We’ve already reviewed a bunch of different ROG Strix SCAR 17s including updates, Special Editions and Limited Special Editions. This isn’t such a bad thing… every variant has ended up being one of the Top 5 laptops we’ve ever seen. Now, here’s a tweak of the latest update, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D. It’s practically identical to the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 we recently reviewed but, instead of the Ryzen 9 7945HX processor, it uses a (codename: Dragon Range 3D) Ryzen 9 7945HX3D processor.
So, what’s the big deal about the 3D part?
Table of Contents
What’s special about AMD’s Ryzen 9 7945HX3D mobile processor?
We try to avoid getting overly-techie in our reviews – we focus on the real-world practical benefits of one laptop over another. However, in this instance, it’s the only point of difference. Not only that, it’s essentially the same processor, but for enhanced L3 cache: there’s 128MB instead of 64MB and it utilises AMD’s fancy, new, 3D V-Cache architecture which AMD tells us will, “Minimize lag, maximize responsiveness and give you the best gaming experience you can get.”
Processor cache is very fast on-chip memory that’s naturally much closer to the processing cores than the memory in sticks of RAM – meaning there should be less latency when accessing it. Size, cost and architecture reasons mean that traditional, modern processors currently find it most efficient to have a small amount of super-duper-mega-fast (L1) cache right by the processing cores, a larger amount of super-mega-fast (L2) cache a step further back and a larger amount of super-fast (L3) cache following that.
However, when a processor is being built using a diminutive five nanometer (5nm) fabrication process, beefing up cache (even the ‘large’ L3 models) is not normally straightforward. That said, AMD has essentially added an extra layer of cache memory on top of the existing chip.
Previously, AMD has implemented its 3D V-cache technology on its EPYC server processors and Ryzen desktop PC processors. This is the first time it’s been used on a laptop processor. AMD says that it will make for the fastest gaming laptop processor on the market and showed that, in its own tests, games running in Full HD with High graphics settings, saw up to 15 per cent boosts in performance (AMD also added that these benefits were best experienced on Asus’ ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D).
These are arguably odd settings to use when making such claims, so we were keen to see how our own tests fared.
Nonetheless, what we can vouchsafe before beginning is that, coming into this review, the non-3D version of this laptop had the fastest 2D Performance we’d seen from any laptop ever. So, how will the souped-up ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D compare?
|Screen||17.3-inch, matte, 240Hz, 2,560 x 1,440 IPS display|
|Processor||2.3-5.4GHz AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX3D CPU|
|Memory||32GB DDR5-4800 RAM|
|Graphics||16GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU|
|Hard drive||1TB PCIe NVMe|
2.5GbE LAN port
USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (with DP 1.4 & PD 3.0)
USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (with DP 1.4)
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x 3.5mm audio
|Extra Security||TPM module|
|Dimensions||395 x 282 x 28mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
We’ve covered the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D’s chassis and features many times already. The tl;dr of it is that it’s very impressive. The looks might be getting a little dated, what with many rivals (including its own Asus ROG siblings) adding updates and tweaks, but when there’s very little wrong in the first place, is it worth trying to fix it?
The ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D’s screen lives up to the promise of its stunning specs: 17-inch, matte, 240Hz, IPS display at 2,560 x 1,440. The UHD, 1440p resolution keeps everything sharp and crisp on the large 17.3-inch display. Colours are vibrant, motion is super smooth thanks to the 240Hz refresh rate and fast pixel response time. It also supports G-Sync to avoid on-screen tearing within games.
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Contrast is generally very good with details not getting lost in both bright and dark areas but it’s some way off OLED screens when it comes to displaying deep, true blacks. Still, the matte finish cuts out the black-mirror effect caused by glossy OLEDs in dark scenes.
Creators and designers will like that the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D’s display can display 100 per cent of the difficult DCI-P3 colour gamut. However, light banding can appear in colour transitions but, at least it remains light in monochromatic gradients (many competitors transform the latter into a blocky mess). It’s a very impressive screen.
