by Charles P. Jefferies
The G50V is ASUS' latest notebook addition to their Republic of Gamers series brand. It is a high-performance 15.4-inch notebook based on the Intel Centrino 2 platform. Highlights of this portable powerhouse include a top-shelf Nvidia GeForce 9700M-GT 512MB, dual hard drives, and a striking, flashy design that says "gamer."
Before we start the review, I would like to give a special thanks to Justin Nolte of XOTIC PC for sending us this evaluation unit.
System Specifications and Pricing
ASUS offers the G50V in several different configurations. The A1 version we are reviewing has the following specifications:
As of the publishing date, the ASUS G50V-A1 is listed for $1,639 on XOTICPC.com.
The G50V is aimed squarely at the gaming crowd. Its design says "gamer" no matter what way you look at it. There is nothing understated about the design of this notebook. Let's start with the back of the lid.
The most eye-catching part about the back of the lid is the four blue lights. They are not overly bright, but are easily seen. Two light bars are located at either end of the lid on the very edge, which blink in patterns. At the top of the lid is a clear shield with the Republic of Gamers logo inside. Finally, towards the bottom there is a horizontal light bar that spans about half of the lid. The majority of the lid is glossy metallic black plastic. At the very bottom of the lid below the horizontal light bar is a rubberized and textured section that acts as a grip for carrying the notebook.
The inside of the notebook has a design that is just as flashy as the lid. The trim surrounding the keyboard and bordering the right and left edges of the chassis are glossy orange plastic. The palmrest area is made of the same rubberized textured material found on the back of the lid. The touchpad is bordered by brushed aluminum trim. Above the keyboard is a strip of glossy black plastic where all the touch controls are located, and on either side of that are the two Altec Lansing speakers. Above the screen is a webcam embedded in a mirrored surface. Even the bottom of the notebook has an interesting design - the single large intake vent for the fan has a shiny silver border and an orange vent.
You can see from the pictures that the G50V is larger than a typical 15.4-inch notebook, evidenced by the relatively large screen benzel. The main benefit of the larger chassis is the inclusion of a separate number pad, but the downside is slightly reduced portability. The G50V-A1 weighs in at 6.5 lbs and is 14.2 in (36 cm) wide, 10.2 in (25.9 cm) deep, and 1.1 - 1.6 in (2.8 - 4.1 cm) thick. The notebook feels somewhat heavy, but is not hard to transport in a backpack. As I noted, the G50V is larger than a typical 15.4-inch notebook.
Overall, this notebook's design is striking and well-finished. It is for those that want to be noticed.
The G50V is made of strong plastic and has a solid feel. The chassis resists twisting, and all surfaces are difficult to find flex in. The hinges securely anchor the display to the base of the notebook, and the lid itself is rigid and is hard to twist. Pressing on the back of the lid yields no ripples in the screen. There is basically no display wobble. I am more than impressed with the build quality of this notebook.
The 15.4-inch WSXGA+ display is positively gorgeous. It is very bright and has high contrast. The glossy finish helps this display bring colors to life. The high contrast and exceptional clarity of this display makes gaming and even simple web browsing an enjoyable experience.
Viewing angles are nothing out of the ordinary - they are fine side-to-side, but from above the picture washes out and from below it darkens as usual. There is noticeable light leakage coming from the bottom of the display, but it is only noticeable when viewing a black screen.
On the whole, this is a wonderful display and a true delight to use.
Though the G50V's two speakers carry the Altec Lansing badge, their sound quality leaves much to be desired. They are tinny, and there is no hint of bass. They also are relatively quiet. If these had no name brand, I would have dismissed them as typical notebook speakers, but given the brand-name badge, they should have produced better sound. Overall, the speakers are a disappointment.
Heat & Noise
This section is a high point for the G50V-A1. One large fan takes care of the heat from both the processor and graphics card, and expels it out the left side through a large vent. While idling, the notebook is essentially inaudible. Under full load, the only sound to be heard is a rush of air - motor noise is thankfully absent. You can take this notebook to a library or lecture hall without fear of disturbing anyone.
The heat is kept well under control at all times - the surface of the notebook is barely warm, as is the bottom. The cooling system of this notebook is quite good.
The actual temperatures of the internal components range from good to adequate. I monitored the temperatures during a gaming session using HWMonitor, and got the following results:
The processor is well under its rated specification, as are the hard drives. The Nvidia graphics card topped out at 81 degrees Celsius, which may seem fine but is actually acceptable for a graphics card.
