Normally a laptop refresh isn't all that exciting. It's usually a slight bump in performance here or a small aesthetic change there. However, thanks to an assist from Nvidia, the updated 17-inch Asus G751JY (starting at $1,499, reviewed at $2,499) lives up to the hype. The latest gaming laptop with Nvidia's G-Sync technology, the G751JY offers smooth graphics with virtually no tearing or latency. Add that to the laptop's stunning looks, blistering specs and rich display, and you've got one of the best gaming laptops on the market.
For a hulking gaming laptop, the G751JY is still one of the prettiest rigs I've laid eyes on. I love looking at and fondling the lid because of its slick transition from the black-matte, soft-touch finish on the top and sides to the cool, slippery, brushed-aluminum in the center. The Asus logo and bright red Republic of Gamers emblem reside demurely in the middle, enticing you to stare.
Around back, you'll notice the vivid red vents that are doing their best supercar impression. A small ROG emblem in the center completes the luxe, yet powerful look Asus is going for.
As lovely as the exterior is, like with all clubs, the real party is inside. Opening the G751JY, you'll see the same keyboard deck from the previous model, rocking more of the sumptuous black soft-touch finish.
The full-size Chiclet keyboard with a full num pad still glows an alluring, yet slightly menacing red. To hammer home the point that this is indeed a gaming notebook, Asus placed buttons to launch XSplit GameCaster and Steam in the top left corner of the keyboard deck, and a key to start the Asus Gaming Center near the num pad.
Although nothing can compare to a mechanical keyboard, the G751JY's keyboard with its scissor switches delivers impressive feedback to the tune of 1.9mm of key travel and 69g of actuation (force needed to depress the keys). I exceeded my usual words-per-minute score on the 10 Fast Fingers test, hitting 70 wpm instead of 60 wpm.
At 4.8 x 2.6 inches, the Elan touchpad is massive, and adeptly handled such gestures as two-finger rotate, pinch-zoom and switching between apps. The two discrete mouse buttons are nice and springy and emit a gentle click when depressed.
G-Sync: Buttery smooth, Batman
It might look like the same old G751JY, but the laptop has some new additions that seriously up its game. The G751JY is one of the first gaming laptops to ship with Nvidia's new G-Sync technology, which synchronizes the display's refresh rate with the graphics card, effectively capping frame rates at a consistent level.
You might be asking yourself, "But aren't lower frame rates bad?" Usually, but not this time, fellow gamer, because the capping actually eliminates screen tearing and input lag. The last portion is especially important for FPS and fighting game fanatics who know the difference between giving or receiving a K.O. sometimes comes down to that last quick jab or power move (Hadoukens for everyone!).
G-Sync also has an anti-ghosting technology named Variable Overdrive that enables faster color transitions in variable refresh-rate environments. In layman's terms, not only will your game run smoother with less lag, but it'll also be prettier overall.
I put G-Sync to the test in Batman: Arkham Knight after raising the game's cap limit to 100 fps. With the feature disabled, but with all other settings pushed to high at 1080p, the G751JY hit an average 70 fps, which rose to 77 fps on low. With G-Sync enabled, the laptop delivered 50 fps on high and 63 fps on low.
MORE: Best Gaming Laptops
When G-Sync was disabled, I saw significant tearing when I swung the camera around 360 degrees. There was also noticeable lag when I was fighting a pack of thugs, as I noticed a slight delay between my button presses and the command being executed. These problems were virtually eliminated when G-Sync was enabled.
I do have one complaint about the feature, however, and it's that you have to go digging in the Nvidia Control panel to enable or disable G-Sync. I would love the ability to access this in GeForce Experience, but I'm lazy like that.
Serious Gaming Power (But Not the Best)
The G751JY impressed on the BioShock Infinite benchmark, delivering 151 fps on low at 1080p, which is well above the 129 fps desktop replacement average. However, on high settings, the G751JY dropped to 67 fps, while the Dominator Pro (86 fps) and Alienware 17 (70 fps) fared better.
During the Metro: Last Light benchmark, one of our most grueling tests, the G751JY produced a solid 89 fps on low special effects at 1080p. That was enough to topple the 73 fps average, as well as the Alienware 17's 58 fps. The Dominator Pro proved too much for its competitors, with a score of 109 fps.
Metro lived up to its demanding reputation on High, causing the G751JY to drop to an unplayable 20 fps, while the Alienware 17 and Dominator Pro hit 32 and 34 fps, respectively.
A Feast for the Eyes and Ears
The G751JY's 17-inch, 1080p matte screen is a font of rich color and sharp details. Like most Asus notebooks, the G751JY comes pre-installed with the Splendid utility that offers four profiles (Normal, Theater, Vivid and Manual) and adjusts the panel's color temperature. I settled on the Vivid setting, as it delivered the best-looking results.
As I glided over the streets of Gotham in Arkham Knight, I had time to appreciate the way the raindrops hit Batman's cape, creating individual streams that broke off into even smaller tributaries. I also marveled at the giant plants that burst through the streets, slowly reclaiming the city in a thicket of green, violet and neon orange.
The G751JY reproduced 106.9 percent of the sRGB color gamut on our testing, which is higher than the 96 percent average. The Alienware 17 was right on its tail, at 106.3 percent, while the Dominator Pro delivered 101 percent.
