Is the third generation Scar a star?
ROG pumped out a ton of new gaming laptops this year, including new members of the Zephyrus family. Apart from that though, we also got the third generation Strix Scar. Is this beast, both in build and specs, worth the price? Let’s find out in our ROG Strix Scar III review.
Design and Build Quality
The Strix Scar III may be one of ROG’s most aggressively designed gaming laptop this year. While we have simplicity and elegance in the Zephyrus line, along with the thin and light factor, the Scar III has lights and lines galore. The laptop is adorned with an LED strip spanning the entire side of its bottom panel. It’s not just an LED strip though, as it has Aura Sync support, meaning RGB all the way. Apart from that, we have intricate linings over at the side to feature that Keystone slot and a two-tone body. This beast was meant to stand out from the crowd and is easily distinguishable in public places.
So, it may not be the best partner if you want to be discreet in Coffee Shops and the like. Its design may not be for everyone, but if you want to stand out, then this is your guy. All those lights though, make it a truly fancy gaming machine. As for build quality, we have no qualms. The chassis was well constructed and assembled as there is minimal keyboard flex or creaks. The same goes for the lid as there is little to no screen flex. The hinges are also rock-solid and allow one-hand operations. Overall, nicely built and aggressively designed.
Display and Audio
Headlining the spec sheet, alongside the CPU, is the Scar III’s 15.6″ 240Hz, 3ms IPS-Level display. With its powerhouse of a GPU and CPU, that 240Hz refresh rate is a perfect companion. The faster than average response time will also be more than helpful with fast-paced games such as MOBAs and First Person Shooters. Color accuracy and reproduction are on the average side since this is still a TN panel, though a high-quality one at that. Still, it won’t compare to IPS panels at the same level but at least we still have a respectable display in terms of color accuracy and reproduction. What’s more, is that we have a lot more screen real estate thanks to the overall thin bezels.
Surprisingly, we got a pretty powerful set of speakers that can go pretty loud and pump out decent sound. The mids and highs are good while lows are present though slightly lacking. Still, it’s one of the better laptop speakers we have out there. Of course, we also have ASUS’ set of sound apps to help tweak audio quality to our liking.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard of the Strix Scar III is a bit different from its Zephyrus brethren. While we have a more tactile, faster key travel keyboard in the Zephyrus line, the Scar III has a little less feedback and slower travel. Although, it’s still a pretty good keyboard that’s enjoyable to type on. However, we did miss the tactility of the Zephyrus keyboards. So, if you’re pretty particular with keyboard feel, then we suggest plugging in your own external board. Don’t get us wrong, this is still an overall good keyboard.
It seems like a transforming trackpad is now becoming a trend for ROG laptops nowadays as the Scar III also has one. Yep, with just a tap of a button, the trackpad becomes a separate dedicated Numpad. Not that we’re complaining, this is a convenient feature to have as the laptop’s keyboard is lacking one. As for the trackpad itself, it’s not too shabby, thanks to a smooth surface and a wide area.
Connectivity and I/O
The Strix Scar III’s got connectivity and ports covered. We have three USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, RJ45 Ethernet port, a combo audio port, and HDMI 2.0. Then we have Bluetooth 5.0 and Gigabit Wi-Fi. While we do have an abundance of ports, all of the USB ones, apart from the Type-C, are huddled on the left-hand side. This is a nightmare not only for cable management but also for plugging in multiple USB-powered devices.
We are also without an SD card slot and worse, Thunderbolt. However, we do get that fancy Keystone slot for easy storage of peripheral profiles as well as shadow encryption for important files. For now though, this is nothing more than a glorified gimmick, but come 2020, ASUS promises further support, even outside of their ecosystem. Lastly, it doesn’t have a dedicated webcam. Instead, we are treated with a separate installment, the ROG Eye.
Similar to its Zephyrus brethren, the Scar III also comes equipped with ROG essentials such as the Armoury Crate, Game First V, and Sonic Studio III (for a more in-depth explanation of these applications head on over here). On top of all that, we have the basic ASUS bloatware as well as Windows 10 and the ever-annoying McAfee anti-virus.
Right then, so how does the mobile Intel Core i9 perform? Let’s find out. To aid the Core i9-9880H in the graphics department is Nvidia’s RTX 2070. Then we are treated to 16GB of RAM out of the box and a 1TB SSD for storage. To test out the capabilities of the laptop we subjected it to a number of different benchmarks. This includes Cinebench R15, CrystalDiskMark, Unigine, 3DMark, and of course, gaming tests (more on this later).
Cinebench R15 & CrystalDiskMark
The Intel Core i9-9880H is a beast as advertised garnering a score of 1,325 in cinebench R15. Not only that but it performs even better in real-world circumstances like in gaming and content creation. It’s also the perfect companion to bring out the full power of the RTX 2070. Then we have an above-average 1TB SSD with sequential read and write speeds of 1,572.9mb/s and 1,762.8mb/s, respectively.
Unigine numbers for RTX 2070 are what’s expected. We got benchmark scores north of 3,000, which are generally above average scores.
