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Asus G73Jh Gaming Notebook Review
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Date: Jun 01, 2010
Section:Mobile
Author: Mathew Miranda
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Introduction


Earlier this year, we attended the Asus 2010 CES Event in Las Vegas. While there, we caught a glimpse of several upcoming notebooks the hardware giant had in store. One of the most anticipated products we saw was in the Republic of Gamers line up. Dubbed the G73JH, it possessed a list of impressive specifications and an aggressive, stealth fighter design that spoke directly to enthusiasts. Thankfully, this powerhouse of a notebook made it to our lab and we had a chance to put it through our own testing. Ever since CES, we've been waiting to find out if the G73JH performed as good as it looked. Equally important, we aimed to determine where it fits in a market bursting at the seams with gaming laptops and desktop replacement notebooks.

We mentioned that the G73 had killer specs and here they are. At the heart of this monster is an Intel Core i7 720QM quad-core processor, clocked at 1.6GHz with Turbo Boost technology for increased single core performance (up to 2.8GHz) and Hyper-Threading for multitasking situations. We find 8GB of DDR3 RAM installed, along with 1TB of total storage, consisting of two 500GB Seagate hard drives. But the real draw is ATI's Mobility HD 5870 graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and enough pixel pushing power to feed a 17.3" screen. In addition, Asus includes a full sized keyboard, Blu-ray drive, and a 2MP webcam, and a all of this comes at a relatively affordable price point. Interested? We thought so.  Read on to find out how fast the G73 really is, and if it has what it takes to be your next laptop.    


Asus G73JH-A1 Notebook

Asus G73JH-A1
Specifications and Features (as tested)

Model

G73JH-A1

Display

17.3" (1920 x 1080) LED backlit

CPU

Intel Core i7 720QM @ 1.6GHz (2.8GHz Turbo)

Memory

8GB DDR3 1066MHz

Graphics

ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5, DX11 Capable

Storage

1TB (2 x 500GB) 7200RPM Hard Drives

Optical

Blu-ray Combo Drive

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Wireless

Intel 802.11 B/G/N @ 2.4GHz, Bluetooth v2.1

Webcam

2.0 Megapixel

LAN

10/100/1000 Ethernet

Ports

4 USB, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, microphone, headset, 8-in-1 Flash Memory Card Reader
Weight

8.0 lbs with battery

Dimensions

16.4" x 12.6" x 2.3" (WxDxH)

Warranty

2 Year Parts / Labor

Price

$1645



Measuring in at 16.4" wide by 12.6" deep and weighing 8 lbs, the G73 does not qualify as thin and light. Don't get us wrong though, it is mobile enough for LAN parties and occasional travel, but much too large to carry on and use during a flight. Yes, the G73JH is smaller and lighter than your average desktop replacement notebook, but we feel that it is similar in that it begs to be stationary and plugged into a wall outlet.  

The hardware specs speak for themselves. This is a cutting edge gaming notebook with a powerful CPU, tons of RAM, and a high-end Radeon HD 5870 mobile graphics card installed. Let's take a closer look at the rest of the laptop, as well as the results of our benchmarks and testing.
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Design


As far as notebook designs go, it is getting more and more difficult to create unique designs that stand out from the crowd. In our opinion though, Asus did a great job of giving the G73 aggressive angles that emphasize the Republic of Gamers theme. The look is understated in that there are no painted graphics or flashy LEDs on the outer shell of the notebook, but no one will confuse this for a basic workhorse model. 
 




The G73 feels like no other notebook we've tested. The entire top cover features a rubberized coating that creates a unique experience as you handle the product. In addition, the palm rest is also lined with the same soft material. A downside to this feature is that it will show scratches and scrapes more drastically than standard plastic. But the huge advantage this rubber layer offers is the elimination of fingerprints and having to wipe them off your laptop all the time.




From left to right, we find an RJ-45 LAN port, USB 2.0 port, Blu-ray drive, another USB connector, microphone input, and headphone output jack.




