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ASUS G74 Review: A Subtle Redesign

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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Design

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We’ve reviewed several gaming laptops here at PC Perspective, but strangely, we’ve usually reviewed systems with 15.6” displays or smaller. Although large by most any other measure, these laptops are actually small by the standards of gaming laptops. Many gamers prefer laptops with a display over 17 inches because the extra screen real estate results in a better gaming experience.

Today, however, we finally have a giant in our hands – the ASUS G74S. At first glance, this appears to be nothing more than a minor update to the original ASUS G73, adding Nvidia’s latest GTX 560M in replacement of the older GTX 460M.

Take a closer look, and it becomes apparent that laptop has been completely redesigned. While the lines of the chassis are similar, the cooling vents in the rear are larger and in different locations. A new strip of gray plastic covers the display hinge, and the optical drive has been moved further forward. All of this communicates a new internal configuration that could make or break this laptop.

Keep reading our review of the new ASUS G74 notebook!

Speaking of which, let’s take a look at this monstrous laptop’s specifications.

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The model we’re reviewing today is the XA1 configuration, which is the only model I can find an Amazon. As before, the ASUS G74S straddles a line between high-end gaming performance and affordable pricing. It will be interesting to see how this laptop, with the new Nvidia GTX 560M, compares the previous gaming laptops we’ve tested, as they contained the older GTX 4xx series parts.

Before we delve into performance, we need to address this goliath’s redesigned chassis. The smaller ASUS G53 was praised, but does adding more bulk spoil the experience?

Design

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Love or hate the blocky, matte black ASUS laptop, one thing is for certain – the company has successfully created a brand image that’s unmistakable at a glance.

I liked the subtle ferocity of this design language. It’s not brash, but upon a closer look the hard edges of and unapologetically simple finish communicate the laptop’s purpose. With that said, ASUS has added a couple pieces of flash. The fan vents at the rear of this beast are now surrounded by chrome and the display hinge is covered by gray trim. While these are small details, they give the chassis extra pop without going overboard.

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What the new chassis doesn’t offer is a more functional display hinge. Like previous G-series gaming laptops, the display on this model is hinged approximately two inches from the rear. This gives the laptop a bit of a bubble-butt and also prevents the display from tilting back significantly. Although it’s unlikely that users will often need the display to tilt more than it currently does, I did find it annoying on occasion, such as when I wanted to check on a benchmark without sitting down in my office chair. The display does not tilt back enough to give me an ideal viewing angle while I am standing above it.

This is a beefy laptop, weighing in at almost ten pounds. Despite that, I found that the chassis displayed little noticeable flex in most scenarios. The only exception was every large laptop’s traditional weak spot – the optical drive. Gripping the laptop’s front left-hand side (with the lid open) can create enough stress to spontaneously eject the optical drive tray. Such an occurrence is not unheard of with laptops of this size and weight, but it’s obviously not ideal.

 

 

 

 

August 19, 2011 | 09:50 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 | 09:45 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 | 04:20 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 | 09:45 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 | 03:25 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.

January 1, 2013 | 01:16 AM - 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 | 11:58 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 | 08:26 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 | 09:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

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

November 20, 2011 | 04:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

some one buy me one for xmas im only 13

November 24, 2011 | 04:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

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

November 20, 2011 | 04:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

some one buy me one for xmas im only 13

November 22, 2011 | 09:39 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 | 07:28 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 | 10:41 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 | 07:10 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 | 08:51 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 | 08:51 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 | 08:54 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 | 09:45 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 | 09:53 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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