ASUS has definitely improved on the GL series with the last few updates and the GL503VS is a living example. Sporting a brand new more portable and minimalistic chassis along with a new high-refresh rate IPS display, the GL503VS offers a complete overhaul over its predecessor but is it all good?
Luckily, the new design offers improvements in both directions over the GL502VS – better portability and better overall build quality. But how has that affected the notebook’s cooling and overall performance? We hope the Core i7-7700HQ and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 won’t suffer from lowered performance or overheat like in the previous version we reviewed. We are also interested to find out how the new 144Hz IPS panel stacks up against its direct competitors in terms of image quality.
- Retail package
- Design and construction
- Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
- Display quality
- PWM (Screen flickering)
- Buy our display profiles
- Specs sheet
- ASUS ROG Strix GL503VS configurations
- CPU – Intel Core i7-7700HQ
- GPU – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5)
- Gaming tests
The notebook comes in a ROG Strix-branded box containing all of the usual user manuals, AC adapter and power cord.
Design and construction
When it comes to design, the GL502VS borrows the lines of the ultra-thin and powerful ASUS ROG Zephyrus with GTX 1080 Max-Q GPU and appears quite distant from its GL502VS predecessor. This is a rather good change because a number of users would greatly appreciate the more simplistic approach as not everyone is buying these powerful laptops for gaming. All of that gaming-centric design is too punchy and aggressive.
Anyway, the notebook is mostly made of plastic with the lid being brushed aluminum. Unfortunately, it’s not the sturdiest one we’ve seen around as it twists quite visibly but pressing the back of the panel doesn’t cause ripples on the LCD screen. The hinges help with stability as well – they provide smooth linear travel and opening the machine with one hand is possible.
The most notable change here, however, is the interior. It still has that plastic finish but feels way more premium and robust than before. Fingerprints stick easily but the surface has a strange smooth/matte finish. You can also easily notice the carbon fiber threads beneath the finish reminding us of the Dell XPS series, although the latter has a softer and more rubberized feel. Still, we can’t confirm for sure that the base uses carbon fiber but judging by the sharp edges and corners, and rigidity, it’s very plausible because as some of you know, carbon fiber can’t be wrapped around since it’s not the most flexible material.
The bottom of the notebook is still made of slightly roughened generic plastic but also holds up pretty well to our twisting attempts. In any case, the GL503VS is a huge step forward compared to its predecessor with better build quality, better choice of materials and significantly more portable. Measuring just 23 mm and weighing around 2.5 kg (depending on the configuration of course, give or take a few grams), the GL503VS is one of the most portable GTX 1070-powered laptops out there. We just hope this hasn’t affected the cooling performance in a negative way.
Input devices and I/O
Finally, ASUS got rid of the wobbly trackpad that still ruins the experience of the previous and current GL-series. Now, the GL503VS comes with a standard touchpad with dedicated mouse buttons. It operates really smoothly, it has comfortable mouse buttons and it’s extremely responsive. However, the keyboard is a mixed bag. It’s great for typing with pleasant clicky feedback, standard layout, good key spacing but rather short travel, which isn’t ideal for gaming. Moreover, the navigation keys are a bit crammed up and a bit small. A better separation from the rest of the keys and bigger keycaps would have been greatly appreciated. We have to give ASUS some credit, however, for the additional buttons placed above the keyboard for volume control, fast access to the ROG Gaming Center, which allows you to control your LED keyboard backlight, cooling fans, display profiles and other settings. Anyway, if you are wondering what the grill above the keyboard is for, it’s not for the loudspeakers – it’s for cool air intake for the cooling system. Neat right?
When it comes to connectivity, the GL503VS is a portable workstation. It features more I/O than a normal 15-inch laptop offers and has a healthy port distribution. On the left, you can find the RJ-45 LAN port, mini DisplayPort, full-sized HDMI, two USB 3.0 connectors and a 3.5 mm audio jack. On the right, you can see the other two USB 3.0 connectors and a USB-C 3.1 supporting the Thunderbolt 3 standard.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
Upgradability on the GL503VS is pretty easy as it offers a big service hatch and easily detachable bottom plate. Just make sure you’ve unscrewed the bolt right under the rubber cap in the middle. Anyway, in most cases, the service lid will be enough as it gives access to both RAM slots and storage (M.2 SSD and 2.5-inch HDD)
Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD
As we already said, the M.2 PCIe NVMe-enabled SSD slot and the 2.5-inch HDD/SSD bay are located under the service lid. The unit we’ve tested shipped with 1TB Seagate FireCuda HDD while the M.2 SSD is a 256GB Samsung PM961 PCIe NVMe drive.
|M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1||Samsung PM961 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD||Buy from Amazon.com|
|2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot||1TB Seagate FireCuda HDD||Buy from Amazon.com|
Our testing sample came with just one 16GB DDR4-2400 memory chip and leaving the other one free for upgrade. Keep in mind that you can only get up to 32GB of DDR4-2400 memory.
|Slot 1||16GB Samsung DDR4-2400||Buy from Amazon.com|
|Slot 2||Free||Buy from Amazon.com|
The Wi-Fi module is located near one of the cooling fans and it’s Intel 8265NGW.
