You think you’ve seen it all, but you haven’t. Announced back in July 2019, the developers at ASUS put all their brain juice together to come up with a chimera of a laptop. Well, tablet really. The ASUS ROG Mothership is a gaming laptop in the form of a tablet that has a removable keyboard.
The guys over at ASUS has been kind enough to send a unit over for us to test it out. We didn’t have much time with the machine so here’s a quick first impressions of the ASUS ROG Mothership.
- Intel Core i9-9980HK Processor 2.40GHz (14nm Kaby Lake)
- 64GB RAM
- 1.5GB SSD
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
- 17.3-inch Display (FHD 1920 x 1080)
- 144Hz Refresh Rate with 3ms Response Rate
The ASUS ROG Mothership hasn’t even presented itself, but you would already be amazed by how well it’s packaged. The box alone already has so many aesthetics put into it, it only gets better after you unbox it. Opening up the box, you’ll be greeted with a stack of cards detailing the design and manufacturing process of the ROG Mothership. You would also get a thank you note from the CEO for purchasing the Mothership.
Taking out the laptop, the first thing you feel is the weight. That’s 4.8KG worth of gaming power in your hands. It’s heavy but if you have a big enough backpack, it shouldn’t feel too much of a burden on your back.
The exterior of the Mothership looks pretty muted, but once you turn it on, that’s where it unleashes the entirety of its (ASUS) Aura. You’ll be greeted with RGB goodness, with a multitude of colours just glowing all around the machine. From the bottom speaker grills, to the keyboard, to the back of the machine. The Mothership isn’t shy to announce its arrival.
After attaching the keyboard on, the RGB keys are very comfortable to type on as each key is well isolated. That gives your fingers more travel space and less typing errors. However, because the keyboard is elevated at an angle, and the fact that it’s foldable, there is a very apparent flex when you put down more force on the keyboard.
That being said, when you detach it and fold it in half to use as a wireless keyboard, the flexing disappears. You know what they say, weird flex but okay. Asus may have not taken the mechanical key approach to make the design more slim, but at that price, we would have liked to see it come with a mechanical keyboard instead.
In terms of ports, they are all well placed and easy to reach. The air outlet is placed on the top of the machine, and we think that might not be the best place to put it. Apart from the heft, the ROG Mothership actually feels very solid and it’s not something that would break easily. It looks like a laptop that could actually take a hit or two.
The display of the ASUS ROG Mothership is a love hate relationship to us. We love that it has a matte display, because that would reduce any glare under bright sunlight. That being said, the machine just doesn’t have enough brightness. For some reason, even at 100% brightness with the power supplies plugged in, it’s just not very bright at all.
We also love that the display has a 144hz refresh rate with 3ms response time. Everything looks smooth and detailed when gaming, with help from the Nvidia GSync technology.
Again, back to the pricing, the ROG Mothership’s 17.3-inch display should have been at least a 2K touch screen panel instead of just a full HD panel. That would’ve opened up a lot more possibilities for the Mothership for designers and content creators.
It feels very glorious and prestigious to be using and gaming on the ASUS ROG Mothership. The laptop also comes with a ROG Gladius 2 mouse, so it’s just a very flashy setup to have on the desk. But once you look past the lights, it’s just a pretty standard gaming laptop. Sure, it has top of the line hardware built in, but you’re going to notice it until you fire up 2019’s latest games.
ASUS moved the trackpad from its conventional position of being in the middle to the right of keyboard. The placement feels natural, which is good, but when you use it, it tends to feel rough and slow when you move and scroll around.
We’re glad ASUS decided to include the two-finger tap for right click and two-finger scroll features. With the click of a button, the trackpad gets illuminated and instantly turns into a numpad. It’s actually pretty cool, but quite annoying when you have to move between windows and keying in numbers.
If you’re going out and about and you need to bring the ROG Mothership with you, it’s going to be quite daunting. Lugging a 4.8KG laptop around is heavy enough, but you would have to bring along two huge power supplies to power it.
Now this section is what I’m most excited about. The speakers on the ROG Mothership sound absolutely crazy. The bass is rich, the mids and highs are clear and crisp. When the keyboard is attached, the sound can get a little muffled. That being said, the magic begins when you detach the keyboard. The audio becomes louder, fires right at you, as if the artist was right in front you.
The audio is loud, and when you game with it, you can hear every detail through the speakers. The audio might just be coming from in front of you, but you can actually hear it as if it’s a surround sound system.
On the keyboard, there’s a shortcut key for the ROG proprietary “Armoury Crate” software. In the Armoury Crate is where you can tweak every little detail of the machine, from the performance, to the lighting, to the usage behaviour.
This laptop isn’t meant to be brought around, so it’s going to be planted on your desktop most of the time if you really get one, and that’s fine. That being said, when you’re in one of those intense gaming session and the GPU performance kicks up a notch, the fans are going to get quite loud, with the body gaining quite an amount of heat. The fans blow the hot air out from the top of the machine, but doesn’t do that well when it comes to liquid cooling.
Gaming performance is of course top notch. It’s got an Intel Core i9-9980HK processor with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 with 4GB of VRAM. Games are smooth, fast, and that’s where the ROG Mothership excels.
The Asus ROG Mothership is definitely a flashy machine, with a design concept that’s fairly rare in the industry. But the price of the machine alone removes all advantages it has over any other competing form factors. Also, the fact that it comes with quite a number of shortcomings, ASUS has a long way in perfecting the ROG Mothership. Probably we’ll see an improved version in the ROG Mothership 2?