Asus G1 Laptop Review

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The Asus G1 is a gaming notebook described on the Asus website as the "notebook series that redefines mobile gaming with advance graphics solutions, exclusive display technologies and unique design details."

The standard straight out of the box specification from ASUS for the G1 are as follows:

  • Processor: 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200
  • Memory: 2GB DDR II 667MHz
  • Hard Drive: Seagate (Momentus) 160GB 5400rpm SATA
  • Graphics: NVidia GeForce Go 7700. PCI Express, 512MB true dedicated VRAM
  • Screen: WSXGA+ 1680×1050 Resolution, Glossy finish.
  • Optical Drive: DVD Super Multi Light Scribe Drive
  • Operating System: Windows XP Professional with Vista upgrade option included
  • Warranty: 2 years Collect & Return UK Warranty & 2 Years (no carriage) Global Warranty.
  • Other built in features and ports: 1.3 mega pixel Web Cam, Bluetooth 2.0, Intel Wireless ABG, 4in1 card reader, PCMCIA slot 1 type II, Infa-red port, mini Firewire port (IEEE 1394), SPDIF Output (&Headphone), Mic input, Audio Input, S-Video output (TV out), RJ45 Gigabit LAN, RJ11 Modem, 4x USB 2.0 ports, DVI output, VGA output, Kensington lock port


Packaging and contents (view large image)

On the front edge of the notebook there are a series of controls akin to a CD player or Walkman, these are "Audio DJ" buttons and allow you to play a CD through the speakers without powering the machine up.


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Above the keyboard there is an OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen with a rectangular size of  3cm x 1cm. Upon boot up this shines with the ASUS logo, once in Windows it defaults to being a clock but you can control what’s displayed via the "Direct Console" software included.  You can customise this display to show your own text and or a series of supplied icons. I am awaiting a response from Asus regarding any further information to see if you can create your own icons or create custom display options.


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Reasons for Buying

I’ve been in the market for a new machine for some time and had been looking around and waiting, but nothing had really caught my eye as much as the G1.  Other notebooks I’ve seriously considered include the Asus W3J, Asus V1J, Samsung X60 & a Rock Pegasus 665. All of these machines have their own merits, but somehow I was more drawn to the flashing green lights on the G1!

I could have waited for another six months (the time I believe it will take to get a decent GPU into a 15” notebook) with DX10 graphics and Santa Rosa around the corner, but I felt I’d waited long enough and this seemed to be the perfect machine for me right now.

My requirements for a notebook were as follows:

  • Gaming: I’m used to a 256MB X700 GPU in a desktop, and used to playing most games at medium settings (since my X1800GT, Opteron desktop has been shelved for the past few months, but that’s another rather painful story)
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.83GHz or faster with 4MB L2 Cache was a must. In real life usage, I do notice my AMD Athlon 64 3500+ processor up to full pelt quite a lot, I’ve found I want more out of my computer as time goes by and that means more programs running more of the time.
  • Memory: The game Warcraft eats the stuff, as does having multiple programs running, so having as much memory as possible was my goal
  • Screen Size: Screen size was a big factor in my buying decision. With my previous notebook usage I predicted 50% usage on desk and the remaining 50% on my lap. I’ve ruled out 17” as an option since even the lightest 17” machine was too cumbersome for me to use for any length of time on my lap. I felt an ideal size would be 14" widescreen, however I’d have to sacrifice pixels, which was a no go for me.  I’m spoiled at work and at home with desktop areas of 2880×1050 and 2560×1024. So I was keen for a reasonably high resolution screen.  Try finding a screen less than 15.4" or 15" in size at anything more than 1280×800 or 1280×1024 in resolution, they’re hard to come by. Glossy screen was a plus point also.
  • Hard Drive:  For me size was not important, just speed.  I’ve been reading up on the effects of the hard drive on system performance and the results are surprising.  I’m looking into getting a solid state HDD or Hybrid HDD as soon as possible and when it’s cost effective – future upgrade is likely.
  • Optical Disk Drive: I was not bothered about this until the guy I sit next to at work light scribed a disc a few days ago and although it took 25mins to scribe, the end result meant that Lightscribe disc/drives are seriously cool gadgets to play with!
  • Input / Output Ports: I wanted all the regular ones in full force, I also wanted a FireWire 2 port for external HDD backup, however I’m not aware of this being an option on a notebook so I had to compromise on that one.
  • Docking Station: Would be nice, but not important, as a USB port replicator would suffice.
  • OS: Ideally Windows XP Pro, but not too bothered.
  • Battery Life: Not a major factor for me, 2.5hrs would be nice but 1.5hrs would suffice, more than that is a bonus.  I use a notebook on plugged in power while gaming as I need a flat surface for an external mouse.

Build and Design

The looks of this machine are aimed firmly at a certain demographic…boys who play games. I won’t wax about the looks as you can see from the pictures, in short the looks suit me. I like the way it looks and I will enjoy the attention the green lights will bring.


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The G1 is a solid machine, it is not lightweight or thin, it is aluminum re-enforced where you lean your wrists, it has no apparent flex in the base, no creaky or squeaky area’s. The screen has three hinge supports. Comparing it to an automobile, this machine feels and looks a little like I would imagine a military All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) might be.


Asus G1 front side view (view large image)


Asus G1 left side view (view large image)


Asus G1 right side view (view large image)


Asus G1 back side view (view large image)

As far as any obvious faults in the build quality, if anything there is a little too much plastic around the top of the screen and you can squeeze the plastic around the web cam, but this is a very minor point. The speakers point outwards instead of upwards & toward you which means that I have the volume up louder than I would if they pointed at me (much to the displeasure of my wife).


