ASUS G73Jh – Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

Depending on your viewpoint, either the G73Jh is an awe-inspiring stealthy (i.e. Stealth Bomber) notebook… or it's a drab looking black behemoth. I'm inclined to go with the former opinion and find that the G73Jh really fits my personality, but others will probably hate it. Obviously, this isn't going to appeal to fans of the MacBook aesthetic, and it's not meant to. The black coating is the same soft touch rubberized paint found on the N61Jv, only this time it's on the palm rest and cover.

The interior continues the all-black motif. We were very pleased to see that there's no glossiness on any of the surfaces, except for the LCD panel. As Anand mentioned in our recent MacBook Pro review, we generally recommend matte LCDs for laptops that you intend to use outside, while most people like glossy panels for primarily indoor use. Given the size, performance, and generally low battery life it's a safe bet that you're not going to use the G73Jh outside much, so the glossy LCD works fine. Glossy LCDs also tend to improve contrast ratio by about 20%, so where the ASUS Eee 1001p had an 800:1 contrast ratio the G73Jh rates 1000:1.

The keyboard is a full size chiclet layout, with a dedicated number keypad. Again, we don't really like the half-sized "0" key on the 10-key, as we naturally hit the right arrow key with are thumb when using it for numerical data entry. Considering there's a good one inch margin on either side of the keyboard, we'd like to see ASUS move the 10-key over a bit and make room for a double-size (standard) "0" key. Otherwise, the keyboard is generally fine as far as chiclet keyboards go, with good spacing and a decent throw on the keys. We'd like a bit more travel, and even better would be something more in line with the classic ThinkPad keyboard, but we would rate the keyboard as above average overall. Another nice bonus on the keyboard side of things is the LED backlighting, perfect for LAN parties or gaming in the dark.

The palm rest is very large and spacious, and its paired with one of the largest touchpads this side of Texas. That's the good news. The bad news is that the touchpad buttons require a firm press to register, and they're on a large rocker instead of being independent buttons. The touchpad supports all the latest multi-touch gestures and works better than most touchpads we've used, but separate buttons would have made it better. Of course, if you're playing games you're going to want a real mouse, and ASUS packs a nice Razer Abyssus ($30 value) into the A2 package. The Abyssus includes two switches on the bottom to change between 125 and 1000 Hz polling and 450/1800/3500 DPI. It's not the best Razer mouse I've ever used, but it handles gaming without any complaints from me.

Perhaps most impressive out of the whole package is that the system runs stable and never gets overly hot or overly loud. At idle, the G73Jh purrs along at a very quiet 33dB; that's not "silent" but it's not intrusive either. What's better is that even under a full load (x264 encoding with 3DMark looping in the background) the notebook still maintains its calm demeanor. At maximum load, fan speed increases just a hair and the noise output is 35dB. Compared to the Clevo W870CU (which idles at 35 dB and can hit 42 dB under load), the G73Jh is very stealthy indeed!

As you might expect from the noise levels, temperatures are also excellent—perhaps the best we've ever tested, and certainly the lowest we've seen on a gaming notebook. The palm rests stay at room temperature while the touchpad is a few degrees warmer. The rear of the chassis is about 5C hotter, but we're still only talking about 31C maximum. Love it or hate it, the wedge-shaped design certainly does the job when it comes to cooling. ASUS puts a couple huge vents at the back of the G73Jh, and their size and location means you don't need a mini-vacuum fan in your notebook. The tall rear of the G73Jh also lets ASUS put in a large 75Wh battery without pushing a bunch of other pieces out of the way, so you can still get 1.5 to 2.0 hours of mobility in a pinch. Video playback doesn't fare as well, lasting only 80 minutes, but you didn't really expect more than that did you?

The ASUS G73Jh is all about putting your money where it matters most, and in this case that means delivering great gaming performance with an LCD that's a pleasure to use. The matte RGB LED backlit panel in the Dell Precision M6500 still takes the cake for the best laptop LCD we've every used, but that particular panel would eat up about 1/3 of the total G73Jh price. As long as you want high performance—size and battery life be damned!—the G73Jh delivers on all fronts. Let's see just how fast AMD's latest mobile GPU is compared to the competition.

ASUS G73Jh: Today's Top Gaming Laptop G73Jh: Test System and Benchmark Setup
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  • jasperjones - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    It looks like the Blu-Ray combo drive you link to on page 1 is actually a desktop, not a laptop model.

