ASUS G53JW-3DE Core i7 GTX 460M 3D Vision Gaming Notebook Review
Design and User Interface
The stealth-fighter design of the G73, which the G53 directly borrows from, was considered novel when it debuted but didn’t receive unanimous critical praise. Some felt that the matte-black, blocky design was delightfully reserved for a gaming laptop, while others missed the lack of LED doo-dads or simply despised the ThinkPad-esqe matte plastic.
I fall solidly into the former camp. While I would never call the G53 beautiful, I appreciate the subtle but intimidating exterior and the lack of look-at-me doo-dads. A reserved design is a pleasant surprise in this market – most of the G53’s competitors have more flashing lights than a flea market. Yet the love-it-or-hate-it split remains, as illustrated by my wife, who said “My god, that thing is ugly” the moment I took the G53 out of its packaging.
Looks aside, the G53 is undeniably a thick beast. Although the display size is smaller than the G73, this 15.6” cousin is no thinner, as it measures about 1.5” at its thickest point. This thickness is somewhat diminished by the laptop’s slight taper from front to back – the palmrest is the thinnest point, while the rear is the thickest.
Still, this laptop isn’t trying to fool anyone. It’s solidly a gaming laptop, and it makes no serious concessions towards portability despite the smaller 15.6” display. Yes, the G53 will barely fit into my backpack, and the G73 wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean this laptop is something I’d want to carry on a daily or near-daily basis. LAN warriors will appreciate being able to conceal the laptop in bag, but the size difference between the G53 and G73 is otherwise irrelevant to the laptop’s practicality.
The G53’s substantial girth provides ample room for a large keyboard. The island-style keyboard provides plenty of space between individual keys, yet each key is broad, providing plenty of surface for the largest of hands. The arrow keys and numpad are squeezed in a bit more than I’d like, and are a tad narrow, but that’s a typical trade-off among 15.6” laptops that choose to include a numpad. Because this is a gaming laptop, I consider the tradeoff worthwhile. The extra keys provide the option for additional input in games.
The keyboard is backlit, and the large, smooth plateau of plastic below should keep your palms happy. There was a slight bit of keyboard flex, but not enough to notice during normal typing. The significant taper of the G53’s chassis ensures that the keyboard is constantly at a pleasant angle, and I found that using the G53 for non-gaming tasks felt no different than using a standard 15.6” laptop with a better-than-average keyboard.
The trackpad of the G53 is centered on the alphanumeric keys rather than on the chassis, resulting in an off-set feel that is common among laptops with numpads. I have no problem with this, but I know some users find it unusual, so keep this in mind. The surface of the trackpad has a flat matte, much like the palmrest, and after a few hours of use I found this to be a disadvantage. While the surface provides a reasonable amount of resistance, it isn’t as pleasant to use as a trackpad with a well-executed texture and it’s sometimes difficult to find the trackpad if you’re gaming in a dark room.
I was also disappointed by the trackpad buttons, which were smaller than they need to be and set too far back in the chassis. Larger buttons, located along the front edge of the chassis, would be preferable. Still, it’s worth pointing out that this laptop may well be used with a mouse the majority of the time, in which case the flat matte trackpad starts to make some sense, as it doesn’t feel any different from the palmrest.