Asus ROG G703GI

The Asus ROG G703GI is the second generation of the Asus ROG G703, a monstrous gaming laptop that impressed us with its brilliant performance and solid build quality, yet suffered from a bulky design, high price tag and poor battery life.

With the ROG G703GI, Asus has boosted the hardware further, making it an even more formidable gaming machine.

However, while these boosted specs enable it play the latest games better than ever before, it could also exacerbate the issues the previous generation of the G703 suffered from, especially in the price and battery life department.

Price and availability

The Asus ROG G703GI is available in a number of configurations, with the options differing slightly depending on which country you buy it in.

In the US there's the G703GI-XS74, which comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H Processor, 17.3-inch 1080p G-Sync display, overclocked Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, two 256GB PCIe SSDs and a 1TB hard drive. This costs $3,499.

Then there’s the G703GI-XS98K, which comes with the same spec, but with an Intel Core i9-8950HK processor and a 2TB hard drive for $3,699.

At the top of the range is the G703GI-XS99K, which has the same spec as the XS98K but with 64GB of RAM and three 512GB PCIe NVMe SSDs. This version costs $4,999, and it’s the model we have in for review.

In the UK the range starts with the G703GI-E5005R, which comes with a 1080p screen, Intel Core i7-8750H Processor, 32GB DDR4 RAM, two NVME M.2 SSDs, 1TB hard drive and an Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card, and costs £3,199.99.

There's also the G703GI-E5088R, which comes with a six-core Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, with the rest of the spec the same as above, and a price tag of £3,499.99.

These are incredibly pricey machines, then, putting them in a similar price bracket as the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 and the Razer Blade Pro. The sting is taken out of the price a little by the inclusion of a gaming backpack, headset and mouse, but this is still an eye-wateringly high price tag, and one the Asus ROG G703GI will have to work hard to justify.

Asus has also told us that the original version of the G703 is sold out in the UK and there are no plans to bring more out, so the Asus ROG G703GI is essentially replacing the older model, and we imagine it's a similar story worldwide.

In the US the Asus ROG G703GI comes with slightly better specs than the top-end model in the UK. We're waiting on configuration and pricing details for Australia.

Design

The design of the Asus ROG G703GI is pretty much identical to the ROG G70, so expect a striking ‘metal armor’ design that’s big and bulky; this is no slimline MaxQ laptop like the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501. 

Measuring 425 x 319 x 51mm and weighing 4.7kg, the Asus ROG G703GI is a laptop that definitely falls into the ‘desktop replacement’ category, which means it’s not that much more portable than a desktop PC, although it is slightly thinner and lighter than the G703. 

The large 17.3-inch screen helps to make this a big, heavy beast of a laptop, but it’s a price many may be willing to pay for immersive large-screen gaming experiences.

The brushed aluminum casing feels solid, and gives the Asus ROG G703GI a premium look that tells you its owner takes gaming very seriously. As with the G703 there's an ROG logo on the back that glows when the laptop is in use, along with a backlit keyboard that can be set to display a range of lighting configurations.

The keyboard itself is excellent, with responsive-feeling keys that have plenty of travel (2.5mm to be exact) and which respond with a satisfying ‘click’ when pressed, similar to a mechanical keyboard. The keyboard on the G703 was one of the best we'd used on a gaming laptop, so we’re pleased to see it included in its successor.

The touchpad is slightly offset to the left of the ROG G703GI’s body, but it feels natural to use there, and again it's quick and responsive. Of course, for gaming you’ll want to use a separate gaming mouse.

At the top of the keyboard are a set of unique function keys which adjust the volume and mute or unmute the microphone. There's also an ‘Aura’ button, which brings up the ROG Aura software for customizing the RBG lighting. Next to this is a button sporting the Xbox logo, which opens up the Game Bar feature in Windows 10, enabling you to easily configure your game and set up streaming. 

There's also a button with a camera logo, which launches the popular XSplit Gamecaster software for streaming gameplay, and a button with the ROG logo, which brings up Asus’ Gaming Center software for system maintenance and overclocking. If you use any of these services or features regularly, these buttons will be a great addition, but if you don’t then they're going to be pretty useless. There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to set the buttons to launch other tasks or software, which is a shame, but at least they don’t take up too much space if you’re not going to use them.

Build quality is excellent, so if you do lug the Asus ROG G703GI around you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it getting damaged, which is just as well considering the price. The bulky size also allows for a large range of ports, including a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB 3.1 ports, a mini DisplayPort, HDMI, SD card reader and Ethernet port. That's a huge amount of connectivity for a laptop, with the Ethernet port an essential component for network play (of course, if you want to go wireless there’s a robust 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection as well).

