Asus' G51J: Affordable Core i7 Mobile Gaming?

Big Gaming On A Smaller Scale?

Can upper-mainstream gaming and true mobility coexist? We’ve seen many attempts (perhaps hundreds?) by vendors during the last several years to pack desktop gaming horsepower in a portable package. But performance lagged and did not live up to the claims. We almost got there in 2004 with ATI's Radeon 9600 XT-based Mobility Radeon 9700. Yet, at that time, mobile processing still fell short. Intel released its Core Duo mobile processors two years later, but new games made the elder GPU obsolete. While CPU and GPU manufacturers continuously chase the rainbow of efficiency, technological convergence appears as mythical as the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.

There have been "desktop-replacement” PCs that are notebooks almost in name only, such as Eurocom’s recently-reviewed Core i7-based D900F Panther. Perhaps light enough to carry from your office to the parking lot, such behemoths appeal mostly to those who want a desktop they can take home rather than a computing device they can take anywhere. This explains the drive by Intel to put Core i7 technology in a smaller, more heat-efficient product suitable for a wider user base, which we recently revealed as Clarksfield.

Always near the forefront of mobile technology, Asus jumped at the chance to build a gaming notebook using the new processor series. Yet, in an effort to reduce both heat and cost, Asus chose a far different product than the i7-920XM that Chris reviewed. Running 400 MHz slower and with 2MB less cache, the G51J’s i7-720QM allows Asus to price its product within easy reach of many mainstream gamers. Let’s see how it stacks up to our most modern gaming notebooks.

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Asus G51J-A1 Configuration Comparison
ModelAsus G51J-A1Eurocom D900F PantherMSI GT725-212US
CPUIntel Core i7-720QM 1.60 GHz-2.80 GHz, Quad Cores DMI 2.5GT/s, 6.0MB L3 CacheIntel Core i7-965 Extreme 3.20 GHz-3.46 GHz, Quad Cores QPI 6.4GT/s, 8.0MB L3 CacheIntel Core 2 Quad Q9000 2.00 GHz, Quad Cores FSB-1066, 6.0MB L2 Cache
ChipsetIntel PM55 Express PCHIntel X58/ICH10RIntel PM45/ICH9M
RAM4.0GB PC3-85006.0GB DDR3-1333 (as listed)4.0GB DDR2-800
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 260M 1.0GBNvidia GeForce GTX 280M 1.0GBATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB
Display15.6" LED Backlit 1080p (1920x1080)17" WUXGA (1920x1200)17" WUXGA (1920x1200)
HDD2x Seagate 7200.4 320GB, No-RAID2x Seagate 7200.4 500GB RAID 0WD Scorpio Black 320GB
SoundIntegrated HD Audio, Soft EAX 4.0Integrated HD AudioIntegrated HD Audio
Wired LANIntegrated Gigabit LANIntegrated Gigabit LANIntegrated Gigabit LAN
Wireless LANIntel WiFi Link 1000 802.11nIntel WiFi Link 5300 802.11nAtheros AR928X 802.11n
TelephonyNoneIntegrated 56k Fax ModemIntegrated 56k Fax Modem
BluetoothInternal Bluetooth ModuleInternal Bluetooth ModuleInternal Bluetooth Module
OpticalH-L Data GT30N DVD-RAMPanasonic UJ-130 BD-ROM DVD±RWOptiarc BC-5500S BD-ROM DVD±RW
Media ReaderMulti-format flash card interfaceMulti-format flash card interfaceMulti-format flash card interface
Webcam2.0 Megapixel2.0 Megapixel2.0 Megapixel
USB 2.0Four Ports (2 left, 2 right)4 Ports (right-side)4 Ports (2 left, 2 right)
IEEE-13941x FireWire 400 (left-side)1x FireWire 400 (left-side)1x FireWire 400 (right-side)
eSATA1x eSATA 3.0Gb/s (left-side)1x eSATA 3.0Gb/s (left-side)1x eSATA 3.0Gb/s (right-side)
Audio I/OHeadphone/Digital Optical Out Combo, Microphone, Line-Input (right-side)Line-In, Digital Out, Microphone, Headphone (front edge)Headphone, Digital Out, Line-In, Microphone (right-side)
Video Out1x VGA, 1x HDMI (left-side)1x DVI (rear), 1x HDMI (left-side)1x VGA, 1x HDMI (rear)
BatterySix-cell 11.1V 4800mAh12-cell 14.4V 6600mAhNine-cell 10.8V 7800mAh
WeightNotebook 7.4 lbs, Power Adapter 1.3 lbs., Total 8.7 lbs.Notebook 11.8 lbs., Power Adapter 2.6 lbs., Total 14.4 lbs.Notebook 7.8 lbs., Power Adapter 1.3 lbs., Total 9.1 lbs.
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Home PremiumMicrosoft Windows Vista UltimateWindows Vista Home Premium
WarrantyTwo-year parts and labor (w/overnight shipping), One-Year accidental damageOne-year return serviceThree-year electronics parts/labor One-year LCD/Battery
SupportTwo-year toll-free telephoneOne-year online and telephoneThree-year online tech support
Total Price$1,500$4,586$1,600
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • vulmer
    Can't wait to see what Asus comes up with next!
  • liquidsnake718
    Wow, Asus seems to be churrning out good gaming laptops... Not bad for the price of $1500. The other i7 msi gaming laptop seemed like a good price but with mobile nvidia 280m is too costly and the gtx260m isnt all that bad i guess but at$1600plus.... the 4850m Ati gpu is supposed to be closer to its actual full pc part thus making it a sure bet for gpu power on a small laptop.... Interesting stuff we are seeing... Now we can wait 6more months for larrabee to come out for the laptop mobile market....

