What are exactly your top priorities when choosing a new laptop? I do believe that the answer is “performance first”, since most people expect their portable to run in a similar fashion to their recent desktop PC, no matter what application it’s faced with.
Another plus would probably be represented by a Full HD display, and perhaps a graphics card capable of playing the latest game titles at maxed-out details.
Well, the truth of the matter is that you can find all of these features in a single gaming portable device and no, we’re not talking about an Alienware here.
In fact, ASUS has a whole series of products targeting specifically this growing market segment, namely that of gaming aficionados. The company’s ROG series laptops are specially designed in order to be able to deliver an impressive level of performance, build quality and enhanced functionality, while in the same time offering a very pleasant user experience.
The platform behind this laptop family has undergone multiple changes lately, the main directions of improvement being performance enhancement and the development of a better cooling system.
And the subject we’ve had the chance of reviewing, namely the G53SX, offers a combination of all of these different elements, being one of the latest and most powerful models to make their way onto the market.
After all, it’s not everyday that you see a Quad Core i7 CPU, a Full HD display and an NVIDIA 560 series mobile GPU crammed within a 15-inch form factor, is it now?
Audio card: Realtek ALC 269 (Codec) High Definition
Hard disk: 640 GB / 7200 rpm
Optical unit: HL-DT-ST DVD-RWLAN: Intel Gigabit LAN
WiFi: Realtek RTL 8188CE 802.11 b/g/n
Connectivity: 3 x USB 2.0 + Nec, USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI
ASUS G53SX – overview
My first impression on the ASUS G53SX is that of an serious, uptight gaming notebook, since there are very few colored LEDs or other distracting elements to be found on its body (which is really a plus, compared to some of the other gaming notebooks we’ve had the chance of encountering).
Both the lid and the bottom side of the laptop are pitch black, and even the ROG (Republic of Gamers) logo is discretely positioned in the lower, right side of the keyboard. In fact, one of the things I really loved about this particular laptop is that ASUS decided to use only elegant and attractive design elements and finishing touches when creating it.
The chassis is quite attractive, featuring various design elements borrowed from a jet fighter, but that are also a lot more than just eye-candy, since they play quite an important part in the cooling system.
The two vents placed on the rear side are used as “exhausts” for the hot air coming from the CPU and GPU coolers, while the cold air is drawn in via the bottom side of the notebook, as well as the keyboard area.
And since we’re on the topic of the keyboard, I’ll have to point out that it has two major selling points, namely the key’s very short travel distance and the illumination system, that really comes in handy during night-time gaming sessions. Moreover, the level of noise generated when pressing the keys is actually quite low, meaning that you’re not likely to disturb the other people sitting in the same room.
A minus, however, is represented by the keyboard’s increased level of flexibility. Also, a more loose placement of the control buttons, plus a better level of separation between the numeric keypad and the rest of the keys would have been nice enough.
The Shift, Ctrl and Enter keys have roughly the same dimensions as their desktop counterparts. In the upper side, you’ll be able to notice three different control buttons, one for activating/deactivating the keyboard illumination system, one for switching between the performance and battery saving modes and the third one for activating the gaming-dedicated Turbo mode.
The touchpad is large enough to accommodate two, even three fingers, which really comes in handy, given the fact that it supports multiple gestures. It has a fine-enough surface, but a mouse will do a much better job when a heated gaming session is involved.
The laptop’s display is also quite OK, featuring an 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution stretched across a 15.6-inch screen, but the color quality left me a bit disappointed, since the contrast is pushed up a bit (much as in the case of Sony’s Xblack displays) in order to bring forth some deep black levels. This leads to some of the colors being a bit too intense, when certain settings are applied.
The ASUS G53SX’s connectivity options are pretty standard, starting with the left side, where we can easily spot the optical unit and two USB ports.
However, the laptop’s right-hand side is a bit more well-endowed from this point of view, since this is where we can find the power connector, the LAN interface, the D-SUB and HDMI video outputs, as well as the USB ports (one 2.0 and one 3.0 versions), plus the audio (headphones and microphone) connectors.
