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Asus Strix Scar 18 Review: Intel i9 13980HX + Nvidia RTX 4090


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The Asus Strix Scar 18 laptop.

(note this is a rewrite as my original draft was corrupted during a crash. It is not as refined as the first draft, so, if nothing else, perhaps you can appreciate the amount of hours I had to dedicate, twice...)

There are many in-depth reviews on youtube. Here, instead, I try to focus on my personal experience and details not evident unless using the laptop as primary for a span of time.

You will see some comparisons to the Legion 7 (my previous laptop), and the Tongfang/XMG/Eluktronics/Cyberpower watercooled laptop, which was reviewed before it.

The Scar 18 comes with the Intel i9 13980HX, Full 175w RTX 4090 with a 50/100 overclock, and 32GB of 4800mhz RAM. At the moment there is no bios option to overclock the RAM. Current Bios supports undervolting by -80mv as well as full compatibility with XTU. The screen is an 18" 16:10 2560 x 1600 with a 240hz refresh rate.
From the Factory it runs Windows 11 Pro. Windows 10 is not officially supported.




Notably bigger than a 16" laptop. Much more screen real estate. It is a heavy laptop at just over 3kg, or almost 7 lbs. Not as heavy as some of the 5kg behemoths of old, but the sheer size puts it into a category of its own. You can't make an 18" much smaller, but it is still bigger than the Tongfang 17" by about the same amount as the 17" is separated from 16" laptops. It may require a special case for transport if for its depth alone.

Pictures show the comparison of the Legion 7 16", on the TongFang, on the Scar 18.





The material used is translucent, but it is somewhat porous and attracts and holds oil very easily, resulting in instant palm prints, finger prints. It is easy to clean, but it seems odd to choose a material, designed to show off the internals, that also readily shows smudges and bodily oils, when other devices using translucent plastic which don't show of prints so easily exist.

The lid is very rigid despite being supported by only two small curved hinges on either side. It is very smooth but not too loose at full open, it does seem to be much easier to open at the start, and then suddenly gets stiffer at around 20'. While this radius design is less durable than a full hinge (with less range of motion), given the DTR nature of this laptop, durability is probably not as relevant.

Opening angle is atrocious, particularly if you have an angled stand. Max opening is less than 135', but full flat opening angles are basically non-existent across the board this generation. (Scar 18 on top, Tongfang on bottom)


Asus decided to use a weird diagonal support foot on the underside, which makes it incompatible with some laptop stands which are not a raised platform type or can navigate around this diagonal foot. This was the result of a design aesthetic, but has some minor practical detriments. You could buy a new stand to support it properly or jab a shim (wooden chopsticks) in my case to keep it from tipping over. A platform-based stand would be much more stable.

Ports are limited, since the entire back of the laptop is a radiator. There is also no dedicated SD card slot. Only 2 USB-A on R and 2 USB C on left. It feels like they could have fit more ports on the R side of the chassis as it only has the two USB A ports. The ports themselves are properly spaced so that even large plugs should not interfere with each other. The Legion 7 has about 6 USB’s in contrast.

One might expect a laptop of this size to be flexy, but it is fairly rigid despite the size, and carrying it from the corner is not a problem.

The gamer aesthetic is very much alive and well, but at least the laptop uses muted and matte colours. From the End User side, it is not over the top, and since I am not trying to show off, it doesn't bother me sitting on my desk.

The openings in the bottom are staggered rather than grossly open. I presume Asus does this to force air to be pulled in from various locations and drawn across the other components.





My typical mobile setup uses an external monitor with the laptop set next to it in extended display mode. Having the larger screen is nice as it means I don't have to strain or lean toward the screen to scour for small details as much. This adds up over the course of a day.

When used directly, the screen certainly feels way bigger than the 16" Legion 7, but, as previously discussed in the Tongfang review, not as much as the numbers indicate. In short, the larger the laptop gets, the further the screen gets pushed back away from you, therefore the smaller it feels subjectively. Put the laptop on a stand at a fixed distance and the difference is stark.

While the size increase may be less evident in terms of productivity focused tasks, Games, however, are a different story. Having a larger screen makes a difference in smaller details which can get glossed over on a smaller screen. Video playback also benefit from the larger screen and a full screen play back feels close ins size to youtube's 'theater mode' on my external.

Compared to the Legion 7, colours are subjectively not quite as good, but this is not to say that it is bad, they are in fact very good. Any screen with the same resolution is going to look better and tighter on a smaller display. But the upside is that you can change the scaling to give more effective real estate without sacrificing visibility

Compared the to the TongFang, colours are still better, and when switching back and forth the extra 1" screen real estate is definitely appreciable. The difference is not enough to warrant a scaling size change. The screen also gets brighter, but this is just a bump or two above the max for the Tongfang.

As seen in the picture with both laptops at brightest, there is only a minor difference in favour of the Scar 18 observed with the camera.

There is some shadowing at the edges when close to the monitor, though this is typical of just about any display the closer one gets. It is just less noticeable on a 15/16" laptop.