The 3DMark scores of the Scar III are impressive, almost rivaling, and even going beyond, that of the Zephyrus S, which is rocking a 9th Gen i7 and an RTX 2080 Max-Q. Time Spy and Firestrike scores are quite high and the numbers on their Extreme counterparts aren’t too shabby either. Sky Diver is even more impressive, beating the Zephy S’ score by as much as 2,000 points. We also subjected the Scar III to the DLSS (Deep Learning Super-Sampling) and Port Royal (Ray Tracing) tests of 3DMark.
In Port Royal, it got a respectable score of 4,155. DLSS results are quite good too, with a boost of almost 10fps when DLSS is on. Meaning, the machine learning and Ray Tracing features of the 2070 works as advertised.
- DLSS off: 19.40fps
- DLSS on: 28.25fps
Synthetic Benchmarks aside, we also tested the Scar III’s performance in games. After all, it is rockin’ a pretty intense CPU and quite a notable GPU. To get proper metrics, we played each title for about 15-30 minutes. We recorded average FPS via FRAPS or the game’s native benchmark tools. Suffice to say, the Scar III more than delivered when it comes to pushing games above 60fps. Sadly, to fully hit 240Hz goodness, you’re gonna have to lower graphics settings a bit. Even so, most of the games hit north of 60 at the highest graphic settings.
The model we have right now of the Scar III is the highest base configuration you can have on the market. It’s loaded with 16GB of RAM and a dual-storage combo (512GB SSD + 1TB HDD). However, you can still stick in up to a maximum of 32GB of RAM and changing that 512GB SSD to an even higher one. Popping open the bottom panel doesn’t require much work as there are only a few screws to uncork before you’re greeted by the components. However, don’t pop open the panel right away, as you have to first unplug some LED cables. After that, you’re golden.
Thermals are a bit sizzly (we just made this word up) on the CPU-side of things. GPU temps are better controlled and are just about right. The mobile i9-9880H truly is a beast, both in performance and in heat. The CPU reached peak temps of 96° during the CPU solo test and stayed at 90° and above for its combined and gaming benchmarks. Impressively though, thermal throttling isn’t present here, despite the high temp numbers. During the combined tests, where we run Furmark and Prime95 at the same time, the 9880H remained above its base clock at 2.9GHz.
This is even more impressive during gaming, where it maintained close to turbo frequency at 3.4GHz. The RTX 2070, on the other hand, was kept cool not even reaching 80° on any of the temp tests. It also kept frequencies above base to near turbo level. External temperatures are also maintained, with just a little bit of warmth above the keyboard area. The bottom panel though will be hot enough to make your legs sweat.
Just like any laptop equipped with beastly components, the Scar III has fans that roar. At max RPM, these fans emit 49dBA, which is more than enough to drown its speakers or at least compete with it. It may not be as noticeable when you’re already focused on a game but during more silent heavy work, such as content creation, those fans will be irritating. So, we suggest you plug in your favorite audio gear when gaming or content creating.
The ROG Strix Scar III is truly an improvement of its previous generation and an alternative option to the Zephy line, if you’re not looking for anything thin and light. It has impressive performance, acceptable thermals, a high refresh rate and fast response time display, great speakers, and a sturdy build. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth with this bad boy. However, it does come at quite a steep price (Php 169,996, ~$3,289) and a design that stands out from the crowd. If you don’t mind all of those flashy lights and intricate carvings as well as the price, then the Scar III is definitely a gamer’s choice.
Reasons to Get
- High Refresh Rate, Fast Response Time display
- Great performance
- Good set of speakers
- Bright Lights in the City (Stacked with RGB all over, if you love crazy lighting)
- Big Storage Capacity (SSD + HDD combo)
Reasons not to Get
- Quite expensive
- Hot CPU
- Kind of bulky
- Eye-catcher in public places (only if you’re particular with this kind of thing)
- Bright Lights in the City (Stacked with RGB all over, only if you think its too much)
- Missing ports (SD Card Slot, ThunderBolt support)
- No built-in webcam
|Specifications||ASUS ROG Strix Scar III|
|Processor||- Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz Quad-core (4.10 Max Turbo Frequency)
- Intel Core i9-9880H 2.30GHz Octa-core (4.80GHz Max Turbo Frequency)
|Display||- 17.3" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 144Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 72% NTSC
- 17.3" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 60Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 45% NTSC
- 15.6" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 60Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 45% NTSC
- 15.6" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 120Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 45% NTSC
- 15.6" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 144Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 72% NTSC
- 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) 240Hz, 3ms IPS-Level
|GPU||- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (4GB GDDR5 VRAM)
- Nvidia GeForce 1660Ti (6GB GDDR6 VRAM)
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM)
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 (8GB GDDR6 VRAM)
|Storage||- 1TB HDD
- 256/512/1TB SSD
|RAM||- 8GB (on board) + 2 x SO-DIMM (Max up to 32GB)
- 16GB (on-board) + 2 x SO-DIMM (Max up to 32GB)
|Connectivity||- 802.11ac 2x2 Gigabit Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0
|I/O||3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
1x HDMI 2.0
1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
1x Combo audio port
1x RJ45 Ethernet Port
1x Kensington lock
|Audio||- Built-in 4W Stereo Speakers
- Array Mic
|Battery||- 3-Cell, 48 Whr
- 4-Cell, 66 Whr
|Dimensions and weight||- 399.73 x 293.44 x 26.2 mm
Php 169,995 (~$3,289)