Asus has revamped its flagship 17.3-inch gaming laptop since we last reviewed it. Besides a refreshed design, the ROG Strix Scar 17 (starts at $1,999; $2,499 as tested) packs the latest Intel “Alder Lake” Core i9 processor and Nvidia’s refreshed GeForce RTX 3000-series graphics, paired with a high-resolution screen and quiet cooling fans. Its most glaring omission is a webcam, but if you can live without that, this big-screener rolls out the red carpet everywhere else, even earning good marks in our battery life test. It’s our Editors’ Choice honoree among high-end 17.3-inch gaming laptops.
This Scar Cuts a Distinctive Design
The ROG Strix Scar 17’s hulking, edgy chassis pegs it as an archetypal gaming laptop. Traveling with this beast—it’s 6.4 pounds and measures 1.1 by 15.6 by 11.1 inches (HWD)—isn’t something you’ll want to do every day, and don’t forget to factor in another two pounds for its 280-watt power adapter. That said, its size isn’t necessarily a con; this laptop does have enough room for an expansive 17.3-inch screen, after all. It’s just something to realize going in.
RGB effects on the front and sides, and another strip under the screen’s bottom edge, virtually guarantee the ROG Strix Scar 17 will be seen. The ROG lid logo and the backlit keyboard are also RGB-infused. You can choose from preset lighting effects in the Asus Armoury Crate app or mix your own in Aura Creator. All the lighting can, of course, be turned off, but where’s the fun in that?
Build quality meets expectations. The lid is metal while the rest is thick and sturdy plastic. The chassis is chock-full of details, including a see-through diagonal on the right half that shows the internal frame. There’s also what Asus calls a customizable “armor cap,” the gray-colored, ROG-embossed piece at the back left corner of our unit. It slides off and can be switched out for other designs. Two armor caps are included, one opaque and one dark.
The keyboard includes a numeric keypad and even with these added keys, it still doesn’t span the entire width of the chassis. Key presses have a light, linear feel and ample travel.
This laptop uncommonly includes dedicated macro keys. Five are located at the upper left of the keyboard; they’re assignable in Armoury Crate. Meanwhile, the touchpad is plenty large and clicks satisfactorily.
The Display: Not Just Another 1080p Screen
Cinematic gaming is the ROG Strix Scar 17’s forte. Its expansive 17.3-inch screen has a native 16:9 QHD (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) screen resolution, which shows 50% more detail than FHD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel).
This screen combines a 240Hz refresh rate and Adaptive Sync for smooth, tear-free fragging. Picture quality is first-rate; our Datacolor SpyderX Elite measured 99% DCI-P3 color coverage and a 300-nit peak brightness. I’ve seen brighter screens, but this one couldn’t be called dim.
You also won’t be disappointed with the ROG Strix Scar 17’s quad speakers. Dolby Atmos tuning creates full, rich sound that’s good for gaming and music. As for the webcam, well, there isn’t one. It’s this laptop’s sorest omission, and in this age, it makes no sense. Plan to buy an external clip-on model. There’s no fingerprint reader, either.
Moving on, physical connectivity satisfies, starting on the rear with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, Thunderbolt 4, an HDMI 2.1 video output, and 2.5Gbps Ethernet.
I’m a fan of rear port selections since it keeps cables out of sight. The power adapter connects here, too. It has a right-angle connector that doesn’t stick out.
The remaining ports are on the left, which include a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and a headset jack. The sole feature on the right is Asus’s proprietary Keystone slot, a flash-drive-style module that stores your profile settings. The module is included in the box.
Scarring the Charts: Testing the ROG Strix Scar 17
The $2,499 ROG Strix Scar 17 seen and tested here, model G733ZW-XS96, has a 2.5GHz (5.0GHz Turbo) Core i9-12900H processor, an 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti graphics card, a 1TB SSD loaded with Windows 11 Pro, a MediaTek MT7922 card providing Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, and a one-year warranty. Our unit has 32GB of DDR5 memory, though production models have 16GB. (This laptop is user-upgradeable to 64GB via two 32GB So-DIMMs.) Asus lists other configurations starting at $1,999.99 on its website, including ones with AMD processors, though most aren’t currently available stateside.
Assuming you can find one in stock, the ROG Strix Scar 17 is fairly priced. The Alienware x17 R2 commanded $2,645 at this writing, with a lesser-clocked Core i7-12700H and a 165Hz FHD screen. The $2,449 Aorus 17 XE also sticks with a Core i7-12700H and an FHD screen. The screen is the bigger differentiator between the Asus and those models, though the Core i9-12900H has advantages over the Core i7-12700H besides slightly higher clocks, including virtualization support.
Speaking of “Alder Lake,” our desktop Core i9-12900K review is a must-read for background on Intel’s new hybrid architecture, which combines two different types of cores onto the same chip. The Core i9-12900H’s 14 cores are comprised of six Performance-cores and eight Efficiency-cores, and it can process 20 threads. Our benchmarks will show it’s a radical leap for laptop processing power over previous-generation AMD and Intel chips, which topped out at eight cores and 16 threads. (See our preliminary tests on laptop-grade “Alder Lake.”)
The ROG Strix Scar 17 also sports Nvidia’s refreshed RTX 30 Ti-series graphics silicon, specifically a GeForce RTX 3070 Ti with 8GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory. This implementation is rated for 125 watts of total graphics power (TGP) plus up to a 25-watt boost by enabling the laptop’s Turbo feature. (More on that in the benchmarks.) That’s a respectable amount of wattage for a laptop GPU. (See our primer on why GPU wattage matters.)
