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ASUS G74 Review: A Subtle Redesign

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

User Interface, Display and Audio Quality

User Interface

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Most of the ASUS G74 is plastic, but the material surrounding the keyboard is instead aluminum, giving the keyboard a pleasing, cool touch. The keys themselves are plastic, and cut island-style, providing plenty of room between each individual key. This does not result in uncomfortably small keys, however. There’s plenty of room in this laptop for keys of comfortable size and attractive gaps between each of them.

Another benefit of the size is room for a full-sized numpad set substantially away from the keyboard for arrow keys kept separated from both the keyboard and the numpad. This layout is good for general use, but great for gaming, as it means both the arrow keys and numpad can be used accurately, without fear of misplacing your fingertips. It’s also simply more comfortable than the cramped, closer-quarters configuration required on smaller laptops.

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Keyboard flex is almost non-existent. Most of the keyboard is solid as a rock, resisting even intentional attempts to induce flex. It’s only the lower left hand corner of the keyboard – the portion that overlaps the optical drive – which allows for some slight depression. But don’t let that discourage you. Overall, this is the most solid keyboard I’ve ever experienced on a gaming laptop.

While gamers often don’t use the touchpads on their laptops – in fact, the G74 even ships with a laser gaming mouse - ASUS hasn’t taken this as a reason to ignore it. There’s plenty of space available – it’s wider than the spacebar – and mutli-touch gestures are supported. Even the left and right buttons are large, separate, and offer significant travel when pressed.

Display and Audio Quality

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The large 17.3 inch display on the ASUS G74 offers a resolution of 1920x1080 and is without a doubt one of the best on any laptop PC Perspective has ever reviewed. It’s the only laptop I’ve ever reviewed that perfectly rendered the LCD Lagom black level test page by making every single dark square on the page visible against the black background, and both the contrast and gradient images revealed a wide range of color from the deepest blacks to the boldest whites.

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Games and movies are outstanding as a result, but the excellence is visible even when surfing the web and viewing photographs. Colors pop and dark images are rendered with a crispness that’s rare to find on a laptop display. There’s none of the muddy or washed-out appearance that so commonly occurs when an LCD attempts to display an image with shadows and deep colors. This jaw-dropping quality comes as the expense of a glossy coating, but it’s hardly a surprise and an acceptable tradeoff.  Because of the size and weight of the G74, it’s unlikely you’ll be attempting to use it while outside or on the go, which negates the disadvantages of gloss.

Audio quality, despite the size of this laptop, is average at best. There’s noticeable bass available, and distortion is rarely a problem even when listening to tracks heavy on the lows. Despite this, the maximum volume of the speakers is lower than that of laptops much smaller and size, and the entire experience is clouded by a hollow tone, as if sound is emitting not from the laptop but from a room somewhere else in your home.

 

August 19, 2011 | 06:50 PM - Posted by Anonymousguy (not verified)

This review is great, but the conclusion is crap. The G74SX-XA1 is a cheap model with less performance and you forgot to mention this model has 2gb more of GPU than the G73. ;)

August 24, 2011 | 06:45 PM - Posted by hrmchan (not verified)

I looked at the G74 at Best Buys for $1299. But it did not have the HD screen, so I passed.

When you evaluate it against the MainGear, you have to look at their price which is $2499. So maybe it not a fast, but the performance is its in the range ... and at a much looker cost. When you compare it to the G73SW ... yes there is only margin improvement ... but the price also marginal. Maybe for some $400 is not marginal, but you know what I mean.

The BUY decision for the G74 obviously is different for a G73 owner looking to upgrade vs the 1st time owner.

I am that latter and had the choice of going with the $1299 Best Buy or a G73SW from Amazon or Tiger Direct. I ended up buying the G73SW-A1 which included the HD screen and 2 Hydrid Momentus drives. That boosted the cost to $1599, but Asus had a $150 rebate which made all the difference in the world... so my net cost was only $1349. Now that's $1000 less than the Maingear model used in this review.

I think I made the right choice ...

August 25, 2011 | 01:20 PM - Posted by twit viewer (not verified)

The cooling mystery of this machine is "where are the intake vents?" Supposedly they were to be at the left and right sides of the G74, but I challenge you to find them. If the reviewer could show the intake vents, that would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

August 28, 2011 | 06:45 PM - Posted by Jade (not verified)

I have found the intake vents!
It's the other exhaust fan at the back

The back of asus g74 has two fans right.
One of those fans is the intake and the other is the exhaust

try puttin it on a room filled with smoke

September 30, 2011 | 12:25 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No your not correct... The intake is not from the rear exhaust. If you look in the manual it shows the Diagram. The air is brought in through the top of th laptop through the keyboard. Putting a intake right next to the exhaust would make no sense... Look at the Manual and it shows th flow of air.

