In the past year or so, Asus and MSI have been consistently churning out great gaming notebooks, giving stiff competition to Alienware. We've already see some examples of their handy work in the form of the G73Jw and the GX660, and today we have Asus’s flagship gaming notebook for review, the G74SX. Armed with the same DNA as the rest of the R.O.G series notebooks, let’s see how high it ups the ante.
Build and Design
The G74SX is designed like a stealth fighter and built like a tank. The rubber coating on the entire notebook makes it easy to grip and maintain. It does attract some finger prints, but not a lot as compared to a glossy-finish notebook. The matt finish is a welcome addition, giving the notebook a very simple, yet striking appearance. The hinge is extremely sturdy and the lid can easily be opened with a single finger, which brings me to the weight of the notebook. With the 8-cell battery, it’s about 4.28 kgs, which clearly indicates this is designed as a desktop replacement, rather than being portable.
The rubber coating gives it a stealthy appearance
All the exhaust vents are placed in the rear, so you don’t come in contact with the heat, no matter how you use it. The large vents are designed so as to give you maximum ventilation while still maintaining the aggressive look of the notebook. There are loads of connectivity options available like four USB ports (including one USB 3.0 port), Blu-ray writer, HDMI, VGA and headphone and microphone jack.
USB 3.0 adds some future proofing
Opening up the lid, we have an anti-glare, Full HD resolution screen. Next to the 2MP webcam is Nvidia’s 3DVision transceiver built right into the bezel, itself. This way, all you need are the 3D shutter glasses and you're good to go. The full-sized keyboard is backlit with adjustable brightness and the layout of the keys is well done with good spacing. The trackpad is nice and large with ample room for the palm rest area. There are just two buttons placed above one for the power and one for toggling between different power modes set by Asus (Power4Gear). Unfortunately, there's no physical button to toggle the 3D mode, which means if a game isn’t giving you good frame rates in 3D, you’ll have to exit the game and switch it off from Nvidia’s control panel. This feature has been consistently missing from their entire 3D notebook lineup.
Easy access to the hard drives and memory
Swapping out the hard drives and memory is a completely screw-less operation. The large button shaped lock can be opened using a coin, which gives you easy access to the two hard drives and four memory slots. The battery compartment is placed on the side, which is just as easy to replace.
Asus has sent us a totally pimped out version of the G74SX with all the bells and whistles. Powering the notebook is an Intel Core i7 2630QM Sandy Bridge CPU, along with a massive 16GB of DDR3 memory. Suffice to say you’ll never complain about Windows running slow. For storage, we have a 500GB and a 750GB hard drive both running at 7200rpm, which is good for a gaming notebook.
The graphics is taken care of by a single Nvidia GTX 560M with 3GB of GDDR5 dedicated memory. Gaming at a high resolution and in 3D requires a large frame buffer, so the more the better. The 17.3-inch screen sports a Full-HD resolution and a max refresh rate of 120Hz for the Stereoscopic 3D to work right. The in-built speakers support EAX Advanced HD 5.0 and THX TruStudio sound enhancements. Finally, we have Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit holding everything together. Next, let’s see how this monster performs in our tests.