When ASUS released the ROG GX700, it was during a time where the performance between desktop and mobile were slowly closing their gaps and the GTX 980 for Mobile was the fastest card of its class. But during Computex 2016, ASUS already had the first prototype of the GX800 on display sporting the world’s first SLI-capable GTX 1080 for mobile months ahead of t
he launch of both technologies. That said, the concept of putting multi-GPU solutions on notebooks is no stranger for high-end flagships of any brand but while everyone else is relegated to traditional blower style cooling, ASUS has adopted liquid-cooling for its flagship GX800. Today we pit the performance flagship of ASUS against the big boys of MSI and Acer as we review the ASUS ROG GX800 liquid-cooled gaming notebook.
Dual GeForce GTX 1080 Graphics in SLI liquid cooled by ROG Hydro overclocking dock, powerful performance even when undocked
We actually had the entire ROG GX800 retail packaging with us but due to the gigantic size of the box we decided not to fetch the retail box from ASUS’ office. Inside the box is the custom-branded luggage with a certified TSA lock which houses the two 300w power bricks and watercooling dock unit as well as the free ROG Gladius gaming mouse. Unlike the ROG GX700 prior, the ROG GX800’s luggage’s partition does not house the laptop anymore although if you had the same foam you could probably mold one yourself but the default package now includes a ROG Shuttle II backpack for the laptop itself.
Like many ROG laptops of this generation, the premier models are usually clad in a champagne gold metallic chassis with brass highlights and trims. The ROG GX800 laptop is a relatively large model, but certainly a touch slimmer than the Predator 21x and the GT83VR Titan, both of which we’ll be including in the benchmarks in this review. The top shell of the GX800 has the standard LED-lit accents in the center complimenting the ROG logo.
The bottom cover of the chassis is one of the more intricate we’ve seen from the ROG flagships. The chassis shares many details like the G752 but is a completely original mold. The bottom has many panel line accents accompanied by grills for venting in key areas for cooling. There’s also a translucent panel cover for a slight peek in the underchassis’ internals.
The front edge of chassis shows us a good idea how thick the GX800 is with the bottom shell elevating the upper portion by quite a bit. From the read its a bit more obscured with the fan grills and docking interface making up the entirety of the GX800’s rear edge. The extreme left and right holes are the locking connectors with the ones between those are the quick-disconnect fitting female connector and the center port as the main power connector from the dock.
If you know how big a USB port is, you’ll now have an idea how thick the GX800 is. The entire venting grill itself as thick as most laptops and that’s to guarantee ample cooling to its powerful components. The right side of the ROG GX800 has an SD card slot, USB3.0 ports and an antenna port (yes, antennae included.) On the other edge we have the proprietary power port, RJ45 port, HDMI port, mini DisplayPort, two Type-C ports: a USB3.1 Gen2 and a Thunderbolt3 port. Finally we have another USB3.0 port, a mic input and audio output port. There’s a Kensington lock notch on the left corner just beside the hinge.
Opening up the ROG GX800 we now see the 18.4″ IPS 4K screen.
One of ASUS’ key breakthroughs in the GX800 aside from the liquid-cooling capability is the MechTAG keyboard which is powered by low-profile mechanical switches. This keyboards has a really tactile feel and can be compared to tactile switches with very short travel distances. There’s a distinct resistance to them which gives a very unique but excellent. The keyboard is also customizable with various color and effects via the keyboard software.
The Hydro Overclocking System is the dock included with the ROG GX800. This dock is said to be improved upon on the original GX700 design but physically they’re the same. We noticed there was no lighting on our unit but that could change with retail units. The dock is particularly hefty and is intended for stationary use only. A large tab locks the ROG GX800 to the unit when lined up correctly.
You will need to plug the power connector to the dock AS WELL AS THE main laptop to enable manual mode for overclocking.
Once connected, the ROG GX800 becomes a total desktop replacement unit that is completely watercooled. The assembly is completely sealed and has minimal fluid loss so no need for user-service or maintenance.
