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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  • mhorn - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Great article. Are there any plans to do a review of the G53JW that just came out since it's a smaller version of the G73JW but what looks to be a big upgrade over the G51JX?
  • Kaihekoa - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    What's with all the laptop articles? There's one every few days which lately is much more often than desktop hardware. There are a dozen different components to a desktop with dozens of suppliers - how about some reviews on cases, power supplies, coolers, displays, etc. I barely visit Anandtech anymore because i seems like the only time I see a hardware review is for a major release from AMD/Intel/Nvidia/ATI.
  • trengoloid - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    the g73jw Price 1,745.03 compare to g73jw-xa1 for the price of $1,449.00 it's $300 cheaper than the g73jw and the only difference between the two is the blueray disk and 250gig and 1 year warranty and bag and mouse but remember you can upgrade the
    g73jw-xa1 for a better spec than the g73jw like buy a bag and mouse for just $50 and buy a hdd 1.5 gig for just &78 and external blueray drive for $90so you get the external blue ray and the built in super dvd drive. there's a lot of upgrade you can do for the price of $300 :)
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    It's 1120 cores, and the performance does suffer from it. If they do a mobile part, I'd expect it to be chopped down too-probably less than 800 cores. Either way I wouldn't expect it to be better than today's AMD part.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Oops... corrected. I got the 5770 core count mixed up with the 6870 and somehow thought they were both 800. I've edited the final paragraph to correct the information, but ultimately the percentages are still what matters. The Northern Islands GPUs improve shader core efficiency at the same power envelope, so one NI core is worth more than one Evergreen core. Anyway, the point is that I'm not really satisfied with mobile GPU performance, at least not at the top-end.

    We're at less than half of what the top desktop parts can do for both AMD and NVIDIA, and I want something more than that. 5870 has 1600 cores at 850MHz and 153.6GB/s of bandwidth while Mobile 5870 has 800 cores at 700MHz with 64GB/s of bandwidth. 480 has 480 cores at 1401MHz (700MHz for the non-shader stuff) with 177.4GB/s, but 480M has 352 cores at 850MHz (425MHz non-shader) and only 76.8GB/s. That means the best single AMD mobile GPU has roughly 41% of the computational power and bandwidth; the best single NVIDIA mobile GPU has 43-45% of the computational power and bandwidth.

    Yes, they also use under half the power, but Intel manages to make a mobile CPU that has about 65% of the performance of its desktop counterpart and uses less than half the power. That's the bar I want to see mobile GPUs reach: two-thirds the performance, less than half the power. Binning already gets a lot of that, so a few tweaks and refinements ought to get the rest. :-)
  • trengoloid - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    the g73jw Price 1,745.03 compare to g73jw-xa1 for the price of $1,449.00 it's $300 cheaper than the g73jw and the only difference between the two is the blueray disk and 250gig and 1 year warranty and bag and mouse but remember you can upgrade the
    g73jw-xa1 for a better spec than the g73jw like buy a bag and mouse for just $50 and buy a hdd 1.5 gig for just &78 and external blueray drive for $90so you get the external blue ray and the built in super dvd drive. there's a lot of upgrade you can do for the price of $300 :)
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Just to clarify a few things that you're glossing over:

    The mouse in the G73Jw is far nicer than a cheap $20 optical... it uses the new HP Voodoo gaming mouse, only with a different coating (to match the G73 "stealth" coating). Best price you can find for this sort of mouse is around $40-$50.

    As for the bag, even a rather generic backpack is going to cost at least $30, and I'd probably value this one at $40 or more.

    The single 750GB HDD looks like it's the Seagate ST9750420AS (about $120), compared to two 500GB Seagate drives ($66 each), so that's a wash really but I suppose it makes adding an SSD easier (if you can find a caddy). FWIW, the only perfect fit for the caddy right now appears to be [l=this one][/l]. Yup, that's almost $40 for a stupid little metal tray!

    Then there's the Blu-ray/DVDR combo drive. Those go for $140, not $90 (unless you just want Blu-ray and DVD reading, with no recording capabilities or you buy a refurbished/used drive).

    Add all that up and the difference in price for the mouse, backpack, and BD-Combo alone is at least $220, or $260 if you count the cost of a drive caddy.

    We're then left with the final item you neglected to mention: the 1-year versus 2-year warranty. I can easily see the extra year of warranty being worth $100.

    So in summary, the XA1 isn't "better" and there's no "truth" behind this (thanks for the double post by the way); it's simply another option where you get exactly what you pay for. The A1 comes with all the extras for $300 more, or you can get the stripped down model with $350 less of "stuff".
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Hmmm... links no longer work? Let's try again, as maybe I had the format wrong. [l=]HDD caddy[/l]
  • XiZeL - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    ohh cmon asus 60gig sandforce SSD's are so cheap now why put in 2 hard drives when you could put an SSD for system and other for storage.
  • gc_ - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Here's a couple errors, please correct me if not:

    1. Table caption on first page (!)
    actual: "ASUS G73Jh-A2 Specifications"
    expect: ASUS G73JW-A1 Specifications

    2. Battery life on fourth page
    "Idle battery life improves by 49%, Internet battery life is up 26%, and x264 playback is UP 41%."

    But the graphs and numbers tell a different story: x264 playback is DOWN 27.5%:
    ASUS G73JH (i7-720QM + HD5870) (75wh): 80m
    ASUS G73JW (i7-740QM + 460M) (85wh): 58m
    (a difference in x264 decode hardware perhaps?)

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