Here we have a memory card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI connection, 15-pin D-sub VGA port, and the DC power input jack. The 8-in-1 reader supports the following types of flash media: SD, miniSD, MMC, Memory Stick (Pro, Duo, Pro Duo), and xD-picture card.





Along the rear of the G73JH, we find two exhaust vents, a Kensington lock port, and battery pack. The Kensington lock port allows the laptop to be secured using Kensington security products, which include a metal cable and lock combo that deters theft. During normal operation, we felt warm air escape from the vents but temperatures never reached uncomfortable levels.





Under the lid, the notebook sports a full size keyboard and number pad. We wouldn't expect anything less from a laptop this size. Every key featured good travel and cushion while providing a sufficient typing experience. Furthermore, the touch pad felt as if it had a bit more texture than we're accustomed to but was responsive and worked well. Like most touch pads, a scroll function is available along the right edge. In addition, the left and right mouse buttons are combined into a single row that integrates the rubberized film found on the palm rest. Its worth noting the mouse buttons required more pressure to click than we expected and will take some time to get used to.
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Accessories


Accessory Bundle
What's in the box?



Asus includes a small bundle with the G73. Along with the notebook, we find documentation, a lint-free LCD cleaning cloth, power cable, AC/DC adapter, wired mouse, and software recovery disks. The good news is the notebook is ready to roll once powered on so only the power cables and 8-cell lithium ion battery are required right from the start. But we were disappointed in the user manual as it obviously was made to cover just the basic features of the laptop, in order to be used with several different models. Along with the drivers disk, there were several software utilities included.



It would be fitting if Asus included a game to go along with this gaming notebook, but no luck in that department. Instead, G73 owners get a sweet looking, black Republic of Gamers backpack that holds their new toy, with plenty of room to spare. It is actually much darker than the image above reflects, feels very sturdy, and appears very well built. There is light padding within the backpack for a small degree of protection, but we still suggest being very careful when transporting the G73.



Our G73 arrived with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit preinstalled, which can make full use of the 8GB of RAM. Asus also included a software bundle that some users may find useful. In a perfect world, the trial versions of CyberLink and Microsoft Office would be replaced with full versions. But a bigger disappointment came when we loaded a Blu-ray movie into the drive and tried to watch it. After some searching, we realized we couldn't. Windows Media Player can't do it natively, and the CyberLink programs installed won't do the job either. The G73 simply does not come with software to play Blu-ray movies even though it features a Blu-ray drive. Odd, isn't it?  You can find third party software on the internet for this purpose but its a surprising omission for this product.
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User Experience


Our testing of the G73 consisted of everyday tasks such as word processing, internet surfing, email, and music playback, in addition to a slew of benchmarks you'll see later. All told, this powerful notebook did not break a sweat in these areas, and we found multitasking performance to be excellent, as running multiple programs did not effect the working environment. Of course, we did not expect any issues with a high-end quad-core processor and 8GB of memory installed.  



To give you a better idea of the notebook's abilities, we ran the integrated benchmark found in Windows 7 where it scored a 5.9 Windows Experience Index. A closer look at the scoring breakdown reveals the G73's impressive performance in every category, with the exception of hard drive transfer rate, which was still very good. An SSD would have improved this subscore significantly. 




Once we installed Blu-ray playback software on the laptop, watching high definition movies on the G73 was an awesome experience. We watched several movies on this notebook and came away very satisfied. Although the screen was limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, we didn't encounter any problems with motion blur or ghosting. Video quality was clear and vibrant, while the audio was replete with crisp highs and lows. In general, notebook speakers are notoriously bad, but the ones found on the G73 are the exception.  

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PCMark Vantage and SiSoft 2009

We ran the Asus G73JH through Futuremark’s latest system performance metric built especially for current Windows operating systems, PCMark Vantage. This benchmark suite creates a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads including High Definition TV and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity. We like the fact that most of the tests are multi-threaded as well, in order to exploit the additional resources offered by multi-core processors.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance




With an overall score of 6468, the G73 performed as expected. It finished ahead of the G51 and XPS 16, but trailed the high end Xcaliber and X8100 notebooks by a wide margin, due to the inclusion of SSDs in those machines.

