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Laptops

CES 2019: 17-inch Asus ROG Mothership is a powerful, detachable gaming laptop

The company that brought us the lift-up chassis to help dissipate heat says, "What the heck: Let's just stand the whole thing up."

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Sarah Tew/CNET

If you can't take the heat, get out of the clamshell.

That was part of the motivation behind Asus dramatically reimagining the design for its luggable 17-inch gaming laptop it revealed at CES 2019. The ROG Mothership (GZ700), in order to pack in the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, an overclocked Intel Core i9-8950HK and more. 

The Mothership takes some design cues from detachables like the Microsoft Surface, here standing tall so that it has airflow all around.  In theory, the positioning also decreases the amount of particulates that can enter the system. 

But at 10.4 pounds (4.7kg) -- we weighed it to check -- the Mothership is designed to travel and then park itself for a while, like its namesake. The term "desktop replacement" has fallen out of favor, but that's what it is.

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You can detach and fold the relatively comfy keyboard, which connects via Wi-Fi or wire rather than high-latency Bluetooth. Folding it saves desk space and gives you more placement flexibility. 

Asus says it designed it that way because people frequently attach a separate keyboard to their laptops. But a custom-chosen third-party keyboard is usually preferable if you have the option, anyway

The display can sit at three different angles with its Surface-like kickstand. It does the Surface one better, though, automatically kicking out when you, um -- dare I say, detach the saucer section? -- and touch down on the desk.

It also incorporates advanced connectivity -- 802.11ax Wi-Fi (aka Wi-Fi 6) and 2.5G Ethernet -- as well as a three NVMe SSD RAID 0 array for top-speed file operations. The screen is the 144Hz 1080p model that's become popular.

Whether or not you think the design is a little too radical or impractical, it's nice to see some real rethinking of the traditional laptop design, especially since thermals are getting pushed to the max when cutting-edge hardware's inside.

Of course, Asus is rolling out updates to many of its ROG laptop lines, most notably to add the mobile RTX graphics, faster memory and so on. That includes the new 17-inch model of in the Zephyrus Max-Q slim laptop line, the Zephyrus S GX701, and an even thinner version of its 15-inch model, the Zephyrus S GX531.

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