We tested and evaluated the 2020 Scar 17, but we were mostly critical of its high temperature and noise level during play, somewhat limited air intakes, and small battery. The 2021 ROG Scar 17 has fixed some of these issues, in addition to updating the chassis, adding new display options, and improving the keyboard with optical-mechanical switches.
There is also the ROG Scar 17 2021 in this variant for AMD’s Ryzen 9 processor, the Cezanne 5000, combined with 16GB Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics, although in a less powerful version than the previous generation.
We spent last week with the first retail version of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 G733QS and have summarized our thoughts and impressions in this article. We are still in the testing phase, so if you have any questions or comments, please contact us in the Comments section at the end.
|2021 ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733QS|
|show||17.3-inch, 16:9, non-touch, matte, Sharp LQ173M1JW04
FHD 1920 x 1080 px IPS panel, 300 Hz 3ms with 100% sRGB, with AdaptiveSync
165 Hz QHD and 360 Hz FHD panels also available.
|Processor||AMD Cezanne, Ryzen 9 5900HX, 8C/16T|
|Video||AMD Radeon Vega + Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop 16GB (Up to 130W, GeForce 461.23 driver)|
|Memory||32GB DDR4 3200 MHz (2x DIMMs, up to 64GB)|
|Storage||1 TB NVMe SSD (2 M.2 PCI x4 slots)|
|Link||WiFi 6 (Intel AX201) 2×2 with Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8168/8111)|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2 gen1, 1x USB-C gen2 with video, data and charging, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headset&Microphone|
|Battery||240W power + USB-C charging up to 100W|
|Size||395 mm or 15.55 inches (W) x 282 mm or 11.1 inches (D) x 27.5 mm or 1.08 inches (H)|
|Weight||2.7 kg (5.95 lb), 0.73 kg (1.6 lb) bricks and electric cables, EU version|
|Besides..,||One-touch mechanical keyboard, RGB and NumPad backlight, four speakers, no webcam, Keystone|
In terms of specs, this is one of the most powerful Scar-17 configurations available here, but paired with an FHD panel at 300 Hz instead of the new and more interesting QHD at 165 Hz, which makes the most sense for this product. We’ll talk about it in the dedicated Screen section.
For those of you shopping on a budget, Asus will also offer the 2021 Scar 17 with Nvidia RTX 3060 and 3070 graphics.
In terms of design, Asus has opted for a sleek black theme and subtle branding elements on the 2021 Scar 17, focusing on the ROG brand rather than the fact that it’s an Asus notebook. I like it.
The cover is made of metal and mostly matte, with a shiny pattern on the lower left that oddly enough says ROG. In fact, there are all kinds of hidden Easter eggs and images on this laptop, and I’ll let you discover them.
The interior and the bottom are made of plastic, a durable material for the bottom and a smooth and flexible material for the interior. It’s nice to touch, but it’s very prone to stains and finger oils, and it looks pretty disgusting if you don’t wipe it off every day. I attached a picture of my device after about 3 days, and keep in mind that my hands are very dry and I test the laptop in the winter at an indoor temperature of 22-24 C. So overall, I’m not a fan of the new interior.
Another feature of this plastic interior is that the top right side is translucent, revealing the view of the lower parts of the interior. It’s cool and weird.
Asus has also placed the LED status indicators behind the transparent plastic section, which amplifies them and makes them very distracting when using the notebook in a dark room, especially since they are directly in the field of view below the screen. Also, the power button always glows red, and I would like to see Asus implement its simple power buttons with integrated finger sensors in this series, like the ones available on the Zephyrus models.
This Scar 17 2021 still uses light bars, now around the leading edge and on half the sides, as well as under the screen, with the notch at the chin. I don’t really like RGB, but it has evolved over the years, and I can see why some of you might like it. In addition, all RGB items can be configured in the AURA Creator application, which is available in the Armory Box. By default, all RGB light bars and the ROG logo on the cover are linked to the keyboard backlight, but they can be adjusted in the application. It’s not the most intuitive part of the software yet, but it does the job once you understand it (and you can find a youtube video explaining it).
In addition to the aesthetics, the ROG Scar 17 2021 is 10% smaller and lighter than the previous generation and gets a smaller power source, making it easier to transport to school or work. There’s a smaller bezel around the screen, and still no camera, and a smaller notch in the frame, but you can still see cables at the back, which people have complained about in the past.
