by David Li
The ASUS G71G-A1 is not only a gamer’s dream machine, but also an extraordinary powerhouse system. Mimicking the designs from the G50 series, the G71G-A1 is tailored to fit even the most demanding gamers and multi-taskers whom desire unique and flamboyant aesthetics. Equipped with the latest Intel Montevina processor, 9-series Nvidia dedicated graphics, dual hard drives and 6GB of memory, the G71G-A1 is designed to rip through games and programs with tremendous ease.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo processor T9400 2.53GHz 6MB L2 cache, 1066 FSB
- Graphics: nVidia GeForce 9800M GS 512MB GDDR3
- Operating system: Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
- Memory: 6GB DDR2 800MHz (2GB+2GB+2GB)
- Display: 17.1″ WUXGA (1920×1200) glossy
- Hard drive: 500GB 5400rpm SATA 2.5″ (250GB x 2)
- Optical drive: 8X DVD/RW Double layer Super Multi Drive
- Ports & slots: 4x USB 2.0, HDMI, eSATA, IEEE 1394, Express card, 8-in-1 media card reader, VGA, microphone-in, headphone-out, Ethernet
- Wireless: Intel 5100 Link 802.11a/g/n
- Battery: 8-Cell 5200 mAh
- Other features: Built in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 2.0MP webcam
- Weight: 8.5lbs
- Warranty: ASUS 2-year limited global hardware warranty + 1-year accidental damage warranty, + 30 days zero bright dot LCD warranty.
- Included accessories: Carrying case and optical mouse
- Dimensions: 16.5″ x 11.5″ x 1.7″-2.2″ (actual measurements with notebook screen closed)
- MSRP: $1,799
Reason for Buying
With the current $200 off Live.com promotion from Microsoft, it is very difficult to find another laptop for $1,599 ($200 discount included) with as much power and features as the G71G-A1. A few other laptops have crossed my mind such as the Sager NP8660 and the Sager NP9262 but given that the G71G provides the best balance between performance, weight, warranty and price, the ASUS became the clear choice for me.
Where and How Purchased
In order to take advantage of the Live.com promotion, I placed my order through GenTechPC’s eBay store and used the Buy-It-Now feature for my purchase. GenTechPC also offers several upgrade options including hard drive, operating system, and additional batteries.
What’s in the Box?
- G71G-A1 laptop
- 8-cell battery (5200 mAh)
- 120-watt power adapter
- Re-branded Targus back pack
- Copperhead Razer external optical gaming mouse
- Micro-fiber cleaning cloth
- Set of drivers, recovery DVD, CyberLink Power2Go (all-media disc burning software), and Alone in the Dark game
- Cable tie
- User manual and Quick installation guide
- Warranty card
Build and Design
The G71G is extremely robust and certainly one of the top laptops ASUS has built. Although the finish is identical to the G50 series, the chassis feels more durable and flex is virtually non-existent.
The array of ports are placed in ideal positions near the back of the laptop; likewise, the vent is also positioned at the rear which prevents hot air propelling on the user’s hands.
Front: speakers, screen latch
Left: 2x USB 2.0, firewire (IEEE 1394), media card reader, optical drive
Right: 2x USB 2.0, headphone jack, microphone jack, wireless toggle switch, ExpressCard slot
Rear: A/C in, HDMI, eSATA VGA port, LAN, Kensington lock port
The petite access doors to the ports are something I’m not too comfortable with and can do without. These access doors feel somewhat flimsy when opened, and I could visualize it being the first part to break if the laptop was accidentally dropped.
The OLED display on top of the keyboard is also a familiar feature found in the G1 and G50 series laptops; this display allows the user to view CPU/RAM usage, battery life, as well as MSN messages and e-mail notifications.
One of the most significant features on the G71G is the strikingly bright, dual-lamp LCD screen. Equipped with the AUO 2088 – B170UW02 V0 (model number from EVEREST), the panel boasts a 400 cd/m2 brightness with a contrast ratio of 600:1 (average laptop screens have 200-250 cd/m2 brightness and a 400:1 contrast ratio). Horizontal viewing angles are exceptional and the screen can be clearly viewed by people sitting two seats away from you (great for having friends over for a movie and even better for the bored stranger sitting next to you on the plane). Vertical angles are average and start to get washed out at steeper angles.
