Asus G2S User Review

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The Asus G2S-A1 is one of Asus’ new G2 gaming series notebooks made in response to Santa Rosa. It is a 17.1 inch desktop replacement notebook (DTR). While maintaining a mobile status over an actual desktop, it is one of the heftier DTR’s weighing a heavy a 9.6 pounds (4.3 KG). The weight and large footprint however, are justified by the powerful parts within, and allows Asus to be accurate in placing this notebook in its gaming series. Below are full specifications for this notebook:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo Processors T7500 2.2GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB
  • LCD Size & Resolution: 17.1 WUXGA (1920×1200) Glossy
  • MB Chipset: Intel 965PM
  • Optical Drive: 8x Super-Multi DVDRW Dual layer with Light Scribe
  • Memory: 2048MB DDR2 667Mhz (1GBx2) Two sockets for expansion up to 4GB
  • VGA Card: nVidia GeForce 8600M GT w/256MB VRAM support Support GDDR3 type VRAM, 256MB
  • Hard Drive: 160GB 5400rpm SATA
  • WLAN: 802.11A/G/N
  • LAN/Fax Modem: 10/100/1000, Fax Modem
  • Battery/Run Time: Li-ion 8 cell/2hrs
  • USB/1394/IrDA/S-Video/DVI: 5/1/0/1/0 (AV-In*1, HDMI*1, eSATA*1)
  • Bluetooth: Yes v2.0 +EDR
  • Card Slots: 5-in-1 (MMC, SD, MS/MS-Pro, XD) / Express Card
  • Color/Weight/Dimension (W*D*H): Silver/ 9.6 lbs / 16"*12"*0.18"
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Camera: 1.3MP Webcam w/Integrated Mic
  • Special Features: ASUS Direct Messenger, ASUS Direct Flash, Gaming feature – Gaming focused keyboard

Reasons for Buying


Asus G2S (view large image)

As a student and frequent PC gamer, I wanted a notebook with powerful components capable of gaming, a large 17” screen, and a reasonable price. Mobility wasn’t a dominating factor as the notebook would be on my desk most of the time, while occasionally being moved and around the house and brought to school.

I initially looked at the Dell Inspiron 1720 and the Toshiba X200. I decided against the 1720 soon after looking into it for two reasons: One, I didn’t believe the nVidia 8600M GT DDR2 would suffice for my gaming needs, and two, reports of extended shipping periods and defects were too common for my liking. I decided against the Toshiba X200 because of its sluggish HDD running at 4200rpm, its modest 1GB of RAM, its high price in Canada as opposed to the U.S., and I didn’t like the 1.8GHz processor. Upon asking for assistance in the forums, the Asus G2S-A1 was immediately recommended. After some additional research, I decided this notebook was perfect: It had the GDDR3 version of the 8600m GT, it had a powerful processor and plenty and RAM, it was somewhat mobile, and it had an appealing price tag.

Where and How Purchased

After some bad experiences in the past with online purchasing, I decided to buy my Asus directly from a "brick and mortar" store. I visited a Canada Computers outlet, where I ended up purchasing my notebook because I was impressed with the service, and the overall store environment. The store was large, organized and had an abundance of computers, parts and accessories.

The price I paid was a temporary sale price (~ $1,800.00), which I believe was a very good deal as most other places I looked retailed it for ~ $2,000.00.

Build and Design

Because of the G2’s gaming grade components, I was not at all surprised to find this notebook is a beast. Weighing in at a massive 9.6 pounds, it is certainly heavier than your average DTR. Then again, this is not your average DTR. While it is particularly heavy, I was surprised to find its actual footprint isn’t as big as I expected, and I was impressed that it was less than 2” thick. However, I found it odd that the screen was extended on the top and bottom quite a bit with two large strips of plastic, making the overall width of the notebook quite long.

I was content with the build of this notebook. The chassis is very strong and does not give at all when pressure is applied. I wasn’t as thrilled with the screen casing, as it did twist. However, no ripples appeared when the outside was pressed. The hinges proved to be very strong and moved in a fluid motion, but the latch did not hold the screen down as securely as I might have liked.


