ASUS G50V - Overview
First up we have the G50V from ASUS, which is billeted as a midrange gaming laptop. ASUS uses a 15.4" chassis, but this is one of the largest 15.4" notebooks we've tested. It's just slightly smaller than many of the 17" notebooks, making this more of a desktop replacement system rather than a mobile solution. Considering the targeted gaming market, however, that's hardly a surprise.
The gaming aspect is immediately apparent when you look at the G50V. This model comes with an orange and black color scheme, lighting on the side that can be set to flicker and pulse if desired, and even an advertisement for Alone in the Dark (Ed: Um… why?). The top of the laptop has the ASUS Republic of Gamers logo, and you get a matching mouse from Logitech (MX518) and a backpack to carry your laptop around. Furthermore, ASUS allows you to overclock the CPU by 5% or 10% within Windows - no rebooting required. Not that it really matters much for gaming, since the GPU is still the bottleneck 99% of the time.
The build quality of the G50V is very good, as is stability. We had no issues with overheating, crashing, or any other sort of negative experience. Throughout testing, the G50V plugged along like a champion. Considering this laptop will have to compete with the likes of the Gateway P-7811, the build quality is certainly one area where it scores better. It also comes with a two-year warranty, one-year accident protection, and 30-day zero bright dot guarantee, and a few accessories. The improved warranty alone is worth $200, give or take, and the mouse and backpack add another $50-$75 in value, so if you make a direct comparison to the P-7811 you pretty much get what you pay for. Whether you would rather have better gaming performance (P-7811) or more storage, a faster CPU, a better warranty, and better reliability (ASUS G50V) is what you ultimately have to decide.
A single panel on the bottom of the laptop grants access to the hard drives, SO-DIMM slots, mini-PCI slot, and the CPU/GPU cooling and chips. On the bright side, you only have to remove one panel to get access to all of the user upgradable areas. The drawback is that you need to remove all 12 screws that secure this panel if you ever want to upgrade any component. In the case of the G50V-A1, however, the only time you would likely need to remove the panel is if something goes wrong. As it stands, the memory, hard drives, mini-PCI, and CPU areas are all pretty much maxed out. Again we find the NVIDIA GPU on a removable module, and it's interesting to note that an alternative configuration of the G50V actually comes with an upgraded GPU. It would really be great if ASUS would provide users with an option to upgrade their graphics down the road, but for now you should plan on using the GPU a particular model ships with.