Asus GL502 Laptop Review
John Byers, February 18, 2018
I bought the Asus ASUS GL502-VS recently (October 2017) after reading countless reviews of gaming laptops. Before buying, I was torn between so many gaming PC options. I considered:
- Alienware's 13, 15, and 17 inch models
- The Razer Blade
- Dell's gaming laptops
- Microsoft's Surface Book
- HP's Omen models, MSI, and other brands
I also really considered building my own small desktop. There are so many choices these days.
My criteria was simple, something portable with a modern graphics card, capable of playing Player Unknown Battlegrounds, Overwatch, and other modern games I had been missing out on. My PC gaming consists almost entirely of LAN parties with friends, and I was getting tired of lugging around a desktop and monitor each weekend. After months of watching reviews, I decided to go to the Microsoft Store to see what they had (just to look, I figured I would be buying online). They had everything. I really liked the Razer Blade, but they are overpriced considering the components inside. The Alienware models looked good too, but one of my friend has had really bad luck and gone through multiple Alienwares. There was an Asus GL502 with an Nvidia 1070 card. I thought a 1070 sounded like overkill (I think the 1060 or 1050 TI give you the most bang for your buck), but this Asus was marked at $1400. This was a great deal, too good to be true. I asked if there was something wrong with it, and they said no, it was just on sale, so I bought it.
It has been a super fast machine, the solid state drive makes a very noticeable difference in speed. It boots up quickly, and runs very smooth. I opted to leave the solid state drive alone with the operating system, and install all my games on the 1 terabyte hard drive. The one thing that scared me about this laptop is that the 1TB harddrive was only 5400 rpm, slower than a 7200 rpm drive. I haven't noticed any difference, even though supposedly load times are longer with a 5400 rpm drive.
I had been using an old custom built desktop from 2012, and an underpowered Macbook Pro for years, so I was finally excited to play some modern games. I installed Player Unknown Battlegrounds, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Call of Duty: WW2. All play great on high settings. Player Unknown's used to stutter ocassionally, but I think that was a problem fixed after some recent updates. I get high fps in all games so far. The only issue is the fans are loud sometimes-though that is to be expected in a gaming laptop. Asus has a built-in temperature monitor app, and Player Unknown's Battlegrounds can cause the GPU temp to go into the 80's, but other than the ocassional loud fan noise, everything plays great.
Other games I play include Counterstrike, Age of Empires 2, Call of Duty: World at War, and Left 4 Dead, all of which are old and play great.
The Asus GL502 has regular USB ports on both sides, plus a USB-C port which I have not used yet. The trackpad is not very good. It isn't horrible, but compared to a Macbook Pro, it is not even close. Most of the time, I am using a mouse, so this isn't an issue. You wouldn't want this machine as an everyday computer to carry around with you. It is too big for that. (But great for a LAN party). The most frustrating thing I notice is that the 3.5mm audio jack is about halfway up the right side of the laptop. This is annoying, because like most people, I am right handed, and use my mouse on the right-hand side. Having the audio jack there means I have to keep my mouse further out to avoid hitting the headphone jack. The audio-jack would have been better on the front, or left side of the laptop. There is an ethernet port that I haven't used yet. Thankfully the wireless on the laptop has been great.
One thing that turned me off of some of the other laptops was the 4K-display screens. I consider gaming performance the most important aspect of a gaming laptop, not the screen resolution. Doubling the amount of pixels on the screen means more work for the graphics card, which is something I didn't want. Thankfully, this Asus has a 1080p screen. It looks great. However, mine did have a problem, where it would only turn on about half the time. The computer always turned on, just not the screen. I tried:
- Updating graphics drivers
- Updating Windows
- Changing the Windows power and battery options
- Changing the BIOS quick-boot options
Nothing worked. I took it to the Salt Lake City Microsoft Store, who were extremely unhelpful. They took the computer and said they could fix it, no problem. When I went to pick it up, they said it was fixed, and that the computer was infected with viruses, and that the solution was updating the graphics driver. This was frustrating, as the ONLY programs installed at that point were Steam and Discord. And of course as soon as I took it home, the problem remained. I ended up sending it to Asus. They replaced the screen, and quickly sent the machine back. It has been great ever since.
The Asus GL502 has been great, and exactly what I wanted (plus the fancy 1070 graphics card). It's fast, plays the games I want, and is so easy to carry over to a game night. I definitely recommend it.