The twin speakers and Asus’ “Smart Amp” system work to provide the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D with some of the best audio heard on the laptop market. It’s loud, bassy and fidelity is very good from top to bottom.
It’s backed-up by a microphone array that does an excellent job of banishing background noise and this, in turn, is backed-up an HD webcam that does very well at maintaining a sharp image, even in low light.
The individually lit RGB, Scrabble-tile keyboard is excellent, with a satisfying action that’s both comfortable and accurate for extended typing and gaming sessions. We’re not big fans of the reduced-size arrow or number pad keys, but they’re positioned in a way that keeps them all very usable. There are numerous, useful shortcuts and media keys too.
Below the keyboard, is a large, smooth and accurate trackpad which offers-up well-weighted, accurate button clicks.
Ultimately, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D remains one of the very best laptops to interact with.
Our ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D features off-brand Smarties that our child got in a party bag. Not sure if cheap or luxury versions.
So, the big question is, does AMD’s super-charged dollop of 3D V-Cache make a difference to performance? Alongside the 2.3 – 5.4GHz AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX3D processor (with its 16 cores and 32 threads) is a generous 32GB of DDR5-4800 RAM and a single, speedy, PCIe 4.0 NVMe hard drive.
In the general-computing PCMark 10 test, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D scored 9,379 which is a smidge behind its first-placed, non-3D sibling which scored 9,555.
In the Cinebench CPU rendering tests, it scored 5,569 in the drag race R15 test and 32,499 in the longer R32 test. These are, again, just a smidge behind its first-placed sibling which scored 5,787 and 32,773 respectively.
AMD positions the Ryzen 9 7945HX as the ultimate gaming laptop processor. While much of the games-processing work will actually be done by the top-tier 16GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, processors can certainly make a difference, especially when games are played at low resolutions and with reduced detail settings, when the GPU isn’t needed so much. And, here lies the issue…
A great deal of processor testing in the media runs games at low (Full HD) resolutions without all the details set to maximum because it focuses attention on the CPU and stops much of the work being offloaded to the graphics processor. But, in the real world, who does this?
If you’re buying a ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D with its fast, UHD screen and RTX 4090 GPU, you’re going to play games at maximum resolution with all settings ramped-up to the max. Still, let’s see if it made a difference in our standard benchmarks.
In the difficult 3DMark raytracing tests, Speed Way and Port Royal, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D scored 5,606 (average 56fps) and 13,876 (average 64fps) respectively. Compared to it’s non-3D sibling, that’s 6fps ahead on Speed Way and 1.5fps behind on Port Royal. We should remind everyone that there’s another top performer in both of these tests: the Intel Core i9-13900HX and RTX 4090-wielding Pioneer DreamBook X370 which snuck ahead with 56.6fps in Speed Way and was a nose behind in Port Royal with 63.7fps. There’s not much in it, between the three.
In the AAA-gaming-title-mimicing 3DMark tests, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D scored 20,406 (average 136fps) in Time Spy and 25,856 (average 119.4fps) in Fire Strike Extreme. The former is essentially a three-way-dead-heat with both the Pioneer and non-3D SCAR while the latter is 4fps faster than both of them and, consequently, the fastest score we’ve ever seen.
In the 3DMark Night Raid test, which apes simple, casual and competitive games, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D scored 76,538 (average 836.5fps). That’s another top score that sees it poke its head ahead of its rivals but they’re all a little behind the Intel-based SCAR 18, in this test.
In the older CS:GO test, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D averaged 515fps for whole test and 112fps for the 1% Low test (the slowest one per cent of frames rendered when smoke grenades are going off). For reference, the non-3D SCAR scored 534 & 113fps while the Pioneer scored 550 & 111fps. Interestingly, the 12th-Gen SCAR 17 SE (with a i9-12950HX and a 3080 Ti) scored 540 & 123fps here. All four sets of scores are very impressive and mean that all cross the line in a photo finish… but the X3D still comes fourth in this test.
