I’ve said before that PC makers who don’t offer AMD-based configs are pretty much trolling their customers, and with the release of AMD’s new RX 6000M line of mobile GPUs, that sentiment feels even more applicable. By combining a top-tier AMD mobile CPU with AMD’s latest flagship laptop graphics card, Asus’ ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition delivers big-time performance that matches or outperforms what you’d get from a similar Intel/Nvidia combo.
Even with all that power, the Strix G15 Advantage still manages to maintain surprisingly decent battery life. If you’re in the market for a 15-inch gaming notebook that can handle anything you throw at it with ease, the G15 Advantage is absolutely impressive.
Now before we go any further, it’s important to mention that this system is slightly different from the standard Strix G15 that came out earlier this year. That model featured an AMD CPU paired with a range of Nvidia GPUs, while the G15 Advantage is all AMD from head to toe. And that Advantage tag isn’t just an empty tagline, either, as it signifies that this version of G15 is certified as part of the new AMD Advantage platform. That requires laptops makers to meet a number of specifications, including the use of AMD CPUs and GPUs (duh), inclusion of an IPS or OLED display with more than 300 nits of brightness (no TN or VA panels allowed), support for FreeSync Premium, and a bunch of other important features. It’s sort of like Intel’s Evo platform, but for gaming laptops, so you know you’re getting a quality product. And if future AMD Advantage laptops are anything like the G15 Advantage, I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.
For people who don’t like the modern gamer aesthetic, the G15 Advantage might not be for you. Between a big RGB light bar that runs under the front lip of the system, a glowing keyboard with per-key RGB lighting, and even a removable faceplate covering its left hinge, the G15 Advantage can’t hide its intentions, even if it tried (and it’s not trying). But if you look past all the RGB lighting, you’ll see that G15 Advantage has a pretty clean design, with sturdy panels that don’t have much in the way of flex, a nice-sized touchpad, and very potent cooling.
One aspect of the AMD Advantage program is that even while gaming, AMD specifies that a laptop must keep temps near the WASD keys under 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), and thanks to big fans, a large internal vapor chamber, and multiple IR sensors scattered inside the system, the G15 Advantage definitely makes sure things don’t get too steamy. Now I will say that under full load, the volume of its fans ensures that anyone in the same room will know you’re gaming. But at least you have the option to set the fans to silent (which is really more like a whisper), in case you don’t want to attract excess attention.
Asus also made sure that the G15 Advantage’s keys enjoy a lengthy two millimeters of key travel in addition to smooth and properly bouncy stroke, while handy multimedia keys flank the right side of the keyboard. And while the G15 Advantage shares the same basic design as the vanilla model, one way to tell the two apart quickly is to look for the AMD logo in the corner of the lid, which is accompanied by some subtle easter eggs from Asus.
The one design choice that stands out like a sore thumb though is the G15 Advantage’s big chin beneath its display, which when combined with an asymmetrical hinge gap tends to make the system look more awkward than edgy. And with a weight of just over five pounds, the G15 Advantage’s heft is pretty typical of systems this size.
Asus offers two display options for the G15 Advantage: a 15.6-inch 2560 x 1440 display with a 165Hz refresh rate, and an even faster 1920 x 1080 panel with a 300Hz refresh rate, the latter of which is what we have on our review unit. Touting a peak brightness of 335 nits, the G15 Advantage comfortably sits above AMD’s 300-nit limit, though if we’re being picky, I would have liked to see a figure closer to 400 nits, as that would make working in sunny environments just a bit easier.
The G15’s matte display also means colors don’t pop as much as they would from a glossy screen, though in return, you don’t have to deal with any annoying reflections staring back at you. But most importantly, if you’re really into competitive gaming, that 300Hz refresh rate means you can eke out every last frame in games like CS:GO and Overwatch, so you won’t have any excuses for missing that headshot. That said, if it was my money on the line, I’d probably go with the 165Hz screen, as the higher resolution and 165Hz display’s slightly wider color gamut makes the G15 Advantage a bit more well rounded.
While the G15 Advantage delivers slightly overwhelming performance, its selection of ports and productivity features is a bit weak. There’s no support for Thunderbolt 4, and while you do get a full-size HDMI port around back (where most of the G15 Advantage’s ports lie), it’s HDMI 2, not 2.1. Meanwhile, the left side of the system sports two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, while the lone USB-C port in back seems silly, especially considering there are zero ports on the right.
