When it comes to high end gaming laptops, it’s hard to contest the duopoly that ASUS and MSI have imposed in the last couple of years. Both manufacturers released new models earlier this month. Today I’ll review the sleek and powerful ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71.
While it’s true that gaming notebooks don’t emphasize much on design, I can’t help but notice what a spectacular device the ASUS GL502VS-DB71 turned out to be.
Unlike other models, this one doesn’t stand out as flashy, colorful or overdone. On the contrary, the hushed design elements or the toned down color palette hint towards a more mature audience, one that favors a healthy balance of hardware specs and aesthetics.
Such design choices, like keeping a slim profile may impact the user further down the road, especially since the ASUS also comes with the latest generation of NVIDIA graphics cards. Rivaling modern desktop counterparts, there have been legitimate voices concerned about these components overheating. However, ASUS wants to mitigate this potential issue by having designed two separate cooling systems, one for the CPU and the other for the GPU.
When it comes to processing power, it shouldn’t surprise that a $1700 gaming laptop (MSRP price at the time of this review) has one of the best mobile processors you can get today. The quad core Intel Core i7-6700HQ has a clock speed varying from 2.6 GHz to 3.5GHz, 6 megabytes of cache, a bus speed of 8 GT/s and a massive thermal design power, 45 Watts. These numbers mean the CPU in question is a power-hungry powerhouse. Terrible news for battery life, great promises for gamers and power users.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the Intel Core i7-6700HQ is surpassed by just a few exotic models in benchmark tests. This processor managed to score just over 8000 points according to cpubenchmark.net and enjoys fantastic reviews and opinions all over the internet.
The ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71 comes with 16 gigabytes of DDR4-2133 SDRAM, the latest generation of system memory: a more energy efficient, faster and denser memory module. You can learn more about the differences between DDR3 and DDR4 in this PDF infographic posted by crucial.
If somehow the 16 gigs of system memory don’t satisfy your needs as a gamer, you’ll be happy to know that you can double that amount, up to 32 gigabytes of RAM. The two sockets available for expansion will enable the addition of the maximum allowed RAM, at the cost of the existing memory modules.
Unlike their superior G752 models which feature 4 memory slots (2 soldered and 2 available for extension), the GL502VS-DB71 has only 2 available unsoldered slots, so you’d have to get a 2x16GB kit to benefit from the copious amounts of system memory.
Personally, I would be more than happy to live and game with the standard memory size, since it’s what most gaming desktops come equipped with these days, being able to handle large amounts of data and heavy multitasking without slowing down.
Storage space is handled by a 256-gigabyte M.2 SATA/600 Solid State Drive and a 1-terabyte Hard Disk Drive. The SSD will help with load times and system responsiveness, since the operating system and most programs will be installed on it, while the mechanical hard disk drive will act as a more ample data storage and backup drive.
Should you need a more speedy, quiet and energy efficient system, you can always swap the HDD with an extra 256 or 512 gigabyte solid state drive to use as backup in the unlikely case that the first might fail.
Graphics and Display
The ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71 is powered by the latest graphics technology from NVIDIA, namely the GTXM 1070 notebook GPU. This long awaited, highly praised graphics card runs on the improved Pascal architecture, has DirectX 12 support and a host of other features that you can see on their website.
The NVIDIA GTXM 1070 rivals with high end desktop graphics cards, promising a true revolution in the mobile subset of this market. With technologies such as G-SYNC support, VR Ready and NVIDIA SLI, the 8-gigabyte GDDR5 video card will play any modern game at high or ultra settings without stuttering, without frame rate drops or screen stutter.
Sure, it’s not advisable to play very demanding games such as The Witcher 3 while not being plugged it, since the ASUS will downgrade available resources in order to save battery life.
The screen is overall better than most similar laptops. It has a 15.6 inch matte screen with a wide-view FHD display. Bright and vivid colors make the games come to life, even when viewing the screen from unorthodox angles. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the G-SYNC display technology synchronizes the GPU’s and the screen’s refresh rate in order to eliminate stutter and provide silky smooth gameplay.
When it comes to I/O ports, the ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71 is well endowed with the latest ports. You’ll be able to plug in a mouse, an external hard drive, and still have two extra slots, one of which being the ultra-fast, reversible USB-C port. So, the Asus has:
- 1 x USB-C port
- 3 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x HDMI-out
- 1 x mini Display port
- 1 x Audio Combo Jack
- 1 x RJ-45
- 1 x SD/XC/HC Card Reader
The ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71 features an Ethernet port, a feature which is basically required by serious gamers who need the fastest connections to avoid lag issues mid-game. Also, the 802.11ac 2×2 wireless card with integrated Bluetooth 4.0 will ensure that the fastest transfer rates, the lowest latency and the best signal quality will be available to you by using the latest Wi-Fi protocols.
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- Dual Cooling System – Named “Hyper Cool Duo-Copper”, the fancy name suggests that the CPU and GPU both have separate heat sinks and separate fans to better dissipate residual heat. It’s a necessary feature to have when using such powerful components.
- Backlit Tactile Keyboard – Not only are the keys and touchpad area backlit with a orange-reddish color, the fully sized chiclet keyboard features scissor-switch keys with 1.6mm of travel distance.
- Noise Filtering – A set of dual array microphones filter background noise to make your voice crystal clear when streaming or gaming, regardless of surrounding noise level.
Portability and Battery Life
On the topic of portability there isn’t much to be said. It’s fairly lightweight, especially considering the whole gaming aspect of it, while maintaining a very low profile: just 0.96″ thin. Sure, it’s way bulkier than an ultrabook, but it’s also way more powerful. While ASUS hasn’t made any compromises when deciding what components to add, they didn’t have much room to shed weight. Think of the dual cooling system, the integrated graphics card, the added hard drive and the extra headroom needed for an efficient cooling. All these add up to the 4.8 pounds the ASUS weighs, on par with entry level or mid range notebooks.
Battery life is also surprisingly good for a gaming laptop. It will manage 6 hours of screen time before needing a power outlet, barely enough to get you through a full day’s worth of work. Gaming while operating on battery isn’t advised, since you’ll likely drain it in 2 hours at best.
All in all, the ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71 is a robust gaming laptop and a real game changer. Everything is top notch, from the design choices to hardware options and extra features. Powerful and somehow elegant, this gaming laptop will fit well in the hands of seasoned competitive players or working professionals who need desktop performance from a mobile device.