Enthusiast-level gaming notebooks don’t need to cost a fortune; something ASUS proves with its $1,249 G53SX 15.4″ offering. It features a 1080p display and an NVIDIA GTX 560M that’s able to power today’s games to it. This, in addition to an Intel quad-core processor and 12GB of RAM make it a very powerful and drool-worthy notebook.
In the past, we’ve benchmarked notebooks with a wide-range of applications to help gauge performance, but due to the absolute lack of notebooks on hand suitable for comparison, there wasn’t much of a comparison at all. As such, we’re not going to benchmarking applications for this article, only games. We did stress various parts of the notebook to make sure things were in check, but raw performance numbers mean little when we’re dealing with a single notebook.
That said, given the G53SX is a gaming notebook, we chose five current games to test out: Battlefield 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Dirt 3, Sonic Generations and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
We tested a variety of settings with each game to find what we found to be the perfect blend of graphical detail and performance. While we might demand 60 frames-per-second for a game on a desktop PC, it’s easy to be a little more lenient with 30 FPS on a notebook. For multi-player, greater FPS might be desired, and in that event, you are free to adjust your settings as necessary. When we find what we consider to be the best setting, we refer to a single-player experience. All of the screenshots below were taken using the settings specified.
With that said, let’s get to the results!
For BF3, I benchmarked the “Operation Guillotine” level, which takes place entirely at night. You begin atop a hill with squad-mates and with the go-ahead, move down the hill and rush a building. I began recording the FPS as soon as we got the go-ahead to move, and stopped it when I died about 4m 48s later.
I admit I was a bit surprised at just what this notebook could handle here. Almost all of our settings were able to be set to Ultra, with Ambient Occlusion turned off. We found that while AO is a nice feature, it’s a true performance hog. I’m confident most people would prefer to play with an additional 10 FPS on average than with AO, so that’s what I stuck with. At these settings, the game hit a minimum of 17 FPS and averaged out to 30 FPS.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim may only be a DirectX 9 game, but it’s gorgeous and expansive, and perfect for benchmarking. For our test here, I run a simple path starting outside the underground lair Helgen at the start of the game and ran to town. This took 2m 7s to do.
Once again I was rather impressed with what I could squeeze out of this game. While the auto-detector set the detail to the highest quality settings possible, I had to decrease the anti-aliasing to 4x and shadows to high. With those changes, the minimum FPS was 25 while the average was 30 FPS.
Like BF3, Dirt 3 is infused with DirectX 11 sweetness. For our testing here, we chose a simple rally race taking place on the Kantvegen track in Norway. There’s not too much off the track in way of variety, but there are many, many trees (a couple of which I ran into). This run-through took 3m 2s to complete.
Starting out with the Ultra preset, I had to decrease some settings in order to reach what I felt was ideal performance. Shadows and Particles were most notably decreased to High quality, while anti-aliasing was dropped from 4x to 2x (given the super-clean design of the menus, the difference between 0x and 2xAA was huge). With these settings, we achieved a minimum 34 FPS and averaged at 45 FPS.
A Sonic game might seem like an odd choice for benchmarking, but believe it or not, Sonic Generations is much more intensive than the next game in our testing, Modern Warfare 3. This also happens to be a game that I’ve found to be a ton of fun, and if it intrigues you, before to check out my review.
For this run-through (a perfect pun!), I played through the first level, Green Hill, using Modern Sonic. The run lasted 2m 48s.
Not much had to be changed to get this game to run at its max detail settings – all I did was disable anti-aliasing. This wasn’t a requirement, but the game didn’t feel quite as smooth as it should be even with just 4xAA. When you’re going a hundred miles an hour, that anti-aliasing isn’t going to be missed. The performance clocked in at a minimum 22 FPS and average 45 FPS.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
All Call of Duty games as of late have been as close to a definitive console port as you can get. You don’t need a high-end system to run any of the games at decent quality, so even before loading the game up I knew the G53 would have no problem handling it at max detail. The run-through here took place in the level Return to Sender and lasted 2m 36s.
As expected, the game could be maxed out without issue. With those settings, we averaged out at 65 FPS and dipped to 45 FPS at the worst. It goes without saying that performance is good, making these single-player settings ideal for multi-player as well.