Web camera (view large image)

In terms of looks, this laptop doesn’t disappoint. I loved the lid, which appears to either laminated brushed aluminum or some fake material that looks like laminated brushed aluminum. Either way, it’s pretty. Upon opening the lid you will immediately recognize this notebook as a gaming machine. The webcam has a sleek, neat looking design, and the vents that border the keyboard share a similar design with their red paint-job. Most of the inside has a glossy surface that looks great, just beware of fingerprints. I loved how the palm-rest is made of actual brushed aluminum. Not only does it look and feel cool, but it even stays cool when the rest of the notebook gets hot. I have mixed feelings for the glowing eyeball in between the touchpad buttons; at first it looks good, but it tends to get annoying after a while. I was thankful that it could be easily turned off simply by disabling the touchpad.

Screen

If there is one thing that stands out on the Asus G2S-A1, it is the beautiful 17-inch WUXGA screen. The colors are exquisite, vibrant, and the screen is very bright. There is virtually no ghosting while gaming, and (according to Asus) the screen has a whopping 8ms response time. Just like every other notebook on the market, this screen utilizes a company-specific technology (ex. Dell = Ultrasharp, TrueLife etc.). The technologies are ColorShine and Asus Splendid Utility. ColorShine is simply a technology by Asus that is pretty much self explanatory: It enhances colors. The Splendid Utility on the other hand is a piece of software that allows you to customize the screens settings for your personal preference, and for specific uses. For example, if you were to view a DVD, you might set it to “theatre mode”.


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The WUXGA is fantastic and offers a true HD experience. It also permits you to work with several open windows simultaneously.

I do have one gripe though: There is visible backlight bleeding on the top and bottom of the screen. I won’t go so far as to say it’s obtrusive, but it’s certainly noticeable on a dark screen.


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I was lucky to have no dead pixels, but that was not a worry for me anyway. Asus has a 30-day dead pixel policy that dictates that your Asus laptop will be replaced if a dead pixel is found within 30 days.

Speakers

The one true disappointment I have with this notebook is integrated speaker quality. The speakers were placed under the notebook, directly below the aluminum palm-rest. Rubber feet elevate the two channels off of the surface the laptop is on.

My first test with the speakers was a simply music test. While it didn’t sound "bad" they felt weak and a bit tinny. There was absolutely no bass present. The volume was disappointing too; when gaming or watching DVD’s, the speakers just couldn’t get loud enough to realistically reproduce the sounds.

While I am disappointed, I wasn’t expecting to use the integrated speakers anyways, except during travel. When on my desk, my G2 is always connected to a 5.1 speaker setup (it achieves surround sound because the speakers have a hardware based matrix processor). And so I recommend to anyone who intends on purchasing this notebook to purchase external speakers with it. The integrated ones just don’t do the job.

Processor and Performance

I am thoroughly impressed with the performance of this notebook. I am of course not surprised; if a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, 2GB of 667MHz RAM and a nVidia 8600m GT w/256MB GDDR3 vRAM didn’t render great performance, I would have been concerned. Booting up is always quick, and simple programs like IE7 or Microsoft Word open at lightning speed upon a double click. After using an old Pentium 4 desktop for some time, I truly enjoyed the multitasking capabilities I had. I can easily be downloading music, listening to music, running a virus scan and browsing the web all simultaneously with only a hint of slowdown. In terms of gaming performance, I basically got what I expected: I can run somewhat graphic intensive games at reasonable resolutions and very high settings. The only games I have tried to run so far are Doom 3 and Far Cry. My results playing the games are as followed:

Doom 3:

  • Settings- 1024 x 768, Maximum Settings
  • Average FPS: 86 fps

Far Cry:

  • Settings- 1024 x 768, High Settings
  • Average FPS: 80 fps

I am impressed with the gaming results and would feel confident playing any new DX10 at medium-high settings. I don’t think I could ask much more from an 8600m GT.

Benchmarks

I used two programs to test the performance of the notebook: “Super Pi” and “HD Tune”.

