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Asus' G75W sure is a pretty piece of machinery. Matte, textured black, brushed aluminium body, and a gorgeous 1920x1080 matte screen. It's still TN-based, but gosh, what a nice screen it is.
It's part of a decreasing family — that of the giant 17-inch gaming machines. It's a behemoth too, with stealth fighter-esque lines and a rear profile that looks like it was lifted straight from a high-powered super-car.
- USB 3.0: 4
- Optical: Blu-ray/DVD±RW
- Video: VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort/Thunderbolt
- Ethernet: gigabit
- Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
- Audio: 2.1 VIA HD audio
Despite the target market, Asus has taken the opposite tack to Alienware: no gaudy flashing lights or overwrought gamer tropes here. The design language exemplifies the philosophy of speaking quietly and carrying the big stick, refined power coiled and waiting to spring.
A large trackpad is present, which is pleasant to use, although an external mouse will clearly be used for more intense gaming. The keyboard is excellent and subtly backlit in white. For our review sample this lighting wasn't evenly distributed, but it didn't hamper visibility or use. Despite its size, the 4.5kg weight is not unreasonable.
It's also got a 3D capable screen and comes with Nvidia's active shutter glasses. Most gamers won't concern themselves with the marketing frivolity of stereoscopic gaming, but they will know it means something more interesting: the G75VW possesses a 120Hz screen. While this is liquid gold for desktop gamers, its use on the laptop will be limited, due to the extra graphical grunt required to hit frame rates worthy of the refresh. Still, for those playing less taxing games, this could be the road to silky smooth action.
The 3D functionality brings with it a major detractor though: Nvidia's Optimus software isn't compatible, so you can't switch to Intel graphics when you're not using GPU-taxing software. This is one laptop that can only spend minimal time away from the wall.
It should be said that the G75VW can also be discreet: running the Metro 2033 benchmark at highest detail didn't result in an exhaust noise that shattered ear drums — in fact, it was almost a peaceful whoosh of air. So we loaded up OCCT to see exactly how loud the thing could go. After about four minutes of the CPU test, it adopted a bit of a whistling tone, but didn't reach the point of offensive. A five minute run of the GPU test got a decent amount of air rushing out and approached the edge of a harsh tone, but there's one thing that's certain: this thing has some serious acoustic chops.
Turn it upside down, and you've got two accessible panels, with only two screws in total, holding them down. The first contains a fan and removable fan filter (Asus includes a second for the user to swap in), while the second contains another fan filter, the two hard drives and two DIMM slots for the RAM. Asus is to be commended for making user servicing so incredibly easy.
It's also the first Windows laptop we've seen with a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt still needs some polish on the Microsoft platform, but if the interface lives up to the promise, the future-proofing here is admirable.
So with dual terabyte hard drives, a Blu-ray drive, a GTX 670M with an overkill of 3GB video RAM, 16 GB system RAM and a Core i7 3610QM, it almost manages to hit every point along the way — except in audio.
Yes, even though the G75VW has a subwoofer on the bottom it lacks impact. You can turn up the LFE, and this definitely has an effect, but it also does something incredibly strange to the sound stage if set high, causing us to wince at the tricks it was playing on our ears. The tweeters are underpowered and have a tendency to distort; the chassis tends to vibrate annoyingly whenever the resonant frequency is hit, which seems to be quite often.
Even the VIA audio panel is second rate. Interestingly, a standard on most gaming laptops — the ability to reconfigure 3.5mm jacks to 5.1 sound — isn't here. There's only two jacks. We're not sure how many gamers actually use that option, but its omission is made obvious by both competitors and Asus' efforts on other platforms. At any rate, when gaming, you're better off sticking to headphones with this laptop — something that the target audience will definitely do, anyway.