The Asus ROG GX700 is an impressive feat of engineering. But, like the concept cars to be found at auto shows, it is wholly impractical, even for the most hardcore gamer.
This 17-inch gaming laptop is packed with desktop-grade components instead of notebook parts that often sacrifice performance for power efficiency.
This is rare, but not unheard of. For instance, the latest Aftershock Titan has the same desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics chip as the GX700.
But the GX700 takes it further with an external liquid cooling dock that cools the laptop's processor, memory and graphics chip, enabling Asus to run them at higher- than-usual clock speeds.
Inside the dock are cooling fans, radiators and a pump that circulates the coolant within the laptop when connected. Asus says there is minimal leakage of the coolant, which means that you do not need to replenish it often, though you will eventually need to send the laptop in for maintenance.
With the dock attached, the laptop feels cool to the touch, unlike other gaming laptops. The dock's fans are audible, but not unduly loud. The preloaded Asus Gaming Centre app reported that the processor was relatively cool at around 74 deg C, while the graphics chip was at 55 deg C during an intense gaming session. Of course, the laptop can run without the dock, but it will not be as fast or as cool.
Together, the laptop and its cooling module weigh 8.4kg. Add the cables and the two power adapters and the entire setup is close to 10kg. Because it would be impossible to fit laptop and dock into a bag, Asus ships this product in a trolley case.
Attaching the laptop to its dock is quite an experience. First, you align two pins on the dock with two holes at the bottom of the laptop. Then, press down on the large metal switch to lock the dock to the laptop. If done correctly, it prompts a loud beep to sound.
The GX700 lives up to its hype. In the 3DMark benchmark, it scored 6,029 for the Fire Extreme segment, compared with 5,829 for the Aftershock Titan 2016.
Both laptops are closely matched in gaming performance because they use similar graphics chips. But the GX700 fares better in system benchmarks because it has more memory.
The GX700 has a remarkably fast solid-state drive, delivering the fastest sequential read/write speeds that I have seen, though its impact is mainly limited to file transfers.
With its desktop graphics chip, the GX700 can run games at 4K display resolutions. Unfortunately, its screen resolution is only 1,920x 1,080 pixels. For a system that costs more than $6,000, this seems an oversight. To be fair, Asus does offer a 4K display option, but in other markets. The screen does have excellent viewing angles and, more importantly, supports Nvidia's G-Sync technology that reduces screen tearing and stutter in games.
Once you get past the novelty of that cooling dock, the GX700's flaws are readily apparent.
It is too unwieldy and too expensive. For the same price, you can buy a gaming desktop PC and a gaming laptop - and still have change.
An impressive showcase of Asus' engineering chops, but the GX700 is simply too impractical, even for its target gamer audience.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6820HK (2.7GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 8GB GDDR5
RAM: 32GB DDR4
SCREEN SIZE: 17.3 inches, 1,920x 1,080 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 3xUSB 3.0, USB 3.1 port, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks
BATTERY: 93 watt-hour
VALUE FOR MONEY: 1/5
BATTERY LIFE: 1/5
This article was first published on February 10, 2016.
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