Hands-on with the ASUS G46 gaming laptop

ASUS snuck in a small yet exciting announcement at CES: A new entry in its popular G-Series laptop line. We had the chance to handle this portable gaming system at the company’s showcase.

Our first impression was simple – it’s light! The G46 is no Ultrabook, to be sure, but its a featherweight by gaming’s standards. Official specifications list the weight at 2.5 kilograms (about 5.5 pounds). That is several pounds lighter than the typical gaming system and about a pound lighter than Alienware’s M14x. The chassis measures up to 1.5 inches thick but tapers down to an inch at the front. Alienware’s competitive system is just as thick but doesn’t taper.

Build quality is similar to existing G-Series products, which means it’s quite good. Matte black plastic is the main material used but it’s more than up to the task of keeping this relatively small, light system together. Panel gaps were small and the system felt tight as we moved it about for photographs. ASUS seems ready to vault the bar set by Alienware’s very nice competitor.

All versions of the G46 will ship with Intel Core i7 processors and Nvidia GTX 660M graphics. Several different hard drive capacities are available or consumers can opt for a 128GB solid-state drive. RAM will range from 4GB to 8GB.

Our only disappointment is the display. It was reasonably attractive at first glance but resolution is limited to 720p. The hardware inside the system is more than capable of handling 1080p in many modern games, so the lack of at least 1600×900 is a serious bummer. This is one area where Alienware has a clear edge.

The system is expected to ship early in 2013 with a starting price not far above $1,000. Alienware offers the M14x for less, but that system is handicapped by a less powerful GT 650M graphics processor. We think the G46 could be a new favorite among gamers on the go.

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