Super Pi forces the prcoessor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, below are some comparison results:

Notebook Time
Asus G2S (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.20GHz) 0m 54s
HP Pavilion dv2550se Verve (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 1m 24s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s

 

HD Tune Results:

Transfer Rate:  

  • Minimum 17.2 MB/sec
  • Maximum 47.7 MB/sec
  • Average 35.6 MB/sec

Access Time:

  • 17.3 ms

Burst Rate:

  • 77.9 MB/sec

CPU Usage:

  • 6.7%

Heat and Noise

While gaming machines typically produce excessive heat and noise, the G2 has proved itself to be an exception; at least with noise. The notebook uses an efficient fan-cooling system, with two vents purposefully placed alongside the keyboard to take in cool air, and a large vent along the back to push out hot air. While the fans are almost always on even during light usage, they are not at all noisy or distracting. In terms of heat, however, it produces what would be expected of a gaming machine: Lots of it! During long periods of intensive use, the bottom of the laptop will become very hot, and would likely burn you mildly if you placed it directly on your lap. The keys on the keyboard itself actually get somewhat warm, as does the glossy surface around it. The palm-rest however, strategically made of brushed, aluminum stays pleasantly cool. Outside the back vent, there is a constant stream of hot air. While the air is not scalding, it still is quite hot and thankfully the vent doesn’t actually “blow” the air out; it simply “pushes” it.

Keyboard and Touchpad


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I am very happy with the keyboard and touchpad on the G2. The keyboard is unlike any I’ve ever used on a notebook; the typing experience is similar to that of an actual external keyboard. The keys go down as far as I’ve ever experienced on the laptop, and with each pressed key is a satisfying click. While I have noticed some keyboard flex, it is not in excess and actually contributes to “cushy keying”. In terms of gaming this keyboard is completely competent, and with the main gaming keys labelled distinctively in red, it establishes itself as of a gaming keyboard.


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The touchpad is satisfyingly large and responsive, and I especially liked its texture which can be described only as a good compromise between rough and smooth. That said, I didn’t find the buttons such a joy to use. I found that too much pressure was needed to push the buttons, and the audible “click” is far too loud.


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In between the touchpad lies a unique, glowing eye. It isn’t just there to be pretty as most may assume; it’s also an indicator of whether the touchpad is enabled or disabled. As commented before, it seems like a neat detail at first, but the glowing eye tends to get annoying after a while. As long as you don’t actually use the touchpad, this is easily fixed simply by disabling the touchpad.

Most people will appreciate the dedicated media keys located along the front edge of the notebook, in front of the touchpad. Unfortunately, pressing them is awkward. The buttons do not stick up at all, and I find that to properly press them I need to use my fingernail. Nevertheless, they still do the job and are more convenient than using the mouse all the time to control media. Sitting right next to the media keys is a button of the same type that is labelled “power”. While I believe it was designed to boot some kind of Asus media software in XP, in Vista it simply boots Windows and then Windows Media Center, rendering it quite useless.

Input and Ports

You’ve got to hand it to Asus; they stuffed just about as many ports as they could on the G2 with only a few flaws. As well as the standard array of ports found on DTR notebooks (except for a DVI), it also includes some bonuses like a premium HDMI port. I was surprised in Asus’ decision not include a DVI port. It’s not devastating, but it means that if someone wants a beautiful picture on an external display (not an analog connection), they will have to find something that’s HDMI-compatible. Another gripe is the fact that all but one of the five USB 2.0 ports are located on the rear of the machine, to the consumer’s inconvenience. While it might have been nice if Asus had put more than one USB port on the side, it can be easily solved by using a USB hub. Below is a complete list of inputs and ports:

  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x eSATA Port
  • 1 x Express card
  • 1 x Microphone-in jack
  • 1 x Headphone-out jack (S/PDIF)
  • 1 x VGA port
  • 5 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 Wireless ON/OFF switch (Wireless Console to control Wireless/BT)
  • 1 x SIR
  • 1 x CIR
  • 1 x TV-out(S-Video)


The back view of the G2S-A1 with lock slot, S-video out, VGA out, HDMI, and four USB 2.0 ports. (view large image)


The left side view of the notebook with modem and Ethernet ports, USB port, microphone and headphone ports, SPDIF output jack,firewire, ExpressCard, multi-card reader, and wireless on/off. (view large image)


The front side view with media control buttons and eSATA port. (view large image)


The right side with Lightscribe DVD drive and power jack. (view large image)


The bottom view with vents, memory expansion access, and battery. (view large image)

Wireless

There’s not really much to say in terms of wireless. It has an 802.11A/G/N wireless card that connects with no trouble to my router in the basement, and easily recognizes routers of neighbour’s.

