Asus G1S-A1 Review

by one1sock Reads (371,121)

by Won-Suk Choi

The Asus G1 15.4" laptop was released at the end if 2006 and recently Asus has updated that model with the Santa Rosa based G1S. This G1S defies traditional categorization since it provides gaming performance while maintaining a mobile capability. Normally gaming notebooks are isolated to larger entertainment style laptops that have low battery life. However, the powerful Asus G1S can provide excellent multimedia and gaming performance while remaining portable with good battery life.


Asus G1S (view large image)

Specifications as reviewed:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, 2.2 GHz 4MB L2 Cache 800MHz FSB,
  • Santa Rosa Intel Mobile 965 PM Express Chipset + ICH8M
  • 2 GB RAM 667MHz (up to 4GB supported)
  • Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT, 256 MB onboard, 512 MB Turbo Cache DX 10 Capable HDCP support for DVI port
  • 160 GB HDD Seagate Momentus 7200.2, 7200 rpm SATA 300 (upgrade from 160 GB 5400rpm)
  • 15.4” WSXGA+ (1680×1050) ColorShine TFT-LCD Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology
  • 8X DVD Super Multi drive with LightScribe
  • Intel Integrated HD audio (Azalia), Bluetooth v2.0
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 4965 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Ports:
    • 1 x Express Card
    • 1 x Microphone-in jack
    • 1 x Headphone-out jack (S/PDIF)
    • 1 x Line-in jack
    • 1 x VGA port
    • 1 x DVI-D port
    • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
    • 1 x IEEE 1394 port
    • 1 x RJ11 Modem jack for phone line
    • 1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
    • 1 x TV-out(S-Video)
    • 1 x eSATA
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x Memory card reader (MMC, SD, MS, MS-Pro)
  • Accessories Provided:
    • 1 Optical Gaming Mouse (Logitech)
    • 1 AC Adaptor
    • 1 Targus Backpack
    • 3 recovery CDs (1 for vista, 1 for drivers and 1 for Nero burning software)
  • O/S and other software:
    • Windows Vista Home Premium (32 bit)
    • Assorted Asus Utilities

Included software (view large image)

 

Reasons for Buying


Asus G1S out of the box (view large image)

My 4-year old Dell Inspiron 8600 was getting old and unstable, so I decided to start shopping around and got very frustrated with the usual big manufacturer names. They touted customizability for their notebooks, but sometimes only allow one choice. I was not getting the flexibility I needed to build a system I needed. I wanted a powerful gaming laptop in a package no larger than 15.4” screen size since I take my laptop to school on a daily basis. Once I looked outside of the mainstream manufacturers I found Asus and their G1s offering and it fit the bill perfectly for what I needed — a powerful system, nicely designed and with the latest components in a 15.4" screen form factor.


(view large image)

Where Purchased

I narrowed down my retail choices for buying the Asus G1S to GentechPC.com and MilestonePC.com. Both retailers had decent ratings on review websites I found, but I decided to go with Gentech PC due to their slightly lower price ($1,929 as opposed to $1,999). I was very happy with the service I received at Gentech PC, and a tip of the hat goes to Ken Lee there who accommodated my every request and was very patient with the thousands of questions I had for him.

Design and Build Quality

The Asus G1s has a solid construction and nice finish. I was particularly worried about having a wobbly screen as my Dell Inspiron 8600 is a nightmare in that department. Thankfully the hinges of my new Asus were solid and the screen only wobbled very slightly. The glossy carbon fibre finish is a very nice touch.


Asus G1S underside (view large image)

The only issue I really have with the design of the G1S is with the placement of the USB ports. They are all clumped in the back. Since laptop users often make use of peripheral devices, clumping the USB ports in one location is not the best thing to do. For example, if one had to use a USB key, the key would hamper access to the USB port below it. I consider this a minor issue though.

Input and Output Ports

The Asus G1S has the following ports:

  • 1 x TypeII PCMCIA slot
  • 1 x Microphone-in jack
  • 1 x Headphone-out jack (S/PDIF)
  • 1 x Line-in jack
  • 1 x VGA port
  • 1 x DVI-D port
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 x IEEE 1394 port (4 pin)
  • 1 x RJ11 Modem jack for phone line
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
  • 1 x TV-out(S-Video)


Asus G1 Left side view (view large image)


Asus G1 Right side view (view large image)


Asus G1 Front side view (view large image)


Asus G1 Back view (view large image)

As you can see, all of the USB ports are clumped on the back side, which is a bit unfortunate in my opinion.

Screen

The laptop has a native resolution of WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050) displayed on a 15.4-inch TFT screen.

The screen is beautiful with a slight hint of imperfection. There is a touch of light leakage on the bottom portion of the screen. I am not overly sensitive to this and it’s only really noticeable on a black screen and if you’re looking for it.

There are no dead pixels on this screen, if there were Asus has a 30 day zero-bright-dot guarantee so you can be confident you could resolve such an issue anyway. There is no ghosting on the screen. I am very happy with the screen so far and it is a huge step up from my old inspiron 8600.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard has great tactile response and is quiet. The keyboard is well built and key placement is quite intuitive. I don’t like how the “Home”, “PgUp”, “PgDn” and “End” keys are in a vertical row at the very end of the keyboard, but this will not be a problem in the long run as I get used to it. The palm rest for the keyboard is made of brushed aluminum which looks and feels great. 