Last, the ROG Strix Scar 17’s support for DDR5 memory is noteworthy. Though Intel “Alder Lake” CPUs are also compatible with DDR4, DDR5’s higher memory bandwidth helps push performance limits in a high-end Core i9 machine like this.
Let’s move onto testing. I pitched some of the fastest gaming laptops we’ve tested against the ROG Strix Scar 17, including the Alienware x17, the MSI GE76 Raider, and the smaller but equally potent Lenovo Legion 7 Gen 6 powered by an AMD Ryzen HX-series chip. The Aorus 17 XE is the only other “Alder Lake” laptop we’ve tested to date. See their basic loadouts below.
Productivity and Content Creation Tests
Our first test is UL’s PCMark 10, which simulates a variety of real-world productivity and office workflows to measure overall system performance and also includes a storage subtest for the primary drive. The ROG Strix Scar 17 vied with the Aorus for top honors in the main test, almost doubling the 4,000 points we consider a sign of good productivity. It also did well in the storage test, thanks to its PCI Express 4.0 SSD. (Our review unit uses a Micron 3400 drive.)
Our other three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses that company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).
Our final productivity test is Puget Systems’ PugetBench for Photoshop, which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe’s famous image editor to rate a PC’s performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It’s an automated extension that executes a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters.
There was no catching the ROG Strix Scar 17 in these tests; its Core i9 and DDR5 memory commanded the field. Geekbench was its best showing, where it outscored the Aorus by 18% and the previous-generation silicon in the MSI by a whopping 57%.
Graphics and Gaming Tests
For Windows PCs, we run both synthetic and real-world gaming tests. The former includes two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for systems with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). Also looped into that group is the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which we use to gauge OpenGL performance.
Moving on, our real-world gaming testing comes from the in-game benchmarks of F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege representing simulation, open-world action-adventure, and competitive/esports shooter games, respectively. On laptops, Valhalla and Siege are run twice (Valhalla at Medium and Ultra quality, Siege at Low and Ultra quality), while F1 2021 is run once at Ultra quality settings and, for Nvidia GeForce RTX laptops, a second time with Nvidia’s performance-boosting DLSS anti-aliasing turned on.
The ROG Strix Scar 17 mixed in with the others in both synthetic and real-world gaming, suggesting that its GeForce RTX 3070 Ti is the limiting factor, not its CPU. That’s not a bad thing as, barring the Aorus, the others use the theoretically stronger GeForce RTX 3080. Informally, I ran Time Spy with the ROG Strix Scar 17’s Turbo mode engaged and saw a 7% gain (to 11,256 points). I’ll take that for pressing a button.
I also ran the gaming benchmarks (without Turbo) at the ROG Strix Scar 17’s QHD screen resolution, which you’d want to do for the sharpest picture. It was smooth sailing, averaging 183fps in Rainbow Six: Siege (Ultra), 62fps in Assassin’s Creed (Ultra), and 88fps in F1 2021 (Ultra).
As for thermals, the ROG Strix Scar 17 kept itself cool; this FLIR One Pro image was taken after an hour playing Cyberpunk 2077. The WASD key cluster didn’t exceed 100 degrees F. We prefer to see all surfaces at or below 110 degrees F.
Internally, my GPU-Z logs showed the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti hovering between 80 to 82 degrees C and the Core i9-12900H in the mid-70 degree C range, both acceptable. The GPU board power draw varied between 115 and 130 watts, jumping to 150 watts after I enabled the Turbo mode (as this laptop is advertised to do). The GPU ran slightly cooler in Turbo, around 78 degrees C, which makes sense since the fans run faster. The fans are impressively quiet either way; you could easily game on this laptop in a living room without disturbing others. That’s not a claim many gaming laptops can make.
Battery and Display Tests
PCMag tests laptops’ battery life by playing a locally stored 720p video file with screen brightness at 50% and audio volume at 100% until the system quits. Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting are turned off during the test.
We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its software to measure a laptop screen’s color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can show—and its brightness in nits (candelas per square meter) at the screen’s 50% and peak settings.
The ROG Strix Scar 17 trails the others in screen brightness, though it’s not dim as I noted above, and it has wider color coverage. What’s really impressive is that this big 17.3-incher gets over seven hours of battery life. Much credit for that goes to its use of Nvidia Advanced Optimus, which automatically switches to the Intel CPU’s power-saving integrated graphics while not gaming.
Esports players and anyone sensitive to input lag will appreciate that the ROG Strix Scar 17 has a MUX switch to disable Optimus. Optimus has the potential to create input lag since it sends the Nvidia GPU output through the onboard Intel GPU before it reaches the display; with the MUX switch toggled (through the Armoury Crate app), the Intel GPU is disabled and the Nvidia GPU outputs directly to the screen. Naturally, battery life will suffer like that, but you can easily re-enable Optimus if you plan to go unplugged.
One Tricked-Out Gaming Rig
Asus’s ROG Strix Scar 17 nails what a high-end gaming laptop should be. It has performance in abundance, thanks to its Intel “Alder Lake” Core i9 CPU, DDR5 memory, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Ti graphics. It also surprises with all-day battery life and quiet fans, and it excels just about everywhere else. If you can live without a webcam or are willing to use an external one, the ROG Strix Scar 17 is the high-end gaming laptop to beat.