It has v2.0 +EDR Bluetooth and infrared, however I can’t comment on either as I have to yet to use them.

Battery

Battery life for the G2 was adequate. I was not expecting long battery life for such a beast, and my expectations proved true. Under normal use with screen brightness high and wireless on, I could achieve just more than 80 minutes of use. Under normal use with brightness low and wireless off, the notebook had juice for more than 135 minutes. While battery life would be better if Asus had put a nine-cell or even a twelve-cell battery in G2, battery life was satisfactory and I don’t think I could have asked for much more from a gaming machine.

Operating System and Software

I am personally pro-Vista, and actually enjoy using it as opposed to XP. While it is true that there are some flaws includng a minor decrease in gaming performance, there are many reasons that I think the Vista upgrade is a worthy upgrade. A few of the reason include:

  • Quick Launch is very convenient and makes searching for ANYTHING in Vista simple and easy (advanced searching has some improvements too)
  • With Vista’s beefy security, the whole operating environment becomes much safer and more secure
  • Simple programs like Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Mail, while often overlooked, are very useful and are decent and simple substitutes for expensive, third-party software

These are only a few reasons that make Vista a beneficial upgrade. Not required, but beneficial. I guess it’s just personal opinion and preference when it comes to Microsoft’s new OS.

In terms of the software put on by Asus, there are definitely too many useless programs preinstalled, like “Chk Mail” and trials for antivirus software and productivity suites. It ends up being only a minor annoyance though, as the programs are easily uninstalled.

Extras

There are a few extra goodies that come with the G2, like an OLED notification display and a gaming mouse.

The OLED display is a neat feature that notifies you of some basic activities going on in your OS while like an instant message or a new email. While it seems like a neat gimmick, it tends to be more of a “cool accessory” rather than anything especially useful.

Also integrated into the notebook are side gaming lights that flash monotonously when any DirectX 9 or later game is played. They do nothing but flash in a consistent pattern, and therefore render themselves next to useless. I quickly disabled them, but for those who really want the gaming laptop feel, the lights are a fine extra.


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Also included are a gaming mouse and an LCD cleaning cloth. The gaming mouse is actually a Logitech MX 518 with Asus decor. It is extremely ergonomic to use (at least for right handed users) and with an abundance of customizable keys and on-the-fly sensitivity change, it establishes itself as a great, optical gaming mouse. While the LCD cleaning cloth is a rather small extra, it nevertheless appreciated. I find myself in constant need of a cleaning cloth as I always like to keep my screen particle-free, and the cloth included is great at trapping anything on the screen.

Customer Support

Since I have had no problems so far, I can’t comment on Asus Support. With Canada Computers though, I am confident that they would be easy to deal with and helpful, as I’ve already experienced this when purchasing the notebook.

Conclusion

After spending many hours with my new Asus G2S-A1, I am thrilled to say that the NBR forum members were right in recommending me this machine. You certainly get what you pay for: A strong, attractive notebook with powerful application and gaming performance. Extras like the OLED display and media keys impact the overall user-experience very well, and I couldn’t be happier with what I have. Sure, there are a few flaws like weak speakers and no DVI port, but they should be no reason to turn away from this notebook. I would easily recommend this to anyone who needs a DTR with great gaming performance, and don’t want to spend an arm and leg.

Pros

  • Good, solid build
  • Very attractive and stylish
  • Relatively quiet
  • Great gaming and application performance
  • Gorgeous WUXGA screen
  • Great keyboard

Cons

  • It’s heavy, even for its class
  • Lots of heat
  • Missing a DVI port
  • Touchpad buttons need too much pressure and are loud
  • Very average speakers


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