Asus G73Jh review
17.3 in 1,920x1,080 display, 3.9kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM, 8.00GB RAM, 1,000GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Designed to resemble the US Air Force's stealth bomber, the Asus G73Jh is an imposing gaming laptop with an impressive specification: an Intel Core i7-720QM processor with 8GB of RAM and a top-end ATI graphics card with 1GB of video RAM provide the muscle, while twin 500GB hard disks and Blu-ray drive provide great storage and entertainment options.
Although the design stands out, it thankfully lacks the racing stripes and gaudy detail that normally adorn such beasts. Instead, it has a dark matt grey finish on the upper sections, with standard black plastic making up the lower chassis. Opening the lid reveals only three discreet LED-lit buttons, along with a decent-sized keyboard with a numberpad and a rubberised wrist rest.
At the rear, the case extends a couple of inches behind the lid hinges, presumably to pack everything in, and to house a blocky battery – which lasted for less than two hours in our light usage test. As the G73Jh weighs almost 4kg, you're unlikely to want to carry it far from a mains power supply anyway, making the battery almost superfluous. Around the edge of the case you'll find four USB ports, VGA and HDMI video outputs, and a card reader.
Beneath the keyboard is a massive touchpad and see-saw button. The pad is responsive and supports multi-touch gestures such as pinch to zoom, but the button is extremely stiff, even at its extremities. Thankfully Asus has anticipated gamers' needs and bundled a gaming mouse: it's not the best we've used, with no adjustable weight system, but it does have two thumb buttons and a four-way sensitivity toggle, plus a large, rubberised wheel. Its main buttons are rather light, however and we found ourselves right-clicking by accident.
The keyboard has separated keys with a light, crisp action that gives touch-typists plenty of feedback. However, the cursor keys are rather crammed into the gap between the main keyboard and numberpad. We were concerned with the keyboard panel, which flexed in some areas; and we're not sure this would stand up to repeated bouts of game rage.
Above the keyboard is a grille that hides two small speakers, and there's another in the base that's marked as a sub-woofer. Although the speakers had more bass than your average laptop, you certainly don't get the levels you'd expect from a desktop sub-woofer-equipped set. We found the sound to be compressed and lacking in stereo separation. Thankfully Asus has bundled a set of decent SteelSeries headphones with comfortable padding and excellent sound quality.
As we'd expect, the 17in screen has a Full HD, 1,920x1,080 resolution and a glossy finish, ideal for darkened rooms where it won't be subject to reflections. The backlight is bright and even, but while it has excellent contrast, we found colours suffered from a faint yellow cast that made flesh tones seem a bit sickly - admittedly not a problem in games, but if you want to work with photos then you’ll need to tweak the display via the graphics driver.
An ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 provides the gaming horsepower. It's not nearly as powerful as the desktop 5870, but its score of 74.4fps in Call of Duty 4 makes it the fastest laptop graphics card we've tested. We ran our Crysis test, normally reserved for desktop PCs, and got a score of 29.8fps at our standard desktop resolution of 1,680x1,050, putting it on a par with ATI's desktop mid-range cards. Results like this show the G73Jh can play most current games without having to compromise on graphics settings, which is unusual as gaming notebooks normally lag far behind their desktop counterparts.
In our benchmarks, the G73Jh scored 101 overall, confirming its suitability as a desktop replacement. In the single-threaded image-editing test, the Core i7's Turbo Boost technology kicked in and scored an impressive score of 119, and with 8GB of RAM, editing large photos or videos should pose little problem.
With a Full HD display, dual 500GB hard disks, Blu-ray and gaming capabilities, it’s no surprise that the G73Jh is expensive. Our main concern is with the questionable build quality of the keyboard, but with a two-year warranty you can have some peace of mind on that front. It's a gaming laptop that serious gamers might consider, but the cost is far beyond most wallets.