Asus G51J 3D Laptop review

19 Mar 2010

The 3D effect is better than ever, but building it into a 15.6in laptop creates more than a few issues

Price when reviewed: 
1,600inc VAT
4

The 3D craze has broken free of its early-adopter shackles, thanks in no small part to the huge success of Avatar, and manufacturers are stepping up their assault on the tech-savvy public. This model of the Asus G51J is the first 3D Vision laptop, and comes complete with the necessary glasses and transceiver in the box.

It’s not the first 3D laptop we’ve seen – last year's Acer Aspire 5738DZG 3D used a polarised panel and passive glasses – but it’s the first to use Nvidia’s superior active-shutter technology. The quick-start guide will be a help for most people, but it isn’t difficult to set up: a wizard within the Nvidia drivers holds your hand through the process, and a demo animation allows you to dial the stereoscopic effect to a comfortable level before diving into any games.

Asus G51J 3D Laptop

The good news is that the 3D effect works exceptionally well, and we’re beginning to see game developers make proper use of it in the latest titles. Even going back to an older title such as Far Cry 2 sees the niggles from our early tests last year all but ironed out after a host of driver revisions. If major titles keep building it in from the start, we can really see it being attractive to hardcore gamers.

The 15.6in screen size isn’t the hindrance we’d imagined provided you sit close to it, and the frame of the chassis creates the appearance of a window into a deep game world. The speakers are loud and full by laptop standards, which adds to the immersion, and this well-planned bundle includes a comfortable but cheap Razer Salmosa mouse to aid your gaming performance.

If this all sounds like a glowing recommendation, there are still major issues that need to be overcome. The glasses are about as clunky and unappealing as you’d believe possible, although that’s for Nvidia to rectify. A bigger problem is that of brightness: as the shutter glasses darken things significantly the screen needs a strong backlight to compensate, and the Asus can’t match a decent 3D monitor in this respect. It meant we often missed things in the heat of battle, particularly when foes hid in the shadows.

The other main stumbling block is the graphics card. This works by producing two full-resolution images and alternating them, which puts added pressure on the GPU. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M coped as well as it could – and the fairly low 1,366 x 768 resolution makes a lot of sense to limit the strain – but it still whined audibly and roasted the desk like a hairdryer during games.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,362
Price inc VAT £1,600
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 375 x 265 x 41mm (WDH)

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-720QM
Motherboard chipset Intel PM55
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 412GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate Momentus 7200.4
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive HL-DT-ST BDDVDRW CT21N
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 2hr 15min
Overall application benchmark score 1.56
Office application benchmark score 1.32
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.81
Encoding application benchmark score 1.42
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.70
3D performance (crysis) low settings 92fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs