Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC Review - A Low Priced Multicore Beast

By July 07, 2018

Do you need high-end multithreading performance on your laptop without spending 4000€ for an i9 Mobile CPU? 

If you do, there is one option, it is called Asus ROG 702 ZC and is super cheap at 1000 - 1300€ street price.

I used this Laptop as a supplementary mobile workstation, since last November, for multithreaded apps on the go. After using it at work for almost seven months I will break down my experiences.

 

Design & Ports

 

This 17” Laptop is not super bulky like some Clevo barebones but it is not as slim as a 17” thin and light. It stands somewhere in the middle.

 

Asus702ZC 1

 

For a laptop that is using desktop graded hardware it is acceptable as the laptop weighs 3.2Kgrs and the power supply 1.1kgrs. A total of 4.3kgrs (laptop+psu) is almost ok if you consider the performance that you are carrying with you.

 

Asus702ZC 2a

 

On the left side of the device you will find a DC-in, RJ45-LAN, mini DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C 3.1 Gen2, USB-A 3.0, 3.5 mm jack (combined port for audio and mic) and on the right a card reader, 2xUSB-A 3.0, Kensington Lock. Ports are enough for everyone.

 

Asus702ZC Ports

 

It is missing a thunderbolt as I was expecting from the first day that I got that laptop, as it is a feature that can be found only on intel-based systems.

 

CPU - GPU

 

This laptop is based on the desktop Ryzen 1700 65w TDP CPU. It is a fast chip for multithreading achieving from 1417 to 1422 points in Cinebench R15 benchmark and 3932 points in CPU-Z.

 

CPUZ 1A AUS ROG STRIX 702 ZC Serious Techie

CPUZ 2A AUS ROG STRIX 702 ZC Serious Techie

 

Single thread performance is, as it supposed to be, less interesting, ranging in Cinebench R15 from 147 to 152 CB points. For sure it is the fastest laptop in terms of multicore performance in the market (according to Cinebench), even slightly faster in multithreading than all i9 based mobile laptops that I used recently.

For comparison an i9 mobile multithread score averages at 1350 CB points in Cinebench R15 at least for the laptops that I have seen up to this day today (some manufacturers have a boost mode that pushes slightly the CPUs in terms of getting more performance and the max that I got was 1378 CB points).

 

Cinebench Score AUS ROG STRIX 702 ZC Serious Techie

 

Let’s get down to the GPU. It features an RX580 (paired with 4GB) that is downclocked in comparison to its desktop cousin and the performance is on par with a Nvidia 1060.

In general, it performs as it should for its class and you should look elsewhere if you are using applications that are using CUDA acceleration.  There are many apps that can benefit from GPU Rendering and work with AMD GPUs like Cinema 4D.   AMD's Radeon Rays will be integrated this summer with Unity's GPU Progressive Lightmapper so if your workflow is C4D and Unity you will be satisfied.

 

SCREEN

 

The screen is using an IPS (LG LP173WF4-SPF5) panel with Full HD resolution at 1920x1080 pixels. It is good enough to be used in very bright environments and even outdoors as it has 350 cd/m² brightness. The screen is rated as sRGB 86% and AdobeRGB 56% color space that is enough for many business workflows except if you are in the printing industry.   

I should mention that this is not a 120Hz panel but a 60Hz one and as advertised it is using AMDs Free synch technology.

 

CONNECTIVITY
 
As a Wi-Fi controller it uses a Realtek 8822BE that supports Bluetooth 4.2 and WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. The antenna inside the laptop is very well implemented as even away from our router was working easily without any significant drops in performance compared to other laptops that I have used in the same environment. 
 

 

STORAGE

 

This laptop is using a SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1002 with 256 GB  that is a SATA SSD. In every day use the difference is not noticeable for the average user (in comparison to NVME) but in some professional workflows, it is. I am not indicating that it is slow as it averages at 400 to 500Mb/s sequential read/write speed but it is slower than NVME. It can be upgraded to NVME and this is good news.

