A 17-inch notebook is going to be big, there’s just no way around it. But after reviewing Malibal’s ginormous X7200 desktop replacement in our Holiday issue, Asus’s eight-pound, 11.8-ounce G73Jw-A1 seems highly portable by comparison. And at $1,800—one-third the price of the X7200—the G73Jw-A1 also seems highly affordable.
You get a lot of notebook for that price. At its center is a Core i7-740 quad-core mobile CPU, with a base clock of 1.73GHz and Turbo Boost potential up to 2.93GHz. Asus kicks that up a notch with a one-button overclock feature called Twin Turbo Mode, which pushes the CPU as much as 100MHz higher. According to Asus, Twin Turbo’s impact is most noticeable in multithreaded apps. And we did see a 6 percent difference when running MainConcept with and without Twin Turbo. But we also observed a similar difference in scores when we ran Photoshop, a mostly single-threaded app, both ways. Hey, we’ll take any extra performance we can get.
When the G73Jw-A1 is closed, you can see how the matte black finish and a few strategically designed edges and angles remind us of a stealth fighter.
Running all of our benchmarks with the help of Twin Turbo, the G73Jw-A1 enjoyed generous leads over our zero-point notebook in all the content-creation apps. It also surpassed our zero-point in the gaming benchmarks; although, here the more relevant factor was the notebook’s Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M GPU—a new Fermi-based mobile part. While this card turned out superior scores to the GeForce GTX 260M in our zero-point rig, the benchmark numbers in Far Cry 2 and Call of Duty 4 were pretty close to what we’ve seen from the last-gen GeForce GTX 285M. The big difference is that the G73Jw-A1’s GPU supports DX11. Based on the frame rates we achieved in our aged games, you’ll need to dial down resolutions and effects to make newer games playable—a common compromise in gaming notebooks, particularly those with just a single graphics card.
The G73Jw-A1 comes equipped for HD movie viewing, as well, with a 17.3-inch LED backlit screen that supports a 1920x1080 resolution, perfect for playing Blu-ray movies on the notebook’s combo drive. The G73Jw-A1 also has a decent sound system. It doesn’t compare to the audio quality you’ll get from an external set of speakers or a good set of headphones, but the presence of a subwoofer gives the G73Jw-A1 a much richer sound than you typically get from laptop speakers, and the volume gets pretty loud.
Physically, the G73Jw-A1 is solid. Its matte finish mitigates unsightly fingerprints and its rubberized palm rest area feels pleasant. We also like the full-size chiclet-style keyboard, which is backlit for greater visibility in dark environments. And folks who want to get under the hood will appreciate that a single access panel and two screws are the only things standing between you and three RAM slots, both drive bays, and the wireless card.
While we gave the Malibal X7200 high marks for its audacity, Asus’s G73Jw-A1 deserves praise for being a strong performer in a far more practical, portable, and affordable package.
Quad-core i7; DX11 graphics; decent sound system; HD screen.
You'll need to dial down detail to play newer games.
1.73GHz Intel Core i7-740QM
Two Seagate Momentus 500GB 7,200rpm drives
BD ROM/ DVD+/- RW combo drive
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M
VGA, HDMI, Ethernet, one USB 3.0, three USB 2.0, mic in, S/PDIF out, 8-in-one media reader, webcam, Bluetooth, 802.11g