Refresh rates are a little bit like speedometers in a car—you may never hit the top speed, but it's nice to know you potentially could, depending on a variety of factors. It was only a matter of time before PC displays moved the needle. As such, Asus today announced the ROG Zephyrus S GX701 with an eye-popping 300Hz panel.
Assuming it comes out on time in October, it ranks as the first gaming laptop (or laptop, period) in the world with a 300Hz display. I'm not aware of any standalone monitors that go that high, either.
"Raising the refresh rate to 300Hz represents a 25 percent increase over the current standard for high-level esports tournaments. At that speed, the screen can draw 5X more frames than the 60Hz panels found on conventional laptops. Paired with a GPU that produces enough frames per second to keep up, the faster display makes gameplay silkier than ever before," Asus says.
And therein lies the key—ultra-high refresh rates necessitate a GPU with enough horsepower to do the specs justice. The GX701 takes care of that with a GeForce RTX 2080 clocked at up to 1,230MHz at 100W in Turbo mode. That still doesn't mean it will be able to hit 300fps in demanding games, but some esports titles might be fair game.
From Asus's vantage point, the benefits of a 300Hz panel extend beyond just having headroom for incredibly high framerates.
"Higher frequencies can also improve the experience when the refresh rate is fixed and the FPS drops below the maximum. The delay between refresh cycles is shorter, allowing the display to respond faster to fresh frames produced by the GPU. When the system is running Vsync to eliminate visual tearing, the higher frequency mitigates visible stuttering that can occur when the display is forced to wait until the next cycle to show a new frame. At 300Hz, it's ready to draw a complete new frame every 3.3ms, which matches the 3ms response time of the pixels," Asus says.
Other specs have not yet been announced. As a point of reference, the current-generation GX701 pairs the same GPU with a Core i7-9750H CPU, up to 32GB of memory, and up to 2TB of M.2 NVMe SSD storage.
Asus is not alone in prepping a gaming laptop with a 300Hz panel. So is Acer—it's upcoming Predator Triton 500 will offer the same refresh rate mated to a 15.6-inch display with a 1920x1080 resolution. In all likelihood, Asus and Acer are sourcing the panel from the same manufacturer, though that is speculation on my part.
Acer is not sharing detailed specs either, though it does mention the Triton 500 will feature up to a 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor shoved into an all-metal chassis measuring 0.7 inches thick and weighing 4.6 pounds.
Asus is planning to launch its Zephyrus S GX701 with a 300Hz panel in October (price yet to be determined), while Acer will release its Triton 500 in November in EMEA starting at €2,699, then in North America in December starting at $2,799.