The battery unit is located right under the wrist rest area and it offers a generous 62Wh charge but we doubt this will be enough given the demanding hardware.
The cooling design is rather standard with the fans placed on the sides. There’s one big heatpipe going across both heatsinks and connecting the cooling fans and an additional two separate heatpipes dedicated to the CPU and GPU heatsinks. The cool air is drawn from the grill above the keyboard and it’s pushed out from the back of the chassis.
The GL503VS offers a unique IPS display that can’t be found on any other notebook currently on the market. It sports an AUO B156HAN07.0 panel featuring a Full HD (1920×1080) resolution, G-Sync support and not 120 but 144Hz native refresh rate. The hardcore gamers will definitely appreciate the extra 24 frames per second compared to the standard 120Hz gaming panels currently on the market. Anyway, with a 15.6-inch diagonal, the pixel density is 142 ppi while the pixel pitch is 0.18 x 0.18 mm. The screen can be considered “Retina” from at least 60 cm.
Viewing angles are excellent.
We’ve recorded a peak brightness 315 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 311 cd/m2 as average across the surface with just 7% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is a bit colder than it should be – 7260K and stays pretty much the same when going along the grayscale – 7160K. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (37% brightness) in the image below.
The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. But in this case, since the laptop is going to be used mostly for gaming and multimedia, a deviation of 4.79 in the lower right corner isn’t going to be an issue for most users. The contrast ratio is exceptionally high – 1440:1 before calibration and 1260:1 after calibration.
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.
Even though ASUS advertises 100% sRGB coverage, the panel is short of 5%. Nevertheless, this is still an excellent result compared to most panels, which usually score around 90%.
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.
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 = 11 ms. This is an amazing result and we’ve only seen TN laptop panels going under the 20 ms mark.
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.
Just like all G-Sync-enabled displays, this one doesn’t use PWM for regulating brightness as well. It should be safe to use for long periods of time in this regard.
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.
This is, hands down, one of the best gaming-oriented displays we’ve tested on a laptop. The ASUS ROG GL-series return to its former glory thanks to the exceptionally good high-refresh rated IPS display. At the time of writing this review, you can’t get an IPS G-Sync-enabled 144Hz display on any other laptop. In addition, the panel offers just 11 ms response time making it one of the fastest (probably the fastest IPS) panel we’ve tested making up for even smoother gaming experience.
But the display isn’t just for gaming. Thanks to its high maximum brightness, wide sRGB coverage (95%) and high contrast ratio, the screen can potentially be used for color-sensitive work once you tweak color accuracy a bit. Our Design and Gaming profile should be enough for that. And, of course, the lack of PWM is always a big plus to consider.
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 GL503VS configurations with 15.6″ AUO B156HAN07.0 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com
*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 [email protected]
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 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.
THealth-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.
The stereo loudspeakers are loud, punchy and clear. We didn’t notice any distortions in the low, mid and high frequencies.
The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region
ASUS ROG GL503VS technical specifications table
ASUS ROG Strix GL503VS configurations
We used the pre-installed Windows 10 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.
As like all gaming laptops supporting G-Sync, the ASUS ROG GL503VS also suffers from short battery life due to the absence of integrated GPU. For some reason, G-Sync doesn’t get along with the switchable graphics feature so no matter the task, the system will always rely on the discrete GPU, which in this case is the power-sipping GTX 1070. Too bad you can’t get the most out of the rather generous 62Wh battery unit.
Of course, all tests were run using the same settings as always – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature switched on.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
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/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)
GPU – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5)
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 is the second fastest mobile GPU after the GTX 1080. It’s part of NVIDIA’s Pascal generation of GPUs and unlike previous releases, the company finally closes the gap between mobile and desktop graphics processors and that’s why there’s no “M” in the branding of Pascal GPUs. All thanks to the 16nm TSMC manufacturing process of the GPU, which allows better thermals and overall performance in a smaller form factor. That’s a big technology jump compared to the 28nm Maxwell generation.
