Asus ROG Strix G GL531GV Laptop Review: Like a Zephyrus, but Cheaper
Trey Rees
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Asus ROG Strix G GL531GV Laptop Review: Like a Zephyrus, but Cheaper

Striking gold. Asus Republic of Gamers lineup just got a lot bigger. The Strix G GL531 adds a splash of customizable LED colors to the series without impacting the overall performance we've come to expect from a gaming laptop. Fan noise when gaming could still use some improvement.


Much like how the 17.3-inch Asus ROG Strix G GL731 is the less expensive version of the higher-end 17.3-inch Asus ROG Strix III G731, the 15.6-inch Asus ROG Strix G GL531 is the less expensive version of the higher-end 15.6-inch Asus ROG Strix III G531. The GL531 sits in between the budget TUF FX505 and flagship GX531 or G531 in Asus' expansive lineup of gaming laptops.

The GL531 is identical to the G531 sans a few minor features that we will go over below. We therefore recommend checking out our existing reviews on the G531 and GL731 for more details on the design, keyboard feedback, port options, speakers, and other physical properties since almost all our comments will apply here on the GL531. For this review, we'll instead be focusing on the performance differences between the GL531, GX531, and G531.

Unveiled at April of this year, the GL531 series is available in at least 5 different SKUs with GTX 1050, GTX 1650, GTX 1660 Ti, RTX 2060, and RTX 2070 graphics. In comparison, the minimum GPU option for the G531 is the GTX 1660 Ti. The complete specifications list for the 15.6-inch GL531 and 17.3-inch GL731 series can be found on the official Asus page here. Our test unit today is the upper mid-range SKU with the Core i7-9750H CPU, RTX 2060 GPU, and 1080p 120 Hz display for $1600 USD on Xotic PC.

Direct competitors include other mid-range to upper mid-range 15.6-inch gaming laptops like the Lenovo Legion Y740, HP Omen 15, Aorus 15, Acer Predator Helios, MSI GP series, or the Dell G7 15.

Case

As mentioned above, the chassis of the GL531 is identical to the G531 save for these notable differences:

The proprietary Asus keystone security feature has been omitted on the GL531
The brushed aluminum outer lid and palm rests of the G531/G731 are now plastic
Some SKUs will have single-zone RGB keyboard lighting only while higher-end SKUs like our GL531GV have quad-zone RGB lighting
AC adapter sizes and ratings will be different depending on the SKU. Core i5/GTX 1050 SKUs come with a 150 W adapter while Core i9/RTX 2070 SKUs come with a 280 W adapter. Our mid-range Core i7/RTX 2060 SKU comes with a 230 W adapter.

Connectivity


Front: No connectivity

Right: No connectivity

Rear: Gigabit RJ-45, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C w/ DisplayPort 1.4, AC adapter

Left: 3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5 mm combo audio

Communication


Maintenance

Servicing is user-unfriendly much like on the G731, GL731, and G531 because of the fragile ribbon cables that attach to the LED lights along the bottom panel. This is explained in more detail on our reviews of the G731 and G531.


Input Devices


Small (~10.8 x 6 cm) touchpad with quiet dedicated mouse keys


Identical layout and feel to the GL731 save for the column of keys along the right edge

Keys with 2 mm travel distance are deeper than most Ultrabooks


Very small Arrow keys are cramped and spongy

Display

The GL531GV uses the same Panda LM156LF IPS panel as found on Asus' cheaper TUF FX505 series for a very similar visual experience between them. This 120 Hz panel is a budget offering as it doesn't quite match the 144 Hz panel on the pricier GX502GW in terms of response times, color coverage, and contrast ratio. Nonetheless, the silky smooth 120 Hz refresh rate is a tangible improvement over the typical 60 Hz panels on most entry-level gaming laptops like the MSI GF75.

Graininess is noticeable but minimal as is common on matte panels. Similarly, the uneven backlight bleeding along the bottom edge of the display on our test unit is also minor enough to be easy to ignore. Laptops with glossy displays like the Dell XPS 15 offer comparatively sharper texts and images.


Colors and grayscale are fairly inaccurate out of the box with average DeltaE values of 6.44 and 4.4, respectively. Color temperature is also on the cool side for a bluish hue that is typical of budget panels. While our calibration addresses many of these issues, color accuracy remains relatively poor due to the narrow gamut of the panel. Blue, magenta, and cyan in particular are represented less accurately than other tested colors especially at higher saturation levels.

Display Response Times


ℹDisplay response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
 

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

ℹTo dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.

