Hands-On, Laptop, Tablet, Windows

Asus ROG Mothership Hands-On: A RM26,999 Gaming Behemoth

When it was first unveiled to the world at CES 2019, the Asus ROG Mothership stood out for its unique tablet-like form factor (for a product in its segment) and the fact that it’s a monster of a gaming machine. Launched in Malaysia back in June last year, I finally got some hands-on time with the gaming behemoth.

Retailing at RM26,999, the ROG Mothership is a decadent gaming machine, and it’s tough to justify that kind of asking price. But what does that kind of money get you? Well, let’s find out.

One of the most unique aspects of the ROG Mothership has to be its form factor. Most would be inclined to call it a gaming tablet, given the machine’s kickstand design and detachable keyboard. But that’s not the most appropriate description, given its lack of a touch-enabled display. With that in mind, it’s more apt to call this product an all-in-one PC.

Putting that aside, the ROG Mothership certainly has a unique design. The kickstand can be deployed by just pushing down the bottom part of the machine on a surface; there are two buttons on the bottom area that pushes out the kickstand. It’s a neat trick to prop up the Mothership on a table easily, especially since it’s such a heavy PC.

So how heavy is the ROG Mothership? A whopping 4.8kg. Moving this machine from one place to another is quite the challenge, and it doesn’t help that this PC needs two AC adapters to power up. Of course, this isn’t exactly a surprise: the Mothership is touted as “the future of desktop replacement” by Asus.

Aesthetically, there’s no mistaking the ROG Mothership for anything but a gaming machine. On the front, the bottom bezel features a sizeable RGB bar, and right behind the kickstand, there’s even some RGB lighting that acts as an underglow of sorts. Basically, this is a “loud” gaming machine, for better or worse.

Personally, I really dig the RGB lighting on the bottom bezel of the ROG Mothership, but it would’ve been great if the surrounding bezels weren’t so sizeable. It gives the machine a rather…dated-looking design.

Nonetheless, the ROG Mothership is a gaming powerhouse. It features a factory overclocked Intel Core i9-9980HK octa-core processor paired with 64GB of DDR4 2666MHz RAM. As for the GPU, the Mothership is packing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, which is also factory overclocked like the CPU.

Thanks to this CPU and GPU combination, you will have absolutely no issue running even the most demanding games on the ROG Mothership. Granted, I have not put this PC through its paces yet, but I’m confident it’ll deliver excellent gaming performance.

Connectivity option of the ROG Mothership, on the other hand, is also very respectable. It comes with two USB-C ports, four USB-A connections, an HDMI 2.0 output, an RJ-45 jack, and get this: the Mothership even has the increasingly rare SD card slot. Chances are, you won’t be left wanting for more ports with this gaming machine.

As expected, the ROG Mothership has a display made for gaming. It sports a 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS display with a fast 144Hz refresh rate. On top of that, this panel also supports Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, so screen tearing won’t be an issue with the Mothership.

While it’s a great display for gaming, I do have a couple of qualms with the ROG Mothership’s display quality. Don’t get me wrong, it has good colour reproduction and decent brightness level, but I wish it was a tad brighter with better viewing angles. Given that this is a premium gaming machine with a premium price tag, I was expecting better screen quality.

And then there’s the detachable keyboard of the ROG Mothership. Naturally, it can be connected to the Mothership itself, but you can always detach it. That’s right, it is also a wireless keyboard, but if you’re worried about input lag, you can connect the keyboard to the Mothership with a USB-C cable. Interestingly, you can also fold the keyboard in half to make it more compact.

Surprisingly enough, the ROG Mothership’s keyboard is very pleasant to type on. The keys have plenty of travel, the tactile feedback is pronounced, and the standard layout is easy to get accustomed to. In short, it provides a very “pillowy” typing experience, and I love it.

That being said, I’m not thrilled by the amount of flex the keyboard has when it’s connected to the ROG Mothership. It’s not as stable as I would’ve liked, which will be an issue in…well, heated gaming sessions, or even for those who type with a lot of force.

As for the trackpad positioned to the right of the keyboard, it’s a decent performer. Despite its unconventional and narrow shape, I have no issue using it in lieu of a dedicated mouse. It can also track my fingers quite accurately, and I like the fact that it also doubles as a numpad.

The Asus ROG Mothership is a powerful, unique gaming machine, and it shows the Taiwanese company’s willingness to push the envelope. However, the exorbitant asking price of the Mothership makes it a niche product, and in my opinion, it’s more of a concept PC that you can also purchase.

Really, RM26,999 is a very dear price tag for a gaming machine, and it’s very unlikely the ROG Mothership will see much in terms of sales. But that’s not the end goal of this product: the Mothership is a showcase of what Asus is capable of, and any purchase of the decadent gaming machine is simply a nice bonus.