Asus GL502VM Review (GTX 1060, I7)

++ Main reason to consider:

Relatively low weight and smaller frame for such a 15.6″ gaming laptop level. Basic components are good

-- Main reason to avoid:

Feature-set and extras are lacking: connection ports (no HDMI 2.0(not sure), mDP 1.3, no MXM or eGPU option, no USB 3.1 gen2) and thermals

Availability

Basic version:

Pro : + Excellent gaming performance with a GTX 1060 + I7-6700HQ
+ Relatively quiet, even under high system load
+ relatively smooth surfaced touchpad (but buttons are prolematic)
+ Keyboard is pretty comfortable, with very good feedback, resistance could be better_ and response. Keys are well spaced.
+ mDP + HDMI ports
+ Relatively slim and lightweight for such a high performance 15.6" gaming laptop
+ TPM 2.0
+ 1 year international warranty
Con : - Thermals aren't great, with high chassis temperatures and very high maximal CPU/GPU temperatures
- No Thunderbolt 3, no USB 3.1 gen 2, no mDP 1.3 (only v1.2)
- No MXM or an eGPU solution
- Maximal allowed fan speed is very limited - low noise but high temps
- Keyboard keys are not even in their behavior
- Battery running times are relatively short due to smaller battery high power consumption
- Screen's outer led can be twisted with some pressure
- "M" M.2 slot is not a full PCIe v.3 x4
- 8GB of the RAM are onboard, only one RAM slot free
- 2x8GB 2133MHZ vs 2400MHZ in other systems
- Speakers quality isn't that good and pretty fuzzy

Introduction

Asus GL502VM

The Asus GL502VM is the current iteration of the GL502 series and replaces the GL502VT with its GTX 970M. It comes with the same I7-6700HQ, but the GPU is upgraded to the Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB Pascal GPU. The GL502VM also adds G-Sync as a default and USB-C USB 3.1 (gen 1) connection. Cooling system remained the same more or less. There is one 2.5″ SATA bay and one M.2 slot (spoiler: which seems to be capped at PCIe v.3 x2, if the HWInfo is correct and complete). Overall, not much changed.

The basic version of the Asus GL502VM costs $1350-$1400 at Amazon and it can found for less in some stores with some discounts, from time to time. This version does not include an SSD, but a 1TB 7200RPM HDD. The GL502VM price point is relatively low and puts it below the MSI machines and in direct competition with the Clevo P650RP6 (reviewed here) which is relatively lightweight and small in frame too. The question is what does the GL502VM has to offer over the Clevo P650RP6/-G?

Let’s see

ComponentDescription
Model NamesAsus GL502VM
PriceBasic version: $1250-$1400 (no SSD, 16GB RAM, GTX 1060)
CPUI7-6700HQ (2.6GHZ-3.5GHZ, 45W)
MotherboardASUS GL502VM / Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
2xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x2, 1xPCI Express x16
GPUNvidia Geforce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5, 1280 shadars core@1405-1671MHZ, GDDR5@2GHZ, 192-bit bus
RAM1x8GB on-board + SK Hynix 1x8GB DDR4@2133MHZ HMA41GS6AFR8N-TF
1 bank of memory available. Two occupied slots are on the hidden side of the motherboard.
StorageHDD : HGST HTS721010A9E630 7200RPM 1TB HDD
SSD: free slot
M.2: 1xM.2 SATA PCIe NVMe (I think it is PCIe v.3 x2 capped, not x4)

LCD PanelIn review: 1080p 15.6", LG LG Display LP156WF6-SPB6, IPS, 30-pin eDP
Weight / Dimensions~2.5kg / ~5.5 lbs, PSU ~0.6kg
390 x 266 x 23.4 mm
15.35” x 10.47” x 0.92”
(w x d x h)
Keyboardorange-red backlit, 4 levels including off
Connection Portsright side: Kensington Lock, Card Reader, 2xUSB 3.0, Microphone + headphone
Left: power-in, RJ-45, mDP (v1.2 I guess), HDMI 1.4 (2.0?), USB 3.0, USB 3.1gen1 Type-C (gen2?)
Rear: nothing
Camera1080p@30FPS camera
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 AC 2x2 HMC WiFi Adapter
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Speakers2 speakers on the two sides of the front keyboard surface
Battery4 cell, 62Wh (Desgined 64Whr according to HWInfo)
Bios / EC version (test unit)GL502VM.200 /
Extra featuresEmbedded TPM 2.0
more details

Build quality, Case, design and looks

The chassis’ build quality of the GL502VM could be described as average. The base unit can be twisted with some pressure (like some other gaming laptops). The outer lid can stand some direct perpendicular pressure, but will also be easily twisted.