Outdoor visibility is average at best since the backlight is not nearly as bright as what you'd find on a MacBook Pro 15 or Dell XPS 15. We recommend working under shade if possible to avoid squinting and washed out colors. Viewing angles are wide with noticeable color and grayscale shifting only if viewing from extreme and unrealistic angles.


Outdoors under sunlight


Outdoors under shade


Outdoors under sunlight



Wide IPS viewing angles


Performance

The wide range of CPU and GPU options means the GL531 can perform as slow as a $1000 gaming laptop if configured with the Core i5-9300H and GTX 1050 GPU or as fast as a $2000 gaming laptop if configured with the Core i9-9880H and RTX 2070 GPU. There are no RTX 2080 options as Asus is reserving this for its higher-end Zephyrus or mainline G703 series instead. Latencymon shows no DPC issues even when wireless is enabled.

Nvidia Optimus comes standard meaning that there are no G-Sync options.

Processor

The Core i7-9750H is only a minor leap over the Core i7-8750H in terms of raw performance. Nonetheless, it performs about where we expect it to be on the Asus when compared to other laptops in our database sporting the same processor. Users can expect a 40 to 50 percent boost if jumping from the Core i5-8300H, Core i5-9300H, or Core i7-7700HQ. The Core i9-9880H option will be about 15 to 40 percent faster than the Core i7-9750H.

CPU performance sustainability is decent. When running CineBench R15 Multi-Thread in a loop, the initial score of 1223 points drop to about 1100 points by the third loop to represent a performance dip of about 10 percent. Some competing laptops like the Lenovo Legion Y740-15ICH are able to maintain faster clock rates for longer for slightly faster CPU performance overall.

See our dedicated page on the Core i7-9750H for more technical information and benchmarks.


System Performance

PCMark results are comparable to other mid-range laptops including the Lenovo Legion Y740-15ICH and Asus' own higher-end Zephyrus S GX502GW. We didn't experience any software or hardware issues during our time with the unit save for the annoying Asus pop-ups when first connecting to the Internet. Note that the power profiles on Armoury Crate can be counter intuitive as detailed here.

PCMark 10 Standard


PCMark 8 Home Accelerated


Storage Devices

Two internal storage bays are available (1x M.2 2280 PCIe + 1x 2.5-inch SATA III). Our specific test unit comes equipped with the same 512 GB Intel SSD 660p as on the less expensive Asus TUF FX505 and more expenive Zephyrus S GX531. AS SSD results between these systems are unsurprisingly very similar with sequential read and write rates of about 1300 MB/s and 900 MB/s, respectively. It's difficult to know if costlier SKUs come equipped with the faster Samsung PM981 instead as this would depend on the reseller. The Razer Blade 15 and Blade Pro 17 almost always come with Samsung SSDs.


GPU Performance

The mobile GeForce RTX 2060 is a mixed bag. While it offers a 40 percent boost and 70 percent boost over the GTX 1060 in DX11 and DX12 titles, respectively, it's still about 20 percent slower than a proper desktop RTX 2060. In contrast, the mobile GTX 1660 Ti performs nearly identically to its desktop GTX 1660 Ti counterpart. It's worth noting that 3DMark benchmark rank the RTX 2060 within just a few percentage points of the often more expensive RTX 2070 Max-Q.


Gaming Performance

The mobile GeForce RTX 2060 is still powerful enough to play the latest titles at 1080p on maximum settings even if it's not quite as fast as its desktop counterpart. The performance difference between the mobile RTX 2060 and lesser GTX 1660 Ti is surprisingly small unless if you value RTX-exclusive features like DLSS or ray-tracing. If you want to reach a stable 120 FPS to fully exploit the 120 Hz panel, however, be prepared to reduce the graphics settings substantially.

See our dedicated page on the GeForce RTX 2060 for more technical information and benchmarks.


Emissions

System Noise

Much like what we discovered on the G531, the dual fans of the GL531 pulse frequently even during low loads like browsing or video streaming. We recommend setting the system to Silent mode in order to keep fan noise as low as possible during these undemanding sessions.

Although not as loud as the more powerful G531GW with RTX 2070 graphics, expect fan noise to be about 51 dB(A) when gaming which is still on the loud side. Setting the system to Balanced or Turbo mode makes no difference; when on Turbo mode, the fans would simply reach their maximum RPMs at a faster rate. Hearing footsteps or other key in-game audio cues is difficult when the fans are blasting above 50 dB(A).

We can notice no electronic noise or coil whine from our specific test unit.


