ASUS G73Jw: Out with the Old, In with the New

Six months is a long time in the computer industry, or so we’ve told ourselves on more than one occasion. If you’re looking for the best time to upgrade, there’s always something new just around the corner. Our first encounter with ASUS’ G73Jh was impressive, so much so that it garnered our Gold Editors’ Choice award. It had great performance and features at an amazing price, often beating gaming notebooks that cost 30 to 50 percent more! And that brings us to our updated G73Jw, which keeps most of the features of the Jh model but adds a few twists. Here’s the spec rundown.

ASUS G73Jw-A1 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-740QM
(4x1.73GHz, 45nm, 6MB L3, Turbo to 2.93GHz, 45W)
Chipset Intel HM55
Memory 4x2GB DDR3-1333 (Max 8GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M 1.5GB GDDR5
192 SPs, 675/1350/625MHz Core/Shader/RAM clocks
(2.5GHz effective RAM clock)
Display 17.3" LED Glossy 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
(HannStar HSD173PUW1)
Hard Drive(s) 2x500GB 7200RPM HDD (non-RAID)
(Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS)
Optical Drive Blu-ray/DVDR Combo (Slimtype BDE DS4E1S)
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8131)
802.11n WiFI (Atheros AR9285)
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Broadcom BT-270)
Audio EAX Enhanced HD 5.0 Audio (2.1 speakers + subwoofer)
Microphone and headphone jacks
Capable of 5.1 digital output (HDMI)
Battery 8-Cell, 14.6V, 5.2Ah, 75Wh
Front Side Power/Battery/HDD/WiFi indicator lights
Left Side Headphone Jack
Microphone Jack
2 x USB 2.0
Optical Drive (BD-ROM/DVDRW)
Ethernet
Right Side Memory Card Reader
1 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0
HDMI
VGA
AC Power Connection
Back Side 2 x Exhaust vent
Kensington Lock
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 16.54" x 12.20" x 0.74-2.24" (WxDxH)
Weight 8.47 lbs (with 8-cell battery)
Extras Gaming (Laser) Mouse
ASUS Backpack
2MP Webcam
102-Key keyboard with 10-key
Flash reader (SD, MMC, MS-Duo, Smart Media, xD)
Warranty 2-year limited global warranty
1-year accidental damage and battery warranty
Pricing Online starting at $1675
(Note: Frequently backordered at many sites)

So what has changed? We have USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4, the i7-740QM, and a GeForce GTX 460M now, and the test unit also has a Blu-ray combo drive (which is available on G73Jh as well),but otherwise this is an identical notebook to what we reviewed in April. Obviously the addition of USB 3.0 is a big bullet item, and it involves some tweaks to the motherboard layout to make room for the additional chip. The CPU upgrade is nice in that the 740QM is nearly the same as the old 820QM—a base 1.73GHz clock—but with a slightly lower maximum Turbo mode. The other two changes come courtesy of the GPU switch; only the GeForce 400 series (desktop and mobile) supports HDMI 1.4, along with the new AMD 6800 cards. If you need 3D output for an HDTV, HDMI 1.4 is useful, but most users probably aren’t dying to get that feature (especially since outside of HDTVs, it’s still difficult to find computer LCDs with HDMI 1.4 connections).

The most difficult part of the equation is the GPU “upgrade”, because even without running a single benchmark we’re skeptical about whether the GTX 460M is any better than the HD 5870. We looked at two identical notebooks with GTX 285M and HD 5870 in June, and it’s no surprise that HD 5870 came out on top. What was surprising is that 5870 typically bested 285M by around 10 to 15% on average, and it wasn’t long before NVIDIA countered with the 480M. Using the same i7-820QM CPU (but with a different storage solution), the 480M regained the lead but only by a similar 10 to 15% average. Now we’re looking at the 460M, which has 22% less memory bandwidth and 14% less shader power than the 480M, making it roughly equal to the 5870 on paper.

The net result at first glance looks like we’re getting a minor CPU bump, a couple extra features, and a sideways move on the graphics. Traditionally NVIDIA and AMD trade blows depending on the games, so we should see a few titles where the G73Jw comes out ahead of the G73Jh and a few that go the other way, with others basically tied. NVIDIA also has the CUDA and PhysX cards to play, which might sway your vote. With the changes that have been made, one thing that remains about the same is the price. The G73Jh with the slower CPU and no Blu-ray support debuted at $1500; you can find the G73Jw for $1675 (though it's backordered at many resellers), and you can still buy the G73Jh (also with Blu-ray and an i7-740QM) for $1634, so the added cost pretty much goes to the BRD combo drive and a slightly faster CPU. That means the choice really boils down to GTX 460M with USB 3.0, or HD 5870 and $40.

Gallery: ASUS G73Jw

Beyond the above discussion, the G73 remains a great gaming notebook. It’s large and doesn’t get stellar battery life, but that’s no surprise. It’s fast and runs generally cool and quiet, plus the stealth bomber look is a change of pace from all the glossy plastic notebooks floating around. If you didn’t like the G73Jh enough to take the plunge, it’s doubtful the G73Jw is going to change your mind, but perhaps USB 3.0 is enough to make the difference?  We’ve run it through our usual set of benchmarks and tests, so we’ll see what the upgrades do for performance and if battery life is any better, but as far as our general impression of the notebook it remains the same. You can read our previous review for more details, but throw in Blu-ray and USB 3.0.

