“What if a Microsoft Surface was actually a 17.3-inch gaming laptop with enough firepower to replace a desktop rig?” isn’t a question that anyone seems to have ever asked. (I checked Google.) But at CES 2019, Asus seems determined to answer it anyway with the ROG Mothership (GZ700), a 17.3-inch gaming laptop with a vertical design, Surface-style pop-up kickstand, and detachable folding keyboard. It’s a Microsoft Surface taken to the logical gaming extreme.
But while it may look a little strange, the idea behind flipping a gaming laptop on its side makes a ton of sense. Heat is the biggest enemy of gaming PCs, so by essentially putting everything vertical, it’s far easier for Asus to vent that heat instead of trapping it between a keyboard and a desk.
Similarities with a Surface end at the rough design. The ROG Mothership is far bigger: it has a huge 17.3-inch 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and Nvidia’s G-Sync. It’s powered by the newly announced mobile version of Nvidia’s RTX 2080 GPU and Intel’s top-of-the-line Core i9-8950HK processor, both of which Asus says overclocked beyond stock speed due to the better cooling that the vertical design offers.
Storage is provided by a RAID 0 array with three NVMe SSDs and up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM rounding out the internal hardware. And in a (sadly) rare sight for a gaming PC, there’s also support for Windows Hello facial recognition from the built-in webcam. On the ports side, Asus isn’t skimping, either. There’s a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, a standard USB-C port, four USB Type-A ports, HDMI, an SD card slot, and an Ethernet port, along with the apparently requisite dual 280W charging ports that superpowered gaming laptops demand these days.
Asus has also done some pretty impressive work with the hinge design on the ROG Mothership: according to the company, the kickstand pops out automatically from the bottom of the computer when it touches a surface, making it easy to set it up one-handed. As for the keyboard, it also has a few tricks. You could just use it magnetically attached to the ROG Mothership, but you can also detach it to use it as a wireless keyboard, with the entire keyboard folding in half vertically so that you’re taking up less desk space. And for those worried about latency, you’ll also be able to connect the detached keyboard via USB-C for a wired connection that still offers the flexibility of an undocked keyboard.
Unfortunately, all of that power and machined aluminum isn’t light to lug around: Asus lists an estimated weight of 10.36 pounds, so you’ll probably want to stretch a bit before you stick it in your bag.
The Asus ROG Mothership will be available sometime later in Q1 2019. Pricing and exact spec configurations will be announced at launch.
While the ROG Mothership may be the star of Asus’ gaming lineup at CES, it’s far from the only update the company has to offer. Asus has a new model of its ROG Zephyrus S, the GX701, which keeps the same ultra-slim design and terrible keyboard and trackpad placement as last year’s model, but it upgrades the screen from 15.6 inches to a 17.3-inch panel, while still offering the same 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync features as its smaller counterpart.
Despite the bigger size, though, at 15.7-inches wide, Asus says that the Zephyrus S GX701 is the most compact 17-inch gaming notebook available, and at 18.7mm thick, it’s also the thinnest in that size class, making it the polar opposite of its bigger and brawnier Mothership cousin. Plus, the GX701 is getting a few spec bumps, with Nvidia’s new Max-Q design RTX GPUs, Intel’s latest processors, and the ability to charge over USB-C, which are all welcome additions. The ROG Zephyrus S GX701 will be available later in Q1 2019, but no exact price or release info has been announced.
Lastly, Asus is also updating its ROG Strix SCAR II and ROG Strix Hero II laptops with new Nvidia RTX graphic options as well, rounding out the company’s lineup with the new GPUs, which are also slated for later in Q1 2019.