Monday, 19 August 2019

Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV : A Solid Gaming Laptop

With all the gaming laptops that I have reviewed, a couple of themes have always stood out to me, and anyone who has read any of the other gaming laptop reviews that I’ve written would know, that I admire Asus for building gaming laptops that don’t look like giant, unwieldy behemoths that I can’t keep on my desk without attracting too much attention. However, when the Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV arrived at our offices, I found myself at a loss for how to really describe this laptop. It’s not as spaceship-like as gaming laptops like the Alienware Area 51m, and it’s not as understated as, say, the Zephyrus M that I reviewed a while back. Anyway, I’ve been using this laptop as my daily driver for almost a week now, and if you’re wondering whether the ROG Strix Scar III is worth the Rs. 1,54,990 price tag, here’s my review of the laptop.
Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV: Specs

Before we jump into the review, let’s do what we always do and take a look at the hardware this laptop brings to the table:
Display    15.6-inch FullHD;
144Hz;
3ms
Processor    Intel Core i7-9750H;
2.6GHz, up to 4.5GHz;
6 Cores/12 Threads
RAM    16GB DDR4 2666MHz
GPU    Nvidia RTX 2060;
6GB GDDR6 VRAM
Storage    1TB NVMe SSD
I/O and Ports    1 x Type C USB 3.2 (GEN2) support DP function;
3 x Type A USB 3.2 (GEN1);
1 x HDMI 2.0b;
1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack/ 1 x Audio Jack Mic-in (Combo Jack);
1 x RJ45 LAN Jack
Connectivity    Intel® 802.11ac (2x2) Gigabit Wi-Fi;
Bluetooth 5.0

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the ROG Strix Scar III.
Design and Build

Like I said earlier, the moment I looked at this laptop, I was confused about how to describe it. The Asus ROG Strix Scar III lands somewhere in the middle of understated designs and extremely spaceship-like designs. However, as I continued using the laptop, I realized that that’s not a bad thing at all. If anything, it makes the laptop stand out a bit, without standing out so much that it looks out of place; not just in an office space, but at home, in a coffee shop, or wherever else you might find yourself using the laptop.

Design wise, Asus has done what it does so well, and nailed the design on the Strix Scar III. I don’t really have any complaints here. The lid features the typical Asus brushed-metal finish, along with the big, glowing ROG logo, which, by the way, isn’t just red here, it’s actually RGB.

Inside, the laptop comes with the gorgeous FullHD display with minimal bezels on all sides, except for the bottom bezel. However, while I’ve stopped calling out laptop makers for big bottom bezels on gaming laptops, I want to give a shoutout to Asus for making this bottom bezel look cool. It’s not just your regular-looking bezel. Instead, Asus has cut it out at the right two-thirds and that little design choice gives the front of the laptop a lot more character and I dig it.

The keyboard also features RGB lighting, and a bunch of keys on the top for quick and easy access to important functions, which is something I’ve started appreciating as I use this laptop more every day. The sides of the keyboard have a nice, carbon-fiber-like design pattern which looks cool, sure, but also prevents oily or sweaty palms from leaving prints all over the palm-rest.

On the sides you’ll find the ports, with a very weird port on the right, and a bunch of ports, including the charging input, and the USB-C port on the back.

Of course, since this is a gaming laptop, there’s RGB in places. The keyboard, like I said, has RGB lighting. So does the ROG logo on the lid. However, with the Strix Scar III G531GV, Asus has added RGB lighting strips on the base of the laptop, and while these aren’t really visible when you’re actually using the laptop, the light glows out from the edges of the laptop and looks incredible at night, or in darker areas.

The laptop also feels really sturdy to the touch (and to the flex), and I always gives off a feeling of being a premium device, as it should.
Display

The ROG Strix Scar III G531GV comes with a big, gorgeous looking 15.6-inch Full HD display. That in itself is pretty good, with sharp text rendering, pretty solid brightness, and great color accuracy. However, Asus didn’t stop there. Since this is a gaming laptop, the display also offers gaming-oriented features.