ASUS G73Jw: Gaming with the GTX 460M
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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Sorry, you're correct. It's 60GB/s bandwidth and a 192-bit interface, which means the GDDR5 is running at 625MHz and not 1250, or an effective speed of 2.5GHz. I've updated the table. Reply
  • radium69 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Hey anand,
    I just bought a MSI GX740 and suggest you review this model aswell!
    The build quality is sturdy and the frame is put together nicely.

    Specs:
    MSI GX740
    Intel Core i5 460M
    2x 2GB DDR 1066
    500GB 7200RPM HDD
    ATi Radeon 5870M

    Comes with a carrying bag and mouse aswell.
    Cost: 1100 euro

    (This is a Dutch version, your versions in the US are cheaper and better equipped!)
    You might want to give it a look, I'm sure you won't be dissapointed.
    Also the battery life is great with it's 9 cell battery (83Wh)

    The asus costs well over 1600 Euro here, so if you compare them the MSI is really budget friendly, without breaking the bank, and sacraficing performance!

    Regards,
    Kevin
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    How's the keyboard feel? I tested the GX640 a while back, and everything was fine other than the horrible keyboard. I would be surprised if the GX740 is much better, but it does have an HD 5870 in there IIRC, and the price is definitely attractive. Reply
  • radium69 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    The keyboard feels well made! I'm typing from it right now, it might not be as good as the Asus. But I think it is really easy to get used to.

    My desktop PC has a G15 though, and allthough the G15 gives more feedback, I think this MSI keyboard is pretty solid. You should definitely give it a try.

    The only little minus is that the function key is on the CTRL spot. But getting used to that is fairly easy.

    I think it is also light and very portable for a 17"

    Hope to see it in future benchmarks!
    I bought the i5 for its lower TDP and better battery life.
    It can certainly hold it's ground compared to other laptops.

    I can tell that the GX660 (new one 15") Is really gimmicky looking. But the GX740 feels more smooth and has a professional look and feel to it.

    MSI even ships a mouse and carrying bag with it. So that saves you another 50 dollars or so.

    Hope to see it soon on here!
    There is a lot of good stuff on it and it works flawlessy so far.
    Definitely a laptop to review!

    Regards,
    Kevin
    Reply
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    I'm looking at the laptop on NewEgg and one thing that may make for an odd review is...

    "Resolution 1680 x 1050"

    You'd probably only be able to test it at 1600x900 then since I don't think you guys even benchmark at 1680x1050 anymore... especially since a lot of laptops aren't even 16x10 anymore! :P Unfortunately, only showing 1600x900 wouldn't do much for people looking for performance at its actual settings, but I guess there could just be a table with the 1680x1050 results if there are no other laptops to compare it to at that resolution.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    We test at 1600x900 because it's becoming more common than 1680x1050, but we'd also throw in the native resolution benchmarks (and we'd hook up to an external LCD for 1080p tests as well). I guess all we really need is for MSI to send us a GX740. :-) Reply
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Ahh good call on the external monitor. I guess I wasn't thinking outside the box... or should I say "case"? ;)

    I certainly find no fault in not testing at 1680x1050 anymore as it isn't very common now that a lot of monitors (external or built into laptops) are running at a 16x9 resolution.

    The MSI laptop did look pretty decent spec-wise though, but the one thing I've always liked about the ASUS is the fact that it has two HDD bays. I don't recall the MSI laptop having that.

    The laptops that have actually disappointed me the most lately have been the newer Dell XPS models... they just seem to still not be centered around... well... good choices. I bought one of the older Dell XPS M1530s back in the day and I still really like the laptop (even with the slow GeForce M8800GT). What disappoints me, is that the 17" XPS, even with the fastest graphics card offering available, does not have a 1080p display option, or at least did not when I tried to configure one. The 15" actually had the 1080p option available, but does not have the fastest GPU as an option... bummer.
    Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    A gaming laptop that already struggles with today's games at its native resolution? I don't even want to imagine how it's going to run future DX11 games. Reply
  • whatthehey - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    It's all relative. HP and Dell sell "gaming" desktops with 5470 and GT 220 cards, which would be slower than the G73. If your goal is to get a gaming laptop that can max out every game, you better have a lot of money for something like the X7200 or else reset your expectations. Traditionally, gaming laptops have never been capable of maxing out game settings on the latest titles, especially when even desktops need two higher clocked GPUs to manage that. If you look at other gaming laptops (i.e. Clevo models with either HD 5870 or GTX 480M) and how much they cost, the G73Jh/Jw is still an awesome bargain, and it's not quite the eyesore of Clevo notebooks! That's my take anyway. Reply
  • Sufo - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Heh, it's all good - apart from the odd title scattered here and there in 2011, you won't be seeing many of those "future DX11 games" till 2012. PC gaming has plateaued until the next round of consoles. Reply

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