Agile performance meets heavyweight – and a huge price
There aren’t many laptops as large as the Asus ROG G703. This monster machine is designed to swat away the latest games, and it’s not concerned about being slim or light – instead, it’s one of the bulkiest notebooks we’ve ever seen.
It’s one of the most expensive, too. It costs more than most of its rivals – but can it possibly be worth the money?
Here is the Asus ROG G703 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK (quad-core, 8MB cache, overclocked to 4.3GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB
RAM: 32GB DDR4
Screen: 17.3-inches, 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch IPS
Storage: 512GB Samsung SM961 SSD, 1TB hard disk
Optical drive: No
Ports: 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x audio jack, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Thunderbolt, SD card reader
Connectivity: Killer Dual-Band Wireless, Killer Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: 720p Webcam
Weight: 10.6 pounds (4.8kg)
Size: 1.96 x 16.7 x 12.5 inches, 50 x 425 x 319mm (H x W x D)
Price and Availability
The ROG G703 isn’t available in any alternative configurations, and it can be difficult to track down – but we’ve asked Asus, and they’ve assured us that it’s not End-of-Life. So, no matter your location, you’ll be able to find this machine. The prices are a little different in the UK and the US: in Britain you’ll have to pay £3,100, while in the US the healthy exchange rate means it costs $3,245.
There’s no disputing that the G703’s specification is powerful, but its key rival is the Alienware 17 R4, and that machine has far more options.
The model we reviewed had the same core components as the Asus ROG G703. However, it’s possible to spend about half as much and get a weaker CPU and GPU, or configure the memory and storage options.
The G703 is a great-looking laptop. The bulk of this machine is hewn from a mixture of machined, gunmetal aluminium and matte black plastic. The keyboard has RGB LEDs, and the ROG logo on the lid is similarly illuminated. And, if that wasn’t enough, the back is finished with shining, burnt orange metal.
It’s certainly the match of the Alienware. The Asus has more two-tone metal, but the Alienware has extra RGB LEDs.
The Asus pairs its loud looks with formidable size. It’s 50mm thick – so it’s even thicker than the 42mm Alienware. It tips the scales at 4.8kg, so it’s heavier than the Dell-made machine too.
The G703 is huge, but that means exceptional build quality. There isn’t any give in the surface, so we’re confident in lugging it to LAN parties – although you’ll definitely need a good backpack.
The size doesn’t just mean great build quality – it also means top-notch connectivity. There are four USB 3.1 connectors and a Type-C jack, and mini-DisplayPort, HDMI and Thunderbolt. There’s a card reader, Killer-branded networking on the inside, and even an Xbox wireless receiver.
It’s possible to get inside, too. A couple of base panels are easy to remove and give access to pairs of free memory and M.2 SSD slots. That’s more upgrade ability than most laptops.
Asus has bolstered its top-notch build quality with solid ergonomics. The chiclet have 2.5mm of travel, which is a tad more than the Alienware, and the buttons are fast, responsive and consistent.
This chiclet device still can’t match a proper mechanical keyboard, but it’s certainly one of the best units on a gaming laptop – and the rock-solid base means it’s possible to hammer away during FPS and MOBA games without concern.
The trackpad is good, too. Its buttons are fast and light – as close as we’ve seen a notebook come to replicating a proper USB rodent.
This is still a gaming laptop, though, so don’t expect great battery life. It was a little better than the Alienware in the PC Mark 8 test, but it ran out of juice after about thirty minutes of gaming. Make sure you’re plugged in if you want a proper session.
Meanwhile, the GTX 1080 graphics card is a beast. It’s got 8GB of dedicated memory, 2,560 stream processors and a rare addition for a laptop: overclocking. The 1,556MHz core has been improved to 1,682MHz, which lifts it above the stock-speed GTX 1080 that’s included in the Alienware.
The overclock isn’t a huge leap, though, and it means that the two systems are very close in gaming benchmarks. The Asus beat the Alienware in 3D Mark Time Spy thanks to its CPU and GPU overclocking, but fell behind marginally in the other 3D Mark tests.
The powerful chip didn’t have any issues. It blitzed through Shadow of War at a cool 100fps, and was even faster in Warhammer. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is exceptionally tough, and it averaged 74fps at Ultra settings.
