ASUS ROG Strix SCAR III G531GW (Core i9-9880H, RTX 2070) Laptop Review

ASUS is focusing on more than just RGB lighting with the third incarnation of its ROG Strix Scar. The company has also included a nice security feature called Keystone along with a host of powerful hardware.


ASUS has built the ROG Strix SCAR III with a mostly plastic design, to which it incorporates several textures and finishes. The plastic is surprisingly sturdy, which gives our review unit a premium feel to it. The base unit is impressively robust too, with only the lid giving way slightly when we open or close it with one hand.

The G531GW not only has an RGB backlit keyboard, but also an RGB LED strip around the edge of its bottom case. There is an indent for the removable Keystone security chip, which also lights up when inserted.


The G531GW has a rock-solid selection of ports that should prevent most people from resorting to using dongles or docks. You can connect the latter by USB Type-C should you need to though. The Type-C port also supports DisplayPort if you have the appropriate adapter. The G531GW has an HDMI 2.0b port too, which can output in 4K at 60 Hz.


ASUS has equipped our review unit with an Intel Wireless-AC 9560 module, which supports Bluetooth 5.0 and up to IEEE 802.11 ac Wi-Fi. Our review unit achieved excellent transfer speeds in our iperf3 Client Wi-Fi tests with our Linksys EA8500 reference router thanks to its 2×2 MIMO antenna. The G531GW finished top of our download test and third in our upload test, but our comparison tables are tightly packed with only a maximum spread of only 10% between devices.


ASUS has incorporated several security features within the G531GW. The company has included password protection at boot within the BIOS along with a removable Keystone chip. The latter not only stores your user profile with corresponding RGB settings, but it also decrypts an existing Shadow Drive when it is plugged into your machine. Keystone re-encrypts the data when removed to protect against unauthorized access.


ASUS does not currently offer any ROG Strix SCAR III specific accessories other than those included with the device. The company does sell generic gaming and travel accessories such as keyboards, mice, and bags though.


The G531GW is easy to maintain and repair. Only a few screws hold the bottom plate in place, the removal of which gives access to all internal components. The battery, RAM, SSD, and Wi-Fi module are all easy to swap out, while you can maintain the cooling system too. Additionally, ASUS has included a spare 2.5-inch drive bay, to which you can connect a SATA drive should you need more storage. The company pre-installs the mounting cage and drive cable too.


The keyboard on the G531GW is likely to divide opinion. ASUS has included half-sized arrow keys, while the omission of a physical number pad will probably annoy some people. The company has printed the keys with pale lettering too that can be difficult to read in bright environments. The Function key numbers are also not backlit, which is an odd decision.

The keys have a soft-touch finish and noticeable pressure points, which makes the G531GW suitable for prolonged typing sessions and for working in noise-sensitive environments. The surface of the keys is grippy too, so you should not find your fingers slipping from key to key when typing. The RGB keyboard backlighting is ubiquitous for gaming laptops, but it is a shame to see ASUS include zonal lighting rather than the individually backlit keys that other OEMs include on their gaming laptops.


The trackpad in our review unit has a smooth finish that works reliably and accurately even with wet fingers. ASUS has integrated a number pad too, which you can access by long-pressing on the upper right-hand corner of the trackpad. You can only use the trackpad as a number pad with this mode enabled, but it works well enough.

ASUS has integrated two dedicated mouse buttons too, which emit a soft clicking sound when pressed. The buttons have pronounced pressure points and worked reliably during our tests.


Sub-pixel array

The G531GW has a 15.6-inch IPS panel that operates natively at 1,920×1,080. The panel has a 240 Hz refresh rate and achieved an average maximum brightness of 252 cd/m² in X-Rite i1Pro 2 tests. This makes the G531GW, which also has an 88% evenly lit panel, the second dimmest device in our comparison table ahead of the Aero 15-X9.

Disappointingly, the display uses pulse-width modulation (PWM) to regulate its luminosity, which can cause eye strain and headaches for some people. The panel in our review unit flickers at 24,040 Hz when set to 29% brightness, which should be a high enough resolution not to cause too many people any health issues. We would still recommend testing the G531GW first before you buy it if you are PWM sensitive though.

ASUS currently offers four displays with the ROG Strix SCAR III including the 240 Hz panel in our review unit. The company gives you a choice between a 90 Hz, 120 Hz, or a 144 Hz panel, although they are all 1080p panels.

