Sunday, October 24, 2021
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Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition Review: AMD RX 6800M Outguns Nvidia RTX 3060

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AMD has consistently been at the top in terms of its processor offerings, particularly in recent times. In the graphics space, however, Nvidia has largely managed to outperform AMD’s Radeon offerings. The former, with its Ampere based ray tracing GPUs, have been the graphics processors of choice for premium and flagship gaming PCs, even as the AMD Ryzen 9 5000 series CPUs have increasingly replaced Intel’s Core i7 and i9 SKUs. To fill in this gap, AMD has introduced the Radeon RX 6800M as a rival to Nvidia offerings. The Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition brings in this new GPU alongside the Ryzen 9 5900HX — in an all-AMD gaming laptop setup.

Key specifications

Alongside the AMD CPU and GPU, the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition SKU that we reviewed features 16GB DDR4-3200 RAM, and a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD for storage. While international SKUs feature a full HD, 300Hz IPS display, the one we had houses a 165Hz panel. The display offers Quad HD resolution in a conventional, 16:9 aspect ratio, along with 3ms response time, 100 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, 1000:1 contrast ratio, and AMD FreeSync adaptive enabled.

You also get a planned upgrade to Windows 11, a 4-zone RGB backlight on the keyboard, and dual speakers. In terms of connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless devices, and in terms of wired ports, you get three USB-A 3.2 Gen1, one USB-C 3.2 Gen2 with DisplayPort and USB Power Delivery support, an HDMI 2.0b, an Ethernet and a 3.5mm audio combo port. All of this is powered by a 90Wh battery.

Performance: The AMD duo hits big

Given that you’d really be buying the Strix G15 Advantage Edition for the AMD CPU-GPU combo, it’s natural that we’d begin our review by talking about it. While I have previously used the Ryzen 9 5900HX on a laptop before (and found it to be a total beast), the Radeon RX 6800M is a new entrant. Based on the asking price tag of Rs 1.55 lakh of the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition, the Radeon RX 6800M falls squarely in the Nvidia RTX 3060 territory, tending towards some RTX 3070 options too.

Incidentally, it is also AMD’s entry into ray tracing graphics for premium gaming laptops, which means that the Strix G15 here has a lot to live up to. During the course of our review, we played an interesting mix of titles on it —Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, FIFA 21, GTA V, Cyberpunk 2077 and F1 2021. The mix showed an interesting performance breakdown by the RX 6800M, and the ways in which AMD uses its in-house technologies to optimise the way the entire setup works.

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition review: The gaming performance is great at full HD, and ray tracing graphics look great. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

The AMD GPU produces consistently steady frame rates, with the graphics setting in our games set to high in Valhalla, ultra in FIFA 21, very high in GTA V, and high in both Cyberpunk 2077 and F1 2021. Valhalla’s excellent environment design looks excellent on the Strix G15 as a result, with excellent ray tracing rendering at full HD resolution. Frame rates are consistently in the range of 68-75fps, which combines with the 3ms screen response time to produce little to no frame tear.

At its peak ‘ultra’ setting in full HD, FIFA 21 breezes through at around 101fps, which is pretty much as good as you need the game to be. The story is largely the same minus in Cyberpunk 2077, where the RX 6800M appears to struggle intermittently with frame tears and frame drops. This is combined with good thermal management on the Strix G15, which ensures that even long hours of gaming on it do not become uncomfortable due to any case of heat emanating through the keyboard.

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX provides plenty of grunt to make all of this possible, which is just what we’ve seen from it before. It is a largely consistent processor, and on the Strix G15, adds to the laptop’s versatility. It is also the reason why demanding creative professionals would find this laptop fairly usable, which incidentally is one area where the RX 6800M appears to struggle a bit. In heavy-layer Photoshop tasks and 4K timeline encoding via Premiere Pro, the Strix G15 appears to take a touch longer than laptops running on the RTX 3070 — although it is more or less in line with what RTX 3060 laptops produce.

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition review: Despite higher TDP, the laptop runs at good temperatures, and only pro creators will notice any performance shortage in heavy 4K edit lines. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

While I did not have either of the Nvidia GPUs on laptops around me to compare in parallel, all use cases show that peak frame rates rendered by the RDNA 2 generation GPU here are a tad lower than Nvidia rivals. This may affect creators to an extent in some of the more demanding cases, such as per-frame colour grading. Rendering times, however, are mostly acceptable thanks to AMD SmartShare and SmartAccess, which allocate memory and processor resources intelligently. It is a clear advantage that you get with this Strix G15 over an AMD-Nvidia configuration, and makes this one a clearly better performer.