In fact, most of the inputs and outputs are on the back, with only two USB-A slots and an audio jack on the left and a KeyStone on the right. I still think it’s a gadget in use and I’d rather have an SD card reader, but maybe it’s just me. Since this is an AMD notebook, you’ll always have most of the ports you need except for the card reader and Thunderbolt support. The USB-C supports data transfer, PD and charging up to 100W. As for the HDMI port, it’s only 2.0b as far as I can tell because it’s connected to the iGPU, and Vega graphics don’t support HDMI 2.1 yet.
The Scar 17 is still designed for maximum airflow and cooling, with two powerful fans inside and inputs from the keyboard, rear hump and bottom, now with clear cuts above the fans. However, space under the laptop is still limited by the thin rubber feet, and based on my experience with the previous Scar 17 and the clogged air intakes, I expected something different. We discuss this topic in detail in the power and thermal performance section below.
These rubber feet hook in differently and hold the notebook firmly to the table. You’ll also see two notches for the speakers on the bottom, which are now complemented by two additional tweeters on the front that accentuate the notches under the screen.
Asu has ensured that the edges and corners around the main chassis, which are crucial for such a large laptop, are blunt, otherwise they would dig aggressively into the wrists. They’ve also made sure that the screen can be easily lifted and adjusted with one hand, while the hinges are strong enough to hold the screen in place without wobbling or moving during daily use. I’d still like the back screen to be more than 140 degrees, but that’s not a problem with this type of laptop, which is supposed to replace a desktop computer that will spend most of its life on a desk.
All in all, this Scar 17 2021 is a beautiful piece of art and design, easier to carry and more refined than the previous generation. But it’s not perfect yet, and I’m not a big fan of the dirty plastic used inside and those distracting lights in the status LEDs and the power button below the screen. Oh, and this laptop still doesn’t have biometrics, card readers and a built-in camera.
The inputs are brand new on this 2021 ROG Scar 17, with a redesigned keyboard with opto-mechanical switches and a larger touchpad that replaces the fixed touchpad with physical buttons from the past.
First of all, the layout includes a complete set of basic keys, appropriately sized and spaced, as well as a rather unusual NumPad section with normal-sized arrow keys and attractive placement. It takes a while to get used to this NumPad, as well as the fact that there are no dedicated keys for Home, End, PgUp, PgDn or Insert, but most are secondary keys attached to directional keys or other keys in the numeric range. At the same time, this simplified layout reduces the clutter of the numeric keypad and arrow field.
These keys then use opto-mechanical switches, with the exception of the five multimedia keys in the top left corner, which are still rubber domes. The mechanical keys on the laptop are strange at first, with clicks, jumps, and responses that are louder than traditional rubber domes, so get used to it.
For my part, I’ve already experienced a mechanical keyboard on a few different laptops, and after typing a few thousand words about this implementation from Asus, I haven’t changed my mind: It’s not for everyone, and I still generally prefer a good rubber dome keyboard for two reasons: slightly softer feedback and much quieter operation, as these click mechanisms attract unwanted attention in a quiet environment. But you may have a different feeling, so I suggest you try it if you don’t mind the sound.
I should add that I’ve been using the MX Brown mechanical keyboard as a daily typing device on my PC for a few months now, and I expected it to help me get used to this mechanical laptop keyboard faster. It’s not, it’s just that the feel is different with a shorter stroke and lighter resistance.
In the end, I had mixed feelings about using this new ROG keyboard, and I highly recommend trying it out and seeing how it works for you.
The new Clickpad is glassy and much larger than before, but no longer offers the silent physical buttons. Instead, the physical clicks are now rather awkward and the surface clicks when you type harder. Overall, the laptop proved to be fast, reliable, and accurate while I was using it, but also pleasant if I just thought about touching it gently, very gently.
As for biometrics, the 2021 ROG Strix SCAR 17 doesn’t have any yet.
Asus offers several display options for the 2021 ROG Scar 17, all in 17-inch 16:9 matte and non-touch :
- FHD 300Hz 3ms with over 300 nits brightness and 100% sRGB colors;
- FHD 360Hz 3ms with over 300 nits brightness and 100% sRGB colors;
- QHD 165Hz 3ms (??) with a brightness of over 300 nits and 1005 DCI-P3 colors.
On this test unit, we only had the first option, which is similar to the 300 Hz screen of the previous ROG Scar 17, although it’s now a Sharp panel instead of AU Optronics. It’s a solid option for everyday use and an excellent option for gaming.
This is what we got in our tests with the X-Rite i1 Display Pro Matrix:
- Panel HardwareID : Sharp SHP14E1 (LQ173M1JW04) ;
- Coverage: 98.6% sRGB, 73.9% AdobeRGB, 76.5% DCI-P3 ;
- Measured range: 2.16 ;
- Maximum luminance at the center of the screen: 350.15 cd/m2 at power ;
- Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 16.44 cd/m2 at power ;
- Contrast at maximum brightness : 1205:1 ;
- White tip: 6500 K ;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.29 cd/m2 ;
- PWM: No.