And like some of Asus’ previous gaming laptops, the G15 Advantage doesn’t have a webcam, which is fine as long as you know that going in. Just don’t expect the G15 Advantage to bail you out if you need to hop on a quick video call.
Thankfully, when it comes to sound, the G15’s speakers are pretty punchy, pumping an above average amount of bass that you can easily feel while gaming. And with a built-in Ethernet jack and support for Wi-Fi 6, the G15 Advantage should provide a speedy connection regardless whether your internet is wired or not.
If you’ve been keeping track of Team Red’s gains in performance over the past couple years, the G15 Advantage’s performance may not surprise, but it’s impressive nonetheless. In games, the combination of a Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and a Radeon RX 6800M GPU—which is the flagship mobile graphics card in AMD’s new RX 6000M line—typically kept pace with or exceeded numbers from similarly equipped Intel/Nvidia-based rivals.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider at full HD and highest settings, the G15 Advantage pumped out 109 fps, compared to the 118 fps we got from the MSI GP66 Leopard, which featured an Intel Core i7 10870H CPU and an Nvidia RTX 3070. So even though the GP66 has a lead, it’s not very big, especially when you consider Shadow of the Tomb Raider is optimized a tiny bit better for Nvidia cards. Also, I should point out that all of our benchmarks were taken with the G15 Advantage set to Performance Mode, with the system’s even more powerful Turbo mode able to tack on a couple extra fps (and a bit more noise) if you really want to min max.
It’s a similar story in Far Cry at full HD and Ultra settings, with the G15 Advantage hitting 98 fps compared to 120 fps for the GP66. We’re talking strong performance, but slightly behind a system with an RTX 3070. However, the tables got flipped in Metro Exodus, where the G15 Advantage hit 80 fps compared to 78 for GP66. Not too shabby considering there’s still one more advantage to AMD’s new mobile GPUs that I’ll get to in a minute.
What might be more impressive is that when we move over to productivity benchmarks, the G15 Advantage easily beat numbers from competing Intel/Nvidia builds. When I used Handbrake to convert a 4K movie to 1080p, the G15 Advantage took just 6 minutes and 55 seconds versus 7:19 for the GP66. And in a GPU render test in Blender, the G15 Advantage’s lead was even bigger, posting a completion time of 5:23 compared to 6:39 for the GP66. So when you look at productivity performance (yes, there are workloads other than games), the AMD Advantage really shows its strengths.
Remember that other pro I was talking about earlier? It’s the battery, where AMD’s CPU and GPU power optimization gives the G15 Advantage surprisingly decent longevity. On our streaming video rundown test, the G15 Advantage lasted a solid 8 hours and 22 minutes, nearly double the runtime of GP66’s 4:35 and an hour longer than a similarly equipped Razer Blade 15 Advanced’s time of 7:10. Not only does this mean you can game longer untethered, it also makes the G15 a much better companion for anyone looking for a high-powered laptop that can pull double duty as a work and gaming machine.
So is this new Asus system worth buying? That’s a difficult question right now, mainly because the system is so new that Asus hasn’t figured out a price for this thing quite yet. And because just a couple hundred dollars could have a big impact on the kind of value it delivers, it’s simply too early to make a final call. (I promise I’ll update this review when pricing is officially announced. Update below!)
However, if the G15 Advantage’s price tag is anywhere near a similarly equipped vanilla G15, this will be a great system for anyone who puts a premium on performance.
[Update 6/2/21 at 1:30 PM ET] Today, Asus announced that the ROG Strix G15 Advantage will be available starting at $1,550 (exclusively at Best Buy) for a Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, Radeon RX 6800M GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB NVMe SSD.
Quite frankly, at that price the G15 Advantage is one of the most powerful 15-inch gaming laptops for the money. And even if you have to shell out extra for things like a webcam since the G15 Advantage doesn’t have one built-in, with a starting price of $1,550, when compared to $2,000 for similarly equipped Razer Blade 15, you should still have plenty of money left to buy some extra accessories or games.
The only real thing that would stop me from putting money down on G15 Advantage right now is that there will surely be an incoming wave of other AMD Advantage gaming laptops due out later this summer and fall. So if you want a wider selection selection of gaming notebooks featuring powerful AMD CPUs and GPUs, you may want to sit tight to see what other companies like HP, MSI, and others have planned.