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ROG Strix Scar 15 (2021) review: ASUS’ most psychedelic-looking gaming notebook yet

By Aaron Yip - 13 May 2021

Performance and Thoughts

Benchmarks and Performance

To compare the ROG Strix Scar 15 at hand, I have opted to refer these 15-inch notebooks :

Key Specifications

  ROG Strix Scar 15 (G533) ROG Zephyrus S15 Razer Blade 15 (2020) HWZ PC Test Rig (Desktop)
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX Processor 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-10875H Processor 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.6GHz AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Processor 3.7GHz
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (Clocked to 1645MHz at 115W) NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 - Desktop
Memory 32GB 32GB 16GB 32GB
Storage 1TB SSD 1TB SSD 512GB SSD 1TB SSD

From a specification’s perspective, the comparison is lopsided as the notebooks used are outdated models now – the ROG Strix Scar 15 is just the first gaming notebook with AMD and NVIDIA’s latest and greatest processors to arrive at our lab. For good measures, I’ve also thrown in our Test PC rig, which comes with the desktop versions of the RTX 3080 and AMD Ryzen 9 5900X processors. So, take these results as an indication of how a high-end gaming notebook for 2021 will perform.

These are the games and benchmarks used:

  • PCMark 10
  • 3DMark
  • SYSmark 25
  • MobileMark 2018
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider

 

 

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 that's part of 3DMark. 

That the ROG Strix Scar 15 outperformed the other two gaming notebooks in gaming isn't a surprise, after all it does come with a more powerful GPU in the form of the GeForce RTX 3080. What's a lot more curious to note here, is that in terms of Productivity and Content Creation, both ROG gaming notebooks are quite on par here - relatively to their respective specifications. For the rest of 2021, it will be interesting to see if the ROG Strix Scar 15 will be the gaming notebook to beat.

Unlike PCMark 10, which is a synthetic benchmark tool and the results are great as a reference point of a computer’s performance, SYSMark 25 is an application-based benchmark that reflects “real world” usage patterns of business users in the areas of Productivity, Creativity and Responsiveness. This means using popular Microsoft and even Adobe applications rather than less obscure options used in PCMark 10. 

Interestingly, we see the Strix Scar 15 trailing behind the older-gen Zephyrus S15 in Creativity and Responsiveness tests. There are two possible explanations here: one being that the Zephyrus S15 comes with a slightly quicker SSD than the Strix Scar 15 and the other being that the Intel processor throttles less under high loads.

(Note: SYSMark 25 scores are not available on the Razer Blade 15 as the notebook has long been returned to Razer).

 

How about play?

In our gaming benchmarks, the Strix Scar 15 pretty much ate up the other two gaming notebooks. But some context needs to be explained here. You see, the Zephyrus S15 and Blade 15 gaming notebooks are powered by older GeForce RTX 20 Series graphics processors - unlike the latest GeForce RTX 3080 mobile GPU on the Strix Scar 15. It's still a good comparison though, if just to show how much more power you can get from a gaming notebook with an RTX 3080 this year, over one with a last-gen RTX 2080 Super graphics processor.

In any case, it is a lot of excess power to play games at 1080p resolution, and if specs-friendly games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or League of Legends are the only games you play all the time then the Strix Scar 15 is obviously an overkill - although you do get the luxury of turning up most games' graphics settings to the highest.

 

 

Performance on Battery mode

MobileMark 2018 runs a similar set of tasks as SYSMark 25, but using the notebook's battery. This helps to measure the gaming notebook performance when not connected to a power source, which is important to understand as notebook and processor optimisation differ when unplugged from the wall socket. All the notebooks were set to 100 per cent display brightness and had Wi-Fi enabled. Battery mode was also set to default, and no overclocking was done. The keyboard backlight was also left on as well. 

Performance when running on battery leaves much to be desired for the Strix Scar 15, when compared to the Zephyrus S15 and Razer Blade 15. But this is compensated by a superior battery life. Now that's not to say that the Strix Scar 15 is inferior - it isn't and we can infer that from our PCMark and SYSMark 25 benchmark results above. Rather, it seems like ASUS has tweaked, or throttled if you will, the notebook's AMD Ryzen 9 processor when not running from a power source to preserve battery life. This may not even be ASUS' way of handling, but how mobile AMD Ryzen processors are designed to work in general where they sacrifice some performance in exchange for a longer uptime.

That's not a bad thing because overall, battery life was actually pretty good for a gaming notebook. It certainly helps that the Strix Scar 15 comes with battery with a large 90Wh capacity. For its size and weight, it's not the most portable notebook around (and it isn't meant to be one) but it's always good to know you can still get a good six to seven hours of battery life to work on your emails, Internet surfing and other work productivity done.

 

Conclusion and Verdict

The ROG Strix Scar 15 for 2021 is a gaming powerhouse in the mobile segment. It may only be the first gaming notebook with a GeForce RTX 3080 graphics processor to be tested - and with more to come in the coming weeks and months - but combined with the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, and based on the performance in our benchmarks, I reckon it's going to be the gaming notebook to beat this year.

So who is the ROG Strix Scar 15 targeted at? Quite simply, hardcore gamers who want the best possible hardware built into a gaming notebook. I've reviewed plenty of ROG gaming notebooks and the new Strix Scar 15 is essentially the embodiment of what the Strix series means in the ROG family: gaming notebooks built for the best, raw, gaming experience. Every aspect of it is designed with the gaming enthusiast in mind, and there are certainly plenty of unique features built for these users. Of course, these also comes with a few trade-offs. For one, the Strix Scar 15 comes with a very heavy S$4,798 price tag. Then there's the astoundingly mind-boggling 1080p display resolution cap for the screen it is endowed, which is almost criminal of ASUS.

But if you want a gaming notebook that isn't subtle and holds nothing back, then the Strix Scar 15 is about as powerful a gaming notebook as you can get right now.

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8.5
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7.5
  • Mobility 7.5
The Good
Attractive RGB light (yes, really)
Great performance and battery life
Solid, quality build
Excellent bundled external webcam
Great display
The Bad
Expensive
Only supports up to 1080p
No card reader
Optical mechanical keyboard may not be for everyone
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