Reliable and relatively sturdy, the ASUS G2S-A1 isn't as portable as some gaming rigs, and it's not quite able to compete against the most tricked-out and egregiously priced models on the market. But it still has plenty going for it, including DirectX 10 graphics, a knockout display, and a solid gaming experience.
The G2S-A1's display is noticeably wide and deepe, at 16 x 12 x 1.8 inches. The G2S-A1's physical layout is similar to ASUS' G1 notebook, with the biggest exception being the accents. The G2S-A1's body is black with red inlays and lights, versus the previous generation's black body with green accents.
In addition to the typical ports and slots, you'll find four USB ports on the back, along with eSATA and HDMI ports. On the left are one USB port, an ExpressCard slot, and a 5-in-1 memory card reader. We'd like at least one more easily accessible USB port, especially because competitors like Toshiba put them all on the side. Media controls ride on the front bezel. The lid's faux-brushed metal overlay looks imposing, but the 17-inch screen could be slightly more stable, and the latch feels like a weak spot. A 1.3-megapixel webcam sits above the screen.
The broad keyboard had shallow key depth, but a slightly flexible underpinning adds a sensation of responsiveness without feeling spongy. For everyday typing, however, triggering the touchpad inadvertently was far too easy. And, oddly, the programmable LCD readout above the keys doesn't show the volume by default; instead, you see just the time.
We were impressed with how little heat the G2S-A1 generated. The machine was far cooler than any other gaming laptop or desktop replacement we've tested recently. The system won't be sitting on your lap, however; its 9.6-pound weight and wide footprint require a stable setting. But then again, portability tends to be a nonissue for gamers anyway.
Nvidia's GeForce 8600M GT graphics with 256MB of RAM doesn't quite stack up against the GeForce Go 7950 GTX you'll find in the highest-end rigs, but driver improvements render it competent, as the 3DMark03 score of 11,817 indicates.
F.E.A.R. frame rates were disappointing, however, hovering around 40 frames per second when we maxed out the resolution and settings. Though that's not astronomical, performance was solid and reliable, and we'd feel comfortable gaming with this rig in all but the most hardcore competitive sessions. We tested both DirectX 9 and 10 with Company of Heroes, which is known for taxing hardware significantly. With DX 9, we found results similar to those in F.E.A.R., hovering around 45 fps; that's not stellar, but it's quite playable, and we managed to keep detail settings high. Under DX 10, the numbers dropped to 20 fps. Such a drop is consistent with nearly any DX 10 rig running Company of Heroes, whether it be a notebook or a tricked-out desktop.
The GPU, in conjunction with the 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor and 2GB of RAM, was enough to ensure good performance with Windows Vista. We saw a respectable PCMark05 score of 5,364, 120 points higher than that of the X205. We're surprised that ASUS would equip this notebook with only a 5,400-rpm hard drive and not offer an option to upgrade. This is a limiting factor for game performance.
Despite the mediocre frame rates, the 17.1-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel display is stunning. Colors were vibrant, and texture detail was perfectly crisp, maximizing the effect of the G2S-A1's capabilities. The speaker system didn't stack up nearly as well, however; the G2S pumps out merely respectable audio power.
ASUS' G2S-A1 is a solid performer. The frame rates aren't soaring, but we managed hours of intense game time without the system hanging or overheating. If you're more serious about performance, we'd recommend spending the extra $300 for a system like the Toshiba Satellite X205.
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