ASUS G73Jh: Today's Top Gaming Laptopby Jarred Walton on April 17, 2010 2:25 AM EST
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.
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JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - linkIf you're super concerned with image quality and accuracy, there's no beating IPS desktop displays IMO. The RGBLED displays have a high color gamut, but desktop LCDs are equal or better and you can get matte panels without spending an arm and a leg. If you're not quite so finicky, I think the G73Jh will work fine in Photoshop. I've used an XPS 16 for image editing as well as playing around with the G73Jh, and the G73Jh panel is better than 95% of laptop LCDs. It's still worse than most PVA/MVA/IPS desktop panels, but no one is doing those in laptops these days (iPad notwithstanding).
mindbomb - Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - linkno temperature results from full load?
JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - linkPage 2 - the temperature data listed was for worst-case. The G73Jh simply never broke a sweat. Perhaps in the summer in a non-AC apartment/house it will run louder/hotter, but that would apply to any notebook.
brucek2 - Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - linkTimely article for me since I'm about to be in the market for a gaming laptop. No particular comment but wanted to let you know I appreciated the article and also the continued discussion here in the comments.
swaaye - Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - linkYou guys might want to know that these babies have some issues with quality control.
I bought one from the Egg and it was great until I installed Cat 10.3 and then the GPU became extremely unstable. RMAed the notebook because others aren't having this problem. Then I saw Best Buy had them in stock so got one there, and got a bad LCD. Returned it and got one that only saw 2GB out of 6GB. That's 3 defectives out of 5 (I returned one good one to Best Buy to get the cheaper model with one HDD and 6GB instead of 8).
I'm not alone on this. And ASUS RMA sucks horribly so you better buy from a store that takes no nonsense returns. Newegg is a bit of a pain in this way.
sna2 - Sunday, April 25, 2010 - linkHi guys,
Just a tip , make that Editor choice logo a link to a list of editor choices page ...
poodleswithguns - Monday, April 26, 2010 - linkhow the hell did you get batman to run at a crisp 82 frames per second in very-high detail. i have mine, at home and my average fps is like 36.7 at the max its 44. what did you do to the computer that made ir tun at almost twice as many frames per second them my model?
actually to be honest, almost all the benchmarks are high. i mean mine doesn't get that, and the youtube videos of the games benchmarked on other like units arn't running frames that high.
let me know because i'd love to get the extra power from the computer.
jackiethewitch - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - linkHe ran the benchmarks at 1600x900. You're probably defaulting to 1920x1080. Doesn't matter. 82 fps at 1600x900 is not as nice as 44 fps at 1920x1080.
Chastity - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - linkSo far I have only 2 quibbles about the unit:
1) No RAID Support. Bit of a downer, especially since many configs come with paired hdds. I suppose the logic was that gamers would get a SSD to boot and run apps from. (My P-7805u has RAID :p)
2) The Wifi card is a bit of a letdown with the AR2985. Only 2.4Ghz band and 150mbps max transfer rates. Thankfully, it's easily remedied with a replacement card, like the Intel 6200. Also, I would LOVE to see laptop makers still run THREE wires for antennaes, even if you don't use all three.
Heat: Not a problem. There even are no vents on the bottom, and only gets warm during load, and not close to hot. Air comes in from the front subwoofer intake, and out the back ports. Lovely. And no additional noise from laptop coolers.
Audio: It's a nice sounding unit for a laptop, but it's still laptop speakers. I still prefer headphones, and the CMSS-3D Headphone mode is great for gaming. Very accurate spatial cues.
jackiethewitch - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - linkI went computer hunting over a month ago, stumbled across this while looking at various options, and found one of these in Canada (www.canadacomputers.com) for $1699 CDN. At the time I was considering building a new desktop, but this was priced so aggressively it convinced me. (and more importantly, it convinced my husband.)
I found a few decent reviews online, but nothing this comprehensive. Seeing after the fact what a great deal I got makes me very happy, Jarred! (Although you're not the first review I've read, just the most in depth.) I my only wish would be that you'd benchmarked the high end gaming at 1080p max resolution (I've been playing Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 with absolutely maxed out settings and they're quite playable).
Caution on the cheaper Best-Buy models --they only come with a 1 year manufacturer's warranty, unlike the 2 year one on the Asus standard retail models. Best Buy will charge you several hundred dollars to purchase one. When combined with the extras and different specifications, this makes the "deal" suspect.
My thoughts, after using it a month:
As Jarred said, this thing runs cool and nearly silent. Heat isn't an issue.
Arkham Asylum + XBox360 Wired Controller + G73jh-A2 + HDMI Cable + Samsung 52" LCD Television >>>>> PS3 + Arkham Asylum on the same television.
Nothing I play has caused this thing to break a sweat.
The included mouse is...odd. I'm not a fan. With the one peice plastic molding on top, the mouse buttons are too easily depressed by your hand resting on top of it. It's like there's no support preventing someone from pushing them down by accident.
1TB isn't enough for me anymore. :( I've realized my tendency to squirrel away media and large files automatically expands to fill all available space.
I'm a very small woman. This is a very large backpack and computer. I'm sure the image is comical when I'm walking with it.