ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD Gaming Laptop Review
The ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD brings Nvidia’s Pascal graphics and Intel’s Kaby Lake processor into a nice-looking 15-inch laptop and the result is excellent performance in the midrange price tier. Solid gaming performance and great design make it a good value gaming laptop.
Design and Features
The ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD is –at least by gaming standards–not large and bulky like predecessors. At 0.8 by 15.1 by 10 inches (HWD) and 5.5 pounds, it won’t take the least of desk space and is somewhat travel friendly as it can slide into a Bonvince 18.4″ Laptop Backpack, though it isn’t heavy as you might expect. The 17-inch model of the same model the ASUS ROG Strix GL753VD-DS71 measures 1.2 by 16.3 by 10.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.6 pounds.
Both the aluminum lid and plastic cover on the base still have the metal finish, which might be quick to pick fingerprints and not easy to clean. Certainly, it has the looks of a gaming laptop thanks to a black ROG metallic profile that has red accents, including the Republic of Gamers logo on its lid as well as the palm rest.
For the base unit, Asus used plastic components, while the lid keeps the same aluminum plate from previous models that has been pressed into a gamers’ shape. I was quick to note that the notebook is quite stable for a 17-incher, which I otherwise thought would be a bit wobbly, but I didn’t get any creaking sounds. You don’t have any gaping holes in this unit which indicates perfect workmanship, except for some random gaps in areas surrounding the optical drive.
The panel type is probably similar to the Asus GL702 as well. It is a matte screen provided by LG-Philips (LP173WF4-SPF3) with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. The panel is very bright at up to 349 nits in the center, and the average luminance of the ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD is not much lower at 337 nits.
The result for the black value is 0.58 cd/m², which is a bit high. The contrast ratio of 602:1 is just sufficient and suffers a bit from the high luminance. Positive: You can also enjoy the maximum brightness on battery power, but the minimum luminance of 20 nits is a bit high.
We can see some backlight bleeding in the lower right area when we watch dark content, but the brightness distribution itself is very good at 91%.
The keyboard layout is almost similar to the Asus GL702. As expected, it’s a chiclet-style keyboard that adds a numeric keypad on the right side, though the directional keys are somewhat separated and enlarged, which is the same case on the left side of the space bar where the thumb occasionally touches when using the WASD thumb.
The anti-ghosting keys have well-thought travel, (not too short) for a gaming laptop, and the feedback from pressure point is satisfactory. The touchpad was probably lifted from the GL702 as it remains almost the same, with enough surface and response from the two clicking areas.
As you turn it on, the keyboard is illuminated, with the same color theme as the ROG logo on the lid. The same color is seen in the cooling fins inside the chassis as well as on the rubber feet at the bottom. We’re looking at a similar design inherited from its predecessors like the ASUS ROG GL752VW-DH71, though, the ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD comes with some complimentary elements at the top of the base unit. They give the system a 3D effect, even though the base design itself is completely flat.
All the important ports are available on the ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD, but the laptop does not offer any highlights. On the left side are the power connector at the back, and a LAN port, HDMI, mDP, 2x USB 3.0 Type-A as well as one Type-C jack towards the front. The latter, however, does not support any other standards. The headset port is located very far to the front. The SD-card reader sits at the front, but it is hard to see due to the wedge-shaped design.
At the front of the right side are two additional USB ports, but only one of them supports the 3.0 standard, which is only indicated by a tiny symbol. You should therefore watch out when you attach an external hard drive, or the transfer rates will be low. Finally, there is an optical drive and a Kensington lock slot at the right side.
The insufficient labeling of the USB 2.0 port is not the only problem. The location of the ports very far to the front of the sides could be an issue for some users as well. Not only numerous cables could occupy space for left-handers, but peripherals with short cables might also be tricky to use. The 90 cm long cable of the Razer Orochi gaming mouse, for example, is not long enough to be used comfortably. It has to be attached on the right side as a result, which will then affect the range of motion. At least one USB port at the rear of the sides would have been a better solution.
Alongside the brand new 4GB Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics card, the ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD is equipped with a similarly new Intel Core i7-7700HQ chip, a quad-core CPU based on the latest Kaby Lake generation. Other specs include 16GB memory provided by two 8GB modules, but can take a maximum of 32GB. For storage, you have a 7200RPM 1TB hard drive (in our review unit), although we get that Asus will offer different memory and storage configurations over time for the different variants of the same base model.
