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The ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT is a portable, nearly petite gaming laptop that is one of the best cases we’ve seen to date which proves you don’t always have to go big if you want a powerful gaming rig that follows you on the go. It is one of the lightest ultrabooks. But will the extremely light profile of the ROG keep it from competing with its bigger cousins when it comes down to the raw specs of graphics, speed, or responsiveness?
Read on in my ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT review to find out why most people use this top-class gaming laptop.
Price: $1,599.99 on Amazon
Model #: GL502VT-DS74
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
Unlike other entries in this category, (namely the MSI GT80S), which have absolutely no problem tipping the scales in favor of more power, the ASUS GL502VT is built primarily for portability first, and power second. This is a laptop that’s focused on staying as thin and light as possible, all while still providing a reasonable amount of punch when it comes down to playing your favorite games on the go.
Related: You may also read the Asus Rog Strix Scar III G531GW review
Weighing in at a little less than 5lbs and just 23.5mm thick, the GL502VT is far and away the lightest and thinnest gaming laptop we’ve tested. The case itself is a beautiful blend of sturdy plastics and brushed, anodized aluminum on the shell and inside the case. This is also where you’ll find the red-accented keyboard complete with customizable backlight LEDs, as well as ASUS’ quintessential ROG logo in the bottom right corner. Overall, even though the bright orange may not exactly be to my taste, I’m such a huge fan of the small form-factor and portability that all my other concerns quickly melt away as soon as I go to pick it up and stash it in a sidebag or backpack and feel just how impossibly light it is on the shoulder.
Related: Find more innovative devices in our Asus Rog Mothership GZ700GX review
ASUS, having gotten wise to the public pushback on bloatware in new laptops, has kept the added software on the ROG Strix GL502VT to the bare minimum. Outside of the standard ROG Gaming Center which lets you choose between different cooling/overclocking profiles depending on the game you play, the only other inclusions we found on first booting up the machine were WebStorage (free cloud options) and EyeCare, which takes some of the harsh edge off the blue light of the laptop screen in favor of a warmer, orange temperature for late-night browsing sessions.
The version of the GL502VT we tested came with Nvidia’s 6GB version of the popular 970M chipset, alongside the “so common it’s almost annoying” 6th-gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6GHz processor. Other additions include a 128GB SATA SSD, a 1TB HDD for storing all your games, and 16GB of SDRAM.
They scissor-switch red-backlit keyboard was both comfortable type on, as well as highly-responsive during the heat of multiplayer battles. ASUS even went as far to place red highlights on the WASD keys, just in case you ever forget where they are in the dark. The included trackpad was large enough to be comfortable during daily browsing, responsive, and smooth to the touch for when we used it as a replacement for a gaming mouse.
Connectivity options on the ROG GL502VT were relatively standard, with three USB 3.0 slots, mic/headphone in/out, one HDMI 2.0 slot, a mini-DP out, a single RJ45 LAN jack, one Thunderbolt 3, and an SD card reader.
Like pretty much every laptop out there (gaming or otherwise), while the onboard ICEpower speakers were fine for light watching and gaming, if you had to put up with them for an entire movie it wouldn’t be long before the tinny, distant lack of bass started to wear your nerves thin.
Some of the scores we achieved during testing (namely the Witcher 3 and Geekbench results) are curious considering that the Strix GL502VT contains many of the same specs as other gaming laptops we’ve reviewed. We imagine this might have to do with the ASUS’ slimmer profile, which reduces the size of the battery and increases the need for efficiency over raw power.
Other than those select tests however, given the size of the laptop everything ran far beyond what we would expect from a machine with such a minimal footprint. The results we were able to achieve out of Blizzard’s new hotly-anticipated online shooter Overwatch were particularly surprising, averaging 94FPS on ultra settings. The game is one of the best optimized we’ve seen for PCs so far in 2017, and will continue to stand as the watermark by which all desktops and laptops are measured from here on out.
The ROG Strix GL502VT comes with the option for either a 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 FHD display, or a 3840 x 2160 UHD 4K display if you add on a few extra hundred dollars to the total cost. The bezels of the screen were quite a bit larger than I’d normally prefer, however the quality of the IPS display itself was decent enough to make up for it.
In brighter games like Overwatch everything was clearly, vividly visible, although things got a bit more muddled when we booted up darker titles like The Witcher III. For a quick gaming fix on the road, this screen will handle your needs without a hitch.
Given how light and airy the GL502VT is, it’s not wholly surprising that it carries with it such a small battery. In testing during idle/regular web browsing, we maxed the laptop out at 3hr 43 minutes, which is well under the six hours that ASUS claims on the device’s factsheet. Gaming tests were understandably quite a bit lower, as we ran Heroes of the Storm for only 1hr 38 minutes before the battery finally puttered out.
The ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT isn’t built for raw, unlimited performance like some other contenders we’ve tested, but that’s just fine when you see just how truly portable it is up close. I’ve tested Chromebooks that are heavier in the hand than this thing, yet it’s still able to keep pace with gaming laptops that are twice as heavy and thick from front to back.
Its slim profile makes it a prime choice for anyone who’s on the go often and needs something they can pop open at the airport or a cafe without taking up half the table to play, but still keep their graphics settings above the bare minimum the next time they want to squeeze in a round of Overwatch between meetings or their next class.
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