History of the brand and Republic of Gamers series: The name Asus originates from Pegasus, winged horse of Greek mythology. The Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand has been around for more than five years now, and this G55V series notebook, like all the Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) products promise, come with the best components. I originally purchased an Asus due to both word of mouth, and because I had seen the systems in use by my friends. Both my friends are particularly hard on PC hardware, and these previous generation ROG laptops are still working well. I have purchased two Asus netbooks, and used these almost exclusively for past few years now. I was ready to play games with my friends that I could not with other systems not designed for gaming.
Recommend this product?
Overview of components in the system: Included in the Asus Republic of Gamers Laptop (G55VW-DH71s) list of impressive components is a quad core Intel CPU, and NVIDIA performance graphics solution. The Core i7-3610QM has a base clock frequency of 2.3 Ghz, with quad-core design. From my understanding of the TurboBoost i7 processor, some combination of drivers and software, in symphony along with the hardware and BIOS, transparently and automatically step up the clock rate as the demand for processing power increases, within the thermal capabilities of the hardware.
What’s really good: That being said, the capabilities of the hardware are quite spectacular. The Asus G55V runs nice and cool, and the fans start to kick in noticeable only when the GPU reaches about 68 or 69 Celsius. While this is right at about 150 degrees farenheit, the bottom of the laptop doesn’t seem to get uncomfortably warm, while the fan in the back seems to kick out a lot of heat without much noise or effort.
Transparent overclocking out of the box: Not every PC user knows what overclocking is. It has been around a long time. It the beginning no one tried it much, since it was either not easy or possible due to hardware limitations, or the PC user wouldn’t want to attempt it because of the risk of overheating and killing the system once and for all. Fortunately, the G55V manages itself quite well, without any thought on the part of the user, and appears to change the hardware clock settings up or down in response to CPU and GPU demands, to save power, or to increase performance. I haven’t noticed any throttling under moderate testing, the overclocking appears to be rather transparent. When doing nothing at all to tax the GPU, it will seriously underclock itself in order to save on power, and will ramp all the way up to full clock speed without any apparent lag. Perhaps more importantly, there is minimal increase in noise levels from the system fans kicking in while playing a game.
Performance in everyday use: When not gaming and actually working on the laptop, the system is really not taxed at all when using programs that are notorious for requiring lots of resources such as multiple tabs and internet browsers being open, along with Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat reader. I have not tested the computer processor extensively, but a quick run at 100% power during a test for 1 minute, the system neither started to run hot, nor did it become unstable at factory clocking settings. This is expected, but the lack of noticeable fan running when performing a heavy workload is something that makes using the system very pleasant. Without overclocking the PC, which is what any rational PC user would do when carrying about their normal business, I would suspect that the system will offer good performance, stability, and longevity due to the superior cooling system.
Pushing the limits of the hardware: More compact and previous generation laptops seem to make a lot of noise when their cooling system is pushed to the extreme, so I think it is safe to say that this PC is very overclock friendly based on a perusal of the forums, and anecdotal reports from my friend’s laptop which is essentially the same model as this one, with a larger screen. The Republic of Gamers forum offers much advice and support to users wanting to push the limits of the hardware to new extremes. Interestingly, this current generation hardware doesn’t need much of a push in my opinion, at this point in time.
Weaknesses in the hardware package: The weakest link in the system appears to be the “mere” 7,200 RPM mechanical hard drive, which is definitely a high performance laptop drive. After defragmenting the drive a few times, the computer seems adequately fast with the installed hard drive from the factory. Once booted up, I do not notice any times that the system has any noticeable lag. Indeed, the RAM specs are impressive, as are the CPU and GPU specs. The 7,200 RPM drives are actually quite fast, but with an SSD this computer will supposedly load Windows 7 in less than 20 seconds (possibly closer to 15 seconds according to test data from some of the latest hard drives). As the cost of hard drives continues to drop, as the capacity and speed increase, the SSD hard drive might be a smart upgrade at some point, but for my uses I really don’t notice any lack of performance. I have used about 80 GB, and 400+ GB remain. My friend upgraded his to the SSD, so part of the urge to update is the “gotta have it factor” associated with the latest hardware, better known to professionals as conspicuous consumption.
