Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 Review (14th Gen, 2024)

If you wanted the most powerful laptop in 2023, then you essentially had the choice of several ROG Strix SCAR laptops, several of which are still on sale. Now, here’s the 14th-Gen Intel-wielding, 2024 model of the massive Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 – ROG’s standard-bearing gaming laptop. We expect great things from this beast of a machine and will be somewhat disappointed if it lets us down.

At A Glance

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 Scores
  • Price
  • 2D Performance
  • 3D Performance
  • Features, Ergonomics & Design
  • Portability
  • Value
4.7

Summary

The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 is the company’s standard bearer and we expected great things. It delivered. Yes it’s big and expensive, but it’s also awesome. Price at time of review: $7,699.

Pros

Very fast
Great features and ergonomics
Looks awesome

Cons

Very heavy
Mediocre battery life
Very expensive

Awards

Highly Recommended Gaming Laptop Award

Specs

Screen18-inch, matte, 240Hz, 2,560 x 1,600, IPS, HDR display
Processor1.6-5.8GHz Intel Core i9-14900HX CPU
Memory32GB DDR5-5600 RAM
Graphics16GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
Hard drive2 x 1TB (RAID 0)
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
2.5GbE LAN
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1 x Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio jack
HDMI 2.1
Speakers2 x Tweeters
2 x Woofers
Extra SecurityN/A
WebcamHD
Battery90Wh
Dimensions399 x 294 x 23mm
Weight3.1KG
SKUG834JYR
Full specs here.

Features, Ergonomics and Design

Those familiar with Asus’ large ROG SCAR Strix laptops won’t be surprised by the looks of the new 18 incher. Like its predecessor, it’s big, black and full of RGB. Lighting flourishes include the lid’s logo, a strip at the back, a bar at the front (which slightly stretches around the side) and the keyboard. It’s what a gaming laptop should look like. You can even turn the lights off and it will just about fit in the office, too. Even the base has some design flourishes, including a silver strap. It looks awesome.

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review hero shot
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 looks epic in any setting.

Screen

Opening it up reveals the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s massive, 18-inch, UHD, 2,560 x 1,800 resolution ‘Nebula HDR’ screen. We’re not overly impressed with Asus’ regular Nebula screens, but this version has mini-LED backlighting (which achieves a whopping 1,200-nit brightness) and is properly HDR compatible. It’s also got a 240Hz refresh rate – completing the tri-fecta of our favourite features. But, do they live up to the promise? In short, yes.

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review front screen
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s mini-LED screen gets very bright.

The Windows Desktop is sharp and clear. Colours are bright and vibrant. Contrast is excellent with true blacks being exhibited, even in letterbox bars – at least most of the time. Details are revealed in bright and dark areas simultaneously, bright details (like fire) pop out of the screen and the HDR eliminates all banding in colourful and monochromatic transitions.

It supports G-Sync to prevent image tearing in games. It can also display 100 per cent of the tricky DCI-P3 colour gamut and is factor calibrated for Pantone Validated colour accuracy which designers will like.

The 240Hz refresh rate marries with a quick pixel response time to render fast-moving objects impressively smoothly. It’s not the quickest we’ve seen, as fine details can still blur a smidge, but we’re nitpicking and even pro FPS shooters shouldn’t grumble.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s low-travel Scrabble-tile keyboard doesn’t just look great with its RGB, it makes the most of its chassis with a number pad and additional media keys which are well spaced and very comfortable and accurate to type and game upon for extended periods.

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review rgb keyboard
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s RGB keyboard works with Asus’ Aura Sync technology for synchronising lighting with other peripherals. The Chiclet keys are also e-sports grade for durability and accuracy.

The trackpad is medium sized, smooth, accurate and comfortable to use and the buttons feel well-cushioned, well-weighted and very quiet.

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review keyboard trackpad
There’s plenty of fine detailing on the surface of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 but, it can be a bit of a fingerprint magnet. We’re happy to see full-sized arrow keys, though.

Speakers

We hoped for great things from the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s four, Dolby Atmos-compatible speakers, as those in its much-more-portable and thin sibling, the ROG Zephyrus G16 were excellent. The good news is that the twin tweeters and twin woofers combine to get loud, offer good fidelity across the board and they provide some punchy bass, to boot.

