The ASUS G73JW is a new 17.3" gaming notebook powered by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M graphics card. Earlier this year we reviewed the ATI Radeon 5870 equipped G73JH, so now we have the chance to see how NVIDIA's GPU stacks up. Read our full in-depth review to see how well the ASUS G73JW-A1 with the NVIDIA GTX 460M performs.
Our ASUS G73JW-A1 Specifications:
Special thanks go out to GenTech for loaning us this ASUS G73JW
At first glance the ASUS G73JW looks like a slightly bulkier than average gaming notebook because of its large posterior. The depth is slightly greater than that of the 17-inch Alienware m17x, but it is for a very good reason. ASUS went above and beyond to create a superior cooling system for the G73JW which uses two large exhaust grills located on the back edge of the notebook to exhaust the heat from the GPU and CPU. In testing this design worked out very well, making it hard for us to really think of the bigger backend as a con.
The overall design of the ASUS G73 is very stealth-like with a matte-black exterior with only relatively small ASUS logo printed on the screen cover. Not counting the LCD-surface itself, the G73 has no glossy surface located anywhere on the exterior or interior of the notebook. If you plan on taking this system to a large gaming event with bright overhead lighting, as long as you position the screen just right, you won't see any glare bouncing off glossy plastic.
The interior does include some custom blue LED-lighting, but none of it was bright enough to be overly apparent or annoying. The four quick-access buttons above the keyboard are backlit with LED's as well as the trim underneath the screen. Under normal lighting conditions the lighting under the screen was barely visible and in a dark room didn't seem to increase visibility around the notebook. Keyboard illumination was not a problem though, as the entire keyboard was backlit with white LEDs. The brightness level was adjustable and ranged from a strong level to weak enough that viewing it in a dark room wouldn't hurt your vision.
Screen and Speakers
The ASUS G73JW has a beautiful 17.3-inch 16:9 display with a resolution of 1920x1080. It is a glare or glossy style display so you do have some reflections to deal with, but it is nowhere near as bad as all-glass displays which have another glossy layer on top of an already glossy LCD. Color vibrancy and contrast were excellent, with exceptionally good black levels. We measured an average brightness of 160nit and a contrast ratio of 909:1 with our Gossen Mavo light meter. Viewing angles were above average, with colors staying true to about 20 degrees of vertical movement forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were better with the screen staying visible until about 75 degrees, where reflections off the screen overpowered what it was displaying.
The onboard speakers work pretty well for a gaming rig, but fall short compared to similarly sized multimedia oriented notebooks. The speakers are of average size located just above the keyboard, hidden by a mesh cover that extends below the screen. The notebook also features a subwoofer mounted on the bottom which helped add to the low-end and midrange. They work well for listening to in-game audio, playing music, or watching a movie, although you can still get higher quality audio from headphones or an external stereo. In our tests they adequately filled a medium sized office with sound at max volume.
The ASUS G73JW features a spacious full-size keyboard with numberpad and still has plenty of space left over thanks to its wide 17.3-inch chassis. The keyboard is comfortable to type on for extended periods of time and with its built-in backlit it was easy to use under night or day conditions. The keyboard is a Chiclet or island-style design which increases the spacing between each key which in some cases can reduce typing errors. Individual key action was smooth and quiet, requiring very little pressure to activate a key.
Ports and Features
Users looking for a lot of cool features will enjoy the port selection on the G73JW. ASUS includes three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, Ethernet, VGA and HDMI-out, and a SDHC-card reader. The new configurations also sports a Blu-ray reader and DVD-burner combo drive to enjoy newer high-definition movies. The only item missing in my opinion is an eSATA port, which still offer better transfer speeds than USB 3.0, and has greater aftermarket support.
Front: Activity lights
Rear: Battery, Kensington lock slot
Left: LAN, USB 2.0, optical drive, USB 2.0, audio jacks
Right: SDHC-card slot, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI-out, VGA-out, DC-power input
Performance and Benchmarks
The ASUS G73JW-A1 comes equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M graphics, 8GB of system memory, and two 500GB 7200RPM hard drives. From the start this system has the cards stacked in its favor when it comes to gaming and overall system performance. In our tests the notebook could handle everything we could throw at it.
As a multimedia rig the ASUS G73JW had no trouble at all playing 720P and 1080P videos. In fact you could play two or three HD movies simultaneously if you could find space to show them on multiple video outputs. Streaming HD Flash from sites such as YouTube barely made the system break a sweat. If you plan on only using this system to watch movies-the screen is really nice, but come on-the only word that comes to mind is overkill.
System benchmarks showed very good performance, coming in very close to what the previous ATI 5870 equipped G73JH produced. Both video cards gave similar performance levels in synthetic benchmarks, but the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M seemed to fall behind slightly in our Left 4 Dead 2 tests. In the previous review we measured an average framerate of 117FPS at 1920x1080 resolution with the detail settings high, but with the GTX 460M it only managed 87FPS average. That is still a good number but it is a significant drop compared to the previous configuration of the ASUS G73 series. The G73JW also came up short in PCMark05, which is very strange considering this configuration has a slightly faster processor.
Wprime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
One of the key features of the ASUS G73-series gaming notebook is its impressive cooling system. As we mentioned in the design section, the cooling exhausts dominate the back of the notebook, with two huge vents exiting left and right. In our tests we found this cooling system to work extremely well even under continuous stress. With both the CPU and GPU under stress all touch areas of the G73JW stayed reasonable cool, with a peak of 95F. We did measure a hotspot of 108F, but it was right on the upper edge near one of the exhaust vents. It was located on a slant and up and away from where it would be if it was resting on your lap.
During this period under stress, the system fans moved a great deal of air without creating a ton of noise. We measured the fan noise level to be 47dB at a distance of 12-inches. Under a full GPU and CPU load with Rthdribl and wPrime running for 10 minutes the CPU stabilized at 70C and the GPU stayed at 66C. Once the loads were removed the CPU cooled down to 42C and the GPU dropped to 43C.
When it comes to battery life, gaming notebooks are never known to give earth shattering results. Big screens, combined with a highend CPU and GPU means short battery life even with a high capacity battery. It is nice to say were were pleasantly surprised by the new ASUS G73JW in our battery tests though. With the screen brightness reduced to 70%, wireless active and refreshing a webpage every 60 seconds, and Windows 7 on a balanced profile we squeezed out 2 hours and 48 minutes before the system went into hibernation.
The ASUS G73JW is a formidable gaming system powered by the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M graphics card. Gamers looking for high performance, good build quality, and excellent comfort will enjoy the G73-series notebook. The design takes a bit to get used to, but it really helps with keeping internal and external components cool under stress. Build quality was very good with great materials quality and very strong components. The only flex we found anywhere on the chassis was on the left side of the keyboard above the optical drive, and even that was pretty mild. Overall if you are in the market for a new gaming system you should really consider the G73-series notebook from ASUS, coming in both ATI and NVIDIA configurations.