SiSoft SANDRA 2009
Synthetic Benchmarks


Processor Arithmetic


Multi-Media


Memory Bandwidth
 
Physical Disks


SANDRA testing shows excellent performance in all areas. In general, the Core i7 720QM was slower than its closest desktop counterpart, the Core i7 750, but faster than dual core options.

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Cinebench

Cinebench R11.5 64bit
OpenGL Performance


Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench R11.5 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. The benchmark goes through a series of tests that measures the performance of the graphics card and CPU under real world circumstances. Within Cinebench, graphics card testing makes use of a complex 3D scene depicting a car chase which measures the performance in OpenGL mode.


Cinebench R10 64bit
DirectX Gaming Performance

Although Cinebench R10 is being phased out, we ran the benchmark in order to compare the G73 to previous notebook results. It trailed the Eurocom M98NU in multi-threaded testing by 917 points, while finishing ahead in single threaded testing by 482 points.

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3DMark

Want to see how well the G73 performed during our gaming tests? Of course you do. The following pages will focus on gaming specific benchmarks starting with the 3DMark tests. Then you'll find that we conducted extensive testing on several games to find out if the G73 could handle them at its native resolution of 1920 x 1080, with image quality settings maxed out. We also turned down resolutions and settings to show the performance improvements when doing so.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DX 10 Gaming Performance


3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows. With the latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x1024.





The G73 outpaced last year's model, the G51, by several thousand points. Although the Clevo and Eurocom models led the pack, keep in mind that these desktop replacement notebooks cost at least twice as much as the G73 and feature dual graphics cards, however.

Futuremark 3DMark06
Synthetic DirectX Performance


3DMark06

3DMark06 is a 3D rending benchmark that pushes a system and its GPUs to the limits. The test includes Shader Model 2.0, Shader Model 3.0, and HDR tests. To push the system, scenes are rendered with very high geometric detail and shader complexity, and with extensive use of lighting and soft shadows. The maximum shader length 3DMark06 supports is 512 instructions. The 3DMark06 Overall Score is a weighted average based on the SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0, and CPU scores.



Again, the G73 shows notable improvement over the G51. With a score of 12469, it delivers 26% more performance that last year's model.
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Battlefield Bad Company 2

Battlefield Bad Company 2
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Bad Company 2

Bad Company 2 is a wildly popular first person shooter that is the latest game in the Battlefield series. It features DX11 and can be brutally demanding on graphics cards, especially with eye candy turned up. At various resolutions and settings, we used FRAPS to monitor frame rates as we played through a chase scene within the game that featured snow, trees, gunfire, and explosions.


Its no surprise that Bad Company turned out to be a very demanding game. We approached playable frame rates at 1920 x 1080, 2x AA, and 4x aniso, but still experienced mild stuttering. Smooth gaming is possible at this resolution, but we recommend turning down image quality to medium settings and keeping AA / aniso to a minimum. 

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Dirt 2

Dirt 2
DX11 Gaming Performance


Dirt 2

Dirt 2 was released in September 2009 and provides a sequel to the original Colin McRae: Dirt racing game. Codemasters delayed the PC version of Dirt 2 so that they could enhance their Ego engine with DirectX 11 effects. The engine displays certain bleeding-edge rendering technologies like hardware-driven tessellation, which is used for a more detailed audience, tessellated clot as well as a more realistic water that has lifelike ripples, waves and splash effects. DX11 also affords the game more impressive post-rendering motion blur, filtered soft shadows and lighting effects. Dirt 2 is also a solid benchmark for multi-core processors since DX11 is designed to take advantage of multi-threaded system architectures.

While testing Dirt 2, we saw lower frame rates at 1920 x 1080 but still found the game playable. Lowering AA helped a little but the good news is, the game still looked incredible. Using High presets instead of Ultra should solve any issues and provide a better experience. 
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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat

S. T. A. L. K. E. R. - Call of Pripyat
DX11 Gaming Performance


S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Call of Pripyat is the third game in the STALKER series and throws in DX11 to the mix. This benchmark is based on one of the locations found within the latest game. Testing includes four stages and utilizes various weather conditions, as well as different time of day settings. It offers a number of presets and options, including multiple versions of DirectX, resolutions, antialiasing, etc. We conducted our testing with DX11 enabled, various resolution settings, and different image quality levels.

