TECHNOLOGY

ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC Review: AMD is Back!

ASUS gives us compelling reasons to switch to Team Red

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BY Rahil Bhagat - 19 Apr 2018

ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC Review: AMD is Back!

For years, Intel and Nvidia have dominated the market for laptop components. So much so that I don’t think I’ve ever used or even considered an AMD-powered machine as my daily driver for the entirety of my adult life.

But with Ryzen and Vega hitting the market, competition was finally heating up and it was only a matter of time before Team Red made its triumphant return to the portable gaming scene.

I’m not going to lie, I was excited to get my hands on the ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC. This was to be my virgin experience on a fully AMD-powered gaming laptop, and boy did ASUS go all out.

They put a desktop-class Ryzen processor in this beast.

Read on to find out if the hype is real.

Performance

ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC Review: AMD is Back!

PHOTO CREDIT: Company Courtesy

Most laptops come with power-efficient dual-core processors. Gaming laptops normally have four powerful cores to ensure that the CPU does not bottleneck performance. The GL702ZC meanwhile comes equipped with eight cores.

Never mind laptop CPUs, the Ryzen 7 1700 in this monster chews up even full-powered desktop CPUs like the Intel i7-8700K especially in multi-threaded tasks. If you’re into editing on Windows with the Adobe Suite, this could be the perfect machine for you.

On the GPU side of things, the GL702ZC sports a mobile AMD RX-580 with 4GB or VRAM. It runs nearly as well as an Nvidia GTX-1060. Gaming at 1080P on max settings shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Great cooling performance seems to be a theme with ASUS laptops I’ve reviewed recently. Though, I am particularly impressed with how the GL702ZC keeps its components from heating upl.

Controlling temperatures on a desktop 8-core CPU is no easy task for a laptop, and the GL702ZC pulls it off with aplomb. Temperatures remain comfortable even with the toughest loads, and throttling is non-existent. Fan noise could be a little better, but doesn’t bother me.

It’s no jet engine.

Overall, this beast is a solid performer and I’m quite pleased with how the AMD CPU and GPU handle themselves in a portable form factor.

Design

It looks like a run-of-the-mill gaming laptop. It could be worse.

If you’ve seen gaming laptops in the ROG line-up circa 2016, you won’t be awed by the design of GL702ZC. Red accents and keyboard backlighting galore, standing out against black surfaces. It’s not too big or obnoxious though for a 17-inch machine, which is surprising considering the power within. It weighs in at just over 3kg and fits in a relatively small footprint. With very limited real estate on my desk, there’s still plenty of room for an external display and peripherals.

While the GL702ZC is not made from the most premium materials, it is built like a tank. When I first unboxed it, I was astounded by how solid it felt in my hands and I’ve wielded quite a few 17-inch laptops. There is zero deck flex or structural weaknesses that I can identify.

Screen

ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC Review: AMD is Back!

PHOTO CREDIT: Company Courtesy

I don’t have anything really good or bad to say about the screen.

It’s a 17.3-inch anti-glare IPS panel running at 1080P. Its 60Hz refresh rate with Freesync is okay considering the RX-580 won’t be hitting much more than 60fps on AAA titles at max settings.

It’s decently color accurate, reproducing 85% of Adobe RGB. Viewing angles and brightness are what you would expect from an IPS panel. It works outdoors if you need it to, though you probably won’t want to – more on that later.

It is usable for all intents and purposes, but given how much of a powerhouse the GL702ZC is for video editing, it is a shame ASUS didn’t go all out on resolution or color accuracy. I ended up using an external display.

Inputs

The keyboard on the GL702ZC comes pretty standard. The keys have decent travel and tactile response for typing or gaming, but nothing amazing. You get a full number pad and a ROG button to track and adjust performance and temperatures on the fly.

The touchpad and webcam work as they should. Gestures work great on the touchpad and it tracks fingers well. The HD webcam is good to have, but again nothing to write home about.

Port selection on the GL702ZC is like most other gaming laptops in the ROG line-up. You get a single combo 3.5mm jack, a Type C USB3.1 port without Thunderbolt 3 support, three Type A USB 3.1 ports, Ethernet, HDMI, a mini Display Port, and an SD card reader.

Audio

These are by a good stretch the best speakers I’ve ever heard on an ASUS device of any kind. It has great clarity across the highs, mids, and lows. The bass is spectacular. It’s not all power. There’s a sort of refinement to the sound.

The speakers don’t get too loud, but have a respectable sound stage. The GL702ZC is perfect for movies, games, or even background music for the office. It makes any fan noise a non-issue unless you happen to be in a library.

Battery

We all knew AMD GPUs and CPUs use up a lot of juice, but this thing is thirsty.

Off the socket, it will only last an hour and a half maximum. That’s bad even by gaming laptop standards.

It does not help that the power brick weighs a ton. The GL702ZC is the definition of a desktop replacement. While the laptop itself is fairly portable, you will definitely need the brick wherever you go.

Should you buy it?

ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC Review: AMD is Back!

PHOTO CREDIT: Company Courtesy

The GL702ZC gets my thumbs-up with a caveat. You can definitely find better value for a gaming machine in a GTX 1060 device.

I recommend the GL702ZC to hardcore video editors who need an affordable device on the go. It renders faster in Premiere than top-off-the-line Apple machines at a fraction of the price. At just under $2,700, it’s actually great value as a purely rendering machine – you can play games on it as a bonus. The only MacBook Pro that comes remotely close retails for almost $4,000 (and doesn’t run games well).

It is perfect for freelancers who may not be able to afford Apple’s expensive ecosystem while they hustle in co-working spaces.

I’m excited to see what happens when AMD truly optimizes its technology for laptops.