Budget Gaming laptops have always needed a refresh and it looks like Asus will be the one keeping it active in this segment, though there is some competition to face. The Asus ROG-FX503 is a very good looking budget gaming notebook promising good performance and for the price, there is a good set of specifications included.
The company took the right move by borrowing some of the looks from its premium counterparts and implementing it in this laptop. The laptop has a bright, and vivid display with an ambient red backlight keyboard which makes the device look premium. The FX 503 comes with the latest 7th generation Core i7 Processor and Nvidia GTX 1050GPU. The SSD in this laptop is pretty fast and returned decent results when we tested. If you are looking for a premium gaming experience then this might be a good choice for you.
To give a quick look at the specs, the laptop that we review here comes with Core i7 7700, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, 128GB SSD, GTX1050 GPU 4GB, Windows 10, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0.
From a distance, the ROG FX503 looks very premium and that’s mainly because it inherits some of the design properties of its more premium counterparts. The lid is made up of plastic and does have some flex but the device does feel very sturdy to use. We’re glad that Asus went with a simple design that doesn’t attract a lot of fingerprints, the lid of the Laptop has been designed to give prominence to the logo that is placed in the center of the lid.
Once you open up the Laptop, you’ll be greeted by a 15.6” 1080p display with rather thick bezels. The device has an ambient red backlit keyboard and the clicks feel natural on it. The touchpad is of a regular size although we would have appreciated a slightly bigger touchpad considering that it is a gaming Laptop. The FX503 weighs in at just 2.5kg which is pretty light for a gaming laptop this powerful and the dimensions are 384 x 262 x 24 mm.
If you wish to connect multiple accessories including a Mouse, an external hard disk containing all your games, a bigger display, and an external webcam, the Laptop has you covered. On the left side of the chassis, you will find an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports followed by a combo headphone jack. To the right side of the chassis, you will find the SD card slot and a USB 2.0 port along with the Kensington lock slot.
Talking about the display, it is a 15.6-inch 1080p panel and it is both vivid and bright. We watched a few videos on the laptop in native resolution and the colors are well saturated. The display is a 60hz refresh rate monitor with a matte anti-glare finish. The high refresh rate allows you to totally enjoy the games as they are meant to be. The display gets very bright and you can easily use it in most lighting conditions without any issues.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The FX503 keyboard is good in terms of an average laptop but for a gaming laptop, we would have appreciated an even more tactile feedback. The travel distance in the keys are pretty good but they feel very soft when pressed and the feedback on these keys are not the best we’ve experienced. We wrote this review on the laptop itself to check the keyboard extensively and although we found it good for typing and casual browsing, a better response on the keys would have only made the deal a little sweeter especially considering the fact that the device comes with an excellent specification otherwise.
The WASD keys in the laptop are highlighted so that we can reach it quicker, also the layout, in general, is pretty impressive and the function keys are arranged at a distance from the numerical keys so that we can distinctively identify them without ambiguity. The Arrow keys are isolated and avoid mistype and the key travel at 1.8mm is pretty much sufficient. The keys internally offer a scissor switch design that does help a little in terms of feedback and the reflex is quick although not so powerful.
Although for gaming we recommend the usage of a dedicated mouse with the FX 503, the touchpad is just about fine. The finger smooth glides over it thanks to the distraction-free metal design and it also recognizes all the multi-touch Windows gestures without a struggle. Even the click of the touchpad feels very natural without having to apply too much force to it. However, the touchpad does have a little play and is not fixed in its position rigidly.
The Asus FX503 has an impressive pair of speakers and provides a very balanced audio at all volumes. We tried playing a few songs off Wynk and the sound quality was above average but we’d still recommend using a headphone for a better gaming experience. Unlike most other Asus laptops that come with their own sound control panel, we didn’t find a dedicated application to fine-tune the listening experience on this Laptop.
Getting a little deep into the speaker section, the speakers are pretty loud and filled up the entire office but it certainly lacked the punch in its bass. The bass was low and very unnatural, the highs were just average but the mid-range is where the speakers stood out without a hiss.