I really like the “feel” of the touchpad. Instead of a smooth texture, it feels almost rough, which gives great feedback when using the touchpad. The buttons are made of brushed aluminium and likewise feel solid and give great feedback when pressed. The buttons don’t feel like a cheap plastic button that gets loose after a while, such as what happened on my Dell Inspiron 8600.


Touchpad closeup (view large image)

I was particularly impressed with the keyboard and touchpad since factors such as tactile feedback and the like really reflect the manufacturer’s attention to detail and demonstrates that they are looking to manufacture the complete package and not just slap a decent graphics card and processor in a plastic box.


Included free mouse (view large image)

Speakers

The main issue I have with the G1S is regarding the built in speakers. While there is a certain expectation of poor quality for laptop speakers, the G1S has speakers that do not even attain the average for laptops. They are tinny and the sounds echo as though the speakers were alone in a large chamber. Even when you’re right next to the laptop, the speakers sound as though they were in another room with the door closed. It seems most likely to be poor placement and low quality speakers with bad fidelity. My Inspiron 8600 has much better speakers, which thankfully is the only department my old laptop surpasses my new one. It definitely is not a sound card issue as the sound card is very passable with headphones or external speakers. But this might just be the audiophile in me talking and in the big picture, I don’t expect to make heavy use of the laptop speakers and will use my Creative Gigaworks speakers instead (which are highly recommended for gaming).

Processing Speed and Games

The laptop has excellent start up time and is very responsive. I have run movies while chatting, browsing and typing all at the same time with no problems whatsoever. Vista is new to me, but the interface is much improved and I find it intuitive

So far I have played Supreme Commander at 1024×768 and high levels of detail with no problems at all (the settings were on no antialiasing and low shadow, but texture details and other details on high). Command and Conquer 3 posed absolutely no problems and was played on the highest level of detail.

As a side note, I would highly recommend the Seagate Momentus 7200.2 (upgrade available from Gentech) as it is very quiet and the SATA 300 makes it very quick. I am no expert when it comes to the architecture of the computer, but I suspect that the quick hard drive load times might explain my slightly higher 3DMark 06 scores that others seem to be getting with the G1S.

Unfortunately, I do not use CAD programs or similarly demanding professional software so I am unable to comment on the computer’s performance in that regard. Lastly, the bloatware supplied by Asus is time consuming and tedious to remove, but other than that, I am very pleased with the performance of the computer.

Benchmarks

All graphics benchmarks were run with settings at 1024×768 no anti-aliasing, optimal filtering, HLSL VS and PS target: 3_0

3DMark05 Results and comparison:

3DMark05 tests the graphics processing capabilities of a system:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Asus G1S (Core 2 Duo T7500 2.20GHz, NVidia 8600M) 7,704 3D Marks
Asus G1J (Core 2 Duo, 2.0GHz, NVIDIA 7700) 4,247 3D Marks
Asus W7J (Core Duo 1.83GHz, NVIDIA 7400) 1,974 3D Marks
Asus W3J (1.83Ghz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 3,925 3D Marks
Sony VAIO SZ2 (2.16GHz Core Duo, NVIDIA GeForce 7400) 1,851 3D Marks
Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX) 4,236 3D Marks
Alienware Aurora M-7700 (AMD Dual Core FX-60, Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX) 7,078 3D Marks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, NVIDIA Go 7400 256MB) 2,090 3D Marks

 

3DMark06 Comparison Results:

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

Notebook  3DMark 06 Results
Asus G1S (Core 2 Duo T7500 2.20GHz, NVidia 8600M) 3,816 3D Marks
Asus G1J (Core 2 Duo, 2.0GHz, NVIDIA 7700) 2,389 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 Vista Experience Index

The built-in Windows Vista Experience Index benchmark indicates that the G1S will have absolutely no problems running Vista:


(view large image)

 

Wireless and Bluetooth

The new Intel PRO/Wireless 4965 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless card seems greatly improved over my old wireless card in the Inspiron 8600 and consistently gets 1mb/s download rates and above on a cable connection with an 802.11g wireless router. A 579 MB program downloaded in 9 min and 36 seconds. My old Inspiron with an older a/b/g card maxes out on the same connection at 300kb/s for the same download (same download location, same file). 

The Bluetooth works well and I managed to sync my Treo 680 with my laptop with no problems.

Heat and noise

I was quite impressed with the heat management on this computer, after playing Supreme Commander for a few hours, the heat levels were still low.

I was likewise impressed with the noise. The cooling fan is quiet and the Seagate hard drive was extremely quiet. The DVD player was somewhat louder but will only be a problem in a room with zero ambient noise.

Battery Life

The battery life is decent for the G1S. I watched a movie on the power saving mode and the battery went for 2hrs 30 minutes with about 6% left. Not astounding battery life, but definitely decent for this sized laptop.

Conclusion

The G1S-A1 is a great buy with solid build quality and good performance for the price. I definitely recommend this laptop. I also highly recommend getting this laptop from Gentech PC as they did a great job of accommodating my somewhat demanding requests for changes in configuration and shipping as well as my constant stream of questions.

Pros

  • Solid build quality from the high quality screen to the minutiae such as the tactile feedback from the keyboard, touchpad and buttons
  • Very good processing performance.
  • Decent pricing
  • Very nice aesthetic that is well suited to its gaming purpose.

Cons

  • Poor speakers
  • Minor problems such as clumping of the USB ports and personal preferences for the positioning of the Home, PgUp, PgDn and End keys.
  • Bloatware


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