Introduction, Specifications, Availability and Pricing
When it comes to gaming notebooks, there are two main things that can coax a gamer to upgrade to a new machine even if their current notebook is still doing well. Those things include a new GPU and a new CPU. Today I have the latest gaming rig from ASUS on my bench and it is called the G73JW-A1.
Visually this notebook looks just like the G73JH that I reviewed not long ago. The big difference is that the G73JW-A1 I am checking out today gives up the AMD GPU the JH used in favor of a new NVIDIA mobile GPU with nice power and performance.
The real question here is whether or not the G73JW-A1 is better than the JH version and if the gaming rig is worth your hard-earned money. In addition to the new GPU, the G73JW-A1 I have today also has a more powerful CPU. Let's get to it and see how well the G73JW-A1 performs.
Specifications, Availability, and Pricing
The G73JW-A1 can be had on Amazon for $1745 and you should be able to find the notebook at other online stores as well.
Check out the full specifications of my test machine below. The unit I am reviewing has the 740QM processor.
ASUS' G73JW-A1 Up Close
From the top view, you can see the backlit keyboard, large glossy screen, and the Blu-ray drive.
This close up shows the accent lighting and the control buttons above the keyboard.
There isn't much to see on the rear of the notebook but cooling vents and the Kensington lock port.
The right side of the machine has the VGA out, HDMI out, USB ports, memory card reader, and power ports.
The left side of the machine has the Blu-ray drive, modem port, USB ports, and mic/headphone jacks.
Performance - A/V Encoding, Battery Life, Boot Time, and Power Consumption
Below is the CPU-Z screen shot so you can see what the machine has inside. I'm not sure why CPU-Z says Core i7 820QM under the name section. The CPU in this machine is the 740QM.
A/V Encoding and Battery Life
The ASUS G73JW-A1 will be run through the standard notebook/netbook test regime here at TweakTown. This includes iTunes Encoding and Media Transcoding plus Battery Eater Pro for battery life estimation. This machine will also be put through our new expanded benchmark regime with the addition of boot time, PCMark Vantage, SuperPi, and Cinebench.
All systems are tested "as is", which means operating systems and drivers can and do vary and some come pre-installed with applications that may or may not affect performance. Any anti-virus or security applications are disabled and uninstalled before any testing is started as they can affect test numbers.
For the iTunes encoding test I take Stone Temple Pilots - Core CD album in MP3 format and encode it to AAC format using iTunes and time the results with a stopwatch.
All tests are performed with the system in High Performance mode with minimum CPU set to 100%.
The ASUS G73JW-A1 was third place in this benchmark as you can see, and only two points from second place.
For the movie encoding test I take the Microsoft Magic of Flight VC-1 WMV video with six channel audio (1080p HD) and transcode it to XviD (1080p HD) with LAME MP3 two channel audio and a MP4 container using MediaCoder 0.7.3.4616 32-bit edition.
All tests are performed with the system in High Performance mode with minimum CPU set to 100%.
The ASUS G73JW-A1 took fourth place in this benchmark, beating its near twin; the G73Jh-A1 by six points.
Battery Eater Pro
Battery Eater Pro is very hard on batteries, so you are likely to get more run time in the real world, depending on how you use the machine. Since we compare all laptops and netbooks the exact same way though, it creates a fair and balanced playing field for our comparisons.
For the power saving mode test I run the machine in 'Power Saver' mode with turn off display disabled and brightness set to 50%, sleep mode disabled, HDD turn off disabled and minimum CPU set to 5%.
For the performance mode test I run the machine in 'High Performance' mode with turn off display disabled and brightness set to 100%, sleep mode disabled, HDD turn off disabled and minimum CPU set to 100%. Do note that some systems even when set to 100% CPU may force drop down the clock speed when AC power is lost.
Wireless is kept enabled during all tests and nothing else unusual is disabled. Time is rounded up to the nearest minute.
The ASUS G73JW-A1 was right in the middle of the pack here. Battery life was actually better than I expected considering the machine is gaming focused with higher-end parts inside.
We measured boot time using a stopwatch and timed from the point we turned the system on until the very first point the desktop was reached and fully loaded.
This is a new benchmark and as such there are only a few machines to compare with so far. For now, the ASUS G73JW-A1 is dead last in boot time.
This is a brand new benchmark starting with this review and moving forward it will be used on all reviews. For now, this is the only score on the chart.
The power consumed by the machine under full load using Prime95 and at idle is recorded with a Kill A Watt wall outlet measuring device and rounded to the nearest watt.
