Asus G71Gx review
It's an impressive piece of kit, but the quad-core CPU isn't quite the game-changer we'd hoped – yet
Gaming on a budget remains the domain of the desktop PC, but if you're lucky enough to have a healthy bank balance, high-end laptops are increasingly getting in on the act. With a quad-core processor and one of Nvidia’s latest graphics chipsets under the hood, the Asus G71Gx certainly looks up to the challenge.
It’s clearly no shrinking violet. The gloss black lid bears the backlit Republic of Gamers logo, and a glowing blue stripe slashes across beneath. It’s not as distracting as it seems, though, and the glowing accents merely enliven a surprisingly understated chassis. Peer inside and the black contrasts with an attractive, deep crimson that shoots out from the keyboard into the corners.
Pick it up, though, and you’ll have second thoughts about carrying it any distance at all. At 5.12kg with the power adapter it’s a bit of a beast, so it comes as a pleasant surprise to find an Asus-branded rucksack thrown in for free. It’s just as well; the 5,200mAh battery struggled to keep the demanding components running for just 1hr 23mins of light use, so you’ll need to carry around the power adapter wherever you go.
A brief glance at the specification will distract from that disappointment, however. The Core 2 Quad Q9000 processor nips along at a modest 2GHz, and with 4GB of DDR2 memory and twin 500GB hard disks the Asus immediately stands out as a capable desktop replacement.
The LED-backlit 17in display is equally impressive. With a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution there’s plenty of desktop space and, of course, the right amount of pixels to take full advantage of Blu-ray movies courtesy of the LG CT10N Blu-ray reader. Image quality is no match for the likes of the Alienware M17x, but the good contrast and reasonably accurate colours are enough to make a decent fist of high definition video, photos and games.
Talking of games, the Nvidia GTX 260M graphics chipset is no slouch either. Our Crysis benchmarks aren’t the easiest of tests, but it wasn’t until we pushed the resolution up to 1,600 x 1,200 and high detail that the Asus began to stutter, manfully struggling to an almost playable 23fps.
Two cores or four?
There are, however, some crucial problems. Unlike the forthcoming mobile Core i7 processors, there’s no Turbo-mode and overclock individual CPU cores to speed up single and dual-threaded operations. Thus, when applications can’t take advantage of more than two cores, the Q9000 is simply no faster than a budget dual-core processor – a point borne out by its result of 1.19 in our benchmarks. That might sound acceptable enough, but compare it to the 1.30 of Asus’ cheaper Core 2-equipped G60Vx and in many applications, particularly games, it will often find itself lagging behind.
The Asus is a little compromised elsewhere, too. The Nvidia chip is a formidable 3D performer, but it’s nowhere near powerful enough to enjoy demanding games at the display’s native resolution. For that, Asus could have opted for the dearer GTX 280M chipset – the price is already high so the premium might have been worth it.
As it is, while the G71Gx’s specification promises much, there’s just no way around the fact it doesn’t quite deliver where it should. Mobile quad-core processors might sound like an attractive prospect on paper but, at this early stage, a dual-core CPU and capable graphics chipset – such as in the G60Vx – remains a far more cost-efficient solution.
|Warranty||2 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||421 x 299 x 55mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel P45/P43|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M|
|Graphics card RAM||1.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||932GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Seagate Momentus 5400.6|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray reader|
|Optical drive||LG CT10N|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||3|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Front, above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||1hr 23min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.19|
|Office application benchmark score||1.05|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.27|
|Encoding application benchmark score||0.98|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.44|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||23fps|
|3D performance setting||High|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows Vista|
|Recovery method||Recovery disc|