Asus G1 Review
by Andre von Muhlen
Asus G1 (view large image)
The Asus G1 is marketed as the 15” mobile answer for the hardcore gamer enthusiast. The G1 is a sharp looking package that meets the requirements of most of today’s best games and entertainment applications. The configuration for the machine reviewed follows below.
Reasons for Buying
My main reason for buying a new laptop is an upcoming master’s program in Italy. I will be away for 16 months, and am concerned about taking my 30 lb home-built desktop with me. My favorite computer activities include 3D CAD and photo editing. I also enjoy a game sometimes. My favorites are MS Flight Simulator 2004 and Sim City.
Based on my needs above, I decided to pursue a game machine – something fast, with lots of memory, a cool video card with its own memory, a large yet fast hard drive, and a nice glossy screen.
My first stop in my research led me to reliability ratings on all the major manufacturers. According to Consumer Reports, the most reliable name brands are Sony, Compaq/HP and Lenovo (IBM). I’ve owned computers from the first two and was very disappointed. Lenovo doesn’t sell laptops with NVIDIA video cards – which are my favorite – so it was out of contention as well.
Duly disappointed, I decided to look at other lesser-known brands. At first, the Sager 5760 seemed liked a cool bet. It had the very latest video card, the NVIDIA 7950 with 512 MB of video memory, and the keyboard was large enough that it packed its own numeric key pad. I started having second thoughts, however, when I priced the laptop at $2,400, well equipped with 2 GB RAM and a 100 GB 7200 HDD. The idea of carrying a 10 lb behemoth around also didn’t seem worthwhile.
After asking for help online, someone at NotebookReview.com suggested I look at Asus’ A8 models. The A8Js has nice features, but I was turned off by reports of light leakage from the monitor.
Then I found out about the G1: it has all the cool specs, a glossy screen just like my previous Sony laptop, and a 2-year global warranty – perfect for my time abroad. The reviews didn’t mention light leakage and I heard lots of good things about the brand, so I decided to buy it.
Where & How Purchased
I bought my laptop from ProPortable.com. I paid list price, $1799. I decided to purchase from them because they had a 99% positive feedback rating at ResellerRatings.com, and they answered my shipping questions within 10 minutes, on a Sunday, at 9pm. Kudos to them.
Build & Design
This is my first Asus product, and I am very impressed. As I opened the package, everything was stored neatly and in order. I even found some items I didn’t expect, like a cloth to clean the LCD screen, and an awesome backpack made by Targus. I had seen it in pictures online, and expected a throw-away sample bag. I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s made of strong materials, with lots of pockets, showing off a tasteful green and gray design. It also has thick support straps, perfect for carrying books around Milan. Hopefully, the 7 lb G1 will barely be noticed.
Along with those items, Asus also included a fine gaming mouse from Logitech (too bad it’s not wireless) and recovery disks. Most brands charge extra for those.
The G1 itself is a pleasant sight. The case is shiny and beautiful, showing off a carbon fiber construction look. In reality it’s all plastic, but it feels solid. The lower portion of the palm rest area is made of anodized brushed aluminum, and feels very smooth. I found no crooked corners or blemishes. I expect this laptop to last a long time.
When opened, the 15.4” WSXGA+ (1680x1050) screen reflects all light around it, as expected from a glossy screen. The gorgeous images are worth it! The text is just large enough for reading, but some people might want to adjust the text size or resolution.
The screen did ripple slightly when twisted by the sides, but I don’t see this happening on day to day activities. I’m always careful on opening the laptop to avoid lifting it from the table. The lid opens with a positive feeling of resistance, but wobbles slightly once I let it go.
The monitor has 16 levels of brightness adjustment. I picked level 12 for writing this review – as I’m seating by an open window and the sun is out. However, one could use any of the levels and still be able to see the screen.
Asus has a zero bright pixel warranty on the first 30 days of ownership. I didn’t find a single dead pixel.
Regarding light leakage, this screen has none! The screen is sharp and the lighting is of uniform coverage. I took a picture in the dark with a dark photo in the background (San Diego Bay) for you to see.
As I installed 3DMark05, I ventured downstairs to eat lunch. Minutes later, I heard a loud commotion upstairs... I returned to find the Asus G1/G2 screen saver playing music. Unlike other computers, the G1 has speakers on the bottom of the case. They play loud music, but sport a strange echo-like sound. I tried playing with the environments and equalizer in the Realtek HD Audio Manager, but it’s hopeless. If you are an audiophile, you will want better speakers.
Processor & Performance
The Asus G1 Laptop is as fast as my 2-year old desktop computer*. This is a great feeling, because I hate going from a fast computer to a slow computer. I ran SolidWorks with some CAD assemblies I created in the past, and the computer ran them without a hitch. I’m very satisfied.
Besides the speakers, another G1 shortcoming is the slow hard drive. There are four speeds commonly available in the market: 4200, 5400, 7200, and 10000 rpm. Of those four, laptops usually carry a hard drive with either of the first two speeds. I burned a DVD with 4.5 GB of mp3 files in less than six minutes (16X drive) on my desktop. When I put the same DVD on the G1, it took 25 minutes to copy those files to the 5400 rpm hard drive. I did four DVDs in a row with similar results. While 160GB is nice for storage, one might consider installing a faster model. A 100GB 7200 rpm drive usually costs $110.
Another factor in performance is all the extra software Asus included with the G1. I immediately deleted the sample Norton anti-virus software (90 days of functionality) and some other resource-consuming applications. The difference in the benchmark application Super Pi was incredible: 25 seconds for 1 million iterations vs. 59 seconds with all the Asus software running.
The only apps I have running now are AVG free edition, NVIDIA Control Panel, and the Asus Direct Console which manages the speed of the fan and processor (power consumption).