The ROG GX800 has a couple of profiles accessible via its ROG Gaming Center app. By default, the unit will run in Optimized mode which clocks in the CPU at 3.6Ghz. This is similar to the Standard settings which is also clocked in at the same rate but increases GPU clocks a bit for more power when plugged in. This is for laptop-only mode, for docked mode you have access to all modes including Extreme (default for docked) and Manual which lets you manually set all the clocks yourself. In Extreme mode, the GX800 ramps to 4.2Ghz and the GPU receives their full speeds. Finally in Manual mode we have the capacity to increase CPU multiplier to 48x, the memory XMP profile activated for DDR4-2800 speeds and the GPU core and memory overclocked as well. We’ll touch more on the overclocking experience at the end of this article.
Gaming Test Setup
For this test we’ll focus on the gaming performance both our processors. Do note that we have specially selected benchmark runs for CPU testing vs. GPU testing so these vary from our GPU benchmark results. To see more details about the benchmark sequences, please see our game benchmark method guide.
Frame rates and frame times of a 60-second game play were recorded using FRAPS v3.5.99. The test results are the average of 3 benchmark runs. Since this is a GPU review, we benchmarked the area of the games that put heavy load on the GPU.
The games and corresponding image quality settings used are shown in their respective tabs.
Note: Some proprietary technologies of NVIDIA like PCSS, HBAO+, and HairWorks work on AMD GPU’s BUT to maintain uniformity amongst GPUs, these have been turned OFF.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The reboot of the gaming phenomenon Tomb Raider puts players in Lara Croft’s hiking boots as we pick-up from the last game. Featuring upgraded graphics, DX12 support and new image quality improvements, this game challenges new hardware with its graphical offering.
Very High settings
Ambient Occlusion: On
Pure Hair: On
Vignette Blur: Off
Motion Blur: Off
Screen Space Reflections: On
Lens Flares: On
Film Grain: Off
The Witcher 3
CD Projekt Red’s latest installment in the Witcher saga features one of the most graphically intense offering the company has to date. As Geralt of Rivia, slay monsters, beasts and men as you unravel the mysteries of your past. Vast worlds and lush sceneries make this game a visual feast and promises to make any system crawl at its highest settings.
Frame Rate: Unlimited
Nvidia HairWorks: Off
Motion Blur: Off
Ambient Occlusion: SSAO
Depth of Field: On
Chromatic Aberration: Off
Light Shafts: On
The most popular game on Steam and the biggest competition in eSports; DOTA 2 is powered by the Source 2 engine. The game is fairly light on low to medium settings but maxed out with heavy action on screen especially during clashes can really stress most systems especially with Reborn update. This is a game where frame times matter as responsiveness is very important in high-stakes competition.
Best-Looking slider setting (Ultra)
Grand Theft Auto V
The fifth and most successful installment to date in the highly controversial Grand Theft Auto series brings a graphical overhaul to the PC version of GTA V which many have lauded as a superior approach in porting a console game to PC. Featuring large areas and detailing, GTA V is a highly challenging application in terms of scene complexity.
Very High settings
Anisotropic Filtering: 16x
Motion Blur disabled
Advanced Graphics enabled
The most visually intense game to have ever been made during its time. Prophet is back to take on the Ceph and Cell after a long sleep and the world isn’t what it was when before he got frozen. CryEngine 3 is behind this beautiful beast that will put a lot of systems to their knees. The opening level shows off the exquisite particle and water rendering of the engine capable of still giving modern GPUs a workout to this day.
Texture Resolution: Very High
Anti-aliasing: SMAA 2Tx
System Spec: Very High
Anisotropic Filtering: 16x
Motion Blur: Disabled
Spyder5 Display Analysis
Temperature and Battery Life
We really don’t put too much stock on individual component temperatures as they will vary depending on usage and we do not benchmark using extreme loads anymore as they’re not reflective of real world applications. To stress the CPU and GPU, we use a looped 3DMark Fire Strike Test to simulate a typical modern gaming scenario. We recorded the peak CPU and GPU temps.
