Asus ROG Strix XG17AHP Portable Gaming Monitor Review

By Pointus Blankus on 22nd October 2020

Introduction

The Asus ROG Strix XG17AHP is my first experience with a portable gaming monitor. Whilst there are plenty of portable monitors in the market, only a very small subset of them are targeted for gaming, and none of those provide the features and functionality that match what the XG17AHP has to offer. The XG17AHP is a piece of hardware that you never knew you needed. Now that I’ve spent a couple of weeks taking it around with me, I cannot imagine life without it. Regardless of whether you game on your laptop, produce content (live streaming or video editing) on-the-go or even just carry out any other piece of work that requires two screens for maximum productivity, the XG17AHP is the ultimate go-to portable monitor that satisfies most use cases.

Prior to obtaining the XG17AHP, I was on the hunt for a portable monitor for two primary reasons. Firstly, I use a 13” laptop for gaming. For casual games, the 13” screen does the trick, but for any form of competitive online games such as Rainbow Six Siege or Call of Duty Warzone, you really need a larger screen. Whilst I do have a monitor at home, I take my laptop for gaming when I am travelling. The XG17AHP absolutely fulfils this need, since it’s lightweight and also has a stunning FullHD 1920x1080 17.3 inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Secondly, I am always working, even when I am on holiday! I have spoiled myself by always using a second monitor when working from home. I almost always struggle to use just my laptop screen when I have to work away from my workstation. During the rare moments of sunshine in the UK, I’d like the freedom of working (or gaming) from my garden patio. The XG17AHP acts as the much-needed secondary display that boosts my productivity whilst giving me complete freedom to work and play from wherever I want.

Features

Unlike most portable monitors, the XG17AHP packs an array of unique features that make it the best-in-class. There truly is no better portable monitor that the industry has to offer in terms of features. Whilst you can opt in for cheaper alternatives, the XG17AHP is designed for pro gamers and content creators, with a refresh rate of 240Hz. It’s important to appreciate just how crazy this really is. A lot of gamers (including players who are in the eSports scene) use gaming monitors that only have a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. The XG17AHP, despite being completely portable and 17.3 inches, has a refresh rate that doubles what many high-end monitors in the market have today. In addition, it only has a response time of 3ms, which is very impressive.

In addition, the XG17AHP contains all of the modern ports that you’d expect from a monitor. Although it doesn’t have any USB-A ports (the monitor is so thin that such a port probably won’t work), it contains a mini HDMI port, a standard USB-C for DC IN and also a DisplayPort Alt Mode over a second USB-C port. The latter port is where the magic really happens. Provided that your laptop or gaming/work device has a USB-C port that provides both power and audio/video, you can essentially connect your machine to the XG17AHP over just one USB-C cable. That single connection will give you sound, picture and even power the monitor!

The best feature of the XG17AHP is that it can be operated entirely without a power cable. That is because the monitor also contains a built-in 7800 mAh battery. Without getting power from an external source, the XG17AHP will give you roughly 3.5 hours of battery, and that’s in the complete 240Hz mode! I actually managed to get over 4.5 hours of battery by lowering the refresh rate. 3 hours on maximum performance is more than a gamer would need. This is perfect for scenarios where you’re gaming on your patio or you’re going on holiday and just want to game with family or friends. In addition, if you’re used to carrying out any professional work with a second monitor, the XG17AHP will give you maximum flexibility to maintain your productivity. We currently live in an era where people are often confined to their gaming rooms or bedrooms because their setups aren’t portable. With the XG17AHP, I actually found myself wanting to go to the living room or to my patio just to work and game. It is also proving healthy for the mind during the COVID lockdown period. Asus also mentions that a charge of one hour will give you two hours of battery life using the max settings.

The nature of USB-C also means that you can connect the monitor to other devices, not just laptops and PCs. As an example, all of the latest Samsung phones now use USB-C. You can connect your phone to the monitor to launch Samsung’s DeX desktop, and essentially turn your phone into a computer. Most modern devices use USB-C and this will be the gold standard for at least the next 5-10 years. I have no doubt that the XG17AHP is an investment that will last you at least the next five years, if not more.

Finally, although the monitor does have built-in 1W speakers that don’t sound the best for gaming, but do a good enough job for music and movies, you can connect headphones via the 3.5mm port that is also built into the monitor.

