Incredible gaming performance
Excellent keyboard RGB and lighting effects
Great port selection and layout
Screen isn’t particularly impressive
Mediocre battery life
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 features upgraded liquid metal on both the CPU and GPU, and a vapor chamber among other premium features.
There are two versions of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 available, with the only difference being the GPU. We tested the version with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 that retails for $3,500, while the other model features an RTX 4080 and retails for $2,900.
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 (2023) cost $3,499.
While the RTX 4090 listed on the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17’s spec sheet is sure to catch some eyes, the 16 core, 32 thread AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX CPU is truly what’s most impressive here. It didn’t ace every single test in our suite of benchmarks, but in many of our tests, it bested the competition by a wide margin.
Testing single-core performance in Geekbench 6, the SCAR 17 scored 2,743, higher than we’ve measured in any other recent gaming laptop. That said, looking at multi-core performance, it lost out to just one other laptop, the Intel Core i9-13980HX-powered Asus ROG Strix G18. While the SCAR 17 scored 15,499 on the Geekbench 6 multi-core test, the Strix G18 bested it with a score of 18,248.
Turning to Cinebench R23, the tables were turned. In the single-core test, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 narrowly lost out to the Strix G18, scoring 1,981 to the larger laptop’s 2,134. On the multi-core test, however, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 won easily, scoring 31,725 to the Strix G18’s score of 27,464.
Of course, when you stop looking at benchmarks and start playing actual games, the mobile RTX 4090 lurking under the hood makes a big difference. Combined with the power of the AMD Ryzen 9 processor, we saw framerate numbers not seen in other gaming laptops. As with the benchmarks, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 didn’t top every list, but it won out in many of them.
In Cyberpunk 2077’s benchmark test, running on ultra settings at 1080p, the SCAR 17 topped the list of gaming laptops with an average framerate of 149.75 fps. Even more impressive was how little the framerate dropped when ray tracing was enabled. In the ultra RTX mode, the Asus topped our results with an average framerate of 98.25 fps.
While Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an older game, it still serves as an effective benchmark, and one that was easily topped by the SCAR 17. This laptop completed the benchmark on highest settings at 1080p with an average framerate of 205 fps, 40 frames faster than the next closest competitor.
To make sure you get to enjoy every single frame as it’s delivered to you, the SCAR 17 includes a 1440p display with a 240Hz refresh rate. Of course, an uncapped framerate can create a mess of screen tearing if left unchecked, so the display also supports G-Sync to sync the refresh to the frames being delivered.
The USB-C ports also support DisplayPort-out and G-Sync, so this remains true if you want to plug into your gaming monitor or TV over HDMI for some big screen gaming.
The SCAR 17 is powerful enough out of the box, but if you’re looking for every advantage you can get, the included Armory Crate software will let you overclock even further.
Here you can enable Turbo mode, which delivers a full 55 watts of power to the CPU and 175 watts to the GPU, super charging your gaming performance. In our tests, the system remained perfectly stable, though the fan noise did kick up slightly. You can push things further within the Armory Crate software in Manual mode, though you may encounter system stability issues.
For at least a few years now, Asus’s gaming laptops have had roughly similar keyboards. The keys on the ROG Strix SCAR 17 offer a decent feel, with longer travel than you get on many productivity laptops, but a soft feel on bottoming out. This will likely feel mushy to some, but the keys have always felt responsive enough to me.
The layout, on the other hand, may take a little getting used to. This laptop offers a squished numpad. As a result, the typing area of the keyboard is set slightly off to the left. If you’re used to a 13-inch or 15-inch laptop with the keyboard centered, this can take some getting used to.
The standard sized touchpad is similarly offset, which can be more of an issue than the keyboard when it comes to getting used to the feel of the ROG Strix SCAR 17. I became accustomed to the layout much faster than I had guessed I would, and I imagine that this will be the case for most people. Fortunately, the touchpad features great palm rejection, which is good because the touchpad is set off to the left enough that accidental triggers while typing could be a problem otherwise.
If you’ve used another Asus ROG series laptop in the past few years, you likely have a good idea what the touchpad feels like. Assuming you haven’t, it’s smooth for pointing, and very effective if you like tap-to-click, as it’s good at rejecting accidental taps. If you’re a press-to-click type of person, it doesn’t feel as great, but it’s still plenty usable.
The vast majority of laptops, gaming-focused or otherwise, don’t put much on the back of the unit aside from maybe a vent. This may be due to the fact that removeable batteries often occupied this space but they aren’t typically found in many modern laptops, which means this area is often wasted.
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 isn’t the only modern laptop to fill that space, but it has the vast majority of the ports on the back. Here is where you’ll find both USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, as well as the HDMI 2.1 and Ethernet ports. The power connector is also found here, which is smart given the right-angled design of the barrel plug, which would be awkward on either side.