Layout is more traditional compared to the Tongfang, since Asus retains the 4th column on the numpad. The programmable/extra buttons on top are also nice.

A good membrane keyboard, with good travel distance (for a laptop keyboard) fully adjustable backlighting that is even (at higher brightness). Compared to my original Legion 7, whose very shallow keyboard travel was a complaint in my original NBR review, the length of key travel is a great improvement. There is some key wobble and mushiness. It is not on the level of quality of dedicated business workstations, and with the length of key travel and the expense of the computer I feel like the keyboard could have been better, but it is certainly adequate.

Without backlighting the keys can be hard to see in low light. By adjusting the colours in the associated software (fully customizable for colour and brightness) you can just barely turn on the lights, allowing them to stand out, without being overly bright.



The touchpad is keyboard-centric on the Scar 18, and what I would call typically sized for modern day. Personally, I could go with a smaller touchpad but it is not so large as to be unwieldy.

In my Tongfang review, I mentioned how if that touchpad were about 2.5cm/1" smaller in each direction, it would be a pretty good size. It turns out, that the Scar 18 happens to match that almost perfectly.

Being keyboard-centric, I don't accidentally palm it while typing, or accidentally push it.

Clicks are not very clicky, with little travel, and if anything, a slight bit mushy, but this is easy to get used to, just not what I would expect from such an expensive laptop.

There does appear to be a bit more flex/spring in the touchpad itself as unlike the Tongfang, the top of the touchpad seems to be fixed, so it is nearly impossible to activate the click from the top. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it prevents accidental clicks while typing, but requires proper positioning for intentional clicking. Overall, the TongFang has a better clicking experience, but the Scar 18 has the more practical size.



Audio is good for laptop speakers. All laptop speakers don't sound well to me compared to even a cheap set of desktop speakers, and since I use earbuds I don't do extensive testing.

Both the Scar 18 and the Tongfang suffer from down facing speakers that seem to require the laptop to be flat on the table to sound nice. Lift it up and they sound hollow.

Even a $13 pair of Panasonic Ergofits will sound better overall.



Very good in terms of performance. It competes with the larger GT77, and beats the Tongfang handily on air. Liquid metal on both GPU and CPU

In terms of noise, it is pretty loud. Not only at max fans, but also in the Turbo preset (which allows max wattage with lower fan speed). Unlike the Tongfang which is a loud wooshing, the Scar 18 shares the Legion 7's higher shrill sound (probably coming from the smaller 3rd fan inside). This was passable on the Legion 7 as headphones/earbuds could block it out largely.

The Scar 18 however is even louder at max fans and even set aside next to my external, with earbuds in I can still hear it in the background.

In Turbo Mode the fans are not quite as loud, the high-pitched fan noise is lost by adding the ear buds, and all that remains is the audible but not too intrusive, low wooshing noise. Any of the lower setting should be avoided in any performance application as they limit the overall wattage.

More details and temps in the performance section



Asus has had several Bios updates since the laptop released. The latest version allows for undervolting of the CPU to 80mv (P-cores only I believe). No memory tweaks. Still less than the GT77 but better than none at all. But in-OS application compatibility has apparently improved allowing further undervolting with XTU if desired.



Overall, this is a premium laptop build, with the performance to back it up. If it were a little less expensive, I think it would be close to perfect as the lack of refinements pointed out seem to take away from the premium experience. That said it is a direct competitor to the GT77 which is a $5000 laptop, so...

The things that sway it for me is the larger 18" screen which I have absolutely come to appreciate over the last week. If I had to move it every day, I would probably opt for another 16" laptop, but as a standalone, semi-stationary unit, and even as a secondary to a 27" monitor, it is fantastic.

That said it is not perfect, the keyboard is good, but not as premium as I would expect (this HP Elitebook 835 I am currently typing on has a better keyboard). The touchpad is good without flaw, but not great, and outside of size is inferior to that of the less expensive TongFang. The noise of the fans seems a little unrefined, but performs very well for a pure air machine.

Performance is on par for this generation of notebooks, and combined with the out of box experience and support you get from a larger company (all drivers and software available and working) is very nice. Not everyone wants to tinker and troubleshoot on their own.

Price is what pushes it off my desk at the moment, as none of this generation really seem to check most of my boxes. Since performance is generally within 5% across the board, paying a premium for features I don’t need is hard to swallow. As such I will pursue the HP Omen 17, albeit which loses the numpad, and 16:10 aspect ratio, but for a much lower price point, even cheaper than the CyberPower Tracer VII if you don’t need an i9.

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Performance testing is not my forte nor do I have enough time to dedicate to it properly. There are reviewers with videos whose numbers effectively duplicate mine, which is reassuring that there should be consistency across the tests, so I will defer to them.

All testing was performed with the latest bios and and same graphics drivers for each laptop. Both were elevated on stands with no active cooling.

Tongfang was in Turbo mode, with factory 100/500 overclocks on core and memory.

Scar 18 was originally tested on 50/100 factory overclock and then 100/500 to attempt to match the Tongfang.

Both were set to dedicated GPU mode, as the advanced optimus caused some crashes in between testing.

