Published on May 3rd, 2012 | by Mike1
Asus G75VW review – for sure one of the best 2012 gaming laptops
Last year I tested the Asus G74SX and considered it at the time one of the best gaming machines you could get in stores. This year, I got to play with its successor, the Asus G75SW, the 2012 iteration of the 17.3 inch Asus ROG gaming laptop.
And I once again like it a lot. The new machine brings updated hardware, with Intel Ivy Bridge processors and Nvidia Keplar graphics, plus a couple of improvements and additions to its successor. All these while it keeps the parts that were appreciated on the G74SX, like the aggressive design and the matte body and screen.
I got to test the most powerful version of the Asus G75VW, one that’s going for 2000+ bucks in stores. Even so, this is not the most powerful gaming notebook you’ll be able to find in the next months, but brings good value for the money, making it one of the devices you should at least consider if planning for a new gaming laptop this year.
The review below will tell you a bit more about all the important aspects of the G75VW, so read along.
First though, let’s have a look at the specs:
|Screen||17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, matte, 3D 120Hz|
|Processor||Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3720QM quad-core processor, clocked at 2.6 GHz|
|Video||Nvidia GTX 670M 3GB graphics|
|Memory||16 GB DDR3|
|Hard-disk||750 GB 7200 rpm HDD and 256 GB SSD|
|Connectivity||Wireless N, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth|
|Ports||4 x USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, Thunderbolt, LAN, card-reader, HD webcam, Blu-ray burner unit|
|Baterry||8 Cell 5200 mAh 74 Wh|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Ultimate|
|Size||320 x52 415 x 17~31,9 mm|
|Extras||2.1 sound system, 3D goggles included, RAID 0/1 support|
Once again, this is going to be the top config Asus is offering for their G75 line, at least for the first part of the year. Of course, the SSD, the 3D screen, the Blu-ray unit and those 16 GBs of memory don’t come cheap, but the base G75 is going to be decently priced at about $1500, while still offering a quad-core processor and the same Nvidia GTX 670M graphics chip.
Asus G75VW video review
The clip below will tell you a bunch of things about this Asus gaming machine, but you should read the rest of the post as well, there are details in here that weren’t actually included in the clip.
Design and exterior
Like a true member of the ROG (Republic of Gamers) family, the G75 inherits the aggressive design and the matte black body, with a ROG logo on the hood. However, the are subtle changes from the previous G74 family, as the new G75 is slightly slimmer, mainly a merit of the new screen hinges. There was one massive screen hinge on the G74, there are two smaller ones of the new line, but they are stiff and solid enough to keep the screen in place.
On the outside, you get the black rubbery plastic we found on the previous ROGs. It looks good and I definitely rather have that then the glossy finish of most other gaming laptops these days, but even so, it will catch smudges in time and once it does, cleaning them will be a pain.
The bottom is also covered in plastic and has panels that allow you to quickly access the memory, the two storage bays and as an addition, the cooling fans. The entire hardware architecture has been redesigned, the system now sucks fresh air from the front/underneath and spits it through those grills on the back, with the help of two big fans. Each of these fans now has a filter that will retain most of the dust, a filter you can easily access and clean periodically, keeping the entire cooling system in better shape.
As a slight downside for the G75, you no longer have a thumb-screw holding in place the back panel, and removing it will be a bit more difficult, like the clip below proves, but since you’re not going to open this that often, it’s definitely not a deal breaker.
The back of the G75, where the exhaust grills are placed, has also been redesigned, and the vents are now split on each side of the machine.
The side edges are now dressed in this silver plastic and the contrast with the rest of the black body is actually aesthetically pleasing. The ports and the features present here are more important though, and you can see them in the pics below. USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI are just some of the ports you’ll get on the the G75.
There’s also an optical unit of course, a Blu-Ray Writer in our case, but the cheaper configs only get a DVD-Writer or a Blu-Ray Combo.
Opening the lid, you’ll notice that almost nothing is changed from the previous generation. The rest pad is spacious and covered in this rugged plastic that feels good, but once again will be difficult to clean if it gets dirty.
The area around the keys is made from aluminum, ensuring that the entire keyboard does not flex, while on top there’s a grilled surface. In fact, there’s only one tiny aspect changed on the G75, and that’s the fact that the aluminum cover around the keyboard is a bit accentuated beneath the arrow keys, like you can see in the pictures included in this post.
