ASUS G60J gaming laptop
Quad-core processors are the next big thing in laptop technology, but it will be a while before we see them used as widely as dual-core chips. Power consumption and heat are two problems that Intel has yet to crack with its current mobile Core 2 Quad line-up, which is why OEMs are only using them for big and beefy laptops like the ASUS G60J.
The G60J is the latest in ASUS’ range of ‘Republic of Gamers’ gaming laptops — portables that put performance above all else (including portability). Although big and heavy, ASUS has at least made some attempt to keep the weight down with the G60J.
It’s a 16in laptop (there’s also an otherwise identical 15.6in G51 model) and so can still slip easily into a laptop bag. Even so, at 3.3kg, this isn’t a laptop to pack for the daily commute, but it’s far less effort to drag something like this to a LAN party than a desktop tower case and TFT monitor.
Manufacturers often feel the need to deck out their gaming laptops with garish designs and pulsing LEDs, but ASUS has shown a remarkable amount of restraint with the G60J. The only extra bit of illumination on the outside is a small, glowing Republic of Gamers badge on the dark blue lid, although it is framed by a bizarre ‘streak’ of tiny chessboard pattern.
Gamers may be a little disappointed with the G60J’s screen, not least since the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M graphics chipset is capable of running games at much higher resolutions that its native 1366 x 768. We were also disappointed to see that the curved corners of the screen bezel also overlap the display, leading to a few lost pixels.
If you need to plug in an external keyboard to get your frag on with a gaming laptop, you might as well buy a desktop PC, so it’s good to see that ASUS has opted for a reasonable quality chiclet design for the G60J. The keyboard is full-size, but the numeric keypad has been condensed and the cursor keys have been crammed in next to the right-hand Ctrl and Shift keys — not that this matters much for gaming.
The keyboard had rather more flex than we’d like on any laptop, let alone a high-end one like this, but it’s only likely to be a problem if you’re planning some retro fun with Track and Field. The keyboard is backlit too, with three brightness levels.
The trackpad is large and works well, but we suspect most gamers will opt for an external mouse for anything that requires fine control. Five USB ports provide plenty of choice of where to plug it in, too — although one is shared with an eSATA port.
Developers have been patching games to make them multi-core aware for some time and some new titles have been designed from the get-go to exploit more than one processor. ‘Some’ is not ‘all’, though — and the same applies to all software. The problem is that with each core clocked at just 1.73GHz, the Core i7 820QM chip inside the G60J risks running like a dog with single-core applications, but this is something that Intel has foreseen — and catered for.
Intel’s Core i7 processors have onboard technology called Turbo Boost that monitors the state of the processor and how it’s being used. If one or more cores are idle — and if there’s sufficient safe overhead to do so — the processor will shut them down and overclock the ones that are being used. At its most extreme, this means that a single core can be cranked up to 3.6GHz and so performance shouldn’t suffer unduly even if you’re running out-of-date software.
Processor performance isn’t everything for a laptop, of course, but the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M graphics chipset is a worthy partner for the quad-core processor. Add in 4GB of memory (all of which is accessible, thanks to the 64-bit edition of Windows 7) plus a pair of 500Gb hard disks, and the result is an unbelievably fast laptop that will make light work of anything you can throw at it. Just don’t expect it to last that long away from the mains — with a heavy use life of just 50 minutes, the ASUS G60J’s battery is best thought of as an emergency UPS.