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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  • semo - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    When did this site start specializing in laptop reviews?

    You know you can't buy these in most places and anandtech is very much an international website.

    Also, if you are going to be reviewing laptops, you should know that these high powered machines end up killing themselves in very short time. I would want to know what kind of support these devices get (again this is very location specific), are tear down manuals easy to come by, is it easy to replace parts (e.g. are external ports located on removable PCBs or part of the mobo). My recommendation is to always to buy directly from the manufacturer and get the longest possible warranty. Controversial advice, I know, but if you have come across as many bricked laptops as me, you would know where I'm coming from
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    ASUS has a two-year global warranty, which is better than most. As for the quantity of laptop reviews, first the laptop market has now surpassed desktops in total sales, and second there are many variations on laptops. Sure, they all have a chassis, keyboard, touchpad, LCD, speakers, etc. but there's essentially no upgrading. That means we're not just looking at performance but features, build quality, the display, etc. all in one review so even two "identical" notebooks from different manufacturers need reviewing. So, we now have myself, Dustin, and Vivek doing laptop reviews and we can turn out quite a few in a month. Some will like it, others will prefer something else, but we're not taking away from other reviews just to do these. Reply
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    I think that it's nice to see laptop reviews.

    With the mobile-centric society that we have these days, people are looking to take something at least comparable to their desktop while they're on the road. I know it was quite nice when I went from an old Turion-based HP laptop to my Dell M1530... it could actually do similar things as my home-built desktop without suffering from terrible frame rates! I didn't mind so much that it wasn't as fast, but that it could still perform well enough.

    What I do like is that you don't necessarily focus on laptops like that Clevo GeForce 480 SLI laptop, but rather laptops that are modestly priced and can serve as "desktop complements" rather than "desktop replacements".
    Reply
  • sanjeev - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    "...It’s a good panel with an extremely high contrast ration"

    ?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    You have no idea how many times I type "ration" instead of "ratio"! I usually catch it but it slipped through this time. All those other words have hardwired my brain to type "-tion" I guess. Reply
  • tech6 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Nice review but what is it with Asus and those cryptic laptop model names that nobody can remember?

    Also - there are other manufacturers of laptops, so an occasional review of a non-Asus laptop would also be welcome.
    Reply
  • freespace303 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Any chance you'll be reviewing the Envy 17 3d this thoroughly when it comes out? Or is HP still being stubborn? Reply
  • roninmagik1 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    where is the dell xps review?? that's what we are all waiting for!!! =) Reply
  • barnett25 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    I second that! Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Coming real soon. :-D Reply

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