ASUS never fails to shock the PC gaming industry. A gaming notebook that costs as much as the GX700 does once again offers proof of this. If you’re not moved by its specifications or its performance, then the price is sure to elicit some reaction from you. It’s a whole R120,000 for a gaming notebook. Yes, you read that right. It’s not a typo or a mistake. It’s enough to make you doubt that ASUS ever really planned to actually sell these, much like it was with the Zeus motherboard that they showed off at Computex a few years ago. The difference here is that the GX700 has made it to store shelves, and that means it’s well within reach should you have the money for such a machine.
The GX700 is the equivalent of those specialist hypercars that are produced in extremely small quantities, in some instances only a handful or so. They’re a representation of the best form of engineering from their respective motor manufacturers, and the same is true for the GX700. It’s essentially a culmination of what ASUS is able to produce when they have no limits imposed. What that brings about is a machine that is, for the most part, the most powerful gaming notebook money can buy. Granted it only features one graphics card, unlike say the GT80 Titan from MSI. Having said that, keep in mind that the GX700 features a desktop GPU in the form of the GTX 980. It’s not a cut-down version of this much-loved GPU, but a fully functional GTX 980 which supports overclocking when the GX700’s liquid cooling dock is attached.
The specifications speak volumes as to what ASUS was targeting in designing the GX700. Not only does it feature a high-end Intel Core i7 CPU, but it’s an unlocked 6820HK CPU which is, by design and configuration, made for overclocking. The ability to enhance performance via overclocking is extended to just about every other component in the machine, including the GPU and the memory, which can be operated at frequencies as high as 2,800MHz. That means ASUS needed to pick a chipset that’d support overclocking to match the CPU and of course design an entire platform around that. To that end, ASUS – or more specifically the ROG team responsible for this notebook – has done a fantastic job. They’ve not simply gathered high-end components and assembled them in any haphazard way; they were all carefully selected and paired to deliver an optimum experience. Essentially, you now have a portable desktop computer that for all intents and purposes grants you high-end desktop performance on the go.
64GB of DDR4 memory, 512GB of RAID 0 NVMe SSD storage and a full IPS G-SYNC FHD screen wrap things up, delivering the best consumer-grade computing technology available today. Not only that, but this notebook is the first one I’ve come across with HDMI 2.0 support, which means forward compatibility and support for 4K gaming at 60Hz. It is in these features and many others that we see ROG’s commitment to the GX700 went well beyond just ticking the right boxes for marketing propaganda.
The most obvious drawcard for this notebook is its docking station, which when connected enhances cooling capacity dramatically. This dock raises the thermal threshold of the components and allows much higher performance and overclocking headroom. For instance, right out the box the notebook has an impressive P12,485 score in 3DMark 11, which obviously outpaces the performance of the GTX 980M. With the docking station installed, however, the score jumps to an impressive P17,044. This performance matches the GTX 960M SLI configuration found in the AORUS X7 Pro. It’s nothing to sneeze at, especially given that this is a single-GPU configuration. The same is true for other benchmarks as well: the performance gain is quite substantial when docked, giving an already powerful notebook the ability to run some modern games at QHD resolution and in some instances at 4K resolution with maximum detail levels.
Oddly enough the most impressive element of this notebook is not the performance when plugged into the docking station, but its performance when it’s without the cooling attachment. The performance remains staggering, and it effortlessly dealt with every single game test I threw at it. This would obviously not be the case with a 4K monitor, but using the 1080p screen featured on the testing unit, there wasn’t a single title that needed the graphics options to be lowered to get acceptable performance. From Rise of the Tomb Raider to Crysis 3, everything played flawlessly and without noise.
Storage performance is another highlight of the GX700 as its NVMe RAID configuration delivers near-instantaneous response from the OS and productivity suits. It’s difficult to gauge disk performance differences between notebooks these days, but in the case of the GX700 it is by far the fastest we’ve ever recorded. There’s simply no waiting on anything and the massive 64GB of high-speed system memory complements this experience very well.
When using this notebook, the many thoughts it inspired can be summed up in one word: “power”. There’s just so much of it here that it makes competing products seem entirely underwhelming. It isn’t so much the components, but in how ASUS has put it together, and when you add overclocking to the mix, it simply blows the competition away, as it rightly should at such an intimidating price.
Presentation is also where the ROG team has pulled out all the stops, delivering the GX700 in a custom suitcase that speaks volumes about what is contained within. The build quality is stunning and this extends to the notebook as well. Inside the case everything has its own compartment and all its parts fit snuggly and securely, minimizing all possible risk to the system. It’s nothing short of inspiring and once again speaks to the quality machine contained within. As it stands, there’s no direct competitor to the GX700. Sure enough there are notebooks that have similar specifications and some that even have desktop CPUs and the like, but no other notebook on the market can deliver what the GX700 does in as convincing a package. It’s simply unique in this context. It isn’t perfect, but then again no notebook is. The GX700 hits its target more often than not and for that alone it deserves full marks.
The pricing is of course absurd, much like the hypercars it resembles – but it’s not made for the budget-conscious. In fact, this is for the millionaires and is priced accordingly. If you’re in that particular demographic and are looking for the ultimate performance in a gaming notebook, you need not look anywhere else but here. The GX700 is overwhelming in just about every possible discipline.