It’s strangely disturbing that in 2021, the best way to get a gaming PC is to buy a prebuilt like the Asus ROG Strix GA15. You can thank global hardware shortages and scalpers for that. Big vendors like Asus get first access to limited components that are otherwise absurdly expensive or simply out of stock to the rest of us. Cobbling together the parts for a new build is just not something most people are willing to sit on their hard earned cash for.
So, buying a prebuilt makes perfect sense especially when for as low as $1900 you can get a Strix GA15 that’s perfect for 1080p gaming – albeit with older Ryzen 5 CPU and Geforce GTX graphics. Our review unit is the top end model with an 8-core Ryzen 7 3700X and Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 Super and costs $2,999. And while we all want the generational leap in performance that the new GPU’s offer, after using the GA15 for three weeks, I’m convinced that newer isn’t necessarily better.
Asus ROG Strix GA15 Review
Let’s start with the performance. In addition to the 3700X and 2070 Super, our review unit came with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD. In a world where games like CoD: Warzone exist, 512GB is just too small and you’ll find yourself constantly installing and uninstalling stuff which is far from ideal. I don’t understand why Asus doesn’t include at least a secondary 1TB harddisk which would help a lot without breaking the bank.
Regardless of what you install on that small drive, the GA15 runs beautifully. For professional work such as graphic design, video editing and 3D animation, the combo is simply excellent. In my benchmarking, the GA15 scored the highest multi-core score of any machine I’ve reviewed in the past two years. This power combo also bodes well for streamers who need the processing power to game and stream with no degradation in gaming performance.
And speaking of games, even though the RTX 2070 Super is two years old, it still performs exceptionally well in so many games even with Ray Tracing turned on thanks to the AI wizardry of Nvidia DLSS. All this means is that GA15 easily runs games over 100FPS at 1080 and 60FPS at 1440p with high settings. Nothing to complain about, right? Turn on RTX and you’re still hitting 40-60FPS depending on your resolution.
If I had to complain about the GA15’s performance, it would be heat and noise. Asus made the odd decision to put a cheap, tiny air cooler on the powerful 3700X which constantly led to temperatures reaching high 80’s when underload. The poor cooler has to spin really hard to reign in those temps which of course means a lot of fan noise. Then the GPU hovers in the high 70’s when gaming and since there’s only one small case exhaust fan, that too struggles to vent the excess heat from the case.
But all that said, I didn’t notice any slow down or throttling even after several hours playing games. Nevertheless, Asus would do better in putting more high performance coolers in this configuration. Unlike other cases where you can easily open the tempered glass cover with a simple latch or thumbscrew, Asus decided to lock this one with tiny screws which requires a screwdriver each time.
And that’s really my only complaint about the design of the Strix GA15. I think it’s otherwise one of the best looking mid tower prebuilds. It’s pretty slim with a gorgeous face plate that has a bold RGB strip cutting across it. This isn’t the only RGB on the case too; there’s more inside which can all be controlled via the Asus Armoury Crate software. A cool feature on the front plate is the retractable headphone stand which I didn’t realise how useful it was until I didn’t have the GA15 anymore. When you don’t have much desk space, you’ll love this for storing your headphones.
Around the side is the tempered glass cover which for a view inside the case although it’s not really much of a view. Perhaps Asus had to make some compromises to keep cost down but everything on the inside of the GA15 is the cheapest, non-RGB components it could find. The RAM is an ugly green board and the motherboard doesn’t look like much either. It would have been nice to at least have some RGB RAM and a better looking cooler.
On the top of the case is a useful carry handle which simplifies moving this 11kg machine around – something I can see mainly esports teams doing. Underneath the handle are the front audio ports, USB-C and two USB-A ports so you aren’t constantly having to reach around the back to plug things in. At the back, is plenty of I/O with at least 6 USB ports, more audio ports, Gigabit Ethernet and video ports which vary depending on the graphics card.
The GA15 has ok room for expansion with 3 PCIe slots, an extra M.2 connector but only two DDR4 slots so you’ll have to be careful in your choice of RAM sticks. For wireless connectivity, you get WiFi 5 and not the newer, faster WiFi 6 but since I don’t have a WiFi6 router, I wasn’t missing anything. There’s also support for Bluetooth 5.0 so connecting headphones like the excellent Xbox Wireless Headphones.
As I said at the start of this review, given the frustrating shortages of PC components, a prebuilt like the Asus ROG Strix GA15 is a great compromise. Yes, the 3700X and RTX 2070 Super aren’t the latest and greatest and $3000 seems a tad high for what you get but I can’t fault its performance. It easily hits 100FPS at 1080p and 60Fps at 1440p in most AAA games at the highest settings – which is more than enough for a great gaming experience.
The productivity performance that the Ryzen 7 3700X provides for content creation and other intensive workloads is excellent and streamers will love its multitasking power. I do think Asus could do better with the cooling but this is a very good bang for buck system especially when you consider the different variants that go as low as $1800. Future iterations of this machine with RTX 30-series and Ryzen 5000 processors will be even more impressive.
I should point out that smaller builders like Aftershock PC can offer similar performance in their custom builds for much less. But if you are a lover of Asus and want a handsome, capable gaming machine that you can actually buy right now, then don’t look further.
Asus Australia loaned the ROG Strix GA15 to PowerUp! for the purpose of this review.