overpowering fan noise. It also doesn't get so hot that it's unbearable to use, which is certainly a bonus.
Another thing that gamers will like is the inclusion of an optical-mechanical gaming keyboard setup, built right into the laptop. These keys give a satisfying click when pressed. They actuate fast too. However, it's not as good as a proper dedicated gaming keyboard and some might find the key travel bit 'mushy' feeling. Some extra thought has gone into the design too, with enlarged directional arrows appearing here to help you keep your fingers in the right place while you game.
- 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x RJ45 LAN port
- 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (DisplayPort support)
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1 (dual-band)
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 sports several connection options, including both HDMI and DisplayPort (via USB-C), as well as a much welcome Ethernet port to ensures a solid connection when gaming.
We'd like to see more USB Type-A ports - with just two on the side and one on the rear, there aren't many if you're adding a multitude of peripherals. There are, however, enough to connect a mouse, keyboard and headset. The positioning on the left also means nothing else's cable gets in the way of your mouse, which is certainly ideal.
All told, the 2021 version of the Strix Scar 17 is a great gaming machine. It's light and compact enough to be portable and has the battery power and specs to back that up to. It's also easy-on-the-eye both in terms of design and the gaming goodness it delivers.
There are a few minor niggles - such as no webcam - and one big one - the price - but otherwise we'd happily recommend this gaming machine as a brilliant purchase that's well worth considering.
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