It's rare to see monstrous laptops these days, but luckily companies such as Asus like to keep gamers in mind. The G74 is the follow up to, yes, the G73, and as a result looks quite similar. Internally, though, we have a machine fit for a new generation.
A Core i7 2630QM is the order of the day, paired with 16GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 560M. Not quite the 580 then, but still an impressive beast. Dual-750GB hard drives are inside, and the 1920x1080 screen looks great — even if it does only use TN technology. The backlit keyboard is rather swanky, making night-time play enjoyable.
Sound is handled by Realtek hardware but powered by Creative/THX software. It does give a better definition to treble when enabled, but the sound is vastly disappointing considering the size of the laptop — Asus has cheapened out on speakers.
There's an easy access panel underneath, removable with a coin, that gives access to four RAM slots and the two hard drives. With some dexterity you could swap out the wireless card if you want to as well — which is only 2.4GHz; Asus strangely not opting to give power users 5GHz.
Ports include an SD card reader, one USB 3.0 port, three USB 2.0 ports, VGA, HDMI and gigabit Ethernet. The front and rear are empty; the rear only featuring one of the most serious air vents we've seen. There's a Blu-ray drive installed here as well, but the overall feeling is how incredibly sparse things are. eSATA is missing, and surely more USB 3.0 ports could have been put in.
For the first time in a long time, a Sentelic touch pad has turned up again. Carrying a reputation of making the absolute worst touch pad we've ever used, we were interested to see how the Asus implementation went. To give an idea of how bad things were: people were actually buying OEM parts and replacing the touch pads themselves.
Performance issues aside, Sentelic never makes drivers available on its website, and MSI, host of previous Sentelic attempts, never included any driver either, making users scour the web for something to make their lives more bearable. Thankfully, Asus knows how to bundle a driver — even if it is embarrassingly unfinished and terrible to use.
There are gestures, but the control panel doesn't actually tell you what they do. It's accompanied by a very amateur video showing you how to do the gesture, but once again, with no information as to what the gesture does.
Two-finger tap is middle click, three-finger is right-click and there's a full palm gesture, but who knows what it does. There's pinch-to-zoom and rotate, although this time rotate involves holding the thumb still while the index finger swipes. Two-finger scroll is in, but annoying. By default it's incredibly fast, often zooming to the end of the page, the velocity unchangeable. You're better off using single-finger scroll for normal scrolling.
Our advice? If you buy the G74, get an external mouse. You won't be using the touch pad.
Another major concern is the overwhelmingly vast amount of crapware installed, and you'll find yourself pulling your hair out at the sheer volume of pop-ups that assault you. It's just a shame that the first hour or so of your laptop experience has to be removing all the superfluous effluence with something like IoBit Uninstaller.
On the first run, after leaving things alone for five minutes, we were greeted with a horrendous amount of pop ups. There were even more the next time we booted into Windows.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
Performance, as to be expected, is rather spectacular. 3DMark06 and PCMark06 were eaten for breakfast, returning 15,215 and 10,608, respectively. That's some serious power right there, sitting at the base end of high-level gaming machines. If you need more, you'll likely need to look at Alienware's M18x.
High power typically means low battery life, and with all power-saving features turned off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum and an XviD video played back, the battery lasted one hour and 36 minutes — this isn't something designed to be away from the wall for long.
The G74SX is a good laptop marred by painful concessions — namely the awful trackpad, cheap speakers and droves of crapware. All of these things can be overcome by the user spending more time and money, but we sure wish this wasn't the case.