No doubt about it, the latest title in the STALKER series made the ATI Mobility HD 5870 sweat. Even with anti-aliasing off, we could not achieve smooth game play at 1920 x 1080. Keep in mind we conducted this testing with the Ultra preset, so playable frame rates should be possible by lowering image quality settings. 

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Unigine Heaven 2.0 Benchmark

Unigine Heaven v2.0 Benchmark
Synthetic DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven

The Unigine Heaven Benchmark v2.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark, when run in DX11 mode, also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), and it also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.

We attempted to run Unigine Heaven v2.0 at max settings, but it looked like a slide show. To complete the benchmark, we turned down every setting available. Still, frame rates were very low and the scores were nothing to brag about.  
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Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2
DX10.1 Gaming Performance


Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 was released in March 2010, from developers Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive. The game makes use of the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the original. It is set on the fictional island of Panau in southeast Asia, and you play the role of Rico Rodriquez. We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article using one of the built-in demo runs called The Dark Tower.  The test results shown here were run at various resolutions and settings.

At high display settings, Just Cause 2 is not playable. Our testing showed low frame rates at almost every step. For smooth game play, this game will require G73 owners to turn down image post processing to minimum levels. 

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Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum
DX10 Gaming Performance


Batmat:Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a third-person action game developed by Rocksteady and is arguably the best comic book videogame of all time. Cast as the Dark Knight, you track down the Joker and bring him back to Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. However, the Joker escapes and takes over the asylum filled with hundreds of villains, which you must battle in this dark and creepy world. Gameplay consists of fist fighting, attacking from the shadows, and exploration. We tested the game using the built in benchmark at various resolutions and settings.

We found that Batman was playable with maximum settings at 1920 x 1080. Although minimum FPS dipped to 26, average frame rates remained above 40 and we did not notice any stuttering. 
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FarCry 2

FarCry 2
DX10 Gaming Performance


FarCry 2

Like the original, FarCry 2 is one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date.  Courtesy of the Dunia game engine developed by Ubisoft, FarCry 2's game-play is enhanced by advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, high resolution textures, complex shaders, realistic dynamic lighting, and motion-captured animations.  We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article with a fully patched version of FarCry 2, using one of the built-in demo runs recorded in the Ranch Map.  The test results shown here were run at various resolutions and settings.

With image quality settings turned up, FarCry 2 proved to be a challenge. Even with the resolution down to 1280 x 720, we witnessed stuttering and the game was barely playable. Switching gears, we kept the resolution at 1920 x 1080 and lowered anti-aliasing down to 2x, but still saw mild stuttering. For smooth game play, we suggest keeping AA to a minimum and using medium image quality settings. We'll speculate that a new set of current ATI drivers could assist with improved frame rates here but we tested the machine as delivered from Asus.
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H.A.W.X.

H. A. W. X.
DX10.1 Gaming Performance


H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is an aerial warfare video game that takes place during the time of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.  Players have the opportunity to take the throttle of over 50 famous aircrafts in both solo and 4-player co-op missions, and take them over real world locations and cities in photo-realistic environments created with the best commercial satellite data provided by GeoEye.  We used the built-in performance test at various resolutions and image quality settings, utilizing DX10.1

HAWX is a DX10-class title that still provides a good platform for testing. We find it was playable at 1920 x 1080 at maximum settings. As with other games, lowering resolution and anti-aliasing improved frame rates, but there is no need for this particular title.  In this case, all the way up to 8X AA settings HAWX was completely playable and that's fairly impressive actually.

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Battery Performance


To test out all battery life claims, we use the notebook benchmark tool Battery Eater Pro running in Classic mode and record the time it takes for the laptop to run out of power in battery mode and shut down.
 
