Asus unveiled a new fleet of ROG and TUF gaming laptops for 2023 at CES this January. The company the launched the first wave of high-end gaming laptops in India in March, followed by a second wave of mid-range models in May. The laptop we're reviewing today, the ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023), is from the earlier batch. This beastly gaming laptop is priced starting at Rs. 2,79,990 in India but the variant we're reviewing has Nvidia's top-most current laptop GPU and costs Rs. 3,59,990.
Should the new Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 be on your list if you're looking for a no-holds-barred gaming laptop and money is no object? Read on to find out.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) design and features
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is gigantic and heavy, and is meant to be used on a desk in your home rather than on your lap. In the few weeks that I've been testing it, I probably only moved it twice from its spot near the power outlet. Its design is pretty eye-catching and it will certainly appeal to its intended demographic.
The matte black finish of the laptop looks slick and there's plenty of RGB lighting sprinkled across the exterior. There's a backlit ROG logo on the lid, one light strip at the back just above the exhaust vent and another in the front, along the bottom edge. The plastic on the sides around the ports is translucent and so is the upper portion of the keyboard deck. Overall, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 looks intimidating and futuristic, which I'm sure many gamers will appreciate.
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) is built well and looks intimidating
The laptop ships with a chunky 330W AC power adapter which requires a 16A power outlet. The latter is a bit of an issue since we normally don't have many 16A wall sockets at home, and the few that are there are generally used by heavy appliances such as air conditioners. This limits the number of places in your home where you can charge or use this laptop, so you might want to consider installing an additional 16A wall socket if you're planning on getting it.
Also in the box is an extra cover for the hinge portion which Asus calls Armour Caps. These snap on to the rear of the laptop magnetically and you can even 3D print your own custom caps if needed for a personalised look.
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18's display is one of its highlights. It's an 18-inch QHD (2560x1600) IPS panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 240Hz refresh rate. The display has slim borders on three of the four sides and a little lip on the top for the webcam. The display also meets Asus' ROG Nebula specification which is to say it has 500 nits of brightness, supports 100 percent DCI-P3 colour gamut reproduction, is Pantone validated, supports Nvidia's G-Sync technology, and can do Dolby Vision playback in video streaming OTT apps. The lower-priced Scar 18 variant in India doesn't get the ROG Nebula certification and instead has a full-HD resolution and 165Hz refresh rate.
You get per-key RGB LED backlighting for the keyboard
Thanks to the large size of the laptop, you get a full-sized keyboard with number pad and dedicated buttons for controlling volume, the microphone, and performance modes, plus one-touch access to Asus' Armoury Crate software. These dedicated buttons can be customised to perform other functions or you can even use them to program macros. Asus claims that the ROG Strix Scar 18 has a “professional esports-grade” keyboard whose switches are designed to last over 20 million presses. You also get per-key RGB LED backlighting with Aura Sync, which syncs your lighting patterns with other ROG accessories. The trackpad is quite large too and tracking and gestures work very well thanks to the glass coating.
All the ports are located on either side of the laptop, leaving just a massive exhaust vent on the back. They include two USB 3.2 (Gen2) Type-A ports and one Type-C port, a Thunderbolt 4 (Type-C) port, full-sized HDMI 2.1, a headphone/microphone combo socket, Gigabit LAN, and a power socket. There's no SD card slot or security lock slot.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) specifications and software
The top-end variant that I'm testing comes with an Intel Core i9-13980HX mobile CPU with a total of 24 cores (eight performance, 16 efficiency). The HX is for Intel's high performance mobile CPUs, which allow for easy overclocking if you need even more performance. This is accompanied by 32GB (2x 16GB) of DDR5 4800MHz RAM, which occupies both RAM slots in the laptop. There's also 2TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD storage (2x 1TB SSDs in RAID 0). Finally, the heart of any gaming laptop is the GPU, and we get an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 laptop GPU with 16GB of GDDR6 RAM.
The bundled charger is massive and is nearly the size of a smartphone box
The lower-priced variant of the ROG Strix Scar 18 in India comes with the same Intel CPU and amount of RAM, but packs an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU and 1TB of storage.
Keeping all of these high-power components running cool is no easy feat and Asus claims it has redesigned the chassis and motherboard to fit a full-width heatsink with seven heat pipes and three fans in total. It has also used a liquid metal compound instead of thermal paste over the CPU and GPU, which should be more effective for heat transfer.
