Review: Asus ROG GL702ZC

Tom Allen
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Review: Asus ROG GL702ZC

Asus has gone pure AMD in this heavy gaming laptop, but what does it bring to the table?

Asus' first forays into the quad-core space came with Intel at IFA 2017, where it launched a brand new range of gaming notebooks using the new eighth-generation processors. A few months later the company developed its first AMD models using the new Ryzen 7 processors, and I was able to bag the GL702ZC to review over the Christmas period.

Unlike the outstanding ROG Zephyrus, which we reviewed last year, the GL702ZC is only portable in a technical sense, in that you can unplug it and move it around; it's large and heavy enough that you won't want to do so every day.

The laptop uses the Ryzen 7 1700, an eight-core CPU that performs well in multi-thread tasks and is unlocked for overclocking. It is ran very well in everyday work and gaming, but slowed down when I used it a for more intensive task (running the SimulationCraft programme).

More important - to gamers, anyway - is the desktop-class GPU, and that's AMD as well, making the GL702ZC the first all-AMD gaming laptop that we've seen in years. In the past, vendors have avoided using the company's mobile processors due to performance and power concerns, but AMD seems to have left that behind with its RX580.

The GPU supports AMD's anti-tearing Freesync technology, which is great for fast-paced games. While the sample that I used was locked at 60Hz, Asus also has a 120Hz model, where Freesync will be much more noticable.

The laptop scored 3,735 in 3DMark's Time Spy benchmark and 9,563 in the FireStrike benchmark - both just slightly under the generic ‘Gaming Notebook' benchmark (Core i7-6820HK/GTX 980M). The Time Spy mark broke down to 3,481 for graphics and 6,385 for the CPU, the latter of which is actually better than the high-end Zephyrus.

I saw a consistent 50fps during FireStrike and 20-30fps during Time Spy. These are, of course, designed to tax the maximum performance of a system, so you can be sure of seeing higher figures during ‘real world' gameplay.

The display is a comfortable 17.3 inches, although resolution is only 1920 x 1080 on both the 60Hz and 120Hz models, which feels a bit low for a modern machine. Still, you're unlikely to notice much of a difference, and high resolutions can be supported on external displays through the HDMI and Mini DisplayPort outputs.

On the subject of ports, there's only one combined audio jack for microphone and speakers, which means you'll need to make a decision if you have a headset with a split cable: do you want to hear well but sound like you're in a wind tunnel, or vice versa?

Another minor but gameplay-affecting point of contention I have is the ROG key, to open the Gaming Center; this can show all sorts of detailed system information, like temperature and drive status, without having to download a third-party tool like Speccy. It's a great idea, but the key's position next to backspace means that you're going to hit it in the middle of a gaming session, launching a new full-screen programme. Luckily, the key can be disabled.

Being able to track temperature is a good thing, as this machine runs hot. After 15 minutes of YouTube videos, while the  CPU and GPU were only approaching 70°, the middle of the keyboard was getting uncomfortable to touch. Scorched palms would be more of a problem than sweaty ones during a long gaming session.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, Asus should if nothing else be applauded for committing to AMD with the GL702ZC, which few companies are doing at the moment. The benefit shows up immediately on the price front: although it retails for £1,600, the laptop can be found on Amazon for prices starting at £1,450 - less than £100 per CPU thread.

The laptop might not suit everyone - I'd have liked to see the option of Geforce graphics and/or a higher-resolution display - but if you're looking for a machine that can handle a mix of gaming and compute-intensive work without breaking the bank, give it a try.

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