This here is a 144Hz display, which means that you get reduced motion blur, and just an overall smoother experience with Windows animations, scrolling, and everything else. The response time is also a pretty solid 3ms, which isn’t something a regular user would care much about, but as a gamer, that obviously matters to you.

However, even though this is a gaming laptop, it’s great for regular workloads as well, and the display reflects the same. It’s a really good display, with good colors, great brightness, and nice viewing angles. Everyday tasks on this display are a treat, whether it’s writing articles or reading them, or watching movies and TV shows on Netflix (which, by the way, is more affordable now, so yay!)

So yeah, the display on this laptop is great, and I really don’t have anything to complain about here. Unlike the Zephyrus M GU502GU that I reviewed earlier, this display gets pretty bright so sunlight visibility shouldn’t be a problem.
Performance

Now let’s talk about one of the most important aspects of a gaming laptop – performance. The Strix Scar III doesn’t shy away on performance at all. The laptop comes packing an Intel Core i7-9750H processor clocked at a base frequency of 2.6GHz, and a max frequency of 4.50GHz which is great. There’s 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM on board, along with a 1TB NVMe SSD for fast storage, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM.

That’s plenty of power, and it shows in both real world usage and benchmarks. I started off my testing with some benchmarks on the laptop, and things look fine here. In 3DMark Time Spy, the Strix Scar III scores 5,160 points, while in PCMark 10, the laptop scores 4,191 points. I also ran Cinebench R20’s CPU test on the laptop and got a score of 2377 points there, which is good enough.
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Cinebench R20
3DMark Time Spy
PCMark 10

In real world usage too, the laptop doesn’t disappoint. I did quite a lot of office-related work on this laptop, with over 15-20 tabs in Chrome open at all times with an instance of Photoshop in the background for editing images, and the laptop handled it all perfectly. However, with specs like that, I wasn’t really expecting the laptop to have trouble with some Chrome tabs and Photoshop. I was really excited to check the gaming performance on this thing, and it didn’t disappoint.

In Far Cry 5, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite games to test gaming laptops with thanks to its built in benchmark, I tested the laptop in both High and Ultra graphics settings. With graphics set to High (which is the default that Far Cry picked out), I got an average frame rate of 88FPS, going as high as 102FPS. Switching the graphics settings to Ultra got an average frame rate of 83FPS, going as high as 99FPS and as low as 70FPS.
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That’s pretty impressive for Far Cry 5, and personally, I played the game in Ultra instead of High, because I think an average frame rate of 83FPS is pretty solid for a game like Far Cry 5 in Ultra settings.

I also tried playing Apex Legends and PUBG, and both those games also work great on this laptop, not that I was surprised. In Apex Legends, the laptop easily pushed anywhere from 75-90FPS in-game, with the lower FPS values coming in during intense gunfights, and explosions. I honestly suck at the game, but it’s not the laptop’s fault. In PUBG, the laptop easily got around 130FPS in High settings. Changing that to Ultra resulted in a major drop in frame rates, but I was still getting well over 90FPS, which is just awesome.
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PUBG High
PUBG Ultra

Overall, the performance here is amazing, and pretty solid for a laptop in this price bracket. I honestly don’t think the ROG Strix Scar III leaves a lot to be desired in terms of performance; but then again, that’s true for almost everything this laptop does, and it does quite a bit.
Keystone

Normally I would follow the performance section with the keyboard and trackpad, but the ROG Strix Scar III G531GV comes with what Asus calls a “Keystone.” This is pretty impressive. This amber colored NFC key basically unlocks the Shadow Drive inside the laptop. Sounds interesting? It really is.

When you first plug in the Keystone in the laptop, it automatically launches the Armory Crate application, where you can pair the Keystone to your PC, and set it to unlock the Shadow Drive. This is an extra 800GB of storage built in to your system that you can keep locked and hidden until you plug in your Keystone.

