Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 (2023) review: substance over style

No expense is spared in the quest for the best possible performance

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The price may make you do a double take but the Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 is an exceptional machine. Fitted with pretty much the best possible components out there, you won’t be compromising on performance anytime soon. It might not always feel like a premium product to touch, but it sure does perform like one.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great battery life compared to other gaming laptops

  • +

    Screen's 240Hz refresh rate is glorious

  • +

    13th Gen Intel Core i9 processor

  • +

    Excellent minimalist keyboard

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    The style won't be for everyone

  • -

    Cheap-feeling plastic base

  • -

    Fans can get very loud

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This Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review will help you get a read on what could be your next gaming laptop. Summer may be here, but is this ROG enough to keep you from going outside – or will this finally be the year you give your controller a break and work on your tan?

Pretty much beach body ready at a pretty svelte 2.6kg, this 16-inch machine is an absolute blockbuster that undoubtedly challenges the best gaming laptops available – if you can tolerate a few imperfections, that is, which I'll get into in this review...

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16: Price & Availability

Prices will fluctuate based on spec but the G634J model I reviewed is available in the UK for between £3,000 and £3,500. That may sound a lot, but compared to some of the top machines that is around par for the course for an Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU (it's pricier still if you opt for the 4090). 

Those in the US can expect to pay around $2,899.99 (plus sales tax) – which again is pretty comparable to the likes of the Lenovo Legion 7 and Acer Predator Helios 16. Those gaming in Australia should anticipate a price tag of around AU$4799. 

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review: Design

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review

(Image credit: Future)

This is a curious case: folded shut, the Scar Strix 16 is a perfectly handsome machine; but viewed from the side it becomes clear that the plastic bezel around the base of the laptop is not a particularly aesthetically pleasing choice. 

Once opened up it again seems a mishmash of decisions. A refreshingly minimalist keyboard is slick and easy to use, with clearly distinct volume controls being a nice touch. The usual RGB lighting on the keyboard and case is also welcome and highly customisable. The hinge features a pretty cool set of lights that can give you indicators at a glance of battery power and brightness levels as well.

However, it is here that I run out of nice things to say about the looks of this machine. The translucent design is a neat idea, but you can't actually see anything of value. But the biggest disappointment for a machine this pricey is just how cheap the plastic feels. A shame, but perhaps a necessary evil to avoid outrageous overheating. 

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review: Display

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review

(Image credit: Future)

In contrast to the bottom half of the laptop, the display is a thing of beauty. I had a little audible gasp the first time I saw the 16-inch ROG's so-called "Nebula Display". Gaming at a 2560 x 1600 (that's WQXGA, or QHD+) resolution is always special, especially when paired with a 240Hz refresh rate – and when this much power actually runs games that can make the most of it. 

The anti-glare on this display is pretty impressive, even in full sunlight, for those who want to game when outside. The 3ms latency keeps things responsive and is up there with the best at this price point. A brightness of up to 1100 nits is great for lighting up your favourite games too, certainly higher than the typical 500 nits of many mere mortal laptops.

Acer Predator Helios 16 review: Performance 

ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16

(Image credit: Future)

In terms of raw power, the ROG Scar Strix 16 can mix it with the best of them. A 13th Gen Intel i9 processor is more than enough for pretty much anything, while the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU will make even challenging games run smoothly. Under the hood, you do get 32GB of RAM – which is nice to see with some similarly priced laptops, like the Acer Predator Helios 16 only offering half that.

If I were being super critical I'd love to have an RTX 4090 in there – but that's no shade on what this ROG Scar Strix 16 has to offer. Plugged in and on its Performance Mode (which cranks the fans and GPU a bit) I managed a consistent figure around 90fps for Deathloop with all the bells and whistles (ray-tracing and highest settings). Forza Horizon 5 also ran well with a solid 120fps in Performance Mode and 130fps in Turbo Mode. Performance when unplugged is obviously less impressive, but still strong with a steady 30fps on Forza and Deathloop. 

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review

(Image credit: Future)

Cooling was pretty good throughout the most intense gaming sessions, with the keyboard and front of the machine remaining cool to the touch. The sides – which is where the fans are located – obviously ran a little hotter. 

