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ASUS ROG Strix GL703VM review – the best of the GL-series but still has its quirks

Long months after the initial release of the GTX 1000-series GPUs and only just now, ASUS has released its GTX 1060-powered gaming laptop. That’s, of course, if we don’t count the similarly priced for that time, ASUS FX502VM, which was a total disaster. But apparently, the OEM aims to right all wrongs with its significantly more advanced ROG GL703VM.

The laptop comes as a direct competitor to the Acer Predator Helios 300 (17-inch), although considerably more expensive and* more reasonably priced than Dell’s Inspiron 7577 and HP’s 1060 version of the Omen 17 (2017). And with an asking price just around the Lenovo Legion Y720, the ASUS ROG Strix GL703VM borrows some distinctive design features from the ASUS ROG Zephyrus and offers everything the competitors do – up to Intel’s Core i7-7700HQ CPU on board, GPUs ranging from GTX 1050 to GTX 1060, up to 32GB of DDR4-2400 memory, M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD and a Full HD IPS display – there are also versions with 120 Hz displays which makes it one of the few GTX 1060-powered laptops out there with high-refresh rate IPS displays and G-Sync support. And even before we begin with the review, we can say that the GL703VM might just be the winner in this segment as long as you are willing to deal with some trade-offs along the way. Read the full review to find out more.

You can find the available models here: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Contents


In 2 minutes…

We know that many of you don’t have enough time to read our in-depth tests so we made a 2-minute recap of the most important things. Enjoy!


Retail package

The laptop comes in a cool ROG-branded box containing all the usual user manuals, the AC adapter and power cord.


Design and construction

Tipping the scale at 2.95 kg and measuring 23.9 mm in height, the GL703VM manages to incorporate aluminum in its build but most of it is plastic. Still, we should give credit to ASUS because the GL703VM is a little bit lighter than most 17-inch gaming laptops out there. Anyway, does this particular model suffer from the same design weaknesses like most of the GL-series laptops?

Well, the lid has definitely been fixed – while still incorporating brushed aluminum, the metal sheet feels way more robust now. Pressing the middle of the back panel results in really small deformation while our twisting attempts didn’t show anything worth considering. Another great thing about the new design is its simplicity. There are no more flashy LEDs and logos – just a chrome-colored ROG logo and brushed aluminum surface. Unfortunately, the latter attracts a lot of smudges and fingerprints. Despite the screen hinges being placed away from each other, the lower chin remains pretty solid and doesn’t give in under pressure. They also provide smooth and linear travel meaning one hand is enough to open the machine. The bottom is made of rough black plastic and incorporates plenty of grills for cool air intake and a big service lid for easier upgrade but more on that later.

As we go around the sides, we find plenty of I/O and quite frankly, more than we expected. On the left, you will find the DC charging port, RJ-45 for LAN, mini DisplayPort, full-sized HDMI, two USB 3.0 connectors and 3.5 mm audio jack while on the right, you can see two more USB 3.0 ports, one USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1, unfortunately) and the SD card reader. That’s what we call good port distribution because most of the cables will stick out from the left side and not on the right where your mouse is.

But as soon as we open the laptop, we are immediately reminded of the ASUS ROG GL753 and that’s not necessarily a good thing. A small portion of the interior imitates brushed aluminum surface while the rest is made of silky-smooth plastic finish that attracts loads of fingerprints and smudges. We think that for the asking price, ASUS could have included a more sophisticated base unit made of matte surface or aluminum at the very least. This would have helped with the overall rigidness as well since the middle section and the right area of the palm rest sink in under pressure quite visibly. In addition, the touchpad hasn’t been changed and feels just as mushy and a bit “sluggish”. The gliding surface is good, though. And as for the keyboard, we have some mixed feelings about it. The key travel is rather short but it’s been compensated by the satisfying clicky feedback. This means that it’s ideal for typing but might not suit every gamer out there. We really wished that they would have gone for the keyboard on the previous ROG GL752 – much deeper travel suitable for gaming. In any case, the slightly concaved keycaps make up for a great typing experience while the shortcuts for the microphone mute, volume and the ROG center and the customizable RGB backlight are a nice finishing touch. The arrow keys could have been bigger but they are well separated from the rest of the keyboard so those shouldn’t be a problem for most of the users.

All in all, the GL703VM definitely feels as a step forward compared to its predecessor but we can’t get over the fact that it still uses that bad touchpad design, too plasticky interior and the shorter key travel of the keyboard, although the latter shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most. It has some kind of a unique but comfortable feel to it. We can also call the GL703VM a fairly portable 17-incher but still isn’t close to the 15-inch form factor, just keep that in mind.

Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

There’s a huge service lid on the bottom giving you access to the storage and one of the memory slots. It’s really easy to remove it but if you have to replace the battery or stick a bigger RAM chip in the other slot, you will have to remove the whole bottom plate.


Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD

The laptop comes with a standard 2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot and the usual M.2 SSD slot supporting PCIe NVMe drives. The unit we got had only the 1TB Seagate HDD while the M.2 SSD slot was empty and available for upgrade.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot1TB Seagate HDD Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1Free Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

RAM

As we’ve already pointed out, one of the RAM slots can be accessed via the service lid but if you want to reach the other one as well, the whole bottom has to be removed. Both slots can carry up to 16GB of DDR4-2400 each.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
Slot 116GB Apacer DDR4-2400 Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
Slot 2Free Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Other components

The Wi-Fi adapter is right next to the left cooling fan (with the bottom facing up) and it’s Intel 8265NGW.

The notebook comes with a generous 64Wh unit placed under the wrist rest area.


Cooling system

The cooling design takes a more conventional approach with two separated cooling fans and three large heatpipes connected to both heatsinks.


Display quality

The ASUS ROG GL703VM sports an already familiar Full HD IPS panel from LG with model number LP173WF4-SPF5. It has also been used in the recently reviewed Acer Aspire 5 (A517-51G) and the Lenovo Legion Y920. We have only nice things to say about it, to be honest.

Anyway, the resolution is 1080p (1920×1080) with 127 ppi pixel density and 0.1995 x 0.1995 mm. The screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from at least 69 cm.

Viewing angles are excellent.

We’ve measured peak brightness of 375 cd/m2 and 360 cd/m2 as average across the surface with just 11% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature on white screen is 6960K at maximum brightness which is just a little colder than it should be. Going along the grayscale, the color temperature goes closer to 7000K and you can see how these values change at 38% brightness (142 cd/m2) on the image below.

The maximum dE2000 (color deviation) compared to the center of the screen should not be above 4.0 if the screen is going to be used primarily for color-sensitive work. However, this one is going to be used for gaming and it’s still under 2.0 – an excellent result. The contrast ratio is also pretty good – 1070:1 (1030:1 after calibration).


Color reproduction

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The display covers 89% of the sRGB color gamut making it ideal for multimedia and gaming.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.


Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 25 ms.


PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Only ultra-high PWM was recorded at times (120 kHz), which basically means no PWM so it’s safe to use for long periods of time even from users with sensitive eyes.


Blue light emissions

Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.

Conclusion

The display’s quality should suit everyone’s need when it comes to gaming and multimedia. It supports G-Sync, it has high maximum brightness, high contrast, wide sRGB coverage and doesn’t use PWM for regulating screen brightness.

Buy our display profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for ASUS ROG Strix GL703VM configurations with 17.3″ LG LP173WF4-SPF5 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


Specs sheet

The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region

ASUS ROG Strix GL703VM technical specifications table

Acer
Not available
Display
17.3”, Full HD (1920 x 1080), IPS
HDD/SSD
1TB HDD
M.2 Slot
1x PCIe NVMe M.2 slot (2280, M-key) See photo
RAM
16GB DDR4, 2400 MHz
Dimensions
415 x 280 x 24 mm (16.34" x 11.02" x 0.94")
Weight
2.90 kg (6.4 lbs)
Body material
Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum (Aluminum lid, plastic base and interior)
Ports and connectivity
  • 4x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI 2.0
  • Displayport mini
  • Card reader SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Ethernet lan
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2)
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Audio jack 1x 3.5mm Combo audio jack
Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera HD (720p)
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Speakers 2x 3.5W
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot
  • 12V fans
  • Smart AMP
  • N-key rollover
  • Overstroke technology

ASUS ROG Strix GL703VM configurations


Software

We used the pre-installed Windows 10 Pro for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from ASUS’ official support page.

Battery

Despite the notebook carrying a generous 64Wh battery, the power consumption is higher than we expected so battery runtimes are pretty bad. So don’t expect long runtimes away from the plug.

Of course, all tests were performed with the usual settings – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature turned on.

Web browsing

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

Pretty short runtime on the web browsing test – 220 minutes (3 hours and 40 minutes).

Video playback

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

Even lower video playback score – 182 minutes (3 hours and 2 minutes).

Gaming

We recently started using F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.

Of course, the laptop isn’t made for gaming away from the power source but it’s good to know that it can run for almost an hour – 53 minutes.

CPU – Intel Core i7-7700HQ

The Core i7-7700HQ is Kaby Lake’s top-shelf direct successor of the Skylake Core i7-6700HQ offering slightly higher clock speeds on the almost identical architecture and TDP. While Intel markets Kaby Lake’s architecture as “14nm+”, the Core i7-7700HQ is still on the same 14nm node with the only significant update being in the iGPU department. That’s why the slightly altered clock speeds (2.8 – 3.8 GHz vs 2.6 – 3.5 GHz) bring not more than 10% increase in performance compared to the Core i7-6700HQ. We still have the supported Hyper-Threading technology with 4/8 – core/thread design, the same 45W TDP and 6MB cache.

However, the Kaby Lake generation boasts an updated video engine for the iGPU, although, its performance is just about the same. Branded as Intel HD Graphics 630, the GPU offers slightly higher clock speeds (350 – 1100 MHz vs 350 – 1050 MHz) compared to the Intel HD Graphics 530 and support for H265/HEVC Main10 profile at 10-bit color depth and the VP9 codec for full hardware acceleration. In addition, the HDCP 2.2 is also supported allowing Netflix’s 4K video streaming.

