The ultimate gaming machines, such as Alienware or ASUS G-series, have always provoked amazement among gaming-oriented notebook amateurs. Top-notch gaming systems packed in a relatively small casing, easily transferrable from A to B (with A and B mostly being inside the same room), have constantly been rather expensive, though, and therefore reserved for a very thin target market. Although relatively new in the portable PC business at the time, ASUS managed to become one of Alienware’s greatest threats in the gaming notebook segment with its ROG series. The latest iteration, characterised by “5” in the second part of the numerical model name, comes packed with 3D capabilities, carries the name G75VW, and hides many interesting features under the hood.
It doesn’t come across as surprising that ASUS timed the presentation of its new series with the appearance of Ivy Bridge CPUs and the new NVIDIA graphics generation, something of a premiere in these regions. But let’s start off with visual elements first. The casing has had its fair of small, but critical changes, mostly in the back. The exhaust design, typical of G-series, has been stylised a bit, and look truly stunning together with the grey elements. Expectedly enough for ASUS, nearly all surfaces are matte. The display lid has a rubber coating, while the palm rest has a gently bumpy surface, making sure that your palms don’t start running around.
The display still doesn’t go all the way to the edge of the lid, as is tradition, and the rubber lid has a discreet ROG logo carved into it, with the grey ASUS logo right beneath. The internal frame of the display is matte, so you shouldn’t have too much problem with fingerprints in this section. The somewhat increased lid width isn’t there merely for a more robust design, but is in fact explicitly needed to accommodate for a full HD 3D display with a very high brightness level. Although the panel won’t blow anyone away with its viewing angles, the colour display, brightness, 120 Hz refresh rate and full HD resolution are bound to obtain general approbation, regardless of a particular user’s preferences.
As you can deduce from the name of the model, it has a 17.3” display, but the edges around it are pretty discreet, so it’s not too far off in terms of length.
The keyboard has also been significantly improved compared to previous generations. Cursors have been separated even further and marked more clearly, the keys are very precise, with a large gap in between, while brightness has several levels of intensity. The metal frame surrounding it is very firm and neatly packed, so that you don’t have to fear any bending, cracking or deformation from any part of this model.
The spacious touchpad is very precise, and the accompanying buttons large and quiet, albeit with a slightly undefined step, which should’ve been shorter or at least more precise. Besides the Power button, the only other one in the upper right corner is the ROG button, serving the purpose of activating and deactivating 3D mode. On the sides, we were greeted by all necessary connectors, and one particular surprise was that all present USB ports are compliant with the 3.0 standard.
The list of technological novelties this model brings starts with the second generation of NVIDIA’s active 3D technology. Besides minor adjustments to the display itself, their largest advantage is the new pair of glasses, so that you don’t look like lieutenant Geordi La Forge any more, but his modern younger brother instead. The design has been tuned down a bit, while the glasses tend to let more light pass through, which makes the final result much more pleasant to the eye. In plastic terms – so far, 3D looked as if you were staring at your display with a pair of sunglasses, which is still true, but with much less protective sunglasses this time around.
Unfortunately, this pair still doesn’t manage to pass for an accessory that you could leave your home with, at least not without attracting worried and pitiful looks. Since NVIDIA has been at a standstill for several years in this regard, we feel that they simply had to come up with something better in the meantime. OK, fair enough, 3D has been improved in that it’s brighter, and optimisations have come a long way, but both the physical and the virtual segment still leave a lot to wish for. The calibration demo remains the best example of what 3D should really look like, while actual games quickly lose the “wow” factor, and quite often sustain degradation to a certain extent. As one of our colleagues brilliantly put it: “I wish we could all just forget that 3D ever existed and live on without the pressure that everything good has to exist in 3D”. It’s clear that ASUS is just keeping pace with other manufacturers (even breaking new ground in some regards), and NVIDIA 3D Vision remains the best you can get if you want enemies popping out of your display. As for ASUS’ implementation of the technology – flying colours, but NVIDIA can’t really get anything more than “pass”.
Before moving on to the system configuration, we’ll divert your attention to a few very interesting innovations ASUS has quietly inserted into this model. Besides the simple opening system for the bottom section and easy access to vital elements, there are two fans in charge of cooling, with their own protective nets preventing dust intrusion, which can be easily removed and cleaned. This also enables easy access to the fans themselves, making it easier to maintain the entire system and keep it clean at all times.