Another interesting point to note is how the screen is able to open further back than any other ASUS I’ve seen. Although many other laptops such as the Lenovo T series are able to open 180º, the G71G does a fairly nice split at ~170º.
The panel has very minor light leakage coming from the bottom but is only noticeable on a pitch black background. Bending and twisting is slightly evident with a good amount of force, but neither ripples nor distortions were visible when pressure was applied from the back. Although creaking sounds were noticeable when opening/closing the screen, the hinges are particularly tight which keeps the screen wobble to a minimum.
Thanks to the four-channel Altec Lansing speakers, the sound produced is well above average in both quality and volume compared to standard laptop speakers. Bass is still lacking and at maximum volume, the sound becomes slightly muffled and less crisp. A good set of headphones or external speakers would easily overcome these shortcomings.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I’m pleased to announce that the infamous keyboard lag that has plagued many of the recent ASUS laptops is not found in the G71G-A1. The keyboard is very pleasant to use and barely suffers from any flex. The keys provide the typical travel and tension found in most “slim” designed external keyboards and typing for long hours shouldn’t cause any discomfort. The matte finish touchpad has excellent response and fingers can glide across with ease.
Processor and Performance
Fueled by Intel’s T9400 2.54GHz processor, Nvidia’s 9800M GS graphics card and 6GB of memory, the G71G-A1 is one of the most powerful laptops currently in the market. Not only does the 9800M GS provide excellent gaming performance, the ability to house 6GB and dual hard drives also makes this laptop an excellent multi-media system or desktop replacement. Although most gamers may not fully utilize all the 6GB of RAM, users running multiple virtual machines will be especially grateful.
To better illustrate overall performance, multiple benchmarks were performed on the system shown below. All benchmarks were performed in Overclock mode with stock drivers.
Windows Index Experience:
3DMark06 at 1280×720 (Notebook Review in-house 3DMark06 resolution is 1280×800):
3DMark06 at 1280×1024 (Standard default resolution):
Heat and Noise
The G71G-A1 runs very cool for a gaming laptop. Idle temperatures are similar to those of a non-gaming laptop; CPU at 40ºC, GPU at 61ºC and HDD at 41ºC (power saving mode). The CPU and GPU top out at 65ºC and 70ºC respectively while running 3DMark06 (overclocked mode). During load, the fans spin faster and louder, but still at an acceptable level and less audible than its G50 sibling.
Devil May Cry 4 – 1680×1050 resolution with texture resolution, shadow quality and quality set on high, Vsync on and MSAA on x8.
Red Alert 3 – 1920×1200 resolution with high settings and AA disabled.
Call of Duty: World at War – 1920×1200 resolution with all details enabled, normal dynamic lights and AA off, model and water details set to normal.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – 1680×1050 resolution with all details enabled, normal dynamic lights and AA off, model and water details set to normal.
For a gaming laptop, the battery life on the G71G-A1 is slightly below average. With a 100% charge, Vista was able to calculate a duration of 2 hours and 15 minutes on power saving mode. However, real life testing shows a less modest number. Having brightness set at minimum, I was able to squeeze just under 1.5 hours while surfing the internet, word processing, listening to music on iTunes and downloading miscellaneous programs.
At the price of $1,799 ($1,599 with live.com’s rebate), the ASUS G71G-A1 is superior in its class. Whether you plan to game extensively or multi-task like a ninja, the ASUS can gladly satisfy almost everyone’s needs. The vast variety of ports and dual hard drives also makes it a perfect multi-media system or desktop replacement. The unit also comes standard with a generous two-year international warranty, one-year accidental protection and 30-day zero bright-dot screen guarantee at no additional charge. In spite of being one of the first 17″ gaming laptops to incorporate a spectacular dual-lamp screen and other impressive hardware, the G71G-A1 still inherits the notorious “below average” battery life of its predecessors. All in all, if you are a gamer or power user looking for a powerful, “bang for buck” laptop, the ASUS G71G series may just be the ideal system for you.
- Top notch screen with excellent brightness, contrast and viewing angles
- Powerful enough for demanding gamers
- Wide variety of ports
- Bundled with free backpack and Razer Copperhead gaming mouse
- Runs very cool
- Well priced
- Below average battery life
- Port access doors feel fragile
- Screen hinge creaks when opening/closing
- Aesthetics may not appeal to everyone