Asus pre-calibrates all ROG laptops at the factory, and we couldn’t improve anything with another calibration. The panel also had a regular appearance with almost no visible bleeding at the edges of the dark background.
However, I do have this 165Hz QHD panel in stock. The more accurate resolution and richer colors (100% DCI-P3 support) make it a more competent driver for everyday/professional use. The 165Hz update, coupled with the fast response times announced by Asus, should also work well with the RTX 3080 GPU for gaming. I can’t wait to try it one day, and I’m curious how much more Asus will charge.
I should also mention that the 2021 ROG’s scars were only in 16:9, not 16:10 like some events. As far as I know, these 16:10 QHD panels are still exclusive to Lenovo and are only available in 16-inch, so they won’t fit in the Scar 17. Also, it’s only 100% sRGB, not 100% DCI-P3 like these 16:9 panels, and if I had a choice, I’d pick the best colors on the extra screen space unless I can get both (and that doesn’t seem to be an option yet).
Finally, I would like to add that ActiveSync is now supported on all 2021 series ROG Scar displays, which handles the game tearing and seamless switching between the AMD iGPU and the Nvidia GPU depending on the task. Asus has already used a physical MUX switch to send the signal through one of the two GPUs, with a reboot in between, to implement GSync support on some of its products (but not on the Scar 17 2020). Although no longer needed here, the resulting HDMI port is connected to the Vega iGPU, so it does not currently support HDMI 2.1.
Our test model is a high-end configuration of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17, codenamed G733QS, equipped with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX 8C/16T processor, 32GB of dual-channel 3200MHz DDR4 memory, 1TB SSD storage and dual graphics : Nvidia RTX 3080 dGPU with 16 GB vRAM and AMD Vega iGPU integrated into the AMD processor.
Before proceeding, please note that our review unit was shipped from Asus and is a retail model identical to the one available in stores, using the software that was available at the end of January 2021 (BIOS 308, Armoury Crate 126.96.36.199, GeForce driver 461.23).
In particular, the 2021 ASUS TUF A15 is based on the latest AMD and Nvidia hardware. The Ryzen 9 5900HX is the first mobile processor on AMD’s Cezanne Ryzen 5000 platform, with 8C/16T, clock speeds up to 4.6GHz and 45W PDT. However, Asus offers a number of power profiles in the reservation box that allow you to juggle power level, temperature and noise level according to your needs. Compared to the previous Ryzen 7 4000 processors in the 2020 Asus TUF A15, the 5900HX represents a significant advance in IPC and single/multi-core performance, as well as an improvement in many other areas. We’ll explain this in more detail in a separate article, after we test some more Ryzen 2021 notebooks. We’ll also do a comparison with the Intel Core i9-10980HK processor in the Scar 17 2020 in this article, below.
In terms of GPUs, Asus took first place in the 2021-Scar-17 series with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, which runs at 115W. Therefore, the most powerful Max Q variant is already overclocked in the Turbo profile. Additionally, the system can increase power up to 130W on supported loads with Dynamic Boost technology, which transfers extra power from the CPU to the GPU when needed, such as in games. By comparison, the Scar 17 2020 is built on a 150-watt RTX 2080 Super, and I was curious to see how the lower power of the GPU would affect the 2021’s performance. We’ll be there soon enough.
According to information from Asus, in a future update, which will include a few different games, support for resizable BARs will be available on this gaming laptop. The BIOS of our test model does not allow you to change the size of the BAR.
In terms of RAM and storage options, the notebook still has two DIMMs and two M.2 SSD slots. Our device comes with 32GB of RAM in dual channel and half channel SSD. I was expecting something better given what we got with the low-end Asus TUF A15. Still, it worked consistently in our m tests without overheating or performance degradation during longer file transfers. However, this is only half the speed of high-end SSDs.
Accessing the components is pretty easy, just open the back panel and hold a couple of Phillips screws. Make sure you use the correct screwdriver head. These front screws are very weak and you risk damaging them and not being able to open the notebook. Also, be careful when lifting the bottom plate. It is attached to the motherboard with two ribbons that power the LED strips on the front panel. If you pull too hard, the connectors may come loose. In this case, you must put the connectors back in place.
