In the battle for gaming notebook supremacy, it all comes down to how much firepower you can pack in the most menacingly sleek package. ASUS' latest notebook, the $1,899 G750JX-DB71, makes its claim for top of the hill with an updated stealth fighter-inspired design, a fourth-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M GPU. The end result is a powerful rig that can play the most graphically demanding games at a price that undercuts the Alienware 17. But does ASUS do enough to stand out?
Click to EnlargeSimilar to the ASUS G75VW-DS71 we reviewed last year, the G750JX has a low, muscular design inspired by the F-22 stealth fighter. In the center of the black soft-touch plastic lid is a chrome ASUS logo, above a backlit Republic of Gamers insignia. The black soft-touch finish not only looks and feels good, it also does a bang-up job of repelling fingerprints and smudges.
The rear portion of the G750JX has bit more flourish than the earlier G75VW; while both taper toward the sides, the G750JX has more defined lines. The dual vents at the back of the laptop resemble a jet's exhaust, giving the appearance the notebook is primed for takeoff.
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Where ASUS' previous gaming laptop had a soft-touch palm rest, the G750JX's keyboard deck is a solid sheet of black brushed aluminum. A large backlit keyboard rests in a slight recess above a massive touchpad. The clear triangular power button adds a bit of cyberpunk chic to the design.
In terms of dimensions and weight, the 8.8-pound, 16.1 x 12.5 x 0.66~1.9-inch G750JX finds itself sandwiched between the MSI GT70 (8.4 pounds, 16.85 x 11.3 x 2.17 inches) and the Alienware 17 (9.5 pounds, 15.7 x 11.8 x 1.7 inches). Yes, you can transport this rig from room to room with relatively ease, but it's not made for travel.
Click to EnlargeThe G750JX's 17.3-inch anti-glare, matte 1080p display delivers warm colors and big viewing angles. The floating city of Columbia was a parade of vibrant yellow, pinks and greens as we strolled through the idyllic utopia in "Bioshock Infinite." When we ventured into a nearby residence, we could easily make out the ornate wallpaper as well as the lettering on the Vox Populi propaganda posters. Viewing angles were generous, enabling the laptop to accommodate three people.
When playing the 1080p trailer of "The Wolverine," we could plainly see a shirtless combatant's Koi tattoo, complete with shading. Even more impressive, we saw the heat waves radiating off a yellow white fireball as it bore down on Hugh Jackman.
ASUS Splendid Technology allows users to adjust the display's color temperature. During our testing, we found that the Vivid setting delivered the best results with rich, vibrant color. A 1080p image of a green-and-white snake popped against the black and brown background. The scales were nice and defined, complete with a luminescent sheen along the sides.
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At 240 lux, the G750JX's screen is as bright as the MSI GT70, and just below the 248 lux desktop replacement average. However, the Alienware 17 registered a brighter 307 lux.
Keeping with the stealth fighter motif, ASUS hides the G750JX's speakers beneath the display. The downward tilt of the speakers bounces the sound off of the deck and toward the listener's face. There's also a rather large subwoofer on the laptop's bottom left. Audio was loud, but it didn't fill our entire test space.
Dialogue during our "Bioshock Infinite" playthrough was crisp and clear. The barbershop quartet rendition of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" was loud and harmonious. When the gunfire finally began, pistol shots sounded heavy and deliberate while melee kills were appropriately gruesome, punctuated by thick thuds and whirring blades.
When we played Wale's "Bad," we appreciated the clear acoustic guitar accompanied by a full alto backup vocal and the rapper's gruff delivery. We also heard the rusty squeak of an old mattress effect that's built into the track. However, the song as a whole sounded hollow. When we played Marilyn Manson's remake of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," the opening guitar and Manson's guttural delivery were nice and clear, but when the track progressed to the chorus, the volume would drop out, leaving a garbled, muted mess.
We made adjustments with the Maxx Waves Audio Master technology (Music, Recording, Gaming, Movies and Speech), but none of the settings seemed to do much. The Music setting sounded the best, but not by a lot.
Overall, we prefer the Alienware 17's Klipsch speakers, which exude booming bass and treble and can easily fill a small space, amplifying the immersion factor necessary in a good gaming notebook.
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Keyboard and Touchpad
Click to EnlargeThe G750JX's island-style keyboard is well-spaced with a full-size number pad and direction keys. We wished the backlighting was brighter. Plus, ASUS provides only one color (white), whereas both Alienware and MSI offer multicolored backlighting.
The flat, black keys are nice and springy with good travel, making for a very comfortable typing experience. We notched 60 words per minute on the Ten Thumbs Typing test, topping our usual 55 wpm.
Click to EnlargeThe 4.6 x 2.6-inch Elan touchpad on the G750JX is huge. Our fingers slid effortlessly across the black plastic finish. Performing Windows 8 gestures, such as calling up the Charms bar, was quick and responsive. Multitouch gestures such as two-finger scroll and rotate and three-finger flick and swipe were just as seamless.
The discrete mouse buttons felt a little spongy, but performed their duties well.
During our heat test (playing a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes), the G750JX's touchpad measured 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys was slightly warmer at 88 degrees. The underside of the laptop and the space directly above the fans blew 99 degrees. That's a few degrees higher than our 95-degree comfort threshold.
We also hit this rig with our temperature gun after playing "Bioshock Infinite" for 15 minutes. In that test, the touchpad reached 75 degrees while the space between the G and H keys measured 82 degrees. The bottom of the notebook was a cool 85 degrees. The hottest point of the machine was the right rear vent that measured 99 degrees. While that's a little hotter than we prefer, we were impressed with how quiet the G750JX's fans were as we fought our way through the streets of Columbia.
