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By Lyle Kruger

Production Manager and Podcast co-host

ROG Strix Scar 18: A gamer’s dream come true… but it’s hella expensive

The Strix Scar 18 is sure to satisfy even the most demanding gamers.

The next-generation ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop has finally arrived, and it’s an absolute powerhouse of a machine.

You’ll have the choice of either the 16-inch or 18-inch variants; and with that massive 18-inch display, this laptop delivers an immersive gaming experience like no other.

ROG Strix Scar 18 review

A display like no other

The display is crisp, and smooth, and delivers jaw-dropping performance.

ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop review
All lit up and ready for takeoff. Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

Every frame is delivered with stunning clarity, and the response time is lightning-fast, making it ideal for gamers who need the edge in competitive play.

One of the quirks of the Strix Scar 18 is the camera notch.

Listen: Tech Check podcast

While it might seem like a strange design choice, it’s actually quite functional. The camera quality is decent, but it’s nothing to write home about.

However, the notch allows for thinner bezels, giving you more screen real estate for your games.

Unmatched performance

Under the hood, the Scar 18 boasts the next-generation Intel Raptor Lake processor.

ROG Strix SCAR 18 gaming
Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

With 8 performance cores and 16 efficiency cores, this processor is Intel’s answer to AMD’s dominance in the last couple of years.

I’m glad to see the two manufacturers going at it like this because it only means better cards for us.

It’s also paired with the next-gen RTX 40 Series NVIDIA cards – nicknamed Ada Lovelace – which offers roughly 2 to 3 times better overall performance and a 25% boost in games.

Such a sexy gaming monster

This laptop is an absolute monster when it comes to gaming.

ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop review
More RGB because we can never have enough. Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

And that 4nm architecture really shines in games that make use of DLSS – for example Cyberpunk 2077 and Dying Light 2.

I was getting a steady 65 to 75 FPS on max settings and ray tracing on. I also played less demanding games such as Valorant, Counter Strike, and Rocket League.

The performance is buttery smooth even on battery power, should load shedding hit.

I/O ports

The Strix Scar 18 also features ports on the side, which improves overall airflow and helps keep the laptop cool.

ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop review
I/O ports on the right side of the Scar 18. Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

There are two Type A USB ports (second generation) on the right side of the laptop. The power port along with the audio jack, LAN port, and an HDMI 2.1 port is situated on the right.

There are also two USB Type C (second gen) on the right side: one for DisplayPort, while the other has Thunderbolt 4 support.

It should also be noted the HDMI port supports up to 4k 120Hz, and 8K 60Hz content.

ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop review
I/O ports on the left side of the Scar 18. Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

ALSO READ: ROG 6 review: Beyond the cyberpunk vibes, a powerful gaming phone

Thermal performance

Under load I was getting roughly 700c – 800c; this is about an 8 to 10% better thermal performance than last year’s offering.

I can understand this design choice as part of the thermals; ROG also added RGB on the rear.

You’ll just have to live with the cables coming out of the side which might make your setup look untidy.

ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop review
It’s all about that RGB, RGB, RGB, baby. Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

It even features USB-C charging, which is exactly what the community has been crying out for. It’s going to ship separately, though.

So what is it like to live with? As a daily driver?

An absolute dream, despite the weight

With the increased size it does become a heavy piece of metal to lug around, but living with the Strix Scar 18 is an absolute dream.

It’s a well-designed laptop and the keyboard has the perfect amount of key travel – something my colleague Cheryl Kahla constantly harps on about in her reviews.

The keycap travel distance is 1.20mm (practically perfection) while the dish is 0.15mm wide.

Cheryl firmly believes a keyboard can either make or break a laptop’s appeal. This one passes all her checks and gripes.

ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop review
A keyboard to fall in love with. Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

The Strix Scar 18 has a professional eSports-grade keyboard because “the difference between victory and defeat can be separated by a single keystroke.”

About that price…

The ROG Strix Scar 18 will be available in stores at selected retailers from today, 20 February.

We can’t skirt around the price issue… The Strix Scar 18 is far from cheap. It’s a big laptop and it comes with a big price tag.

Strix Scar 18 RGB lights
Photo: The Citizen/Cheryl Kahla

The starting price for the RTX 4080 is R79 999, while the RTX 4090 will cost you a cool R87 999.

Let’s be real. That’s a heck of a lot of money.

Compared to last year’s model, the Scar 18 has a 12% increase in price at launch, so is the newest-gen also 12% better?

If you can’t afford the Scar 18:

While the Strix Scar 18 is certainly worth the investment for serious gamers, we should note that last year’s model will likely become cheaper with the release of the new model.

ROG Strix Scar 18 gaming laptop review
Photo: Cheryl Kahla

And that laptop has been my favourite ROG Strix to date.

So, while the Strix 18 is an impressive workhorse and a gamer’s dream, it’s important to consider whether it’s worth the investment.

Even if you are the most demanding gamer, and especially when last year’s model is likely to become cheaper.

NOW READ: ROG Strix Scar 17 the fastest laptop in the world? Here’s what we think

Additional reviewing and testing by Cheryl Kahla.

Cheryl and I host The Citizen’s weekly Tech Check podcast series where we discuss the latest gadgets, and tech news, and talk to industry experts about a variety of fascinating things.

Bookmark Tech Check With K or subscribe to our podcast on Apple PodcastsPodcast RepublicSpotifyPocket Castsiono FM, or Player FM.

In Monday’s episode, we talked to the CTO and co-founder of CTRL Robotics, Nikhil Ranchod, about robotics, machine learning, and what it means for service delivery in South Africa.

LISTEN: Tech Check: Exploring the future with CTRL Robotics

Tech Check With K Podcast: Talking to co-founder of CTRL Robotics
Photo: AFP/Luca Sola

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