System Performance

The G531GW also performs well in system performance benchmarks such as PCMark. Our review unit generally trades blows with the Aorus 15 X9 for first place in our comparison tables. These decent benchmark results reflect our experiences in daily use too. Our review unit always runs smoothly and loads programs quickly. Likewise, the OS boots promptly, and we noticed no micro-stutters or lags even during heavy multitasking.

Storage Devices

ASUS has equipped our review unit with a 1 TB Intel 660p SSD, which puts the G531GW in the midfield of our comparison devices. The 660p has decent transfer speeds, but it falls just short of the Samsung 970 EVO Plus and around 21% behind its sibling, the Intel 760p.

Please see our HDD/SSD benchmarks page for more information on the Intel 660p and how it compares against other drives.

Graphics Card

ASUS has equipped our review unit with a GeForce RTX 2070 GPU, a 12 nm chip based on NVIDIA’s Turing architecture. The GPU supports DLSS and raytracing, which can theoretically create more sophisticated lighting effects than GeForce GTX 10 series GPUs could achieve. The GeForce RTX 2070 is powerful enough to play modern triple-A games in 4K too.

The G531GW achieves decent 3DMark benchmark results in isolation, it is well beaten by many of our RTX 2070 powered comparison devices. Strikingly, our review unit only just edges out our RTX 2070 Max-Q powered comparison devices in 3DMark 11 and Fire Strike, despite theoretically having a 15% more powerful GPU.

Please see our GPU benchmarks page for more information about the GeForce RTX 2070 and how it compares with other GPUs.

Gaming Performance

The G531GW performed well in all our gaming tests too. Our review unit breezes through older titles such as “BioShock Infinite” and “Dota 2 Reborn” at maximum details in 1080p, while it averages an acceptable 67 FPS in more complex games such as “The Witcher 3″. However, the G531GW achieves approximately 6% lower framerates than what we would have expected from an RTX 2070 powered laptop. Likewise, the Aorus 15 X9, GE75 Raider 8SF, and XMG Neo 17 all averaged at least 70 FPS during the same test, underlining that the G531GW cannot get the best out of its GPU, for some reason.

Please see our games comparison page to see how the RTX 2070 performs in our games and in other machines. You can compare the GPU with other cards too.


The G531GW has surprisingly good stereo speakers. They reached a maximum of 83.8 dB(A) during our tests and delivered a broad sound spectrum. Audio sounds detailed, and the speakers are a worthy replacement for external speakers.

You could still connect external audio equipment using Bluetooth or the 3.5 mm jack though. The latter is a combined headphone and microphone jack that gripped jack plugs tightly during our tests.

Battery Life

The G531GW has a 66 Wh battery, which is a larger capacity than all but the Aero 15-X9 of our comparison devices. Despite this, our review unit finished second bottom in our practical Wi-Fi battery life comparison table with a runtime of just under three hours. Likewise, the G531GW needs recharging over an hour sooner than the average of gaming laptops that we have already tested. Our review unit performs comparatively better in our sustained load battery life test, but it still runs out of battery after just 1:21 hours.


The ASUS ROG Strix SCAR III G531GW laptop review. Test device courtesy of ASUS Germany.

The ASUS ROG Strix SCAR III G531WG is a solid gaming laptop. Unsurprisingly, modern triple-A games run smoothly on its 240 Hz Full HD display, while its RTX 2070 GPU is powerful to handle games at 4K on external monitors too. The laptop is easy to repair and maintain too, and we are fans of the inclusion of Keystone security. The number pad integrated within the trackpad is also a nice touch and distinguishes the ROG Strix from its competitors.

The ASUS ROG Strix SCAR III G531GW is a solid 15.6-inch gaming laptop. However, its loud fans and underwhelming RTX 2070 performance prevent it from attaining top marks.

Disappointingly, the ROG Strix did not perform as well as we would have expected in benchmarks and in our gaming tests. Other laptops simply get more performance out of similar hardware than our review unit can. Additionally, ASUS has equipped the device with punishingly loud fans, which drown its impressive speakers. Unfortunately, you will only be able to appreciate the speakers when you are not gaming. It is a shame that ASUS does not offer a 4K display option too, as the ROG Strix is powerful enough to play modern triple-A titles at that resolution. Overall, the ROG Strix SCAR III G531GW has a lot going for it, but it is let down by some significant deficiencies.

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