One of the best use cases that I could come up with for this would be to use this laptop as a work/play device, with the Shadow Drive holding all my games, so while I’m at work, there’s nothing to distract me from working, but when I’m at home I can just plug in the Keystone and transform the ROG Strix Scar III into a machine loaded with my favorite games.
Keyboard and Trackpad

Anyway, coming back to the regular flow of a laptop review, let’s talk about the keyboard and trackpad. There’s not really a lot to talk about here, but there are a few things I want to point out.

First, the keyboard feels ridiculously great to type on. I have used a bunch of Asus laptops in the past, and while those keyboards were great, this one just feels extremely responsive, easy to type on, and doesn’t cause fatigue – all of which are positives that I would want on every laptop ever. The keycaps are very slightly curved which adds to the comfort and ease of typing on the ROG Strix Scar III.

It’s also great for gaming, thanks to the properly spaced arrow keys here, instead of the stupid compact arrow key layout you’ll find on a lot of laptops these days. Asus clearly doesn’t care about making the keyboard fit into a perfect rectangle on its gaming laptops, and that’s fine by me. I’d rather have a keyboard I enjoy using than something that looks symmetrical but is absolutely poor in terms of usability.

I’ve spent a lot of hours typing on this keyboard; heck I’m typing this review on the ROG Strix Scar III and not only is it not tiring to type on this, it’s downright fun. I love using this keyboard.

The trackpad too is pretty great. In typical Asus fashion, it’s not among the biggest trackpads I’ve used on Windows laptops, but it’s not small either. It’s pretty well-sized, and it’s a precision touchpad so you get access to gestures and better tracking, which is awesome.

I do have one concern here – the palm rejection on this trackpad is average at best. It mistakes my palm for actual touchpad input very often, which can quickly get annoying when gaming because it keeps screwing up the crosshair, but is also annoying while typing because the cursor sometimes moves away to a random position.

Oh also, if you looked at the picture above and wondered what the “Num LK” key is all about, well, simply long press on it, and watch what happens.

Yeah, there’s a numpad built into the trackpad, similar to what we saw with the ROG Zephyrus S GX531GW, except the trackpad is placed in its proper position here.

So yeah, the ROG Strix Scar III G531GV is amazing when it comes to the keyboard and trackpad as well.
I/O and Ports

So far, the Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV has nailed almost everything, and there’s really not a lot left to check. Coming to the ports and I/O options you get with the laptop, there’s a decent amount here as well.

You get three USB 3.0 Type A ports, you get a USB-C port, an RJ-45 ethernet port, a headphone and mic combo jack, an HDMI port, and, of course, a charging port. Plus there’s also the Keystone port.
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That’s definitely not a lot of ports as far as gaming laptops are concerned, but it’s also definitely not a scarcity of options.
Audio

When I used the Zephyrus M earlier this month, I was pretty unimpressed by the audio quality on the laptop. However, the ROG Strix Scar III didn’t let me down in terms of audio – the laptop’s side-firing stereo speakers get loud enough and don’t crackle or distort.

I have watched a considerable amount of movies and TV shows on this laptop, and I never felt the need to connect an external speaker here, the audio was loud, clear, and balanced. That’s pretty wonderful.

It’s obviously nowhere near the quality you’d get with headphones, and it goes without saying that you’ll need headphones for gaming, unless it’s a really casual gaming session. However, for regular usage like watching movies and TV shows, or listening to the occasional song, these speakers are definitely more than enough.
Battery

As far as battery life is concerned, the ROG Strix Scar III G531GV doesn’t really do anything great here. In my usage of the laptop, which is mostly Google Chrome and Photoshop, with the occasional YouTube video, or a TV show on Netflix or Prime Video, the laptop lasted around 2.5 to 3 hours on a charge – now that’s fine, but it’s not the best and it can quickly get annoying, having to charge the laptop every few hours especially if you’re at work.

For gamers though, that’s not too much of an issue, since you’ll most likely have it plugged in while gaming for the best performance. However, if you’re planning on using this laptop as your gaming beast at home, and workhorse at college or office, don’t forget to bring the charger along.
Pros and Cons

Pros:

    Great performance
    Comfortable keyboard
    Good design
    Display is bright and sharp
    Shadow Drive and Keystone are insanely cool

Cons:

    Battery life is average at best
    Palm rejection on touchpad is not good

Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV: Should You Buy It?

