Asus G51J Core i7 Mobile Gaming Notebook Review

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User Experience


Using the Asus G51J-A1 was a curious experience. On one hand, we felt like we were behind the wheel of a very potent machine, while on the other, we felt like we were using a low-end machine meant for the bargain market. Despite our general dislike for how flashy the exterior is (it's quite nice if you're "into that," though), the inside was a mixed bag. The trackpad was great, with a nice texture and a large size, not to mention two left/right click buttons with fantastic travel. But there was no multi-touch or gesture-based functionality to speak of, which even some of Asus' Eee PCs have. No multi-touch on a $1500 machine? Strange.


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Then there's the keys. We appreciate the effort of trying to get a full QWERTY keyboard and a numeric pad on here, but the execution was just lacking. Our typing experience wasn't one we'd want anyone else to have; the left-justified nature of the keys led to us continually mis-type and start on the wrong keys, while the arrow keys were impossible to find without eying the keyboard. The arrow keys actually run directly into the number pad, making the fingering that much more confusing. The keys themselves were seemingly constructed from low-grade, texture-less flat plastic that saw our fingers slip off of them far too frequently for comfort, and the amount of flex in the overall board was amazing. We've seen less flex on $300 netbooks, even ones from Asus. If you're planning on using this as a mobile LAN party rig with an external keyboard, you'll be fine, but we wouldn't want to have to type anything of any length on this.


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Transporting the machine was a breeze; sure, it's 7.2lbs., but it's well distributed. We never felt burdened by the machine, and the thickness was acceptable given the raw horsepower. We mentioned a heat issue earlier in the article, and yes, the machine blows out a lot of steam. But that's completely expected given the high-power CPU and GPU. Honestly, the palm rest remained relatively cool, but the edges and bottom didn't take long to get toasty. The fans remained on almost constantly, even while doing simple desktop work and browsing the web. Again, nothing out of the ordinary for a gaming notebook, but we'd just like to point these things out for anyone expecting a "normal" 15" laptop experience.

    
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Without a doubt, this thing is a desktop replacement shoved into a 15.6" frame. Everything about it screams "over-the-top," though the actual interface components were decidedly low quality. We were also a bit let down with the Windows 7 experience. Boot up took a bit longer than expected (around 46 seconds), while the initial bootup took around 5 minutes. Waking from sleep could take up to 20 seconds, and while application loading was generally snappy, we still managed to encounter a bit of lag from time to time. We're guessing the dual HDD setup isn't exactly tuned for high performance; you'd need an SSD for that.


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Gaming performance, however, is where this beast really shined. Asus built this thing to destroy 3D titles, and obliterate it did. Our gaming tests went off without a hitch, and we saw frame rate numbers that were downright staggering. Playing high-end titles at 1080p was a real thrill, and the NVIDIA GPU combined with the crisp panel made for a highly enjoyable experience. Again, we'd recommend using an external keyboard and mouse, but the hardware is plenty capable of pushing the pixels. At the end of the day, the unit felt most comfortable when gaming, and we guess that's perfectly fine. When playing back multimedia or helping you frag someone, the G51J-A1 was a real winner; in other areas, it just seemed a bit lost or out of place. But hey, it's a gaming machine--we wouldn't expect a netbook to feel at home in Far Cry 2, so we can't reasonably expect a Far Cry 2-machine to seem at home in all other areas.


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