I ran MS Flight Simulator 2004 at full graphics, and there was no noticeable lag. The image was very smooth.
* My desktop computer is my reference system:
Besides Super Pi, I ran Futuremark 3DMark05 and 06. Below are the results and a comparison with similar laptops. The G1 is part of the cream of the crop. However, when it comes to sheer speeds, there are better alternatives in the 17” monitor range (priced over $2,000).
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Asus G1 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz)||1m 02s|
|HP Compaq nw9440 (Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0 GHz)||1m 03s|
|Dell Latitude D620 (Intel Core Duo T2400 1.83 GHz)||1m 21s|
|Dell Latitude D610 (Intel Pentium M 750 1.83GHz)||1m 41s|
|Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 16s|
|Asus A8JP (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz)||1m 02s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
3DMark05 Results and comparison:
|Asus G1 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, NVIDIA GeForceGo 7700)||4,234 3DMarks|
|HP Compaq nw9440 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500M)||7,288 3DMarks|
|Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)||4,157 3DMarks|
|Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB)||8,524 3DMarks|
|Asus V6J (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7400)||2,918 3DMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800 GTX)||7,078 3DMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, nVidia GeForce Go 7400)||2,013 3DMarks|
|Notebook||3DMark 06 Results|
|Asus G1 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, NVIDIA GeForceGo 7700)||2,389 3DMarks|
|Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB)||4,744 3DMarks|
|Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB||1,528 3DMarks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||794 3DMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX)||4,085 3DMarks|
|Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)||1,819 3D Marks|
It takes approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds to boot up to Windows XP, until the mouse icon is ready to go. To turn off, it takes 18 seconds.
Heat and Noise
I have not experienced any issues with heat on the G1. The palm area turns slightly warm over time, but it’s not enough to annoy me. The heat sink and fan exhaust on this model are located on the rear left side, away from the mouse. I placed the computer on my lap, and it didn’t bother me, however I find it too big to use it there.
In regards to noise, I can hear a faint hard drive swoosh sound when the laptop is idle or doing light tasks. When playing games, the fan picks up speed and becomes more noticeable. The exhaust was hot during benchmarking tests.
Note also that the optical 8X DVD-RW drive is fairly loud when reading data.
Keyboard & Touchpad
My biggest concern before buying the G1 was the bright green ASDW keys on the laptop. Would they be an annoyance? Turns out they are fine. My left hand covers the keys when I’m typing...
The keys make a slight click when pressed, traveling about 2 mm. I have since become accustomed to their sound. They feel solid and sturdy. There’s no visible flex by the keyboard.
One item I’m particularly happy with the G1 is the function key placement, on the right side of the control key. I have no idea why some manufacturers (even Asus in other models) switch their location.
The keypad can be turned off by a simple click of a button, located next to the power button. It has a smooth surface and the sliding bar feature functions well. A green LED located inside the “eye” of the game series logo shines brightly when the keypad is on.
The G1 has five multimedia keys in front of the case: power, reverse, forward, stop, and play. They are intended to control the optical drive when the laptop is turned off, allowing you to listen music much like a portable player. In reality, the player functions by turning motherboard, keyboard and optical drive on, while the hard drive and monitor remain off. The keyboard still works to allow volume adjustment.
The keys above, minus power, also work along with Windows Media Player when the laptop is fully turned on. The buttons are tiny enough that I cannot press them by mistake.
Aside from the player, there are four additional hot keys besides the power button. They are for adjusting the speed of the fan/processor, calling out your e-mail software, Internet browser, and turning the keypad on/off. The fan setting has five options: quiet office, presentation (which sends video to video out and turns the monitor off), super performance, high performance, and game.
Input & Output Ports
Front view of Asus G1 (view large image)
Left side of Asus G1 (view large image)
Right view of Asus G1 (view large image)
Back view of Asus G1 (view large image)
The Asus G1 meets your basic needs in this category. In the rear, you will find four USB 2.0 ports, and a DVI and VGA set of ports. The AC power input is located here, too.
On the right, you will find an RJ11 modem, an RJ45 LAN jack, an S-video out (an adaptor cable to RCA form is included with the laptop), a microphone-in jack, a line-in jack, a dual purpose headphone-out and S/PDIF jack, and a Fire Wire port. A Type II PCMCIA slot and a MMC/SD/MS/MS-Pro card reader are also included.
On the left you’ll find the optical drive.
I have no Bluetooth devices, so I can’t test this feature.
I connected the G1 to my wireless home network through the g mode, and it worked flawlessly.
My laptop will be plugged in most of the time, so battery consumption was not a factor in my purchase decision. Asus doesn’t sell longer-lasting batteries. If you want to spend a long time on batteries, you might want to purchase an extra battery.
While typing this review and listening to music, the battery lasted 2:45 until the 4% mark. I also played around with SolidWorks at one point (3D CAD).
Operating System & Software
The Asus G1 comes with Windows XP Media Center. Microsoft Works 8.0 is included in the package, but it’s not installed.
In addition, Nero 6 is installed; as well as a series of Asus software that is meant to assist the user. I deleted most of these applications in an attempt to reduce the workload in the background.
As I mentioned earlier, a recovery DVD is included for Windows and Asus applications.
Fortunately, I have not had to call customer support. I read good things about them, but I hope the occasion never comes up. The package included a plastic card containing phone numbers to call for technical support throughout the world.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with my purchase. I knew from prior experience that laptop speakers are tiny and sad, so it was no surprise when they sounded poor. Performance is akin to my home-built desktop* when running most software, although the hard drive could be faster. Too bad the 7700 video card is the best NVIDIA video card available for laptops of this size.
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