Inside, you can see that Asus has increased the battery capacity to 90W and therefore removed one of the M.2 slots, leaving only two. Still, there’s a lot of unused space, especially under the keyboard and around the surprisingly small speakers, and that’s because the same design should fit the narrower Scar 15. In any case, Asus might have given this 17-inch model more powerful speakers, as some other manufacturers in this class do.
In addition to the specifications, Asus offers four performance profiles for the ROG Scar 17 G733QS :
- Quiet – quite loud, with limited speed and power for the CPU and GPU – dGPU is limited ;
- Performance – balanced profile with default CPU/GPU settings, center noise fan – GPU running at 115W and default clocks ;
- Turbo – High performance profile with increased CPU power distribution, faster fans and overclocked GPU (115-130W, +100MHz core/+120MHz memory).
- Manual – same as Turbo, but with the ability to adjust CPU power and GPU/clock power and manually create fan profiles based on temperature limits.
Turbo/Manual is only available with a connected laptop and is designed for gaming and other demanding tasks. Performance is an asset for all professions, while Silent is made for video and everyday light.
New this year, the Scar 17 completely shuts down both fans during the Silent profile as long as the CPU/GPU stays below 60 degrees Celsius, allowing for quiet operation on a daily basis. This is what you can expect in terms of performance and temperature for daily multitasking, browsing and video.
For more demanding work, we first test CPU performance by running the Cinebench R15 test 15 or more times per cycle, with a 1 to 2 second delay between each run.
The Ryzen 9 processor stabilizes at a continuous power of 75+W on the Turbo setting, meaning 4+GHz, temperatures of 90-92C, ~2200 points, and a fan speed on the head of about 44-45dB. No decrease in throttle performance was observed throughout the test period.
As for the power profile, the processor operates at temperatures of 65W and mid-80s for the first 8-10 cycles, with the fans running quieter, by a margin of 40-41 dB. After a while, the system decides to gradually limit the CPU power to about 45 W, which causes a slight drop in performance, but still leaves the CPU running in cooler mode at 70-75 degrees Celsius.
On Silent, the CPU operates at 54W for the first 2 or 3 cycles and then quickly stabilizes at ~45W with barely audible fans (up to 35dB) and average temperatures (high 70C). It delivers over 1,850 points, about 17% less than the noisier, hotter and more power-hungry Turbo profile.
Finally, depending on the power profile, processor performance stabilizes at ~45W on battery power, with consistently excellent scores around 1850+ points. Details below.
To put these results in perspective, here’s how the Ryzen 9 5900HX compares to a few other current AMD and Intel 8C/16T processors in this review:
- ~3-5% faster than the Ryzen 7 5800H in the Asus TUF Gaming A15;
- ~20% faster than the Ryzen 7 4800H in the TUF A15 2020, and 12% faster than the same CPU in the Legion Lenovo 5 ;
- ~15-20% faster than the low voltage core i9-10980HK in the Asus ROG Scar 15 and MSI GE66 Raider;
- 25+% faster than the Core i7-10875H in the ROG Scar 17 2020.
We then tested our results with a long Cinebench R20 shredding test and the dreaded Prime 95 in turbo profile. In Cinebench R20, the CPU stabilizes at 75+W in Turbo, and only around 54W in Prime95, with consistently lower temperatures of 70-75 degrees Celsius.
We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests with this laptop. The latest 3DMark runs the same test 20 times per cycle, looking for variations in performance and degradation over time, and this unit passed. We did not run Luxmark 3.1, which also loads the CPU and GPU fully simultaneously, as this test is no longer supported properly by the Ryzen 5000 platform.
We then ran all the tests and comparative analysis with the profile of the original turbo in Armoury Crate.
- 3DMark 13 – Shooting : 25096 (Graphics – 28617, Physics – 25901, Combined – 12745) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 7003 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 11121 (Chart – 11411, CPU – 9726) ;
- AIDA memory test64 : The writing: 40361 Mbps, Consider : 47468 MB/s, latency: 92.0 ns (not well supported) ;
- Engine Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 7406 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Environment 1080p : 19351 ;
- Handbrake 1.3.3 (encoding 4K to 1080p) : The average speed per second is 46.08 ;
- PassMark 10: Rating: 5160 (CPU tag: 24522, 3D graphics tag: 14114, hard drive tag: 25504) ;
- PCMark 10 : 7305 (Essentials – 10497, Productivity – 10323, Digital Content Creation – 9762) ;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1467, multi-core: 8296 ;
- CineBench R15 (best mileage) : Processor 2237 kb, single-core processor 235 kb ;
- CineBench R20 (best mileage) : Processor 5219 kb, single core processor 565 kb ;
- CineBench R23 (best mileage) : Processor 12940 kb, single core processor 1444 kb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 27.52 sec.