The Core i7-7700HQ (Kaby Lake) is the successor to the i7-6700HQ (Skylake), a mobile quad-core CPU that currently runs in many gaming and multimedia notebooks. On CPU benchmarks, it yields better scores that its predecessor, though not overly faster, thus not necessary to upgrade, considering that gaming notebooks are still limited by the gaming performance.
Given the new graphics system, though, it’s the 3D and gaming test results that are of most interest. The new notebook cards are meant to be very similar to their desktop counterparts for the first time, and this can be reflected on GPU scores. The 3DMark benchmarks direct to an advantage of about 30% for the GTX 1050 over the GTX 960M which has the same score with the GTX 965M, which bridged the gap between multimedia and gaming. The next faster models the GTX 1070 are GTX 1080 present an impressive experience of NVidia’s high-end chips that are bringing desktop performance to mobile devices.
The GeForce GTX 1060, which is the “entry-level GPU” for full-fledged gaming notebooks, is almost twice as fast as the GTX 1050. Still, the GTX 1050 totes some solid frame rates per second (FPS) on most modern titles in HIGH settings including: The Witcher-29.1FPS, Fallout 4-41.2FPS, Battlefield 1-46.5FPS; and, FIFA 17-144FPS.
This brings us to one of the most interesting sections, the actual gaming performance. How does the GTX 1050 really perform compared to the old GTX 960?
We performed benchmark tests for a couple of games and can see that the majority of modern titles run smoothly in Full HD and the High preset. The performance advantage over the GTX 960M can be as high as 30% depending on the game, sometimes even more. The GTX 1050 is therefore roughly on the level of the older GTX 965M. The new GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is another 30% ahead of the standard GTX 1050 and is roughly on par with the GTX 970M.
One thing we noticed in our tests was the sometimes inconsistent performance with low GPU load (low, med details). This might be a result of the GPU driver (376.19), which is not yet finalized. It is also possible that some games will perform even better with an improved driver version.
As expected for a large gaming laptop, the ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD’s battery life is nothing to write home about. The much we got in our testing from the 4-cell battery 4 hours 21 minutes —although Asus claims up to 5 hours; just drop the hype, it’s a gaming laptop. The demanding hardware in gaming laptops generally drains the battery quickly, but you shouldn’t expect the full gaming performance if the system on battery power since it can only use a fraction of its potential without a socket.
We want to summarize our observations: The ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD comes in a passably styled and not too flashy chassis with good stability and build quality. The port selection is satisfying, but there are no highlights and the layout at the front of the sides is not perfect, either. The Wi-Fi performance is exemplary and the transfer rates of the SD-card reader are okay. Another positive aspect is that users get access to the storage devices and the memory slots (although you need a screwdriver). Asus improved the input devices a bit compared to the GL702. The display is familiar and very bright; contrast and the colors are just okay. Positive: Asus does not use PWM, but the display cannot keep up with fast 120 Hz panels in terms of response times.
The performance is a bit more interesting: The combination of Intel i7-7700HQ quad-core CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU usually manages smooth frame rates in most modern games in the native Full HD resolution and high settings. The GTX 960M is beaten by around 30%, but the new GTX 1060 is still up to twice as fast. The GTX 1050 Ti is about 30% faster than the regular GTX 1050. It will ultimately depend on the price of gaming notebooks with the GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, and GTX 1060. The Asus ROG Strix GL502VM and other similarly equipped systems already start at around 1,300 Euros (~$1367) and promise much more gaming performance with a combination of i7-6700HQ CPU and GTX 1060 GPU.
The remaining scoring criteria of the GL753 are just as inconspicuous. The system is always cool, but the fan is almost too loud under loud and there is room for improvement while idling as well. The sound quality is okay, just like the battery runtime, even though 4-5 hours in practice is hardly impressive.
The success of the GL753 will mainly depend on the pricing, because you can get much more gaming performance for 1,300 Euros (~$1367). The ASUS ROG Strix GL553VD should be considerably more affordable when it hits retail shelves.