Gamers looking for a powerful yet portable machine can stop looking. The Asus G73Jw laptop is here.
It's only a mild update to Asus's most recent previous lean, mean, gaming machine, the Asus G73Jh. But with a slightly faster processor (a 1.73GHz Core i7 740QM vs a 1.6GHz 720QM), a Blu-ray combo drive, and improved battery life (2.5 hours vs 1.75 hours), the Asus G73Jw is definitely an upgrade. Unfortunately, Asus didn't redesign the notebook's exterior features at all, and the keyboard remains a serious weakness.
Our review Asus G73Jw, available online for around £1,680, features the 1.73GHz Q740 i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1.5TB of space (spread over two hard drives), and the 64bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. It also has twin rear exhaust fans (for effective heat dissipation), an nVidia GeForce GTX 460M graphics card, a 2Mp webcam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a USB 3.0 port and a Blu-ray combo drive.
Asus G73Jw looks and design
The Asus G73Jw looks exactly like the earlier Asus G73Jh. It weighs a hefty 3.9kg (although it is less of a burden to carry if you stow it in the Asus Republic of Gamers laptop backpack, which came bundled with our model) and measures 415mm wide by 320mm long and 57mm thick. The Asus G73Jw's power brick is considerably lighter than power bricks of some competing high-power desktop replacement laptops (the HP EliteBook 8740w comes to mind), but it still adds the best part of a kilo to your bag if you decide to carry this monster around.
Asus houses the G73Jw in a dark grey chassis that tapers off at an angle on all sides. A rubbery, fingerprint-resistant dark grey material covers the lid and makes it easy to grip. I didn't test it, but the rubbery material seems likely to be much more prone to scratching from normally non-threatening metal objects (such as paperclips and keys) than a typical hard-plastic lid is.
Asus G73Jw features
The Asus G73Jw has much the same array of ports as other notebooks in its league. Its shining feature is a USB 3.0 port, but it also has three USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI output, a VGA output, an ethernet port, microphone and headphone jacks, and an eight-in-one card reader. It lacks an ExpressCard slot and eSATA ports, but most people aren't looking for these in a laptop today. The G73Jw also carries a Blu-ray combo drive, which is perfect for your HD movie needs.
The Asus G73Jw's keyboard is one of the worst we've seen - a huge disappointment in a gaming-oriented desktop replacement. Most 17in notebooks have great (or at least well-laid-out) keyboards, but the G73Jw's keyboard is cramped, slippery, and generally frustrating to type on.
The interior of the Asus G73Jw notebook is as smooth and minimalist as the exterior - and in this case, that's not a good thing. A wide (at least 1.5in on either side) dark grey bezel surrounds the keyboard, which is crammed together at the center of the notebook. The keys are small and hard, and they offer virtually no tactile feedback for both typists and gamers, who depend on it.
The tiny size of the keys on the Asus G73Jw's Chiclet-style keyboard wouldn't be such a problem if they weren't so smooth and so closely packed together. The close proximity combined with the smooth surfaces guarantees that your fingers will repeatedly slip off one key and onto another.
The arrow keys and separate number pad keys - frequently used by gamers - are squashed in next to the regular keyboard and are even smaller than the regular keys. If you plan on doing anything more on the Asus G73Jw than watch movies or casually surf the internet, you'd better cough up for an external keyboard.
Asus may have missed the keyboard memo, but it certainly got the Asus G73Jw's trackpad right: it's enormous and comes with two separate, easy-to-use buttons below it. The buttons offer plenty of feedback, and the trackpad supports multitouch gestures.
Asus G73Jw screen
The 17.3in, 1920x1080 screen is gorgeous, with bright illumination, rich colours, and deep contrast. Everything, from movies to spreadsheets to Starcraft II looks good under most conditions. The glossiness helps the colors look crisp, but it also produce some annoying reflections if you're sitting in bright sunlight. Realistically, though, you're unlikely ever to be sitting in bright sunlight with this hefty laptop.
Video playback was very good. High-def streaming video played perfectly, and Blu-ray discs looked fantastic. Audio was quite satisfactory, considering that laptops aren't known for their speakers. The G73Jw's speakers are situated just above the keyboard and deliver full, loud sound.
Gamers will love almost everything about this laptop, from its speedy processor to its Blu-ray combo drive to its sexy, futuristic styling. Unfortunately, the keyboard is a glaring deficiency, and after paying over £1,600 for this machine, you may bridle at buying an extra keyboard. So unless you already have your peripherals lined up (or you've figured out a way to game without using a keyboard, such as the Peregrine Gaming Glove), the Asus G73Jw may not be for you.
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