Looks

The Asus GL502VM carrying the ROG asus on its outer screen cover and on the keyboard palm surface. The chassis material looks are of high quality smooth plastic and the laptop generally has a “gamer” speedy style, with lots of red-orange colors, including the keyboard.

 

Maintenance and inner parts

Maintenance is rather easy. The backplate is easily removed by removing ~12 screws. You’ll find one M.2 slot and 2.5″ SATA bay. It is an “M” slot, if I’m not mistaken, but the motherboard PCIe lanes specification doesn’t show any PCIe x4. It has 1x PCIe x2 and 2x PCIe x1. I think the x2 may be the mDP, and the rest two are for the Wifi (in this case) and the SATA SSD.

Asus GL502VM mobtherboard, soldered GPU and CPU

 

CPU and GPU are soldered in this machine. They share two wide heatpipes, which are connected to both fans. The fans’ fins are also connected by another narrower heatpipe.

Keyboard and touchpad

Keyboard. The keyboard is rather good, but not great. Resistance, response, feedback are good. Keys are well spaced, but keys experience is not even across the keyboard. Also, resistance could be better in my opinion. The keyboard is backlit, but color is not changeable. Overall, a good keyboard, but not great.

Touchpad. The touchpad surface is very smooth and nice on the fingers, but the integrated buttons are not so comfortable to use, as many other integrated buttons.

Sound & Speakers

Fuzzy/boxy. The small 2 speakers are located to the side of the palm rests. They produce generally fuzzy/boxy sound, like the sound is spread all over, though it has some strength in the mids. Overall, mediocre speakers. Not a lot to say about it – speakers aren’t great.

General subjective performance experience

Added CPU-Z and GPU-Z screenshots.

 

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS : Windows 10, fully updated, 1607 version

Drivers: Nvidia Geforce 372.90

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

3DMark, Time Spy 1.0, CompuBench:

Asus GL502VM Review - 3DMark benchmarks Asus GL502VM Review - 3DMark Time Spy benchmark

Asus GL502VM Review - computbenchCL benchmark I7-6700HQ

LuxMark 3.1 Hotel and LuxVR:


asus-gl502vm-review-gtx-1060-luxvr asus-gl502vm-review-gtx-1060-luxmark-hotel

Summarized gaming performance

The GTX 1060 6GB performs well, as can be expected. Some of the newer games are too heavy for it on highest settings, but a. The CPU is a limitation too and b. newer games tend to be needing optimization.

I don’t know why in some benchmarks some laptops with a GTX 1060 6GB do better (like the GT62VR on Shadow Of Mordor), maybe it’s something I did incorrectly.

Anyway, for most games, including Crysis 3, Total War : Warhammer and even Deus EX : Mankind Divided, highest or near highest graphics settings are not a problem for this machine to run smoothly. 4K is too much for such a hardware with this kind of games, though.

Asus ROG GL502VM Review - GTX 1060 gaming benchmarks 1080p

Crysis 3

Asus GL502VM Review - Crysis 3 GTX 1060 2160p benchmarkAsus GL502VM Review - Crysis 3 GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

Thief

Asus GL502VM Review - Thief 1060 1080p benchmark

Bioshock Infinite

Asus GL502VM Review - Bioshock Infinite GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

Total War : Warhammer

Total War : Warhammer doesn’t walk hand in hand with the GTX 1060 in the DX12 mode for some reason

Asus GL502VM Review - Total War Warhammer 1060 1080p DX12 benchmarkAsus GL502VM Review - Total War Warhammer 1060 1080p DX11 benchmark

Metro : Last Light

Even the highest graphics settings are not a problem for the GTX 1060 with the very 3D demanding Metro Last Light game

Asus GL502VM Review - Metro Last Light 1080p benchmark

Battlefield 4 Campaign

BF4 campaign benchmark

Asus GL502VM Review - Battlefield 4 GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