Asus G1 integrated web-camera (view large image)

Keyboard


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I must comment on the keyboard as I have used many different notebook keyboards over the past few years and I feel this puts me in a good position to comment on a keyboard.  The keyboard is probably one of the most understated, yet most important aspects of a notebook (for me anyway). In my opinion the most luxuriously tactile notebook keyboard I’ve used belonged to a Samsung M50 (now M55), however my (work) IBM ThinkPad T43 must be a very close runner up in the comfort and usability stakes.


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The G1 keyboard has a good feel; it is very solid at every edge with a slight spring toward the middle. The keys are responsive and seem to have a very slightly deeper than average travel to them. The layout of certain keys is very much a matter of individual taste however I am personally pleased to point out that some of my most used keys are handily located along the right edge of the keyboard. My one gripe with the layout is that I have not yet adjusted to the position of the left CTRL key which my brain thinks should be one key position further to the left. I keep pressing the Function (Fn) key, which keeps leading to me changing Asus’s “Splendid” screen correction modes (Gamma Correction, Vivid, Theater, Soft & Normal).

Screen

A very important factor for me going for this machine was one of screen resolution. I wanted higher than 1280×800 but lower than 1900×1200, the G1’s screen resolution of 1680×1050 was a major factor for me purchasing this machine now.


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It has I’m told a 500nit brightness level, which although the measurement of nits I’m not familiar with, is supposedly pretty good. I believe most normal notebooks have screens varying between 200 & 300nits.

However regardless of figures on a page, in practical use I’m very very very pleased with this screen. There is a range of 15 settings of brightness available and I find myself using 12/15 currently, but with a fiddle around the settings I’m even happy to use 3/15, I guess that shows that when running on battery you need not be compromised with the screen.

I’ve had a good look and I don’t appear to have any duff pixels.

There would appear to be some uneven backlighting with it getting slightly brighter toward the edges of the screen, however I don’t find this as a defect as it’s actually not noticeable until looked for with the lights off.

Hot Keys

There are four shortcut keys above the keyboard, these include

  1. "Power 4 Gear" button which allows you to switch between various Power Schemes quickly, e.g. Battery saving mode or gaming mode (lots more options in there also).
  2. An Email Launch Key.
  3. Internet Launch Key.
  4. Touchpad Lock Key that disables the touchpad on demand.

Sound

The speakers seem loud enough and adequate in a quiet environment. However when there is an amount of background noise, for example with the television on they seem to go almost inaudible, I have found my ears moving trying to stretch to hear the sounds coming out of the speakers (lol it’s true!). I blame the fact that the speakers are on the side of the notebook and project noise outwards, I’ve found myself using headphones more often than not to save myself from getting a bashing from my better half. Sound via headphones is excellent.

Flashing Lights

Yes, this machine does really have green flashing lights! They flash when DirectX 9 is in use (gaming). I personally think this is a pretty neat quirky feature, yet very eye catching.  I am glad that you cannot see them flashing when facing the machine. They can be disabled using the Asus "Direct Console" software.


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Performance and Extras

I will say that the overall performance is as I’d hoped it would be. The G1 feels significantly faster than any other machine I’m used to.

When I received the machine there was a lot of extra software loaded. It’s typical of Asus to include a lot of items and software as standard, for the "lay" notebook user I would imagine this all helps enhance their notebook experience, however I got rid of some of the chaff and had a root around in msconfig as one does.

Here’s what I installed or enabled after getting the notebook:

  • Windows updates
  • AVG
  • MS Defender
  • DX9 & updates
  • WinRAR
  • Photoshop
  • OpenOffice

Games I installed included the following:

  • Mark of Chaos
  • World Of Warcraft (nearly 1200MB of updates!!)
  • Warhammer 40k
  • Farcry- FRAPS (from where he gets into the jungle for the first time) – between 16 & 27 fps with all settings turned up to high.I played this game for thirty minutes and got completely immersed again after a year of not giving it a second glance.


Warhammer (view large image)


FarCry (view large image)


FarCry (view large image)

Benchmarks

Super Pi Comparison Results

Super Pi forces the processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy and gives an idea of the processor speed and performance:

Notebook Time
Asus G1 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 7700) 1m 14s
Fujitsu LifeBook N6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo) 1m 22s
LG S1 (2.16 GHz Core Duo) 1m 11s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.00GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 53s

 

PCMark05 System Results Comparison

PCMark05 tests the system performance as a whole, below are some comparison results for the Asus G1 to other laptops:

 Notebook PCMark05 Score
Asus G1 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 7700) 4,678 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus Z84Jp (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia Go 7600) 4,739 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400) 3,646 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks

 

Aquamark 3 Score


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3DMark06 Comparison Results:

3DMark06 tests the graphics capabilities of a system, it is more demanding than 3DMark05.

Notebook  3DMark 06 Results
Asus G1J (Core 2 Duo, 2.0GHz, NVIDIA 7700) 2,382 3D Marks
HP nc8430 (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 1,745 3D Marks
Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,528 3D Marks
Dell Precison M90 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia Quadro FX 1500M) 3,926 3D Marks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX) 4,085 3D Marks
Compal HEL80 (2.0GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7600 256MB) 1,654 3D Marks
Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB) 4,744 3D Marks

 

Windows XP PRO Bootup Time

Windows XP Pro starts from post to log on in 42 seconds.

Summary

The gaming and performance of the G1 is great. To date this is one of the most powerful (<15.4” screen) gaming solutions in the world today. The looks are different from the norm, eye catching and well thought out. The screen is excellent, build quality is excellent. Overall my expectations have been met and exceeded. I highly recommend this notebook for anyone who wants to have good overall performance, play games, and own something a little bit different.


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