Gaming and Graphics
Although this isn’t the most high end offering in the market, the Laptop does have a lot to offer and we ran a few games including the Forza Motor Sport, Asphalt 8, GTA V and the Tomb Raider. Unsurprisingly the Asphalt 8 ran extremely well without any hiccups whatsoever, this isn’t something to be proud of as the game works pretty well even on mobiles. We then went ahead to test the Forza MotorSport 7 which was a rather smooth experience too. We turned the resolution and other settings to medium and the device returned a really smooth experience and we noticed no frame drops at all. However, when we did turn the settings to max, the issues slowly started creeping in and we noticed occasional frame drops and the device did struggle with thermals while handling the extreme graphics.
We then went ahead to test the Tomb Raider game which ran very smoothly without any issues, we could experience somewhere around 50 frames per second on an average. We tried to max out the settings and the frame rate did drop considerably but it was still playable. The last game that we tried on this device was the Grand Theft Auto 5 which returned about 50FPS on default settings and then when we bumped up the specifications all the way to max, the FPS dropped to about 30FPS. Overall the gaming experience on the Laptop was very smooth, the only downside is that the laptop does get alarmingly warm on continuous gaming. However, despite the heat, there is no thermal throttling on the laptop which can be seen as an advantage as the performance is nowhere reduced throughout the gaming duration.
With a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD combo, the FX 503 has no issues handling whatever you throw at it. We tried with over 30 tabs open in chrome with one of them streaming an episode of Two and a Half Men in FullHD without any issues. The device boots up instantly, thanks to its SSD which returned over 480MB/s on the read side in our tests.
The Geekbench 4 score on the laptop was 12366 for multi-core and 4177 for the single core. The GPU benchmark of the GTX1050 on OpenCL in this laptop returned an OpenCL score of 78168. For comparison, the mainstream average of a Gaming Laptop gives a multi-score of about 10,200. The SSD is extremely fast and took less than 45 seconds to copy a 4.88GB file with an average rate of 162MB/S.
The FX503 isn’t a real winner when it comes to battery life and you might want to carry your laptop almost everywhere you go. The Laptop returned an average backup between 3-4 hours on regular usage and even lower when we tried benchmarks and gaming on the device. For any intensive performance, the battery life on the Laptop can be expected to be very low and it is recommended to use it on a power supply for optimal performance.
Under normal usage, the device handles heat very well, thanks to the dual fan technology which cools the CPU and GPU individually using the copper air vents that run through the CPU and GPU. However, the Laptop does get extremely hot when it comes to gaming or similar heavy tasks. The region exactly over the keyboard is where the laptop gets extremely hot while the keys still remain usable without significant change in the temperature levels. One thing we, however, would like to mention is that the fan gets extremely loud when the device gets heated up, the sound is pretty significant and there is no hiding away from it. Asus does claim that despite all the heating up, there is no thermal throttling happening in the device, this means that you can get the best performance at all conditions without having to worry about the device overheating.
The webcam does a decent job and captures enough light thereby rendering decent images. The sharpness of the webcam was a little low and we’d expect better images for video calling. Although the webcam is a 720p camera we were not very impressed by the results as the sharpness was lower than what we expected from a 720p Webcam.
The Laptop comes with Windows 10 Home Single Language pack installed rather than the Windows 10 Pro that we’d expected. The device comes with all the essential drivers pre-installed and the had very little bloat from Asus. Some of the preinstalled software on the device include WPS office, McAffee Live Security, and WinZip utility. Apart from this preinstalled software, the laptop comes with the regular Windows bloat that you find on any Windows device.
If gaming performance and the screen are your highest priorities in a budget gaming laptop then the Asus ROG FX503 is a great option, the display is pretty good and offers bright and vivid output. The gaming performance of the device is pretty good as the hardware is well optimized. The SSD is pretty fast and helps reduce the boot time and if you run the games off the SSD then you will have an incredible experience. The upside for this gaming laptop is that you are getting it at a price point where not many great options are available, and even if they are, in most of the cases, we have noticed them to be underclocked or throttled whenever you try and use them to the extreme levels. The ROG FX503 is a better choice in that way.