Asus ROG Phone II review

GSMArena team, 10 Sept 2019.

Speed-binned, overclocked Snapdragon 855+ with an unlocked Adreno 640 GPU

The mobile chipset scene has always been rather unique. Unlike more traditional computing avenues like the PC realm, in the ARM world variety isn't really all that abundant on a year to year basis. That's how you end up with a sea of competing flagship handsets typically based around the exact same Qualcomm silicon. That has been the status quo for quite a few years now.

Asus ROG Phone II review

So, in a sea of sameness, how can a "gaming" phone realistically differentiate while using the exact same internals as its often cheaper competitors? Well, it certainly goes beyond than merely getting the speediest chipset around. There are extra aspects such as CPU governors, performance curves and most importantly - thermal management - which play a huge role in real-world results.

We recently published a deep dive on the matter of gaming smartphones in general, which you can check out here for more in-depth details.

And when it comes to squeezing the best performance possible out of an ARM chipset, Asus and Republic of Gamers really go above and beyond the competition. The original ROG Phone actually leveraged cherry-picked or so called "speed binned" Snapdragon 845 chips, which it then ran at a maximum frequency of 2.96GHz (on the powerful core cluster), instead of the 2.8GHz of the vanilla Qualcomm chip. That is essentially a factory overclocked processor and a rather novel idea in the smartphone realm at the time.

Well, this year, Qualcomm themselves took this idea one step further by doing the speed-binning and overclocking itself, resulting in the Snapdragon 855+. Naturally, that's the chip Asus went for the no-compromise ROG Phone II Ultimate Edition. The best possible 20-layer variant of the chip, to be even more specific. Better still, besides the factory CPU overclock to 2.96GHz, the particular chip inside the ROG Phone II also has an unlocked clock for its Ardeno 640 GPU. That allows it to ramp up to 700Mhz. Paired with ample and fast 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 1TB of UFS 3.0 storage, the Ultimate Edition review unit we received is the first 855+ to come by the office. Judging by all the performance tuning put into the ROG Phone II, it is likely representative of the best possible RAW performance for the chip as well. So we were eager to test out just how much better it fairs compared to its vanilla sibling.

Asus ROG Phone II review

In terms of competitors for the ROG Phone II we picked out a selection including the regular Snapdragon 855, Samsung's Exynos 9820 and 9825 and Huawei's Kirin 980. Like most gaming phones, the ROG Phone II also has a performance mode, in this case called X Mode. X Mode itself has a few presets depending on how much performance gains you'd like. To be as thorough as possible we actually ran all the tests with X Mode off, then on and then with X Mode and the AeroActive Cooler II fan on at full blast. We even took the display's refresh rate into consideration for another set of runs at a basic 60Hz, since most GPU benchmarks are affected by this variable as well.

As is tradition, we start off with a pure CPU test and GeekBench. The difference in raw compute scores is slim. In real-world terms, however, having X mode on, as well as the external active fan attached, do make a tangible difference in sustained performance on the ROG Phone II.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    11345
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    11226
  • Black Shark 2
    11192
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    11181
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    11072
  • Sony Xperia 1
    10985
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode Ultimate + FAN)
    10977
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode + FAN)
    10974
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    10943
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    10933
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    10923
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    10883
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    10800
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    10721
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    10403
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    10387
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    10014
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    9649
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    9406
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    9375
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    9309
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    9230
  • Razer Phone 2
    8923

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    4541
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4522
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode Ultimate + FAN)
    3563
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode + FAN)
    3562
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    3547
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    3527
  • Black Shark 2
    3515
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    3510
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    3505
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    3503
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    3499
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    3493
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    3492
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    3470
  • Sony Xperia 1
    3447
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    3402
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    3323
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    3270
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    2573
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    2556
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    2514
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    2504
  • Razer Phone 2
    2424

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode + FAN)
    2830
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    2763
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    2743
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode Ultimate + FAN)
    2696
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    2396
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    2300

Then there is the matter of the phone's impressive 120Hz OLED panel. Adding it to the mix is actually pretty important when it comes to any sort of benchmark with an on-screen rendering component. The ones we typically run may impose an FPS cap to 60fps matching the normal refresh rate.

When the benchmarks detect the 120Hz refresh rate, the cap is increased and you can really appreaciate what the overclocked Adreno 640 GPU inside the Snapdragon 855+ is capable of. As a result, the ROG Phone II actually scores a lot higher then the 60Hz phones. The graphics component in AnTuTu 8, as seen here at 120Hz with and without X Mode and then 60Hz illustrates this perfectly.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode Ultimate + FAN)
    492907
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode + FAN)
    487237
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    485495
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    483239
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    384713

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    112
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    110
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    110
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    109
  • Sony Xperia 1
    102
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    102
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    101
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    101
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    101
  • Black Shark 2
    101
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    101
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    100
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    92
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    90
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    87
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    82
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    82
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    82
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    82
  • Razer Phone 2
    69

