In essence, the Asus ROG Mothership is a mini all-in-one gaming PC that displays the definition of the word “laptop.” All ventilation and components are located in the display area of the system, which causes the detachable keyboard to go down as an intergalactic gangway. This is our Asus ROG Mothership Review.
Strange looks aside, the inside of the Mothership is all a gaming laptop and offers a powerful overclockable Intel’s Core i9 processor with an Nvidia’s RTX 2080 GPU. Throw 64 GB of RAM, 2 TB SSD storage and a beautiful screen with a response time of 3 milliseconds and what was once a peculiarity, quickly becomes a very compelling installation – provided you can earn $5499.
Asus ROG Mothership Review – Design
I have seen some funky looking laptops in my time, but the Mothership might take the cake. Made from black brushed aluminum, adorned with a stable backlit Republic of Gamers (ROG) emblem at the bottom of the lid, the laptop is unmistakably an Asus. The top of the lid is meant to ventilate with the many medium-sized slots configured in a geometric pattern that looks strange.
Although it is quite counter-intuitive, I refer to the part of the Mothership that houses the screen as the lid. It is so heavy that I do not blame you for assuming that it is the undercarriage of the system. The bottom of the system is considerably lighter than the 2.6 pounds main body, compared to the top of 8 pounds. It also has a large ROG logo with background RGB lighting, in the upper right corner where you would expect an external logo.
When you open a laptop, you usually lift the lightest part of the system to reveal the inside. Not with the mother ship. You want to set the hybrid upright so that the standard that supports the actual lid is activated. From there, carefully lower the front panel, making the keyboard and another large ROG logo visible at the top of the keyboard.
You will not find any ports along the sides of the keyboard. You will discover a single USB Type-C port in the hinge of the keyboard as soon as you disconnect it from the display area of Mothership (more on that later). Instead, all essential ports and buttons are located on the sides of the screen. For example, there is a USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 port on the right with an HDMI 2.0 port and a 3.2 Gen 2 USB Type-C port, which also serves as a DisplayPort.
You also have an SD-card reader; the two power connections needed to power the system and the on/off button. To the left of the system is a trio of USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet, and connections for a headset and microphone.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The keyboard of the Mothership is an excellent little dilemma. When you prepare for using the laptop, it will not open as much as it will unfold. When it is magnetically attached to the primary part of the hybrid, the keyboard is on a 10-degree slope to compensate for the lack of a palm rest. And it works for the most part, provided that the surface on which you have laid the Mothership is long enough to support your wrists.
When the keyboard is released, you can leave it flat or fold the top underneath to make a lap-friendly device. It is an elegant solution that allowed me to rest the top-heavy part of the removable part on my living room table while I typed and scrolled from the soft comfort of my couch. The keyboard is connected to the Mothership via 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi for wireless use, or you can either connect via a USB Type-C cable.
If you play a game that requires a numeric keypad, or if you need a faster way to crack a few digits, the 3 x 2.4-inch touchpad can change to a digital number entry system at the touch of a button. When enabled, a red-lit path lights up that allows for rapid entry of data or fragments, whatever you want.
If you press the button again, the number pad will turn off and return to a regular touch-pad. The touch-pad is a bit small, but I had no problems using multi-touch movements such as pinching with zoom, scrolling with two fingers, or tapping with three fingers. And I appreciate that Asus gave me a few discreet mouse buttons to work with, instead of pushing me clumsily on corners. Both buttons are sturdy with a spicy click.
Asus ROG Mothership Review – Display
The 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel of the Asus ROG Mothership is not too saturated and delivers warm, realistic colors. When I watched the Miss Virginia trailer, I couldn’t take my eyes off the huge Fro of Uzo Aduba, hollowed out in a gravity-defying ebony semi-pompadour. The sun shone to her left and marked single curls. Details were clear enough so that I could see the subtle square pattern in her pink-pink suit.
When I played Borderlands 3, the screen did a great job with color. My favorite scene was the entrance of Lilith, while the dirty setting of the propaganda center Children of the Vault suddenly stood in a rolling cloud of red-orange fire. The cloud gave way to the trim shape of the leader of the Crimson Raider, her significant blue siren glowing with power. The 144Hz refresh rate and the response time of 3 milliseconds ensured incredibly smooth action, even while I was shooting and shooting over obstacles and sliding into cover.
The Mothership panel reproduced 102% of the sRGB range and exceeded our 100% recommended minimum. The Area-51m was livelier at 118%, but neither of them could surpass the 147% premium average. Meanwhile, the MSI Titan delivered at 157%. With an average of 286 nits, the display of the Mothership is pretty bright and surpasses the 271 nits of the Area-51m. The Titan, however, delivered a fantastic 376 nits and was the only one to beat the 318-nits of the category average.
I love the speakers of the Mothership. Because the system is built as an all-in-one, the four 4-watt speakers were aimed directly at my face, pumping out tunes that filled our small test lab with a warm, refreshing sound. Listening to “True Kinda Love” from Steven Universe, the Movie Soundtrack, I was overwhelmed by how good Estelle’s buttery alto sounded. The bows were bright, and the strings were easy to distinguish from the keyboard chords, thanks to the spacious soundstage.
The speakers work best when the keyboard is disconnected so that the audio reaches your ears. When the keyboard is connected, the treble can be distorted, which can be remedied by lowering the volume. You can also try switching between the five presets in the Sonic Studio 3 software (music, movies, games, communication, off). Although I used the music preset most of my review, Gaming adds a little hint of surround sound that is good for gaming.