For storage a typical 1TB HDD (Seagate ST1000LM035) is installed and it spins at 5400RPM. The performance is nothing special as expected from an HDD like this one.

 

Asus702ZC diskmark

 

 

 

EXPANDABILITY (MEMORY AND STORAGE)

 

Asus702ZC 3

 


This laptop comes only with one 16GB DIMM (2400) which occupies one of the two slots (and that means that it is in single channel mode) and you can add extra 16GB of Ram to achieve 32GB in total in dual channel setup that will cover a great range of professional applications.

It is a good idea to switch to an M.2 NVME SDD and convert the 256GB SanDisk SSD to an external fast storage device.  Also, it is a good idea to upgrade the 2.5” Hard disk to a larger HDD or SDD if you are working with big media files.

I Should mention that the CPU is not soldered (like GPU) and it can be upgraded to a newer one like Ryzen 2700 if ASUS makes available a firmware update for that reason.

 

 

BATTERY

 

I could skip that section altogether, as in all high-performance laptops battery endurance is just a joke. 

You can get maximum an hour when unplugged using productivity apps. The performance of the laptop degrades heavily (as they underclock the desktop CPU) when it is unplugged so forget gaming or rendering on 3D max, Cinema 4d when off the grid.  I used the battery as a safety net like using a UPS and nothing more.


 

WORKFLOW EXPERIENCE

 

After finishing the typical subjects of the review, I would like to mention some experiences on my workflow with the Asus ROG Strix 702zc.

I used mainly this system as a mobile workstation for some projects. It has enough power to be your only computer especially when combined with a second external monitor as it is a desktop computer packed in a laptop chassis.

I used it mainly in my workflow for 3d rendering applications, developing 3d Realtime visualizations with game engines, Video editing on the go and finaly I did some coding as well.

I haven’t noticed any thermal throttling issues even after rendering (raytracing) for days without powering it off with 100% load in all cores. Asus did a great job considering that this laptop consists of desktop parts with a hefty 65w CPU TDP for a laptop that is slim for its class.

I actually used it exactly as a desktop pc on the go with zero issues except the noise of the fans. So, if you are rendering in your hotel room you need to wear earbuds in order to get some sleep, assuming that it is very close to you.

At the beginning, last November, I experienced some minor problems with the GPU drivers with some 3D rendering applications but that was not something new, as I had the same problems with my NVIDIA based laptops that use consumer rated GPUs. In January updates from AMD solved the majority of the problems and they came up to the minimum for spoiling the working experience.

It is a good idea if you can to have a system with a Professional GPU for better support and greater viewport speed with all the business applications. Although using Pro GPUs is not always the case as for many professional workflows you can cope with consumer GPUs as the cost difference especially in laptops is huge.

At his point you can read out article that explains how many cpu cores and what gpu are needed for specific use scenarios HERE.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

I think that ASUS made it “by mistake” a gaming system and they should list it in their professional range laptops, as there are many options with better gaming performance out there. I hope to see Ryzen based laptops with NVIDIA GPUs in the future, as cuda is more popular for professional applications.

You need an i9 mobile laptop to be in par with the MT performance and it is very cheap in comparison to all i9 systems that are used only in laptops that are equipped with expensive GPUs.

 

Asus ROG 702zc comparison table

 

If you are covered from the GPU performance of the RX580 for your workflow and need multicore performance then this laptop is one the best value options in the market as it outperforms according to Cinebench all i7(6 core) mobile laptops in average by 32% and even i9 mobile by 3 to 9% (varies from manufacturer and model). For single threaded apps i7/i9 is still a better option.  

Also, if something goes wrong, as professionals move around a lot, for example if you have an accident like dropping it down or someone stealing it, losing 1300€ is less important in comparison to 4000€. Your work stored on the laptop would cost more money on most cases in comparison to the price of this laptop.

 

 Asus ROG 702zc Specs

Serious Techie

Charalampos Moraitis: Computing Specialist with multiyear experience in the fields of 3D and VR, Networks and infrastructures, Mobile Applications, Web development, CAM and CNC machining.

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