Asus G71Gx review

£1685
Price when reviewed

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.

Asus G71Gx

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.

Desktop credentials

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

Warranty2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions421 x 299 x 55mm (WDH)
Weight4.120kg
Travelling weight5.1kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Quad Q9000
Motherboard chipsetIntel P45/P43
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size17.0in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce GTX 260M
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity932GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate Momentus 5400.6
Optical disc technologyBlu-ray reader
Optical driveLG CT10N
Battery capacity5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots1
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)4
FireWire ports1
eSATA ports1
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks3
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationFront, above keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseyes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use1hr 23min
Overall application benchmark score1.19
Office application benchmark score1.05
2D graphics application benchmark score1.27
Encoding application benchmark score0.98
Multitasking application benchmark score1.44
3D performance (crysis) low settings23fps
3D performance settingHigh

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
OS familyWindows Vista
Recovery methodRecovery disc

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