Asus regularly wows us with innovative products such as the ultraportable $399 Eee PC and experiments with secondary Sideshow displays, but how does the company fare building a typical 17-inch gaming system? While high-end gaming rigs from Alienware can run more than $3,000, the Asus G1 gives you a decent set of specs--a few steps down from the top-of-the-line--for a reasonable $1,999 (although the Toshiba X205 offers twin SLI GPUs and a slower processor for the same price). The G2's unique look is a nice change of pace from the corporate Dell/Gateway/etc. design philosophies, but serious gamers will need more video-card muscle than the included Nvidia GeForce 8600 will provide.
|Price as reviewed||$1,999|
|Processor||2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500|
|Memory||2GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||16 x 12 x 1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.0 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter [pounds]||9.0/10.3 pounds|
The G2S has a decidedly industrial flair, with a brushed-metal lid and wrist rest and black interior. The black keyboard tray, upon closer inspection, reveals a subtle crosshatch pattern, which adds some pleasing depth to the flat surfaces of the laptop. Metal accents in the lid on the hinges add an industrial flavor, but the red lights on the sides of the lid are a bit too bold for our tastes. Many of these design touches are the same as those found on Asus' 15-inch G1 gaming laptop.
The crosshatch pattern extends to the touchpad, while a plastic red-backlit eyeball logo sits between the mouse buttons and stares at you in a slightly menacing way. In case you forgot this was gaming laptop, the W, A, S, and D keys--the main control keys for many PC games--are thoughtfully highlighted in red. The interior surfaces are uncluttered, but there's a Webcam above the display and a row of basic media control buttons along the front edge.
The 17-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,920x1,200 native resolution, which is what we want to see in a gaming laptop, and is higher than most 21-inch LCD computer monitors. Asus offers several display presets (called "Splendid Video Intelligence Technology") for watching movies or playing games, but we preferred the default settings. The screen also has an 8ms LCD Response Time--most laptops are closer to 12ms--which some gamers say is important for fast-paced games.
|Asus G2S||Average for mainstream category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-video, HDMI||VGA-out, S-video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader; E-SATA jack||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, mulitformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||Express Card slot||PC Card slot|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Adding an HDMI output to the usual VGA-out and S-video outputs is a welcome extra, as is the E-SATA jack, for plugging in external hard drives. These features are common on more expensive laptops, but at the $1,999 level, we wish more laptop manufacturers would follow Asus' example.
The 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 CPU is close to the top of the line, and it was nearly as fast as laptops with T7700 (HP Voodoo Envy) and X7900 (Dell XPS M1730) Intel CPUs, although the slower 5,400rpm hard drive held back the G2S in our Photoshop CS3 test. But for a system marketed at the gaming crowd, it's the GPU that counts, and we were surprised to see only a single Nvidia 8600 GPU--while larger 17-inch systems from Dell, Alienware, and other vendors offer twin SLI GPUs, or faster single-GPU options. The G2S offers decent frame rates in slightly older games such as Quake 4 and FEAR, but those seeking to play upcoming games such as Crysis at higher resolutions should look to more expensive laptops, such as the Dell XPS M1730.
On our DVD battery drain test, the Asus G2S ran for 1 hour and 24 minutes--about the same as other 17-inch laptops such as the Alienware Area-51 m5790 Special Edition or aforementioned Dell XPS M1730--which was 15 minutes more than the Alienware m9750, but still a short lifespan. That's not very impressive, but we don't expect a system of this size to spend much time not plugged in. Bear in mind that our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual game playing, Web surfing, and office use.
Asus covers its laptops with a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, and it offers online Web-based help and a toll-free phone number. The company's support Web site includes the expected driver downloads and a brief FAQ but lacks useful features such as user forums or the chance to chat in real time with a technician.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)