ASUS G74SX-A1 Gaming Notebook Review
With people increasingly on the go, many have left behind their desktop PCs in favor of the portability which laptops, netbooks and to a lesser extent, tablets provide. Even some gamers are gravitating towards laptops which specifically fit their needs and companies like ASUS, MSI and Dell have begun catering to this market niche with some really interesting products.
ASUS’ latest efforts have focused upon using NVIDIA’s new GTX 560M to create a lineup of G74SX gaming laptops that are powerful, well priced and quite efficient when used in day to day tasks. The G74 lineup consists of no fewer than eight standard models with vendor-exclusives sold through stores like Best Buy and TigerDirect. They will range in price from $1200 (1600x900 screen, GTX 560M, 8GB memory, 1 year warranty), all the way up to $1999 (1080P 3D screen, GTX 560M, 12GB, 2 year warranty) so pay attention to the specifications before taking the plunge on this one. The subject of this review however is the G74SX-A1 which goes for around $1749 and has some suitably high end specifications.
The inclusion of the GTX 560M will give this notebook plenty of gaming horsepower but you won’t find any Optimus support here. ASUS seems to feel the increased battery life this technology brings to the table has no place on a gaming notebook. What really caught our eye though was the warranty: 2 years of standard warranty service with a single year of accidental damage coverage and 30 days of protection against any display issues like stuck pixels.
Pictures just can’t do this fact justice but the G74SX is a deceptively large laptop due to its 17.3” screen size and high end hardware specifications. Luckily, ASUS includes a custom Targus carrying backpack because even our 17” compatible Dell bag wouldn’t fit the G74 into its confines. This thing is hefty too with a weight of just over eight pounds once its 8-cell battery is installed. So don’t expect to be carting the G74SX to school with you on a daily basis without being hunched over.
Unlike other gaming laptops that look and feel like oversized bricks, ASUS’ has some subtle design elements that work to slim things down a bit. It also exhibits excellent build quality and even after weeks of testing it didn’t creak or bow in any way after being schlepped around to and from work.
There aren’t any glaring issues here other than one small oversight on ASUS’ part: due to the overlapping design, the G74SX’s battery charging light can’t be seen when the lid is closed so a quick glance won’t tell you if it’s ready to go mobile.
The G74SX is certainly not sexy by any stretch of the imagination but ASUS has added a slight bevel to the lid (which is coated in an excellent rubberized finish) and the entire outer shell narrows to about 0.8” as it approaches the palm rest’s leading edge. But at a maximum of 2.4” thick, there is no way this thing can be considered svelte by any stretch of the imagination.
With the lines of a supermodel but the heft of a sumo wrestler, there are plenty of places for connection options and it looks like ASUS took full advantage of the real estate. The right side of the G74SX houses the power connector, a LAN jack, a mini-HDMI output, two USB ports (one of which is compatible with SuperSpeed USB 3.0), a VGA connector and a 5-in-1 media card reader. The left side meanwhile has the headphone / mic jacks, two more USB 2.0 ports and a Kensington lock. Bluetooth, wireless 802.11 a/g/n and a 2.0MP webcam have also been built into the chassis.
Supposedly the G74 series sports a much improved cooling design over the previous G73 series and if the new massively endowed cooling vents are any indication, we’d be inclined to agree with ASUS on this one. In order to quickly disperse internal heat build-up the cooling system draws in cool air through one of these back-mounted vents and then exhausts it through another. This design guarantees that using this notebook on a non-solid surface won’t impact upon its cooling performance.
The hinge has also been tweaked and it provides a very steady platform which doesn’t exhibit any flexing and firmly locks the screen into place.
ASUS has designed the G74SX’s underside in such a way that it is devoid of any heat exhaust vents but otherwise, there really isn’t anything interesting going on here. There is however a large screw for quick and easy decoupling of a panel which hides the memory and HDD caddy.
The battery on this laptop is built directly into the chassis’ underside but can be removed by simply moving a few sliders which hold it in place. Since it is already packing an 8-cell battery (yes, that’s an 8-cell in the picture above) ASUS doesn’t offer any battery upgrade options for the G74SX.
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