The now gradually phased-out AnTuTu 7 also to favour the ROG Phone II quite a bit while judging its overall compound performance. This is a bit more accurate in our book compared to the GeekBench pure CPU runs due to their very particular and specific workloads of choice. The same is true for Basemark, which appears to favour the ROG Phone II a lot better even at 60Hz. Plus, the variances in performance at 60Hz, 120Hz and with X Mode are more clearly defined in the Basemark runs and representative of the real-world gradual gains we observed.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode Ultimate + FAN)
    5729
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode + FAN)
    5699
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    5693
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    5346
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    5322
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    5239
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    5166
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    5016
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    4979
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    4928
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    4842
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    4841
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    4797
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    4702
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    4700
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    4684
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4675
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    4614
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4568
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    4272
  • Sony Xperia 1
    4211
  • Razer Phone 2
    4163
  • Black Shark 2
    3450

Like we already mentioned, once benchmarks like GFX Manhattan 3.1 detect the 120Hz refresh rate, the fps cap is increased and the phone can break the 60fps mark if the hardware inside allows it. Hence, while its off-screen scores are representative and comparable to the rest of the devices on the chart, the same isn't exactly true about the on-screen run. For this one the ROG Phone had its display at 120Hz, which is how the top 69fps result transpired.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    78
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    78
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    78
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    71
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    71
  • Black Shark 2
    71
  • Sony Xperia 1
    71
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    71
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    71
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    70
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    70
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    69
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    68
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    68
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    67
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    60
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    60
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    60
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    60
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    56
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    54
  • Razer Phone 2
    51

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    69
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    68
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    62
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    62
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    60
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    57
  • Black Shark 2
    57
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    57
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    57
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    56
  • Sony Xperia 1
    55
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    54
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    54
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    54
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    54
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    50
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    50
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    38
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    37
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    33
  • Razer Phone 2
    33

Before we continue on with GPU synthetics, the absence of scores with X-Mode, plus the active fan at 120Hz should be noted here. There is a simple reason for that - the test runs are just too short or not taking enough to get the Adreno GPU to thermal-throttle and bring down fps numbers. Actually, what we found out in our in-depth gaming smartphone performance review was that GPU loads are not enough to cause thermal-throttling. Having the fan didn't really affect the GPU fps numbers. Having said that, things are a bit different during real-life gaming sessions, especially longer ones. These give the CPU enough time to actually start accumulating heat, which can eventually affect sustained performance over time. The AeroActive Cooler II definitely helps in this regard. Plus, it is great at keeping your hands and the surface of the phone at a more comfortable temperature.

Ramping up the GPU load with something like the new Aztek test brings the on-screen results back to comparable terms, since 60fps remains an unreachable bar even for the beefed-up 700MHz Adreno 640. That being said, the extra performance it churns out over its vanilla Adreno sibling is not insignificant.

Aztek Vulkan Normal (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    47
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    47
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    47
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    42
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    42
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    42
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    42
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    41
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    40
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    36
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    35
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    35
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    35
  • Razer Phone 2
    33

Aztek Vulkan Normal (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    40
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    40
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    40
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    36
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    36
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    36
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    34
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    32
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    32
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    32
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    32
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    31
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    20
  • Razer Phone 2
    20
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    15

Aztek OpenGL ES 3.1 Normal (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    49
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    47
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    47
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    47
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    46
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    43
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    42
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    42
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    42
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    42
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    41
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    38
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    37
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    37
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    37
  • Razer Phone 2
    37

Aztek OpenGL ES 3.1 Normal (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    41
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    40
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    40
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    38
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    37
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    36
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    36
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    34
  • ASUS ROG Phone (Fan on)
    34
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode
    34
  • ASUS ROG Phone X mode (Fan on)
    34
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    31
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    26
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    26
  • Razer Phone 2
    24
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    21

3DMark SSE runs also put the benefits of the 120Hz refresh rate and plentiful GPU power into tangible numbers.

3DMark SSE 3.1 Unlimited

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    6860
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    6814
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    6360
  • Black Shark 2
    6330
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    6282
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    6264
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    6263
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    6258
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    6093
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    5855
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    5816
  • Sony Xperia 1
    5792
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    5287
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    5023
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    4875
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4632
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4315
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    3522

3DMark SSE 3.1

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    6175
  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    6148
  • Black Shark 2
    5784
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    5462
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    5450
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    5393
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    5279
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    5218
  • Sony Xperia 1
    5123
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    4984
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    4966
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    4712
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    4712
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4420
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4215

3DMark SSE Vulkan

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone II (X Mode)
    5412
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    5152
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Super Performance Mode + fan max)
    5027
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (new ROM)
    5004
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 3
    4999
  • Black Shark 2
    4981
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    4833
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    4763
  • Asus ROG Phone II (60Hz)
    4642
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
    4612
  • Sony Xperia 1
    4505
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4295
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4231
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    4068
  • ASUS ROG Phone
    4067

And with the increasing number of smartphone displays pushing past the 60Hz mark, we are happy to see a noticeable ramp-up in game engines and apps that can also render at over 60fps. There is still some searching involved to unearth high-refresh rate titles, but the effort is well worth it. Plus, Asus did provide us with a list of games that can push past the 60fps barrier, which you can use for reference.

Reader comments

  • Dave

this phone is good

  • Anonymous

no android can do that as of now

  • Anonymous

It's updated now! Really really good results!