  • lashabane
    We almost got there in 2004 with ATI's Radeon 9600 XT-based Mobility Radeon 9700.

    Was it only that long ago? It feels like forever.
  • danwat1234
    "With a single intake vent, G51J users should pay special attention to leg position when using the unit as a laptop."

    That circular 'vent' does not go through. It is not used for cooling, it is only aesthetic.

    The intake vents are those slits around the RAM , the 2 hard drives bays and around the video card. Thus leg position is NOT important. The cooling system is very good.
  • danwat1234
    Does this laptop not support RAID like it's predecessors?
  • scook9
    the cooling is NOT good, and these are known for running VERY hot

    That said, the Asus G51 series is by far the most common gaming oriented laptop as its performance is stellar for the price

    A better cooled system would be the Alienware M15x or the Clevo W860CU (both also 15"). Clevo also offers a comparable 17", the W870CU

    Good cooling means that each heat producing thing has its own fan and set of fins/heatpipes (which takes a larger notebook)
  • El_Capitan - Clevo D900F = $1759
    Microcenter i7 920 = $200
    250GB 7200 RPM = $65

    Total = $2024
  • danwat1234
    scook9Good cooling means that each heat producing thing has its own fan and set of fins/heatpipes (which takes a larger notebook)
    So, then does this notebook have good cooling for it's size? It is having to dissipate quite a bit of power when both the CPU (45 watts TDP) and GPU (75 watts) have their pipelines full. Yes it can run hot internally, but the underside of the case stays out of roasting-balls and/or pubic hair range because the motherboard is screwed into the laptop from the underside of the keyboard instead being attached to the bottom of the case.

    I do agree that a second fan would be an awesome improvement, or have the one replaced with one that can move more air.

    I would venture that few laptops can dissipate that much heat as well as this one of this size. One that may have better cooling would be the HP envy 15, and some of the exotic laptops.. imo
  • danwat1234
    Hey everyone! Look at the first picture on page 3. Do you see the battery slider to the right of the battery? When that slider is open (so battery in unlocked from that end), it uncovers red plastic, as shown in that pic.

    This slider I suspect is NOT spring loaded but the left slider IS.
    I have the G50VT (predecessor), and this is the case with mine and often the battery has been dislodged in my computer case as I walk from class to class, cutting power to the RAM when in sleep mode.. I ended up taping my battery in with scotch tape! Worked like a charm.
    I venture the guess that this issue has not been fixed.
  • tortnotes
    danwat1234, that's not a design defect, it's a feature. If both switches were spring loaded it'd be a lot harder to remove the battery.
    My HP laptop is built the same way, and it hasn't caused any major problems... just be careful how you carry it!