The G53JW is the latest in Asus’ hardcore Republic of Gamers range. The spec reads like a wish list for FPS hedonists: Intel i7 Quad Core 740M processor, Nvidia Fermi-derived GeForce GTX460M graphics, Blu-ray writer, 3D. It even ships with a large custom-designed gaming backpack for LAN parties. In short, this thing is pimped. But then, priced around £1,500 it should be.
The G53’s credentials as a gaming rig are decently immense. The i7 mobile processor idles at 1.73GHz but can be boosted to a dizzying 2.93GHz using the one-touch Extreme Turbo mode, while the Nvidia graphics package, bolstered by 1.5GB of VRAM, is engineered to make short work of demanding shooters.
Fronting the G53J is a bright 15.6 (1366 x 768) 120Hz LED backlit screen. Colour fidelity is excellent but off axis viewing is poor. You only have to shuffle in your seat to lose contrast and colour. Storage is provided by a capacious 640GB 7200 HDD, while RAM muscles in at a massive 8GB.
Standard niceties include integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth, 2-megapixel webcam and 5-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, MS, XD, Smart Media). Ports include a mic-in and headphone-out jacks, one VGA Mini D-Sub external monitor feed, three USB 2 ports, one USB 3 (ten times as fast, yay!) Ethernet, eSATA and HDMI. The latter is useful in that you can hook the G53 up to a larger 3D capable TV screen (or even projector) for big social sessions. Running the show is the 64bit iteration of Windows 7 Home Premium.
In many ways this RoG model is more than the sum of its parts. The matt black design is militaristically macho, appropriate as it's based on the brand’s Stealth Bomber platform. The two rear-facing heat exhausts look like they should emit flames; one vents from the CPU the other the GPU. This cooling system is extremely efficient. The laptop is also astonishingly quiet.
The chiclet keyboard illuminates, which is just as well. In low light, its unlit keys are almost unreadable. While the 5-degree rake is comfortable, the keys themselves have a trampoline bounce which makes the G53 unrewarding for long text entry. Given the nature of the beast, this is probably unimportant.
On the plus side, the G53 has been blessed with above average audio. High quality speakers provide an agreeable level of fidelity and there’s THX TruStudio audio processing onboard. For near-field monitoring use, this gives an expansive wide stereo spread, even if bass is a little thin.
The 3D capability of this laptop accounts for a good deal of its premium. It utilises Nvidia’s 3D solution and comes bundled with two pairs of USB-chargeable Active Shutter glasses. The 3D emitter is integrated, so there’s no need for a plug-in sync transmitter. Using the BD drive you can view commercial 3D Blu-rays (of which there are not too many, although the number is growing) more importantly you can experiment with a rapidly increasing library of 3D capable games.
3D software may still be in its infancy but the promise is undeniable. New titles, such as Starcraft 11: Wings if Liberty, are designed with 3D play in mind, while a huge number of back catalogue titles are being patched for the third dimension.
One advantage of 3D on such a relatively small screen is that double imaging (known as crosstalk) is far less intrusive. Caused by a picture overlap between the left and right eye, this can be ruinous on a big screen TV. But it’s virtually impossible to detect here. The result is an immersive and sometimes thrilling experience. The down side is that a substantial amount of light is lost when you don the specs, and for many moody games this is as helpful as a blindfold in a warzone.
Despite all the technical bravura, the G53J is a bit of a poser. When Crysis (EA, first edition) is given the chance to optimise itself based on available hardware, it opts for a fairly safe Medium setting. We averaged 40 fps. The machine’s Windows Experience Index is 5.9. Not that we were overly disappointed. This is a lappie after all, and it does play extremely well. Provided you don’t crank every setting to the max, graphically challenging games will run smoothly, with copious detail.
Of course having brawn doesn’t just make this model useful for gaming. Our G53 didn’t bat an eyelid when asked to edit 1080/50p video material on Pinnacle Studio. Lesser machines would have choked on such chunky video footage. Here though, editing was effortless.
We do have some reservations though. Despite its solidity, we were concerned to note that the left-hand side of the screen itself did not appear to be fully flush with the underside of the bezel. Fearing a fault, we checked a second sample. It was exactly the same, implying that this is simply how the display is constructed.
The G53 is a substantial piece of kit. Tipping the scales at 3.3kg, it’s not really a portable, more a desktop replacement. Battery life is unspectacular. Running the 3D Blu-ray of Avatar full-screen it only managed to last 75 minutes before depletion.
For gamers who really must have it all, the Asus G53JW appears to have been sent from gaming heaven. Breathless i7 quad core processor speed, top flight Nvidia graphics capabilities and fully integrated 3D all conspire to make it a formidable, if pricey, beast.
Overall, we’d rate the G53 is an extremely desirable piece of kit, with some minor caveats. It’s expensive, but if you want an all singing and dancing gaming transportable, then that price is justifiable. And naturally, your mates will just ooze envy at the sight of it.