At IFA 2015, Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show, Asus took the wraps off its new line-up of gaming notebooks. While the water-cooled GX700 took the spotlight, it’s the G752 that really matters. Asus’ mainstream gaming notebook has become incredibly popular.
The new model deviates from the design of recent systems, ditching matte black in favor of a three-tone look of dark silver, bronze, and black. That may not seem like much of a shift, but Asus’ old formula worked well; any change is a risk.
The notebook looks like an ancient device built by creatures more enlightened than mankind.
Inside, the story is familiar. Intel’s new Core i7-6700HQ is the only significant change. Otherwise, our entry-level review unit arrived with an Nvidia GTX 970M graphics chip, 16GB of RAM, two hard drives, a 128GB SATA drive, and a 1TB mechanical disk. G-Sync is now standard on all versions, too.
Pricing starts at $1,800. While that’s not inexpensive, on its face it seems a reasonable price for a powerful gaming rig. The real question is not whether the G752’s hardware can deliver, but whether the new design can live up to previous models.
The new design is not a win
Asus was an early adopter of the matte black aesthetic that now dominates so many gaming notebooks, and the success of its hardware is, I think, partially responsible for the look’s prevalence. That’s a compliment to the company, but it also posed a problem. Recent Asus notebooks have started to look like everything else.
That’s not what the Republic of Gamers brand is about, so Asus has shifted to silver and bronze, a color combo that — as far as I can remember, anyway — has never been used by any company in the business of selling gaming PCs.
The new design works at a glance thanks to Asus’ use of brushed metal, which endows the G752VT with an effortless class. It’s archaic, but in a good way, as if the notebook is some ancient device built by a race far more enlightened than humanity.
Unfortunately, the first impression is slighted by the interior, which looks as if it was designed by an entirely different company. The clean lines that define the exterior are exchanged for a jumped mess of angles. Large, uneven panel gaps make matters worse, and cheapen the feel of the system. I’m also puzzled as to why red interior LED lighting carries over now that bronze is the accent color of choice.
Looks aside, the G752 is an unapologetically beefy laptop. Its 17.3-inch display is encased in a body that’s 1.7 inches thick. Next to a modern Ultrabook it looks positively massive — and it is. But it feels like a gaming laptop should, with big vents, solid panels, and a few nifty lights to spice things up.
USB Type-C steps in
The G752’s size means there’s plenty of room for ports, and Asus capitalizes on that. It offers four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI, ThunderBolt, and Gigabit Ethernet. There are also three separate audio jacks: one for output, one for mic-in, and one that combines both. An SD Card reader and optical drive round out the list of physical connections.
Wireless connectivity is equally impressive. The Wi-Fi adapter supports everything –a/b/g/n and 802.11ac – and Bluetooth 4.0 is also part of the deal.
Big keys, big touchpad, big deal
A full sized keyboard with numpad is featured on the G752. Individuals key caps are large, key travel is respectable, and function keys are located where users will expect. The arrow keys are offset towards the user, which makes them easier to find by feel in games, and a row of six macro keys lurk above the normal function row. Better keyboards can be found on dedicated work machines like a Lenovo T-Series or Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina, but the keys here are solid for work or play.
The G752’s display is so similar to the G751 that I suspect the panel is the same.
The keyboard backlight could use some work, however. Too much light leaks around the edge of each key cap, which can become distracting in a dark room. There are also just three levels of backlight brightness. That’s enough for basic functionality, but RGB LED keyboards with custom control software have become more common in the past few years. Asus’ simple, one-color, three-level backlight is starting to feel outdated.
A large touchpad with its own clicky, tactile left and right mouse buttons can be found below the keyboard. As with previous Republic of Gamers rigs, it’s far more than an afterthought. The large, responsive surface makes navigation a breeze. A mouse is still needed to play most games, but the touchpad is great for surfing the web and productivity.
G-Sync and 1080p make a good team
The G752 comes with a 1080p display. That’s not going to make anyone quiver in excitement, but Asus’ does make it more appealing with standard G-Sync support and a 75Hz refresh rate. While competitors are beginning to offer higher resolutions, some all the way up to 4K, Asus accepts the fact that mobile PC hardware can’t deliver smooth framerates in the newest titles if resolution is boosted much beyond good ole’ 1080p. That decision doesn’t make for exciting hype, but I think it’s the right call. I can say the same about the screen’s finish, which is matte rather than gloss. It doesn’t look as inviting, but it also makes glare a non-issue.
Image quality is a high point. The screen hit a contrast ratio of 680:1 on our benchmark tests, which is great for a laptop. The color gamut spanned 92 percent of sRGB and 72 percent of AdobeRGB, results that are respectable, if not outstanding. Gamma came in at 2.1, only a touch lighter than the target of 2.2. Color accuracy was a particular strong point due to an average delta error of just 1.87.
