Design

Without putting too fine a point on it, ASUS can design some stunning notebooks, but this is not one of them. Stepping down to their value line keeps the same powerful internals, but to hit this price point ASUS has taken some liberties with the chassis design. The entire notebook is built from a fairly low quality plastic, with the exception of the lid which has a metal top. The top has a brushed finish with lines running parallel down the entire device, which looks nice, but that’s where the premium materials end.

Opening the notebook, the same brushed finish is replicated on the plastic keyboard deck, but this time on the plastic finish. The keyboard itself features 1.6 mm of travel with red backlighting, but the keyboard feel lacks the nice feel of some of the other ASUS notebooks. The WASD keys are red with black fonts, compared to the rest of the keys which are black with red fonts, and although the look won’t appeal to everyone, it does help quickly identify the most needed keys for gaming. ASUS continues its silly tradition of having the power key right in the keyboard, with it at the top right. If you accidently go to press the minus key, you may end up shutting off the laptop. There’s no good reason for them to put it there, although at least on this notebook, with its extra number pad, it is less likely to get hit than on one of their smaller notebooks where it is right beside the delete key. This seems like a small gripe, but shutting off your computer when going to hit a key is not a great experience.

The trackpad on this notebook does feature the Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers, for better or for worse, and it’s nice to see Microsoft reigning this in. They still have some work to do with the drivers, but at least it is a consistent experience across devices now. That being said, the trackpad on this notebook is not quite as smooth as some other notebooks, and picks up fingerprints quite readily. It would be nice to see a glass trackpad, although once again the budget comes into play. Luckily a good mouse is going to be required for gaming regardless, so this isn’t as big of an issue as it is on a more portable device.

Being a large gaming laptop, there is expandability with the GL502VS, and just a couple of screws will let you pop off the bottom and access the memory, which has two SODIMM slots, the M.2 SSD, and the SATA drive. Maximum memory is 32 GB through two 16 GB DDR4 modules. On our 16GB sample, only one memory slot was occupied for single channel memory performance.

Interior photos courtesy of rog.asus.com

Overall the design of the ASUS GL502VS is kind of disappointing. The top of the notebook is a very nice looking metal, but the remainder of the notebook is a fairly low grade plastic. ASUS does build some nice notebooks, but to hit their budget on this one with the components on the inside, clearly some cost cutting was necessary. They have also gone a bit overboard with the red accents on this notebook, and especially with the bright shade of red chosen, although the almost orange WASD keys do look nice and red with the keyboard backlighting on.

Introduction System Performance
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  • mobutu - Sunday, December 11, 2016 - link

    Look at those big fat ugly bezels ... pathetic @2016
    Nowadays I'm not even reading a review if bezels arent slim. No way I'm buying that shit.
    This is valid for monitors too.
    Reply
  • Mikuni - Sunday, December 11, 2016 - link

    Fire the guy who keeps butchering the Insert key on their latest laptops; I returned my last Asus for that, won't buy again with this bullshit. Reply
  • sarth1 - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    How about testing this laptop with recent games. Civ 6 fine, but seriously, Dragon Age 3? Try it with Witcher 3, Dishonored 2... Reply
  • seanh81 - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    Bought this one and owned it for a month.
    ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71 15.6" Full­HD Gaming Laptop,Intel Core i7­6700HQ,NVIDIA GTX 1070,256GB PCIE SSD+1TB HDD,Windows 10,Black

    Month into owning it the OS disappeared after plugging the laptop in. Re-loading OS not an option as Samsung SSD would not be read consistently so opened RMA and sent it back. Paid my own shipping to return it. Got it back and they reloaded the OS. OS installed on the IDE drive overwriting my data drive and the SSD is not being read in device manager or disk management. Asus will not refund my shipping. No information provided as to what they performed on the laptop except problem: error message. Asus manager says they perform qc/testing before sending laptops back but states that informational is internal and will not share. They wanted me to return the laptop again.. no confidence in there support. Returning it to retailer
    Reply
  • sundragon - Friday, December 23, 2016 - link

    This scares me as I've had mine a week and it's been performing well thus far. Reply
  • VirtualRay - Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - link

    I bought this laptop a month ago or so, and I've been having a blast with it! It's worked great so far for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift + Touch. I was actually able to run the Rift + Touch and a Kinect at the same time (using a type C adapter to plug in the Kinect).

    I've been able to simultaneously play WoW in 4k on my 4k TV while watching streaming video in my web browser, too, which was pretty sweet. This laptop is a real beast!

    The only complaint I have about the laptop is that I ran into a lot of weird boot hangs when I had secure boot enabled. I didn't dig into it much though, so I'm not 100% sure whether it was Asus' BIOS' fault or mine.

    Oh, and it gets a little wind-noisy when you run perf-heavy software like Gears of War 4 or VR games. It's not a problem for VR at all, obviously, since you're wearing headphones, but it could be a little annoying for flat-screened gaming. Lightweight games like WoW didn't tax the graphics card enough to make it spin up at 1080p, though.
    Reply
  • Nephelai - Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - link

    Did you test whether this laptop can be woken from USB external devices? I just bought the P35x v6 only to find it doesn't (not supported as per Gigabyte tech). This is disappointing for me as I often use the laptop as a day to day machine plugged into a monitor, KB and mouse and it's a pain to open the lid and press a key to wake up.