For everyday tasks, the Strix G15 shows no signs of struggle. It waltzes through heavy, multi-tab browser usages, even with heavy web pages that remain in active memory and do not keep reloading. This enables a significantly convenient level of multitasking that makes everyday work on this laptop an excellent experience. Eventually, you realise that for most tasks barring the absolutely demanding niche ones, the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is good fun to work on,

Display: Fast and bright, but a bit dull

All of this is capped in our variant by a 16:9, full HD display with 165Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time. While the response time is great for gamers and creators alike, the frame rate cap against its international variant, where the Strix G15 features a 300Hz panel, is a bit disappointing. Esports aficionados will likely notice this even more, as the laptop has the power to produce high frame rates that the display cannot keep up with at full HD, in competitive esports titles such as DotA:2 and CS:GO.

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition review: The display is fast, and 165Hz refresh rate should be enough for enthusiast gamers too, but there’s a lack of tonal range in colours. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

In terms of colours, the Strix G15 isn’t exactly the best in its circuit, but isn’t bad, either. The AMD FreeSync Adaptive support works to keep the display fast, which creators would particularly like. However, the dynamic tonal range of colours produced here is a bit limited, which you’d particularly notice in vibrant gaming worlds or when editing 4K timelines imported in HLG or other profiles. The vibrancy of the panel, therefore, appears to be slightly on the duller end — even though its peak brightness is adequate.

Design and build: LEDs too flashy for work

Even if you buy the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition for the AMD performance, the Strix line of laptops always have a thing or two to add about their design statements. This one has a hot swappable dash of colour to the left of its hinge that you can apparently customise, per-key RGB LEDs on the keyboard (which is the least you’d expect here) and a super flashy band of RGB LEDs streaking across the laptop on its bottom ledge. You have the option to turn it off, or sync it to the rest of the laptop thanks to Asus Aura Sync via Armory Crate.

Whichever way you look at it, this isn’t a laptop that you’d take to your austere workplace, although there’s no one stopping you from doing so, per se. The LEDs are undoubtedly too flashy for a day’s work, but you’re likely not buying this one if video conferencing is where you spend most of your time. However, while the Strix G15 does make an undeniable statement in terms of its design, I’m not particularly fond of the build quality.

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition review: The LEDs are super flashy and characteristic of the Strix lineup, but you may find that awkward in office. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

Even though the ROG Strix G15 doesn’t exactly feel badly put together, it feels a bit too plasticky for a laptop that costs over Rs 1.5 lakh. Even the LED strip below the base looks a little inexpensive, and the keys do not feel posh on tactile feedback, either. The hinge is sturdy, which is good if you are a heavy handed user. But, it doesn’t quite have the same aesthetic feel that, say, a Zephyrus series laptop from Asus’ ROG stable has.

In terms of the overall ergonomics of the ports layout, things are mostly where they should be. The rear facing ports add to helping you keep your desk uncluttered, and on the move, the alignment of the single USB-C and the three USB-A ports are easy to reach. The ports are also of recent generation, which keeps things working how they should.

Keyboard and trackpad: A bit mushy, but not bad

The keyboard on the Strix G15 is decent, albeit not quite the best. Where it feels a bit underwhelming are in the key switches Asus has used, coupled with the key feedback that feels a bit mushy and not as tactile as most gamers or heavy writers would like. Where it does impress is in key travel and overall ergonomics, where it really excels as a comfortable laptop. Even with long hours put in, the Asus ROG Strix G15 will not make you feel annoyed — you’ll likely wish for a keyboard with better feedback, though.

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition review: The keys are a bit mushy but have decent pitch, and the trackpad gives you nothing to complain about. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

There isn’t much to complain about the trackpad either, which is about alright in terms of its smoothness and precision. It doesn’t strike you as among the most premium laptop trackpads around, but for what it’s worth, it is good enough for general usage. If you’re a creator or a gamer (which you likely are if you’re looking to buy this), you’ll anyway hook it up to your own mouse.

Battery: Super impressive for a gaming laptop

The one area where the Asus ROG Strix G15 does very well is in battery life. Despite being a gaming laptop, which are largely notorious for maximum battery life of around 5 hours, this one can almost last you through the entire work day. With video streaming and eight hours of writing, combined with average browser load of 30 active web pages, the Strix G15 can last you nearly to the end of a 9-hour work day shift — which is super impressive.

We did not test battery life when gaming on battery, because you’re unlikely to do so either, but I’m happy to report that there wasn’t a massive performance drop on battery to the point of it becoming unplayable. It also certainly lasts more than just a few minutes, despite the AMD GPU bearing higher TDP than Nvidia’s rivals.

Verdict: A fun gaming laptop worth considering

To sum up, the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is a largely splendid laptop, particularly when you consider its price tag. For the most part, the Strix G15 delivers performance equivalent to laptops running on RTX 3070s, which are more expensive than the Rs 1,54,990 price tag that this one comes with. As trade-offs, you get a slightly dull-ish display, while the SSD used here may appear sluggish in comparison to rivalling laptops — although this isn’t something that we could conclusively test.

Nevertheless, as long as you keep the LEDs off, the Strix G15 can appear self-respecting in offices too. The excellent battery life adds to its pros, and if you are looking for a premium Windows laptop at around this price, this is a very good laptop to buy.

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