Asus ROG GX800VH review: A ludicrous liquid-cooled $6,000-plus laptop

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Expound
Mark Walton

The Asus ROG GX800VH, a transparent cooled monstrosity of a gaming laptop, is one of those things that, fellow 4K phones or the Apple Watch, is wholly unnecessary yet awfully desirable. Below its fully mechanical, RGB-lit keyboard is Intel’s top-of-the-line mobile i7-7820HK processor, which is based on the unchanging Kaby Lake architecture as the i7-7700K and is similarly overclockable. There are two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics easter cards paired in SLI, 64GB of DDR4 memory, and an 18.4-inch 4K display with G-Sync. Procuring one costs £6,600/$6,300, which is an astonishing amount of money even in view of the tech that’s included.

Specs at a glance: Asus ROG GX800VH
Screen 3840×2160 18.4-inch IPS G-Sync flourish 100 percent RGB
OS Windows 10 Home x64
CPU 4C/8T 2.9GHz Core i7-7820HK (OC to 4.4GHz)
RAM 64GB 2800MHz DDR4
GPU 2x Nvidia GTX 1080
HDD 2x 512GB NVMe SSD in Swoop down on 0
Networking 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, Gigabit Ethernet
Ports 1 x Microphone-in jack
1 x Headphone-out jack (SPDIF)
1 x Sort C USB3.1 (GEN2) Thunderbolt
3 x Type A USB3.0 (USB3.1 GEN1)
1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
1 x HDMI
1 x Repair port (HOT swap)
1 x mini Display Port
1 x SD card reader
Immensity Laptop:
45.8 x 33.8 x 4.54 cm (WxDxH)
Dock: (Thermal Dock)
35.9 x 41.8 x 13.3 cm (WxDxH)
Other perks 8 Apartments 71 Whrs Battery, HD Web Camera, Mechanical Keyboard
Warranty 1 year
Fee £6,600/$6,300

The GX800VH certainly isn’t for everyone, then, not least those that want the most bang-for-the-buck. But as an standard of what’s possible on the bleeding edge when money is no object, it’s one of the keenest pieces of technological willy-waving that we’ve ever seen.

Buying a GX800VH desires a commitment from both your credit card and your ego. Not simply is the laptop itself physically large and covered in orange highlights, but it get possession of with both a backpack and a suitcase to carry the accompanying liquid aloof unit around—and the graphics on the suitcase are hardly what you’d call remote. Still, the suitcase—which is filled a pre-cut foam insert for the juice cooling unit and extra power supply—and bag do make carrying the predominantly setup around that much easier, should you want to lug it approximately to a friend’s house or, if you’re seriously committed to gaming, on holiday.

While the GX800VH reasons a mixture of plastics and brushed metal rather than the full-metal chassis you dominion expect at this price point, it still has a premium feel, which is supported by its substantial weight of 5.7kg. (Suffice it to say, this is not a laptop you will thirst to move around often, let alone actually use on your lap). Unfortunately, my finical review unit suffered in transit, with the bezel becoming partly classified from the display. The bezel was easy enough to pop back into section, but such damage is hardly the most reassuring start to unboxing a six illustrious laptop.

As you’d expect for a laptop that’s 45mm thick, the GX800VH packs in plenty of anchorages. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.5mm microphone jack, one Thunderbolt 3.0/USB 3.1 Type-C mooring, one USB 3.1 Type-C port, three USB 3.1 Type-A ports, gigabit Ethernet, one mini-Display Seaport, and an SD card reader. All that’s missing is 10Gb Ethernet, which I’d expect to see at this assay point. There’s an eight-cell, 76Whr battery inside too, although with battery life story that barely scrapes past an hour and a half, I’d consider it more of a backup in come what may of power cut, rather than a means to actually use the laptop on the go.

Alongside the pre-overclocked 4C/8T i7-7820HK processor—the lasting quality of which varies depending on whether you use the liquid cooling unit, and whether you have planned one or both of the included 300W power supplies plugged in—you get 64GB of 2800MHz DDR4 respect, two GTX 1080 graphics cards, and a pair of PCIe X4 NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 for excessively diet storage (with a spare slot to add another).