Battery Info & Performance
Testing with BatteryEater Pro



With Battery Eater Pro running and High Performance mode enabled, it took 64 minutes for the G73 to use up a full charge. The battery life we experienced was on par with Eurocom's M98NU Xcaliber, and a few minutes better than the Clevo X8100. Keep in mind, our benchmark puts a continuous load on the graphics card as well as the CPU so we consider this result as a "worst case" result. With a lighter workload combined with idle time periods, the G73 will keep its charge much longer. But if you plan on gaming or watching movies for very long, you better find an outlet to keep the juice flowing. 
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Conclusion

 
Performance Summary: Keep in mind, while looking at our benchmarks that we ran every game with every setting maxed out to see how well the G73 could handle them. Ideally, it would have ran through every test without a hiccup, but that wasn't always the case. Our benchmarks revealed that it is possible to run the latest gaming titles on this laptop at its native resolution of 1920 x 1080; you just need to turn down settings to medium and lower the anti-aliasing (2x or 4x) in some titles.  But then again, full 1080p is pretty tight and you could always opt for something lower at 720p, where you could dial up all the eye candy just fine.  Our testing pushed the G73 to the limit and what we found was a gaming machine with strong performance at a resolution that most laptops can't touch.
 



If you're shopping for a gaming-capable notebook with this kind of muscle, you already know how expensive they can be, relatively speaking versus mainstream laptops, but certainly not if you consider Apple price points. In this article, we tested the most expensive G73 model available, which retails at $1645. If you can live without extras like a Blu-ray drive, 1TB of storage, ROG backpack, or gaming mouse, you'll appreciate how Asus offers several configurations that might be a better fit, at more affordable prices. The following table explains the difference between each G73 revision. Just keep in mind, each one features the same core components: Core i7 720QM processor, ATI Mobility 5870, and 8GB DDR3 memory--and that's a lot of horsepower.

G73JH - A1

 $1645

Includes Blu-ray drive / 1TB storage / ROG backpack and gaming mouse

G73JH - A2

 $1549

Includes DVD drive instead of Blu-ray drive

G73JH - X1

 $1449

Includes one 500GB HDD instead of two / No Blu-ray drive / No ROG backpack or gaming mouse
G73JH - X2

 $1499

Same as X1 but includes Blu-ray drive

G73JH - X3

 $1495

Includes two 320GB HDD's / No Blu-ray drive

 
Of course, there are other options out there too. MSI offers the closest comparable product with the GX740 notebook, featuring specs similar to the G73, but with a smaller screen and 1680 x 1050 resolution. Although it compromises size and pixel count, the GX740 runs about $200 less than the G73, depending on the configuration. It is worth a look for anyone considering a notebook at this price point. On the other end of the spectrum, if you crave a higher resolution display and maybe some bragging rights, then your options open up to the world of desktop replacement notebooks, like the AVA Direct Clevo X8100. The model we recently reviewed crushed our benchmarks and set new records at every turn. But the caveats associated with this barn burner are considerable: last-gen DX10 hardware and a $3975 price tag that can buy you two G73 laptops with money left over for 14 games. Think about it. This is where the G73 series from Asus fills a void nicely at its price point, with top-shelf features and performance.



Throughout testing, we found this laptop to be a pleasure to work with. It combines attractive looks and superior gaming performance with an ambitious price point that leaves the competitive offerings a little flat. Though we were surprised to find that Asus didn't bundle any movie player software for the Blu-ray drive, we're hoping the bundle will include that in future SKUs of the product. And battery life could be improved upon, along with perhaps an SSD option for the top of the line model. But in our opinion, this product is the sweet spot for enthusiasts who want the most laptop for their moolah, without having to take on a second mortgage. Given the system's overall features, we think the G73JH-A1 represents an excellent choice for those in the market for a high-end gaming notebook. 

 

 

  • Fantastic Gaming Performance
  • Strong Core i7 quad-core CPU
  • Fast 5870 graphics card
  • Excellent design
  • Good value

  • Short battery life
  • No Blu-ray playback software
  • SSD option would be nice]




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