Placing the power connector on the right/center side was an interesting choice for ASUS, hinting that the company has completely reconfigured the laptop’s interior in the case of this particular model, probably in order to accommodate the redesigned and much more powerful cooling system. The optical unit has also been displaced, compared to previous models, since it can now be found on the left side.
Nevertheless, this leads us to yet another issue also encountered in the case of some other models, namely the fact that way too many ports are placed on the right side.
The overall weight is also an important factor worth taking into consideration. So, even if, in theory, the notebook’s 3.65 kilos seem to be quite manageable, one must not forget that the power brick also weighs an extra 600 grams, which means that carrying this assembly around for long periods of time isn’t exactly a very good idea.
In fact, it’s recommended that you get a suitable backpack in order to get a better level of comfort when you move from one location to the next with the G53SX in tow.
Software, operating system and benchmarks
Our G53 test unit came pre-loaded with the Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit operating system, but this might vary depending on the specific region.
Purchasing a notebook that comes packed with a licensed, official operating system is always a good idea, but there is one thing that’s not quite right about it. I mean, when you develop such a high-end, powerful gaming notebook, what’s the purpose of packing it with a whole lot of proprietary applications many gamers will never get to use?
In fact, it would have perhaps been a bit better to offer a clean Windows 7 install, uncluttered by the myriad of small and more or less useless applications that slow it down.
After going for a quick clean-up and getting rid of all those apps, the boot time improved from 3 to just around 2 minutes, while gaming performance also increased, although not significantly.
And since we’ve finally reached this topic, it’s important to mention that the we’ve employed just about the same series of benchmarks and game tests we always do, for a better comparison.
We didn’t go for the display’s maximum resolution, but opted instead for something average. However, based on the results, we can honestly say that the notebook will do great in games even when the resolution is pushed to 1920×1080 pixels.
Benchmark test results were actually a bit better than we had anticipated, compared to some of the other notebook models that come equipped with the same CPU model, namely the Intel Core i7 2630QM.
The “culprit” here is the system memory, clocked at 1600 Mhz, unlike the RAM modules equipping most notebooks, typically clocked at 1066 or 1333 Mhz.
Naturally, none of the results listed below would have been possible without the major contribution of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M graphics unit, one of the best mobile-oriented graphics cards currently available on the market.
Everest Memory Read: 16329 MB/s
Everest Memory Write: 15263 MB/s
Everest Memory Latency: 54 ns
Everest CPU Queen: 30356
Everest CPU PhotoWorxx: 41719
Everest FPU Julia: 10679
Cinebench R10 single: 5412
Cinebench R10 multi: 20317
PCMark Vantage: 11241
3DMark Vantage – Nvidia GTX560M: 6877 (PhysX Off)
3DMark Vantage – Intel HD 3000: 1495
Left 4 Dead 1366×768: 108 fps
Left 4 Dead 1680×1050: 84 fps
Resident Evil 5 1366×768: 73 fps
Resident Evil 5 1680×1050: 59 fps
Battlefield Bad Company 2 1366×768: 81 fps
Battlefield Bad Company 2 1680×1050: 58 fps
Temperature and noise levels
The ASUS G53SX is a very powerful gaming system, but also a very cool one. In fact, the only moment when the vent’s activity was noticeable was during some excessive benchmark tests, after one hour or so into the process.
In fact, even when reaching their maximum speed, the gaming laptop’s two fans (for the CPU and GPU, respectively) are fairly silent, even in a quiet room.
The temperatures never went above 55 degrees for the system’s CPU and 60 degrees for the graphics card, but the low temperature in the test room might have also had something to do with it.
Unfortunately, battery life isn’t exactly the ASUS G53SX’s main selling point. In fact, the power pack is rather small, compared to those found on other notebooks, and barely manages to keep the notebook running for around 2 hours and 15 minutes, when watching some movie or browsing the web.
However, as far as gaming is concerned, you’ll be lucky if you manage to get around 1 hour of non-stop functioning.
The ASUS G53SX is one the best laptops we’ve ever tested, in terms of build quality, but also in terms of design and configuration. In fact, it’s superior even to the Alienware M15X, mot to mention the fact that it’s a lot more decently priced than the aforementioned model.