The Asus ROG Strix XG16 portable gaming monitor — now available in India, a year on from its international launch — is built for a very specific purpose. To be fair, its name says as much. Not just once, but twice in fact. ROG, or Republic of Gamers, is the moniker Asus uses — as you can guess — for devices that cater to gaming audiences first and foremost. Add to that the other important keyword, “portable”. The Strix XG16 is, essentially, a primary or secondary monitor for gaming on the go. Asus would hope that you pair it with an ROG laptop, and keep it within the family. Of course, you are free to use it with a Steam Deck (basically a PC) or a Nintendo Switch (which I mostly did).
But no matter what route you take, its ergonomics get in the way. There’s two ways for the Asus ROG Strix XG16 to stand — either on its own using the built-in kickstand, or with the help of a fancy, adjustable tripod that’s bundled along. You can use any camera tripod thanks to the standardised mount on the back, though there’s little point to it since you’ve got a specialised one in the box. This is a bigger decision outside India, where Asus sells two variants: one with the tripod and one without (the technical names are XG16AHP-E and XG16AHP-W, respectively). In India, Asus is only selling the latter version. That does mean you’re forced to pay for the tripod even if you don’t care for it.
Asus ROG Strix XG16AHP-W review: design and specs
Whether you use the kickstand or the tripod, the Asus portable monitor’s footprint is huge. With the wafer-thin kickstand — it tilts from five to 27.5 degrees — the ROG Strix XG16 never really feels on stable footing. I tried to use it on the backseat of a car, but it wobbled no matter what position I put it in. And even when it’s not wobbling, it’s nearly impossible to get it in an ideal viewing position. (Because the XG16 has an IPS panel and not OLED, the viewing angles aren’t great either.) Either the top half of the display feels too far from the bottom half, as you increase the tilt angle. But on lower tilt angles, the 15.6-inch display feels small, as you need to push it away from yourself to decrease viewing angles.
Asus ROG Strix XG16 specifications
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 28.6 cm x 21 cm x 1.2 cm
- Dimensions (with stand unfolded): 28.6 cm x 21 cm x 22.5 cm
- Screen size: 15.6-inch
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- HDR: No
- Local dimming: No
- Refresh rate: 144Hz
- VRR: Yes
- Nvidia G-Sync: Yes
- Speakers: Yes
- Battery: 7,800 mAh
- Ports: Micro-HDMI, USB Type-C x2, 3.5mm audio out
The tripod has its own problems. For one, it’s fairly heavy. Two, it needs as much space as stands for much larger monitors. On my daily work desk, the ROG Strix XG16 tripod took up as much room as the built-in stand for my 24-inch Dell monitor. That’s crazy. Owing to this, the 15.6-inch display also looks comical on the tripod, more so if you use it on the tallest setting. And while most monitors have buttons on the front, the XG16 has them on the top of the display. It was awkward to use them, especially when I had it on the tripod. Lastly, there’s no easy way to take it with you. While you can tuck the display into a neat sleeve, provided by Asus, there’s no carrying case for the tripod.
Asus ROG Strix XG16AHP-W review: performance
When it comes to the gaming monitor aspects, I have no complaints. The ROG Strix XG16 boasts of 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync support out of the box. I didn’t have any sources that could output that, but I did test 120Hz with my PlayStation 5. As with all things 120fps, you can’t feel the jump from 60fps. You definitely feel it going from 30fps to 60fps, but it’s not the same when you double it again. The colours are fantastic — in fact, Asus is so sure about the XG16’s colour accuracy that it includes a very nerdy calibration report sheet in the box. I love it. The ROG Strix XG16 is fantastically tuned right out of the box, though with a bit of calibration, you can get it to look even better.
And while the Asus portable monitor is definitely bright enough for indoor use — I never pushed it over 50 percent brightness — it’s nowhere near bright enough to outshine the sun in India. To be fair, most displays aren’t.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the built-in speakers. They are simply not loud enough, even when the background sound was just the din of rain across an open window. You are better off connecting to a pair of headphones. The ROG Strix XG16 surprisingly sports a 3.5mm audio jack, in case you’ve still got a pair of old school earbuds lying around. Either way, I would’ve liked volume buttons on the Asus monitor itself. It’s a pain to dive through the menus and make the adjustments every time, more so given the buttons are awkwardly placed, as I said before.
Since it’s built to be used on the go, the ROG Strix XG16 sports a 7,800 mAh battery, with Asus claiming a battery life of up to three hours. I didn’t put it through a stress test — 144Hz output at max brightness — though, as that has little relevance in the real world. What matters more is how it performs in day-to-day tasks. While watching a full-screen live video at 50 percent brightness, the ROG Strix XG16 lost about a fifth of its battery over a period of 45 minutes. Deployed as a secondary monitor at 30 percent brightness and with just a Slack window open, the Asus monitor’s battery went from full to zero in four hours.
Speaking of using it as a secondary display, I found more use for the ROG Strix XG16 in that department, rather than a gaming display. During work hours, I could move my TweetDeck tab to it and keep an eye on incoming news, while I wrote in a document or watched a TV show I’d to review on my primary Dell monitor. At other times, I flicked Wimbledon or Commonwealth Games streams onto the ROG Strix XG16, while I could browse the Internet on another display. And though I don’t edit videos much these days, managing an Adobe Premiere Pro timeline is definitely easier when you can shift the preview and a bunch of controls over to a second screen.
But even when the ROG Strix XG16 is used in this fashion, it doesn’t make for the most elegant of setups. Owing to the built-in kickstand on the back and the fact that the monitor can stand on its own, the ports have been pushed to the left side. That means the wires — you always need one cable for input, and a second one when the battery needs charging — jut out to the left. I’m not too picky about seeing cables on my desk, but it’s still not a nice look. I tried to hide the cables by placing the ROG Strix XG16 side-to-side with another monitor, but the positioning of the ports meant the wires would clash with the other monitor. There’s no way around it.
More importantly though, as a secondary display at home, Asus’ 15.6-inch full-HD offering is just unnecessarily expensive. The ROG Strix XG16 was launched at an MRP of Rs. 60,999, but Asus told me that the price would eventually go down to Rs. 48,999, and it’s now selling for less than that. Either way, that is still crazy money — that’s iPad Air money. If you’re in the market for a secondary monitor, you can get 24-inch full-HD monitors for a third of the price. If you want a gaming monitor capable of 144Hz refresh rate, you can get 27-inch full-HD options for less than half the price. Admittedly, none of these will help you on the move, as they need to be always plugged in.
But that’s the kind of position Asus has put itself in. The ROG Strix XG16 is designed for a very narrow use case. Asus has clearly made it for gamers on the go, which explains the prominent ROG branding. (There’s a glowing ROG logo on the back of the monitor too.) Even for those that do find it useful, how often will that happen? Ask yourself, how many times have you wanted a Nintendo Switch display while you’re travelling? How many times have you wanted a secondary display for your laptop on the go? And before you answer those questions in your head, think of the cumbersome and un-ergonomic setup that this involves.