Editors' note: This review is part of our spring 2010 retail laptop and desktop roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
When word of the Asus G73JH first came out at CES 2010, it definitely left an impression. A giant, all-black 17-inch full HD wide-screen gaming laptop with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, dual 7,200rpm 500GB hard drives, a Blu-ray combo drive, and a 1GB ATI Radeon HD5870 graphics card for $1,700 is tough to ignore. However, this is not that G73JH.
The model we reviewed has less storage, less memory, no Blu-ray playback, and a lower-resolution display than that model, but retains much of the core components at a significantly lower $1,200 price. It's an excellent high-performance notebook for the money and well put together, too. We have a couple of issues with the design, but nothing to keep us from recommending it for anyone needing a more affordable, but still very powerful, desktop replacement.
|Price as reviewed||$1,199.99|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM|
|Memory||6GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||500GB 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||18.4 x 12.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.3 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.8/9.8 pounds|
Inspired by the F-117 stealth fighter jet, the angular chassis is big and aggressive looking, but still somewhat low key. Gone are the flashing lights and garish color schemes of previous Asus gaming systems we've tested. The G73JH is instead a nice matte black with the lid and keyboard deck finished in a pleasant rubberized texture that, unlike glossy plastic, doesn't need a constant wipe down to remove fingerprints. On the lid is a simple silver Asus logo with a small engraved Republic of Gamers emblem below it. The only lights are a handful of blue backlit buttons and a single beam of blue light tucked into the bottom edge of the LCD's bezel. (The keyboard is also backlit for easier use in the dark.) It's an impressively large notebook and far from travel-friendly. All things considered, the system weight isn't bad; the power brick is gigantic, however, and weighs 2 pounds alone.
Immediately noticeable--whether the lid is up or down--is the junk in the trunk of this laptop. The keyboard deck is angled up 5 degrees to improve ergonomics, but also draws your eyes to the giant back end. There are two large cooling vents at the far left and right sides that apparently draw air through the front and exhaust it out the back. The battery pack is tucked in between the two vents. The setup allows the system to stay cool and relatively quiet even under full load. There are two substantial hinges for the LCD, but they are not in a typical location at the back of the system; they're moved forward about 2 inches so the display sort of floats above the body with the vents extending out behind it.
At the top left of the keyboard are three buttons; one shuts off the blue light under the screen, another activates a TwinTurbo mode, and the last changes screen color modes (Normal, Gamma Corrected, Vivid, Theater, Soft, and a custom option). The TwinTurbo mode provides instant overclocking and didn't seem to make much of a difference on this already powerful system. There are no discrete media controls, just markings on the function and directional keys. It's not a huge deal, but separate volume/mute keys would be appreciated. Asus as usual makes good use of Function button commands so you can quickly change things like power schemes (High Performance, Entertainment, Quiet Office, and Power Saving) by pressing Fn + space bar. The keyboard is, again, backlit and the intensity is adjustable or can be shut off entirely. The keys have a peculiar rattle to them when typing and though the keyboard is pretty big, considering the size of the system, it seems unnecessarily compact; the number pad on the far right is noticeably squished compared with similarly sized laptops we've tested. In contrast, the touch pad and its accompanying single button are huge.
The 2.1-speaker system performs well, getting very loud without distortion, but for having a small subwoofer, it doesn't have a great low-end. They sound good, but you'll still want to invest in desktop speakers or headphones for gaming or media.
The Asus G73JH-RBBX05's 17.3-inch glossy wide-screen LCD has a 1,600x900-pixel native resolution, which is standard for lower-end desktop replacements. However, we're starting to see 1,920x1,080 pixels as the prevalent resolution on laptops at and more than this G73JH's price. In fact, other versions of this notebook are available with that resolution. The LED-backlit LCD gets very bright and has good color and contrast, though, and while the higher resolution would be great, we can't say we were disappointed with its performance. Viewing angles off to the sides are pretty good, too.
|Asus G73JH-RBBX05||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA and HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, multiformat card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner or Blu-ray combo|
The networking and port assortment on this G73JH is pretty basic; no Bluetooth, no eSATA or FireWire ports, no ExpressCard slots, no DisplayPort, and no Blu-ray player. If you don't need any of those things then you're set.
Though the G73JH-RBBX05 isn't configurable before purchase, the G73JH is available in other versions. The port assortment stays the same, but you can get things such as Bluetooth and a Blu-ray-DVD combo drive. Should you want to make your own post-purchase additions, a panel in the bottom gives you easy access to internal components; there's room in the version we reviewed for 2GB more memory and an additional hard drive.
The combined performance from the Core i7 processor, 6GB of RAM, 7,200rpm hard drive, and 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 is pretty great, especially considering the laptop's price. It sailed through our multitasking, image processing, and audio encoding benchmark tests, achieving exemplary scores on all. In real-life testing it had no trouble handling streaming audio and video while simultaneously running IM and e-mail clients and other background tasks. We tested with a handful of games including Mass Effect, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Just Cause 2; all played smoothly. Again, for the money, this is a solid system.