Wednesday, 22 May 2019 22:37

VIDEO: ASUS launches new ROG and TUF gaming notebooks with powerful features and great prices

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At IEM 2019 earlier this month, and then at its own media event, ASUS launched a fantastic range of new gaming notebooks, from ultra premium models to surprisingly affordable ones and everything in between.

At this month's Intel Extreme Masters (IEM 2019) event, ASUS unveiled its latest ROG gaming laptop line-up, comprising the ROG Mothership, the ROG G703, the ROG Zephyrus S, the ROG Strix Scar III and the ROG Strix G.

Dubbed the Autumn 2019 range (at least for those in the Southern Hemisphere, as it is called the Spring 2019 range up north), Asus says it has "refreshed systems to balance the performance required by gamers, content creators and power users – without sacrificing the convenience of creature comforts that enhance everyday use".

Of course, that's a key point for gaming machines: given the specs of gaming machines necessarily needs to be higher and better than traditional notebooks, this makes them excellent computers for content creation and power use, because by definition, they are much more powerful machines than the "norm".

This goes not only for the premium Asus gaming brand, ROG, which stands for "Republic of Gamers", which come with Intel's 9th-generation CPUs, but also for the Asus TUF brand, with its new FX505 range, which is more value priced, but which comes equipped with AMD's top notch Ryzen CPUs that take the fight up to Intel for performance and value.

The entry-level model in the ASUS TUF range is the FX505DD, which as you'll read about further below, gives tremendous value for the money, delivering an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB RAM, a 256GB M.2 PCIE SSD, 15.6-inch display, NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics card and more for just A$999 as you can see here at Scorptec, for example.

For the ROG range, Asus has a full write-up of all the features and benefits you'll find in the new models here, and you can explore the models in the range here

You can also watch this video of an ASUS ROG and TUF event earlier this month in Sydney, Australia, after which I go into more detail on the TUF FX505 range.

So, while ASUS has its higher-end ROG range, it also has its TUF Gaming range of FX505 laptops that aren't just great gaming machines, but are also great computers for everyday computing, bringing together the latest AMD Ryzen processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPUs at affordable prices.

In addition, ASUS proudly boasts its FX505 has been "tested and certified to meet military-grade MIL-STD-810G standards, ensuring the toughness and durability needed to withstand the knocks and bumps of everyday work and play".

So, not only has ASUS taken AMD on board to deliver performance and value at the same time, it has also deployed NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics which features "NVIDIA’s latest Turing architecture with a tighter focus on today's games".

We're told that "upgrades to its CUDA cores, cache hierarchy, and memory subsystem produce a significant per-core performance increase over the previous generation. Live-streamers can also reap the benefits of a new video encoder that improves video quality using hardware-accelerated capture that reduces pressure on the CPU.

"The powerful GPU puts triple-digit FPS within reach in popular games, and it's paired with a fast display that allows enjoyment of every frame."

ASUS also explains that "with up to a 120Hz refresh rate, that's twice the speed of standard screens; the FX505 enables smoother gameplay providing an edge on the battleground. Its high refresh rate is especially helpful in fast-paced shooters and esports titles. The 15.6" panel is also available with 60Hz display that's better for graphically demanding games that run closer to 60 FPS.

"The FX505 offers a premium feel due to its generous screen sizes thanks to NanoEdge bezels that focus attention on the display. In addition to heightening immersion, the narrow frames shrink the footprints of the chassis, making the laptops more compact.

"The panels inside are based on vIPS-level technology that maintains vibrant colours over wide viewing angles, allowing a variety of viewing scenarios."

So, what else is contained with the TUF FX505 range?

ASUS tells us more about the AMD Ryzen processors, with the ones used within codenamed "Picasso". Billed as second-generation mobile APUs, they are "based on the updated Zen+ architecture and built using industry-leading 12nm fabrication technology.

"The TUF Gaming laptops are available with up to a Ryzen 7 CPU that features quad cores and eight threads with ample performance for gaming, entertainment and everyday work. Despite the ability to slice through multi-threaded workloads and aggressive multitasking, the processor fits into an energy efficient 35W power envelope that preserves battery life.

"Offering up to 32GB of DDR4-2400 memory, there's enough RAM for productive multitasking and light content creation. A range of storage options accommodates varied needs and budgets: solid-state drives up to 512GB boast high speeds across the board. The storage bays and memory slots are readily accessible with a standard screwdriver, so it’s easy to upgrade as needed."

Then there's the ASUS "self-cleaning cooling" that it says "stands the test of time".

Noting that "effective cooling is crucial to maintaining strong performance", we're told that the TUF FX505 range has "HyperCool technology" that covers the CPU and GPU with independent fans and heatsinks.

In addition, "a shared heatpipe links them all together to maximise cooling in situations where the processor is under load".

