Water-cooled Gaming beast
After being traditionally air-cooled for decades, faster computers were introduced to water cooling to keep the temperatures low and performance high. While almost every laptop is air-cooled, Asus is shifting the dynamics of mobile gaming machines by introducing water-cooled mechanism to a laptop. The Asus ROG GX700VO is the first of its kind from the popular gaming laptop series, with a maxed out hardware configuration.
Innovating their way into an entirely new concept for gaming laptops, Asus offers the ROG GX700VO as its high-end flagship model, with the unique Hydro Overclocking System. With the best and brightest Skylake processor alongside NVIDIA GeForce, this laptop runs like a racehorse on steroids. But whether the water cooling system helps the Asus ROG GX700VO take over the competing machines like MSI GT72S, will be decided after the review. Please note that the model and specs we are reviewing here is GX700VO-GC009T.
Design and Build
The ROG GX700VO weighs in at 3.6Kg without the water-cooling mechanism, and measures up with its large 17-inch form factor. However, it manages to be slimmer than the competing MSI GT72S (4.8 cm vs 3.8 cm), and yet maintain the same weight and form factor as the latter.
The 330-Watt PSU weighing 1.2kg and the Overclocking System at 4.6Kg is not the most portable of solutions, limiting you to the desk for intense gaming. The ROG GX700VO closely resembles its sibling, the ROG G752 in terms of colour combination and overall construction.
The bright silver-champagne colour and metallic chassis keep dirt off the system, while the rubberised palm rest is largely susceptible to fingerprint marks. While the lid of the laptop is completely forged out of metal, Asus has surprisingly selected plastic for the bottom chassis, which dulls the overall impression.
Measuring in at 17.3 inches, the display on the Asus GX700VO is based on IPS technology and offers a standard Full-HD resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. Since the price tag of the machine clearly marks it as a high-end laptop, it is surprising and disappointing to see that Asus has not implemented a 4K display.
Nonetheless, the IPS display panel offers an excellent brightness score of 320 cd/m2, and a respectable colour contrast ratio of 980:1. Despite a decent contrast ratio, the DeltaE value of 5.35 (closer to zero is best) is not the most impressive number, and neither is the sRGB colour spectrum coverage of 85 percent.
You can expect better results from the competing MSI GT72S in terms of display, as it comes with a 4K panel and a higher contrast ratio. The ROG GX700VO does come with an anti-glare display coating, which works hand in hand with the high brightness of the display to bring brilliant outdoor capabilities (but then again, would you take this almost 3.6kg beast outside?!)
Keyboard and Touchpad
Being the most premium Asus ROG gaming laptop in Australia at the moment, the GX700VO comes with an impressive keyboard. Despite the slight flexing noticed where the Blu-ray Disc tray rests, the chiclet-style keyboard gives off a polished and comfortable feel with rounded keys spaced 3mm apart.
Apart from a decently sized numpad and large arrow keys, the laptop also comes with a set of customisable macro keys. The outlined red colour of the WASD keys and the devil red backlight illumination adds to the glory of an almost perfect keyboard. Coming down to the touchpad which measures up to be 6.5cm x 12cm, you can keep gliding without readjusting your finger.
The smooth finish is just perfect for gliding capabilities and accurately responds to the fingers in every corner. It is delightful to see that Asus has equipped this laptop with dedicated mouse keys, which is always a pleasure for gamers in comparison to ClickPad technology. Even the multi-touch gestures on the ROG GX700VO are spot-on with support for up to 4 fingers.
Under the Hood
The Asus ROG GX700VO-GC009T is offered as a premium gaming laptop that is not meant to become outdated in just a couple of years. To make sure that the machine is future-proof, Asus has tweaked it the maximum level with the most powerful processor on the market – the Intel Core i7-6820HK.
This 6th generation beast is based on the Skylake micro-architecture with a base clock speed of 2.7GHz, and can be overclocked to 3.6GHz with the Turbo Boost technology. But the “full-throttle” processor is not the only hardware aspect that drives the ROG GX700VO forward, as the laptop comes equipped with 32GB DDR4 SDRAM with a base frequency of 2133MHz.
Moreover, the laptop does come with an HDD storage, but 4 x 512GB PCIE SSD storage which gives you super-fast performance with none of the sound. The RAID configuration enables the user to transfer large files at incredible speeds, scoring 2963 Mb/sec for sequential reads and 2524 Mb/sec writing speed.
Laptop gaming has always been inferior to the quality of desktop gaming due to the small form factor, until NVIDIA introduced the GeForce GTX 980 to bridge the gap. While the top of the line GPU of the ROG GX700VO heavily adds to its price, it stands 33 percent more efficient than the older GTX 980M. With 8GB DD5 VRAM and 256-bit architecture, the ROG GX700VO is powerful enough to take on any game you throw at it.
Intense gaming is where the water cooling technology of the laptop really counts, as it not only keeps the CPU and GPU cool under pressure, but boosts the overclocking capacity of the hardware past the competition. Comparing frame rate of the latest titles, the ROG GX700VO is capable of playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 at 92.7 FPS on ultra-settings, Fallout 4 at 80.8 FPS, and Rainbow Six Siege at 114 frames per second.
• Desktop level performance on a relatively portable machine.
• GTX 980 offers surreal gaming performance all the way.
• Plenty of connectivity ports, including USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt.
• Beautiful design and hardcore construction add stability to the laptop.
• Water cooling mechanism turns the laptop into an overclocked powerhouse.
• Plastic bottom chassis looks cheap and is prone to scratching.
• Power consumption is enormous and the Hydro Station makes humming noise.
• With only a few retailers selling this gaming beast, there is less competition, so you’ll end up paying a higher price.
The Final Verdict
Asus has always been at the front of innovative technology, and introducing water cooling to laptops seems like the next best thing. However, the concept of carrying around a Hydro Station to get the maximum performance from the laptop is quite restrictive, and even unappealing to some users.
While there are some aesthetic reasons that put the ROG GX700VO behind the competition, there is no denying the fact that it is perhaps the most powerful gaming laptop in the market today. With the highest CPU and GPU benchmark scores and splendid performance, the Asus ROG GX700VO may have some definitive competition in the future, but none for now.
Review date: August 2016
Price at the time of review: $6099
Note: It seems like the Asus GX700VO-GC009T is about to be discontinued, so stock at various Aussie retailers is limited and prices vary