Pro gamers demand the absolute best from their gear, whether you’re talking about laptops and desktops, or mice, headsets, and keyboards. At the ROG Join the Republic Grand Finals, we got to see the finalists’ epic battle stations up close, found out what pro gamers look for in their hardware, and learned what they love about their new ultra-mobile ROG rigs.
Scoping out the battle stations
An ROG G752 battle station at the "Join the Republic" Grand Finals
The finalists’ red-glowing stations were outfitted with some of the best and most innovative portable gaming solutions on the market today, from the Iron Man-inspired ROG G752 to the orange-accented, foldable ROG Strix headphones. Thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M graphics, 3D mobile vapor chamber cooling, and NVIDIA G-Sync, the G752 was hooked up to the gamers’ widescreen 144Hz monitors and live streamed their gameplay with no performance issues. And, while looks aren’t everything, they also looked great doing it — from the red and orange-illuminated laptops to the glowing Claymore Core keyboards, sharp ROG GX860 Buzzard Mouse, and sleek ROG Strix headphones, it's hard to imagine a better-looking battalion.
What a gamer wants and needs
When it comes to gaming gear, Team USA player Waleed “something” Ali summed it up like this: “Function, comfort, customizability — in that order.” And as Aaron “Krazy” Kirkpatrick noted, a truly mobile gaming solution shouldn't just be a lightweight desktop surrogate; it should be capable of running games at medium to high settings, like the GL502VT laptops they received.
As for mice, expectations are high: aside from keyboards, these are the most-abused pieces of hardware in the gamer’s arsenal. William “Kanvy” Gooch has been through seven gaming mice in the last few years alone. But mice not only need durability but sensitivity, to pick up quick flicks and wrist motions accurately, whether you're a low- or high-sensitivity gamer. Comfort is also key: the mouse should be a comfortable weight and fit your hand. And low latency is critical — in games like CS:GO where milliseconds make the difference between life and death, high polling rate (measured in Hz), and low click delay all matter.
The ROG GX860 Buzzard Mouse and Claymore Core keyboard at the Grand Final
Team Sweden’s Robin “CrasheR” Engström elaborated on customizability: while custom colors are fun, in his opinion, it’s what’s on the inside that counts — features like customizable DPI and polling rates, mouse weight, and programmable buttons. Some options fitting the bill include the ROG GX1000 Eagle Eye, with click-in weights and on-the-fly customizable DPI settings, the ROG Spatha, with plenty of customizable buttons and a 2000Hz polling rate, and the ROG Gladius II, with a customizable 12,000dpi resolution plus AURA SYNC RGB lighting.
Another consideration is audio: while many gamers obsess about mic quality, more CS:GO players are concerned with sound. Enemy sounds can tip you off: if a player opens a squeaky door, jumps down from a ledge, or otherwise gives away their position, it’s important to hear this clearly. Headphones like the ROG Strix are great because their large size completely covers your ears (circumaural), blocking out external noise. The wireless version goes a step further with virtual surround sound — combined with CS:GO’s recent HRTF 3D audio release, many CS:GO gamers feel that this pairing of surround and 3D sound is one of the most immersive audio solutions.
The sleek-as-can-be ROG Strix headphones
And then there are displays. Because of CS:GO’s extreme precision and fast pace, many gamers prefer monitors with high refresh rates. The refresh rate determines how frequently a monitor can redraw the screen each second; a powerful PC running games at a high FPS doesn’t mean much if the monitor can’t keep up. When 60Hz won’t cut it, the 144Hz ROG Swift PG27UQ, overclockable 165Hz ROG Swift PG278Q, and overclockable 180Hz ROG Swift PG248Q are all fantastic choices for gamers seeking buttery-smooth visuals.
But regardless of whether you're looking for a laptop, mouse, headset, or display, these best-of-the-best tools are all ones you'll find the pros using.
Who doesn't love free stuff, especially computer hardware? When it comes to the Grand Final participants' new gear, the crowd favorite was definitely the ROG GL502VT. It’s hard to beat mobile gaming, and this 2.2kg, 23.55mm thin portable powerhouse seriously impressed many of the participants. Plus, getting a free laptop was a complete dream come true.
Aaron “Krazy” Kirkpatrick loved the color scheme and logo, from the highlighted WASD keys on the keyboard to the red ROG logo on the outside. Robin “CrasheR” Engström was a big fan of the laptop’s specs: “It’s powerful, actually better than my desktop computer — so I have an alternative if I want to travel lightweight,” he said.
Prior to the competition, the finalists more than proved that mobile gaming works when they boot camped with their new gear, going everywhere from the desert and a beach to an ice cave and a swimming pool.
Watch: Team USA tries mobile gaming in the desert
But, perhaps most impressive was witnessing an entire CS:GO Grand Final unfold on laptops rather than full-size gaming rigs. If you truly want to appreciate how far mobile gaming has come, there's no better way to do it.
By Kimberly Koenig