ASUS G73Jw: Still a Good Notebook after Six Months

So let’s make it clear: when we first reviewed the G73Jh, we were very impressed with the features and performance, not to mention its great price for a high-end gaming notebook. Six months on and it still packs a punch—and the G73Jw revision doesn’t substantially alter the formula. If you disliked the stealth aesthetic, nothing has changed on that front. If you wanted a better price (without dropping to lesser components), things remain the same or perhaps even a bit more expensive, but the price—on both models—is still attractive, and either one would make for a fine gaming notebook. If you'd like some customization options and are willing to pay the price premium, you might also be interested in checking out XoticPC or AVADirect where you can customize the G73; unfortunately, while you keep the ASUS warranty, you don't get credit for the original parts—i.e. the i7-840QM is a $575 to $610 upgrade.

In short, our Gold Editors’ Choice gaming notebook is still tough to beat, but now you get to choose between identical twins with a few minor differences in personality. What the G73Jw offers is USB 3.0 support, roughly equal graphics performance, and CUDA/PhysX as a bonus. PhysX tends to put enough of a strain on performance that you’ll have to choose higher quality settings and anti-aliasing or go with PhysX. CUDA on the other hand is a technology that continues to see growing support, with major applications like Premiere CS5 now featuring CUDA optimizations. If you’re interested in Badaboom, Premiere, vReveal, or some of the other CUDA applications, the G73Jw is a worthwhile update to the G73 line. If all you really want is maximum gaming performance, we’d give a slight edge to the Mobility HD 5870.

Battery life is also an improvement, thanks to better idle power requirements from the GTX 460M. You’re still only getting 2-3 hours of typical use, but that’s better than nothing. We’re not sure if anything has improved on HD 5870 equipped notebooks since our last look, but NVIDIA does have a lead there. Conversely, raw performance on battery power is still in favor of the 5870 in the G73Jh, which runs closer to its AC performance than the G73Jw—at the cost of getting even less battery life. Somehow, we can’t really see the ability to run games faster for 30 minutes as being a major bullet point.

So that’s essentially it: you get the same design, USB 3.0, an updated CPU, and a new GPU. We don’t think the improved battery life is really a major deal for anyone shopping for a gaming laptop. Perhaps that will change when we get Sandy Bridge, since we’ll finally have the option for a quad-core Intel CPU and switchable graphics, but until then Clarksfield means that even a large 98Wh battery is likely going to fall below three hours of useful battery life. The G73Jw is a good laptop and certainly a viable alternative to the G73Jh, but if NVIDIA was looking for a knockout blow from ASUS this isn’t it. They've got a heavyweight contender in the ring, and both sides are landing blows, but this one is going to end up a split decision.

Finally, with the results from the GTX 460M we need to look at the mobile GPU market again. "High-end" notebook GPU performance remains highly compressed, with a spread of about 25% separating the top GTX 480M from lesser offerings like the HD 5850 and GTX 460M. In addition, the cost of upgrading to a faster GPU(s) can be prohibitive, and what we want more than anything is faster mobile GPUs that won't break the bank. What we really want right now is something like a mobile variant of the new Radeon 6800 parts, only this time with a full set of Stream Processors (unlike the 5870 where AMD used the 5770 desktop core for the mobile part).

The desktop 6870 is able to provide 93% of the desktop 5870 with fewer processor cores and it does it while using 12% less power. Or if you want another comparison point, the 6850 is 25 to 50 percent faster than the 5770 with 9% more computational power (cores * clock), it has slightly lower idle power draw, and load power draw is only 13W higher at most. If NVIDIA can put a 100W TDP 480M into notebooks, surely AMD can put in a true mobile 6870. Unfortunately, parts like that are probably still several months out—or more—and if the past is any indication, the mobile 6800 chips will come with dramatically reduced clocks and core counts (or get called the "Mobility 6900"), so what we get is plenty of choice but no killer product. Sandy Bridge and Optimus (or an AMD equivalent) with at least the performance of 460M is what I’m looking forward to seeing as the next generation of mobile gaming, and if we can get better than 480M performance with a TDP of 70W or less so much the better; hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to get exactly that.