Some performance data while playing a game: As I am typing this review right now, the battery suggests that there is more than 2-1/2 hours left on the charge. With five programs open, including Microsoft Office Word, multiple windows and tabs, the processor hovers around 1% usage. Add a game to the mix, such as Age of Empires III on maximal graphics settings, and the CPU hovers around 12%; this is with the game not paused, a large map, and the game on normal speed. It is utilizing almost 4 GB of the RAM at this point. GPU-Z tells me I’m using only 511 MB of graphics RAM, and the core clock is running at 835.2 Mhz on A/C power. The Republic of Gamers forums have all sorts of suggestions about which program to choose for overclocking, and how to completely disassemble the laptop if one wishes to replace the two more difficult to get to RAM sticks, and mSATA slot. This PC really has spectacular hardware.
Tree huggers versus performance: The system is actually an EPA Energy Star, and plenty of power options exist to save on power. I do not plan on overclocking at the moment, as the performance is excellent for the games that I have tried. I tried a demo of Company of Heroes, and downloaded a few benchmark tests just to make sure everything was in working order. My 3DMark scores, while not super impressive, are very respectable, and this system seems to have a near top of the line NVIDIA GTX 660M, while the CPU performance tests also came back with very good marks. More importantly, Flight Simulator X runs on the highest settings with a seemingly high and playable frame rate, and this program is notorious for taxing even the best systems when it came out just a few years back.
The Graphical Processing Unit: The NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX series 660M 2GB is fairly impressive. With an 80 GB per second memory bandwidth, and 384 unified shaders, the performance is very respectable. Reviewers found that one or two of the most demanding games might require a slightly lower than 1080p setting in order to run at maximal frame rates, the performance is excellent on marginally demanding newer games like Age of Empires III or Flight Simulator X.
The best things about this laptop may be interpreted as a pro or a con depending on the intended use of the PC: This laptop makes no apologies for it’s size, it is actually much more modest than the 17” version of the machine, which is even an larger laptop. Again, copper cooling cores are not light, but copper is superb at moving heat. This laptop is all about performance, and the build quality is on par with Asus standards, which is excellent. While the specifications say 8.4 lbs is the weight, and the machine probably weights all of that, the machine appears smaller and lighter than it actually is when using it. Subtle details in the design make the machine appear smaller than it acutally is, which is a nice touch. The added bulk appears to be due to the space needed to accomplish what is a superb cooling system. Don’t forget that this laptop also has a subwoofer. It is a nice laptop indeed.
The Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand promises innovative hardware: Indeed, as the ROG brand promises, this is the most innovative PC performance hardware. One of the best overall gaming experiences I have had is while using this hardware. The coolest part about the Republic of Gamers franchise? They actually encourage you to push the limits of the hardware to the furthest possible limits of stability. There are numerous articles on the Republic of Gamers forums, which provide very useful posts from professionals. The price point is very reasonable given the excellent performance, upgradeability, and superior design. While I don’t suggest overclocking the PC beyond the factory settings, it is nice to see that some folks have overclocked, and actively share their wisdom with other fanatics.
Functionalist Styling: While at least one die hard fan of the older Asus ROG series classic designs critized the massive cooling vents in the back styled like a fighter jet, to me they seem not only understandated, but perhaps even functionalist in their design. It cannot be denied that the large heat sinks, cooling fins, and large fans perform their job well, and are quiet while doing it.
Peripherals: While I see no purpose for it as of writing this article, this G55 is equipped with a Thunderbolt port: Apple fans would be familiar with this interface. Perhaps this interface can some day facilitate access to high speed storage. For now, it is nice to say that it is there.
Audio: The sound system seems pretty nice too: The system appears to contain an actual subwoofer, so anyone who says that the machine is larger and heavier, but fails to mention the fact that it features a sub, has not given the machine a fair review. The sound quality is actually quite good from the speakers. It is of ample volume, clear, and certainly adequate for playing a game. Especially impressive, in fact, for integrated laptop speakers.
