ASUS G73Jw: Out with the Old, In with the New

Six months is a long time in the computer industry, or so we’ve told ourselves on more than one occasion. If you’re looking for the best time to upgrade, there’s always something new just around the corner. Our first encounter with ASUS’ G73Jh was impressive, so much so that it garnered our Gold Editors’ Choice award. It had great performance and features at an amazing price, often beating gaming notebooks that cost 30 to 50 percent more! And that brings us to our updated G73Jw, which keeps most of the features of the Jh model but adds a few twists. Here’s the spec rundown.

ASUS G73Jw-A1 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-740QM
(4x1.73GHz, 45nm, 6MB L3, Turbo to 2.93GHz, 45W)
Chipset Intel HM55
Memory 4x2GB DDR3-1333 (Max 8GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M 1.5GB GDDR5
192 SPs, 675/1350/625MHz Core/Shader/RAM clocks
(2.5GHz effective RAM clock)
Display 17.3" LED Glossy 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
(HannStar HSD173PUW1)
Hard Drive(s) 2x500GB 7200RPM HDD (non-RAID)
(Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS)
Optical Drive Blu-ray/DVDR Combo (Slimtype BDE DS4E1S)
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8131)
802.11n WiFI (Atheros AR9285)
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Broadcom BT-270)
Audio EAX Enhanced HD 5.0 Audio (2.1 speakers + subwoofer)
Microphone and headphone jacks
Capable of 5.1 digital output (HDMI)
Battery 8-Cell, 14.6V, 5.2Ah, 75Wh
Front Side Power/Battery/HDD/WiFi indicator lights
Left Side Headphone Jack
Microphone Jack
2 x USB 2.0
Optical Drive (BD-ROM/DVDRW)
Right Side Memory Card Reader
1 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0
AC Power Connection
Back Side 2 x Exhaust vent
Kensington Lock
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 16.54" x 12.20" x 0.74-2.24" (WxDxH)
Weight 8.47 lbs (with 8-cell battery)
Extras Gaming (Laser) Mouse
ASUS Backpack
2MP Webcam
102-Key keyboard with 10-key
Flash reader (SD, MMC, MS-Duo, Smart Media, xD)
Warranty 2-year limited global warranty
1-year accidental damage and battery warranty
Pricing Online starting at $1675
(Note: Frequently backordered at many sites)

So what has changed? We have USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4, the i7-740QM, and a GeForce GTX 460M now, and the test unit also has a Blu-ray combo drive (which is available on G73Jh as well),but otherwise this is an identical notebook to what we reviewed in April. Obviously the addition of USB 3.0 is a big bullet item, and it involves some tweaks to the motherboard layout to make room for the additional chip. The CPU upgrade is nice in that the 740QM is nearly the same as the old 820QM—a base 1.73GHz clock—but with a slightly lower maximum Turbo mode. The other two changes come courtesy of the GPU switch; only the GeForce 400 series (desktop and mobile) supports HDMI 1.4, along with the new AMD 6800 cards. If you need 3D output for an HDTV, HDMI 1.4 is useful, but most users probably aren’t dying to get that feature (especially since outside of HDTVs, it’s still difficult to find computer LCDs with HDMI 1.4 connections).

The most difficult part of the equation is the GPU “upgrade”, because even without running a single benchmark we’re skeptical about whether the GTX 460M is any better than the HD 5870. We looked at two identical notebooks with GTX 285M and HD 5870 in June, and it’s no surprise that HD 5870 came out on top. What was surprising is that 5870 typically bested 285M by around 10 to 15% on average, and it wasn’t long before NVIDIA countered with the 480M. Using the same i7-820QM CPU (but with a different storage solution), the 480M regained the lead but only by a similar 10 to 15% average. Now we’re looking at the 460M, which has 22% less memory bandwidth and 14% less shader power than the 480M, making it roughly equal to the 5870 on paper.

The net result at first glance looks like we’re getting a minor CPU bump, a couple extra features, and a sideways move on the graphics. Traditionally NVIDIA and AMD trade blows depending on the games, so we should see a few titles where the G73Jw comes out ahead of the G73Jh and a few that go the other way, with others basically tied. NVIDIA also has the CUDA and PhysX cards to play, which might sway your vote. With the changes that have been made, one thing that remains about the same is the price. The G73Jh with the slower CPU and no Blu-ray support debuted at $1500; you can find the G73Jw for $1675 (though it's backordered at many resellers), and you can still buy the G73Jh (also with Blu-ray and an i7-740QM) for $1634, so the added cost pretty much goes to the BRD combo drive and a slightly faster CPU. That means the choice really boils down to GTX 460M with USB 3.0, or HD 5870 and $40.

