If there’s one thing that might take your mind off your financial woes, it’s some good old-fashioned fragging. And Asus is happy to oblige by offering the most affordable full-fledged gaming notebook that we’ve ever tested. The G51Vx-RX05, sold exclusively through Best Buy, costs less than a grand—OK, at $999, that’s a technicality, but still, this 15-inch notebook is cheap. It’s half the cost of the 15-inch iBuypower M865TU gaming rig we reviewed in November.
Of course, Asus had to cut some corners to get there. The notebook’s Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU, for example, boasts a mere 2GHz clock speed—that’s 33 percent slower than the iBuypower’s proc. And true to form, the G51Vx-RX05 performed about 30 percent slower than the iBuypower (our new zero-point rig) in our Premiere, Photoshop, ProShow, and MainConcept benchmarks.
A Power Control Panel option in the G51Vx-RX05 lets you overclock the CPU by up to 150MHz. That’s a 7.5 percent boost, which amounted to around five percent of additional performance in our CPU-centric benchmarks: Using the so-called “Extreme turbo” mode, we shaved 11 seconds off our original Photoshop time and a minute off of Premiere Pro. That doesn’t do much to bridge the gap between the G51Vx-RX05 and its higher-clocked competition, but it does add some value to the package.
If you're not crazy about the G51Vx-RX05's blue-backlit keyboard, a function button lets you dim or disable the lights.
Where you’ll find the most value, however, is in the notebook’s GPU. The G51Vx-RX05 sports the same GTX 260M graphics part as iBuypower’s machine. As we noted in our review of the iBuypower rig, this GPU performs head and shoulders above any previous-generation mobile part, serving up playable frame rates in today’s more graphically demanding games. Although iBuypower’s much-faster CPU gives that machine a slight edge in games (and effectively knocks Asus’s rig off our benchmark chart), the G51Vx-RX05’s game performance is still laudable. Compared to Toshiba’s 9800M-equipped Qosmio X305 (reviewed in June 2009), the G51Vx-RX05 was more than 20 percent faster in Far Cry 2 and Call of Duty 4. In Crysis even, Asus’s rig hit 30.48fps with the settings at High—that’s 30 percent faster than the Qosmio performed.
Physically, the G51Vx-RX05 seems solid. Its glossy white cover, glossy black trim, and blue-backlit keyboard give it an unmistakable gaming aesthetic that’s not too outlandish. Its rubberized palm rest adds a nice, comfy touch. And while its 15.6-inch reflective screen sports a relatively low 1366x768 native res, that can actually be a boon in games.
Does the G51Vx-RX05 make compromises? Yes. But in doing so, it delivers on its mission to provide top-notch gaming at an unbeatable price. And for that, this notebook deserves high marks.
Great mobile gaming on the cheap; less cumbersome than larger gaming rigs.
Our zero point notebook is an iBuypower M865TU with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo T9900, 4GB DDR3/1066 RAM, a 500GB Seagate hard drive, a GeForce GTX 260M, and Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit. Far Cry 2 tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA; Call of Duty tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA and 4x anisotropic filtering.
2GHz Core 2 Duo P7350
320GB Seagate ST9320421AS (7,200rpm)
HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-T50N
Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M
VGA, HDMI, Ethernet, modem, four USB, eSATA, FireWire, three analog in/out, 8-in-1 media reader, Express Card slot