Compared to the i9 + RTX 2080 Super 2020 Scar 17 configuration, the 2021 update is about 10-20% faster on single-core and multi-wire CPU workloads and about 10-15% faster on GPU workloads. Not impressive, but not bad either when you consider that the 2021 model has a less powerful GPU and, as you’ll see below, is 4 to 6 dB quieter during demanding work and games.
We also ran some tests with the Silent Profile if you want to operate high loads with a low noise level (<39dB in most cases).
- 3DMark 13 – Shooting : 14145 (Graphics – 13800, Physics – 18900, Combined – 11888) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 4805 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 9115 (Chart – 9447, CPU – 7602) ;
- Engine Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 4796 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Environment 1080p : 8019 ;
- Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K encoding at 1080p): average 40.30 fps ;
- PassMark 10: Rating: 2467 (CPU tag: 21612, 3D graphics tag: 6299, hard drive tag: 26240) ;
- PCMark 10 : 6576 (Foundations – 9788, Productivity – 9165, Digital content creation – 8570) ;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1470, multi-core: 8169 ;
- CineBench R15 (best mileage) : Processor 1899 kb, single-core processor 232 kb ;
- CineBench R20 (best mileage) : CPU 4760 kb, single core CPU 560 kb ;
- CineBench R23 (best mileage) : Processor 12322 kb, single core processor 1421 kb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 29.88 sec.
We continue to see excellent results, with a near zero decrease in single-core tests and a 5-10% decrease in multi-threaded tests for processors. However, the GPU is ultimately limited to longer combination tests, which we’ll illustrate in detail when we get to the games section below.
Finally, in this Ryzen 9 configuration, in the Turbo and Silent profiles, we also ran some workstation-related workloads:
- Blender 2.90 – BMW Car Stage – CPU Computing: 3m 11s (Turbo), 4m 24s (Silencer) ;
- Blender 2.90 – BMW Car Scene – GPU Computing: 34s (CUDA), 15s (Optix) ;
- Blender 2.90 – Cool Scene – CPU: 8m 16s (Turbo), 12m 10s (Silent) ;
- Blender 2.90 – Cool Scene – GPU Computing: 2m 04s (CUDA), 53s (Optix) ;
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPU + GPU score: – ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax : 205.52 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Katia : 155.34 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo : 178.06 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy : 26.43 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya : 232.88 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical : 67.31 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase : 131.35 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX : 20.7 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW : 98.87 (Turbo).
And the new SPECviewperf 2020 test:
- SPECviewerf 2020 – 3DSMax : 137.65 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Katia : 66.93 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Creo : 85.9 (Turbo) ;
- SPECVIEWERF 2020 – Energy : 24.46 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Maya : 248.12 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Medical : 31.5 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SNX : 20.73 (Turbo) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SW : 176.16 (Turbo).
This upgrade to the Ryzen 9 is also slightly faster than the i9 2020 model in the Blender and Specviepwerf benchmarks on a heavy CPU, and about 10% faster than i7 8Core configurations. Nvidia’s GPU update shows its strengths in some graphics tests like 3DSMax or Swhecase.
Let’s look at some games. We ran a number of DX11, DX12 and Vulkan titles with the default Turbo, Performance and Silent profiles at FHD (internal monitor) and QHD (external monitor) resolutions. Note that Whisper mode is disabled in GeForce Experience for all of these tests; we plan to test it in a future article. Here’s what we got:
|AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
+ RTX 3080 Laptop 115+W
|FHD turbo||FHD performance||FCD Silence||QHD turbo|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|134 frames per second (99 frames per second or 1% less)||122 frames per second (75 frames per second or 1% less)||60 frames per second (58 frames per second, or 1% less)||118 fps -(84 fps – 1% low)|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|67 frames per second (37 frames per second – 1% drop)||65 frames per second (36 frames per second is 1% less)||54 frames per second (33 frames per second – 1% drop)||48 frames per second (33 frames per second – 1% drop)|
(DX 11, best preset appearance)
|112 frames per second (62 frames per second – 1% drop)||–||60 frames per second (58 frames per second, or 1% less)||113 frames per second (63 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)
|112 frames per second (84 frames per second – 1% drop)||111 frames per second (85 frames per second is 1% less)||60 frames per second (58 frames per second, or 1% less)||107 frames per second (61 frames per second – 1% drop)|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX AUS)