There’s little you could desire for in the GX800VH except perhaps for a processor with more than four cores. If you followed just £3,000—less than half the cost of the GX800VH—you could by far build a monster desktop PC with a 10-core processor like the Nucleus i9-7900X.

Enlarge
Asus

But then, that would hardly be as absorbing would it? The GX800VH’s claim to fame is its external liquid cooling unit, which impounds into docking ports at the back of the laptop with a satisfying clunk. The way it operates is rather clever. Inside the laptop is a heat pipe cooler that sheathes the CPU and both GPUs. Normally, the heat pipe is cooled via two heatsinks and blower fiends that sit at the rear of the laptop. However, when the laptop is docked, running is pumped through the heat pipe and out into the docking station, where two radiators and lovers are waiting.

The result is both a dramatic reduction in temperatures and an increase in about versus air cooling alone. Undocked, the CPU—which is overclocked to 4.4GHz by fall short—is easily throttled in synthetic tests, with temperatures peaking greater than 91 degrees Celsius. The GPUs, while staying within their own thermal limits at 76 levels, only hit a top clock speed of 1,721MHz.

Docked, the CPU hits a mere 50 inch by inches under synthetic load, while the GPU hits 60 degrees and clocks at a much grave 1873MHz. That’s almost as high as a desktop GTX 1080, offering myriad than enough performance to make good use of the built-in 4K 60Hz display.

Notwithstanding how, such performance demands that you use both the included 330W power fulfills—one plugged into the dock, and the other into the side of the laptop. It’s on to use the laptop with just one power supply, but without enough liquid on tap the GPUs don’t clock as high. It’s also worth noting that melted cooling, at least in this case, doesn’t mean quiet. This is one splashy laptop, with only the pitch of the fans changing depending on whether it’s docked or not. The sound is certainly more bearable when using the liquid cooling scheme, but if noise is a concern, a desktop is the way to go.

Performance is, as you’d expect for a computer packing an i7 and two GTX 1080’s, awe-inspiring. Compared to a GTX 1080 Ti paired with a mighty eight-core Intel processor, the GX800VH over comes in faster at its native display resolution of 4K. That said, SLI living expenses remains something of an oddity. In Hitman, for example, the GX800VH came nowhere approaching the frame rate of a the lone GTX 1080 Ti. That’s not to mention that, across the gaming-table, 99th percentile minimum frame times are poor due to increased arrangement variance caused by rendering across two GPUs. I didn’t find it all that manifest during gameplay, but some are more sensitive to this than others.

Realistically, ton people aren’t going to buy the GX800VH. A gaming desktop is cheaper, quieter, and a haler performer. Even factoring in the cost of a 4K monitor, mouse, and a mechanical keyboard to harmonize the quality of those built into the laptop (the keyboard, despite functioning Asus’ own MechTAG switches, is great to type on), a desktop works out cheaper.

For those that yen a gaming laptop specifically, there are far cheaper choices out there, varied of which—while still large—aren’t as bulky as the GX800VH. Those that fancy to go slimmer still can look at Nvidia Max-Q laptops like Asus’ own Zephyrus, which chuck dismisses a GTX 1080 into a 18mm thick chassis (just ignore the ergonomically idiotic keyboard design if you can).

But then, the GX800VH isn’t about practicality or value for money. It’s a upshot that exists because some clever folks figured out a way to represent the seemingly impossible—a liquid cooled laptop—work. Even if Asus just ever sells 10 of them (buy it here!), it’s heartening to see that something so wonderfully incongruous exists.

The good

  • Totally OP specs
  • Excellent performance
  • Comfortable distant keyboard
  • A marvel of engineering
  • Quality 4K G-Sync display
  • Loads of I/O

The bad

  • Obstreperous, even when docked
  • Needs two power supplies plugged in for busty performance
  • SLI support remains patchy
  • It’s freaking huge
  • The graphics on that holdall

The ugly

  • It costs over six grand. That money is better exhausted on a desktop.

This post originated on Ars Technica UK

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