Asus built a burly detachable gaming PC that looks like a Surface Pro

Imagine if Microsoft built a Surface Pro for gamers. If it ever did, it would probably look like the new Asus ROG Mothership (GZ700), because that's exactly what it reminds us of. Only the ROG Mothership is not a Surface Pro at all—it's a desktop replacement laptop with some serious hardware inside.

Desktop replacements are typically big, thick, and heavy notebooks loaded to the brim with desktop-class components. The ROG Mothership is all of those things—it measures 16.14 x 12.6 x 1.18 inches and weighs a hefty 10.36 pounds. Even the first generation Surface product was significantly lighter.

Does it make sense to offer a gaming laptop in a detachable form factor? Asus seems to think so.

"Desktop replacement laptops put incredible power in a portable package that you can take anywhere. They also make concessions to conform to a clamshell form factor that’s unnecessarily rigid for deployment on a desk," Asus explains. "The legacy blueprint not only limits cooling, but also and locks you into a fixed position that’s really only required for use on a lap. That’s the last place you’ll find most desktop replacements, so we reimagined the form factor to raise your game."

"Instead of sitting flat, the ROG Mothership stands tall to draw more air into its advanced cooling system. Its keyboard detaches and folds to fit different scenarios, giving you the freedom to find the perfect position, and the innovative design leaves enough room to put all the speakers right below the screen," Asus adds.

It's an interesting concept for sure, and it's hard to argue with the hardware. On the inside, the ROG Mothership wields a Core i9-8950HK processor and a GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8GB of GDDR6. It also boasts up to 64GB of RAM. For storage, it has three M.2 NVMe ports, one of which is populated with a 512GB SSD.

The display is geared towards gaming as well. It's a 17.3-inch IPS panel with a 1920x1080 resolution, fast 144Hz refresh rate, and 3ms response time. Asus also says it offers 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color space—typically that translates to more accurate color reproduction than standard panels, though not always.

On paper, this is an impressive kit. Asus kicks things up a notch by overclocking the CPU to 4.8GHz. Pushing parts beyond spec in a mobile form factor brings immediate cooling concerns, though Asus claims the ROG Mothership is up to the challenge.

"Factory overclocked chips generate a lot of heat, so they’re covered by a network of eight heatpipes that transfer thermal energy to the heatsinks at the edges. The pipes are linked to the CPU, GPU, graphics memory, and VRM feeding them power. They stretch across four heatsinks lined with 375 ultra-thin copper fins. The fins are just 0.1 mm thin, allowing placement of more fins into each heatsink without impeding airflow," Asus explains.

The detachable keyboard wirelessly connects over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, or you can plug it in via the included USB-C cable. It's not clear what type of switches it uses, though Asus says the keys have 2.4mm of travel, curved keycaps, and are good for 20 million presses. And of course RGB lighting is part of the package.

Products shown off at CES don't always make it past the prototype stage. In this case, however, Asus says the ROG Mothership will land sometime in the second quarter of this year. There was no mention of price, though it's a safe bet it will cost at least a couple thousand dollars, and maybe even a few grand.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).