ROG Strix G531GD nano-review
Here's my nano-review about the ROG Strix G531GD I've been using for at least a year (I acquired it in April 2020). I say nano-review because there are plenty of things that I didn't bother doing with this laptop.
TL;DR : Not worth paying for it.
- Intel i7-9750H
- NVIDIA GTX 1050
- 2x DDR4-2666 RAM slots (mine had 8+4GB installed)
- 1x m.2 PCIe x4 2280 above Wi-Fi card (mine has the original 512GB NVME attached)
- Intel Wi-Fi (accessible by removing m.2 storage card)
- Optional (but included if brand-new) 2.5' SATA cable (currently connected to PC with 256GB Adata SSD)
- 3x USB-A 3.1 ports on the left side
- Ethernet, HDMI & round plug charging port on the back
- 120hz 15.6' IPS LCD
What I like about this laptop
- No webcam to block / disable (you have to get your own)
- Decent gaming performance - sure, you probably won't run Cyberpunk (or any other excessively bloated & buggy soydev games) at the highest settings smoothly, but at least GTA V (the most bloated game I've ever played for now) could reach 120hz with fullscreen (even though it always wants to run in windowed mode, annoyingly enough)
26/5/2022 Update : Forza Horizon 5 runs kinda well enough on the G531GD (as far as my personal experience goes), on low to medium settings.
- Dedicated volume keys instead of having to press Fn & F2 / F3 (but still no dedicated brightness keys)
What I hate about this laptop
- First of all - the 3 USB-A ports on the left side of the laptop are too close to each other, which makes attaching multiple USB stuff (especially microSD reader with protruding microSD and/or anything with USB enclosure that's large enough to clash with other USB peripherals) a challenge in itself unless you have some sort of USB dock.
- No SD card port (not even a microSD)
- No ports whatsoever on the right, just empty space & lazy redesign from the ROG Strix SCAR (the one with the proprietary "keystone" port) to save production costs (as if there wasn't enough cut corners already).
- USB-C is optional (I got stuck with the one without USB-C, but there are variants with back-mounted USB-C)
- Every port, including the charging port is soldered to the motherboard (credits to LaptopMedia for the picture)
Why laptop manufacturers (including the allegedly pro-repair Framework, but to their credit the integrated internal USB-C ports on their Framework Laptop can be expanded by their own expansion cards) don't use those Lego-like BTB connectors found in most PDAs nowadays (for example, to make their ports replaceable) are beyond me (not counting planned obsolescence & cost cutting, of course).
When even Apple (a big corpo notorious for fighting against Right to Repair) uses Lego-like BTB connectors for their Macbook (and their "Pro" lineup too) Thunderbolt / USB-C ports, nobody shall be granted a pass for soldering all ports to the motherboard (or soldering the USB-C port onto the motherboard, at the very least).
- RGB everywhere on the bottom panel (except the back), which also complicates bottom panel removal thanks to the RGB cables
- The display will automatically downclock to 48hz when not connected to charger (and there's no known way to disable this behavior in Windows)
So far, the only workaround is to disable sleep on closing the laptop, unplug the laptop while it's on & closed, & re-open it after a few seconds. (26/2/2022 Update : doesn't work on W10 2004.)
- Without the charger & at 120hz, the battery will only survive for 1 hour at worst.
- Weak display lid, display will break from a good punch (even from behind the lid) (or any other forms of impact with as much damage as / even more than a good punch could offer)
- Display colors are too crappy for any kind of content creation. For games / video / other forms of daily use, probably tolerable.
- WASD keys are colored differently from the other keys, which makes them stand out from the other keys. I personally do not like this, as it makes them stand out in an unpleasant way.
- Keyboard comes with dedicated Home, PgUp, PgDn, End, & PrtSc row on far right instead of bundled with Fn-capable keys, forcing the user to re-adapt to the layout.
- Decent trackpad... until it picks up a few grease, then it works like shit. Its smooth plastic finish also helps it in collecting grease.
This issue may be mitigated by using a mouse, but unless you're using Bluetooth (which is problematic in its own way IMO), you'll have to deal with 1 less USB port (or maybe 2, if the mouse connector's width is large enough).
- Comes with Windows 10 & various bloatware and/or spyware, such as Armoury Crate & ASUS System Analysis (examples for ASUS' bloat)
Armoury Crate's not bad as a tuning software to further modify some stuff on the laptop (such as RGB), but not only it's missing some wanted features (such as the ability to prevent the display from downclocking itself to 48hz without any charger plugged in), it also has some unwanted features such as forced auto-update (which can't be disabled without fully blocking it from the Windows Firewall).
As for ASUS System Analysis, it doesn't need any further explanation other than it's a telemetry software that bypasses the hosts file (but probably could be mitigated by fully blocking it in Windows Firewall).
- Nvidia GPU may cause issues when running Linux distros
- Because it comes with Intel's CPU, it also comes with Intel Management Engine, the backdoor that can't be disabled. me_cleaner is currently not tested on the 9th gen Intel CPU.
If this laptop is given to you without needing you to pay for it (such as getting it as a birthday present / tribute), it's not that bad (aside from a fuck ton of annoyances & cost-cutting compromises). However, if you're planning to use your own money to get a laptop (especially one for gaming), get away from this one.
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