The ROG G701 features subtle riffs on the existing ROG design language. This is an ROG-designed product through and through, but there are small tweaks like a metallic gray chassis and reddish-brown, or as ASUS likes to say, “plasma copper” accents.
The entire laptop has been spruced up as well, with more lighting effects on the lid – illuminated ROG logo and flared lines – and exhaust vents.
In general, build quality feels good and well put together, as you’d expect from such a premium notebook. Key travel distance isn’t as far as on some other notebooks we’ve reviewed, but the difference isn’t too big a deal and the overall typing experience is still quite pleasant.
With an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 and overclockable Intel Core i7-7820HK (2.90GHz, 8MB L3 cache) processor, the ROG G701 is built to run all the latest games at maximum settings, but you may still find it challenged if you stick to the native 3,840 x 2,160 pixel resolution for games. This NVIDIA Pascal card is a veritable monster, but 4K gaming with details cranked up will still tax it in some more demanding titles, so you’re probably better off turning the resolution down for a smoother experience.
That said, we foresee no problems if you commit to gaming at a 1080p resolution, and it will be more a question of which game you want to run, as opposed to whether or not it will run. The 4K model only comes with a 60Hz display, but it is fortunately equipped with G-Sync, so problems like screen tearing are eliminated.
It’s worth pointing out that this is a huge step up from the desktop-class GeForce GTX 980 found in the ROG GX700. Once hailed as the king of gaming notebooks, performance on that liquid-cooled notebook now seem comparatively modest.
In some preliminary numbers we ran on a non-local review unit (the specifications differed slightly in terms of RAM configuration and display resolution), we noted the following improvements over a docked GX700:
- 37 percent increase in 3DMark Fire Strike
- 115 percent increase in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Ultra settings)
Of course, ASUS has since announced the ROG GX800, a new iteration of its liquid-cooled laptop which comes with two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080s in SLI, but these early numbers serve to illustrate the impressive performance jump over a single generation.
But gaming performance aside, the ROG G701 is also quite an entertainment powerhouse, with a wide array of connectors, support for multiple external displays, and a dedicated subwoofer for deeper bass.
The 4K display bears mentioning again, because of its 178-degree wide viewing angles. This effectively means that there will be less loss of visibility even when viewing the screen from the side, and we found that this translates quite well into the real world. This doesn’t matter much when gaming, as you’ll be looking straight on at the screen, but you’ll appreciate it when it comes to movies and other video content when you’re more likely to be shifting about.
Furthermore, while the matte display helps to cut down on overhead reflections, we’d have liked to have a screen that could go a bit brighter.
You can also output video to three displays simultaneously, courtesy of the HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, and mini DisplayPort connectors. You’ll even be able to continue to work on the laptop’s original screen while all this is going on, setting the stage for widescreen viewing or multi-tasking work.
There’s no shortage of other connectors on board either, including three USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Type-C connector, and an SD card reader.
The speakers are powered by a dedicated ESS ES9018K2M Sabre DAC, and a Sabre 9601K amp that supports up to 32-bit/384KHz audio. What this means is support for high-res audio files, and a more accurate frequency response, according to ASUS. In actual use, clarity was good and sound was rich and full-bodied, although it could stand to be a bit louder.
A dedicated button nestled in the number pad launches the ROG Gaming Center, which gives you access to overclocking controls, custom game profiles, and various display and audio tweaks. The built-in ROG GameFirst III software serves as a QoS utility that lets you prioritize gaming packets and allocate bandwidth to games or other high-priority applications. The ROG G701 relies on an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 and Realtek Gaming GBe Family controller for its networking capabilities.
Initial impressions of the ROG G701 are promising, and there’s no reason to think that it will not deliver on what its specifications say it is capable of.
It’s most interesting proposition is as a desktop replacement that is still relatively portable. It may seem incongruous to use those two terms like this in a single sitting, but this is a 17.3-inch laptop that delivers desktop-class performance in a chassis that doesn’t necessarily have to remain tethered to your desk. While heavy, it isn’t that much of a Herculean feat to lug around, and this trade-off, for the performance it offers, appears well worth it.
There also isn’t any asterisk beside the claim of desktop-class performance either. While previous desktop replacements still offered watered-down performance, NVIDIA’s new Pascal GPUs have narrowed the gap between desktops and notebooks to the point where desktop replacements can truly be considered as such.
And as we said before, it isn’t impossible to carry the ROG G701 around, so you do somewhat get the best of both worlds. The liquid-cooled ROG GX800 may be the new king of notebooks, but the ROG G701 is a close second that costs the same as the ROG GX700 when it launched, only this time it is more powerful and more portable still. At current, ASUS Malaysia has yet to announce an official release date for the ROG G701, but sources have indicated that they will be bringing it soon.