We put this here for reference only and from a totally performance perspective, the peak temps really did not hinder the ASUS ROG GX800 much when in battery mode making the dock a bonus rather than a requirement. You can totally game on-battery mode only and still yield excellent performance from the ROG GX800.
Under the Hood
Overclocking & Conclusion
While ASUS openly advertises the overclocking capability of the ROG GX800, you’ll need some basic knowledge of what can and can’t be done with the limitations of the laptop form factor. While thermal limits is easily resolved by the liquid-cooling system, dissipation is still not as optimal as custom counterparts but it is still by and large more efficient than standard air cooling solutions on other units. We’ve went ahead and completely enabled Manual mode to see just how far we can go with the GX800. Going by our desktop settings, we immediately tried a 4.8Ghz CPU clock with XMP-2800 enabled. The system would refuse to boot mostly with this setting so we explored a bit via Intel Extreme Tuning utility. Do note that ROG Gaming Center will block Intel XTU and configuring via XTU will cause the BIOS to report settings incorrectly prompting a recurring error message on screen. Once we figured that out, we went on and tried to apply a bit more voltage via XTU and managed to hit 4.8Ghz boot and SuperPI32M stable. Multi-core benchmarks refused to load as well as gaming loads so we dialed back down to 4.6Ghz and got a stable system.
After testing the stability of 4.6Ghz we reconfigured the system to the ROG Gaming Center again, completely removing XTU and defaulting the BIOS to remove the prompt. At 4.6Ghz with XMP DDR4-2800 enabled, we’ve gotten really significant improvements coupled with a bit of increase on the GPU clocks. A comparison is below:
In stock Extreme setting, we get the score above.
With our maximum overclock, we were able to reach the score above. To give you an idea how that fares, we managed to overclock an MSI GT83VR Titan to its maximum 4.2Ghz (its highest multiplier) and only received a score of around 21k which in itself is not bad, but given the flexibility of unlimited overclocking on the GX800, it pales in comparison.
At $6000 or Php369,000, there’s no going around the fact that this is one expensive piece of kit. The ASUS ROG GX800 also doesn’t do much to justify the cost from a purely performance perspective. The argument will always exist that at that price and given its weight and bulkiness, you can compromise on going with a desktop. But there’s also the other side of that argument, wherein you may have the space adequate for an office setup but you always move around, you always need to shift locations and but you can’t lug around a monitor and a desktop then it becomes quite clear you’ll want a powerhouse laptop. Gaming aside, the CPU performance of the ROG GX800 is uncompromising thanks to its liquid cooling dock making it a viable choice for professionals that need to work on the go and want the utmost power in any venue they’re in.
We barely touched on battery life on this review because you’d really want this laptop plugged in and given its weight you’ll be hard-pressed to bring this to a school or business presentation. That said though, at only 30 minutes gaming time and abelow
With with the announcement of a Ryzen laptop in the horizon, the CPU performance crown may soon be taken from the ROG GX800 but as long as it holds the complete system specs to still deliver incredible gaming performance, it will still be the more viable option in terms of a portable gaming station. Sure you’d need to bring a luggage with you but as I’ve said, would you travel around with a monitor in tow or rather go with a laptop form factor?
Once all that sinks in, you’ll realize the value of the ASUS ROG GX800 is not with its performance but rather the flexibility you get in how you use it: even an ITX system with the same FPS horsepower will need at least twice the footprint the GX800 requires but with this one, you can just put at the side of your table and still have enough desk space to do other things without a monitor hampering your freedom.
Unless you really fit the description of the ASUS ROG GX800 customers, you won’t realize how practical the concept is and arguing the price is ultimately a cost vs. value scenario wherein you may feel its overpriced but some people will feel otherwise. Fact of the matter is, the ASUS ROG GX800 delivers excellent performance above all mainstream laptops right now and it brings the best of what ASUS has to offer in a laptop.
ASUS backs the ROG GX800 with a 2-year global warranty. We give it our B2G Gold Award and B2G Performance Award!