Webcam and Conferencing

Above the screen is only an HD webcam, which is a little disappointing in this day an age. Still, it offers reasonable quality and doesn’t suffer from too much grain in low light. The Armory Crate app also offers-up a range of audio-capture modes to help with noise cancellation when conferencing and streaming in different environments.

Ultimately, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 is fantastic to interact with, with no weak points.

Connectivity and Ports

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review left side
On the left of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 is a 2.5 Gpbs Ethernet port, a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review right side
On the right are two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports.

Inside, there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. We’d have liked to have seen Wi-Fi 7 because Asus’ routers already support it, but that’s a good collection of connectivity.

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 Review: Photo Flourish

Most of the photos of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 were taken at the voco Kirkton Park resort in the Hunter Valley, two hours North of Sydney.

Performance

Inside the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 is a 14th-Gen Intel Core i9-14900HX processor. It runs from 1.6 to 5.8GHz and has eight Performance cores and 16 Efficiency cores that run across 22 threads. There’s very little change from its 13th-Gen predecessor – this isn’t one of the updated ‘Meteor Lake’ CPUs with a Neural Processing Unit, it’s a refresh of the 13th-Gen ‘Raptor Lake’ architecture and is only different to the i9-13900HX through having slightly higher Turbo Boost speeds.

It’s flanked by 32GB of fast, DDR5-5600 RAM and two 1TB hard drives running in a RAID 0 mirroring array for extra performance. It should be fast.

The following scores are rated from 1 to 5 where 1 is the lowest score we’ve seen in the past two years and 5 is the fastest. We’re also starting to add our new UL Procyon benchmarks which use Microsoft Office and Adobe’s Photoshop, Lightroom Classic and Premiere apps to give scores that are even more relatable. We’ve been testing other laptops with them but, without a range to compare, there’s not been much point in announcing the results until now. We’ll retrofit older laptop reviews with them over the coming weeks, where possible.

General Computing Benchmarks

In the following benchmarks, the CPU and GPU work in tandem throughout the tests.

In the general-computing PCMark 10 benchmark (which, along with 3DMark, is owned by UL), the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 scored 9,232 which is only just a smidge behind our current best score of 9,555 from its AMD-based sibling, the 17-inch Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D. Score: 4.9/5.

In the UL photo editing benchmark which focuses on batch editing and photo retouching, it scored 8,967 which reflects the tests taking 98 seconds. The X3D scored 9,268 and did everything one second quicker. We’ll see just how good these scores are in the near future.

UL’s video editing benchmark will interest anyone who’s rendered a major video project. On a slow laptop, it can take a very long time. UL states that the benchmark, “The benchmark starts by importing two video project files. The project timelines include various edits, adjustments and effects. The second project uses several GPU-accelerated effects. Each video project is exported in Full HD encoded with H.264 and again in 4K UHD encoded with HEVC (H.265). The benchmark score is based on the time taken to export all four videos.”

The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 scored 46,222 which saw Export times ranging from 22 to 62 seconds. The X3D scored 49,303 which saw times ranging from 20.3 to 50.2 seconds. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this benchmark.

2D Rendering

In the Cinebench rendering tests, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 scored 4,705 in the quick R15 test and 29,506 in the longer R23 test. The score is slightly behind the AMD SCAR X3D, as before, but also slightly behind the 13th-Gen SCAR 18 which had a ‘superior’ albeit-last-gen i9-13980HX processor. It’s fast, but some will feel it should be a clear winner. Score 4.5/5

  • 2D Performance Score 4.7/5
Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review detail
There’s intricate detailing on the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s chassis. This makes it discreet in an office.

3D Performance

We use UL’s 3DMark gaming benchmarks to test laptops’ 3D Performance. The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 has a top-tier Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU (with 16GB of GDDR6 memory), so we, again, hoped for great things.

In the tricky 3DMark Speed Way and Port Royal tests, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 scored 5,507 and 13,295 respectively. These equate to framerates of 55.1fps and 51.6fps respectively. This demonstrates that the SCAR 18 will play the latest and greatest games with maximum eye-candy settings almost all of the time. Score: 4.8/5.

In the 3DMark Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme tests, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 scored 20,858 (average 130.1fps) and 23,532 (average 110fps). The former is the best score we’ve seen (5/5). The latter is 4.6/5. It has no problem playing such games.

