After our review of the Asus ROG Strix 18, the ROG team gladly sent us it’s stronger brother, the SCAR 18. While both were announced at CES 2023, the SCAR 18 is the highest-spec’d laptop for Asus ROG this year, rocking the Intel Core i9-13980HX and Nvidia RTX 4090 inside an 18″ laptop shell.
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SCAR 18 Specifications
|Model Name||Asus ROG SCAR 18|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-13980HX (24 cores; 8 performance, 16 efficient)|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop 16GB GDDR6|
|Display||18-inch, 16:10 QHD+|
2560 x 1600 WQXGA, 240Hz
|RAM||2x 16GB DDR5-4800|
|Storage/s||2x 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVME|
|I/O Ports||1x 3.5mm combo audio jack|
1x HDMI 2.1
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C (supports PD/DisplayPort/G-Sync)
1x RJ45 LAN port
1x Thunderbolt 4 (supports DisplayPort)
|Network and Communication||WiFi 6E|
|Battery||90Watt Hours, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion|
|Power Devices||330W AC Adapter|
100W Type-C PD Adapter
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||15.71″ x 11.57″ x 1.21″|
Same with the Asus ROG Strix G18, the SCAR 18’s outer box is an all-black ROG-only logo and serial numbers on its side. Upon opening, the box is divided into 2 sections (separated by cardboards) where one section has its included backpack, while the other has the inner box for the laptop and its accessories.
The inner box is designed with the Asus ROG Strix on the front, and the Goemon City characters on the back. It is also a vertical box that needs to be laid flat on a table to open since the laptop is placed horizontally.
The laptop itself isn’t easily removable as you need to pull the lower tab to lift it out of the box. Underneath the laptop lies its included accessories: a 330W power adapter, 100W PD adapter, ROG Gladius II mouse, and its warranty and safety information booklets.
The first thing you will see upon pulling the laptop out of the box is its aluminum bezel with the ROG logo on the middle-left side. On its left side is its AC power port, 2.5G LAN, HDMI 2.1 port, 2 USB 3.2 Type-C ports; capable of supporting DisplayPort and its PD power, while on the right side only has 2 USB ports and more ventilation holes.
The full-size keyboard is an all-black keycap design with transparent lettering to feature its RGB illumination. The switches are N-key 2mm travel distance, with a lifetime press of 20 million. Additionally, there are extra buttons on top of F1-F4 keys that provide quick access for adjusting volume levels, adjusts fan speeds, and a hotkey for Asus Armory Crate software. These extra keys are also macro-editable to provide further customizations for gaming and productivity shortcuts. Below the keyboard is a 6-inch touchpad, which can be helpful when the SCAR 18 is an on-the-go laptop.
Albeit a 3kg beast, the lid of the SCAR 18 is light enough for a one-finger open (even with the pinky). The screen is an 18-inch QHD Nebula display, Asus’ flagship display type for its own laptops, capable of reaching up to 240Hz refresh rate, and has a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut. Along with the hinge of the display panel lies the forward-facing speakers, providing better audio quality over bottom-firing ones.
On lid down, there’s an RGB illumination running around the laptop’s sides along with the ROG logo on the display panel. When it is not connected to power, the RGB illumination on the sides and on the ROG logo is turned off.
Underneath the laptop are only massive air vents for cooling down the processor and GPU inside. The vents are designed with the letterings of ROG, with one angle is colored white. Upon opening the laptop that comes off after 12 screws (the bottom-right screw is captive), there you will find its 90-watt/hour battery and its massive heatsink covering the processor and the GPU. Although the SCAR 18 comes with 2x SSDs, there is no additional slots to add more storage, so the best bet is to remove the non-OS drive to replace to a bigger capacity.
SCAR 18 Benchmarks
With a 90-watt/hour battery under the hood, the Asus ROG SCAR 18’s battery lasted for roughly an estimated 4 hours and 45 minutes before triggering the 20% battery warning, used on a day-to-day work setup. My day job that consists of a browser with at least 15 tabs opened, text editors for coding, and Spotify for listening to music. Brightness was set to around 40-50% and volume was in the 25%, increasing any of these would drain the battery faster.
On another note, the SCAR 18 only lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes before prompting the 10% battery when used on a heavy-resource settings. This test was done while running synthetic benchmarks (70% brightness, 30% volume) to assume 100% utilization on both the power-hungry i9-13980HX and RTX 4090 inside.
As our standards before benchmarking, I’ve made sure that the Windows battery power is set to Best Performance and disabled any antivirus aside Windows Defender (in this case, McAfee protection). Armory Crate GPU Mode set to Standard and its overall settings at Performance. There were no changes in CPU and GPU clocks to prevent misaligned results between the same laptop units.
As usual, our synthetic tests are Cinebench R20, Cinebench R23, 3DMark Fire Strike, FS Extreme, and FS Ultra) for DX11 tests, 3DMark Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme for DX12 tests, and CrystalDiskMark for the storage performance.
|Cinebench R20||Single Core||Multi-Core|
|Cinebench R23||Single Core||Multi-Core|
|Fire Strike||Fire Strike Extreme||Fire Strike Ultra||Time Spy||Time Spy Extreme|
Same with the Strix G18’s benches, the games I’ve tested on the SCAR 18 are Dota2, CS2 (succeeding CSGO), Shadow of the Tomb Raider, GTA V, and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. The settings are set to the highest possible (with the exception of Nvidia RTX DLSS where it was only set to Quality, the 2nd highest). Nvidia GeForce graphics driver were at v545.84 during a benchmarking session. Settings screenshots are provided below:
With the selection of games and the performance of the laptop bottlenecking on the resolution, toggling between Standard and Ultimate settings on Armory Crate yielded only a 6% FPS increase on some games. GTA 5 however yielded a 20% increase. Shadow of the Tomb Raider however dropped by 28%, this is mainly due to the unskippable cutscenes being frame-capped in-between the storyline.
SCAR 18 Conclusion
The Asus ROG SCAR 18 is a great desktop-replacement machine, provided it is a top-of-the-line hardware with amazing display option. If there’s a need to connect a secondary and tertiary displays, there’s an option between HDMI 2.1 (capable of up to 4k 144hz) or Thunderbolt 4 (capable of 8k 60hz or 4k 120hz) which further utilizes the power of both processor and GPU inside.
During gaming, it is easy to max out every possible setting at the given resolution of the laptop screen; and is still playable. A personal recommendation is to further tweak the GPU clocks (either on Armory Crate’s Manual mode or by downloading a third-party app like MSI Afterburner) to get the best possible FPS while retaining the temps relatively the same. Speaking of temperatures, the SCAR 18 is good at thermal management as the heat can only be felt on the top side of the keyboard.
If you plan on using this for your professional work, the best-case scenario for this unit are engineers, animators, photo and video editors, and game programmers. Otherwise, this is too powerful for an office work.
Portability-wise, be prepared for the SCAR 18 and its 330W power charger as it is a total of 4kg for your back to carry around, this is due to the large 18″ display and the massive heat pipes to cool the components. With the size in mind, this is not a “lap top” laptop, it is a desktop-replacement laptop. The heat exhausted underneath would easily cook your thighs. If you plan to bring this out, the ideal place for the SCAR 18 is either at the office or at a coffee shop that has a long table and provides outlets for customers.
The Asus ROG SCAR 18 is already out in the market for PhP 294,995. You may get it directly via the Asus webstore, or at ROG’s flagship Shopee and Lazada stores. The exact model for this review is G834J-N6014WS.
Related article: Asus ROG Strix G18 Review