Experimental overclocks to 200/1000 were stable, however, the effect on Timespy was at most a couple hundred points. Games seem to demonstrate variable results depending on title with some minimal changes, and others gaining 5-10fps.

Temperature-wise, the Tongfang performed adequately on air. Average temps were 5-10c higher average than the Scar 18 in Turbo mode. Max fans can drop the temps a bit further, but GPU temps in the upper 70's to 80's are the norm (there may be a reason for this, however). Scar 18 seems very comfortable keeping GPU temps in the low 70's, or even 60's with max fans.

Both laptops have CPU temp spikes into the upper 90's and the occasional 100c. HWmonitor detects both going to throttle around 95c. This seems to be standard across all manufacturers so it has something to do with the Intel chips themselves just suddenly spiking temps. Perhaps the way sensors are reading this generation due to wattage draw?




Tongfang GPU performs about 23,150 in Timespy, and the Scar 18 around 21,800 in the same test with the SAME OVERCLOCKS, more on this later.

Tongfang CPU performs around 15,300, and the Scar 18 around 16,400

These are grossly similar to Gizmosliptech who has multiple runs in each on his videos of the two laptops.


CPU consistency under load seems stable under typical gaming load (demo)

Both 4090's appear to max out around 2460mhz peak. This seems fairly consistent among the 4090 models I have seen. However, once the GPU reaches 100% utilization in Timespy, clocks will drop anywhere into the 1900-2150 range. This can be somewhat improved with overclocking (allowing the GPU to reach toward that higher frequency) but more importantly, THIS IS NOT TEMP LIMITED as during my testing with max fans, temps were well controlled even under 100% utilization.

What this suggests to me is that the GPU's are in fact limited by power, and that 175w is not enough to drive the cards at full clocks at 100% utilization. Perhaps there is another explanation, like built-in frequency/load throttling, but with my limited knowledge this is all I can come up with.

Tongfang, however, at the same clocks/overclocks, routinely pulls 100-200 mhz higher than other 4090's when at 100% utilization. Since Gizmosliptech and I had almost the same numbers, I doubt this is a fluke.

Gizmosliptech noted that the XMG Neo 17 exhibited a unique behaviour in that it rarely seemed to hit 175w during Timespy, and I noticed a similar pattern on my unit. This was not present on the Scar 18 which happily pulled 174-176w whenever it felt necessary).


Therefore, I suspect Tongfang must be doing something 'interesting' with their 4090's, as numbers in the 23k range are not the norm for 4090's so far. In fact, I could not get my Scar 18 to get within 1000points of those numbers at a 200/1000 overclock.

XMG also noted in their livestream at CES that adding water cooling would add wattage to the CPU but not the GPU (presumably since this is set by Nvidia).


In my original evaluation of the 4090 performance, before I had hands-on experience, I suspected that additional wattage would not add much in terms of performance to the 4090. But based on these results, and what I suspect Tongfang is doing, some additional wattage may go a long way toward improving GPU clocks under 100% utilization.

Taking a guess that 10w grants us 100-200mhz, could another 15 watts give us another 200mhz? Could we see 2400mhz at 100% utilization?

In either case, the real-world results will vary.

What I can conclude is that these chassis are more than capable of handling 175w from the GPU and probably more. Perhaps if Intel had better performance/efficiency, more wattage could be dedicated to the GPU, (which may be another reason for the 175w limit).


SCAR 18 1

Scar 18 1TS.jpg


SCAR 18 4

Scar 18 4TS, Max Fan.jpg



Cyber Power 2 - 3.jpg



Cyber Power No overclock.jpg



Cyber Power Time Spy 1.jpg



CP Overclock 200 1000.jpg


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Unfortunately I don't have it. Newegg messed up my initial shipping (to a wrong address), so my return window was shortened by about 2 weeks (started the time the package arrived at the original destination). When I called in I was able to get it extended to what should have been, but they processed the Return the same day, which effectively shortened it again.


If I didn't lose my original draft I would have had more time, but to be honest I completely forgot that people might want the Vbios.

There is another member who has the TongFang/Eluktronics/Cyberpower Vbios, you might try to get that one, as that is the outlier among the manufacturers in terms of performance.


I am hoping to get the HP Omen 17 as a cheaper replacement, but not sure if you would want that vbios

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On 3/29/2023 at 5:34 PM, SapphiraTriX298 said:

Unfortunately I don't have it. Newegg messed up my initial shipping (to a wrong address), so my return window was shortened by about 2 weeks (started the time the package arrived at the original destination). When I called in I was able to get it extended to what should have been, but they processed the Return the same day, which effectively shortened it again.


If I didn't lose my original draft I would have had more time, but to be honest I completely forgot that people might want the Vbios.

There is another member who has the TongFang/Eluktronics/Cyberpower Vbios, you might try to get that one, as that is the outlier among the manufacturers in terms of performance.


I am hoping to get the HP Omen 17 as a cheaper replacement, but not sure if you would want that vbios

Thank you. If you get the omen with the RTX 4090 , I would still try to play with it. 

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