The left side holds a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 type-A ports. This is handy as you’ll typically want to plug in USB-A peripherals like mice or gaming controllers on the side. On the other hand, the right side of the laptop is empty, save for a large vent. Fortunately, thanks to the design of the vapor chamber, you won’t feel any hot air while using an external mouse there.
Speaking of temperatures, the SCAR 17 also handles thermals surprisingly well, beating the SCAR 18 with a maximum CPU temperature of 95.1C to the SCAR 18’s 96.08C while under load in our benchmarking tests. Chassis temperatures were nearly identical, with the SCAR 17 measuring 36.5C and the SCAR 18 coming in at 36.7C.
Like many of Asus’s gaming-focused laptops, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 features programmable per-key RGB lighting. Out of the box, this comes in the form of a shifting rainbow pattern that sprawls over the keyboard.
Using the Asus Armory Crate software, it’s easy to choose from multiple preset lighting patterns and effects. If you like a more minimalist layout, it’s easy to set the entire keyboard to a single color. On the other hand, if you want more outlandish effects, the Asus Aura Creator software lets you create your own color patterns and effects.
Asus doesn’t just leave the lighting effects to the keyboard, as there is also an RGB light bar on the front of the chassis. In many cases, this mirrors the rough layout of the colors on the keyboard.This is also customizable through the included Asus software.
To show you what the hardware is capable of, Asus has included a few fun animations out of the box. For example, the light bar pulses red during charging to let you know that it’s plugged in. Shutting down the computer, the keyboard and light bar do a great job of mimicking a computer going to sleep after a hard day’s work.
Wrapped in a robust milled aluminum chassis, sporting configurable RGB lighting on the bottom of the chassis and keyboard per key.
While the display here has its positives, like the 240 Hz refresh rate and G-Sync support, not everything is wonderful. The brightness leaves something to be desired, maxing out at just over 350 nits in our tests. Unless you take the laptop outside, that’s bright enough, but considering the Nebula HDR displays that Asus is using on other models, this is slightly disappointing.
Black levels are decent, but nothing special. This means that the overall contrast isn’t great, measuring around 980:1 at full brightness, and around 1000:1 at half brightness. This isn’t unusable by a long shot, but it’s not as impressive as the rest of the machine considering 1000:1 is standard for IPS panels.
On the other hand, colors are handled relatively well. Color coverage measured 99.8% for sRGB and 98.9% for DCI-P3. Adobe RGB wasn’t quite as close at 84.1%, but this is still a decent display for video or photo work.
While the brightness may be unimpressive on paper, the screen works well. In my office, I never found myself wishing for higher brightness, and even in darker rooms, I kept the brightness higher than I typically do on a laptop.
Asus is equipping all of its 2023 ROG laptops with a 90Wh battery, which means that results are going to vary vastly from model to model. While the 2023 Asus ROG Strix G18 has impressive battery life for a gaming laptop, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 falls into much more typical gaming laptop territory.
In our tests, the SCAR 17 managed just four hours and 26 minutes on a single charge. This wasn’t testing gaming performance, mind you, but more the average ways you’d typically use a laptop: browsing, checking email, and watching videos. If you’re gaming on the battery, you can expect a lower time overall.
Of course, in testing the battery capacity, we disabled some of the power-saving features of the Asus Armory Crate software that comes preinstalled on the ROG Strix SCAR 17. This more aggressively pushes your laptop into hibernation when you’re not using it, which means you shouldn’t need to worry about coming back to your laptop and finding it completely dead.
Since this is a gaming laptop first and foremost, you’ll likely want it plugged in most of the time for performance reasons anyways. The laptop automatically caps the refresh rate of the screen to 60Hz on battery power, so you need to be plugged in to take advantage of the higher frame rates available.
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 features an ultra-fast QHD 240Hz/3ms panel and support Dolby Vision HDR, and Adaptive-Sync.
If you’re looking for the closest you can get to desktop PC performance in a gaming laptop, this should be on your short list. It’s not the only option you’ve got, as other options like the Asus ROG Strix G18 have better battery life and a nicer display. That said, the power available for the money here is impressive; other RTX 4090 laptops, like the Razer Blade 16, can push $4,000 or more.
Not everything is great, but for the most part, it all evens out. The display brightness is simply okay, but color accuracy is good and the 240Hz refresh rate and G-Sync support are key for gaming. Similarly, the battery life is surprisingly short, even when you’re not gaming, but given the gaming focus of the laptop and the 6.61-pound weight, you’ll likely spend most of your time plugged in anyway.
No matter how you look at it, spending over $3,000 on a laptop isn’t an easy decision. That said, looking at the hardware inside the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17, it’s a decent value even if it may not be a bargain. This is where the powerful Ryzen chipset pays off; for an Intel-powered laptop with this kind of horsepower, you’d find yourself spending much more.
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 is a powerful gaming laptop that offers impressive performance thanks to some of the best components currently available.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician. While he’s been writing about technology for more than 10 years, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time he has spent enamored with tech. When he’s not testing gadgets, he spends most of his time in Ableton Live.
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