    Other than that, superb review!
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Whoops! Totally spaced that. I've updated to a notebook Blu-ray drive. :-)
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    I second the 1680x1050 screen option, too.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    The system supports 32nm CPUs, but the particular model uses a quad-core i7 processor. Considering the size of the notebook, I'm not sure many people are going to be interested in lowering performance just to cut power draw a bit. The i5-540m and i7-620m might be a bit faster in some games as their Turbo Modes can exceed the 2.80GHz of the 720QM, but those are the only two dual-core CPUs I'd consider. As mentioned, there will be other variants of the G73Jh down the road, with Blu-ray and dual-core CPUs, if that's what you're after.
  • notext - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Just going by how they look to you, which do think is a better display, the XPS 16 or the G73Jh?

    I had been waiting for dell to upgrade the video on the XPS line before jumping on one for the RGBLED but if this is really close or better it would be just fine.

    It is kinda hard to tell just by looking at numbers, I wish I could view a bunch of these laptops side by side.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Judging by the technical data, the Dell RGBLED display is "better", but unless you need a higher color gamut there's not much point in the added cost. If it were a choice between glossy G73J and matte RGBLED, then I'd probably go for the RGBLED. The Studio XPS 16 is also known to have issues with throttling on i7 CPUs (at least according to emails I've received), the RGBLED doesn't appear to be an option right now, and the HD 4670 is nowhere near as fast as the 5870. But then, the XPS 16 isn't as large and bulky as the G73Jh either. Given the choice, for gaming I'd definitely go with the G73Jh. Running cool and quiet with a gaming notebook is always a good sign in my book, and that usually means you need a bigger chassis.
  • FXi - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Imagine a product where as many as you produce you sell every single one of them. Do you think that product is made by Nvidia? No, no! AMD can literally sell as many 5870 mobile chips as it can make. And it performs, very admirably! Can you possibly imagine what a Crossfire pair of these is going to do inside a M17X R3?

    AMD has sold 6 million cards while Nvidia slept. Mobile machines are 50% of PC sales. So while Nvidia continues to sleep AMD continues to make huge leaps in the market. I'm extremely pleased you gave this machine a go and moreover, you didn't falter it badly for missing features. What it does, it does extremely well. Any gamer should be proud of this machine. If the desktop Fermi is hot and takes huge amounts of power, you can well bet that it will be many quarters before Nvidia can wake up and smell the coffee. Meanwhile developers are making games and they aren't making them TWIWMTBP, because there are next to no NV cards on the market.

    Nice screen, great cpu, and superb GPU along with a competent mobile driver program. And the whole package is priced right to boot. Nice review, lovely machine and an example to the entire industry of how things "should be done".

  • tom.j - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    There was no included software to enable the use of the blu ray drive.... there is blu ray software available on the asus website for free download, but at this time it is not a version compatible with windows 7 64bit. Otherwise a great machine, but it should have been disclosed prior to sale that you would have to buy software to make full use of the machine...and blu ray software is NOT cheap. Openoffice and shredder (64bit version of Thunderbird mail client) works great on here. I'll buy a second one when it comes with blu ray software and add an ssd. Excellent screen, easy to read at its native resolution. Nice backpack too.

  • GTVic - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    In Canada the G73JH-X1 $1670 comes with the DVD and the G73JH-A1 $1820 comes with the blu-ray and a mouse/case. I saw one listing for G73JH-A2 $1670 comes with DVD so it looks identical to the X1.

    X1, A1, A2 links
  • Rambon3 - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    I would like to see more reviews of gaming laptops as the price/performance ratio is plummetting this year. Another machine that is worthy of high expectations a nd praise is the MSI GX740. It has similar specs but a lower price, at least here in Canada.

    MSI GX740
    Price: $1444.68 Canadian @ (if you can find one in stock)
    CPU: Intel Core 17-720QM 2.8Ghz 1333Mhz 6MB cache
    Display: 17.0" WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050) Glossy
    System Memory: 4GB (2x 2GB) DDR2 667 SDRAM - 0 open slot MAX. 4GB
    Video: ATi Radeon HD5870 Broadway XT GDDR5 1GB
    HDD: 500GB, 7200PRM SATA
    Optical drive: Blu Ray DVD Combo Drive
    Battery: 9-cell li-ion battery: up to 3.5 hours life depending usage
    Network: 56Kbps,10/100/1000, 802.11AGN wireless LAN
    Interface ports: DC-in, RJ-45 LAN, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
    headphones/speakers/line-out, microphone-in, eSata, ,HDMI
    four USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, BUILT-IN 2.0MP WEBCAM. Bluetooth
    Pointing Device:Touch Pad with onboard numeric keypad
    Weight: 7.04 lbs
    OS Preload: Microsoft® 7 Home Premium Bilingual
    Warranty: 3 year Limited Warranty with 1 Year Global

    This machine has less memory and hard space but does include a Bluray combo drive and is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the Asus. A review of this machine would be appreciated. Has anyone heard if there are plans for a mobile 58xx crossfire laptop? That would be a sweet portable system !!!

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