|76 frames per second (43 frames per second – 1% drop)||71 frames per second (41 frames per second – 1% drop)||56 frames per second (38 frames per second or 1% less)||61 frames per second (37 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
(DX 11, Ultra preset)
|200 frames per second (144 frames per second – 1% reduction)||195 frames per second (139 frames per second – 1% drop)||60 frames per second (60 frames per second is 1% less)||160 frames per second (116 frames per second, or 1% less)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)
|105 frames per second (67 frames per second – 1% drop)||102 frames per second (68 frames per second – 1% drop)||58 frames per second (37 frames per second – 1% drop)||78 fps (56 fps or 1% less)|
|Graf Raider Rise
(DX 12, very high preset, FXAA)
|134 frames per second (69 frames per second – 1% drop)||128 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% drop)||60 frames per second (56 frames per second or 1% less)||119 frames per second (61 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider
(DX 12, highest preset, TAA)
|115 frames per second (68 frames per second – 1% drop)||113 frames per second (64 frames per second – 1% drop)||60 frames per second (60 frames per second is 1% less)||98 frames per second (72 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Strange Brigade. (Vulcan, ultra-presumptuous)||189 frames per second (143 frames per second – 1% drop)||182 frames per second (137 frames per second, or 1% less)||146 frames per second (108 frames per second or 1% less)||69 fps (59 fps or 1% less)|
|Witch 3: Wild Hunting
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, Cut to 4)
|125 frames per second (95 frames per second or 1% less)||120 frames per second (93 frames per second – 1% reduction)||60 frames per second (60 frames per second is 1% less)||97 fps (76 fps or 1% less)|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recording with the Fraps counter/in game FPS in campaign mode ;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider Games – registered with the reference utilities enabled;
- Red Dead Redemption 2’s optimized profile is based on these parameters.
These are just the screening tests, and here are some results for RTX games. For some reason Metro Exodus crashed with the RTX settings, so we’re still at that point.
|Ryzen 9 5900HX + RTX 3080 Notebook 115+W||FHD turbo||FHD performance||FCD Silence||QHD turbo|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF)
|93 frames per second (72 frames per second – 1% drop)||89 frames per second (71 frames per second – 1% drop)||60 frames per second (56 frames per second or 1% less)||72 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% drop)|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, DLSS quality)
|59 frames per second (48 frames per second is 1% less)||56 fps (45 fps is minimum 1%)||48 frames per second (26 frames per second – 1% drop)||45 frames per second (31 frames per second – 1% drop)|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX High + DLSS)
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider
(DX 12, highest preset, TAA, RTX Ultra)
|80 frames per second (34 frames per second – 1% drop)||77 frames per second (32 frames per second – 1% drop)||59 frames per second (29 frames per second or 1% less)||67 frames per second (30 frames per second is 1% less)|
We see about 10-15% more visuals in games compared to the Scar 17 2021 on the RTX 2080 Super 150W, and ~20% more in Battlefield V with RTX On. A fair rise, but probably not as big as one would expect. Note that we tested the first drivers available as of January 2021, so performance may improve with future updates.
The HWinfo logs below show CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Battlefield V and Witcher 3 in different profiles.
This time we’ll start from the bottom. The Silent profile limits the frame rate to ~60 frames per second in most titles, which means a GPU clock of about 1 GHz and a temperature of 65-72 C, with the exception of titles like Strange Brigade or Cyberpunk. I don’t know how to increase this limit, but the profile as such allows stable performance with good temperature (up to 80C for both CPU/GPU) and quiet fans (up to 38-39 dB).
Switching to a power profile compromises CPU and GPU performance and timing. In this mode, the GPU is operating at its usual hours and at about 115 watts of power, with the fans running quietly at a head high of about 41-42 dB. All this translates into high temperatures: The average GPU was 80+ C in the games tested, while CPUs ranged from 85 C in Witcher 3 to 95 C in FarCry 5 and Battlefield V. Ouch. As with the TUF A15, performance gaming is hardly an option on this notebook due to the very high temperatures.
Switching to turbo mode increases fan power to 44-45 dB at the head end and activates Dynamic Boost, allowing the GPU to operate at up to 130W in some of the games tested. FarCry 5 or Battlefield 5 don’t seem to support Dynamic Boost, so the CPU and GPU are still very much in play in these games, with 95+ C for the CPU and ~80 for the GPU. Cyberpunk 2077 and Witcher 3 support Dynamic Boost, and in these games we see 85-90 degrees Celsius on the CPU and 80+ for the GPU.
Based on these tests, the 2021 Scar 17 works well with most of these AAA games. Dota 2 is still an exception as it is limited to 120 frames per second and is much more user friendly.
