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ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700GX review: Is this a Surface convertible for gaming?

By Koh Wanzi - 9 Oct 2019
Launch SRP: S$9998

Productivity & gaming performance

Test setup and performance

Here's a full list of the notebooks we're looking at: 

  • ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700GX
  • Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro
  • Lenovo Legion Y740
  • Razer Blade 15

I don't have the numbers from many GeForce RTX 2080 laptops at the moment, so the GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q models will have to serve as a baseline for performance here.

Test notebooks compared
  ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700GX Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro Lenovo Legion Y740 (9th Gen) Razer Blade 15 (9th Gen)
  ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700GX Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro Lenovo Legion Y740 (9th Gen) Razer Blade 15 (9th Gen)
Launch SRP
  • From S$9998
  • From S$2799
  • From S$3599
  • From S$3839
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Core i9-9980HK processor (2.4GHz, 16MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i7-9750H (2.6GHz, 12MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i7-9750H (2.60GHz, 12MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i7-9750H (2.6GHz, 12MB L3 cache)
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 10
System Memory
  • 64GB DDR4-2666 RAM
  • 16GB DDR4-2666 dual-channel RAM
  • 32GB DDR4-2666 dual-channel RAM
  • 16GB DDR4-2666 dual-channel RAM
Video & Display
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
  • 17.3-inch 3,840 x 2,160-pixel IPS G-Sync display
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
  • 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 144Hz IPS display
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
  • 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 144Hz IPS G-Sync display
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
  • 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 240Hz IPS display
Storage
  • 3x 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD (RAID 0)
  • Phison 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Western Digital PC SN720 NVMe 512GB M.2 SSD
  • Seagate Barracuda Pro 1TB HDD
  • Samsung PM981 PCIe 256GB M.2 SSD
Optical Drive
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
Connectivity
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
  • Realtek 2.5G Ethernet
  • Intel Wireless-AX200
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Killer Wireless-AC 1550i Wireless Network Adapter (9560NGW)
  • Realtek PCIe GbE Family Controller
  • Intel Wireless-AX200
  • Bluetooth 5.0
Audio
  • 4x 4W speakers
  • Smart AMP ESS DAC
  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • Built-in Dolby Atmos speakers
  • Built-in stereo speakers
I/O Ports
  • 1x Thunderbolt 3
  • 1x USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4
  • 3x USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-A
  • 1x USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-A with USB charger+
  • 1x HDMI 2.0
  • 1x 3.5 mm headphone and microphone combo jack
  • 1x 3.5 mm microphone jack
  • 1x RJ-45 jack
  • 1x SD card reader
  • 1x Kensington lock
  • 1x USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-A
  • 1x USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-A
  • 1x HDMI 2.0
  • 1x Audio Jack
  • 1x Microphone jack
  • 1x LAN (10/100/1000Mbps)
  • 1x Thunderbolt 3
  • 1x DC-in jack
  • 1x USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-A
  • 2x USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-A
  • 1x Thunderbolt 3
  • 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.4
  • 1x HDMI 2.0
  • 1x RJ-45
  • 1x 3.5mm mic/headphone combo jack
  • 1x Thunderbolt 3
  • 3x USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-A
Battery Type
  • 90Wh
  • 92Wh
  • 57Wh
  • 80Wh
Dimensions
  • 410 x 320 x 29mm
  • 356.4mm x 233.66mm x 20.5mm
  • 361.42 x 267 x 22.45mm
  • 355 x 235 x 17.8mm
Weight
  • 4.8kg
  • 1.88kg
  • 2.2 kg
  • 2.15kg

I ran the notebooks through the following benchmarks:

  • PCMark 10
  • AS SSD
  • 3DMark
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Far Cry 5
  • Metro Exodus
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Tom Clancy's The Division 2

 

How good is it for work?

PCMark 10 Extended evaluates systems based on workloads that can be categorized into four distinct groups, comprising Essentials, Productivity, Digital Content Creation, and Gaming. This includes tests such as app start-up times, web browsing, word processing and spreadsheets, photo and video editing, and rendering and visualization tasks. Finally, gaming performance is evaluated using the Fire Strike benchmark. 

Overall, the ROG Mothership had a 29 per cent lead over the next best performer, the Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro. I doubt you'll notice much of a difference in basic word processing and web browsing tasks, but the more powerful Core i9-9980HK on the Mothership could help it in more demanding content creation workloads, as evinced by the score breakdown. 

 

What's the storage performance like?

The ROG Mothership features three 512GB SSDs in RAID 0. This spreads data across multiple storage devices for faster reads and writes, because you now have three times the bandwidth of a single drive.

The benefit of this is particularly clear when looking at the sequential read and write speeds, which blows past the other notebooks which use just a single drive. However, that advantage falls away when it comes to reading small blocks of data and higher queue depths. 

 

How fast is it in games?

The Armoury Crate software comes with several different performance modes – Windows, Silent, Performance, and Turbo – but most people will probably run the laptop in Turbo mode most of the time. That mode offers the best performance, boosting the GPU to 1,880MHz and overclocking the CPU to 4.9GHz. 

As expected, the ROG Mothership is blazing fast in games. Although it has a 4K screen, I tested it at 1080p so that it could still be compared with my existing numbers. It was a good 37 per cent faster than the Razer Blade in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and 45 per cent ahead in Metro Exodus

That said, I also ran the games at 4K resolution and the highest settings so you can get an idea of how the Mothership performs at its native resolution:

  Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Far Cry 5 Metro Exodus Shadow of the Tomb Raider Tom Clancy's The Division 2
Average FPS 41 56 19.91 47 43

It's clear that while the ROG Mothership makes short work of games at 1080p, it still struggles at 4K - a fact that we're all too aware of the limitations with even a GeForce RTX 2080 GPU. In fact, it's unable to maintain a solid 60FPS in any game. To be fair, the games were all run at their highest presets, but why would you drop nearly S$10,000 on a laptop and not run it at the highest possible settings?

Separately, the Mothership also supports CPU overclocking, and you can increase the multiplier on each core up to 50. However, that doesn't seem to have resulted in any performance increase at all, and I saw a decrease in certain cases as well. All things considered, I don't think there's much more utility to be squeezed out of overclocking the CPU, especially since games are mostly GPU-limiting anyway. 

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