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The G750JX's HD camera captures stills and video in 720p using the built-in Windows 8 webcam software. The bulk of our test shots were oversaturated, giving our skin a yellowish tint. Although we could read the LAPTOP banner in the background, the image was very pixelated, obscuring finer details.
Click to EnlargeThe right side of the G750JX houses a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt, VGA and jacks for the power adapter, mic and a combo headphone-S/PDIF. Two more USB 3.0 ports sit on the left, along with a 3-in-1 card reader, a tray-loading DVD burner and a Kensington lock slot. Some might prefer a Blu-ray player at this price, but we don't think it's a big omission.
Gaming and Graphics
Outfitted with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M GPU with 3GB of VRAM, the ASUS G750JX-DB71 can run most of the currently popular games on higher settings. During the 3DMark11 benchmark, the G750JX notched 5,202, easily beating the 4,433 desktop replacement average. However, this notebook was no match for the Nvidia GeForce 780M GPU-equipped Alienware 17 and MSI GT70, which scored 5,903 and 7,352, respectively.
When we ran the "World of Warcraft" benchmark, the G750JX notched 102 fps at maximum settings, clearing the 100 fps average. Both the Alienware 17 and the GT70 edged it out, scoring 103 and 105 fps.
On the "BioShock Infinite" test, the G750JX delivered 91 fps on low at 1080p. This showing was enough to surpass the GT70's 70 fps, but the Alienware 17 came out on top with 106 fps. When we cranked the settings to maximum, the G750's frame rate dropped to a still-playable 37 fps. The ASUS maintained a small lead on the Alienware, which scored 35 fps. However, the GT70 managed to deliver 44 fps at the same settings.
The ASUS G750JX-DB71's 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU with 16GB of RAM packs quite a punch. The laptop nimbly streamed "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" on Netflix while running a system scan with 13 open windows in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
On the PCMark 7 benchmark, the G750JX posted a score of 6,115, surpassing the 4,444 desktop replacement average. The MSI GT70, which has the same GPU as the ASUS, scored 6,025 while the Alienware 17's 2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-4800MQ processor only managed 5,492.
The G750JX's 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive and 256GB SSD booted Windows 8 in a speedy 11 seconds, two seconds faster than the GT70. The Alienware 17, which has Windows 7, booted in 35 seconds.
ASUS claims that the G750JX can resume from sleep in 2 seconds thanks to its Instant On power management technology. During our tests, the G750JX woke up a little after the 2-second mark.
On the File Transfer Test, the G750JX duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 30 seconds for a transfer rate of 169.6 MBps. That's enough to top the 120MBps average, but not the Alienware's 182 MBps or the GT70's blistering 463 MBps.
When we ran the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro Test, which pairs 20,000 names with their corresponding addresses, the G750JX finished in 4 minutes and 5 seconds. That's 37 seconds faster than the 4:42 category average. However, both the Alienware and GT70 completed the task with faster times of 3:42 and 4:01, respectively.
The ASUS G750JX-DB71 lasted 4 hours and 57 minutes during the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi). This runtime is longer than the 4:09 category average and was also enough to top the Alienware 17 and the MSI GT70, which clocked in at 4:09 and 4:18, respectively.
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Software and Warranty
Like most gaming notebooks, ASUS goes light on the bloatware, choosing only to add a few apps and utilities. Aside from the color-adjusting Splendid technology, there's ASUS On Screen display to adjust color while gaming. The Power 4 Hybrid utility enables users to create custom power settings according to whether the notebook is plugged in or running off the battery. Heavy multimedia users should appreciate the 32GB of cloud storage courtesy of ASUS WebStorage.
ASUS also included its Instant Connect software that lets you tether either an ASUS (PadFone, ME171) or Samsung (Note, Nexus, Galaxy SII and Galaxy SIII) smartphone via USB. We attempted to use Instant Connect with a Galaxy III, but the software unsuccessfully detected our device.
If you have the 3D display configuration of the G750JX and a pair Nvidia 3D glasses around, there's the 3D Vision Photo Viewer. Nvidia also included its GeForce Experience software, which automatically configures game settings for an optimal graphics experience.
Other preloaded apps includes Adobe Reader X, Skype, Microsoft Office and Fresh Paint.
The ASUS G750JX-DB71 comes with a one-year International warranty with one year of accidental damage and 30-Day Zero Bright Dot protection. There's also 24/7 tech support.
Our $1,899 review unit (ASUS G750JX-DB71) has a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive with an additional 256GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M GPU with 3GB of VRAM. The notebook is also equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and Broadcom's 802.11AC Wireless Network Adapter, which can only be found on a few laptops.
The $1,399 base model (G750JXW-DB71) features a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ, 12GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M GPU with 2GB of VRAM. The $2,499 premium model (G750JXH-DB71) is outfitted with a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ with 24GB of RAM, dual 128GB SSDs, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
Click to EnlargeWith the ASUS G750JX, ASUS proves that you can get a great-looking and fast gaming notebook without selling your firstborn. This rig is an able workhouse, providing impressive graphics performance and longer battery life than its closest competitors. However, the audio is slightly underwhelming when compared with the likes of Alienware and MSI, and you don't get as many fun backlighting options.
The ASUS G750JX's biggest strength is value. Gamers looking for a similarly-specced notebook in the MSI GT70 and Alienware M17 would have to pay $2,099 and $2,199, respectively -- which is considerably more than the G750JX's $1,899 price tag. Overall, the G750JX-DB71 is a very good choice for gamers searching for a powerful gaming rig at a reasonable price.