Asus gaming laptop: Power and portability – USA TODAY
Odds are, if youâre looking for a gaming laptop, portability is important to you. Unfortunately, gaming laptops have earned a reputation for over-the-top design that doesnât exactly play well with frequent travel.
Then thereâs the Asus ROG G501 Gaming Laptop (MSRP: $1,599.00). With a stylish â and, more importantly, thinâdesign, the G501 will easily slide into your bag as you dash to your next fragfest. Throw in some impressive hardware, and the G501 has the power to tackle video editing, photo editing, and gaming with ease.
While the G501 is outperformed by other gaming laptops on the market, it’s about half the price of the top-of-the-line systems. If youâre a diehard PC gamer who’s stuck on a budget, the G501 is a handy alternative to a bulky desktopâas long as youâre willing to compromise on raw power.
The 15.6-inch, 4K/UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution display requires a large footprint and it shows with the G501 coming in at 15.1 x 10.0 inchesânot exactly small. But, at less than an inch thick, it can easily fit in your bag with the rest of your gear.
Windows laptops are notorious for sub-optimal trackpads, but the G501 is one of the worst we’ve used. Using the default settings, the mouse is sluggish and clicking anything becomes a trial in patience. Our recommendation? Stick to a separate mouse. Not only is it a better choice for gaming, but you wonât ever have to rage-quit from trying to open an app using the trackpad.
Itâs practically a guarantee that when you purchase a new Windows PC youâre also going to get some bloatwareâuseless or redundant software thatâs pre-installed by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers are worse than others, but with the G501, it actually turned out to be pretty handy.
Arguably the most important is GeForce Experience. Itâs a useful piece of software that lets users manage a variety of gaming-related tasks via a single program, thereby cutting out the middle-man and making the experience much more efficient.
Then thereâs Asus Splendid and ROG AudioWizard, each of which are filled with presets for picture and audio settings respectively. Finally, rounding out the gaming-centric software, thereâs ROG Game First III, which gives you control over your online bandwidth. Essentially, it helps to cut down on lag without having to close every connected program.
The G501 came to us running Windows 8.1, but seeing as Windows 10 dropped earlier this week, we decided to upgrade and see how the G501 handled the latest from Microsoft. Except for a Windows 10 driver update that was waiting for us in GeForce Experience, the gaming apps ran like a breeze as soon as the update was done.
Unlike other laptops, the G501âs hardware canât really be customized beyond the default components. Luckily, Asus packed in enough horsepower that you should be able to play almost any game on the market todayâwith some tweaking.
At its core the G501 is powered by an Intel Core i7 4720HQ processor thatâs clocked at 2.6GHz, and with Turbo Boost can reach 3.6GHz. Thatâs more than enough power to tear through your standard laptop tasks without any stuttering, and that same performance will carry over when you start playing games. But with only 8GB of onboard memory, the G501 wonât be able to run a ton of intensive programs at once â though it should be sufficient in most scenarios.
I know what youâre really wondering about though: the graphics. The G501 uses an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 4GB of dedicated RAM, which is coupled with an Intel HD Graphics 5100 and an Intel HM87 Express Chipset. We test how well a laptop is able to handle games by using Metro 2033: Last Lightâa heavyweight of a gameâon high settings. The GTX 960M wasnât quite up to the task, outputting an average frame rate of 20fpsâwell below the 30fps threshold for smooth motion.
If thereâs one place the G501 really surprised us it was the battery. In our battery rundown test, which is designed to drain the battery as quickly as possible, the G501 lasted for close to 3.5 hoursâan impressive feat considering all of the hardware running under the hood. Regardless, youâll still want to game while plugged in as much as possible, to maximize battery time and performance.
Thereâs enough power packed into the portable Asus Republic of Gamers G501 that you can rest easy if you want to take your gaming on the road. Sure, youâll have to lower your settings a bit, but that’s true of almost any gaming laptop. A dedicated custom rig would do better, but they can get mighty expensive.
If you like the design of the G501 but want better all-around performance, weâd recommend checking out the Razer Blade Pro. We havenât spent time with the 2015 edition yet, but we loved last yearâs model (MSRP: $2,799.99) thanks to its large 17-inch display, programmable hotkeys, and excellent performance, and it should be available at a discount these days.
If youâre on a budget and the G501 isnât doing it for you, you might want to look into the MSI GS70 Stealth. Last yearâs MSI GS60 Ghost (MSRP: $1,699.00) was one of our favorite gaming laptops and the Stealth has included some much needed updates from last yearâs model.
For those looking for a competitive gaming laptop at a competitive price, the G501 is a compelling choice. While it lacks the firepower of a high-end rig, the G501âs slim and relatively lightweight design means you wonât have to break your back going between LAN parties. Itâs a clear winner for gamers on the go.
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