Asus ROG Flow X16 (GV601RW) and ROG Strix Scar 17 SE (G733CX) First impressions

Asus ROG Flow X16 (GV601RW) and ROG Strix Scar 17 SE (G733CX) First impressions

Asus already sells a wide range of gaming laptops in India and it can be difficult to differentiate between all series and models. There’s the entry-level TUF series; ROG Strix models are for esports and everyday gaming; ROG Zephyrus models are sleek and powerful; and the relatively new ROG Flow series is for ultraportables. This company is no stranger to experimenting with form factors either. Today, we have early production units of two new Asus ROG gaming laptops that blur the lines between these categories a bit. When they launch in India later this year, they will give players new options. For now, it’s time to take a quick look at the new Asus ROG Flow X16 and ROG Strix Scar 17 SE.

Asus ROG Flow X16

After the ROG Flow X13 compact 2-in-1 ultraportable and Flow Z13 detachable tablet last year, Asus has now announced a sibling, the 2-in-1 ROG Flow X16. This new model doesn’t exactly fit the same mold – it’s much larger and more like a standard laptop – but it does offer a degree of flexibility that might appeal to people who want a powerful all-in-one gaming machine. It’s potentially more powerful and more useful, but it will still primarily appeal to a niche audience.

The ROG Flow X16 is relatively thin by gaming laptop standards at 19.4mm, but it feels very solid. It weighs 2kg and is wide enough for a 16-inch 16:10 screen. The body is wrapped in dark gray metal and the lid has an interesting diagonal rib pattern that makes it very easy to hold. A silver ROG plate in the lower left corner is the only branding you’ll see, and there are no RGB LEDs other than the keyboard backlight.

The power button is on the right side, so you can access it no matter how you’re holding or using ROG Flow X16. There’s no fingerprint sensor, but you do get an IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition. You’ll also get a decent number of ports, including a full-size HDMI 2.0b port, two USB 3.2 Gen2 (10 Gbps) Type-A ports, a Type-C (10 Gbps) port with DisplayPort 1.4, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card slot.

Most interestingly, this device has the same proprietary external PCIe connector as its smaller brother in the Flow series, allowing it to take advantage of Asus’ ROG XG Mobile external GPU and dock accessories. It’s unclear whether you want or need an external GPU, as you’re not limited to less powerful ones in the laptop’s body (more on that later), but you do have the option. Since this connector is built around the Type-C port standard, you can simply plug in another Type-C device in a snap.

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You can fold the screen all the way back and use the ROG Flow X16 as a tablet, but it will be heavy.

Coming to the display, which is one of the main draws, Asus offers a mini-LED option on the top-end variants. This is a 2560 x 1600 pixel 16:10 165 Hz panel with 100% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage and 512 zone local dimming. It is Dolby Vision and DisplayHDR 1000 certified, capable of a maximum brightness of 1100nits. It’s also a touchscreen, of course. In my brief stint with the ROG Flow X16, the screen’s contents definitely looked bright and vibrant. There’s Gorilla Glass for protection, but I found it extremely reflective under indoor lighting.

The keyboard doesn’t seem to have any layout issues. The arrow keys are compressed horizontally, but there is space around them. There are dedicated volume and microphone mute buttons, along with one that launches the ROG Armory Crate software. Key travel is surprisingly good, and the action is a little less crisp than I’m used to. The trackpad is quite large and does not have separate buttons.

You can fold the ROG Flow X16 into stand mode, with the screen close to you, or all the way back to transform it into a thick tablet. The screen flickers a little when touched with your finger. Unfortunately, this device doesn’t balance very well if you try to erect it like a tent. There’s a big vent on the back, which pushes air towards you in tablet mode. The ROG Flow X16 is too heavy to hold in one hand, and you might not find it comfortable if you’re trying to use it as a tablet while lying down or lounging on a couch.

It is also quite likely that heat will make certain types of tablet use situations more difficult, although this will only be evident after a thorough analysis. Asus says it used a new triple-fan cooling system, but the high-end components get very hot in confined spaces. ROG Flow X16 features an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU and your choice of GPUs up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, plus up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and up to 2TB of storage (with room for a second M.2 SSD).

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The XG Mobile connector (top) can serve as an extra USB Type-C port. Power button (bottom) is accessible from all positions

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 SE

Positioned as a more powerful option than the 2022 Strix lineup, the new ROG Strix Scar 17 SE is based on Intel’s new Core HX mobile CPUs. These are essentially repackaged and re-engineered desktop CPUs to work at up to 55W, allowing for more cores and higher sustained CPU speeds. The ROG Strix Scar 17 SE is clearly intended to be a desktop gaming laptop, but at least it can be moved around relatively easily.

This is a bulky gaming laptop by today’s standards, but what you get is absolutely top-of-the-line hardware, including an Intel Core i9-12950HX CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, 360Hz 1080p or 240Hz 1440p display, 64GB of DDR5 RAM, and 4TB of NVMe storage. Asus says its elaborate cooling system can handle a total of 175W of heat dissipation from the GPU plus 65W from the CPU while remaining silent.

Prices, when advertised, must be astronomical. Asus is clearly targeting the ROG Strix Scar 17 SE for buyers who want the most powerful gaming laptop on the market. These performance claims will have to be tested when we receive a unit to perform a full overhaul.

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Included UV torch will reveal patterns and symbols on the cap

In terms of looks, Asus has thrown a bunch of ideas into this laptop, and there’s a lot going on. Firstly, Asus has given the lid a UV-sensitive finish and buyers will receive a small UV flashlight in the box that will reveal a graffiti-like patch of neon symbols and some text on the lid. The images won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it can help you stand out if you’re playing in a dark-lit environment. The left side of the edge behind the hinge is a piece of semi-transparent plastic that can be peeled off and replaced – you get two alternate designs in the box, and you can 3D print your own. A notch on the right is meant to accommodate a ROG Keystone NFC tag that will come with retail units – this lets owners customize software settings such as performance profiles and macros, and acts as an encryption key to let you hide files on your SSD.

A portion of the keyboard deck is translucent and is separated by a white stripe with ROG logos running the length. You can see some of the laptop’s internal structure in the right kind of light, and the per-key RGB keyboard backlighting creates a stylish effect, but it’s also a little distracting. Speaking of RGB, a strip of light runs along the front of this laptop’s base, casting light onto your desk. The mirrored ROG logo on the lid has RGB lighting around the edges, which really looks cool. You’ll also find ‘MMVI’ molded into one of the rear exhaust vents, which is a nod to the founding year of the ROG brand. The combined effect of all these design touches is as unsubtle as it gets, but there must be people who only care about power.

asus rog flow x16 asus ndtv keys

RGB effects and partially transparent keyboard are part of Asus’ gaming aesthetic

The display is thankfully non-glare, but Asus has opted to forego a webcam entirely in order to keep the edges thin. The quad speakers should provide immersive sound for games and other content. The keyboard layout is comfortable and the arrow keys have room to breathe, although there’s a full number pad. You get Wi-Fi 6E along with a 2.5G Ethernet port and Thunderbolt 4, plus additional USB ports, HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack. The 330W power adapter is huge and heavy.

It’s too early to talk about the performance of the ROG Flow X16 and ROG Strix Scar 17 SE, and we don’t have pricing details for India yet either. It will be interesting to see how comfortable and practical both devices really are, when we do full reviews on shipping retail units. It remains to be seen if people want a bulky 2-in-1 that can play games and connect to an external GPU, or if there’s an upper limit on how much people will spend on high-end hardware. Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for the answers.

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