"Air vents fitted at the back of the device ensures exhaust escapes unobstructed. Special anti-dust tunnels on the edges of the fan housings catch and direct particles out of the laptop to prevent them from clogging the heatsinks and fans. This self-cleaning design prevents build-up that could impede performance and stability over time.

"Fan speeds adapt automatically to component temperatures. With a quick keyboard shortcut, users can switch between three operating modes that mix different cooling and performance profiles.

"'Turbo mode' delivers maximum performance and fan speeds for intensive tasks, while the 'Balanced mode' optimises speed and acoustics for the best gaming experience. The “Silent mode” backs off to reduce noise for lighter loads like day-to-day productivity, web surfing, and video streaming."

Two shades of military-grade toughness

"Two chassis variations bring different looks to the TUF Gaming laptops. Gold Steel skins the lid with Gunmetal Grey aluminium and adds customisable colour through Aura RGB lighting in the keyboard. Stealth Black keeps a lower profile with a shadowy exterior punctuated by keyboard backlighting.

"Both exhibit the sharp lines and angular accents that define the TUF Gaming aesthetic, right down to the distinctive Radiating-X design on the lid.

"The bottom of the chassis adds structural strength and rigidity with a hexagonal design that helps the laptops live up to the TUF name. These machines meet military-grade MIL-STD-810G standards, passing demanding tests that ensure survival in extreme environments, with ambient vibration and accidental knocks. The TUF FX505 bounces back from short drops from a desk – and the 15-inch models can handle falls from even higher heights."

A familiar, desktop-inspired keyboard

"The keyboard is optimised for gaming with a layout reminiscent of standard desktop designs. Function keys are separated in the usual groups to make shortcuts more intuitive as arrow keys are offset for effortless navigation and a full number pad makes number crunching a breeze. Highlighted WASD keys clearly identify the home row for gaming, while a wider space bar provides a larger target for thumb presses.

"Each key cap is gently curved to more easily cradle fingertips. The underlying switches have 1.8mm of travel enhanced by Overstroke technology that offers responsive input with an improved overall feel.

"Overstroke raises the actuation point so that presses register sooner and the resulting increase in post-actuation travel makes typing more comfortable. With a rated lifespan of 20 million presses, the switches are durable enough to hold up to years of heavy use.

"Models with RGB backlighting let users add an element of personalised style across the keyboard as a whole. Users can customise RGB colours and effects with the Armoury Crate utility, which unifies vital functions like lighting control, system monitoring and configurable game profiles that automatically load preferred system settings for different titles."

Robust connectivity to enhance the gaming experience

"Gaming is more immersive with DTS Headphone: X technology that brings 7.1-channel virtual surround sound to stereo headsets or speakers plugged into the laptop. Users can choose between built-in presets for games, movies, and sports or perform custom tuning with the embedded equaliser.

"The 3.5mm audio jack sits with numerous USB ports for vital peripherals like a gamepad, mouse, and external storage. HDMI 2.0 allows users to drive a wide range of displays at resolutions up to 4K, from the desktop monitors, big-screen TVs or projectors. Getting online is easy with the integrated 802.11ac WiFi."

Asus says "it's hard to beat the convenience of wireless networking, but wired connections have lower latency for serious multiplayer gaming, so Gigabit Ethernet is also included."

Availability and Pricing

TUF Gaming FX505 laptops will be available in Q2 2019.

Specifications:

Processors:

1. FX505DD: AMD Ryzen 5 3550H with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
2. FX505DT: AMD Ryzen 5 3550H with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
3. FX505DT: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
4. FX505DU: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx

OS for all models:

WIN10

Memory:

FX505DD and FX505DT: 8G DDR4 2666 MHz up to 32GB
FX505DT and FXFOFDU: 16G DDR4 2666 MHz up to 32GB

Display (for all models):

15.6” Non-glare FHD (60Hz) value IPS

Graphics Card:

1. FX505DD: GTX1050 with 3G GDDR5 VRAM
2. FX505DT: GTX1650 with 4G GDDR5 VRAM
3. FX505DT: GTX1650 with 4G GDDR5 VRAM
4. FX505DU: GTX1660Ti with 6G GDDR6 VRAM

Storage:

FX505DD: Entry level model has 256GB PCIe SSD and 512GB option
Other three models available with 512GB PCIe SSD

Keyboard

Gold Steel: RGB KB; Stealth Black: RGB KB

Connectivity

802.11AC+BT 5.0
1*1, 2*2(wave 2)

Interface

2 x USB 3.0 Gen1
1 x USB 2.0
1x HDMI 2.0
1x RJ-45 Jack
1x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1x Kensington lock

Battery

3S1P, 48Whr

Camera / Microphone

Built-in HD(array mic)

Dimensions / Weight

360.4(W) x 262(D) x 25.8~26.8 (H) mm/ 2.2 kg

Suggested Retail Prices

1. Entry level FX505DD with 256GB SSD: A$999
2. FX505DT: A$1299
3. FX505DT: A$1499
4. FX505DU: A$1699

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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