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Asus ROG goes all out with 2019 gaming laptop updates

When confronted by so many, the one with the prettiest lighting wins.


The ROG Mothership GZ700GX which debuted at CES is ready to land in stores.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Of all the manufacturers gearing up for today's launches of the ninth-gen Intel mobile Core processors and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 and 1660 Ti, none seemed busier than Asus

In addition to the usual revving of its gaming notebooks, the company introduced some new designs in conjunction with a new affordable G series, added some AMD Ryzen-based options and even busted out a concept model in conjunction with BMW Designworks.

Asus didn't provide much in the way of pricing detail or availability for the new systems, but there were a couple of exceptions: The updated ROG Strix G Hero III and Scar III start at $999 and the new ROG Zephyrus G GA502 will start at $1,199. (International pricing isn't yet available and configurations usually vary in other regions, which will affect prices.) Those are all available as of today. The rest have mystery pricing and are slated to ship before the end of June.

Specification highlights of the new laptops

CPU GPU Display
TUF Gaming FX505 Ryzen 7 3750H, Ryzen 5 3550H GeForce GTX 1650, 1660, 1660 Ti 15.6-inch 1080p 120Hz or 60Hz IPS
TUF Gaming FX705 Ryzen 7 3750H GeForce GTX 1650, 1660, 1660 Ti 17.3-inch 1080p 60Hz IPS
ROG Strix G Up to Core i7-9750H up to GeForce RTX 2070   15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz IPS; 17.3-inch 1080p 144Hz 100% sRGB IPS
ROG Strix G G531 (Scar III and Hero III) up to i9-9880H up to GeForce RTX 2070 15.6-inch 1080p 240Hz
ROG Strix G G731 (Scar III and Hero III) up to i9-9880H up to GeForce RTX 2070 17.3-inch 1080p 144Hz
ROG Zephyrus S GX502 Core i7-9750H GeForce RTX 2070 8GB, 2060 6GB 15.6-inch 1080p 240Hz or 144Hz IPS G-Sync
ROG Zephyrus G GA502 Ryzen 7 3750H GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GDDR6 15.6-inch 1080p 120Hz or 60Hz IPS
ROG Zephyrus M GU502 Core i7-9750H GeForce GTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 15.6-inch 1080p 240Hz IPS G-Sync
ROG Mothership GZ700GX Core i9-9980HK OC GeForce RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6 OC 17.3-inch 4K 60Hz IPS G-Sync 100% ARGB or FHD 144Hz IPS G-sync 100% sRGB
ROG G703 Core i9-9980HK OC GeForce RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6 OC 17.3-inch 4K 60Hz IPS G-Sync 100% ARGB or FHD 144Hz IPS G-sync 100% sRGB

ROG Face Off

This is the concept system Asus worked on with BMW Designworks Group. Asus says that a lot of what it learned during the exercise made its way into the new products. The inoperative model I saw didn't look like much. Based on the renderings provided by Asus, the lighting design and transparent window to view the internals turns it from a black-and-silver laptop with an Art Deco-ish look into a cool gaming system.


The Face Off concept under glass.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The ROG Face Off as it appears in Asus' renderings.



ROG Strix G, Hero III and Scar III

This is Asus' new meat-and-potatoes gaming system, with the Hero and Scar esports variations. Though there are some configuration and design differences, they all share the same DNA. And they're much sleeker looking than the models they replace, with the Hero III and Scar III physically differentiated from each other by color and pattern. The Hero is black with a brushed-metal texture, while the Scar is dark gray with a carbon-fiber pattern. And they all look much better than the models they replace.

Now playing: Watch this: Asus updates every gaming laptop it can think of

One of the enhancements for the Hero and Scar is the Keystone, a small key that plugs into the side of the system and uses NFC to provide access to profiles and an encrypted cloud drive. On the plain old Strix G, the Keystone slot is covered by a name plate.

The Strix G models use the airflow-visualizing design, which are integral to the Face Off concept. The new underglow lighting, which makes the laptop seem like it's floating a little off the desk, was the coolest thing I saw at Asus' press event. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate well in photos.


The ROG Strix G.

Sarah Tew/CNET

ROG Zephyrus S, M and G

Asus' ultraportable gaming line grows from two classes -- the top-end S and mainstream M -- to three, adding the thin-but-affordable G series. Its relatively inexpensive price comes from its components. It opts for a Ryzen 7 3750H, AMD's third-gen Zen 8-core mobile processor, and the new GTX 1660Ti as well as a 120Hz display. The Zephyrus S and G received generational updates.

ROG Mothership GZ700GX and ROG G703

The Mothership made a splash when it debuted at CES 2019 with its detachable-like design that lets you stand the 17.3-inch display section with a kickstand and pull off the keyboard to essentially turn it into a desktop system. Packed with the top-end components and available with one the new 100% Adobe RGB 4K displays that's recently entered production (as we saw with Acer's Concept D launch), it seemed great in theory. 

In reality, it seems a little too awkward for gaming and a little too cumbersome for creative work. And like its bulky clamshell alter ego, the G703, it uses dual-power connections as seen on the Area-51m, making it impractical at best.

TUF Gaming FX505 and 705

Finally, we get to Asus' true budget gaming laptops. Asus launched AMD CPU/AMD GPU versions at CES, but now it's offering models with second-gen AMD Ryzen 7 processors and the new Nvidia GPUs to keep their svelte prices. They've had a bit of a facelift, with thinner bezels and support for Asus' Aura RGB lighting, but nothing dramatic.

Update, April 24: Corrected error about the AMD Ryzen processors -- they are second-generation Zen architecture (Zen+), not third-.