Alien : Isolation

Asus GL502VM Review - Alien Isolation 1060 benchmark

World of Tanks

Asus GL502VM Review - World Of Tanks GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

Shadow Of Mordor

Asus GL502VM Review - Shadow Of Mordor GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

Ashes Of Singularity

Asus GL502VM Review - Ashes Of Singularity GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

Ashes Of Singularity is handled relatively easily by the I7-6700HQ and GTX 1060 6GB. However, the CPU becomes a bit bottleneck at these levels of GPU power, when lower graphics settings are used. The reason is that the GPU is fast to the point of the CPU not being able to feed it with information.

Fallout 4

The new Fallout 4 is rather demanding, but the GTX 1060 handles it quite well, at 1080p. It’s not clear to me why some of the laptops with GTX 1060 I reviewed were doing worse here (like the Clevo P650RP6) and some not. It seems like there is generally some difference which is not reflected in the basic specifications of CPU, RAM and GPU power

Asus GL502VM Review - Fallout 4 GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

ARK: Survival Evolved

The new ARK: Survival Evolved is not completely cooked yet, so don’t take these results too hard. The game obviously need some real optimisations, FPSs are really low and it seems that for nothing, more or less.

The Talos Principle

Asus GL502VM Review - The Talos Principle 1060 1080p benchmark

Rise of the Tomb Raider

At highest graphics settings @ 1080p, the DX12 implementation has performance advantages.

Asus GL502VM Review - Rise Of The Tomb Raider GTX 1060 I7-6700HQ benchmark

No Man's Sky

The difference between the “Ultra” and “High” graphics settings is the AA method – SSAAx4 vs FXAA

Asus GL502VM Review - No Man's Sky GTX 1060 1080p benchmark

Obduction

The new Obduction mystery game. Try it!

Asus GL502VM Review - Obduction 1060 1080p DX12 benchmark

Star Wars : Battlefront

Star Wars : Battlefront is relatively easy on the system. I think it is also because of the relatively good implementation of the game, like the Battlefield 4, which could run on a much lower end machines (think GT 940MX)

Asus GL502VM Review - Star Wars Battlefront 1060 1080p benchmark

Hitman 2016

The Hitman 2016 series is a demanding game, though like in Fallout 4, it’s not clear to my why. Performance using DX12 mode is slightly higher with this system.

Asus GL502VM Review - Hitman GTX 1060 1080p DX11 benchmarkAsus GL502VM Review - Hitman GTX 1060 1080p DX12 benchmark

Deus Ex : Mankind Divided

Asus GL502VM Review - Deus Ex Mankind Divided 1060 benchmark

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

As described before, the GPU and CPU share three heatpipes and two fans, the two fans plate are also connected by another smaller heatpipe. Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown from the rear.

Four tests:

1. Idle, power saver mode

2. Gaming : Ashes Of Singularity benchmark. “Crazy” settings, “High performance” power mode.

3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.

4. Prime95 + Furmark on 900p test, AAx4. “High performance” power mode.

Asus GL502VM Review - CPU and GPU temperatures, different loads

The Asus GL502VM can’t handle the highest load and gaming could also be very taxing in terms of thermal handling. The fans maximal speed is relatively low indeed, and I couldn’t change it with the tools I know (anyone?). However, the noise level remains pretty low.

 

Heat

Under high load, like gaming load, most of the keyboard and left palm rest get hotter, with the center of the keyboard the most. Additionally, all the panel above the keyboard gets pretty hot too. The palm rests and the left and right of the keyboard do get warmer as well, but not as hot as the rest of the parts and do not reach annoying. Same goes for the bottom cover. I think laptop should start ship with some thermal solution for the SSD/HDD.

Under low load, but with “high performance” power plan (Windows), the GL502VM gets warm as described above, but with lower temps.

Under low load and with “balanced” or “power saver” mode, the chassis temps become okish (I know, a more precise measurement is needed)

Generally, in terms of chassis temperatures, the GL502VM doesn’t do great. However, remember that the GT62VR also gets warm and in more strategic places, like the left palm rest.