Keyboard and Trackpad
On a first look, the keyboard and trackpad seem identical to the ones on the G74, with one exception: the keyboard is now backlit.
The white illumination can be adjusted (there are three levels) and I’m sure many will love this new feature. Of course, you still get light bleeding beneath the keys when watching the laptop from an angle, which I found a bit frustrating, thus using the laptop with it OFF for most of the time.
However, I did feel like the keyboard was not as good as on the G74. I might be a bit biased here, as I’m used to the keyboard on my Lenovo X220 and expect a similar typing experience from all the other laptops i get to test, but the keys seem a bit flimsy and shaky on the G75, like with most other Asus keyboards tried in the past. And yes, you’re probably not going to use the keyboard for typing that much, but as a gamer, you need to be sure it is accurate and responsive enough.
Also, the backspace on this keyboard was flaky, noisy and didn’t react as expected when hit on its sides, but I think this is an issues with my test unit, as it saw some action lately and reviewers aren’t always that careful with the toys they get to play with.
The trackpad however is flawless. Spacious, accurate, smooth and with dedicated click buttons; if I was to choose the best trackpad I ever saw on a laptop, this is probably the one.
All in all, the keyboard and trackpad combo aren’t bad at all on the G75. I enjoyed the layout, the fact that the arrow keys are slightly separated from the rest of keys and the back-lightning is for sure something most of you would like. However, I was hopping for firmer keys and a better feedback, while the experience provided by the G75 is only average.
There are a bunch of display options you can choose for the G75, all with matte finishing. I got to play with the top option, the Full HD 120 Hz 3D capable screen. We’re talking about a TN panel, but with an extended color gamut, great contrast and decent viewing angles. Of course, you’re not going to get the viewing area of an IPS panel, but as long as you properly adjust the screen’s angle, you’ll have absolutely no problem with the G75.
The hinges are smaller, like I said above, but they are stiff enough to keep the massive display in place. The screen doesn’t bend back a lot on its back, but that’s not really an issue, as this is a laptop you’ll use on a desk 99% of the time.
With this 3D screen you also get a pair of Nvidia 3D glasses, the 2012 improved version, which are slightly larger than the ones I tried in the past and also significantly brighter, thanks to this piece of tech called 3D LightBoost.
Now, I can’t say I noticed massive improvements, but I’m not a big fan of 3D goggles anyway, as tears tend to burst out of my eyes after just minutes of using them. The same happened with all the 3D laptops I’ve tested in the past, so I don’t know, probably 3D on small screens isn’t something my eyes are comfortable with.
Hardware and performances
The G75VW I’m testing is the top config Asus will have in stores at least in the first part of the year, with a quad-core Intel Core i7-3720QM processor clocked at 2.6 GHz, 16 GB of DDR3 memory, Nvidia GTX 670M graphics with 3 GB of dedicated memory and 256 GB SSD + 750 GB 7200 rpm HDD storage. So it’s a beast!
All these allow it to fly through everything you’re going to push at it, including all sorts of multimedia content, video or photo editing software, 3D rendering programs or virtual machines.
I’ve run a bunch of synthetic tests and the results are below. One thing to consider though is that this device isn’t yet running on completely mature drivers, so in a month or so, the scores might get even better.
All in all, when compared to last year’s G74, the G75 is way faster. Plus, that SATA III LiteON SSD is also a massive hit, with very good write and read speeds in our tests. Now, I don’t know how much Asus is going to charge for it and how reliable LiteON SSDs will be in time, but in terms of speed it’s definitely top notch.
This is of course a gaming laptop and by the scores above, it’s a damn fast one. The new hardware platform provides 20-25% improvements over the old platform on the G74SX I tested last year, although those synthetic tests aren’t really on par, since the G75 uses a SSD drive for storage and the G74 did not.
Thus, what really matters is how fast this machine performs in games. I’ve tested a bunch of them, all running in native 1920 x 1080 px resolution, all with details set to the highest possible levels. The results are in this picture below. Once again, the drivers aren’t really mature right now, I was running Nvidia 290.69 drivers on this test unit, the latest available right now, when this review is being put together.
Basically, all the tested games managed to run smoothly as long as 3D was OFF. With 3D ON, fps dropped to unplayable levels in some cases, but don’t forget, all these results are registered with Fraps, and this piece of software alone causes the games to drop a couple of frames.
The clip below will also show you some benchmark results and a small part of my gaming experience with the Asus G75VW.
