The Asus G71 was designed to answer the clamor for a laptop that is suited for gaming. Gamers in particular require a very powerful platform that allows them to run their heavy games without a glitch. When conducting this review, we had to ask ourselves whether the Asus G71 is able to deliver what gamers need.
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Quad 2.53GHz|
|Screen Size||17.1-inch 1920×1200 LCD|
|Operating System||Genuine Windows Vista® Ultimate Edition, 32-bit|
|Battery||8-cell battery Type:A42-M70|
|Graphics||512 MB GeForce 9700M GT|
The G71 comes screaming out of the box “I AM A GAMING LAPTOP”, which currently means racing car red and flashing lights according to most manufacturers. Thankfully, the G71 does it more tastefully than most, and the more annoying bits can, of course, be switched off.
The all-black lid features the requisite manufacturer logo, a blue-lit “Republic of Gamers” logo, a thin strip of blue light beneath this, and two blue LED bars on either side.
The side light behaviour is customisable through Asus’ included DirectConsole software, allowing you to either turn the side lights off, have them always on, tell them to react to CPU activity or by fan speed. If you want to pretend you’re at a very dull dance party, you can also have them flash twice every two seconds, a quick path to annoying everyone around you. Interestingly, although the sub-menu is provided for the thin strip under the logo, the software doesn’t allow you to turn the darn thing off, and you’re stuck with the glowing Republic of Gamers logo, unless you get creative with black tape.
There’s also two front firing LEDs that can be changed to one of 16 different colours, which can either always be on or off, and flash twice every second so you can emulate a plane taking off. There are two light activation modes – either permanently on, or reacting to the speaker. If the latter is set, the lights cycle through available colours when flashing. In practice, this didn’t work – at least when playing off a CD player.
Incidentally the sound is quite good – one of the first times we’ve been happy with laptop speakers as a whole. Asus’ solution follows the typical configuration for a 17-inch laptop: two speakers just below the monitor, two front firing speakers on the lip, and a speaker on the bottom to give more bass. The sound separation is actually rather effective, and tonally for a laptop is reasonably impressive.
Opening the lid reveals more LED goodies, with the trackpad surrounded by a blue LED. We like this, as it helps us find the trackpad in dark lit situations. Sadly despite all these lights, Asus hasn’t managed to put them behind the keyboard; backlit keys being one of the most useful features in a laptop.
The LED overload continues with capacitive buttons for trackpad disabling, speed modes, Splashtop and DirectConsole below the monitor. To the left of this is a screen which most handily displays real-time battery capacity – something we wish was a permanent feature on all laptops. It can also display a customised message, CPU and Memory usage, MSN and Outlook mail and meeting notifications, the latter handled by a tray icon called CheckMail.
Performance was expectedly good with a quad-core CPU and a decent level GPU behind it, grabbing 6079 from 3DMark06, and 7353 in PCMark05. Pushing up to Turbo mode netted 6124 and 8084 respectively, while Turbo extreme pushed even further to 6168 and 8482 respectively.
Crysis Warhead performance was excellent for a laptop, with playable frame rates coming out at 1920×1200 and objects quality set to “gamer”; shadows, shaders and volumetric effects quality set to “mainstream”, water quality set to “enthusiast” and everything else set to “minimum”.
Things weren’t so great in our battery test, where the G71 lasted one hour, one minute and 13 seconds, with all the power-saving features turned off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum and a DVD played back. We expected this – being a huge gaming laptop, it’s not a system you can expect to be away from the wall for long.
The G71 is an excellent system. It’s expensive, and there’s a few missteps Asus has made with hardware configuration, bling and the inclusion of a 32-bit version of Windows, but by and large with this system you get what you pay for – assuming your pockets are deep enough.