However, my main gripe with the gaming experience is the noise. This is not a quiet machine. In Turbo Mode, ROG's excellent Armoury Crate optimisation software reported a fan volume of over 49dB when playing Deathloop. At that volume, game audio is easy to miss, unless you've got one of the best gaming headsets strapped to your head and turned up loud. There is also a Silent Mode which will help you avoid headaches, but it does cut performance significantly.

If you're a lover of the cold hard specification facts then the Strix will blow you away. A Geekbench 6 CPU single-core score of 2,854 and a multi-core score of 17,274 is a fantastic effort, as is a GPU score of 18,226. 

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review: Features 

Rog Scar Strix 16

(Image credit: Future)

Of course, your average work tasks are not going to pose any problem to a machine like this. If you're planning on using this machine in the office, it's got both USB-A full-size and USB-C smaller-size, but take note that only one of the latter is Thunderbolt 4.0 rated (i.e. faster, despite the same connector type).

Wi-Fi 6E is great for multiplayer gamers who rely on a consistent connection (in shooters this is particularly important) while Asus's Armoury Crate software is a great tool to get a bespoke experience and create your dream setup. 

The solid battery life makes this machine an easy recommendation if you plan on streaming on the likes of Netflix, especially when you take into account the 330W charging speed. That can see you rejuicing the laptop in a jiffy.

Rog Scar Strix 16

(Image credit: Future)

Audio comes courtesy of Dolby Atmos and no fewer than four smart amp speakers to deliver an impressive sound. While you may hear and sound better than ever on calls, the webcam on this machine is only 720p. In fairness, most people gaming will just use Discord for voice chats anyway, so it's not really a deal-breaker – otherwise you'll need to go out and buy one of the best webcams

Those with extensive game collections or who just want to download everything on Game Pass will be delighted to know the ROG Strix Scar 16 has a bumper 2TB SSD. You can see the spec overview in the table below: 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1
Weight: 2.6kg
CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13980HX
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080
RAM:32GB DDR5-4800
Display: 16-inch Mini-LED QHD+ (2560 x 1600) 240Hz refresh rate
Storage: 2TB M.2 SSD
Webcam: 720p HD
Ports:1x 3.5mm, 1x HDMI 2.1, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x 2.5G LAN port, 1x Thunderbolt 4

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review: Battery life 

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review

(Image credit: Future)

This is something I was quietly impressed by with the ROG Scar Strix 16. The 90Wh battery is not as capacious as some (although not far off, 99.9Wh being the largest possible in a laptop), but in practice it offered some of the best longevity I have seen from a gaming laptop. Fully charged, you can expect almost two hours of serious gaming, while in general use you should easily get 5 hours of juice. 

Of course, like pretty much all gaming laptops, when running on its internal battery the performance isn't as good as when plugged into the wall. These machines remain at their best when attached to their charger, although the ROG Scar Strix 16 can also be charged via USB-C at 100W (compared to the 330W of the regular charger) which is handy if you don't want to lug around a bulky power brick. 

ROG Strix Scar 16 review: Verdict 

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes down to it, this is a gaming laptop that offers top-tier performance at a top-tier price. Aside from raw muscle, it is the battery life, audio quality and ultra-bright display that are the true standouts of this machine. 

It's just a shame that the design choices will not be everyone's cup of tea and it can get louder than is desired given the fans. But there is still a lot to love here that wouldn't put me off recommending the ROG Scar Strix 16 as your next powerhouse gaming laptop.

Also consider

If you value portability and power on a less hefty budget, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is well worth a look before pulling the trigger on the ROG Scar Strix 16. Those with more to spend might want to take a look at the Razer Blade 15 Advanced or even the top-end Lenovo Legion 7, which has similar specs to the ROG we reviewed. 

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer

Andy is T3's Tech Staff Writer, covering all things technology, including his biggest passions such as gaming, AI, phones, and basically anything cool and expensive he can get his hands on. If he had to save one possession from a fire it would be his PlayStation 5. He previously worked for Tom’s Guide - where he got paid to play with ChatGPT every day. When it comes to streaming, Andy will have his headphones glued in whilst watching something that will make him laugh. He studied Creative Writing at university, but also enjoys supporting his favourite football team (Liverpool), watching F1, teaching himself guitar, and spending time with his dog.