These changes are huge in the world of laptop gaming as they raise the bar for the competition. ASUS has not only added memory capacity, disk capacity, and graphics, but it has gone one better by using Intel’s latest quad-core I7-2670QM processor whose system software has been optimized so that each core can be used for multi-tasking.
In addition, the G74SX-AH71 runs Windows 7 Home Premium, Microsoft’s 64-bit system software. That software, plus changes to the system enables the G74SX-AH71 to score P2008 in the 3D Mark II routine and P9180 in the 3D Mark Advantage, making it one of the fastest gaming notebooks in the class.
As noted, Asus has included Nvidia’s latest GTX 560M graphics chipset with 3GB of GDDR5 memory, which means that the video capability of the G74SX-AH71 is huge. It not only handles high-definition, but it also delivers a resolution of 1920 by 1080 so that not only will the G74SX-AH71 handle gaming easily, but it can also act as the hub of a high-definition entertainment system with its HDMI interfacing.
Supporting Intel’s Turbo processor mode, the G74SX-AH71 is a gaming laptop that uses Intel’s optimization to the fullest. As noted, the quad-core I7 has been optimized so that each of its processors can use Intel’s multi-threading which allows each processor to handle two tasks at once. Since this processor operates at 2.26 GHz in native mode and 3 GHz in Turbo mode, you actually have up to eight threads available for processing.
The ASUS implementation supports four selectable computing modes so that the laptop delivers top performance at all times. The 17.3-inch screen uses a combination of LED backlighting and LCD to deliver not only fine colors but also good performance. The color palette is rich as the G74SX-AH71 has been optimized for gaming. This immersive technology delivers sharp images that give you fine gaming clarity or for use with high-definition video. The audio has been optimized and the speakers feature built-in subwoofer technology for great lows and continue that sound delivery well into the high range.
That the G74SX-AH71 has been optimized for gaming is easy to see from its construction. For example, the extra-large keyboard supports a separate number pad, much like a desktop and the extended keyboard also has rubberized palm rests for comfort. The adjustable rear feet also give the G74SX-AH71 up to a 5-degree incline for added comfort.
One thing about laptops that operate at more than 2 GHz with lots of memory is that they tend to run very hot unless you have been specially engineered to handle the heat load created by the processor. The G74SX-AH71 has been engineered so that a set of uniquely placed vents pulls air through the notebook and shunts it away from the system so that it remains as cool as possible.
The G74SX-AH71 has been built not only for gaming but can connect directly to high-definition video screens. It includes an HDMI port, three USB 2.0 outputs, and a high-speed USB 3.0 output. It will also work as a WiFi device as it has a built-in 801.11 b/g/n capability. It can not only interface with your home WiFi LAN, but you can hard-wire it through a standard Ethernet port.
Taken together, ASUS claims that it is now at the top of the gaming laptop world with its G74SX-AH71 are true. This is a very serious piece of equipment, ready to work.
I finally got my hands on an MSI GT660 Gaming Laptop, and no, it is not mine… yet. I borrowed this system for two days from a friend (no easy task) and here is my experience with this extraordinary machine.
MSI is proving to be a trusted name in the Gaming Laptop arena. This machine is purposely built and with this hardware, and stylish looks you will not be embarrassed at a LAN party. This laptop will not fall into everyone’s taste, but with the flashy lights on the outside and the glowing MSI logo, it certainly makes a statement. Lots of glossy surfaces are mixed with matte black add a Knight Rider aesthetic, according to MSI. Touch-sensitive LEDs work quite well to activate and de-activate functions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and others.
The laptop has some very powerful speakers, for a laptop. It produced a nice depth of sound while listening to some music MP3’s thanks to a subwoofer built into the bottom of the laptop. I prefer to play games with headphones so the speakers of a laptop are not that important for laptop sport a 16-inch monitor, and although not the biggest available it is very effective. It does help to bring the weight down, but I will not claim that this laptop can be called portable. The screen is a bit reflective and has a resolution of 1366×768 pixels.
It is easier to carry than a full desktop system, but still 7.4 pounds to carry. Interestingly, MSI did not opt for the backlit keyboard option. This could have been a nice feature since most LANs are dimly lit. The purpose of this laptop is clear just by glancing at the keyboard: the WASD, the 8462 arrow keys are colored red, which corresponds to most games default keys for movement. The keyboard is effective and has a nice feel to it.
PerformanceBuilt for gaming, MSI added the 1.6-GHz Intel Core i7 Q720 CPU and 6GB of RAM. This gives it enough power to be quite useful for some time. The GT660 also sports two 7200-rpm hard drives, for a total of 1 TB storage space. Interesting enough this is one of the first laptops I saw that has USB 3.0, although I was unable to test their speed.
Of course the biggest question still remains: how does it handle games? Containing an Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M graphics card with 1 GB of dedicated memory led to an impressive 3DMark06 score of 12,633. This translated into a very enjoyable gaming experience. I had only a few games to test, but they all played really well. Batman: Arkham Asylum played remarkably well at 1024×768 with 52 fps. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare achieved over 110 fps at the same resolution. At higher resolutions gameplay do suffer, but since I usually play at this resolution, I was impressed.
VerdictWill I buy one? I would if I had the money. It is a very nice laptop. It does run very hot and using it in my lap became very uncomfortable. MSI tackles this problem by adding an ability to boost the fan speed (and noise level) with their Cooler boost technology, but it is best to use this laptop on a table. This laptop is quite expensive, but it does add some flair to LAN gaming for those with deeper pockets. No one will laugh at you when you arrive at the party with this beast.