Unboxing Experience

As far as the unboxing experience goes, I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed unboxing a product. Although many argue that the idea of the ‘unboxing experience’ is overrated, I couldn’t disagree more. When you pay a premium price, you expect an experience that matches it. Asus has identified this and managed to deliver some fantastic packaging. What made the unboxing experience really stand out was how the monitor would rise up at an angle facing towards you, as you lift the lid back. The box that houses the monitor is built and folded in such a way that the base where the monitor sits on, starts to elevate from the back only slightly as the lid is lifted. It’s a very small touch, but having the monitor lift up towards you is a fantastic trick and one that I really appreciated.

I also love that Asus gives you everything you really need in this box. I’d be surprised if you need to buy any more cables. I was concerned that it may not come with an HDMI to Micro HDMI cable (or an adapter at the very least), since my work laptop would need this. Fortunately, Asus provides this cable. In addition, they provide a power adapter, USB-C to USB-C cable, plus an adapter to convert USB-C to USB-A (very helpful for gamers who are using laptops/PCs that don’t have a USB-C port). Finally, the XG17AHP also comes with a Smart Cover, which is similar to the folio-style cases you get with iPads. The Smart Cover took me some time to get used to. Unless I’m doing it wrong, I don’t think it has the capability of locking into one place for all use cases. You can cover the screen to protect it, or you can fold it behind the monitor so that it can stand up at a single angle. However, you cannot seamlessly change from protecting the screen to making it stand. You need to detach the cover and then reattach it to the new position. It could be that I wasn’t clever enough to figure it out! Overall, the Smart Cover managed to stand my monitor up at an optimal angle. You can also use the cover to make the monitor stand in portrait mode, but I don’t feel very safe doing that with the Smart Cover. If you have a desk too low or too high, then you may have some difficulties. Ideally you want to use the Smart Cover with a chair or desk that is height-adjustable. Fortunately, there are some additional accessories that you can use instead of the Smart Cover, that I’ll highly recommend.

Aesthetics & Portability

When you spend over £500 on a portable gaming monitor, you want to ensure it also looks good. The XG17AHP is actually quite a subtle looking monitor considering it’s an Asus ROG product. Black and a gunmetal grey shade are the main colours however as far as the materials go, they are all entirely premium. The monitor’s bezels are actually quite thin, and the bottom bezel is attached to a set of stereo speakers with the Asus ROG logo in the middle. The back of the monitor is also made of a premium metallic finish. For added gamer-effect, Asus has placed an extra large Asus ROG eye that actually lights up as the monitor is in use! It’s a great touch and certainly lets everyone around you know that you’re equipped with a very cool gadget.

Although the XG17AHP doesn’t weigh the lightest compared to other portable monitors, for a 17.3 inch device that has a built-in battery, a weight of just under 1.1kg is brilliant. My understanding is that many portable monitors are also 15 or 13 inches, so it’s not a fair comparison to make. If you’ve never held a portable monitor before, then you’ll feel that this is very light considering the size. In addition, the panel is less than half an inch thick. Most gaming monitors are at least 3 times as thick as this. If you consider the sheer amount of tech that is built into the XG17AHP, Asus has truly set the bar very high not only for competitors, but even for themselves. Perhaps the next step is to somehow upgrade the monitor to a 4K display without sacrificing any of the existing features?

Menu Interface & Monitor Performance

A feature that also sets the XG17AHP apart from its competitors is the vast number of options available to you in the menus. The monitor can be highly customized, with a whole section even dedicated to ‘gaming’ options. The number of calibration options will be overwhelming to most average gamers, but enthusiasts will love playing with them. As an example, there is an overdrive option (modulating the response time), but Asus takes it a step further. They give you five different levels to choose from! The XG17AHP also features FreeSync technology, and you can choose to turn this off or on. The GamePlus menu lets you switch on crosshairs, counters, times, align the display etc. The GameVisual menu lets you choose from many different modes that cover almost all game types ranging from ‘racing’ to ‘MOBA’. The Shadow Boost section lets you modulate the darker areas of the game without degrading the bright areas (sounds like HDR to me!). None of these aforementioned options would be available on a typical portable monitor. Options that let you modulate the volume, brightness, contrast, inputs are also available. If you plan to use your monitor in portrait mode sometimes, you can even switch on the auto-rotation feature. You need to download some special software from Asus in order to use it, but it’s a neat option in case you ever want to rotate your monitor.

