A 5870 in a lappy? ASUS goes way overboard to deliver one hell of a portable gaming powerhouse.
If you went to a LAN with your laptop five years ago you'd probably get a bunch of people calling you 'lamer' or 'noob', laughing at your weak-as-a-kitten integrated graphics and underwhelming processing grunt. Times have indeed changed, and today's top tech has been packed into the portable powerhouse on display on this very page - though it comes with a few disappointing surprises. But first things first: there is definitely a lot to like about this lappy.
We first noticed the absolutely brilliant 17.3in LCD screen. Backlit by super-bright LEDs, the panel packs a full 1920x1200 res that shows off games and movies in stunning detail. Though it can be a little too sharp sometimes and can look washy under fluorescent lighting, it does look quite good. Ghosting is minimal and, thanks to the Blu-ray player, pretty much anything you throw at it will be shown nicely, or can be piped out via HDMI to a bigger screen.
The keyboard is backlit and features a 'chiclet' design, and feels relatively sturdy for long gaming sessions but may not hold up for years of constant use. It doesn't get uncomfortably warm when the lappy is gaming either, and the slight angle that the whole base sits at is pretty comfortable to type on. Sadly the trackpad is a little underwhelming, with big mushy keys and an ill-defined scroll area that can interfere with normal use.
Zippy wireless is included with 802.11n along with BlueTooth and a decent 2MP webcam, all built into a sturdy chassis coated with a very soft rubber. Sturdiness does increase weight, but thankfully this is limited to roughly 4kg. Battery life seems decent at idle or under light use, though the inbuilt graphics card auto-underclocks itself when unplugged to make gaming impossible.
When all is plugged in and ready to go the G73Jh is decent in most tasks, pulling P8006 points in 3DMark Vantage - significantly less than the desktop 5870 card. This is repeated in Unigine's Heaven, with an average FPS of 10.9 that highlights what would be a serious problem on a desktop with this card. Crysis at 1920x1200 all max runs at 21.49 FPS, an almost-playable setting that looks downright gorgeous on that lovely screen. So where is all this performance going? Why doesn't it match up with the desktop version of the 5870?
Well the answer isn't explicitly clear, but it boils down to the 'Mobility' moniker slapped onto the 5870 card we know and love. This label returns a crippled specification of 800 Stream Processors (equivalent to a 5770), a core speed of 700MHz (equivalent to a 5750) and 1024MB of GDDR5 on a 128-bit memory bus (equivalent to a 5770). It becomes further muddied when we look at the Intel 720QM processor that is rated for 1.6GHz - under single-threaded Cinebench it returns 3752 points at a boosted 2.4GHz, but when multi-threaded this only gives 10203 points at 1.7GHz. Thermal constraints seem to be the reason for this, though the lappy ran perfectly stably with both Kombustor and OCCT concurrently and topped out at 92 degrees on the GPU. Graphics drivers are also purpose-coded and are based on Catalyst 9.12 - with no updates available from ASUS after almost seven months.
These hitches aside, the G73Jh is still a very fast laptop that comes with everything you'd need on the go, and even throws a backpack at you to help out. For the price, it's very good value.