You know, I’ve grown pretty fond of the ASUS Republic of Gamers series of laptops since my first review of the GL552. I didn’t really enjoy that one, but then I got my hands on the G752VT with its massive frame and intimidating hardware. When I say massive, I mean a whopping 17 inches of mostly metal, making it one of the heaviest laptops I’ve had to lug around. The whole time I was wasting away the hours in Total War: WARHAMMER, I found myself wishing for a laptop like that model, but easier to carry on my person.
A new challenger approaches in the form of the GL502VT.
In much the same way that consoles eventually end up with a slim or scaled-down model, the 502 is like the diet version of some of the ROG’s beefier rigs. A sleeker body that’s much lighter than its bigger brothers, size doesn’t matter when it comes to this machine. It packs nearly the same amount of wallop as the higher-ups and manages to match their price tag. It’s clear some sacrifices were made during production but the overall experience was definitely an enjoyable one.
Looking like something straight out of a rave party, the new black and bright orange colour motif is a nice change up from the standard black and red seen on the other models—but looks can be deceiving. The orange strips that at first glance appear to be some sort of fancy light are really just stickers. Not that it’s a huge issue, but my concern is with the look of the laptop itself. ASUS opted for the brushed metallic look seen on some of their bigger laptops, and it works with them because they are actually made of metal. Most of the shell of the 502 appears to be constructed from some sort of tough plastic, and the inside is no different with the base appearing to be made of the same material. As I said earlier, I did wish for a lighter laptop, but if this is what it takes to reach that point, ASUS should explore some better options, especially when trying to justify a price tag that goes well over $1500.
On the other hand, the cheap, plastic feel belies the true luxury on the inside, and you’ll be surprised at the engine under this hood. An Intel i7 6700HQ processor for one, and making your games look their best will fall to the job of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M. Rounding out the hardware family we find ourselves with 8GB of RAM, over a terabyte of storage, and an SSD that starts at 128GB and can reach 512GB in some models.
Back tracking a bit to the design of the laptop, a 15.6” screen is what you’ll be spending your time staring at, with Full HD 1080p support. I’ve heard rumblings that ASUS plans to unleash a 4K Ultra HD option sometime in the future, but this works very well for what it is. The keyboard and track pad also feel amazing to use. The 502’s keyboard was one of the most responsive I’ve used and they gave near perfect bounce, for me at least, on the actuation. With the trackpad, I noticed little if no lag at all with what I was doing on screen and I never felt like my fingers were lacking room.
Trying out the performance of games was next, and seeing as it’s still a pretty fresh game, I thought I’d boot up Total War: WARHAMMER to see if it could match the 752 in terms of performance. Knowing the hardware that was hiding inside, I was expecting near similar levels on the 502, and they were—for the most part. While I could set the game to Ultra and still play through it without issue, it didn’t handle the load as well as the 752 was able to. The FPS was slightly lower and there were even a hiccup or two during some of the larger battles, but I simply dropped the graphics down to High and the game ran just fine. I also toyed around with Overwatch and it handled it no problem, but that game is built to run on the majority of rigs anyway.
I can’t really think of much more to say about the 502 as in terms of the laptops ASUS has available, it’s pretty comparable to something like a 552 or 752 in terms of horsepower, but much smaller in size. While the cheap outer material leaves much to the imagination and makes me scratch my head at the current price tag, the hardware and game performance somewhat justify it. There exists room for improvement and I hope to see ASUS capitalize on that in future models and truly rule over the world of gaming laptops.