Those figures don’t just mean that games will run well – they also allow the Asus to get close to its 144Hz refresh rate. That’s important, because you’ll only see the benefit if the laptop is playing games at 100fps or beyond. It’s also enough power to output to VR headsets and even 4K panels.
The GPU isn’t the only overclocked component. The Core i7-7820HK has been improved from 2.9GHz to a mighty 4.3GHz. It’s one of the only Intel mobile chips that can be overclocked at all, and it’s a quad-core part with Hyper-Threading.
The processor overclock helped the Asus command a small lead over the Alienware. It was a few hundred points quicker in both Geekbench tests, and marginally quicker in Cinebench.
That bodes well for all sorts of scenarios. It won’t just avoid games bottlenecks: it’ll handle streaming, intense multi-tasking and high-end video and photo applications too.
The processor is paired with 32GB of memory, a 512GB SSD and a 1TB hard disk – so you’ve got enough memory for gaming and high-end work tools alongside loads of space.
The machine is managed by the Asus Gaming Center tool. It’s a solid bit of software that can switch the CPU and GPU between their default Extreme and slower Standard modes. Elsewhere, it can monitor the system’s speeds and temperatures, and different modules have options to alter the screen, fans, networking and audio.
The G703’s size means that this laptop copes with its powerful components. The CPU and GPU peaked at of 93°C and 81°C during a system-wide stress-test – those figures are a little high, but that scenario is rare. During a more conventional gaming test the components topped out at a solid 87°C and 80°C, and they maintained their overclocked speeds without any throttling.
Impressively, the laptop’s external panels remained cool throughout all of these tests. The noise levels were fine; the G703 produced a low rumble during gaming, but it’s easy to drown that out using the internal speakers or a headset. That’s better than the loud Alienware.
Screen and speakers
The G703’s screen has solid gaming credentials. Its 1080p resolution is fine for playing the latest titles at high frame-rates, which is important considering the 144Hz refresh rate. It’s a matte IPS panel, too, but there’s no sign of Nvidia G-Sync – the only thing that’s missing.
Still, it has a got set of specifications, and it’s backed up with solid performance. The brightness measurement of 269cd/m2 is fine, and the black level of 0.21cd/m2 is excellent – better than most IPS screens. It’s enough to ensure dark areas look genuinely murky, and the contrast 1,278:1 means you’ll get punchy colors in every department.
Those colors, though, are a little mediocre. The average Delta E of 4.1 is middling, and the temperature of 7,573K is too cool. It doesn’t badly affect gameplay, but it does mean that some tones lack a little warmth.
The screen is easily good enough for gaming, although this is one area where the Alienware goes one better. Equivalent models have a 2,560 x 1,440 native resolution and Nvidia G-Sync, which will ensure even smoother gaming than the G703’s 144Hz panel – even if you have to tweak graphical settings to make the most of it on the Alienware’s higher-resolution screen.
The screen is paired with solid speakers. Bass is certainly present and strong enough despite the lack of a subwoofer, and there’s ample clarity and volume throughout the rest of the range.
There’s a lot to like about the bold, brash and bulky Asus ROG G703. Its overclocked GTX 1080 and Core i7-7820HK ensure that it’ll handle any game alongside the vast majority of productivity tasks, and there’s loads of memory, great storage and solid networking. And it does all of that while proving cooler and quieter than the Alienware.
That versatility carries over to the outside, where you’ll find ample connectivity and solid internal access.
The screen has a 144Hz refresh rate and good quality throughout, and the speakers are good too. The keyboard and trackpad are a cut above most gaming notebooks, and the entire rig has rock-solid build quality.
There are, however, downsides. The battery life is unsurprisingly awful, and the G703 is huge and heavy. It’s designed to sit at a desk rather than be transported regularly.
And then there’s the price. There’s not much difference between the G703 and the Alienware when they have a similar configuration, but it’s still a huge amount to spend on a gaming notebook – especially when you could argue that none of its components are really necessary to get smooth 1080p playback in the latest titles.
It’s undeniably a niche machine, then, and a luxury laptop for those who want the ultimate portable gaming experience.
The overclocked components and consistent quality ensure that it definitely does deliver that – but be aware of its size and price before splashing out.