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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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    Sorry, there was an error in the graphs based on old copy/paste/edit data. (The same goes for the table title, of course.) I've updated the x264 battery life result with the correct value of 113 minutes. 58 minutes is actually how long the G73Jw lasted looping 3DMark06, but performance as mentioned is 1/3 of what it gets on AC. Thanks for the corrections. :-)
  • jchoate - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    Can anyone tell me if this model supports the option of RAID1?
  • sazwqa - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    As I read further, I can see that for ASUS G73JW-XA1 and ASUS G73JW-A1 use the same chasis. So is it safe to assume that it would be easy to add secondary HDD to ASUS G73JW-XA1 (the cheaper model).

    Does anybody has any ideas around this?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 5, 2010 - link

    If you want the HDD "properly" installed, you need the HDD caddy, which you can only buy from here right now:

    It's about $40, which is really steep for a piece of thin metal, so you could either roll your own, or jury-rig something, or just let an SSD sit inside and hope it's not heavy enough to get disconnected. :-\
  • rom0n - Friday, November 5, 2010 - link

    The 740QM doesn't have a Intel graphics core as far as I know. It's built on 45nm nehalem.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 5, 2010 - link

    Where do you see any suggestion that this has Optimus? What I *want* is quad-core with Optimus, which is why I'm waiting to see Sandy Bridge.
  • kawatwo - Sunday, November 7, 2010 - link

    I'm kind of glad my old G71 only has 1440 x 900 since the GPU will work at native res longer. I am curious how some of these hi-res panels scale too lower res for the day when you really need to go form 1080p to a lower res to still be playable. I still love my G71. It has been bulletproof from day one. Hinge is still tight, etc. I did have to order one of those 40 dollar second HD cages though all the way from Europe :) Not being able to order parts directly from the Asus US web site is kind of ridiculous. Just waiting for SSD prices to come down a little more now so I can stuff one in here. Seems like Asus could put caddy in when they build the thing but other than that I am an Asus fan.
  • Matrices - Sunday, November 7, 2010 - link

    I think you could stuff the bay with appropriately sized cardboard or adhesive foam pads (without peeling it) and still come out alright.
  • AlucardX - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    i agree, if it's a gaming laptop why would i want 1080p when i'll hardly ever be able to run a game at native res without putting the settings way down.
  • mcklevin - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - link

    Is there any way to keep the video card running on full when running only from the battery?

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