Compared to its desktop counterpart, the GTX 1070 doesn’t differ too much. They share an identical number of ROPs (64) and identical memory – 8GB GDDR5 with 256-bit bus clocked at 8000 MHz. However, there’s a minor difference in clock speeds – the laptop GPU ticks at 1443 MHz and can go up to 1645 MHz while the desktop variant is running at 1506 MHz – 1683 MHz. To compensate to some extent, the laptop 1070 carries more CUDA cores (2048 vs 1920) and slightly more TMUs (170 vs 120).
Due to its performance, thermals and power consumption, which is believed to be 10W more than the GTX 980M, the GPU is suitable for large 17-inch laptops with the appropriate cooling solution.
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-1070-8gb-gddr5/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
|Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)||Full HD, Medium (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||111 fps||71 fps||54 fps|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)||Full HD, Medium (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||115 fps||74 fps||49 fps|
|Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands||Full HD, High (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||74 fps||67 fps||49 fps|
We recently changed the way we run the stress tests in order to simulate more realistic workloads. First, we start with about 15 minutes of 100% CPU workload then we leave the notebook to rest a few minutes and return to its normal temperatures. Then we run a combined CPU and GPU stress test that consists of 50-60% CPU load and 100% GPU load – a typical usage scenario during a heavy gaming session. Most of the modern games require less processing power and more GPU utilization so we think this is a more practical approach.
Before we started the test, we’ve recorded 45 °C average during idle and noticed that the fans don’t turn off when the system is idle or while doing normal office work. Anyway, we’ve started the CPU stress test and observed 3.4 GHz average CPU frequency at 81 °C for the first 15 seconds. The temperature climbed up to 84 °C for the first two minutes while maintaining the same core clock and peaked at 86 °C for the full duration of 15 minutes.
Turning on the combined test of 50-60% CPU usage and 100% GPU usage showed that the CPU is able to retain maximum clock speeds of about 3.4 GHz while the GPU ran at the respectable 1598 MHz on average. However, this comes at a cost – the Core i7-7700HQ reached 95 °C while the GTX 1070 ran at toasty 82 °C on average. Both temperatures are pretty high but we have to give credit to the GL503VS of utilizing both chips to the maximum.
Interestingly, the inner temperatures didn’t result in high outer temperatures as you can see from the heat map below.
Compact, powerful, elegant and immersive. Those are the key selling points of the ASUS ROG GL503VS. The laptop excels in many areas and fails to impress in just a few of them that can be overlooked by the majority of users.
In any case, the notebook stands out from the crowd with excellent build quality, good choice of materials (this time around) and impressively low weight and thickness. And despite its compact dimensions, the device impresses with above average number of I/O including 4x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort and USB-C 3.1 (Thunderbolt 3) connectors. Our only complaint is towards the keyboard – not fully optimized for gaming due to its short key travel and small and crammed up arrow keys. Good for typing, though.
The compact chassis has, of course, resulted in rather poor cooling performance. Our stress tests indicate higher than usual inner temperatures and the cooling fans don’t stop spinning even when idle but the good news is that the fans aren’t all that loud and the interior feels pretty cool even after prolonged heavy usage.
However, we are willing to ignore the keyboard and the higher temperatures due to the immersive IPS display. This is undoubtedly the best gaming display we’ve ever come across. The AUO panel offers excellent image quality thanks to the wide sRGB coverage, high contrast ratio and high maximum brightness while checking all the boxes that gamers want – 144Hz refresh rate (probably the only one available at the time of writing this review), G-Sync support and fast response time. All of this makes up for a visually stunning and smooth gaming experience. Quite frankly – unmatched at this point.
With all being said, it’s really hard to recommend any other 15-inch GTX 1070-powered laptop. For just about the same price, you can get the Alienware 15 R3 and the Predator 15 (G9-593) but we doubt that you will get the same set of features and advantages as the ROG GL503VS offers. And if you are wondering whether or not the extra cash is worth over the previous generation GL502VS, our answer is yes. Definitely!
- Good build quality, clean aesthetics, better choice of materials than last time
- Lightweight and thin construction
- Best in class display with excellent image quality, 144Hz refresh rate, fast response time and G-Sync
- The screen doesn’t use PWM for regulating brightness
- The interior remains cool during heavy gaming
- Wide range of connectivity for a 15-inch system including USB-C Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and 4x USB 3.0
- High-quality sound
- Not the best gaming-centric keyboard out there
- Inner temperatures tend to get high during heavy gaming
- Cooling fans spin even when the notebook is idle
- Extremely short battery life