December 31, 2012 | 10:16 PM - Posted by Praminat0r (not verified)

That is correct, however the air also comes in from the rear vents, which extend further than the fan heat sinks, allowing air in from the outside of the cooling vents. it is drawn in through the suction of the fans pushing hot air out, and therefor drawing cool air to fill the space

October 9, 2011 | 08:58 PM - Posted by John Christmas (not verified)

Thanks for the review. Having 3 hours of battery life is certainly quite impressive. However, this laptop looks extremely bulky, and its exterior design leaves much to be desired. However if fans of gaming can see past that, they might appreciate this gaming laptop more than me.
http://www.ldj-lights.co.uk

October 15, 2011 | 05:26 PM - Posted by New G74SX Owner (not verified)

I considered buying the top of the line G74 for gaming, but couldn't pass up the deal they have at Best Buy right now ($1050). I had 8 GB of RAM from another computer at home which I threw in, then loaded X-Plane and Flight Sim X and jacked up all the graphic settings. Granted, there was some stepping and I had to take things down a notch, but overall I was pretty impressed with the performance. The updated cooling system works as advertised - the case (and my lap) stayed surprisingly comfortable! Other laptops I use always get hot to the touch and their fans are annoyingly loud.

As far as the screen goes, the 1600x900 is fine for me. My only complaint is the speakers are not quite loud enough for me, but I guess I can wear headphones. Be warned - this laptop is hefty (along with the power supply), but look on the bright side - you'll be burning more calories while carrying it around! ha ha! Oh, and 3 hr battery life is probably optimistic for most users - this past week I turned the brightness down and just surfed the net (no gaming) and didn't quite get 2 1/2 hrs (warned me at 7%) before I plugged in. I've never been anywhere I couldn't find an outlet so no big deal for me. Still, pretty impressive for such a small battery pack.

Cost vs performance was good enough for my purposes. I'd love to always have the top of the line equipment, but how long will that last before something new comes out? The only other upgrade I'm considering is throwing in an SSD to see if that makes any difference with the flight simulators.

October 26, 2011 | 06:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i just got my g74sx today and it doesnt have a blu ray player??

November 20, 2011 | 01:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

some one buy me one for xmas im only 13

November 24, 2011 | 01:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Get a job and you can buy it yourself. 13 is old enough to babysit

November 20, 2011 | 01:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

some one buy me one for xmas im only 13

November 22, 2011 | 06:39 PM - Posted by Hello (not verified)

[i just got my g74sx today and it doesnt have a blu ray player?? ]

not all of the g74sx have the blue-ray reader.
they have model numbers so it looks like "G74sx-a1" and so on.

other than that nice review it gives me a better look at it.
i plan on buying one in January.

November 30, 2011 | 04:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Great review. May be blocky but has an amazing spec for a laptop. Imagine playing the best flight sim on this beast.

January 1, 2012 | 07:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I am on my 2nd G74SX in less than a month. The Laptop display is suppose to be a 1920x1080 120Hz 3D capable. However, the monitor driver is PNP generic. I thought I did something when updating, Went to restore factory setting but Geek squad had image file error and the right chip set driver did not load. Second G74Sx-a1 and same thing fresh out of the box.

January 5, 2012 | 04:10 AM - Posted by AJNorth

Asus have updated the G74 line, with the G74SX-DH72 / G74SX-DH73-3D running the Intel Core i-7 2670QM and outfitted with a BluRay DVD writer (along with possibly improved sound); Amazon is presently these for about $2k USD, the former with 16 GB DDR3 and a 160 GB SATA II SSD boot drive + 750 GB HDD, the latter with 12 GB DDR 3 and two 750 GB HDDs.

Might we expect a review of these current models?

Thank you.

January 10, 2012 | 05:51 PM - Posted by Mark (not verified)

I have a question, it's about the two exhaust fans on the back one of them gives out no air it's the left if your looking at the computer from the front is this normal please help!!!
BTW i have the G74 ah71 model please help!!!

February 9, 2012 | 05:51 AM - Posted by BrightLight (not verified)

Hi,

Was wondering the exact same thing on my G74SX-3D. If you look carefully, you will see that the right vent (when viewing the laptop from from the back) is covered by plastic. The right side (again, seen from the back) has the heatsink for the fans. After some research I found out that the left side accomodates the speakers and the right side, the air vent opening. So nothing to worry about there.

February 9, 2012 | 05:54 AM - Posted by BrightLight (not verified)

*ditto previous message. I referred to left and right as seen from the back. It should actually be "as seen from the front of the laptop".

March 8, 2012 | 06:45 PM - Posted by 57degrees (not verified)

One thing to beware of in this line of machines: there is no Num Lock key. If the game you want to play uses Num Lock, it's not there. ASUS technical support says to reconfigure your games around this design defect.

ASUS could fix it with a BIOS update, but they haven't in seven months.

June 5, 2012 | 06:53 AM - Posted by stu (not verified)

I noticed the same thing. With one of my wireless keyboards this creates a problem as the NumLock is treated as always down so the "P" gets translated as a "9" (along with the other numbers that have been mapped to letters since the mini wireless keyboard has no keypad.)

This may not be a problem for most, but I use the thing for 3d scanning and ReconstructMe uses the "P" to start and stop scans.

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