Iíve been around the Hardware Canucks forum for quite a time now but never had the time or the right subject to post in the review section. Letís change this today but Iíll put in a little twist on my review as Iím not only reviewing my recently purchased laptop but also the bag keeping it safe.
First came the time to define exactly what I needed in my new laptop. Simple, I needed a mobile platform on which I could experiment and demo Microsoft virtualization and private cloud technologies. So in this case, a good CPU, lots of RAM but most important was having multiple disks.
When trying to find a laptop that packs as much RAM and storage as CPU processing power, your options are often limited. You can either go with a mobile workstation such as a Dell Precision, which costs a lot or go with a gamer-oriented laptop. In this last category, your options are also pretty limited. In my case, I was looking for a discrete laptop that didnít scream out to everybody ďIíM A GAMER!!!Ē, that packs at least two hard drives (this single feature brings down the number of options a lot) and its RAM upgradeable to at least 16 GB, preferably 32 GB.
I juggled a lot between MSIís GT60 and GT70, Samsungís NP700G7C and ASUSí G75VW. After checking with Samsungís technical support, I was clearly told that the NP700G7C did not support more than 16 GB whereas the other three could. Why choose the G75VW over MSIís GT60 and GT70? The Thunderbolt port, the overall look and the cooling system were the main reasons. The G75VW is the only laptop that has Intelís new port already available. I wonít be using it short term but itís always nice to have it available when you need it. Also, I found the G75VWís external design very appealing: Discrete but you can tell somethingís different.
Thereís a number of configurations available that vary the price of the G75VW from 1 380$ for the G75VW-RS72 all the way up to 2 000$ for the G75VW-DS72 that comes with 16 GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a Blu-Ray drive or the G75VW-DS73-3D that sports 12 GB of RAM, Blu-Ray drive and a 120Hz 3D panel. The DS models come with an ROG branded backpack as well as a gaming mouse.
I chose the lower model as it was more cost-effective to upgrade the RAM and add-in an SSD myself. More on that experience later but letís just say that this was a bit of a let-down.
My unit came in a nice black box with red accent, typical theme of the Republic of Gamers series. With it, 2 sets of 2x8GB DDR3-1600 RAM to upgrade the G75VW to 32GB as well as an Intel 520 series SSD at 120 GB. Since this laptop is going to be used for business purposes, I needed a reliable SSD. That leaves few options available when youíre looking for a 5 year warranty. Intel is the way to go, especially with their 520 series. Iíve had one of those since theyíve come out and havenít been disappointed at all.
Upon opening the box, you find a well packaged laptop and boxes of accessories on each side. Not much accessories are included but you get the essentials. That little round thingy at the bottom right is actually a dust filter. More on this later. As for the power adapter, itís big and heavy. Exactly what you would expect from such a big laptop. Iím always hoping that they could make it smaller.
The battery is an 8-cell 5200 mAh battery that gives the G75VW about 2 hours of runtime while unplugged with a dimmed screen and doing simple things such as reading or typing documents.
Keyboard & Touchpad
The keyboard is nice and the feeling when typing is comfortable but I noticed a weird thing: They shortened the space bar to have a wider Ctrl key on the right. I would have much preferred the other way around since I donít use that key all that much.
As for the touchpad, itís a multi touch with some basic gestures available. The 2 buttons have a nice resistance: Not too much, not too little.
The G75VW sports a matte full HD screen. Having a matte screen is a huge plus for me as I hate the reflection of glossy screens. Display quality is nice and viewing angles are good.
This is one area where the G75VW disappoints. Even with a subwoofer, the sound quality is mediocre compared to desktop speakers. On the other side, I use headphones most of the time.
Testing was done by running the Folding@Home client on the CPU only (the GPU was never found by the folding client) while FurMark was running at the same time. The system was left running like this for 15 minutes.
At idle, the CPU temperature was measured at 34 įC using HWInfo64 while the GPU idled at 40 įC. Under full load, the CPU reached 76 įC while the GPU reached 85 įC.
Because of its amazing cooling ability, the G75VW is very quiet when running idle as it doesnít heat up at all. Under pressure, running Folding@Home as well as FurMark simultaneously, I could hear the fans clearly running. Not loud but you can definitively hear them in a quiet room. Overall, its cooling ability is simply amazing.
The good, the bad, theÖ great!
The problem with such a large laptop is finding a bag to carry the thing around. A few months ago, I had purchased an Everki Beacon as it was on sale and I could fit an 18Ē laptop in it. This thing is made to last and I loved the bag from my first use with a Latitude E6500 but had an eye-opener when came the time to fit the G75VW in the BeaconÖ It doesnít fit!!! The G75VW is too deep to fit in the Beacon. I was pissed! I bought this bag just for this laptop. Then, I noticed on Everkiís site a bag that could fit 18.4Ē laptopsÖ the Titan. Even its name makes it sound big. I confirmed that the G75VW fit in this one from the ROG forum.