Performance - PCMark Vantage, CINEBENCH, Super Pi, and 3DMark Vantage
PCMark Vantage 64-bit
Version and / or Patch Used: Nov 2007 Hotfix
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage/
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
The ASUS G73JW-A1 took second of the three machines that have been through this new benchmark so far in the total PC Mark score, but was topped by a considerable margin in the multimedia specific TV and movies section.
CINEBENCH R11.5 64-bit
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 11.5
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
The ASUS G73JW-A1 took the top spot here with over a full point more than the second place machine in this new benchmark.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5 Mod XS
Developer Homepage: http://pw1.netcom.com/~hjsmith/Pi/Super_Pi.html
Product Homepage: http://pw1.netcom.com/~hjsmith/Pi/Super_Pi.html
Developed by some folks from the University of Tokyo (yes, Japan), Super PI is a small utility that does just as the name implies. It figures PI to a set number of decimal places. Since PI is an infinite number to the right of the decimal point, the utility measures the time it takes to figure a set number of places. It runs the calculations a set number of times and gives a time for the completion of the task. This is a simple and effective way to measure the raw number crunching power of the processor being used to compile the results.
This is another young benchmark for our notebook reviews, but the ASUS G73JW-A1 crushed the competition here.
The ASUS G73JW-A1 is a gaming machine at its heart, so I ran 3DMark Vantage to get an idea of how well it performs for gaming. I was more than a bit surprised at the results of this benchmark.
Hands on Use and Final Thoughts
Hands On Use
After all the testing was out of the way, I spent some time just playing with the ASUS G73JW-A1. This machine with its Blu-ray drive, glossy screen and powerful GPU is as at home watching movies as it is gaming. The playback with Blu-ray films is very good with great color, clarity, and no stuttering or issues with video playback. Colors are lifelike and the screen has nice contrast with deep blacks. The glossy screen is hard to see in a bright room, which is common to the screen type.
The ASUS G73JW-A1 GPU is very much up to the task of streaming HD video and playing movies. I streamed video from Hulu in the highest available resolution and the ASUS G73JW-A1 played the video smooth as silk with no stuttering or other noted video issues. It's clear that ASUS spent time and money being sure that this machine was up to the task of multimedia. Playing games on the computer was much the same; you won't get to run Crysis with all the bells and whistles the game offers, but you can get very nice image quality and playable frame rates with tweaks to the settings.
The ASUS G73JW-A1 has a large screen, which means the chassis of the notebook is large. That is good news when it comes to keyboards. The keyboard ASUS crammed into the ASUS G73JW-A1 is very nice. It has backlighting for gaming and working in the dark and has very good typing feel. The keys have nice tactile feel and good feedback for touch typists. All of the keys are sized well, placed where they need to be, and the machine has a full number pad as well.
The trackpad is offset on the wrist rest to the left a bit and has lots of area to work with. The sensitivity and accuracy of the track pad is very good and it is easy to navigate around the screen. Gamers will find the included gaming mouse a necessity when playing their favorite game or working from the machine for a long time. ASUS even includes a very nice backpack with plenty of room for the notebook, its accessories, and other gear like books you might want to take with you on the road.
The onboard sound system of the ASUS G73JW-A1 is much better than the average notebook sound system. The speakers have good volume and more bass than I typically hear with onboard speakers. The sound system also supports EAX and THX surround audio for more realistic playing. This particular notebook also supports 3DTV play from NVIDIA, allowing you to shoot video out to your big screen via HDMI 1.4 output, that supports 3D video.
I really like the design of the ASUS G73JW-A1 as well. The machine is very angular and has a soft touch matte finish that looks good and hides all but the worst smudges and smears. That means you won't have to look at a messy lid as you do with glossy notebooks.
Other than a surprisingly poor showing in the 3DMark Vantage benchmark, the ASUS G73JW-A1 is an all around decent performer with placement in all other benchmarks in the top five. Battery life was mid-pack, which is impressive for a multimedia/gaming machine as large as the ASUS G73JW-A1 is.
The machine is expensive with an average price near $1750, but you do get some nice features for that money. The key feature with this notebook is the new NVIDIA GPU, which is excellent for multimedia use and works well for gaming as well.
If you are a gamer at heart that needs a machine that can play high-end games and still be able to play movies on the go with decent battery life, the ASUS G73JW-A1 is a good all around compromise with a machine that offers solid performance in the categories that matter.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de