Graphics and Gaming
Asus does not bump the mother ship. The hybrid system has a full Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8 GB of VRAM, which means that it is a severe blow when it comes to gaming, with high frame rates on the most graphic straining games. The system also has a built-in Intel UHD 630 graphics GPU when you are not gaming.
I stormed the Sun Smasher base in Borderlands 3 to prevent the bandits from handling a powerful artifact for the enemy. Luring a grenade into the approaching crowd, diluted the herd and sent a few into the air. I landed a few vital shots on a Psycho before I landed the deadly blow from a double-bladed glove and turned my enemy into a puddle of bloody goo at 100 fps at 1080p on Ultra settings. Lowering the settings to High yielded a rate of 119 fps.
The convertible kept up with the competing systems, scored 86 on the Rise of the Tomb Raider test (Very High, 1080p), beat the MSI Titan’s (RTX 2080) 68 fps and the 65-fps premium gaming laptop on average. However, it was not a competition for the Area-51m, which achieved a score of 92 fps. On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Mothership made 91 fps, past the 79 fps of the Titan, and the average of 64 fps.
When we switched to Hitman, the mothership dropped 135 fps, with the Titan categorizing 113 fps and the average of the 107-fps. But the Area-51m scored higher with 143 fps.
The Mothership beat the competition during the Grand Theft Auto V test with 108 fps. That was enough to keep the 105 fps that reached the Area-51m and the MSI Titan, as well as the category average of 79 fps.
During Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, the ROG Mothership achieved 129 fps, beating the average of 96 fps and the 110 fps of the Titan. However, it was not enough to overcome the Area-51m, which reached 132 fps.
Asus ROG Mothership Review – Performance
If you are ever called to do hardcore work, the Mothership and the 2.4 GHz Intel Core i9-9850HK processor with 64 GB RAM are waiting for you. And if that is not enough multitasking, computing power for you, the CPU is overclockable. Based on the clock speed, the laptop could efficiently process a Raising Dion episode on Netflix, even though 29 additional tabs were opened in Google Chrome. It also kept on connecting when I started using Borderlands 3 in the background.
On the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the ROG Mothership achieved 34,879, surpassing the average of 24,742 premium gaming laptops. The Alienware Area-51m and the MSI Titan with their desktop Core i9-9900K processor reached 32,591 and 32,167 respectively.
By running the File Transfer Test, the Mothership’s quad of 512 GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration duplicated 4.97 GB of multimedia files in 4 seconds. That’s a transfer rate of 1,272.5 Mbps, which was just enough to surpass the 1,272.3 Mbps produced by the Alienware Area-51m’s double 1 TB NVMe PCIe SSDs. The MSI Titan and his 2TB NVMe PCIe SSD ruled with a score of 1,454.1MBps.
Asus ROG Mothership Review – Heat
It is undeniable that the mothership is interesting to look at. Still, the funky shape of the hybrid is also functional and keeps the components of the system cool during load activities. Traditional laptops often experience cooling problems because most ventilation openings are at the bottom. Placing everything on the back and top of the system ensures better airflow.
In addition to improved airflow, Asus equipped the mother ship with two fans and eight heat pipes (four on the CPU and GPU each) to keep it cool. And if that wasn’t enough, the company uses Thermal Grizzly Liquid Metal, a thermal connection that should keep the CPU cooler up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). Asus also has software to find the balance between performance, cooling, and energy consumption.
I played around Pandora in Borderlands 3, usually a thorn in the Calypso twin sides for 15 minutes. As soon as the game started, the fans did that too, and man, they are loud. Fortunately, the speakers of the Mothership are loud enough to drown it out. When my time was over, I measured the touchpad, the center of the keyboard, and the top of the laptop’s temperature at 81, 85, and 111 degrees, respectively. The Mothership runs much cooler than its closest competitors.
After giving the ROG Mothership some time to cool down, I repeated the test, this time watching at Jackie Aina make-up drugstore application on YouTube in full screen for 15 minutes. The touchpad remained at 81 degrees while the middle recorded 82 degrees. The top and the back of the Mothership measured 92 degrees, which is below our comfort limit of 95 degrees.
Asus ROG Mothership Review – Battery Life
The mother ship may not last a full working day, but it managed to surpass its rivals thoroughly. With the keyboard attached, the Asus ROG Mothership lasted 4 hours and 41 minutes on our battery test (continuous web browsing via Wi-Fi with 150 nits). Without the keyboard, the time of the Mothership increased to 5:09. Both times are longer than the average of the 3:09 premium gaming laptop and the times generated by MSI Titan (3:45) and the Alienware Area-51m (2:36).
I cannot deny the method behind the madness of Asus. Putting the hybrid in a standing position and moving the ventilation openings from bottom to the top provides a cooler system that lends itself to better performance. I mean, who’ll say no to their overclockable CPU and GPU that work at peak performance?
Although the price of $ 5,499 hurts my soul and scares my bank account, with its Core i9 CPU, Nvidia RTX 2080, 64 GB RAM, and 2 TB lightning-fast storage, the Mothership stands up to and surpasses its traditionally designed rivals. For the money, I would like a brighter, more vivid screen like the MSI GT76 Titan, or the ability to upgrade a component or two such as the Alienware Area-51m.
In general, the Asus ROG Mothership is the system for well-to-do gamers who are looking for a desktop replacement that can squeeze out all possible achievements and stay relatively cool (and look).
The Asus ROG Mothership delivers excellent graphics, good overall performance and decent battery life in a funky, detachable design.
- Excellent graphics and overall performance
- Innovative design
- Stays cool while gaming
- Great audio
- Comfortable keyboard
- Incredibly expensive
- Lacks per-key lighting