Ivy and almost Kepler
The heart of our mobile PC consists of a mobile Core i7 CPU from the Ivy Bridge generation, which is the third generation of the ultrapopular quad-core Core i7-720 model – 3720QM. Since we’ve talked about the advantages of Ivy Bridge CPUs in detail several times by now, we’ll only go through them briefly. The smaller production process enables “squeezing in” more transistors on the same surface, thereby directly increasing performance. Furthermore, the jump to the 22 nm production process reduces consumption and heating, both of which are essential in portable computers. Finally, the GPU inside Ivy Bridge CPUs has been vastly improved, although this particular model won’t be able to make any use of it, as it doesn’t contain NVIDIA’s Optimus technology, which means that it’ll run the discreet graphics all the time. We’ve inserted results obtained from models with first- and second-gen Core i7 CPUs, so that you can directly see the difference in performance between various generations. As expected, this difference is present and tangible, partly due to the new
architecture itself, and partly to the higher clocks it enables. Note that Intel’s Turbo Boost technology has also sustained changes, inserting additional steps and values for all four cores.
ASUS crammed four 4 GB DDR3 modules inside our model, bringing the total to 16 GB, more than enough for even the most demanding gamer, while their clock has been increased to 1600 MHz, unlike the usual 1333 MHz. The storage subsystem has also undergone improvements in the form of a spacious SSD and a fast common HDD. The combination of a 256 GB SSD with a large HDD is definitely a winning one, whichever way you look at it. Of course, as far as price goes, it should be clear that a single SSD doesn’t make that much of a difference in total.
We’ve already seen GT540 in Acer’s notebook, tested a while ago, so we were very eager to get our hands on the announced GTX 670M in ASUS’ model. Unfortunately, we were dumbstruck to hear that we’ve been fooled by NVIDIA’s elaborate marketing plan for the mobile platform. Our of the nine models from the 600M series that have been announced, only three are actually based on the new Kepler GPUs, while all others are derivatives of the old Fermi core. You’ve guessed it, our 670M falls into the latter, so instead of a strong Kepler GPU, we got a renamed 40 nm GTX 570M, with mildly raised clocks. For your reference, we’ve inserted a separate chart with the specs of all the various chips used for the latest generation of NVIDIA’s mobile graphics, so make sure you pick out well when buying a new notebook with NVIDIA graphics. You might end up with a large, hot, renamed GPU with worse performance than its name suggests instead of a new, cooler chip with lower consumption and better performance, and with a price hike of 30% at that.
Either way, GTX 670M (570M?) is still an upper-class GPU, giving performance on par with its consumption and heating. This essentially means a performance improvement of 30-50% compared to GTX 460M. For some reason, Street Fighter IV didn’t limit this graphics to 30 fps, but 60, so results without 3D may be more informative. Since it’s a very fresh model of graphics (and notebook on the whole), the drivers couldn’t detect PhysX capabilities properly, making us leave out Batman: AA’s physics test, but this is likely to be rectified with the first following driver revision (which has been known to take a while in NVIDIA’s case, though). The deal hasn’t changed a lot since G73. Most games are playable in high resolutions, but 3D mode is known to cut the performance by half, even worse, forcing you to lower your detail levels if you want to game in 3D. This is particularly applicable to more demanding titles. It’s also worth mentioning that, although this model doesn’t have Optimus technology, you shouldn’t even think of running games on battery, as the battery just can’t deliver enough juice to power the PC at full load, which reduces the graphics performance down to the level of an integrated solution. This arguably removes all sense from ASUS’ decision to exclude Optimus from the G-series, if you can’t play games with full performance when running on battery.
Either way, since the graphics can’t really draw as much power as it would want to, take the maximum load in the battery test with a grain of salt. Autonomy results haven’t advanced a lot with the implementation of the new CPU, and are in fact a bit worse than in similarly-powered predecessors. Luckily, the battery doesn’t play that much of a role in this type of computers.
A lot of everything
Besides the most important features, ASUS has done its best to make G75 as trendy as possible, with Bluetooth 4.0 and its interesting list of improvements (lower consumption, multiple simultaneous connections etc.). The integrated subwoofer helps the overall sound image to a certain extent, but its driver remains rather small, so the mid-range seems to benefit from it more than the actual bass. As you have a full HD display at disposal, most of your multimedia content will likely be in full HD as well, so the Blu-Ray writer is definitely a most welcome option.
