by Rob Williams on October 3, 2009 in Mobile
To purchase a quality gaming notebook just a few years ago would have set you back at least $2,000. The situation is far better today, and it’s proven with ASUS’ G51Vx, coming in at $999. It comes complete with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 260M graphics card, a great feature-set and plays most of today’s games at max detail settings with ease.
The G51Vx is the kind of notebook that depresses me. When I purchased a $3,000 Dell notebook almost five years ago, it barely played any of the games that were on the market at the time. But here, we have a $1,000 notebook of the same size that plays all of the current games on the market. Sure, it’s depressing to think about what we paid for back then, but as the tech world goes, we’ll likely look back at this in five years and think, “What a rip-off!”.
For the current day, though, this notebook kicks ass. The first reason for this is of course the general performance. The CPU might be modest, but the it’s hardly slow, and I’m highly doubtful anyone is going to be tapping their feet waiting for an application, unless we’re talking about a rendering or encode job. For gaming, the CPU is more than competent. We also have the benefit of it running relatively cool, as well, which is an appreciated bonus when gaming on the notebook for a few hours at a time.
Then there’s the graphics card, of course. It’s not fair to compare the GeForce GTX 260M to the desktop GTX 260, because the performance is nowhere the same, but on this 1366×768 monitor, the 260M delivers in droves. Most of the games we tested could utilize max detail settings along with anti-aliasing, and that in itself is impressive. I’m not quite sure how the higher-end G51Vx would fare with its 1920×1080 resolution, but I’d no doubt be quite good. You sure wouldn’t be able to max out detail settings in every game like you can with 1366×768, as at 1080p, you’re pushing almost exactly double the pixels.
Aside from the resolution, as I was using this notebook I couldn’t help but feel as though I was using a much more expensive machine. Technology is moving fast, so as the months pass, we continually see much better hardware at the same, or lower, price point, and that’s great. I find the value with the G51Vx to be incredibly good. It plays all the latest games at nice detail settings… what’s not to like about that?
With a six-cell battery, the notebook will last about two and a half hours with regular use (light web-browsing, listening to music). If you are more of a power user and watch YouTube videos the entire time, then you can expect the life to be closer to 2h – 2h 15m, depending. It’s actually too bad that a 12-cell battery isn’t made available as an upgrade, because it’d likely be worth it. We’d bump up to 4 hours of battery-life, or more, and still retain a desirable price-point.
The design of the notebook is what completes this package for me. The keyboard is cleanly-designed and nice to use over long periods of time, as is the touchpad (which I still consider to be the best I’ve ever used). There’s also a numpad here, so for games that use it, you won’t be left without (it’s also a nice feature for your spreadsheet marathons!). A really nice touch is the backlit keys, which help a lot if you game in the dark, which really, is the best way to play them. The backlight is bright, but not so much that it becomes annoying.
Extremely nice peripheral connectivity isn’t so much a luxury anymore, and the G51Vx proves it. As far as I recall, this is the first notebook I’ve used that features 4 USB ports rather than 2 or 3. In addition to those, there’s FireWire, eSATA and even VGA and HDMI outputs. There’s simply nothing missing here (unless you are one of the few modem users left).
Perhaps one of the best features of this notebook is that even after long periods of gaming, the temperature from any side never gets so hot that it becomes a real problem, either from a performance or touch perspective. After playing a game for even an hour, the keyboard is barely warm (except from your fingers). Your left hand will be sitting near the left exhaust when you are using the WASD keys though, so you will feel more heat then. The G51Vx isn’t only designed to allow you to play the latest games, but play the latest games for hours at a time.
One thing I will mention (or rather, NVIDIA asked me to mention), is that the GeForce GTX 260M found here includes two nice features… CUDA support and also user-upgradeable drivers. Although GPGPU is still in its infancy, relatively, if you do happen to want to take advantage of CUDA-based apps, you’ll have a really nice GPU here to take care of them. Also, in the past year, NVIDIA finally started putting their mobile drivers on their website, so fishing around an OEM’s convoluted website is no longer a requirement. This is a huge deal to me, as I’ve been very frustrated by the lack of this ability in the past.
I’ve been using the G51Vx off and on for the past three weeks, and I can confidently say that it’s a solid product. It offers superb gaming performance, runs well after long gaming sessions and has cool gamer-esque features on the side to boot. For the $999 price tag, you can’t go wrong with this notebook if you’re looking to get the best mobile gaming performance for the buck.
- Great design and aesthetics.
- Solid CPU performance, awesome GPU performance.
- Peripheral connectivty is top-rate (4x USB, HDMI).
- Chiclet-style keyboard is easy to type on.
- Touchpad is one of the best I’ve used.
- Price ($999).
- Free Windows 7 upgrade.
- If only the resolution was a wee bit higher!
- Display looks best when looked at straight-on.
- Software bloat (even if it’s understandable from a pricing perspective).
- Battery-life is a little weak (the graphics card could be mostly to blame).
ASUS G51Vx (RX05) Gaming Notebook
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