Noise and heat
There are a bunch of fans inside this laptop, so there’s always a constant roaring you’ll have to accept, even when the computer is idling. When running games or any other types of intense apps, the fans will get a bit louder, but overall the noise levels will never become an issue, as long as you understand that you can’t really have a nearly silent gaming machine these days.
And while decently quiet, the cooling system is also effective. Hot air goes out of the exhausts on the back and the bottom back part gets quite hot when pushing the machine. The top middle area above the keys also gets warm, but those are all outside the “working zone”. The palm-rest and the entire keyboard area stay cool all the time and that’s what really matters.
Also, the components inside don’t get that hot. After a couple of hours of gaming, the average temperatures registered for the CPU and graphics settled at about 60 degrees Celsius, which is actually very good for a gaming laptop. However, since this is a test unit, I could not conduct more robust Full-load tests to see how hot the platform is going to get when both the CPU and GPU are working at 100%.
The speakers are alright and Asus decided to bring back the 2.1 audio system on their G series, after they dropped the subwoofer on the previous G74. Now, there is one of the bottom and two speakers placed towards the back.
Still, do not expect wonders. My ears are not a standard for sure and you’d better go and listen to the G75 yourself, but I can’t say I was impressed.
The sound coming out of this machine is definitely alright for a laptop, but there’s only so much you can get from an integrated woofer. So, you’ll have to connect a pair of external speakers for improved sound quality or a set of good headphones and Asus claims that their G75 offers 5.1 audio output via the 3.5 mm jack. Couldn’t test it though as I lacked an appropriate sound system around the house.
There’s an 8 Cell 74 Wh battery inside this machine and that’s enough to push the Asus G75 for about two and a half hours, during average daily use, with Quiet Office mode selected and the screen dimmed to 50%. Of course, you can stretch the battery life to up to 4 hours for very light use, but on the other hand, when running games, the G75 will run out of juice after about one hour.
The battery takes about 3 hours to fully charge and the power brick is massive, but I was expecting that from a beast like this gaming laptop.
Connectivity, Webcam and other aspects
Connectivity wise, there’s little you might ask from this laptop and it can’t provide. From Bluetooth, Wireless N and Gigabit Lan, to USB 3.0, HDMI and Thunderbolt ports, they are all present on the G75. And in fact, DisplayPort seems to be the only connector that’s missing, but I doubt that’s going to be an issue for most of you guys.
There’s an HD webcam on this machine, according to Asus, but I didn’t get to test it too much. Will do fine for chatting on Skype, Google Talk and similar programs, although the overall image quality gets a bit poor in dim light.
As for the Software, Asus bundles this laptop with a decent amount of crapware and its own programs, most of them actually things you should uninstall, but there are some that might be useful, like Power4Gear or Asus’s WebStorage app.
Prices and availability
The Asus G75VW is going to be available in a bunch of different configs and it’s already present in stores in the US and Western Europe.
The base version starts at $1499 in the States and for that you’re getting a Core i7-3610QM processor, 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GTX 660M graphics, 750 GB HDD and the standard Full HD display.
For the GTX 670M version you’ll have to pay around $100 extra, while for the top config listed here, with the faster processor, Blu-ray Burner and 3D screen you’ll pay $2000+ .
Of course, prices might drop with time. See this link for up-to-date prices for the Asus G75VW line.
In the end, the Asus G75 is for sure an impressive laptop, especially the G75VW top-config I got to test here. When compared to last year’s G74, it’s significantly faster, while still running cool and quiet. Asus also made a couple of changes, making the whole thing slimmer, adding a backlit keyboard, a 2.1 sound system and a Thunderbolt port. However, I do feel that some aspects could still be improved and I’m looking especially at that keyboard.
The Asus G75VW is going to have some tough competition, with the MSI GT70 as its main rival, especially since that one has a SteelSeries keyboard and very good speakers (can’t say that they are better than the ones on the G75 though). The two are pretty much on par though and since I did not get to test the GT70 yet, I can’t say which one of the two I would pick (still, I’m definitely not a fan of the shinny body boosted by that MSI).
Of course, if you want even more power from your gaming machine, there will be faster options available from the likes of Alienware, Sager or Clevo, but not in the same price range.
Cause all in all, that’s where the Asus G75 wins the game: it provides excellent value for the money, while being an overall solid and powerful machine. And for most gaming enthusiasts out there that are looking for a portable rig, that might be just enough.