It all boils down to the fact that the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D is now our fastest 3D performer, but it’s won on points in a split-decision rather than the promised knockout. There will likely be workloads and tests where the X3D CPU helps it romp ahead but, for most potential buyers of this gaming laptop, the performance benefits will be hard to discern.
We have to, once again, give Asus plaudits for the cooling technology used on the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D. Even in Turbo mode, it’s not particularly loud: there’s a very mild whoosh during office work and, when the fans ramp-up under load, it only elevates to becoming a noticeable, low whoosh when needed. The laptop itself rarely gets warm. It’s really impressive.
Here are the reasons Asus gives for its prowess, “Powerful components require powerful cooling. The 2023 ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D utilizes Thermal Grizzly’s Conductonaut Extreme liquid metal on the GPU. An ultra-high performance thermal interface material that can keep the chip up to 15°C cooler than traditional thermal pastes.
“When paired with a massive custom vapor chamber that covers 43.3% of the motherboard and four dedicated exhaust vents, this thermal solution transfers heat out of the system incredibly efficiently. ROG’s Intelligent Cooling technology allows critical components like the CPU and GPU to maintain higher boost frequencies for longer periods of time, keeping your framerates smooth and steady even during extended gaming sessions. The Strix SCAR 17 X3D keeps noise in check, too: when in Performance mode, the machine does not exceed 40 dB.”
Connectivity and Ports
Inside, there’s super-fast Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. While there’s no media card slot or USB 4, this is still an excellent collection of contemporary connectors.
Portability and Battery life
The ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D’s chassis is built like a tank to the point where it could be a weapon. The hinges are generally good although the large screen can still wobble a bit when knocked. The protective lid feels strong and doesn’t flex much when a twisting force is applied. It should easily survive a life of being lugged from LAN to LAN.
However, having all this technology inside a 17-inch body means that it’s not light at 2.93KG and the power brick and cables add another 1.08KG to the mix. Your body will remember if have to carry it around all day.
And, don’t think you can leave the power supply at home. We had to run our PCMark 10 Modern Office battery life test several times (in various different power-saving modes) because the scores were so low – hovering around just five hours. The best we saw was 5 hours and 23 minutes. That’s half an hour behind the non-3D SCAR 17 and four hours behind it’s Intel-sporting siblings. We can’t deny that we hoped the revolutionary laptop processor would do much better in this area, frankly.
Price and Availability
At the time of going to press, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D remains hard to find in Australia. It can be bought internationally for US$3,700 but that translates to a hefty AUD $5,788 and doesn’t factor in GST. We’ll update the price as soon as Asus or AMD gets back to us but, right now, the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D appears to be more of a limited, technical exercise.
6 Alternatives to the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D
Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 – The non-3D version of this laptop is one of our Best Laptop Award Winners, is available to buy and has virtually identical scores.
Pioneer Dreambook X370 – The Aussie contender still offers up some of the best performance on the market and the price is starting to drop.
Asus ROG STRIX SCAR 18 – The one-inch-larger, Intel-based SCAR might not have the AMD processor’s grunt, but it feels like an update in every other way and performance is not far behind.
MSI Titan GT77 – Amazing power and features in a 17-inch laptop that looks like it was born to game.
Acer Helios Predator Neo – Acer’s gaming flagship isn’t as big or as powerful, but it’s an awful lot cheaper.
Conclusion: Should you buy the ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D
Right off the bat, the answer is ‘probably not’ because availability is a mess right now and importing it would be incredibly expensive. However, while the real-world performance boosts didn’t live up to expectations, there’s no getting away from the fact that, like its predecessors, this SCAR 17 is absolutely one of the very best laptops on the market, let alone best gaming laptops. As such, we’re more than happy to recommend it.
Superb 2D Performance
Fastest 3D Performance
Should be even faster
Woeful battery life
Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D Scores
The ROG Strix SCAR 17 X3D is yet another winner from the impressive SCAR 17 stable. But, there’s an air of disappointment that it didn’t blow the competition away.