ASUS' Republic of Gamers flagship notebook has once again been reborn into a true gaming monster with the release of the G75VW. It features a third generation Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M graphics, 16GB of RAM, 2TB of hard disk space and a 3D screen. All this is built into an immaculate structure that really does showcase why the world's gaming community has made the 17in G-Series one of the top-selling gaming notebooks of all time.
Design and Build Quality
The G75VW, much like its previous models, shares a stealth bomber theme with sharp fixed lines and contours streaming across all sides. The rear end of the device then roots this aggressive theme with two large exhaust vents spanning almost the entire width of the device. I really love the style of the G75VW; with very little finesse it ensures that from the moment you sit down, you are immersed in a war zone, locked in a fight for survival or competing for the prize.
The outside surfaces have a soft, rubberised finish with a brushed aluminium keyboard tray that extends down the sides of the notebook. The rubberised material will eliminate all finger prints and hides most grease stains. Underneath, the form factor of the device is built using strong, heavy plastics cleverly braced by the Aluminium inlay that also acts as the keyboard tray, meaning this device will always remain sturdy and strong.
The overall weight of the device is above 4kg, which can be considered average for gaming notebooks with a 17.3in form factor, though as more of a workstation than a notebook, I would strongly recommend those who wish to transport the device regularly look for a smaller form factor — this flagship model certainly feels like a large fleet vessel.
Above the keyboard, there is a grille covering the width of the device, a power button and a 3D button, all of which are made of the same aluminium material as the keyboard tray. This covering continues the stylised theme while protecting the speakers very well with absolutely no detectable flex. The palm rests are large and comfortable, finished with a slightly rougher rubberised surface than what is used elsewhere on the device.
The build quality at every point on the G75VW is truly a credit to ASUS' Republic of Gamers. Though it doesn't have best in its class quality, it makes a real step towards that title by exhibiting almost no noticeable flex or joinery flaws anywhere. I found a little morphing at the top of the keyboard, but that was all.
Underneath the device there is a sub-woofer and the standard removable panel giving access to almost every component within the device. On the G75VW, this larger panel is also accompanied by a smaller panel in the top corner. This smaller panel gives access to one of the two fans that act as the primary cooling system in the G75VW. The ability to access both fans on the notebook is intelligent as these fans are of vital importance when regarding the long term health of the notebook. Cleaning the vents and fans can now be done at the owner's leisure regardless of previous experience with internal computer components.
Easy access is provided to the fans.
Behind the larger panel, which I should add can be removed with only one screw, you have access to both hard drive slots, RAM slots and graphics solution. Unfortunately there was no access to the wireless card, but regardless, this device has lots of opportunities for future upgrades.
Access is provided to the two hard drives and RAM slots.
The edges of the notebook include a DVD/Blu-ray combo drive, an SD card slot, headphone and microphone jacks, four USB 3.0 slots, a Thunderbolt (Light Peak) port, HDMI output, VGA output, Gigabit Ethernet and, of course, a power input. I cannot imagine any customer being disappointed with this fully appointed array of ports, including one USB 3.0 port that can be enabled to charge USB devices while the notebook is turned off (either still plugged in to a power source or on battery).
Input devices and Speakers
I continue to love the G75VW as I head towards the keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard has a great layout and is made up of incredibly well-spaced chiclet-style keys; the feedback, though a little spongy for my taste, is responsive and comfortable and will be perfect for overnight cramming as well as those extended, early morning play sessions. The keys have white back-lighting that can be made brighter or dimmer at any time, depending on your preference. The white finish continues to add to an already well developed style and at no point will distract from the gaming experience.
The backlit keyboard.
The touchpad is made of light plastic with a matte finish that is comfortable to use, but regrettably does not match the touchpad of some other units in this price range. A great feature of this pad is the large size, with larger dimensions than a MacBook Pro, for example, I never found myself running out of space. The left- and right-click buttons are finished with the same rubberised material as the back of the monitor and offer great feedback. I really enjoyed my time web surfing and word processing with both the pad and the buttons. Though I admit to the necessity of an external mouse, the touch pad does offer a pleasant experience nonetheless.
The speakers in the G75 are unfortunately rather dismal, offering poor quality sound, weird control schemes and poor driver support. ASUS' Republic of Gamers has never really done well with external sound systems and this inadequate attempt to reinforce your gaming experience only conforms to its history. At high volumes, the sound is distorted and tinny; I was barely able to fill a large room with any comprehensible sound.
At low volumes, the sound is unclear and the difference between mute and the lowest volume setting feels like going from zero to 50 per cent. The sub-woofer also has a separate volume control, which feels convoluted to use; no matter which setting I tried, the low frequency sounds overpowered the overall experience, as if I had turned the treble off while leaving the bass on.
However, I do admit that most of the faults I found are likely fixable with driver updates, which may perhaps allow the device to match other systems such as the Toshiba Qosmio X770, but it is still a shame to see a brand as well known and as well regarded as the ASUS Republic of Gamers get this particular issue wrong so many times, even after much feedback from users and experts alike.
Full HD screen
The G75VW comes equipped with a 17.3in matte screen that has a Full HD (1920x1080) resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate. It can also do 3D. The screen itself is a high point for this notebook, with bold, rich colours and deep blacks — it really is a delight to use. With the matte finish, low glare, high brightness and well above-average viewing angles all your games and Blu-ray movies can look great even when you use the notebook outdoors. Add to these qualities the 3D capability and it all adds up to a screen that provides best-in-class performance.