Throttling

As you can see, the clocks are pretty good on average, but for some reason, in gaming situation, the core clocks can jump up and down. I tried using ThrottleStop to negate it, but it seems that all I could do is prevent these variation only in case Turbo was disabled (and then average performance is much lower), otherwise, the clocks were the same. However, I noticed only slight differences in the experience with the game for a moment going a bit slower.

The temperatures can get pretty high, even with Turbo disabled (meaning 2.6GHZ for the I7-6700HQ). I wouldn’t bother with it, as it will reduce the performance with a GPU like the GTX 1060.

As said before, the GL502VM noise levels are relatively low, and that’s probably in exchange for the temperatures. I think, as always, that they should have provided some control, like in the Clevo laptops or MSI GTs.

 

CPU Clocks PCH CPU average stable CPU MAX GPU
0.8 46.5 37 45 42 Idle
3 55 80 84 63 Prime95
2.8 69 96 98 86 Prime95 + Furmark
3.1 71 93 94 86 Prime95 + Furmark (CPU@2.6GHZ)
2.6 86 90 80 Ashes Of Singularity

Noise

The P650RP6 has several use profiles. With “Quiet” or “Entertainment”, the laptop is pretty quiet while doing the usual stuff. Under “performance” mode, the fans noise will be often quite noticeable even when doing non-demanding tasks.

Under full load, the fans do spin much faster and produce higher noise, but relatively not that much and the noise is not too annoying. The laptop is not as quiet as the MSI GT62VR, but not as loud as the GS43VR, for example.

* I should probably get some equipment to do more precise measurements, but these are my subjective impressions.

Screen & Screen quality

The Asus GL502VM comes with the LG LP156WF6-SPB6, 1080p IPS panel which is part of the LP156WF panels family currently widely in use. This model has good contrast and relatively good viewing angles both vertically and horizontally. Color are good, but could be better, like in other LG LP156WF panels. PWM could not be detected by me, so either that’s a high frequency PWM or no PWM. I do think that it’s time for a higher quality 1080p IPS display, though.

Overall, a good display, maybe even better than some of the other LP156WF panel out there, at least in terms of contrast and black levels.

 

The XRite i1Display reading (different from the Spyder5Elite):

Contrast White Luminence Black Luminence Screen Brightness
993 293 0.295 100.00%
1018 167 0.164 50.00%
1450 87 0.06 20.00%
ContrastBrightnessBlack levels
780 292 0.37
sRGBadobeRGBNTSC
91 71 68

Battery Performance

With 62Whr battery, relatively high power consumption (no Optimus), the GL502VM battery running times aren’t great. Saying that, the battery will probably suffice for 3-4 hours of movie watching, depending on the movie and what else is running.

Asus GL502VM Review - Battery running times

The NVidia GPU would kick in often and require lots more power. Also, it seems that in “power saver” mode, 4K movies would not play smoothly, and “blaanced” mode was required, resulting in higher CPU load.

 

GPU Overlocking

The Asus GL502VM could benefit from a bit of GPU overclocking. I used MSI Afterburner 4.3.0 beta14 with these settings

  • GPU core + 170MHZ, roughly 10% addition to the boost core clocks of 1670MHZ
  • GPU memory +400MHZ which is 5% addition

Asus GL502VM Review - GTX 1060 overclock gaming results

What do we see here? The games@settings that benefited the most from the overclock are the games which are more GPU taxing in these graphics settings -Deus Ex on highest settings and Ashes Of Singularity on “Crazy” settings. AoS on “High” settings didn’t gain as much FPSs as in “Crazy” mode, probably because the load shifted more towards the CPU and not the GPU.

