Gaming

Gaming laptop that works like a charm

The Asus ROG Strix Hero II has an efficient dual-fan cooling system.
The Asus ROG Strix Hero II has an efficient dual-fan cooling system.

The Asus ROG Strix Hero II is the latest gaming laptop to have ultra-slim screen bezels. This trend has picked up recently, with Aftershock, MSI and Razer all debuting models with near-bezel-less displays.

But the comparison ends here. While its rivals are sleek, lightweight machines, the Hero II looks more like a traditional 15-inch gaming laptop. It is not chunky, but neither would it be considered slim. At 2.4kg, it is also not as portable as its competitors.

The good news is that, unlike slimmer gaming laptops, the Hero II's thicker plastic chassis seems better at shielding users from the heat generated by its mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip.

It could also be that the Hero II's new dual-fan cooling system works like a charm because there was only a slight warmth from the laptop base and palm rest while running an intensive game benchmark.

On the flip side, the fans are noticeably loud, though they do not annoy me like the high-pitch whine produced by some notebooks I have tested.

The fan noise can be mitigated by turning up the volume of the speakers. Located at the sides of the laptop, they are surprisingly good - loud and intense. I could even feel the vibrations from the explosions under my palm while playing a game.

  • SPECS 

    PRICE: $2,698 PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8750H (2.2GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card reader, audio jack 

    BATTERY: 66 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Revealed last month at the Computex trade show, the Hero II comes hot on the heels of the first Hero laptop, which I reviewed in January. Like its predecessor, the Hero II is designed for e-sports multiplayer online battle arena (Moba) games like League Of Legends. Asus has a similar model - the Scar II - targeted at gamers who prefer first-person shooter games.

The Hero II and Scar II share the same chassis, which has been revamped to include slimmer bezels. The new chassis also looks closer to the design of Asus' other recent gaming laptop, the ROG Zephyrus.

Between the Hero II and the Scar II, the key difference is that the latter can be equipped with a better graphics chip. The Hero II highlights the QWER keys used more often for Moba games, while the Scar II emphasises the WASD keys.

The keyboard is not mushy and has good key travel. It is split into four customisable backlighting zones. Other LEDs include the glowing Asus logo at the lid and the LED light bar at the front edge of the laptop. These LEDs can be synchronised via software.

Its bezels are indeed very slim, though the effect is somewhat ruined by the bottom bezel, which is shockingly huge. Asus has also, like many other PC makers, moved the front Web camera to the bottom bezel, which makes it awkward to use.

The matt screen boasts a high refresh rate of 144Hz, which helps to create a smooth responsive gameplay experience. It does not support Nvidia G-Sync, though. Viewing angles are excellent, as expected for an IPS display.

I did not try any Moba games on the Hero II, though it was more than capable of running first-person shooter games such as Doom and Crysis 3 smoothly. It produced about 79 frames per second (fps) in Doom and recorded 68 fps in Crysis 3, with both games set at the maximum graphical setting.

Like most gaming laptops, its battery life is poor. It lasted just 1 hour 40 minutes in The Straits Times' video-loop battery test.

• Verdict: The Asus ROG Strix Hero II is a good mid-range gaming laptop that looks flashy and runs coolly.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2018, with the headline 'Gaming laptop that works like a charm'. Print Edition | Subscribe