Asus' Republic of Gamers brand has been wowing gamers for years now. Any motherboard, PC or graphics card with its fishy-looking logo has a good stab at providing gaming performance above the norm. The £1,000 Asus G50 gaming laptop -- the latest to sport the logo -- is aimed at those who want to frag with impunity, safe in the knowledge that their gaming experience won't be interrupted by untimely slowdown.
Asus has designed the G50 to grab your attention. The lid, for example, is the shiniest, glossiest, blackest thing since crude oil. We're not exaggerating here; gaze at it for long enough and it's a bit like staring into a lake at night, or directly into Kiera Knightley's eyes.
The black is offset by smatterings of silver, including a couple of shiny strips on the lid, silver caps on the hinge edges, and even more shiny stuff on the Asus logo. The sides of the lid also have some silver strips, which glow blue when the power is switched on.
Slightly more gaudy is the inclusion of a bright metallic tangerine strip at the tip of the lid. Lift the lid and you'll find more tangerine highlights around the keyboard, plus a wealth of blue LED lights -- one framing the mouse trackpad and some highlighting the presence of a strip of shortcut buttons above the keyboard. These, going from left to right, enable the Republic of Gamers mode, start and close Windows Media Center, adjust the performance of the laptop for enhanced battery life or quicker performance, and temporarily disable the mouse trackpad.
You might find yourself using the last of those buttons quite often. We found the mouse trackpad to be a little too far over to the right of the wrist rest -- so far in fact, that users are prone to rubbing the ball of their hands over it. This, understandably, causes accidental mouse clicks, which can be distracting and counterproductive while typing.
The keyboard itself is large and comfortable to use. It even has a dedicated numerical keypad squashed onto the far right. The grid-like layout of these keys can come in handy in games that require diagonal movement, or for people who enter a lot of numerical data into spreadsheets and databases.
When you first power up the G50, it splashes the Republic of Gamers logo up on the screen and plays an explosion sound over the speakers, presumably hinting at the enormous power at your fingertips.
It's a bit dramatic, but we'll forgive the theatrics since the G50 has a solid list of core components. Asus has supplied an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 running at 2.26GHz and a whopping 4GB of RAM, although only 3,056MB of this is recognised due to the architectural limitations of using a 32-bit operating system.
More significant, perhaps, is Asus' choice of graphics card. The G50 uses an Nvidia GeForce 9700M GT, which is faster than most, but below the 9700M GTS, 9800M GT, 9800M GTS and 9800M GTX in the Nvidia rankings. Don't get disheartened by this, it packs a healthy 512MB of dedicated memory and is definitely not shy of a moving a few polygons around.
The G50's display is slightly disappointing. There's not an awful lot wrong with the image quality, but the native resolution on our review sample was a modest 1,366x768 pixels. There are some configurations of the G50 with a 1,680x1,050-pixel display available in other markets (such as Singapore, for instance) but the UK seems to have drawn the short straw in this regard.