ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 review - Good on paper

A top shot of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 (2023) laptop.

A top shot of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 (2023) laptop.

When ASUS offered to send over one of its latest and greatest gaming laptops, its AMD Ryzen-powered ROG Strix Scar 17, I didn't know quite what to expect. One of its ROG Zephyrus systems nearly became the successor to my ageing OEM machine, but it lost out against a bargain Razer Blade during an Amazon Warehouse sale.

Its sleek, almost Macbook-like, machined aluminium chassis screamed quality, but ultimately meant it was rarely used for gaming. Generating heat in a metal box you rest your hands on to use is asking for trouble. And clearly ASUS knows that. The ROG Strix Scar is far from its first rodeo. And although this particular model will set you back a fair few grand, the absence of a metal build makes sense in retrospect.

Plastic will rarely scream the quality you'd expect from spending half a year's rent on a computer, but if you're looking for it to be your only machine, you want one that won't literally burn you when you're trying to get your game on. Does it mean there's a bit of deck flex in the keyboard? Yes. Should you care? At this price point? Maybe.

Absolutely 'roided

Specs

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX with Radeon Graphics (~2.5 GHz)
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 4090 (laptop)
  • Display: 17.3-inch WQHD, 240Hz, HDR IPS panel
  • Memory: 32 GB
  • Storage: 2TB NVME
  • OS: Windows 11 Pro x64 (v22H2)

Other than having to adjust my typical keyboard position to avoid clicking the trackpad and learning to move my fingers a little higher up to hit Return instead of Shift when using the arrow keys for text entry, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 offers a solid typing experience. The glass-topping trackpad is big enough, feels smooth, and ultimately isn't too hard to click when you want to.

Close shots of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 (2023).
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But it's a big boy. Big, but not unwieldy. Cramming some of the tightest specs you can expect of a Windows laptop inside something you can reasonably carry in one hand, I primed myself for a machine akin to the Acer Predator 21x - a slab you wouldn't dream of taking to the nearby coffee shop for a change of scenery. And although you won't strain yourself lugging this thing over your shoulder, you'll need to factor in the cumbersome power brick if you don't want your trip to be addled by battery anxiety.

Unplugging shifts the system over to its integrated graphics, which makes perfect sense. But it also knocks the lightning-fast 240Hz display down to a measly 60Hz. If you've spent much time even browsing the web at 120Hz+ in recent years, you'll know this is unacceptable. It makes the astronomically priced machine immediately feel 1/10th its price, and expecting to settle for that just to get more than an hour and a half of juice on a typical office workload is pitiful.

Unplugged and switched back to the Balanced preset and 240Hz, the battery lasted through around two and a half hours of basic use; ten tabs in Opera GX, ClickUp, Slack, Photoshop, and a browser-based text editor. It's no ultrabook, that's for sure, but it about matched my Razer Blade in its prime.

Back home, however, the ROG Strix Scar 17 can be your everything machine. With a laptop-specific Nvidia Geforce RTX 4090 under the hood, a generous 2tb SSD, and a blazing-fast 7th Gen Ryzen 9 chip to chew through things, there's no easily-conceivable workload it won't manage.

A wide shot of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 and shots of the left and rear IO.
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For context, my Razer Blade is long in the tooth with a GTX 1070. My desktop runs a third-gen Ryzen 5 chip and an RTX 3070 I've upgraded from a 2070 and a 1060 since fully committing to my career in 2016. It creams them both, but it also costs more than I've spent on the two combined. Its bright (but non-HDR) 1440p 240Hz panel should generally be all that you need, but there are some major issues with backlight bleed that may hamper any late night movie moments. It can't go back maybe more than 45-degrees, it's not a touch screen, and the thin two-hinge design began to creak the day after it arrived, which doesn't inspire much confidence regarding its long-term durability.

If you're a content creator, or someone who just needs more screen real estate, there's nothing stopping you from building a clean desk setup with static monitors and wireless peripherals, slotting the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 into a snazzy holder. Though with its ludicrous power requirements, you won't get away with keeping a smart USB-C GAN Charger hooked up to satisfy its needs. You'll need to finagle with the power brick any time you want to change places for more than a couple hours which, for someone like me, would quickly discourage me from using it in that particular way - diminishing the value of the overall investment.

Valorant running on the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 (2023) with a laptop-class RTX 4090 and AMD Ryzen 9 7000-series CPU.
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Capable of rendering 3x the frames needed to max the refresh rate of the 1440p panel, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 absolutely crushes it with Valorant.