    I'd be interested to know if the Asus does wake up (so I could swap) or if disabling it is a thing with higher end laptops. Maybe to prevent ppl gaming and overheating with the lid closed?
    Reply
  • sundragon - Friday, December 23, 2016 - link

    So I've owned this laptop for about a week and I've got some observations and reservations so bare with me. I’ve also updated it to the most recent BIOS .300 and that corrected some of the issues with battery drain, keyboard, etc.
    I bought this along with a 2016 Razer 14 1060 to see which one I'd like better. I got the laptops because those of us who live in small apartments in the city don't have the luxury of building a desktop PC to game and not a console.
    Why didn’t the review compare it to a 1060 laptop? That would benefit people trying to decide if they want to purchase a 1060 vs 1070.
    1. The build quality is good but the materials are CHEAP and the logos/accents make it look like I'm a 16 year old and I live in my parent's basement because a Ko0l H@cKerb0i ... It's almost stereotypical /sigh... How about basic black or silver? (Yes this is totally a personal preference).
    2. The little orange speakers work well compared to the Razer 1060's. They are louder but less clear. Where they fail is in ergonomics, my left wrist almost always covers the speaker and it's got a noticeable effect on sound quality. Mounting them higher on the deck (like the Razer) or on the front edge (like Alienware) would have taken care of this.
    3. More ergonomic issues: How about a beveled edge on the deck so it's not digging into your wrists when you try to play? These reviews are great for components but holy crap, please spend a little time playing with the system to test out simple stuff like that. I've got to put it on a laptop desk at an angle to correct. The Razer1060 beats it in ergonomics hands down.
    4. Graphics - It's absurdly fast. Like everything you throw at it currently is buttery smooth with everything set to ULTRA. Witcher 3 with all the setting set to ULTRA and hair turned on was pure joy. I will say the Razer160 plays everything as well but the 1070 will be more future proof in a year or two. Plus if you hook this up to a UHD or 4K monitor, you can actually play the same titles, just not on ULTRA
    5. BLOATWARE - Really!?!? I love how this article says there wasn't any - I'm not sure if it's because they send it knowing it would be reviewed but I spent an hour uninstalling all sorts of BS from the computer that have NOTHING to do with gaming. I left the basic ROG software - Literally a few GB of data. Why is this an issue today? FWIW, the Razer had none, literally nothing aside from the basic drivers and Windows Defender for Virus protection...
    6. Battery life… The screen flickers when I play Witcher 3 on battery, not sure what causes this but plugging it in fixes that issue. This thing is meant to be near power for any use thanks to G-Sync goodness.
    7. 4.8 LBS?!? ASUS marketing lies!! LOL. I believe they are weight thinner 502 with the 1060 not the thicker 502 with the 1070. It’s 5.7 LBS – please weigh it before stating that in the review. OH and the power adapter weighs 1.3 lbs, and you won’t be leaving the house without it so the total package weight is important to note (at least with G-Sync laptop battery life). TOTAL package weight for me is 7lbs if I want to move it out of the house (which I probably won’t).
    8. Storage and System performance: It’s is buttery smooth (and it should be). It’s got a 256GB SSD plus a 7200 TB HDD, which is a lot better than the measly 256 GB SSD in the Razer. The screen on the Razer is smaller but slightly better quality – really only noticeable when you’re looking at them side to side.
    9. Fans are inaudible at idle and audible but don’t overpower the speakers when I’m playing Witcher 3. The Razer Blade 1060’s fans are audible at idle and sound like a small turbine when playing Witcher 3. Thermals – The razer being thinner and aluminum transmits heat to your hands. Temps are well within normal ranges when playing demanding games but the benefit of plastic plays out here where the heat isn’t transmitted to your hands. No throttling for either laptop.
    It’s a great value, I bought it for $1399 before tax on sale at Microcenter. The Razer is $1799 with a “weaker” 1060 and only 256GB of SSD. But you get 4.2 lbs weight and the power adapter is tiny and .9lbs for about 5lbs total package weight. An overall 2lbs difference.
    If you’re looking for a purely gaming machine, then it’s the one I’d recommend. If you plan on using the laptop outside and care about build quality, and what the aesthetics look like (yes I will be the first that this is subjective) then go with a Razer or a Gigabyte which are understated. You can cover up the Razer fanboy logo with a Dbrand skin to boot.

    I'm still on the fence as to which one I'll keep. A lot to like about it but the ergonomics, and build materials apparently matter as much as the cost/build quality/better GPU.

    Any questions or hate?
    Reply
  • Hal422 - Friday, April 14, 2017 - link

    I believe the flicker when unplugged is due to the 180 watt PSU the 1070 needs 200 at full power. Reply
  • inperfectdarkness - Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - link

    I was unable to find any of these with 4k screen AND the 1070 GTX card. I ended up getting the Gigabyte P35X v6 instead. P35X is not only thinner, lighter & cheaper...if I'm going to be saddled with only 1 backlighting color on my keyboard...I'd rather have white. Reply

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