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Asus ROG G752VT-DH72 review: A PC gaming giant slims down, slightly

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When shopping for a big, bulky gaming laptop, the kind that will take any new game and crank it up to high settings at full HD resolution without a problem, there are generally two camps to choose from. The first is a legion of smaller boutique PC builders, from Origin PC to Velocity Micro, who take ugly off-the-shelf laptop shells and stuff them with carefully tweaked gaming parts. The second is machine from an established major league PC brand, such as Asus, Dell/Alienware or Acer, which all have custom-built bodies and slick designs, but at the loss of that hand-crafted care that comes with a boutique PC.

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Asus ROG G752VT-DH72

The Good

The Asus G752 is a little slimmer than its predecessor, and its new design lightens up the previous black slab look. Performance is excellent, and a backlit keyboard with macro keys makes for comfortable gaming.

The Bad

Despite the refresh, this still looks like something that lives in a dorm room or LAN party basement. Even some of the more expensive configurations drop the graphics card a notch. No touch screen or higher-res options.

The Bottom Line

Asus carries its Republic of Gamers line forward with a modern-feeling overhaul, but the new Intel processors in the G752 are matched with graphics cards more than a year old.

Of the major-brand gaming systems, the ROG (or Republic of Gamers) line from Asus has always been a favorite. Last year's G751 was built like a tank, included a top-of-the-line Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graphics card, and powered through every game we threw at it. But, it was also incredibly big and bulky -- attach a long handle and it could be used as a snow shovel.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

This new revamp gives the ROG laptop series its biggest facelift in years, and trades up to Intel's latest Skylake generation of processors. But, there has not been a new mobile GPU from Nvidia in some time, so it still has the same 900-series mobile graphics chips as every major gaming laptop from the past year and a half.

Not also that this $1,799 configuration bumps the graphics down a step, from the Nvidia 980M to the 970M, but at least pairs it with a 128GB SSD/1TB HDD combo and a generous 16GB of RAM. It's hard to find the exact same Asus configuration internationally, but similar models sell for £1,343 in the UK and AU$2,699 in Australia. A DVD optical drive is also included, but largely superfluous, as PC games are almost entirely downloaded from online stores such as Steam and GOG now.

Asus ROG G752

Price as reviewed $1,799
Display size/resolution 17.3 inch, 1,920 x 1,080 screen
PC CPU 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ
PC Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 3072MB Nvidia GTX 970M
Storage 128GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Micorsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

The new look takes the classis Asus ROG matte black finish and trades it in for warmer palette of brushed aluminum with copper accents and red/orange lights. A few sci-fi-inspired touches, like carved hieroglyphic-like lines above the keyboard and honeycombed speaker grilles along the hinge, add some character. The new chassis is definitely slimmer and more streamlined than the bulky industrial look of its predecessor, but it's still way too big and heavy (at 8.8 pounds) to carry around more than once in a great while.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Along with a backlit keyboard with deep, satisfying keys, Asus includes a handful of programmable macro buttons above the left side of the keyboard. I've been playing PC games going all the way back to my first Tandy Color Computer 3, and rarely if ever use macro keys -- your milage may vary. The macro keys, good for launching apps or running through a series of key commands, can be programmed through a simple included app called Asus MacroKey.

More interesting is the Asus ROG Gaming Center app, which offers a wealth of system information, including CPU and GPU frequencies and temperatures, and allows for adjusting some display and audio settings and controlling the system lights, all from a single view. Multiple profiles can be set up, optimized for media playback, gaming, or extended battery life.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

This midlevel configuration of the G752 has plenty of hard-drive space, including a 128GB SSD for OS files and some basic apps, plus a big 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive for storing big game files, which can be 25GB or more each. The Intel Core i7 6700HQ processor is about as up-to-date and powerful as one could ask for in a gaming laptop, but the 980M from Nvidia is really what you're looking for in a gaming laptop, at least on paper. To trade up to it requires a step up to a configuration Asus sells for $2,599, which is a big jump (but also includes a 256GB SSD and a more advanced cooling system).

Fortunately, in hands-on and performance benchmark testing, the G752 as configured here turned in impressive scores. In standard application tests, it was second only to the Origin Eon17-SLX, which packs actual desktop PC parts into a laptop body, although really any of the high-end gaming laptops we compared this system to are more than fast enough for everyday tasks, even heavy photo and video editing.

In gaming tests, the difference between systems with the Nvidia 980M and the 970M were more pronounced in some cases. And, as newer, more demanding games are released, that difference could become more pronounced. However, in hands-on gaming, the 970M card was more than powerful enough to run Fallout 4 at maximum detail settings and full 1,920x1,080 resolution, as well as other demanding games such as Metro: Last Light and The Witcher 3. For about $2,000, Dell, Acer and other PC makers can get you a gaming laptop with a GeForce 980M in it if that's a must-have.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

One bonus not available in most other gaming laptops is Nvidia's G-Sync technology. That allows properly configured graphics cards and displays to sync up, with the GPU producing a new frame of animation at exactly the right time for the display to use it, which leads to smoother gameplay and less stress on the GPU. Last year's Asus G751 was the first laptop we tested with this technology, which is explained in more detail here.

Obviously, no one buys a gaming laptop for its battery life. In this case, running for 2:25 on our streaming video playback test isn't going to change any minds about that, but for an hour or so of disconnected gaming, it should be fine.

Conclusion

There are gaming laptops that offer more features, slimmer designs, or more graphics power, but Asus has managed to find something close to the sweet spot in this mid-priced (for a gaming laptop) version of the G752. The design is less overpowering than last year's model, performance is fine for the games of today or tomorrow (but less future-proof than something with the step-up GPU), and adding G-Sync is a valuable extra that really makes a difference in the handful of systems we've used it in.

Multimedia Multitasking test 3.0

Origin Eon17-SLX 151Asus G752VT 182MSI GS60 6QE 185Acer Predator 15 192Asus G751J (G-Sync) 202Dell Inspiron 15-7559 290
Notes: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test

Origin Eon17-SLX 159Asus G752VT 179Acer Predator 15 184MSI GS60 6QE 185Asus G751J (G-Sync) 192Dell Inspiron 15-7559 214
Notes: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Video playback battery drain test (streaming)

Dell Inspiron 15-7559 373Acer Predator 15 350Asus G751J (G-Sync) 164MSI GS60 6QE 156Origin Eon17-SLX 149Asus G752VT 145
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

Bioshock Infinite gaming test

Origin Eon17-SLX 159.8Asus G751J (G-Sync) 114Acer Predator 15 111.2Asus G752VT 96MSI GS60 6QE 75Dell Inspiron 15-7559 54
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Metro: Last Light gaming test

Origin Eon17-SLX 67Acer Predator 15 46Asus G751J (G-Sync) 30Asus G752VT 29MSI GS60 6QE 26Dell Inspiron 15-7559 21
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System Configurations

Asus G752VT Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 3GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 970M; 128GB SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD
MSI GS60 6QE Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 3GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 970M; 128GB SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD
Dell Inspiron 15-7559 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6300HQ; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 4GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 960M; 1TB 5400rpm HDD
Asus G751J (G-Sync) Micorosoft Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ; 24GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 4GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 980M; 256GB SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD
 Asus Zen AiO Pro Z240IC Micorsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-6700T; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 2GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 960M; 512GB SSD + 1TB 5400rpm HDD
Origin Eon17-SLX Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 8GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Acer Predator 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 4GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 980M; 512GB SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD
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Asus ROG G752VT-DH72

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 7Battery 6