Let's get gamin'

So what about gaming? That's where you'll see your money make sense. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, remember that we're dealing with a laptop-specific RTX 4090 here. Not a flagship triple-slot gaming card stuffed into a laptop just over an inch thick. Pulling about as much power as a proper RTX 4080, it performs like one, too, matching a desktop-class 3080 Ti in most cases. Techspot has done a terrific job comparing the laptop and desktop RTX 4090 chips, but we've benchmarked a decent variety of titles in the table below.

To keep things simple, the 4090-equipped ASUS ROG Strix Scar is more than capable of hitting 60 fps in demanding 4K titles when hooked up to a larger screen, but it can satisfy high-refresh rate gamers at its native 1440p, hitting 120fps in titles like Monster Hunter World and easily capping its 240Hz panel with some esports titles like League of Legends, Rocket League, CSGO, and Valorant, which means you'll be able to enjoy all the competitive benefits of a high-refresh rate paired with G-Sync and Nvidia Low-Latency. And 1440p is not only perfect for a screen of this size, but for keeping things GPU-bound.

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Benchmarking the laptop-class RTX 4090 in the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17.
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All games were ran in fullscreen with uncapped framerates on the laptop's "turbo" mode.

Tapping into the laptop's Turbo mode saw it easily break 700 FPS in Valorant at low 1440p settings. That's a massive waste of energy, but it's a good indicator of what the machine is capable of uncapped. Switching into Silent mode with esports titles should still see the frame rate get lusciously smooth without the deafening take-off that comes with hitting higher frame rates, but you need to remember that any serious power will generate heat. And the only way to deal with that is to blast the fans.

So if you're looking for a portable tournament winner, you've got one here. And for a studio apartment or if you're a student with too much money, having one of these as your sole media driver makes a lot of sense. Hook it up to a 4K TV or monitor with its rear HDMI port and you've got the best of both worlds.

Though the ROG STRIX Scar will get loud under a proper load, its impressive sound system can easily drown things out. You can easily opt for headphones via two USB-A ports and a 3.5mm jack on the left, or twin USB-C ports on the back that can be a little awkward to deal with, especially when charging.

Common synthetic benchmarks used to test the ASUS ROG Strix Scar in Turbo mode.
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Software is where things start to get little dubious, however. After going through the laborious Windows 11 setup, I installed nothing but Valorant, Monster Hunter World, The Sims, and the programs I use for work mentioned earlier, installing the benchmarked games one by one until I was ready to write this review.

In my first full day with the machine, I'd experienced a couple lengthy hangs, the threat of a seemingly unavoidable BIOS update bricking my machine if I didn't have the Bitlocker key handy (I did not), the built-in speakers becoming inaccessible by Windows and needing a restart (thrice), and things just not feeling as responsive as they should under a very general workload on the most powerful machine I've ever tested.

But I can't play the blame game without proper evidence. After all, Windows has never been the most stable platform. But a lot of things went wrong in a very short span of time, including a blue screen that cropped up when I agreed to let the built-in Armoury Crate attempt to stop something from using the integrated GPU.

Given the terrifying BIOS problem that cropped up after launching it for the first time, having another damning issue conveniently arise from giving it another chance really put me on edge. On one of the days, I couldn't go a few seconds without the mouse or keyboard seemingly going into sleep mode, which made writing and editing this review a real slog.

A precarious purchase

The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 is a powerful device. There's no beating around the bush there. But there's also no denying that its all-plastic build raises questions about its pricing. The hinge alone fills me with dread, but the specs speak for themselves. It's just hard to convince myself that I'm typing on the most expensive single piece of tech (or furniture) in my house and not the same OEM machine I spent a third of my paycheck on six years ago.

It's a brute-force gaming machine with a few RGB bells and whistles and little more. There's no tenting hinge for watching movies, no touch screen, HDR, or OLED option, no biometric login options like Fingerprint or Windows Hello, and certainly no second screen above the keyboard for light tasks and overboard media controls.

It's a gaming machine with plenty of potential for kick-starting a passion for content creation, but it's probably best seen as a catch-all device for someone living the minimalist life in a shoebox apartment where a comparative desktop just won't fly. If you're looking for something stable and reliable, simmer your expectations. AMD's price-to-performance comes into full force here against the Intel competition. But if the plastic shell puts you on edge, reconsider your options.

The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 (2023) is a flex of top-tier hardware packed into a shell I'm not convinced can gracefully shrug off an accidental, inevitable bump. If you need it, get it. But if you're just in awe at its specs and risk landing in a spot of bother should it prematurely bite the dust, just learn to live on medium settings and save yourself the cash (and anxiety) by looking for a happy medium between power and practical portability.
7 out of 10
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