User Interface, Display and Audio Quality
Most of the ASUS G74 is plastic, but the material surrounding the keyboard is instead aluminum, giving the keyboard a pleasing, cool touch. The keys themselves are plastic, and cut island-style, providing plenty of room between each individual key. This does not result in uncomfortably small keys, however. There’s plenty of room in this laptop for keys of comfortable size and attractive gaps between each of them.
Another benefit of the size is room for a full-sized numpad set substantially away from the keyboard for arrow keys kept separated from both the keyboard and the numpad. This layout is good for general use, but great for gaming, as it means both the arrow keys and numpad can be used accurately, without fear of misplacing your fingertips. It’s also simply more comfortable than the cramped, closer-quarters configuration required on smaller laptops.
Keyboard flex is almost non-existent. Most of the keyboard is solid as a rock, resisting even intentional attempts to induce flex. It’s only the lower left hand corner of the keyboard – the portion that overlaps the optical drive – which allows for some slight depression. But don’t let that discourage you. Overall, this is the most solid keyboard I’ve ever experienced on a gaming laptop.
While gamers often don’t use the touchpads on their laptops – in fact, the G74 even ships with a laser gaming mouse – ASUS hasn’t taken this as a reason to ignore it. There’s plenty of space available – it’s wider than the spacebar – and mutli-touch gestures are supported. Even the left and right buttons are large, separate, and offer significant travel when pressed.
Display and Audio Quality
The large 17.3 inch display on the ASUS G74 offers a resolution of 1920×1080 and is without a doubt one of the best on any laptop PC Perspective has ever reviewed. It’s the only laptop I’ve ever reviewed that perfectly rendered the LCD Lagom black level test page by making every single dark square on the page visible against the black background, and both the contrast and gradient images revealed a wide range of color from the deepest blacks to the boldest whites.
Games and movies are outstanding as a result, but the excellence is visible even when surfing the web and viewing photographs. Colors pop and dark images are rendered with a crispness that’s rare to find on a laptop display. There’s none of the muddy or washed-out appearance that so commonly occurs when an LCD attempts to display an image with shadows and deep colors. This jaw-dropping quality comes as the expense of a glossy coating, but it’s hardly a surprise and an acceptable tradeoff. Because of the size and weight of the G74, it’s unlikely you’ll be attempting to use it while outside or on the go, which negates the disadvantages of gloss.
Audio quality, despite the size of this laptop, is average at best. There’s noticeable bass available, and distortion is rarely a problem even when listening to tracks heavy on the lows. Despite this, the maximum volume of the speakers is lower than that of laptops much smaller and size, and the entire experience is clouded by a hollow tone, as if sound is emitting not from the laptop but from a room somewhere else in your home.