So, now that we’ve seen everything there is to see about this laptop, let’s answer the most important question – should you buy the ROG Strix Scar III G531GV at its Rs. 1,54,990 price tag. To put it simply, yeah, by all means. This laptop offers a lot of amazing features in the price. Pair that with the great design, excellent performance, good audio quality, and a 144Hz/3ms Full HD display, and this is definitely a great laptop to go for.

However, if you want to save some cash, you can also check out the MSI GL63 9SEK which comes with a 9th-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD and 256GB SSD, and RTX 2060 graphics for Rs. 1,47,389. However, you’ll have to compromise on the storage, since the MSI laptop comes with a 1TB HDD, while the Asus ROG Strix Scar III comes with a 1TB SSD.

Buy the Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV from Amazon (Rs. 1,54,990) We get a lot of Bluetooth speakers here at Beebom, which is great because not only do I love listening to music, I also love checking out exciting new products. So when we received the Netgen Morgen Bluetooth speaker, I was excited. However, having preferred Sony speakers personally, I was carefully tempering my excitement with the Netgen Morgen, just in case I expect too much of it. Well, I’ve been using the Netgen Morgen for quite a while now, and at Rs. 5,999, it’s not the cheapest Bluetooth speaker out there. So, if you’re wondering whether it’s worth the price, here’s my review of the Netgen Morgen Bluetooth speaker.
Netgen Morgen: Specifications
Dimensions    232x153x65mm
Weight    1200g
Speakers    2x 10W Speakers
2x Passive Bass Radiators
Connectivity    Bluetooth v4.0;
NFC
Ports    AUX-in;
microUSB for charging
Battery    5,000 mAh
Price    Rs. 5,999
Design and Build

When I first took the Morgen out of its box, I was pleasantly surprised by its design. Unlike most Bluetooth speakers that want to look and feel portable, the Morgen is clearly designed to stay in your home, and blend in with your decor. It’s classy, it’s built out of aluminium, and it’s clad in a soft cloth, not unlike a Google Home speaker.

Even so, the Netgen Morgen is by no means a huge speaker, or a heavy one, or something that’s cumbersome to carry around. In fact, even though I personally feel that this speaker demands to fit right in your house, the handle up top makes it incredibly easy to carry around, so you can take it on trips and to house parties at your friend’s place.

Thanks to its aluminium build, the Morgen doesn’t ever feel flimsy or weak, or something you need to be very careful around. In my usage of the speaker, which ranged from using it at work, to stuffing it in my bag and carrying it home, it’s not suffered any visible damage, and that’s really very impressive.

Netgen has also taken care of what could’ve been minor quibbles here; the bottom of the speaker comes with two big, round rubber patches to ensure the speaker doesn’t slip off your table, the Netgen branding, though placed up-and-center, is small-ish, and classier than what some other brands would’ve done. The only minor flaw I find here is the fact that the Morgen’s handle doesn’t fold over to make it easier to stuff into a bag; other than that, I’m very satisfied with the design and build here.

Audio Quality

Even though the design and build of the Morgen is really amazing, audio is where the speaker really shines. With a size this big, I was anyway expecting a pretty good sound quality, but even with my higher than usual expectations, the Netgen Morgen blew me away.

With two 10W speakers and two passive radiators, the Morgen can get pretty loud… really loud. However, loudness ceases to matter on a lot of Bluetooth speakers because they end up absolutely crushing the sound quality in exchange for loudness; not the Netgen Morgen, though. This speaker manages to sound amazing at all levels of volume. The bass doesn’t vanish at lower volumes, and the treble is always great. Even with the volume set to max, the speaker doesn’t distort, and it’s just overall a really great sounding package. What’s more, the soundstage is pretty wide, and music from the Morgen has a certain depth to it that is usually missing from a lot of Bluetooth speakers.
Features and Buttons

As if all that praise wasn’t enough for this speaker, the Netgen Morgen also comes with a bunch of additional features. Equalizers, for one. While the right dial on the Morgen is for adjusting volume levels, the left can be rotated to choose from one of four equalizer presets on the speakers. There’s Rock for when you’re listening to some classic rock songs, Jazz for setting the perfect evening with your significant other, Dance, and of course, there’s the Normal mode which works for everything. The active equalizer is illuminated by an LED light, so you’ll always know which setting you’re at.