ASUS G73Jw: Battery Life, Noise, Heat, and the LCD
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  • james.jwb - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Asus Asus Asus, could we please have a few different laptops maybe? Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Actually, I wouldn't mind one more Asus review in the near future that I think was hinted at about a month ago in the 13" MBP as a windows laptop article- the UL80JT (or UL30) with the 330UM cpu. I'd really like to see how the battery life from the new CULVs compares to the old and vs the regular voltage core 2010 ones in a machine built by people that know how to integrate/tune the hardware for good battery life. I hope that that's still on the way... Reply
  • MikeMurphy - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    Asus has stalled in a big way. We have too many choices of laptops all with similar problems.

    It seems like you either have 1366x768 resolution, or you have a laptop that looks like it should be in orbit.

    Asus should be taking some pointers from the Vaio Z specs.
    Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    ASUS should also pickup a business lineup.

    They have a Vaio style premium line though. Like the N-series. What they lack is high-res screens.

    Sony has lots of models, what Asus needs is a better commitment to making laptops.
    Reply
  • moep - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    I’m looking for a new gaming laptop right now and all I really care about is maximum performance.

    Judging by your review, the G73JH with the updated 740QM should be faster in most games and it is a lot cheaper over here to boot, so I could throw in a small SSD as a boot drive at no additional cost.

    Did you notice an improvement in build quality on the JW overall?

    Right now I really don’t see a reason to go with the updated models, unless Nvidia releases a new driver that suddenly gives the 460M a 20% performance boost.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    As far as I can tell, build quality is identical. If they're the same price, I could go either way, but if you can get the JH for substantially less money and the only difference is the GPU and lack of USB3, there's no reason to pay more for the JW. I figure USB3 is worth about $40, so the US pricing right now is fine, but if the difference were more like $100+ then go with the cheaper model. Reply
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    One thing to consider is that there are a few different variations of the JH model, although last I looked, I only saw the A2 around. The thing is, I have a friend with the A1 version, and he had a hell of a time trying to find a drive caddy for the second drive bay, since the A1 only came with 1 HDD and therefore only one caddy. The A2 has 2 HDDs by default (similar to the JW) and should have two caddies.

    Since the user was talking about throwing a SSD into the laptop, I think he'd really want to make sure he got an A2 so he wouldn't have to worry about finding a caddy. Although, finding a caddy might also be significantly easier now... since I don't actually own the laptop, I'm not 100% sure :P.
    Reply
  • TheTechnophile - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    There have been a few issues with the JHs. The problems always come out after the "newness" of a system has faded away. You can check out the Xotic PC forums as a good place to get info on these systems.
    In particular some of the problems which the JH has, but apparently the JW does not are:
    GSOD (BIOS update seemed to have fixed this.... I think.)
    Missing keystrokes ( a particularly problematic one with the JH)
    Although good tempsin the JH, the JW is MUCH cooler, thereby increasing component life.
    On both of them, one of the things that make me cringe is that they use double-sided sticky tape to attach the keyboard. The keyboard is also comprised of a thin aluminium backing, extremely easy, if not impossible not to, bend and crease when removing to get into the machine.
    I think the JW has learned from some of the mistakes of the JH. Both are good machines, but go check out what really has been happening with them. Remember there are alot of people over there who love the machine...no matter how many problems it gives them.
    Reply
  • TheTechnophile - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    Sorry...also forgot. They updated the backlit keyboard app as well. Now it comes on before Windows starts. Previously you had to wait to get into Windows before the application could launch to turn on backlighting. Just another nice touch they added, and learned, to the JW. Reply
  • Quizzical - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    5 GHz memory? You sure about that? No desktop parts have hit that clock speed, even. Laptop parts tend to be clocked slower. Nvidia has been arbitrarily multiplying GDDR5 clock speeds by 2 to try to cover up the embarrassingly slow clock speeds that their GDDR5 memory controller is stuck at, so that's probably what they did here.

    The multiply by 2 bit makes some sense for double data rate memory, but none at all for quad data rate. Maybe they thought it would be more obvious what they were doing if they multiplied by 4.
    Reply

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