Specs and results
|NVIDIA GeForce 600M|
|Model name||GeForce GT 620M||GeForce GT 630M||GeForce GT 635M||GeForce GT 640M LE||GeForce GT 640M LE||GeForce GT 640M||GeForce GT 650M||GeForce GTX 660M||GeForce GTX 670M||GeForce GTX 680M|
|Lithography||28 nm||28/40 nm||40 nm||40 nm||28 nm||28 nm||28 nm||28 nm||40 nm||40 nm|
|Architecture||Fermi (GT 525M)||Fermi (GT 540M)||Fermi (GT 555M)||Fermi (GT 550M)||Kepler||Kepler||Kepler||Kepler||Fermi (GTX 750M)||Fermi (GTX 580M)|
|Number of Stream processors||up to 96||up to 96||up to 144||up to 96||up to 384||up to 384||up to 384||up to 384||up to 336||up to 384|
||625 MHz||800 MHz||675 MHz||762 MHz||500 MHz||625 MHz||850 MHz||835 MHz||598 MHz||620 MHz|
||up to 1 GB GDDR3||up to 2 GB GDDR3||up to 2 GB GDDR5||up to 2 GB GDDR3/GDDR5||up to 2 GB GDDR3||up to 2 GB GDDR3/GDDR5||up to 2 GB GDDR3/GDDR5||up to 2 GB GDDR5||up to 3 GB GDDR5||up to 2 GB GDDR5|
||up to 128 bit||up to 128 bit||up to 192 bit||up to 128 bit||up to 128 bit||up to 128 bit||up to 128 bit||up to 128 bit||up to 192 bit||up to 256 bit|
|Results||ASUS G73JW 3D||ASUS G73SW 3D||ASUS G75VW 3D|
|3DMark 11 Performance graphic/physics/combined||1.576 / 4.723 / 1.531||1.615 / 5.851 / 1.543||2.710 / 8.313 / 2.672|
|7-Zip 9.20 x64 comp./decomp. [KB/s]||10.167 / 126.601||12.470 / 159.863||17.797 / 214.005|
|AIDA64 1.5 EE memory read/write/copy [MB/s]||14.977 / 12.426 / 13.589||14.990 / 14.862 / 15.710||16.925 / 18.299 / 19.502|
|AIDA64 1.5 EE memory latency [ns] *||54,6||52,2||48,5|
|Blender [s] *||286||192||189|
|Cinebench R11.5 x64 OpenGL [fps]/xCPU [pts]||35,55 / 3,27||41,42 / 5,03||48,88 / 6,73|
|Cyberlink MediaShow Espresso 6 on/off GPU [s]*||47 / 138||38 / 99||20 / 61|
|HD Tune 4.6 average read [MB/s]||86,2||76,9||338,4 (SSD) / 94,1 (HDD)|
|Battery Eater Min/Max||1h 36' / 3h 26'||1h 20' / 2h 56'||55' / 2h 50'|
|1920 x 1080 0xAA 0xAF|
|Street Fighter IV high 3D on/off [fps]||30,3 / 99,9||30,7 / 107,1||59,7 / 116,69|
|Resident Evil 5 DX10 high 3D on/off [fps]||17,2 / 46,9||20,2 / 54||26 / 61,8|
|Batman: Arkham Asylum very high [fps]|
|3D on PhysX off/normal/high||31 / 29 / 28||32 / 30 / 30||46 / - / -|
|3D off PhysX off/normal/high||71 / 67 / 66||79 / 73 / 72||88 / - / -|
|Crysis Warhead DX 10 gamer 3D on/off [fps]||10,49 / 22,13||11,86 / 24,61||17,7 / 33,92|
|* less is better|
On the whole, ASUS’s new notebook manages to retain its status of the ultimate gaming machine, despite NVIDIA’s shortcomings. For 3D fans, the new glasses will provide a much clearer image, while the discreet graphics will decently up the number of fps compared to models from the previous two generations. The fantastic design and production quality are deserving of every commendation, and the cooling system has made it possible to only barely hear the fans even after gaming for hours on end, while keeping the serious hardware inside at “warm” levels. It’s true that the two exhaust blowers will constantly pump out hot air, but that’s really the sleekest that can be done with the sort of hardware that’s inside.
Besides the ROG notebook as such, G75VW gives you the latest Intel CPU with excellent performance, the (allegedly) most recent generation of NVIDIA GPU with 3D capabilities, a large SSD, enough RAM to be safe for the lifetime of this notebook, and a large charger that can be actively used in self-defence. All features of the ultimate gaming machine stand ticked, and the excellent performance it provides makes anything less than a Approved award an understatement.