Nvidia’s new GTX 980M and GTX 970M are the most impressive mobile GPUs to come along in years. Each offers a significant boost in performance over its predecessor without upping power draw. The 2014 holiday season looks like it’ll be a great time to buy a new gaming laptop.
The GPU is just one element of a larger whole, however, and powerful hardware like this deserves to be stuffed in an excellent rig. To that end, Asus pairs the GTX 980M with the ROG G751JY-DH71, which is the latest in the company’s popular Republic of Gamers line.
One look at its specs makes it clear that this laptop means business. The Nvidia chip is joined by an Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU, and 24GB of RAM. Storage is handled by a pair of drives, one of which is an SSD. Asus has also tacked on a variety of extras that it hopes will set the G751JY apart from the crowd.
Should this be your next gaming notebook?
Asus ROG G751JY-DH71 hands on
Muscular, but not flashy
The Republic Of Gamers line has always embraced a minimalist matte black aesthetic that contrasts sharply with the flash offered by competitors like Alienware. This remains true with the G751JY, but Asus has put more effort into making the system unique.
The Asus G751JY is attractive, well-built, powerful, and relatively quiet.
While this all combines to distinguish the system from its competitors, Asus hasn’t jumped the shark. The overall aesthetic remains subdued and will appeal to gamers who want a mature, utilitarian system. Plus, as with past models, this notebook does a good job resisting fingerprints and minor scratches.
A great deal of connectivity is packed into this laptop’s meaty flanks. There are four USB 3.0 ports and Thunderbolt is supported through the DisplayPort jack. Other video options include HDMI and VGA. Audio output is available through individual microphone, headphone, and S/PDIF ports. Ethernet rounds out the physical connections. Wireless options include Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
A great keyboard, but with one weird mistake
Typing on the G751JY is a pleasure because of the keyboard’s angled design. The forward edge is lower than the rear, which encourages a more comfortable wrist position on the palmrest. Key feel is excellent too, thanks to a spacious layout and significant key travel.
Touch typists will feel right at home, but those who hunt for and peck at keys will have issues with the red backlit keyboard. The backlight itself offers three brightness options, and works well. However, when the backlight is turned off, the red lettering on each key is extremely difficult to read. This forces users to keep the backlight on, whether they want to or not.
Asus has packed a number of custom functions into the keyboard. Most are located in the upper left, above the function row. Here you’ll find a one-touch recording button, a Steam shortcut, and three customizable macro keys. There’s also a shortcut to the laptop’s Game Center on the numpad. The Game Center is a panel used to access various options, including the macro keys.
The massive touchpad, which measures almost 5 inches wide and 2 and half inches tall, provides plenty of room for gestures. That’s good, because a touchscreen is not available here. Individual left/right buttons are included, and offer a fair amount of travel. Gamers will want to use a mouse, of course, but this system is enjoyable to use without a mouse when you’re not playing.
A blindingly good display
At first glance, the G751JY’s 1080p display seems to be a run-of-the-mill screen. Picture quality doesn’t look particularly sharp, and colors aren’t vibrant. After we spent some more time with it, however, we came to appreciate the screen’s realistic look. It doesn’t grab the eyes, but good looking games like Battlefield 4 make its accurate color and strong contrast clearly obvious.
Objective testing indicates that the display can handle 93 percent of sRGB, and 71 percent of AdobeRGB. It also maintains a contrast ratio of 650:1. These results are middling. Competitors like the Alienware 17 offer a slightly wider gamut, but a lower contrast ratio.
The G751JY is an excellent choice for any gamer who wants to play with all the details cranked up.
The results are bolstered by the use of a semi-gloss display coat, and a backlight that can hit 334 lux. Combine these traits and you have a notebook that can be used anywhere. Want to game outside? Not a problem.
The speakers are excellent too, barking out strong audio at maximum volume and pleasing, crisp sound at lower levels. Turning up the speakers to their highest setting isn’t necessary to enjoy them. You’ll be fine at half the G751JY’s peak volume in most situations.
Elite hardware all around
Asus ships the G751JY in two configurations. The less expensive $2,500 model, which we reviewed, has an Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5GHz CPU paired with 24GB of RAM. The $2,999 version has a Core i7-4860HQ 2.4GHz processor with 32GB of RAM. Here’s how our unit held up in testing.
Yes, the SiSoft Sandra Processor Arithmetic score of 108 GOPs is a few points short of the competition, but that’s not large enough of a difference to matter. Modern games are rarely limited by processor performance. The marginal benefit that might be provided by the Core i7-4860HQ is by no means worth $500, and 24GB of RAM is already much more than what any game needs. The Asus produced a 7-Zip score of 18,873, which measures up with the competition better. The AVADirect Clevo P157SM-A and MSI GT60 Dominator Pro scored slightly lower at 18,557 and 18,695, respectively. Origin’s EON17-S pulled away, however, with its result of 21,857. We also tested the system using Geekbench, which reached a single-core score of 3,140, and a multi-core mark of 11,989. These results are a bit behind the very best, but they’re still more than adequate for modern games.
As we mentioned, the G751JY comes with not one, but two hard drives. A 256GB Samsung solid state drive provides super speed, while a 1TB mechanical drive offers bulk storage. The SSD to be proved blazing quick, scoring an average read speed of 609MB/s in HDTune, along with an average access time of less than one millisecond. The mechanical drive was much slower, producing a read speed of only 111.8MB/s, but that’s good for a drive of its size.