Temperature


Three sets of exhaust vents
Since the RTX 2060 in our GL531 runs cooler than the RTX 2070 in the G531 as our next section will show, surface temperatures on the GL531 should be cooler as well. This is indeed the case as the center keyboard hot spot on the GL531 stabilizes at about 37 C when running Witcher 3 compared to 41 C on the G531. The WASD keys, palm rests, and clickpad remain cooler at about 27 C to 33 C for comfortable fingers when gaming.

The rear quadrants of the chassis are much warmer than the front since the vents and heat pipes are towards the back of the system.



Stress Test

We stress the system to identify for any potential throttling or stability issues. When running Prime95 to stress the CPU, we can observe clock rates as high as 4 GHz for the first few seconds until hitting a core temperature of 88 C. Thereafter, clock rates drop to 3.3 GHz in order to maintain a cooler core temperature of 75 C as shown by our screenshot below. This behavior explains our CineBench R15 loop test results above where performance is fastest only at the start of the test. Clock rates do not throttle below the base clock rate of the i7-9750H even when running both Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously which we expected no less from a gaming laptop.

CPU and GPU temperatures stabilize at 80 C and 67 C, respectively, when running Witcher 3. In contrast, the Core i9 CPU and RTX 2070 GPU on the Asus G531GW stabilize at 81 C and 77 C, respectively, while the older GTX 1060-powered Asus GL504GM stabilizes at about 67 C under similar gaming conditions. The 60 C to 70 C range is relatively cool for a gaming laptop while the very warm 80 C range is quite common on super-thin form factors.

Running on batteries will impact performance. A Fire Strike run on batteries returns Physics and Graphics scores of 9983 and 4423 points, respectively, compared to 17042 and 15913 points when on mains.



Energy Management

Power Consumption
Idling demands between 11 W and 33 W depending on the brightness level and power profile compared to under 12 W and 9 W on the Asus TUF FX505 and Dell G7, respectively. The Asus GX502 and G531 are also unusually demanding at over 30 W each not unlike our GL531 when under similar idling conditions. The poor power efficiencies of the GL531, G531, and GX502 are likely responsible for their relatively short battery lives as shown in our next section.

Power consumption values when gaming are more normal and where we expect them to be at about 144 W. The Asus GX502GW with the RTX 2070 GPU consumes about 22 percent more power when under similar gaming conditions for about 20 percent more GPU performance. Perhaps more significantly, our GL531 consumes only about 6 percent more power than the GTX 1060-equipped Asus GL504GM for a comparatively massive 40 to 70 percent increase in GPU performance.

We're able to record a maximum consumption of 210 W from the medium-sized (~16.5 x 7.5 x 3.2 cm) 230 W AC adapter. This eventually falls and stabilizes at 167 W due to performance throttling since maximum Turbo Boost clock rates are unsustainable as demonstrated by the CineBench loop test above.



Battery Life

The 66 Wh internal battery is identical in size to the battery of the G531. Some lesser SKUs of the GL531, however, may come equipped with a smaller 48 Wh module instead.

Battery life is poor and even worse than what we recorded on the G531 at just under 2 hours of real-world WLAN load. We set the system to Balanced mode with the integrated GPU active and the display to 150 nits brightness like we do for all our WLAN tests. Asus may want to optimize the power-sipping behavior of the GL531 to boost battery life to more reasonable numbers. Until then, we recommend setting the system to Silent mode to squeeze out as much battery life as possible when not gaming.

Recharging from empty to full capacity takes about 1.5 hours.

Verdict

Many of our comments about the 17.3-inch Strix G GL731 apply here for the 15.6-inch Strix G GL531 since they share the same overall design language with similar internal hardware. In particular, drawbacks like the user-unfriendly serviceability, small Arrow keys, short battery life, and loud fans could all use a closer look to create a better next generation model. The ability to customize the keyboard light and LED bar independently would be especially useful to have.

The best qualities of the GL531 are its powerful 3.5 W speakers and chassis design. For a laptop that's mostly plastic, the textured surfaces really elevate it to feel more like a high-end gaming machine when compared to other plastic designs like on the Acer Nitro 5 or the MSI GP and GL series.

Price is the main advantage. At about $1600 USD, the system is several hundred dollars less than the Zephyrus S series while offering many of the same core specifications and performance options. To save even more, we recommend going for the GTX 1660 Ti SKU as it's only about 10 percent slower in games when not accounting for any RTX specific features.

It performs like a Zephyrus without costing as much. You'll have to live with some annoyances like the difficult serviceability, small Arrow keys, loud fans, and lack of a webcam. Core gaming performance is otherwise as fast as most enthusiast gaming laptops.








ASUS ROG Strix G Game Laptop 15.6 inch FHD Notebook Windows 10 Home Intel Core i7-9750H CPU 4.5Hz


$2202.28


$2202.28








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