Overall, the G752’s results are extremely similar to the G751, so much so that I suspect the panel is the same. These figures place it above the 2015 Razer Blade, which suffered poor contrast in our testing, and the Alienware 15, which recorded a slightly narrower contrast ratio and less accurate color. There are better screens in the laptop world, but they generally exist in high-end multimedia systems rather than gaming notebooks. The Asus Zenbook NX500 and Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition are examples.
The hard figures agreed with my subjective impression. Asus’ decision to use a matte coat, rather than gloss, robs the system of some visual punch, but accurate colors and strong contrast carry the day. Games look as the visual artists behind them intended, and the screen handles dark details well, which means you won’t find yourself sniped by an enemy hiding in shadows literally too deep to discern. I was pleased by the look of movies, which appeared natural. Actors didn’t suffer overboosted skin tones and vistas looked proper, rather than neon or washed-out — symptoms often associated with inaccurate color.
Excellent quality is just part of the story. The other half is G-Sync, and the panel’s 75Hz refresh rate. Frame synchronization is a huge boon to the PC game experience, as we’ve explained in our previous articles on the subject, and only a handful of laptop manufacturers currently include it (MSI is the other major name on board, along with some smaller companies, like Clevo). It’s great to see Asus include G-Sync as a standard feature on its mainstream gaming laptops, not only because of the benefits, but also because it’s not something gamers can typically add after the fact. Your laptop either has it or doesn’t.
What was that again?
The G752’s unbranded sound system includes a pair of speakers and a subwoofer. It’s strong on clarity, delivering sound that’s robust, and the subwoofer adds a bit of punch to bass, be it a song or an explosion in a game. Volume is disappointing, however, even at maximum, and I noticed vibrations within the chassis caused by the subwoofer. External speakers or headphones will be preferable for most.
Skylake’s quad-core doesn’t impress
Our review unit came with Intel’s Core i7-6700HQ, the new entry-level quad in the Core i7 line-up. It offers a basic frequency of 2.6GHz and a maximum turbo boost of 3.5GHz. I was a bit disappointed to find that, despite the new architecture of the 6th-gen Core, performance fell behind.
As you can see, the Asus G752 is near the bottom of the pack, and it’s the slowest gaming laptop we’ve recently reviewed with a mobile quad-core. The Asus G501J and Razer Blade were reviewed with a Core i7-4720HQ, and both were a bit quicker.
That being said, the G752’s performance is not slow, and I don’t think it’ll prove an issue in games. Very few are CPU limited today, and the limitations that do exist usually relate to inadequate core count to handle heavily threaded titles. With four physical cores, and eight logic threads (via Intel’s Hyper-Threading), the Core i7-6700HQ has that covered.
Base versions of the G752, like our review unit, have a 128GB solid state drive paired with a 1TB mechanical drive. I’d like to see a 256GB drive be the base model, as even our test software easily filled the 128GB drive to capacity. Gamers will have to be very choosy about what they install on the SSD.
Intel’s Skylake quad-core has trouble keeping up with its older siblings.
CrystalDiskMark, a hard drive benchmark, returned sequential read speeds of 559 megabytes per second and sequential write speeds of 156 megabytes per second from the system’s Samsung-built NVMe solid state drive. The mechanical drive, meanwhile, hit read speeds of 141 megabytes per second and write speeds of 134 megabytes per second. Both results are mid-pack. As with the processor, though, these numbers indicate performance that’s more than adequate for modern games.
What really matters for gaming is, of course, the performance of the GPU. Our entry-level G752 came with Nvidia’s GTX 970M, the company’s second-quickest mobile solution. While it obviously can’t match the GTX 980M, it put up a good fight.
As seen above, the G752VT’s performance is strong, coming in at the top tier of notebooks we’ve tested recently. The only system that defeats it easily is the Origin EON17-X, which had a GTX 980M. The difference between the two is about 30 percent – substantial, to be sure, but not a total blow-out. Asus’ G501J, meanwhile, was equipped with a GTX 960M, and the G752 is over 60 percent quicker in 3D Mark’s Fire Strike benchmark.
Getting your game on
Of course, synthetic benchmarks are only half the story. Performance in real games is what matters. To the test suite!
Heroes of the Storm was up first. This game is not the most demanding around, but it’s a reasonable challenge for mobile hardware, and more demanding than League of Legends. The Asus G752 ran the game at an average of 95 frames per second with detail set to low, and 76 FPS with detail at maximum. That basically ties the Razer Blade, which scored 77 FPS at maximum detail.