The laptop features a 720p webcam, four speakers with Dolby Atmos enhancement, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, and a 90WHr battery. The latter can be charged via a USB Type-C cable too provided the adapter is powerful enough.
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 ships with Windows 11 preinstalled, along with the usual trial versions of Microsoft's Office suite and McAfee anti-virus softwares. The MyAsus app offers basic functions such as updating the firmware and switching between battery modes, but for everything else there's the Armoury Crate app.
The translucent sides of the laptop look cool, but are not illuminated
This is your one-stop solution for tweaking all kinds of settings on the Strix Scar 18. The homescreen of the app shows you real-time stats of the CPU, GPU usage and frequencies, fan speed, and a snapshot of other system settings. The panels on the homescreen can also be rearranged so you can have the most relevant ones front and centre. The tabs on the left of the app allow you to customise individual settings such as the default power mode for the GPU, hotkeys, lighting patterns, microphone mode, etc.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) performance and battery life
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is an absolute beast when it comes to performance and I would expect nothing less from this top-specced variant. There's never any sense of hesitation or lag whatsoever, no matter what task is being performed. The keyboard is very comfortable for typing and the keys themselves are quiet.
You get plenty of room to comfortably rest your palms and the tall display is excellent in terms of colour reproduction and brightness. I noticed that that the laptop tends to run warm even in the ‘Silent' power mode and when running on battery power. With the discrete GPU disabled and just using Chrome, the portion above the keyboard and vents on either side always felt warm to the touch.
This laptop is all about performance so let's dive into that. Starting with some synthetic benchmarks, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 returned a trace time of just 27 seconds in POV-Ray. In the Cinebench R20 CPU benchmark, the laptop returned 778 points in single-core and an impressive 8,227 points in the multi-core test. PCMark 10, which measures the entire system performance for various tasks such as video conferencing, spreadsheets, etc, returned an overall score of 7,803 points.
The cooling system of the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 (2023) is quite effective in 'Turbo' power mode
Graphics benchmark 3DMark produced a score of 13,753 points in the Time-Spy test suite and 10,438 points in the ray-tracing test of Port Royale. Thanks to the RAID 0 configuration of the SSDs, the read and write speeds were also equally impressive. The laptop returned sequential and random read speeds of over 12GBps, and sequential and random write speeds of over 7GBps.
Coming to real-world tests, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 compressed a 3.24GB folder of assorted files in just 47 seconds using 7-Zip. Rendering the BMW test scene in Blender took 2 minutes, 14 seconds, while encoding a 1.3GB AVI file to H.265 (MKV) needed only 27 seconds. These are all pretty strong numbers and some of the lowest (a good thing) we've seen in a while.
Gaming performance is excellent. Some of the keyboard keys do get warm during gaming but switching to ‘Turbo' power mode keeps the main touch points of the laptop cool, at the expense of added fan noise. If you use headphones then this shouldn't be a problem. We start off with the heavyweight title Cyberpunk 2077 which was a cakewalk for this variant of the Strix Scar 18. Using the game's built-in benchmark, the laptop averaged 124fps at the display's QHD resolution and the ‘Ray Tracing: Medium' quality preset. What impressed me was that even when switching to the highest preset, Ray Tracing: Overdrive, which also enables a preview of the game's Path Tracing (fully ray traced lighting) feature, it still returned an average of 121fps.
In Death Stranding, the ROG Strix Scar managed to average 140fps running at the native resolution, with all options maxed out and with the DLSS options set to ‘Quality'. Finally, in Doom Eternal, the laptop easily managed to average 200+fps at the native resolution with ray tracing enabled. Suffice to say that with such a hardware configuration, you should be able to easily play pretty much any modern game with ease.
The swappable Armour Caps lets you add a touch of personalisation to your laptop
Gaming laptops are not generally known for great battery life and this one is certainly not the exception. Using the Battery Eater Pro benchmark, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 ran for 1 hour, 10 minutes using just the CPU's onboard graphics and with the RGB lighting on. With normal use, I was able to get about 2-3 hours of runtime at best. I don't forsee many people complaining about this since most users will have this laptop plugged in at all times.
The 2023 Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is an absolute beast of a gaming laptop and all this power does not come cheap, at Rs. 3,59,990. It isn't exactly portable either. However, you are getting the very best mobile CPU and GPU that are currently available for a Windows laptop, and there's no doubt that it should age well over the years. The only real downsides to this laptop is the fact that it does run warm even when you aren't doing much on battery power. Apart from these things, it's a well-built pixel-destroying machine that's sure to put a smile on anyone's face.
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