Introduction, Design, User Interface
Ivy Bridge Brings More Grunt To Gaming
Intel has decided to lead its introduction of Ivy Bridge for mobile with its most powerful quad-core parts. Many of these processors will end up in mainstream laptop, but they’re also great for gaming laptops. In our first look at Ivy Bridge we saw that it holds up well when paired with its own Intel HD 4000 graphics – if you keep the resolution around 1366×768. A bit more than that and the IGP just can’t hang.
Gamers will still want a beefy discrete GPU, and that’s what the G75 offers. Inside this beast you’ll find an Nvidia GeForce GTX 670M. Those who were reading our Kepler coverage will remember that this is not based off Nvidia’s newest architecture but is instead a re-work of an older Fermi chip. That mean seem a bit disappointing, and it is – but the performance of Nvidia’s older mobile chips wasn’t lackluster.
So, this new laptop is packing a spanking-new Core i7-3720QM as well as Nvidia’s new GTX 670M. That’s an impressive combination, and ASUS has wisely backed it up with a well-rounded set of performance components.
Yes, we have multiple hard drives here including a solid state OS drive. There’s also sixteen gigabytes of RAM and a plethora of ports. In the past the G-series laptops we’ve had in for review have always been solidly mid-range gaming laptops with affordable pricing, and I always wondered if ASUS did the majority of its business in that segment because the company was unsure about how it’d stack up against the boutiques.
This new G75, however, is a shot across the bow of Alienware, Origin and Maingear. It has the hardware to go up against laptops in the $2000 range. So has ASUS hit the mark, or is their aim wild?
ASUS certainly doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to the design of the G-series. Every new model is redesigned subtly but significantly from the one previous, and this laptop may be the most significant change yet.
The profile makes an immediate impact. Gaming laptops have a reputation for being bulky because, well, they are – but as I’ve mentioned in some earlier articles, the lower power consumption of modern hardware indicates that we may be seeing an end to that era. The G75 is 46mm at its thickest point, down from the 62mm thickness of the G74.
Even these figures are a bit deceptive, however, due to the laptop’s tapered design. It’s 30mm thick at the front, and while that’s quite large compared to an ultrabook it’s enough to make this the second-slimmest dedicated gaming laptop we’ve ever reviewed (behind the Alienware M11x).
While the chassis is different, the major details remain the same as previous models. ASUS has stuck with its black stealth-bomber inspired design. I’ve always found it to be sleek yet masculine, and the slimmer silhouette of this model makes it the most attractive G-series yet. The exhaust vents remain at the back, keeping heat away from the user, and the keyboard is trimmed with the same silver accents found on previous models. If you liked the look of older ASUS gaming laptops, you’ll like this – and vice-versa.
Since it is a 17.3” laptop the G75 has plenty of room for a full-sized keyboard with numpad. The keys are large and there’s a massive space between the main keyboard and the numpad. Between that spaces are four directional keys that are kept slightly separate from the other keys. I personally can’t remember the last time I used directional keys in a game, but the attention to detail is nice.
Key feel is average. Most people don’t buy a gaming laptop for the wonderful typing experience, so that’s not a surprise. With that said, most people would have no trouble using the G75 for long bouts of typing – the keys are large, easy to identify by touch and have decent travel.
Backlighting is standard on the G-series. There are four different settings (off and three brightness levels) that can be changed using keyboard function keys, for which I can’t thank ASUS enough. Most keys are evenly lit and the light leakage around the key caps is tolerable.
The touchpad is large and has a different texture from the surrounding surface, which makes it easy to navigate in dark lighting. Large individual left/right buttons are provided, and they offer plenty of key travel. Multi-touch support could be better – it has bouts of over-sensitivity punctuated by moments of unresponsiveness – but overall, this is one of the better touchpads I’ve used on a gaming laptop.