Meanwhile, the right dial has gesture-support. When I say gestures, it’s nothing fancy, but it definitely comes in handy. You can swipe left or right on the right dial to skip between tracks, and that’s pretty much it, but personally, I found this to be more intuitive and easier to do than pressing and holding on a button, which is what most other Bluetooth speakers do.

There’s also NFC here, which makes pairing your NFC enabled smartphone with the speaker a breeze. Just turn on NFC on your phone, turn on the speaker, and tap your phone on the spot where the NFC logo is, and that’s it, pairing started.

Then there’s the power button, which, again, does more than just one thing. Obviously, it turns the speaker on and off, but it also puts the speaker into pairing mode with a long press, and it plays and pauses music with a short press.
Ports

Moving on, the Netgen Morgen doesn’t really have a lot in the way of ports — there are only two here. There’s an AUX-in port, so you can pick up a 3.5mm cable and use a wired connection between your phone and the speaker. I’m not sure why you’d want to connect a Bluetooth speaker to your phone using an AUX cable, but it’s nice to know Netgen gives us the option.

Other than that, there’s the microUSB port here, which, you guessed it, is meant to charge the speaker. I’m still uncertain why companies won’t move to USB-C on Bluetooth speakers too, but I’m holding out hope that we see that happen really soon.
Battery

Speaking of USB-C and charging, let’s turn towards the battery in this thing. The Netgen Morgen comes with a 5,000 mAh battery, which might sound big, but when it’s driving two 10W speakers, it’s only fair to have a battery that big. At around 70% volume, the Morgen lasts around 6 hours on an average, although you can comfortably use it at 50% volume most of the time and extend that by around an hour. It’s not a lot, but like I said, I personally feel that this speaker is better suited for in-the-home listening, which makes 6 hours sound pretty great.

Charging takes place via the microUSB port, and according to Netgen, the speaker charges at 5V/1A — that’s 5W charging, similar to what you’d find on an iPhone XS with the bundled adaptor, but knocks at iPhone aside, the speaker takes almost 4 hours to fully charge, and then it’ll last you another 6 to 7 hours depending on the volume you’re listening at. If you’re wondering about the battery performance at 100% volume, your guess is as good as mine because as loud as this speaker gets, I couldn’t test it at 100% long enough for fear of the neighbours complaining against me.
Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the Netgen Morgen comes with Bluetooth 4.0 — sad, I know, since most speakers at least come with Bluetooth 4.2 these days, but it does claim (and live up to) a 10m connection range, which is definitely nice. What’s a bigger bummer here, is that the speaker doesn’t support aptX — now personally, I don’t mind that because the sound quality here is definitely good, but hell if there was aptX support here, things would’ve probably been even better, right?

Pros and Cons

The Netgen Morgen is a pretty solid Bluetooth speaker, but as strong a contender as it is for being one of the best in its price, it does have some shortcomings too, so let’s take a look.

Pros:

    Good build
    Great sound quality
    Decent battery life

Cons:

    No aptX support
    Bluetooth 4.0

Netgen Morgen Bluetooth Speaker Review: Should You Buy It?

So, the Netgen Morgen is a pretty solid Bluetooth speaker. It brings great sound quality, a solid build paired with really nice design choices, and it looks like a solid speaker to consider. At Rs. 5,999, the Morgen does have some competition. There’s the JBL Flip 3, priced at Rs. 5,999, and there are a whole bunch of Bluetooth speakers from Sony in this price range as well. However, even with all of that, I would suggest you give the Netgen Morgen a try, because it’s honestly a really amazing Bluetooth speaker, and unless you want portability of the likes that is offered by something like the Sony SRS-XB12 (Rs. 3,650), the Morgen sounds better than most of its competitors.

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