Bright LED Backlit Display: The display is a high definition display, and wide screen format. With the native resolution, I can have two full sized windows open side by side, to facilitate working on my school assignments. I can read information from a *.pdf document, and type in Microsoft Office, side by side. There is little need to connect an external display, which is what I did when I was doing school research on my Asus netbook PC. The display is bright, and clear, with no dead pixels. One website suggested that the display is manufactured by LG, which is noted for making very good HDTV displays. The screen is a nice wide HD 1080 screen, and it connects nicely to my 42” HD TV. A legacy type display port is also present, which is nice just in case an older projector requires an old school monitor cable.
Attention to Deatil: Overall, the styling is very adult, and marginally understated; unlike some high end PCs which can be particularly flashy, and have all sorts of tacky LEDs, the only LEDs to be found on this system comprise the very bright backlight behind the display, and light up the keyboard. The keyboard brightness level is adjustable, which is a nice touch. It is attention to details like this that really make this PC a joy to use. The bezel around the keyboard appears to be brushed, polished metal, which is also a nice design touch.
Keyboard: Again, Asus takes a very conservative and elegant approach to the overall styling and feel of the notebook. The keyboard is great for gamers, since it is a compressed version of a desktop keyboard.
USB 3.0: The USB ports are 3.0 spec, which means they are fast, and there are four of them.
Internal Optical Disc Drive: The system appears to feature a DVD multi-recorder, and BluRay Player, and some users have opted to remove the CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive in order to install a second hard drive. While I don’t plan on removing this drive in order to perform this upgrade, and the mSATA slot buried under the keyboard is the only other Hard Drive option, it is just as easy to simply open the back hatch and pop in a Solid State Drive in order to maximize performance, and these drives are becoming more and more affordable, even in larger sizes like ½ TB.
Upgrading the Hardware: Looking at the disassembly instuctions (I would not want to attempt this myself, as I am not a professional), not only does the cooling system appear to be very robust, the important areas of the laptop are fairly easy to access. The laptop doesn’t need any upgrades, in my opinion, but a complete review should take these factors into consideration.
SSD: Again, the simplest upgrade is removing the mechanical 7,200 RPM drive and opting for any high speed Solid State Drive (SSD). The stock 7,200 RPM drive appears to be the weakest link in the Windows Experience Index (5.9 rating). My friend performed this upgrade on his G7* series, and saw a huge jump in Windows Experience Index rating (I think his is now about 7 something on the Windows Experience Index arbitrary rating scale).
RAM: Removing one rear hatch provides access to 2 DDR32 slots. Depending on the configuration of your model, the machines with the latest quad core processor have 4 DDR3 slots in total, but two of those slots are under the keyboard and require complex disassembly by a professional. The two RAM slots under the rear hatch, as well as the factory equipped mechanical hard drive can be quite easily replaced by anyone with beginner to moderate PC upgrade skils. Two RAM slots are accessible by simply removing the back cover, and the 2.5" hard drive bay can be accessed from opening the same hatch. Again, the RAM is more than adequate, but ease of upgrades ensures the system can remains up to date in the future.
mSATA SSD Drive Optional: A custom configered G55V can be upgraded to have two hard drives, as mSATA SSDs are available in this form factor. Getting to this port, is a challenge, but both the disassembly instructions exist, and factory authorized repair centers should be able to perform the upgrade as well. This would allow the factory main 2.5” hard drive, to co-exist along with a very fast mSATA SSD. The operating system might be housed on this to allow for fast startups. Again, it is much easier to just replace the mechanical hard drive with an SSD, but this remains an option for some looking for this configuration.
Conclusion: The G55V series has top of the line hardware, one of the best cooling systems, good sound system, and great performance, at a great price point. The size is large, but between the flagship cooling system, sound system, and added optical disc drive, along with a full size keyboard, the system is simply a performance powerhouse, and a joy to use.
Amount Paid (US$): 1,199.99
Operating System: Windows
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: Greater than 15 inches
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: CD-RW and DVD
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50