Ultimately, a beautiful-looking monitor full of features and ports is useless if the performance of the actual monitor isn’t on par. I can confirm that the XG17AHP’s performance exceeded my expectations. From the moment I connected it to my laptop and fired up Warzone, I was stunned at the picture quality and colour depth. It definitely provided a better quality of picture than my 13 inch laptop and the refresh rate was buttery-smooth. What really surprised me was when I took the monitor out to my patio to play games whilst out in the sun. I did have to turn up the brightness, and whilst the experience will never be as good as playing in a dark room, the quality was still great. I specifically enjoyed working in broad daylight with the monitor; writing documents, watching videos and editing images in a sunny environment proved to be a breeze with the XG17AHP. As far as performance goes, I really cannot fault the XG17AHP.

Asus ROG Bag

If you’re going to invest in the XG17AHP, I highly recommend that you purchase the bundle that comes with the Asus ROG Tripod and Bag. The bag is essentially like a traditional laptop bag that allows you to place the monitor (with the Smart Cover) inside for complete protecton. The inside of the bag is made out of a thick, plush material that would provide sufficient drop-resistance. The bag has handles if you want to carry it like a briefcase, and also comes with a large strap that can be clipped to the sides of the bag so that you can wear it on your shoulder or across your chest. In reality, the bag can fit any 17 inch laptop, it’s not just specifically designed with the XG17AHP in mind. If you’re ever planning on traveling with the XG17AHP, I would highly recommend that you either get the ROG bag, or at the very least something similar. The Smart Cover does a good job at protecting the screen somewhat, but I would not feel safe dropping it without added protection. I’d feel much safer dropping the monitor if it were inside the bag. The ROG bag also contains all of the branding that you’d want to show off as a member of the elite ‘Republic of Gamers’ gang.

Asus ROG Tripod

Although the ROG bag is useful, you can buy alternatives. However, the Asus ROG tripod is an absolutely must-have accessory. In fact, the tripod completely transforms the XG17AHP to the extent that I’d love for Asus to only sell the XG17AHP SKU. The ROG tripod is a clever piece of engineering that stays true to the philosophy of ensuring that everything is portable. The extremely durable tripod is a foldable metallic stand for your monitor. As the name suggests, it can transform into a stand with three legs, giving your monitor a considerable amount of balance that the Smart Cover simply cannot provide.

In addition, the tripod has a huge amount of adjustability. When opened up, the monitor’s height can be adjusted by a considerable amount, and you can even adjust it in any angle required. You can even swivel it a complete 180 degrees, so you can simply turn it around to show people behind you what is on the screen. What I love about the ROG tripod is how it can be clamped onto the monitor with zero effort. It comes with a circular mount that can be screwed onto the monitor. You can keep the mount on the monitor permanently. The monitor then easily snaps onto the tripod without any fiddling required. By holding onto two buttons on the latch, you can detach the tripod with ease too.

You’ll instantly notice that the tripod feels quite heavy for what it is. However, it is solidly-built and provides an incredible amount of stability and adjustability to the XG17AHP. I cannot imagine using the XG17AHP without the tripod.

Finally, to maintain a portable standard, Asus has designed the ROG tripod in such a way that you can completely fold its legs upwards so that it essentially holds like a small lightsaber. The tripod does come with a pouch if you’re afraid of scratching it. Even if you dropped it without the case, it’s durable enough that it won’t break (although you might see some visual scuffs). The ROG tripod also completes the overall aesthetic of the XG17AHP. Whilst the monitor looks great with the Smart Cover, it also somewhat looks like a large iPad variation. With the ROG tripod however, the entire look and feel of the monitor changes. The flexibility of adjusting the monitor to suit your needs will end up feeling like a necessity rather than a luxury.

Summary

The Asus ROG Strix XG17AHP portable gaming monitor is the type of hardware that you didn’t think you needed, until you end up using one. The XG17AHP is perhaps the first piece of gaming hardware in a decade that has completely transformed the way I often choose to work and game. Instead of being confined to my office and gaming room, over the past two weeks, the XG17AHP has incentivised me to work and game from the garden without needing to make any compromises to my setup. Although the ability to travel is significantly restricted in today’s climate, I am certain that the XG17AHP will be going everywhere with me when I go on holiday or business trips abroad.

Although the XG17AHP is one of the more expensive portable gaming monitors in the market, rest assured that specification-wise, there is truly nothing better out there right now. If you’re a serious gamer or content creator, you will appreciate the 17.3 inch screen, the numerous ports, the 240Hz refresh rate and the large battery. Such flexibility comes at a price, but it’s a price well-worth paying for if you want to be able to game and work with a second monitor no matter where you are. If you do consider jumping in, I would highly recommend the XG17AHP SKU (which comes with the ROG bag and tripod), as opposed to the XG17AHPE, which only comes with the monitor and the Smart Cover.

 

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