There are also two power ports to plug in the two (large) power supplies, and these end up often being quite inconvenient. You need to plug both into the Asus ROG G703GI for it to charge, so it means lugging them around with you and looking for two free plug sockets wherever you use the laptop. It’s necessary considering the power-hungry innards of the laptop, but it is annoying.

Considering the price and specifications of the Asus ROG G703GI we were hoping for excellent results in terms of performance, and in both our benchmark testing and day-to-day use we were very impressed with how the laptop performed.

This is thanks to the recent Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, which is combined with the ageing, yet still very competent, Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card. 

The G703GI recorded some of the best results we’ve seen from a gaming laptop, managing 101 frames per second in Middle Earth: Shadow of War with the graphics settings at ‘Ultra’.

This is a very graphically-intensive game, so for the laptop to be able to achieve such high frame rates is testament to the high-end components Asus has packed into it. It also handily beats the MSI GS65 Stealth, and improves on the previous generation’s Asus ROG G703 in the performance stakes as well.

If you want to play games at full visual fidelity, and even at 4K resolution if you plug it into a TV, then the Asus ROG G703GI is definitely worth looking at. Even if you stick to the built-in 17.3-inch 1080p screen, games look fantastic, especially when you whack all the graphics bells and whistles to the max. The display supports a 144Hz refresh rate and G-Sync, which makes gameplay feel smooth and responsive, with no stuttering or screen tearing.

When we used the Asus ROG G703GI for tasks other than gaming we found that the performance was good, although not as impressive. The large amount of super-fast NVMe PCIE SSD storage space enables Windows 10 to load quickly, but it sometimes felt a little laggy in use. 

We’d put this down to the large amount of extra software that comes installed with the PC, which makes it feel a little bloated at first. However, once you let the laptop ‘bed in’, and remove the software you don’t want to use, performance is much better. Of course, it’s also worth noting that this is a laptop you’re going to be mainly gaming on, and in that area it excels.

There are prices to pay for this level of performance, however, and whether or not you think they're worth paying will determine if the Asus ROG G703GI is for you. There’s the monetary price of course, and, as well as being large and chunky the Asus ROG G703GI can also get quite loud when gaming, and even occasionally during less intensive tasks, as its fan whirrs in order to keep the powerful components inside cool.

Battery life

Gaming laptops aren’t known for their long battery life – although some of the newer, slimmer, laptops are trying to buck that trend – and with a gaming laptop as big and beastly as the Asus ROG G703GI it’s no surprise that the battery life is pretty slight.

Having said that, it may surprise you to learn just how quickly the battery life depletes. In our own battery life test, playing a 1080p video file on repeat until the battery dies, the Asus ROG G703GI only lasted one hour and 53 minutes, which is less than the running time of many movies. So don’t expect this to be a laptop you can happily match movies on without it being plugged in.

When it comes to the more strenuous task of playing games the battery depletes even more quickly, and in the PCMark 8 battery life benchmark test, which replicates medium-to-heavy use such as making video calls, browsing the internet and word processing, the battery again drained quickly, lasting just an hour and a half.

In short, this is a laptop that needs to be plugged in almost constantly, and as we mentioned earlier it needs two power supplies to properly charge the battery. The good news is that the battery does at least charge quickly.

We liked

The Asus ROG G703GI is one of the most powerful gaming laptops we’ve ever used. The addition of a new Intel Core i9-8950HK processor gives it a noticeable performance boost over its predecessor, and the ability to play the latest games at the very highest graphical settings is mightily impressive.

Build quality is also very good, and there’s an excellent array of connectivity ports.

We disliked

There are two major issues we have with the Asus ROG G703GI, and they're both pretty much unavoidable. First of all, the high price makes this one of the most expensive gaming laptops you can buy. This will instantly rule it out for the majority of people. 

It also means that, even with graphics card prices remaining high thanks to cryptocurrency mining, it's still more affordable to build your own desktop gaming PC which equals, or even surpasses, the power of the ROG G703GI.

Of course, you don’t get the portability of a laptop with a desktop PC, but that brings us to our other issue: the battery life of the Asus ROG G703GI is incredibly short, which means you’ll pretty much always need to be tethered to a power supply (or two).

Final verdict

The Asus ROG G703GI is easily one of the most powerful gaming laptops we’ve reviewed. Gaming performance, even playing some of the latest games at maximum graphical settings, is superb, and you shouldn’t have to worry about upgrading for a very long time. It will also handle virtual reality easily.

It is very expensive, however, which will put many people off. There are a number of configurations that vary in price, so you may find a version of the ROG G703GI that suits your budget, but it'll still cost you quite a bit.

It also needs to be plugged in almost constantly which, along with the size, means it’s not that portable. However, if you need a laptop that can handle the very latest games without breaking much of a sweat, and which can be transported more easily than a desktop PC (for example to gaming events and competitions), then the Asus ROG G703GI could prove well worth the hefty investment.

Matt Hanson
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