We encountered a similar temperature on the Scar 17 in 2020, but it was also much higher, with 50+ dB headroom on the turbo. However, with this model we found that lifting the unit off the table and encouraging better air circulation at the bottom had a significant impact on temperature and performance, so we continued to use this 2021 model.
Lifting the laptop doesn’t help the ROG Scar G733QS much, which is probably due to the fact that the fans don’t spin as fast on this series, but in our tests it still helps cool the CPU and GPU by 2 to 3 degrees. Despite this, the components still heated up to 85-90 C CPU and 78-80 C GPU.
Finally, here’s what happens when you play on an external QHD monitor, in Turbo mode, while the laptop is on a table or flipped over.
We will have to see if the Manual profile allows us to push the fans a bit further and lower the temperature (update, it does, but we are still testing this and will update in a separate article). I’m also interested in the CPU limitation and the addition of extra space for the GPU, which we will also test in a future update. So far we haven’t had time to do all the other tests.
Here are our key conclusions about the 2021 ROG Scar 17 model with Ryzen 9 5900HX + RTX 3080 115+W compared to the 2020 model with Intel i7/i9 processor and RTX 2080 Super 150W graphics.
- Model 2021 is about 10-20% faster on single/multi-threaded processor workloads;
- The 2021 model scored around 10-15% in GPU benchmarks and AAA competitions;
- RTX performance is improved by 15-20%;
- The CPU/GPU always runs faster than I would like with the Turbo profile;
- The performance profile is hardly an option for AAA games due to even higher temperatures;
- The Silent profile pushes the limit of 60 frames per second in most games, but with good thermal stability and quiet fans of <39dB ;
- The previous 2020 model was colder when lifted off the table, but it was also 4 to 6 dB louder, which is no small feat;
- The previous 2020 model again delivered the best performance in the Silent profile, with the GPU running at ~115W and temperature and noise levels still just under 40dB.
What do you think?
ASUS has slightly modified the thermal design of the Scar 2021 (Scar 17). I’m thinking smaller fans, but with a modified fan blade design, and a different thermal solution for the VRM, whose heat pipes don’t seem to be connected to the heat sink this time.
Asus also mentioned that they have equipped the AMD processor in this series with better MVRs and liquid metal, which they couldn’t do well before due to the more complex design of the processor compared to Intel’s options.
These small fans, combined with a quieter fan profile, are responsible for the high temperatures in the CPUs and production units. Of course, the 2021 Scar 17 is a much more user-friendly laptop, with 44-45 dB at head height in turbo mode, and you can use it without headphones if you’re alone in the game room. However, I’m not comfortable with a gaming laptop constantly running at 85-95 C on the CPU and 80+ on the GPU when playing AAA games. Of course they are at the expected temperature, and the Scar 17 is not stationary at all, but I would still prefer a temperature 5 to 10 degrees lower.
As for the outside temperature, it’s good: 30-40 degrees around the WASD area and 20-40 degrees around the arrows, even above 50 degrees Celsius in some places, which never happened on the 2020 model. This is again due to the slower rotation and therefore quieter fans in this 2021 update.
Besides gaming, this laptop is a real kid’s game to use in everyday life, whether for multitasking and browsing or streaming video. The 0dB technology used in this generation allows both fans to be completely turned off when the light is in use, as long as the equipment remains below 60 C, which is the case in most cases. Both run on batteries or are connected to the mains. I haven’t noticed…
*Daily use – stream Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, quiet profile, fan at 0 dB*Games – Quiet – play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, quiet profile, fan at 38-39 dB*Games – Performance – play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, 41-42 dB fan*Play – Turbo, on desktop – Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, 44-45 dB fan*Play – Turbo, on desktop – Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, 44-45 dB fan*Play – Turbo, on desktop – Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, 44-45 dB fan
For network connectivity, this device has Wireless 6 and Bluetooth 5 via the Intel AX201 chip, and so far only Gigabit Lan. Our review unit showed good wifi performance both close to the router and above 30 feet with obstacles in between.
The sound has been updated from the previous generation Scar 17. Model 2021 now has two speakers on the bottom and two additional tweeters via slots under the screen between the hinges.
The quality is pretty good for laptop speakers, although the lower speakers are smaller than I expected. Don’t expect a lot of bass, but overall I expect you can watch movies or play games with these speakers with ease. They also increase performance to about 82-84 dB at head height, with little vibration or distortion at higher volumes. Asus didn’t skimp on the headphone jack either, although I can’t find any details on the hardware used to carry the 3.5 plug, although I know it was a priority for them on previous ROG models. Something that needs to be investigated further.
I mean, the camera… Well, it’s still not there, and the external FHD webcam that Asus installs in some parts of the world with its high-end ROG laptops is not included here.