You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-7700hq/


Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-7700HQ scored 13.712 million moves per second. In comparison, one of the most powerful chess computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.

GPU – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5)

NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 GPU aims to be the mid-tier graphics card from the Pascal generation offering similar or even better performance than last year’s flagship models like the GTX 970M and 980M. However, the GPU will be used in high-end laptop configurations.

The graphics card is based on the GP106 chip built on the 16nm FinFET manufacturing process from TSMC paired with up to 6GB GDDR5 VRAM clocked at 8000 MHz effective on a 192-bit interface. The GPU also features the same amount of CUDA cores as its desktop counterpart (1280) and it’s clocked at slightly lower frequencies – 1404 – 1670 MHz.

Depending on the cooling solution, the GPU can be found in large 17 and 15-inch notebooks but some slimmed-down 14-inch notebooks are also an option. The TDP of the GPU is somewhat lower than the last generation GTX 970M.

You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1060-6gb-gddr5/


Gaming tests

GTA-V-benchmarks

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS89 fps52 fps36 fps

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS88 fps47 fps31 fps

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon WildlandsFull HD, High (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)
Average FPS60 fps55 fps31 fps

Temperatures

The usual stress tests that we perform can’t represent real-life usage because even games don’t require 100% CPU and GPU load but the torture tests remain as the most reliable way to assess the overall effectiveness and stability of the cooling system in the long run.

We kicked things off with 100% CPU load for about an hour and the Core i7-7700HQ ran at its maximum operating frequency for four active cores before staying stable at 3.3 GHz. Operating temperatures were a bit high, though, and one of the cores was running a few degrees higher than the rest as you can see from the screenshot below.

Turning on the GPU stress test resulted in small CPU throttling – 2.4 GHz and, of course, high temperatures. The GPU, on the other hand, surprised us by maintaining fairly high clock speeds – considering the nature of the stress test – but at a cost – high temperatures. 85 °C is quite toasty to be honest and we’ve seen such temperatures only on laptops with GTX 1080 on board. In any case, though, we are glad to see minor CPU throttling and full GPU utilization regardless of the high intensity of the tests.

But as expected, high inner temperatures often translate into a warm interior surface. In this case, the heat map shows higher surface temperatures around the center of the keyboard but the only really hot area is right between the hinges (60.5 °C) where the main heat-dispersing grills are located. It’s a good thing that the palm rest and the “WASD” area remained cool throughout the whole test.


Verdict

The best ROG laptop from the GL-series? Probably yes but is it enough to be called the best in class? Well, again, it really depends on what are you looking for. The GL703VM offers some cool features rarely found in GTX 1060-powered notebooks including a 120 Hz G-Sync-enabled IPS panel, which is optional but still… It’s also pretty thin and light for 17-inch notebook so you get portability along with the excellent performance to some extent.

But even if you go for the standard 60 Hz that doesn’t have G-Sync, you will benefit from the high contrast ratio, high maximum brightness, wide sRGB coverage and virtually no PWM – ideal for long hours of gaming or other multimedia activities. However, the missing G-Sync doesn’t mean the laptop boasts great battery life either and it makes us wonder why the NVIDIA Optimus feature isn’t active.

On the other hand, the lack of premium materials and questionable base stability, it’s really hard to recommend over Lenovo’s Legion Y720 and Dell’s Inspiron 15 7577 in this regard. It’s just a little bit better than the Acer Predator Helios 300 (17-inch). In addition, the touchpad is comparable to some low-end gaming laptops with GTX 1050 while the keyboard is a mixed bag for gamers – longer key travel would have done wonders.

In terms of cooling performance, the GL703VM’s system is a hit and a miss at the same time – even extreme workloads weren’t enough to cause major throttling issues (or any of that matter) but you will definitely feel the heat coming out of it in the middle of the keyboard. It won’t be a huge issue when playing games but it’s important to consider.

So if you have the spare cash for the 120 Hz version, the GL703VM is definitely the way to go due to its well-utilized powerful hardware, fairly portable chassis and good value overall. But if “bang for the buck” is what you are looking for, probably the Predator Helios 300 from Acer will suit you better. In terms of build quality, the Lenovo Legion Y720 is far superior but disappoints with subpar display quality. The Acer Aspire V17 Nitro BE is also an option although, it is not a gaming-centric machine.

You can find the available models here: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Pros

  • Thin and light for a 17-inch gaming laptop
  • Good keyboard for typing
  • Optional 120 Hz IPS panel with G-Sync
  • Even the standard 60 Hz IPS panel offers excellent image quality
  • Keeps the hardware running at full throttle even under extreme workload


Cons

  • Suboptimal materials, flexible base unit
  • Bad touchpad
  • G-Sync limited to selected configurations
  • High inner and outer temperatures under load
  • Extremely short battery life