Issues

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

    • The Clevo P650RP6/-G (reviewed here) is the main competitor of the GL502VM. It offers smaller frame and lower weight, almost as the GL502VM, while offering the same performance. However, it has a lot more connection ports and storage options, including 2xUSB 3.1 gen2 Type-C ports, HDMI 2.0, 2xmDP 1.3, PCIe NVMe x4 if I’m not mistaken, and more. Moreover, its thermal handling performance is a lot better, keeping the GPU/CPU much cooler, even under Prime95 + Furmark. They both have G-Sync support, a nice 1080p IPS display (maybe the GL502VM has an edge) and an I7-6700HQ, but the P650RP6-G has also an option for Optimus system, making power consumption for light loads lower.
    • Higher priced laptops like the MSI GT62VR which cost more, but have some advantage. The GT62VR (review, Amazon link) has G-Sync support, better cooling, an MXM GPU (future GPU upgrade is an option), Thunderbolt 3 (eGPU option), HDMI 2.0 (according to MSI’s page) + mDP (v1.2). However, bigger and bulkier.
    • MSI GE62VR which I don’t understand what’s good about it except its smaller frame
    • MSI GS43VR which is smaller and may suit some people. Same hardware more or less. Has Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port.
    • Alienware 15 – still remains to be seen how good it is. Anyway, it is considerably heavier and bulkier, but has TB3 port and probably better thermal performance.
    • The new HP Omen 17 with GTX 1060/1070, I7-6700HQ and UHD 3840×2160 display. Also, unknown quality at this time. Costs considerably more (but there will be some discounts probably)

Conclusion

Well, what can I say. The GL502VM is generally a good machine with the basic parts in place – 3D performance and keyboard. It also relatively smaller and more lightweight and the cooling system’s noise levels are relatively low no matter what. However, it has some noticeable downsides. The thermal performance is not as good as other machines with CPU/GPU reaching higher-then-90C degrees under very high load, connection ports selection is very limited, build quality is not that great for such a price compared to the others and most importantly, you can’t change the keyboard’s color to purple or green. It doesn’t have a Thunderbolt 3 port either.

Compared to the competition, the Clevo P650RP6-G has more to offer probably, with better connection/storage ports selection, better thermal performance, and a less limiting RAM configuration. Speakers are the same (don’t expect much) and it’s even not that bulky. For the same price more or less, the P650RP6 will be probably the better recommendation. The MSI GT62VR with even a better cooling system and an MXM + Thunderbolt 3 port for around $1500-$1550 will be the next stop for those who don’t care too much about the size and weight (which is only around 500-600 grams in difference).

So, bottom line, unless you have a kink for Asus, I’d recommend not buying the GL502VM unless it comes for a very good price (and it might), considerably lower than the others.

.

  • Morpheus88

    hdmi is 2.0?

    • I’m not sure, don’t have the machine no more. Contrary to what I thought before, now I think it should probably have one. Sorry I can’t check it

    • Anyway, it has an mDP, so you can use an adapter to HDMI, if you need to run 4K screen with it (or simply use the mDP)

  • e55e

    Hi, I’ about to replace my actual laptop and I’ve found the GL502VM. I’ve just a little questions about it (the 1060 6gb one):
    1. Does it support the VT-D for virtual machines? (I will often use it with vmware) can it be enabled in BIOS?
    2. Does it have the support for Nvidia Optimus switchable graphics cards? i.e. the Intel one in power saving mode? Can i switch it in BIOS?
    3. is the USC-c port Thunderbolt compatible?

    Thank you so much

    • Hi!

      1. I think it is. the I7-6700HQ supports it and I’m pretty sure it is enabled in the bios
      2. No with the default bios (and I don’t know of any different bios)
      3. Some people say it has TB3, but I don’t think so. It is not on the manufacturer site + it does not have the TB3 logo + the PCIe lanes don’t add up

      you’re welcome!

      • e55e

        Thank you so much for the really fast reply!
        I don’t know if you can provide me screenshot of the BIOS ( I really really need vt-d support ).. I have asked Asus about it a week ago and still no feedback..
        Sorry for bother you and sorry for my not-so-perfect English

        • I don’t have the machine no more, but I’m 99% sure it has it, like the GL502VS and any other machine I’ve tested in the last year..

          • e55e

            Thank you 🙂

        • Fredrik Andersson

          It does have VT-d support, although I don’t know why you would need it on a laptop.

          Additionally the iGPU appears unfortunately to be permanently disabled (due to GSYNC I guess),

          • e55e

            Thank you. I will use the laptop for work ( some VMWare / VIrtualbox VMs) and at home (gaming)

      • Fredrik Andersson

        It apparently has TB 3 as Asus released drivers for it, as well as announcing GL502VM is one of their supported laptops for their thunderbolt dock.

        • Could be. Could be an updated version. I saw no real confirmation yet. The TB logo is not there either, near the port and is not mentioned in the product page. Not that it means it doesn’t, but it looks strange. I don’t have the machine for testing currently, sorry :