Asus G750JZ-XS72 review: Asus takes Nvidia's top-end GPU out for a spin

What we're really interested in here is the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M graphics card, and this is the first laptop we've reviewed with that just-released component. As we pointed out during our initial tests when the 800-series Nvidia GPUs were announced, the GTX 880M churned out more frames per second in our gaming tests than a similar system with last year's GTX 780M GPU. Likewise, a new MSI laptop with the GTX 860M beat out a 2013 laptop with the GTX 760M.

So, this Asus is the fastest gaming laptop we've ever tested, right? Not quite. We did find one gaming laptop with better frame rates, and that was the ridiculously indulgent Origin PC EON17-SLX. That $4,400 monster included two GTX 780M cards in an SLI configuration, and easily beat the single-card Asus.

That means the Asus G750 ran Metro: Last Light (a very challenging test) at 30.7 frames per second, while last year's Alienware 17 (with a one-generation-behind GPU) ran the same test at only 18.7 frames per second. However, the dual-card Origin PC laptop, with two last-gen cards, beat them both, at 41.7 frames per second. You can see further comparisons in our benchmark charts below.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A separate Asus software app, called GPU Tweak, allows you to do some software-based overclocking of your video card. It can squeeze another 5 percent out of your GPU, but messing with the settings should be left to experts, as you can create excessive heat and stability problems (although Asus claims the version of the app bundled with this system is perfectly tweaked for this hardware and its cooling system).

Despite all the CPU and GPU power, the Asus G750 actually does well on our video playback battery drain test, running for 5 hours and 17 minutes. That's better than any other recent 17-inch gaming laptop, and thanks in part of Nvidia's Optimus technology, which switches off the GPU when it's not needed. Nvidia is also promoting a new feature of its GeForce Experience software app, which promises game settings tweaks to prolong battery life. That's not fully functional yet, but we'll take another look at it when it is.

Gamers with deep pockets have a lot of options, including Alienware, Origin PC, Maingear, and others. Asus has always made great gaming laptops, and can offer some tweaks hard to find elsewhere because the company designs and builds its own chassis, with excellent cooling systems and reasonably low fan noise. In the G750JZ, you'll find some useful GPU-overclocking software, decent subwoofer-driven sound, a Blu-ray burner, and plenty of ports. But the real reason this laptop got me excited was the chance to test-drive Nvidia's new GTX 880M graphics card.

Still, $2,999 is a lot to invest (as is $2,499 for a slightly stripped-down model), when you get a decent-but-pedestrian screen that lacks touch or higher resolutions -- both features I would want in such an expensive piece of hardware.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Bioshock Infinite (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Metro: Last Light (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Asus G750JZ-XS72
Alienware 17

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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System configurations
Asus G750JZ-XS72
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7 4700HQ; 32GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 4GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 880M; 256GB SSD (X2), 1TB 7,200rpm HGST hard drive

Alienware 17
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 4800MQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 4GB Nvidia GTX 780M; HDD#1 256GB LiteOn SSD, HDD#2 750GB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Maingear Pulse 14
Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 4720MQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 760M; (2) 128GB SSD RAID 0 1TB 5,400rpm WD hard drive

Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7 4700HQ; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M; 1TB 7,200rpm HGST hard drive

Origin EON17-SLX
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7 4930MX; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz;(2) 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M; (2) 120GB SSD RAID 0 750GB 7,200rpm WD hard drive

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