The G51J is the latest 15-inch gaming notebook from ASUS, sporting the new Intel Core i7 mobile processor and Windows 7 operating system. This notebook shares a lot of features with the previous G51VX, with only a hardware refresh to support the Core i7 processor. With a starting price of $1,499, it is priced $200 below the previous version ... which is a huge plus for buyers on a budget. Check out our full review to see how this Core i7 update performs.
ASUS G51J Specifications:
Build and Design
The design of the G51 is very gamer-inspired. The outside graphics are futuristic and cool, without being too over-dramatic for the casual gamer. At first glance the new design almost looks like the edges are scratched into the glossy surface, but upon closer inspection that is just the design of the artwork as it branches out to the top and bottom. The inside of the G51 has a more back-to-basics look with a rubberized black palmrest, black backlit keyboard, and glossy black trim around the display. I personally think the design could have been helped by using more rubberized paint other surfaces around the notebook, since it had an excellent soft texture.
Build quality is above average, with sturdy plastic used throughout the notebook, but there are some areas that could see some improvement. The screen cover feels very durable, and protects the screen against any distortion from impacts to the back cover or flexing the screen side to side. The palmrest and keyboard have absolutely no flex at all, which is something you need if you are going to be playing high-stress games and occasionally taking out some of your anger on your computer. The newer design of the G51J compared to the G51VX doesn't have the same paint overspray issue, since the side colors are solid for each piece of plastic.
Users looking to upgrade components inside the notebook will find it very easy, thanks to a single panel giving you access to all user-replaceable components. The only "warranty void if removed" sticker is covering one of the screws used to tension the processor heatsink, meaning that if you want to change out the processor or graphics card you will be forfeiting your 2-year warranty. Considering this notebook offers one of the faster notebook processors right now, the need to tinker with the processor should be minimal.
Screen and Speakers
Considering that this notebook will be used for gaming, an excellent screen is a must. The display on the G51 looks above average with good color saturation and better than average viewing angles. The glossy surface helps make the already good looking colors "pop" out at you more than they would on a matte display, as well as improving the looks of dark colors. ASUS provides a quick and easy way to switch color profiles with the screen, and each one is significantly better than the unaltered one. They really help tone down the harsh blues while bumping the other colors slightly. While gaming I didn't notice any lag or abnormal backlight bleed in dark scenes. Vertical viewing angles were very good, offering a broad sweet spot before colors started to invert if you tilted the screen forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were excellent, keeping colors accurate, albeit slightly washed out, at very steep angles. Backlight brightness was more than adequate to be viewable in a bright room, but unless you stick to a shaded area underneath a tree, it won't be viewable outdoors.
The Altec Lansing speakers sounded nice, but given the overall size of this notebook we had hoped for a subwoofer as well. Audio from the speakers consisted mostly of higher frequencies, with some midrange coming through. Bass was lacking, but without a subwoofer that is normal for most notebooks. As a gaming notebook I think headphones should be required, especially surround sound-enabled headphones so you can hear your surroundings and react accordingly.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard was comfortable to use, and really helped solidify the overall look of the notebook. The keys and inner trim were all matching black, with white lettering that lights up when the backlight is enabled. The individual keys were easy to press, and felt very solid with very little wiggle if you moved your hand around the keyboard. Support was very good, with no flex noticed in the primary typing region. Compared to the previous ASUS G51 notebook in for review, the tray has been improved, with it no longer having play inside the bezel. It can no longer be pushed to the bottom and popped out using only your fingers.
The G51 includes a large Synaptics touchpad with a very smooth barely- textured surface. The speed of the touchpad is excellent, with it able to smoothly pickup slow and steady movement, or quick targeting movement. No lag was noticed what-so-ever. X and Y-axis speeds were matched, allowing you to draw near perfect circles with your fingertip, instead of ovals. The touchpad buttons were easy to trigger, but didn't give as much feedback as longer throw buttons.
Ports and Features
Port selection was pretty good for a 15" notebook, with four USB ports, an eSATA connection, HDMI and VGA out, FireWire 400, LAN, and three audio jacks. The expansion ASUS included an ExpressCard/54 slot and a spring loaded SD-card reader. ASUS also found a creative use for the ExpressCard blank, turning it into a handy storage card holder. Considering that most of us will keep that blank card in the slot most of the time, it now becomes a handy storage device.
ASUS is always big on including freebies with retail notebooks. The G51J-series is no different, with a comfortable green gaming backpack and Razer Copperhead gaming mouse. The included backpack is very comfortable, with more than adequate padding around the shoulders, and a nice gel-padded carrying handle. I don't think too many users will be replacing this backpack since it looks great and feels great. The Copperhead mouse was nice to see, since it is significantly better than most freebie mice, and is perfect for gaming enthusiasts who just so happen to be the primary target audience of this notebook.
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