In the much-easier 3DMark Night Raid test, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 scored 84,273 which is an average of 966fps. That, once more, is the fastest score we’ve seen.

  • 3D Performance Score 4.9/5
Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review recline
This is how far back the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 lid can recline.

Ai benchmarks

The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 doesn’t have an NPU but we ran UL’s Microsoft Windows Ai Inference benchmarks anyway. It scored 124 in the CPU test and 818 in the GPU test. We’ve no idea what real-world tasks these scores will reflect at this point, but it’s a first stake in the ground.

Cooling Performance

Asus says of it’s cooling system, “To accommodate such powerful components, the Strix SCAR 18’s chassis and motherboard were both redesigned to accommodate our new full-width heatsink, while the copper fins were moved even closer to the exhaust vents for more efficient cooling. This unique heatsink is built from three different sections, surrounding the motherboard with densely packed fins. This design maximizes the available pathing for hot air to escape the machine and drastically increases overall cooling.”

What we can tell you is that, in Whisper Mode with all power options set to Low, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s very low fan whir is barely audible in a quiet room. When maxed out in Turbo Mode, it can ramp up to a robust, low whoosh but it’s not too distracting compared to some rivals. It does a good job of keeping the laptop cool to the touch and, in our Cinebench Stability Test, the R23 score dropped less-than one per cent in the long, 30-minute test. It’s a good system.

Portability and Battery Life

With great power comes… a great big chassis to contain it all, and the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 certainly has that. Still, the large, 18-inch structure looks relatively svelte even though it’s a chonky, 23mm thick. It’s also incredibly rigid and the large screen only flexes a little when a twisting force is applied. It should survive life on the road between LANs.

However, it weighs 3.12KG which is far from light. This is more of a desktop replacement laptop that you’ll only want to move occasionally. It won’t fit in many laptop bags either. The 330-Watt power brick is relatively thin and stylish (some are oversized and ugly) but it, along with the cables, add an extra 818g to the mix, so you won’t want to be carrying it around all day. That’s the cost of feeding maximum power to the near-desktop-grade CPU and GPU.

You’ll need to carry them around too as the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 ran the PCMark 10 Modern Office battery benchmark for a mediocre 6 hours and 25 minutes. Low battery life is not uncommon with large laptops but those with mini-LED backlighting on their screens (which we really like the performance of) suffer particularly hard here – something that’s exacerbated by the screen not getting very dark when turned right down low. Still, at least it can fast-charge to 50 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes.

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 review underside view
There’s impressive detailing on the underside of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 and its thin-nish power brick.

The SCAR 18 also ran UL’s Office Productivity battery test for 6 hours 36 minutes. We’ve seen larger gaps, between this and the PCMark test, on smaller laptops but, after multiple tests, all of the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18’s battery tests were within 12 minutes of each other.

  • Portability and Battery Life Score: 1.2/5

Price and Availability

The Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 is available now for $7,699. That’s not cheap, but it’s also not bad value considering the performance and features on offer.

  • Value Score: 2.7/5

4 Alternatives to the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i It’s smaller (16-inches) and less powerful, but our Best Laptop of 2023 is not far behind in terms of performance. It, too, has great features and ergonomics but seems to be in a perpetual sale at less-than half the price of the SCAR.

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D There are multiple SKUs if the 17-inch SCARs but the main rival is the AMD-powered SCAR 17 X3D. It’s not quite as cutting edge in terms of ergonomics and features, but it’s more-powerful in some areas, significantly cheaper and has similar looks and features.

MSI Titan GT77 13 We’ve not seen the latest version of it yet. And the last model we saw didn’t have a high spec. But, top-tier variants of MSI’s great rival should give the SCAR 18 a run for its money and can be found in sales more frequently.

Pioneer DreamBook Power X370 RTX 4090 This Aussie battler might not have the quality of the Asus, but it’s got the performance to rival it and it’s significantly cheaper.

Conclusion: Should you buy the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18

There’s no doubt that the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 is one of the very best high performance laptops on the market. But, it’s not for everyone. It’s not very portable and it’s very expensive, but it’s everything we want from a standard bearer for a company like Asus. There’s better value to be found elsewhere, which along with its portability score is enough to keep it from top spot in our Best Laptop rankings. But, it’s still right up there and we’re more than happy to recommend it.

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