Super-powerful gaming guts
What really makes this laptop stand out on the hardware front, however, is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M. Anyone interested in a rundown on this GPU should read our full benchmark results, but here’s the gist. The GTX 980M offers about 75 percent of the performance you’d get with the desktop-based Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, which Nvidia launched less than a month ago. Also, the 980M’s performance beats what the previous-generation GTX 880M offers by a wide margin. As a result, on the graphics front, the 980M in this Asus notebook dominates all the gaming notebooks we’ve previously reviewed.
This is no small victory. The new GPU provides a major leap forward in performance. To be fair to the competition, they too can be had with the GTX 980M, either right now, or sometime soon. However, that doesn’t do anything to diminish this laptop’s record-breaking scores.The G751JY is an excellent choice for any gamer who wants to play with all the details cranked up.
Real world gaming greatness
3DMark performance is one thing, but real-world tests paint an even clearer picture. Sometimes, a GPU will perform better in benchmarks than it does in actual games. So, how does the 980M hold up here?
Total War: Rome II
This strategy title can be surprisingly demanding due to its detailed terrain, and greater-than-normal reliance on processor speed. None of this was a concern for the G751JY, however.
At Medium detail, the game ran at an average of 77 frames per second, with a maximum of 105, and a minimum of 64. Turning detail up to Extreme lowered the average to a still-enjoyable 58 FPS, with a minimum of 52, and a maximum of 67. These results are the best we’ve seen from a notebook, though the Origin EON17-S was just two frames slower at Extreme detail.
Battlefield 4The G751JY easily handled this graphically demanding game. At Medium detail, it hit an average framerate of 157 FPS, with a maximum of 182, and a minimum of 127. Kicking detail up to Ultra had a major impact, but the game still averaged 80 FPS, with a maximum of 92, and a minimum of 67.
These results are way ahead of anything we’ve previously reviewed. The next closest was the AVADirect Clevo P157SM-A, which averaged 52 FPS at Ultra. That’s about 35 percent slower than the G751JY, and its new GTX 980M.
League of Legends
League of Legends is not demanding for expensive gaming notebooks, but it’s important to know how smooth this wildly popular game plays.
The answer? Insanely smooth.
Even at the game’s maximum detail level, we recorded an average of 152 FPS, with a maximum of 195, and a minimum of 114. That is, once again, the best result we’ve seen from a laptop.
No road trips, please
The 17-inch G751JY weighs in at 8.4 pounds, which makes it clumsy to carry around. You can’t spend much time away from an electrical socket, either.
The Peacekeeper Web browsing benchmark ate a full charge in 3 hours and 57 minutes. That’s about average for the category. The AVADirect Clevo P157SM-A and MSI GT60 both land within about 10 minutes of this result. Still, four hours is about a couple of hours short of an average consumer notebook’s endurance.
Asus can’t be accused of slacking in this regard, however, as it ships with a 90 watt-hour battery. A massive unit like this is required to keep up with the powerful hardware inside. We recorded an average power consumption of 31 watts at idle, and up to 183 watts at load. That’s about 20 watts less than the Origin EON17-S, but roughly 20 watts more than the P157SM-A or the GT60.
Gaming in the library? Now you can!
Asus has put a lot of effort into managing the heat that builds up in this powerful notebook. The G751JY has two fans connected to three heatpipes that blow hot air out through a pair of very large vents at the notebook’s rear. And you know what? It really, really works.
Asus has upped its game with the ROG G751JY-DH71.
The G751JY is even more impressive at load. Fan noise increased to only 38.4dB, and exterior temperatures never exceeded 90 degrees. That’s incredible. This notebook makes less noise at load than most desktops do!
Some useful bundled software
The Asus G751JY includes some interesting software, the majority of which is managed through the aforementioned Game Center. This is available via a keyboard shortcut, or can be launched like any other app.
Asus ROG MacroKey is probably the most interesting software-based utility you’ll find here. It allows users to assign complex multi-key commands to each of the three macro keys that are located above the function row. In addition to macro support, these keys can be assigned to launch an application, or a website. There’s also support for multiple profiles, so users can assign different commands for different games, and programs.
Game Center also features an audio control panel called Audio Wizard Multimedia, a shortcut to Nvidia’s GeForce Experience Software, and a display utility called Splendid that lets users change the color temperature.
All of this works well enough, but it’s not groundbreaking. We also find the Windows 8 Metro-esque design of the Game Center software to be a bit odd given that the G751JY is not available with a touchscreen.
The Asus ROG G751JY-DH71 retails at $2,500, and it’s the least expensive version available that also includes the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU. This price is competitive, but it’s not the knock-out value that has been offered by some previous Asus gaming notebooks. MSI, for example, offers the GT72, which is very similar, for $200 less.
That said, Asus has upped its game with the ROG G751JY-DH71. Its systems have always been solid, but this unit is among the best in its class. The Asus G751JY is attractive, well-built, powerful, and relatively quiet. It also offers an outstanding display, and strong speakers as well. If pressed to find a weakness, we’d have to say bulk, but it’s no heavier than average for this category.
The G751JY-DH71 we reviewed represents only one branch of two model lines. Asus also offers the G751JT, which boasts an identical design, and similar hardware, but has a GTX 970M in it instead of the GTX 980M. JT models start at $1,500.
Asus has worked hard to position its Republic of Gamers line as a top-tier series, rather than another collection of budget rigs. The G751JY-DH71 completes this ascent to the big leagues, and is closer to perfection than any gaming notebook we’ve ever reviewed.
- Attractive, but subdued exterior
- Excellent keyboard and touchpad
- Beautiful, accurate display
- Strong performance in all areas
- Incredibly quiet, even at full load
- Keyboard is hard to read with backlight off
- Average battery life