Asus' G75W sure is a pretty piece of machinery. Matte, textured black, brushed aluminium body, and a gorgeous 1920x1080 matte screen. It's still TN-based, but gosh, what a nice screen it is.
It's part of a decreasing family — that of the giant 17-inch gaming machines. It's a behemoth too, with stealth fighter-esque lines and a rear profile that looks like it was lifted straight from a high-powered super-car.
- USB 3.0: 4
- Optical: Blu-ray/DVD±RW
- Video: VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort/Thunderbolt
- Ethernet: gigabit
- Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
- Audio: 2.1 VIA HD audio
Despite the target market, Asus has taken the opposite tack to Alienware: no gaudy flashing lights or overwrought gamer tropes here. The design language exemplifies the philosophy of speaking quietly and carrying the big stick, refined power coiled and waiting to spring.
A large trackpad is present, which is pleasant to use, although an external mouse will clearly be used for more intense gaming. The keyboard is excellent and subtly backlit in white. For our review sample this lighting wasn't evenly distributed, but it didn't hamper visibility or use. Despite its size, the 4.5kg weight is not unreasonable.
It's also got a 3D capable screen and comes with Nvidia's active shutter glasses. Most gamers won't concern themselves with the marketing frivolity of stereoscopic gaming, but they will know it means something more interesting: the G75VW possesses a 120Hz screen. While this is liquid gold for desktop gamers, its use on the laptop will be limited, due to the extra graphical grunt required to hit frame rates worthy of the refresh. Still, for those playing less taxing games, this could be the road to silky smooth action.
The 3D functionality brings with it a major detractor though: Nvidia's Optimus software isn't compatible, so you can't switch to Intel graphics when you're not using GPU-taxing software. This is one laptop that can only spend minimal time away from the wall.
It should be said that the G75VW can also be discreet: running the Metro 2033 benchmark at highest detail didn't result in an exhaust noise that shattered ear drums — in fact, it was almost a peaceful whoosh of air. So we loaded up OCCT to see exactly how loud the thing could go. After about four minutes of the CPU test, it adopted a bit of a whistling tone, but didn't reach the point of offensive. A five minute run of the GPU test got a decent amount of air rushing out and approached the edge of a harsh tone, but there's one thing that's certain: this thing has some serious acoustic chops.
Turn it upside down, and you've got two accessible panels, with only two screws in total, holding them down. The first contains a fan and removable fan filter (Asus includes a second for the user to swap in), while the second contains another fan filter, the two hard drives and two DIMM slots for the RAM. Asus is to be commended for making user servicing so incredibly easy.
It's also the first Windows laptop we've seen with a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt still needs some polish on the Microsoft platform, but if the interface lives up to the promise, the future-proofing here is admirable.
So with dual terabyte hard drives, a Blu-ray drive, a GTX 670M with an overkill of 3GB video RAM, 16 GB system RAM and a Core i7 3610QM, it almost manages to hit every point along the way — except in audio.
Yes, even though the G75VW has a subwoofer on the bottom it lacks impact. You can turn up the LFE, and this definitely has an effect, but it also does something incredibly strange to the sound stage if set high, causing us to wince at the tricks it was playing on our ears. The tweeters are underpowered and have a tendency to distort; the chassis tends to vibrate annoyingly whenever the resonant frequency is hit, which seems to be quite often.
Even the VIA audio panel is second rate. Interestingly, a standard on most gaming laptops — the ability to reconfigure 3.5mm jacks to 5.1 sound — isn't here. There's only two jacks. We're not sure how many gamers actually use that option, but its omission is made obvious by both competitors and Asus' efforts on other platforms. At any rate, when gaming, you're better off sticking to headphones with this laptop — something that the target audience will definitely do, anyway.
Handbrake encoding (in seconds)
Asus G75VW (Core i7 3610QM, 16GB RAM, 2x 1TB HDD, Nvidia GeForce GTX 670M 3GB)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Clocked a little slower than its smaller Alienware friend, the G75VW falls just behind in the application tests. It's still a good sight faster than the last generation though, and it is more than capable for gaming.
|Batman: Arkham Asylum|
|1920x1080, 4x AA, Detail level: Very high, PhysX off.|
|1600x900, DirectX 10, MSAA 4x, Quality: Medium, PhysX: Off.|
|The Witcher 2|
|1366x768, low spec.|
|1920x1080, medium detail|
We require a minimum frame rate of 30fps to deem a certain level of detail playable, with the exception of Metro 2033. This is because the Metro benchmark will stutter to around 10 frames per second on even the gruntiest of systems, something we've not experienced in playing the game itself.
Here, we're presented with a fascinating picture when you compare the Alienware M14x's GT 650M to Asus' GTX 670M. Rather than allow us to turn up the detail of the games that are playable, the 670M simply allows us to run the same detail at a higher resolution — that is, the G75VW's native resolution of 1920x1080, compared to the Alienware's 1600x900.
As a dot point, the 670M is just a rebadged 570M with a minor clock bump, while the GT 650M actually uses Nvidia's newer Kepler architecture. We anxiously await a machine with the newer, top end GTX 680M to see what it can do.
Battery life (time)
- Heavy battery test
- Light battery test
- 5h 1m
- HP Envy 15 (Core i7 2760QM, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Radeon HD 7690M)
- 3h 30m
- Alienware m14x (Core i7 3720QM, 8GB RAM, 1TB, GeForce GT 650M)
- 2h 4m
- Toshiba Satellite P750/0EM (Core i7 2670QM, 8GB RAM, 750GB, GeForce GT 540M)
- 1h 50m
- Asus G75VW (Core i7 3610QM, 16GB RAM, 2x 1TB HDD, Nvidia GeForce GTX 670M 3GB)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Big laptop, heavy hardware, very little battery. The 5200mAh battery runs out quickly, even on our light battery test — and without Intel graphics to switch to, it burns out even faster. Still, with a desktop gaming machine like this, you'd expect to be chained to the wall.
The G75VW is a very fine piece of engineering, something that any power user would be proud to wield. We'd prefer the stereoscopic 3D to be dumped for switchable graphics, and more attention put on audio, but the target market of this thing is going to be wearing headphones anyway. Now, about that GTX 680M version...