The G50V's keyboard delivers a pleasant typing experience. There is ample tactile feedback, with minimal flex. The only real flex is found in the number pad, but it is slight. The keyboard is soft and quiet. My gripe with this keyboard is that there are no true dedicated Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys. This is one of the sacrifices ASUS made by including the numeric keypad in a 15.4-inch chassis. The keys are only dedicated if the number lock is turned off. As someone who uses those keys frequently, I found this to be an inconvenient setup. I have to give up number pad functionality in order to use those keys.
Above the keyboard is a series of touch-activated buttons that access various menus. On the left side is a unique OLED display, which can display a message, battery charge remaining, CPU usage, memory usage, and other useful information. This is a nice touch. I would like to see other functionality added to this, such as frames per second (FPS) readings during games.
The touchpad has a plain black matte surface, which is easy to track on. The right side acts as a vertical scrolling pad. The two buttons are aluminum and easy to locate and press. The buttons are not particularly quiet, though they would probably not annoy anyone around you.
Input & Output Ports
The variety of input and output ports on the G50V is extensive. Let's take a picture tour.
VGA port, vent, USB, IEEE-1394 mini-Firewire, eSATA, HDMI, 8-in-1 card reader, ExpressCard/54 slot
Microphone, headphone, S/PDIF, 2x USB, optical drive
Kensington lock slot, USB, Ethernet, power jack
Wireless on/off switch, infrared port
The G50V-A1 features the latest-generation Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100AGN, supporting 802.11a/b/g/n wireless signals. I had no trouble connecting to a variety of secured networks.
The G50V-A1 lasted about two hours in my battery test in power saving mode while surfing the Internet. Though two hours is not a lot, it is reasonable for a gaming notebook with a 6-cell battery.
The G50V-A1's 6-cell battery is rated for 4800mAh, with 11.1V.
The G50V comes with several accessories, including a backpack and a gaming mouse. The backpack is of reasonable quality and has good padding. There are two compartments; a sleeve inside the main compartment holds the notebook securely in place during travel. There is enough room in the backpack for the notebook, power adapter, mouse, and perhaps a textbook.
The mouse is a well-respected Logitech MX518 gaming mouse. It has rubber grips and a carbon-fiber imprint design. It is corded and has a high resolution optical sensor.
Windows Experience Index
Vista’s WEI benchmark scores the system based on its lowest-performing component, which in G50V-A1’s case is the 250GB 5400RPM hard drive. 5.1 is an impressive score nonetheless – notice the maximum score of 5.9 achieved in the Graphics and Memory (RAM) category.
Overall System Performance with PCMark Vantage
PCMark Vantage is a Vista-only benchmark. These results indicate the G50V-A1 is a high-performance machine, though with faster hard drives it could have an even better score.\
wPrime is a multi-threaded CPU test – it is similar to SuperPi but has a few more features. It is a much more accurate benchmark for dual-core CPUs. Please see our big comparison thread here.
Hard Drive Performance: HDTune 2.55
The Western Digital 250GB 5400RPM is relatively slow, especially compared to 7200RPM hard drives that have transfer rates above 55MB/s. The access time is typical of 5400RPM drives; a 7200RPM drive has faster access times. On the positive side, the drive runs cool (38 degrees Celsius after a benchmark test; it is rated for 55 degrees) and is quiet.
Synthetic Performance using 3DMark06
The Nvidia GeForce 9700M-GT graphics card with 512MB of GDDR3 memory achieves an excellent result in this benchmark relative to other 15.4-inch notebooks. The 9700M-GT’s score is one-third higher than that of a 9600M-GT, a common gaming graphics card in a 15.4-inch notebook like the HP Pavilion dv5t.
Synthetic Performance using 3DMark Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a Vista-exclusive benchmark, since it uses Microsoft DirectX 10 technology. The 9700M-GT also makes a nice showing here, scoring over one-third more points than a 9600M-GT in the GPU test.
I ran three of the latest game titles on the ASUS G50V-A1 to test its performance. All FPS benchmarking with the exception of Crysis was done with FRAPS. Crysis was run at a 1280x720 resolution using two different settings levels, Medium and High. I benchmarked Unreal Tournament 3 with FRAPS on three different levels. I also benchmarked Call of Duty 4 with FRAPS on two different levels at maximum settings.
Gamers in the market for a well-priced 15.4-inch gaming notebook should seriously consider the ASUS G50V-A1. Its flashy design, solid build quality, high performance components, and beautiful screen make it the ideal mobile gaming companion. Excellent warranty coverage and good-quality included accessories seal the deal. If you liked what you read in this review, it is difficult to go wrong with this machine.
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