Microsoft Surface Pro 3stars
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Apple MacBook Air (13-inch)
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2013, 15-inch screen)stars
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Asus Transformer Book T100
It's rare to see monstrous laptops these days, but luckily companies such as Asus like to keep gamers in mind. The G74 is the follow up to, yes, the, and as a result looks quite similar. Internally, though, we have a machine fit for a new generation.
A Core i7 2630QM is the order of the day, paired with 16GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 560M. Not quite the 580 then, but still an impressive beast. Dual-750GB hard drives are inside, and the 1920x1080 screen looks great — even if it does only use TN technology. The backlit keyboard is rather swanky, making night-time play enjoyable.
Sound is handled by Realtek hardware but powered by Creative/THX software. It does give a better definition to treble when enabled, but the sound is vastly disappointing considering the size of the laptop — Asus has cheapened out on speakers.
There's an easy access panel underneath, removable with a coin, that gives access to four RAM slots and the two hard drives. With some dexterity you could swap out the wireless card if you want to as well — which is only 2.4GHz; Asus strangely not opting to give power users 5GHz.
Ports include an SD card reader, one USB 3.0 port, three USB 2.0 ports, VGA, HDMI and gigabit Ethernet. The front and rear are empty; the rear only featuring one of the most serious air vents we've seen. There's a Blu-ray drive installed here as well, but the overall feeling is how incredibly sparse things are. eSATA is missing, and surely more USB 3.0 ports could have been put in.
For the first time in a long time, a Sentelic touch pad has turned up again. Carrying a reputation of making the absolute worst touch pad we've ever used, we were interested to see how the Asus implementation went. To give an idea of how bad things were: people were actually buying OEM parts and replacing the touch pads themselves.
Performance issues aside, Sentelic never makes drivers available on its website, and MSI, host of previous Sentelic attempts, never included any driver either, making users scour the web for something to make their lives more bearable. Thankfully, Asus knows how to bundle a driver — even if it is embarrassingly unfinished and terrible to use.