When tested for color accuracy, the G751JY notched a Delta-E score of 1.6 (lower is better), which is much better than the 4.8 desktop replacement average. The Dominator Pro was a close second, at 1.7, while the Alienware 17 posted a disappointing 5.3.
Without the Asus AudioWizard software, the G751JY's roar is easily reduced to a whimper. When this software is enabled, however, the laptop produces clean, relatively balanced audio. The melancholy strings that accompany much of Arkham Knight tensed and relaxed as I fought off a militia unit as though the music were punching and flipping with me. The dialogue was loud and pronounced, and the Batmobile's cannon delivered a weighty boom that was often accompanied by the sound of crumbling brick and breaking glass.
Since most of us can't spend all of our time gaming, Asus made sure the G751JY can multitask and process spreadsheets with the best of them. The laptop's 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor with 24GB of RAM nimbly streamed an episode of "Black Mirror" while I played Witcher 3 in another window with 20 open tabs in Google Chrome. Geralt's hair continued to cascade heroically down his back despite all the background activity. The processor can be clocked to 3.6-GHz if you want to access all of the chip's power.
The G751JY's 256GB PCIe m.2 SSD is inordinately fast. It loaded Batman: Arkham Knight in 7 seconds and delivered a face-melting speed of 1,018 MBps on the File Transfer Test. To put things in perspective, the average is 260.9 MBps. The Alienware 17 (256GB SSD) and Dominator Pro (Dual 128GB SSD) were left in dust, at 147.9 and 188.9 MBps, respectively.
The laptop scored a very good 13,271 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic test that measures overall performance. This showing was enough to top both the 11,263 desktop replacement average and the 12,965 score achieved by the Alienware 17 (2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU). However, the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro's newer, 5th-generation processor (2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-5700HQ CPU) bested both systems, with a score of 14,229.
Can It Take the Heat?
The notebook stayed pleasantly cool throughout our less demanding testing. I watched The Amazing World of Gumball on Hulu Plus for 15 minutes, after which we measured the notebook's temperature at several key points. The touchpad hit 84 degrees Fahrenheit, while the space between the G and H key hit 87 degrees. The bottom of the laptop registered 93 degrees, which is two degrees below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Once the laptop cooled down, I took a 15-minute jaunt through Novigrad, dispatching ghouls and wraiths in Witcher III: The Wild Hunt. When I was done, the touchpad registered a cool 80 degrees and the space between the G and H key measured 86 degrees. The notebook's undercarriage temperature dropped slightly, to 91 degrees. Despite the laptop's large dimensions, I barely heard the fans, even when I was playing in the relative quiet of the Laptop Mag testing lab.
Software: The gamer's toolbox
For a gaming laptop, the G751JY has quite a bit of pre-installed software. Luckily, that includes a fair amount of gamer-centric software such as Asus Gaming Center, which aggregates useful information, settings and programs. From here, you can check the weather or the amount of storage and memory available, or adjust the audio and display settings.
ROG MacroKey lets you configure the three macro keys, allowing you to map keystrokes, launch apps or websites, and save them under individual profiles. GameFirst III tests bandwidth speed and configures the optimal upload and download speeds to prioritize games and other chosen programs.
Nvidia's GeForce Experience offers a wealth of helpful features, including BatteryBoost, LED Visualizer and Game Optimization, which chooses the optimal settings to net the highest frame rates. ShadowPlay lets gamers broadcast games to Twitch or YouTube in real time or record them for later use.
If you're not a fan of ShadowPlay, Asus also offers XSplit GameCaster. Depending on your subscription level, this offers high-def streaming, image overlays and in-game annotations.
The G751JY comes with a one-year International warranty with Accidental Damage
Protection and a 30-day zero-bright dot protection with 24/7 tech support.
Keep the Power Cord Handy
During the usual Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness), the Asus G751JY lasted 3 hours and 17 minutes, which is well below the 5:02 average. The MSI GT72 Dominator Pro did marginally better, at 3:22, but it's the Alienware 17 that continues to raise the bar, lasting a whopping 6:25.
I also wanted to see how long the G751JY would last doing some actual gaming. So the testers ran the Metro: Last Light benchmark at 1080p on low, and the laptop tapped out after 1 hour and 36 minutes.
Configurations: Weighing your options
For this review, I took the $2,499 configuration of the G-Sync G751JY for a spin. It has a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, 24GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe m.2 SSD with a 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
You can get the entry-level version, complete with G-Sync, for a mere $1,499. However the specs will be bumped down to a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GPU with 3GB of VRAM.
Bottom Line: Worth the splurge
The last version of the Asus G751JY had a lot going for it, and that's only been enhanced by adding Nvidia's G-Sync technology to the new model. The laptop offers stunning good looks with serious graphical power, blazing-fast transfer speeds and a gorgeous display that actually enhances your gameplay. My only wish is that for $2,499, Asus would have gone all in and added a 5th-gen Intel Core processor like MSI did with the $2,199 GT72 Dominator Pro.
As it stands, the G751JY is a triple threat of looks, power and speed and an excellent choice for deep-pocketed gamers.