Here at CNET UK we love nothing more than getting shoulder-deep in a high-spec computer. We're lucky, then, that the Asus G53JW-IX115V just landed on our laps. This behemoth gaming monster will set you back around £1,450, and puts games right in your face thanks to some nifty 3D technology.
It's a good thing the G53JW didn't really land in our lap, because it would have crushed our legs, and probably dropped us (and our office chair) through the floor. Weighing a colossal 3.6kg and measuring 391 by 297 by 50mm, this 15.6-inch laptop doubles as an effective murder weapon.
In terms of styling, the G53JW puts us very much in mind of a stealth fighter jet, with its all-over matte black finish, angular chassis and thick, chunky corners. Around the back, there are two massive fan exhausts that look like jet engines.
We're in two minds about this style direction. On the one hand, it's certainly unique, and if you like your tech to stand out from the crowd, this will definitely draw looks. Plus, it has a certain cool factor that's typical of gaming laptops, even if this particular machine is a little low on flashing LEDs. On the other hand, it's extremely heavy, and not in the slightest bit portable, so you'll need a good deal of stamina if you're planning on hauling it to lectures or work.
Opening up this monolithic machine, you'll find everything is still very matte black in appearance. The keyboard is pleasingly wide, however, and there are great big spaces between each individual key, which will cut down on accidental typos. The trackpad is also satisfyingly wide, and we found it to be very responsive. In saying that, the left and right click buttons are quite stiff. Still, we reckon most users will connect a mouse to this laptop, rather than making do with the standard trackpad option.
The display is a 15.6-inch panel with a maximum resolution of 1366x768 pixels. It's hardly the biggest, brightest screen we've ever witnessed, but it looks just fine to us -- colours are rendered vividly and everything looks very sharp. You might want to plug in a monitor if you're playing games at a competitive level, though.
Movement on screen looks very smooth, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. It's a necessary spec, though, for the 3D magic that lurks within.
All up in your grill
The G53JW supports 3D gaming using Nvidia's 3D Vision kit. A set of glasses is included, and the IR emitter necessary to keep the glasses in sync with the laptop is helpfully built into the laptop itself, on the top of the bezel, to the left of the webcam. It's a thoughtful addition, and means less faffing around with USB IR emitters.
We've dealt with this 3D tech before, on machines such as the Toshiba A665. Our general feelings are that it works better with some games than with others. Nvidia helpfully lists which games work best, and, for the ones that don't work, it sometimes provides hints on how to improve the 3D effect by tinkering with the settings. It's a cool addition, and it's certainly fun to play with, but you might find that after a while you just turn it off and play in the regular two dimensions.
Turning the 3D effect off is actually something that's quite frustrating -- there's no dedicated shortcut button for doing so, and toggling the 3D effect on/off mid-game can be really problematic. We found it usually involved us fussing around in the Nvidia control panel. It's not a deal-breaker, but it's a feature we'd certainly like to see implemented in future machines.
Performance-wise, this laptop performs very capably, though at this price you'd expect a good deal of grunt for your cash. This tech titan is rocking a quad-core Intel Core i7-740M CPU, clocked at 1.73GHz. The processor is capable of spinning up to an impressive 2.93GHz when turbo mode kicks in. The CPU is supported by a whopping 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M graphics card.
With all the pieces in place, the G53JW scored an impressive 6,375 when we ran our PCMark05 benchmark test. On the graphics side, things are even more impressive -- this beast racked up a score of 11,959 in our 3DMark06 benchmark test at the default resolution of 1290x720 pixels. Cranking the resolution up to the G53JW's maximum, the score dropped just a few points to 11,753.
Bang for your buck
To put it in context, that's considerably better than the 8,196 achieved by the slightly cheaper Toshiba A665, but not as incredible as the 14,457 the Alienware M17x scored when we tested these machines at their respective maximum resolutions.
In short, you're getting your money's worth with this machine, and we don't often see a laptop that offers 8GB of RAM as standard. We reckon this laptop will handle just about any cutting-edge game you choose to throw at it.
Connectivity is slightly on the spare side. Around the edges you'll find a Blu-ray rewritable drive, 8-in-1 card reader, two 3.5mm sockets for headphones and a microphone, three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, an Ethernet port and an HDMI output. There's no VGA output, which is a little surprising, and is something to bear in mind if you plan on plugging in a monitor. Elsewhere, there's a 640GB hard drive on board to handle your storage needs, and the whole thing rattles along on Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.
In summary, the Asus G53JW-IX162V offers excellent performance, though you'll pay for the privilege. It's very usable, thanks to the comfortable keyboard and trackpad, and it offers either excellent or utterly hideous design, depending on how you feel about laptops that are capable of eluding enemy radar. We're not bowled over, but we are satisfied.
If you're dead set on 3D but fancy something a little more affordable, check out the Toshiba A665. If you're not so keen on the 3D aspect, check out the benchmark scores of the much cheaper MSI GX740, which offers no 3D, but does bring stonking performance and a very amenable price point to the table.
Edited by Emma Bayly