The ASUS ROG Strix Hero II and SCAR II gaming laptops bring intense style and specs

ASUS's second generation of the Republic of Gamers Strix Hero II and SCAR II gaming laptops are designed with FPS and MOBA gamers in mind. From the high-performance components to the striking designs, these laptops exemplify the ethos of the ROG brand.

Spec-wise, the two laptops are nearly identical, enough so that for most of this we'll cover them both in the same breath. They both offer 15.6-inch displays from AOU with the narrow bezels that have become common across standard consumer-grade laptops over the past few years. These aren't just any displays, though, with 144Hz refresh rates, snappy 3ms gray-to-gray response times, and a FHD resolution under a gamer-friendly non-glare coating.

All of this is powered by the latest in processors and graphics cards. Buyers will have a choice of an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8300H CPU or an upgraded Core i7-8750H, paired with an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU With 6GB of RAM or a GTX 1070 with 8GB of RAM (the latter comes with a monster 230W power adapter) and up to 32GB of RAM. Providing storage is an M.2 SSD slot (factory equippable up to 512GB) and a hard drive bay with your choice of 1TB hybrid of standard hard disk drives. All of these high-performance components are kept cool by ASUS's HyperCool Pro tech, which through a system of heat pipes, radiators, and 12V blowers keeps the vital components cooled to 90°C even under an intense load. That can all run automatically as you game, but owners will have the option to turn on an "Overboost mode" to keep things nice and cool, or switch to "Silent mode" for those times you want to game in quiet.

Connectivity-wise, the Hero II and SCAR II both offer 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Intel's Wave 2 tech. This brings Gigabit speeds, and when coupled with the ASUS RangeBoost quad-antenna design provide greater range and reliability for wireless gamers. And, of course, there's an RJ45 Ethernet port for when you need to get serious. You'll also find a trio of USB-A ports, a single USB-C port (alas, no Thunderbolt 3 support), mini DisplayPort, and HDMI 2.0.

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CategoryROG Strix SCAR II and Hero II
Display15.6-inch FHD (1920x1080), 144hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, 100% sRGB color gamut, non-glare coating15.6-inch FHD (1920x1080), 60Hz refresh rate, 100% sRGB color gamut, non-glare coating (Hero II option only)
CPU8th Gen Intel Core i5-8300H8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H
GPUNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 + 6GB GDDR5 VRAMNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 + 8GB GDDR5 VRAM (SCAR II option only)
RAMUp to 32GB DDR4 2666MHz
StorageM.2 NVMe PCIe 128/256/512GB SSD5400rpm 1T SSHD7200rpm 1TB HDD
Wireless802.11ac 2x2 Wave 2, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports1x USB-C 3.13x USB-A 3.1mini DisplayPort 1.2HDMI 2.0EthernetSD card reader3.5mm audio jack
Keyboard4-zone RGB backlit, 1.8mm travel distance, 0.25mm keycap curveSCAR II: Marked WASD keysHero II: Marked QWER keys
Audio2x 3.5W speakers, array microphone
Power180W power adapter230W power adapter (GTX 1070 only)
Dimensions14.1 x 10.3 x 1.03 inches(361 x 262 x 26.1mm)
Weight5.29 lbs (2.4kg)
Pricestarting at $1699

And, of course, there's the keyboard. The Strix laptops have full-size keyboards with numpads and are equipped with ASUS's Aura Sync RGB lighting. The laptops carry over ASUS's Overstroke actuation point positioning, which allows for faster key activation by literally moving the trigger higher up in the keys. The Strix laptops bring plenty of power, but at just barely over an inch thick they're not enormous beasts. You won't find mechanical keyboards here, instead ASUS has designed a keyboard with all this and just 1.8mm of key travel.

In my brief time with the laptops they keys were... fine. Nothing amazing, but also definitely not terrible. At least there is a full-size numpad sitting off to the right side, plus a quartet of dedicated hotkeys on the left for volume controls and to fire up the ROG Gaming Center performance monitoring and settings app. And, of course, because this is a gaming laptop, there are highlighted important keys. On thee MOBA-oriented Strix Hero II you'll find the QWER keys replaced with translucent white keycaps, while the FSP-centric SCAR II has white WASD keys.

Aesthetically, these are ROG gaming laptops through-and-through. The cases are a mix of materials, with hard plastics, soft-touch carbon fiber keyboard decks and palm rests, and a two-finish gray brushed metal lid. The Strix Hero II has a "cyberpunk" patter on the palm rests and "diagonal 3D texture" on the lid, while the Strix SCAR II features a camouflage-and-Kevlar look. And you'll find more of the ASUS Aura Sync RBG lighting in the lid logo and a new lightbar across the front of the base. These are very much gaming laptops and ASUS is in no way shameful of that.

Both the ASUS ROG Strix Hero II and ASUS ROG Strix SCAR II will be priced starting at $1699 for the Core i5 with GTX 1060 versions, or $1999 for the SCAR II with the more powerful GTX 1070 option, with availability starting now.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.