I then sent off an email to Everki support to explain my situation and see how they could accommodate me in getting a Titan. Everkiís reputation for great customer support was proven true when I received an email from their support the same day confirming that the G75VW didnít fit in the Beacon and giving me instructions on how to proceed to get a Titan while still keeping the Beacon (anyone interested in buying a Beacon???)
A week later, the UPS guy delivers my new Titan at my door. Kudos to Everki!!! Theyíve just made a loyal customer out of me. Some of the manufacturers out there should learn from these guys.
As for the Titan, its name is fitting: Itís big! I can easily fit my G75VW in the laptop compartment and my Latitude E6500 in the compartment next to it on top of all the stuff I need.
Still new and already upgrading
By default, the G75VW-RS72 comes with a single 750 GB 7200 RPM drive but has an empty holder for an additional hard drive. Having used SSDís for the last 2 years, there was no way I was going back to a mechanical hard drive for the OS. Installation of the additional hard drive is very simple as you only need to open the bottom panel by removing a single screw. You do have to pull pretty hard to take out that bottom panel.
Remember the round thingy I talked about earlier? Well you can see here 2 dust filters identical to the one found in the accessories box. Nice little addition by ASUS.
From there, you have access to both hard drives as well as 2 of the 4 DIMM slots. The other 2 are hidden underneath the keyboard. To add my SSD, I simply need to remove the 2 screws holding the empty drive bracket, take the bracket out, screw the SSD to the bracket using the enclosed screws, put the bracket back and put back the 2 initial screws. On first boot up, the drive is found and ready for use. From there, I installed Windows 8 using a USB 3.0 thumb drive and it finished installing in about 15 minutes.
After installing Windows 8 and all my other apps and my profile, I was left with about 20 GB of free space on the Intel 520 120 GB. Tight but it fit. A few weeks earlier I had bought a Sandisk Extreme 240 GB that I put in my home desktop. Since I had transferred all my stuff to the G75VW, there was no need to keep the 240GB there so I transferred everything to that SSD and put it in the G75VW. My wife can keep using the Intel 520.
The second upgrade that I had to do was upgrading the G75VWís RAM from 8 GB to 32 GB. The G75VW ships by default with 2x4 GB DDR3-1600 RAM. The 2 SO-DIMM slots accessible from the bottom panel are available for easily adding RAM. I quickly added 2x8 GB of GSkill DDR3-1600 RAM to these slots.
The system immediately recognized the RAM but after a closer look, I noticed that the RAM had reverted from 1600 to 1333. Moving from 24 GB to 32 GB proved to be a bigger challenge. After some digging, I found out that the 2 DIMM slots under the keyboard arenít made to be user accessible and if anything breaks while you try to access these, you void your warranty. Bummer! Why tell people your laptop has 4 DIMM slots if you can access only 2! Fortunately, I found a detailed guide on how to disassemble the G75VW (ASUS G75VW Disassembly Manual - Computer Upgrade King).
After going through the procedure all the way to the raising of the keyboard, I finally removed the original RAM to put my other 2x8GB modules instead. After putting everything back together, I was happy to finally see 32 GB at 1600. Success but not a pleasant experience.
The G75VW is well built and includes lots of expansion options such as 4 USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, 4 SO-DIMM slots and 2 hard drive brackets. Equipped with the Core i7 3610QM, it has more than enough processing power to tackle high end tasks such as running virtual machines and gaming while staying cool thanks to its cooling capacity.
The G75VW's display is nice and very comfortable on the eyes while providing good viewing angles.
All this does come at a price, it is a gaming laptop so its size and weight, as well as the power brick's, may not be to everyone's liking (it is huge and heavy). Also, the sound quality provided by the speakers leaves a lot to be desired. Last, accessing 2 of the 4 DIMM slots is difficult.
Two of the PCMARK 7 results for the Intel 520 don't make sense to me. The Sandisk beats the Intel on every Diskmark category, which it should, but for some strange reason the Intel drive beats it on two of the PCMARK 7 categories... doesn't seem logical, as a certain pointy-eared half-alien would say.
Just a warning (more of an FYI) for those of you who may be close to pulling the trigger on the purchase of this model: the Thunderbolt port is really a mini-display port. ASUS pulled Thunderbolt on this model due to Intel certification issues. A true Thunderbolt port will be available on upcoming models...
Regarding the speakers. The original sound drivers have some major issues on these machines. Mine was awful out of the box. Putting in the new drivers fixes the subwoofer issues and gives the regular speakers a little more oomph (though they're still a little too quiet for this machine).
Overall a really solid laptop. I sold my G73 and got one of these and have been very happy with the improvements in the G series. I put in 256GB Crucial M4 in it and grabbed the Everki Titan as well :D. Awesome backpack. Build quality is phenomenal, but it is freaking huge. I'm just about 6' and have a reasonably wide back from working out and the thing looks almost comical on me when I wear it.
Really good review Doup, I kept meaning to do one myself, but never seem to find the time.
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