Gallery: ASUS G73Jw

Beyond the above discussion, the G73 remains a great gaming notebook. It’s large and doesn’t get stellar battery life, but that’s no surprise. It’s fast and runs generally cool and quiet, plus the stealth bomber look is a change of pace from all the glossy plastic notebooks floating around. If you didn’t like the G73Jh enough to take the plunge, it’s doubtful the G73Jw is going to change your mind, but perhaps USB 3.0 is enough to make the difference?  We’ve run it through our usual set of benchmarks and tests, so we’ll see what the upgrades do for performance and if battery life is any better, but as far as our general impression of the notebook it remains the same. You can read our previous review for more details, but throw in Blu-ray and USB 3.0.

ASUS G73Jw: Gaming with the GTX 460M
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  • james.jwb - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Asus Asus Asus, could we please have a few different laptops maybe?
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Actually, I wouldn't mind one more Asus review in the near future that I think was hinted at about a month ago in the 13" MBP as a windows laptop article- the UL80JT (or UL30) with the 330UM cpu. I'd really like to see how the battery life from the new CULVs compares to the old and vs the regular voltage core 2010 ones in a machine built by people that know how to integrate/tune the hardware for good battery life. I hope that that's still on the way...
  • MikeMurphy - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Asus has stalled in a big way. We have too many choices of laptops all with similar problems.

    It seems like you either have 1366x768 resolution, or you have a laptop that looks like it should be in orbit.

    Asus should be taking some pointers from the Vaio Z specs.
  • Penti - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    ASUS should also pickup a business lineup.

    They have a Vaio style premium line though. Like the N-series. What they lack is high-res screens.

    Sony has lots of models, what Asus needs is a better commitment to making laptops.
  • moep - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    I’m looking for a new gaming laptop right now and all I really care about is maximum performance.

    Judging by your review, the G73JH with the updated 740QM should be faster in most games and it is a lot cheaper over here to boot, so I could throw in a small SSD as a boot drive at no additional cost.

    Did you notice an improvement in build quality on the JW overall?

    Right now I really don’t see a reason to go with the updated models, unless Nvidia releases a new driver that suddenly gives the 460M a 20% performance boost.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    As far as I can tell, build quality is identical. If they're the same price, I could go either way, but if you can get the JH for substantially less money and the only difference is the GPU and lack of USB3, there's no reason to pay more for the JW. I figure USB3 is worth about $40, so the US pricing right now is fine, but if the difference were more like $100+ then go with the cheaper model.
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    One thing to consider is that there are a few different variations of the JH model, although last I looked, I only saw the A2 around. The thing is, I have a friend with the A1 version, and he had a hell of a time trying to find a drive caddy for the second drive bay, since the A1 only came with 1 HDD and therefore only one caddy. The A2 has 2 HDDs by default (similar to the JW) and should have two caddies.

    Since the user was talking about throwing a SSD into the laptop, I think he'd really want to make sure he got an A2 so he wouldn't have to worry about finding a caddy. Although, finding a caddy might also be significantly easier now... since I don't actually own the laptop, I'm not 100% sure :P.
  • TheTechnophile - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    There have been a few issues with the JHs. The problems always come out after the "newness" of a system has faded away. You can check out the Xotic PC forums as a good place to get info on these systems.
    In particular some of the problems which the JH has, but apparently the JW does not are:
    GSOD (BIOS update seemed to have fixed this.... I think.)
    Missing keystrokes ( a particularly problematic one with the JH)
    Although good tempsin the JH, the JW is MUCH cooler, thereby increasing component life.
    On both of them, one of the things that make me cringe is that they use double-sided sticky tape to attach the keyboard. The keyboard is also comprised of a thin aluminium backing, extremely easy, if not impossible not to, bend and crease when removing to get into the machine.
    I think the JW has learned from some of the mistakes of the JH. Both are good machines, but go check out what really has been happening with them. Remember there are alot of people over there who love the matter how many problems it gives them.
  • TheTechnophile - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    Sorry...also forgot. They updated the backlit keyboard app as well. Now it comes on before Windows starts. Previously you had to wait to get into Windows before the application could launch to turn on backlighting. Just another nice touch they added, and learned, to the JW.
  • Quizzical - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    5 GHz memory? You sure about that? No desktop parts have hit that clock speed, even. Laptop parts tend to be clocked slower. Nvidia has been arbitrarily multiplying GDDR5 clock speeds by 2 to try to cover up the embarrassingly slow clock speeds that their GDDR5 memory controller is stuck at, so that's probably what they did here.

    The multiply by 2 bit makes some sense for double data rate memory, but none at all for quad data rate. Maybe they thought it would be more obvious what they were doing if they multiplied by 4.

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