When it comes to gaming laptops, most people think of Alienware and Origin as the prime providers of high-end, high-performance, high-cost PC hardware. There are other players in the field, however; Asus has made its own gaming laptop under the Republic of Gamers brand for years.
Next-generation Intel processors are always seen first in higher-end laptops, and true to form, the Asus G75VW-AS71 incorporates a quad-core third-gen Core i7 processor and upgraded Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics, a big upgrade from the Asus G74SX-A2 CNET reviewed at the end of last year.
While the internal specs are upgraded, the body is largely the same: a heavy 17.3-inch black laptop that's as far from easily portable as a laptop could be, although its clever angles and matte finish hide a lot of its bulk from casual view. While it may not seem so, the G75VW is actually lighter and thinner than the G74SX-A2, too.
At $1,499, the Asus G75VW-AS71 is a far more affordable laptop than most Alienware gaming rigs, or the through-the-roof Origin EON17-S. It's also less powerful. However, it's more than capable of running mainstream games very well. It's hard to call a $1,699 laptop a bargain, but with all that this gaming laptop brings to the table, that might be the best description I can think of.
|Price as reviewed||$1,499|
|Processor||2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM|
|Memory||12GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||750GB 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||16.3x12.6 inches|
|Height||0.9 - 2 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.3 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||9.5 pounds / 11.7 pounds|
Much like last year's G74SX, the G75VW is a big, big beast of a machine: weighing in at 9.5 pounds, this is a laptop you'll want to keep on your desk. Place it on your lap and you'll realize how much of the G75V's bulk is hidden with sleek angling and a hinged-forward screen that masks a big rear with a race-car-like vent exhaust. With this laptop on my lap I felt like a tiny child with a very large cookie. As I mentioned, however, this year's model is lighter and thinner, at 9.5 pounds and up to 2 inches thick at the beefiest point, versus the G74SX's 10 pounds and 2.4 inches. We'll take the improvement, but most people won't notice; it's still the Lincoln Town Car of laptops.
Mock it if you must (I sometimes did), but the Asus G75 has a somewhat attractive design. Somewhere between dorm-room gamer chic and something more understated, Asus has saved most of the glaring sports-car touches for that rear vent. Some might like to appreciate such over-the-top design elements head-on, but I prefer my laptop grille out of sight.
The interior of the laptop holds only a keyboard, a large touch pad, a few status indicator lights (HDD access, Wi-Fi, and so on), and power/quick-launch buttons. You're unlikely to ever deliberately use the quick-launch pre-Windows operating system, especially as this laptop is designed to stay tethered to your desk full-time, but since the two buttons sit right next to each other, it's easy to accidentally hit the wrong one. When the system is already running Windows, that second button activates a quiet mode to reduce fan noise.
The whole affair feels several notches below a premium product, which is a shame because it's certainly not a budget-priced machine.
The huge amount of keyboard tray space means that the raised backlit keyboard and adjacent number pad are plenty far apart. The directional arrow buttons are placed in between. The key travel is comfortable and crisp, matching what you'd normally find on a midrange laptop. Due to its size, this Asus has plenty of comfortable palm-rest space, even with the touch pad shifted over to line up with the keyboard's off-center spacebar. A soft matte finish offers good traction and grip without collecting too many smudges.
A larger-than-average multitouch touch pad underneath has discrete buttons with a rubberized finish. Like most Windows touch pads, it doesn't handle two-finger gestures as smoothly as you'd expect. Scrolling down a Web page, for instance, was touch and no-go.
The Asus G75VW is blessed with an excellent screen, perhaps one of the best I've seen in a large laptop. The 17.3-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution display has a matte coating instead of glossy, a trend that seems on the rise in laptops.
The benefit of less glare has no drawbacks here: the screen's still extremely bright, and the viewing angles are superb. Adding that antiglare screen addresses one of our issues with the previous G74's overly glossy topcoat. It's a step below the quality of the Razer Blade's standout screen, but better than average. Colors pop, and both games and Blu-ray movies looked sharp. Unfortunately, the construction quality around the screen is less than stellar. Matte black plastic forms a thick bezel, and part of the bezel warped away from the screen in our review unit.
Stereo speakers installed above the keyboard under a metal grille and a subwoofer located on the underside offer up big, booming sound; not as high-quality as premium speakers, but suitable for immersive gaming. Adjusting the volume via the volume-control keys above the keyboard (not function-reversed, alas) was finicky on our unit, and the low-end volume still sounded much higher than the average. The volume controls are secondary functions of the F9, F10, and F11 keys, so you'll need to fumble around a bit to adjust volume on the fly.
|Asus G75VW-AS71||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI, Thunderbolt||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||Blu-ray player||DVD burner, optional Blu-ray player|
Thanks to the move to a newer Intel chip architecture, the port situation on the Asus G75 is much improved over last year's G74. You get three USB 3.0 ports instead of just one, plus a brand-spanking-new Thunderbolt port alongside HDMI and VGA. No complaints there.