The Asus X75VC is a fairly chunky laptop – the X75VC's designers haven't wheeled out the usual chrome-effect metal or brushed aluminium for this machine; instead, this machine is clad entirely from black plastic. There are no lights on show, and the only sop to style is a lined pattern etched into the plastic across the wrist-rest and lid – and, even then, it's barely visible. See also Group test: what's the best budget laptop?
The heavy-set Asus makes up for its lack of style with good build quality. It's sturdier than the Toshiba thanks to barely any ‘give' in its wrist-rest and base, and the screen didn't flex much from side to side, with no screen distortion when we depressed the centre of the rear panel. Take a look at The 8 best laptops of 2013.
The keyboard has a firm base, a good layout and a number pad, and its keys have more travel and a more consistent action than the flimsy Toshiba's unit. It's not the best keyboard in this test, though – the smaller Asus V550C and the Dell Latitude 3440 both have typing actions that are firmer and less spongy than on the X75VC. See all mid-range laptop reviews.
Behind the dull exterior, though, lies one of the most potent specifications in this group test. Star of the show is the only discrete graphics core in this group. The nVidia GeForce GT 720M is one of the company's most modest mobile parts, but it's from its current range and still has a specification that can outpace the best Intel can offer: 96 stream processors clocked to 719MHz, with 2GB of dedicated video memory.
Unsurprisingly, the hefty Asus delivered the group's best gaming results. At Stalker's Medium quality settings and a resolution of 1280 x 720 its 45fps average easily beat the next-best Toshiba, which scored 33fps, and the Asus was the only machine to return a playable score when we upped the resolution to the display's native 1600 x 900 resolution. In this more demanding test, the X75VC averaged 33fps.
The X75VC's good form continued in other gaming benchmarks. The Asus' medium-quality DiRT 3 average of 57fps is five frames ahead of the next-best Toshiba, and in Bioshock's medium-quality benchmark the Asus averaged 30fps – the only laptop to hit this number, which indicates smooth gameplay. The Toshiba scored 23fps.
The Asus also includes a full-fat mobile processor, but the Core i5-3230M is a previous-gen Ivy Bridge part.
That older silicon runs at 2.6GHz with a top Turbo speed of 3.2GHz, and it's paired with a generous 8GB of RAM. The X75VC's PCMark 7 result of 2914 points is the second-best in this group, with only the Toshiba reaping a higher score.
This is also the only laptop here with a Blu-ray drive but, elsewhere, the specification is mixed. The 1TB hard disk returned sequential read and write scores of 93MB/s and 86MB/s, which are the second-worst in this group, and its 50.9-second boot time is also fifth out of the six laptops on offer. The mobile processor and discrete graphics core aren't terribly cool, either: their top temperatures of 81°C and 79°C are the group's highest.
The screen's 1,600 x 900 resolution is fine, and the measured brightness level of 249cd/m2 is among the highest in this group – only the Toshiba's 267cd/m2 panel is brighter. The screen covers only 83% of the sRGB colour gamut, which is a little better than the Toshiba but the joint-highest here.
It's not a clean bill of health for this non-touch panel, though: its contrast ratio of 267:1 and average Delta E of 6.7 are both towards the bottom of this group. It makes for a screen that's bright, but doesn't have quite the same colour accuracy or vivacity of the Toshiba.
There's another downside to a laptop this size, and that's battery life. The X75VC and its Ivy Bridge processor lasted for 3 hours and 18 minutes in our test – but the Haswell-powered Toshiba hung on for 4 hours and 21 minutes.