Battlefield 4 also ran beautifully, hitting an average 158 FPS at medium detail, and 72 FPS at the game’s ultra preset. In this case, the Asus beats the Razer, which scored only 63 FPS at ultra. The Asus also beats the AMD Radeon R7 370 and the Nvidia GTX 960, two popular mid-range desktop cards.
We wrapped up our game testing with Crysis 3. At medium detail, with anti-aliasing set to 2× MSAA, the game produced an average of 58 FPS. Setting detail at very high, with 8× MSAA, really put the G752 to task and lowered the average to 24 FPS. Again, these numbers are better than the Razer Blade by a hair, and also better than the R7 370 and GTX 960 video cards.
Clearly, this is not a laptop that can play any game at any detail setting, even at 1080p, and achieve the ideal 60 FPS standard. In certain situations, it’s necessary to turn detail down, perhaps even way down, from maximum. But that’s to be expected given the rig’s price, and its GTX 970M graphics. The G752 is competitive with other systems in its price range, and it’ll run most games at or near their maximum preset.
Obviously, the G752 is not the kind of laptop you’ll purchase if you want a system that’s easy to carry. Its 17-inch display and accordingly sized footprint means it won’t fit in all but the largest backpacks. It also weighs in at 8.15 pounds, according to our scale, so you’ll feel the heft.
The system ships with a 67 watt-hour battery, which is small for a gaming notebook. Predictably, the result is poor battery life. Peacekeeper, a web browsing benchmark, drained a full charge in just one hour and 48 minutes. A less demanding web browsing loop ate through the battery in two hours and 30 minutes. You can forget about gaming for more than an hour on battery power.
Power draw is high. We measured 25 watts at idle, and up to 144 watts at full system load. Those figures are less than the old G751 by a hair, but that notebook had a larger 90 watt-hour battery. That helped to last almost four hours on a charge.
There’s not a lot to say about this notebook’s cooling, and that’s good. At idle, the system fan is barely audible, and external temperatures barely rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Full load forces the fan to raise its voice to 45 decibels – a tame figure, for a gaming notebook – and temperatures only hit 93 degrees. That’s excellent for a gaming system on full tilt.
I did notice a cooling system oddity, though – two rubber stoppers that are supposed to be inserted in the rear of the system when the notebook is off. These apparently provide additional protection to ensure debris won’t enter the rather large cooling vents. The problem, of course, is that most users are going to lose the small rubber stoppers within a few hours.
Asus ships the G752 with a typical one-year warranty against manufacturer defects. That’s an unofficial industry standard for laptops, no matter the price. Very few offer a longer, or shorter, warranty.
The Asus G752 is the most dramatic design revision we’ve seen from the company’s gaming division in the last five years, and the results are mixed. The new silver-and-bronze scheme is unique, and will likely serve the company well in the future. Execution is the problem. Large panel gaps and out-of-place design elements, like the red (rather than orange) keyboard backlight, hold the G752 back from brilliance. It also puts the G752’s design a step behind the preceding G751.
The hardware is also a bit of a side-step. Intel’s Core i7-6700HQ is new, but it didn’t beat the Core i7-4720HQ in our benchmarks. It lost, in fact, by a very small margin – it’s probably fairer to say they tied. All of the other hardware is the same as was previously available with the exception of the G-Sync display. It too could be optioned, but it was not standard. Now, it’s present on all models.
It’s clear, then, that design was supposed to carry the G752. That’s a problem, and it’s worsened by the fact a very similar Asus G751JT-DB73 can be had for $1,500, while the G752VT we received has a quoted price of $1,800. The older model is just as quick, has twice the solid state drive capacity and, I think, looks better. Why buy the new laptop?
Okay, okay – I’ve kicked the G752 enough, and this criticism shouldn’t be misleading. The G751 was so incredible (I gave it four and half stars, and an Editors’ Choice award) that the G752, even if it’s less attractive and more expensive, is still one of the better gaming notebooks on the market. Its performance is solid for the price, the display is top-notch, and the overall design, despite slipping back from the peak of the G751, still beats many alternatives (MSI and Clevo, I’m looking at you).
In other words, the G752 is a really good gaming laptop overshadowed by a predecessor that was, in my opinion, the best gaming laptop ever built. Many gamers will buy this new Asus, and many of them will love it. But I’ve become used to expecting progress with each new hardware revision, and the G752 doesn’t live up to that lofty standard.
- Awesome G-Sync display
- Great keyboard and touchpad
- Strong game performance
- Cool, quiet operation
- New design is inconsistent
- CPU performance is the same as last year
- Older model is a better value