All 2021 ROG Scar models, 15 and 17 inches, come with a 90Wh battery, a welcome improvement over the 66W of previous generations.
Here’s what we got on our test unit in terms of battery life, with the screen brightness set to around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
- 11.5 W (~6-8 hours of operation) – Google Drive text editing, sleep mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 8.5 W (~10+ hours of use) – Full screen 1080p YouTube video in edge mode, silent mode, screen set to 60%, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 8W (~10+ hours of use) – Netflix full screen in Edge mode, Silent mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 14.5 W (~5-6 hours of operation) – Side View, Power Mode, 60% Screen, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 80 W (~1+ hour usage) – Games – Witcher 3, performance mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi ON, no fps limit.
These are solid results and much better than the results we achieved in our tests with the Scar 17 2020. In battery mode and iGPU mode with ActiveSync, the system automatically switches to 60 Hz, and the AMD platform displays surprisingly high efficiency at low load.
This ROG Scar 17 G733QS configuration comes with a 240W brick, smaller and lighter than the previous 280W model. The battery fills up in about 2 hours, with a fast charge during the first half hour, USB-C charging up to 100W is supported. You won’t be able to use your laptop in Turbo mode when it’s connected via USB-C, but these 100W are more than enough for daily multitasking and even occasional workloads when you don’t want to carry a heavier headstone on the road. The SUB-C charger isn’t included with this model, but Asus says you’ll be able to find a 100W PD charger from the ROG brand in most stores this year (we talked about it last year, too, but it wasn’t).
The Asus ROG 17 2021 scar is on the list in some parts of the world at the time of writing.
The display variant Ryzen 9 + RTX 3080 + 300Hz tested here is available in this country for 2,500 euros and in Germany for ~3,000 euros.
There’s no information yet on small GPU options or DHS 360Hz/QHD 165Hz panel configurations, so we’ll have to update them once they’re available.
Follow this link for the latest configurations and prices in your area at the time you read this article.
With AMD Ryzen 5000 hardware and Nvidia RTX 3000 graphics, the 2021 Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 is the most powerful full-size gaming notebook you can get right now, and for that alone it holds a lot of cards.
Compared to the previous generation, it’s quieter and more comfortable for everyday multitasking and occasional tasks, 10-20% faster for gaming and workloads, and maybe even faster for applications that can benefit from additional CUDA cores and vRAM GPU. Additionally, it runs much quieter than the previous generation when playing games, eliminating the need to wear headphones when playing, especially since Asus has also improved the speakers in this 2021 model.
But there is a catch, and for some of you this may be the deciding factor: CPU and GPU get uncomfortably warm in games. There may be ways to improve this temperature if you want to change the fan profiles and behavior of the CPU. We are still studying these changes and will update them in a future article, but in turbo we expect 85-95 degrees C on the CPU and 80+ C on the GPU with modern AAA titles.
Hardware-wise, the 2021 Scar 17 is more compact and lighter than the previous generation, slightly updated in appearance, has some interesting display options, including QHD 165Hz with 165Hz refresh and 100% DCI-P3 color, and updated inputs, with a larger control panel and mechanical keyboard. It’s not necessarily a positive improvement, the mechanical keyboards on laptops are pretty weird with their jumpy feedback and noisy click action, so you’ll have to try it to see how it works for you.
I miss other nuances in this series, like the awkwardly placed status LEDs or the dirty plastic inside, as well as the modern features that are still missing, like biometrics, camera and card reader. But essentially, it depends on how high the price is and whether or not you will respond to these high internal components.
Asus will offer a low-end Scar-17 configuration that starts with the RTX 3060 dGPU, and it might be better than this high-end configuration. I just hope they are available with a QHD display, this panel option would be a must for me if I had to choose the 2021 Scar 17.
As for the competition, there are no powerful 17-inch laptops based on the AMD 5000 platforms yet, so you’ll have to make do with Intel models. Among them, the Gigabyte Aorus and the MSI GE 76Raider will catch my eye, and you should pay attention to our upcoming articles (especially the 11th generation Intel hardware update later this year). In the meantime, if you’re ready for a smaller screen, these 16-inch Lenovo 5 Pro and Legion 7 should also be on your list.
This concludes our review of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733QS. I’ll go on for a bit, as we are testing more and trying to determine if we can define these terms correctly, so be sure to post your comments and questions below.
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Andrei Girbea, editor of Ultrabookreview.com. I’ve been involved in mobile computing since the 2000s, and you’ll find mostly reviews and detailed tutorials written by me here on the site.
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