Playing games in 3D on this notebook could not be any simpler. At any point during your game, you simply turn on 3D via the button that sits just above the keyboard. Previously being a sceptic of 3D, I am still overwhelmed at how well the drivers and 3D system is implemented on the G75VW and other modern notebooks. The 3D vision glasses provided with the notebook are extremely comfortable, and they are virtually weightless when compared to first and second generation 3D equipment; they really made it a joy to use this feature.
The in-game 3D worked well with some titles and not so well with others. When enabled and paired with the incredible screen, games like Skyrim and Diablo III where able to come to life in a whole new way. Diablo III really excelled with this feature; the 3D effects really helped to emphasise the dark atmosphere so expertly created by Blizzard, while an immense sense of scale and power were added to the spell effects, animations and character models (particularly at the end of Act 2). As always, a few issues are worth noting while using this technology, including floating HUD's and indicators which can be a little frustrating, but at no point do these come close to hindering the overall 3D experience offered by the G75VW. I would definitely encourage everyone to try this feature.
With a great selection of powerful hardware the G75 did well in our synthetic benchmarks, recording the following results in our graphics test: in 3DMark11 it scored 2910, in 3DMark Vantage it scored 12410 and in 3DMark06 it scored 19187. In our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, the G75VW recorded 19sec and 43sec, respectively. Both results are typical of the machine's configuration.
The third generation Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core CPU, 16GB of DDR3 (1600MHz) SDRAM and the 3GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M graphics adapter, together make for an incredibly capable gaming notebook that was most certainly able to play all modern games at the native Full HD (1920x1080) resolutions on high visual settings. The titles that I tested always remained playable, staying well above the 30 frames per second (fps) mark, which is not all that surprising; the GTX 670M is a re-branded GTX 570M (a previous generation chip) with slightly higher clock speeds, which in my opinion is a little disappointing because this means the graphics performance overall is only improved slightly from the G74 notebook (with a 1.5GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M) a whole 13 months later.
Diablo III ,high settings: 50fps average (38fps low and 56fps high)
Diablo III, high settings (3D): 30fps average (22fps low and 33fps high)
Starcraft II, high settings: 75fps average (60fps low and 94fps high)
Starcraft II, high settings (3D): 28fps average (22fps low and 41fps high)
Starcraft II, ultra settings: 42fps (28fps low and 48fps high)
Skyrim, high settings: 51fps (43fps low and 72fps high)
Skyrim, high settings (3D): 25fps (22fps low and 35fps high)
High = 1920x1080, everything set to High, Anti-Aliasing and Vertical Sync Off
Ultra = 1920x1080, everything set to Max, Anti-Aliasing and Vertical Sync Off
The above results show off the G75VW's gaming prowess and clearly reiterate the fact that this device is most certainly built for gaming. Some great frame rates in games with high settings (both with and without 3D) reflect the notebook's power. However, with ultra settings enabled, it's evident that there is still a way to go before mobile graphics solutions are truly able to match the performance of their desktop counterparts. Though the G75VW's performance is not the best in its class, the Republic of Gamers G-series has never strived to hold this title. Instead it has aimed to excel in user comfort via intelligent ergonomic designs and low heat/noise emissions.
Almost all areas on this notebook remain cool to the touch while both under load and idle, with the only warm spot being located under the CPU on the bottom right hand side of the device. The palm rests, keyboard and touchpad all stay well within acceptable temperatures. The G-Series notebooks all come built with a dual fan system that pulls air in through the bottom of the device and circulates it where it is needed most (to the GPU and CPU) before emitting the hot air out through the giant exhaust vents at the back. This system does an effective job in keeping the components cool with virtually no noise emissions. The G75VW can take pride in this area, and it puts many other 17in notebooks to shame.
One of the rear vents.
The G75VW unit I was given to review came equipped with two 1TB hard drives running at 5400rpm. The system drive recorded a read speed of 98.05 megabytes per second (MBps) and a write speed of 96.35MBps in our synthetic hard drive tests. Although the astronomical storage size of 2TB is great, it is unfortunately also the downfall of this device. The 5400rpm speed, time and time again became a point of frustration: I experienced long load times and poor boot times. These issues are indeed only small, but if you do wish to avoid them you can find this device on the market with a wide array of different storage configurations. Many now come with a large hard drive for storage and a smaller solid state drive for the operating system and applications. The notebook's controller does support RAID (0/1), which can be enabled in the BIOS, and then accessed by pressing Control-i during boot-up.
While testing the G75VW, I was able to get 2hr 13min with "Balanced" battery settings and only 1hr 4min on "High Performance" while under load. These times may not seem incredible, but they were performed with the GeForce graphics adapter as the notebook lacks Optimus switching technology. When that's taken into consideration and when compared to rival models from companies like Toshiba and Clevo (60-80min while on "Balanced") one can certainly appreciate the times posted by the G75VW. That said, the battery life times are average for this size notebook and will not be a huge selling point.
Aside from the few issues with the speakers, average battery life and slow hard drive speeds, I am glad to say the G75VW is a welcome revival to the most popular gaming notebook series on the market. Once again, ASUS' Republic of Gamers shows us its years of experience by delivering a notebook with great style, clever design and excellent build quality. This truly is a new standard in portable gaming hardware technology.