We review the ASUS G501!
Gaming notebooks aren’t the most portable gadgets around. Ask anybody that’s bought a gaming notebook in the past, they’ll tell you that lugging their beastly PCs are literally a huge pain in the butt (and back). Gaming and portability usually don’t go hand-in-hand, unless you’re talking about the ASUS ROG G501. This particular gaming notebook has been our mainstay PC for quite a while, and has quickly grown on us because of its power and portability. It’s rare to see a notebook that’s capable of running the most demanding games the entire day without accidentally working out our back and shoulder muscles in the process.
ASUS G501 specs:
- Intel Core i7 4720HQ processor
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPU
- 4GB of RAM, expandable via an additional 8GB (12GB of RAM as configured during the review)
- 15.6-inch full HD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 1TB HDD, can be replaced with either 128GB or 256GB SSD drive
- WiFi, Bluetooth, SD card reader (2-in-1)
- Bang & Olufsen ICEpower sound
Sleek and premium design hides the beast within
Just like its brother the G551, the G501 has a design that’s sleek and unassuming, which is a big plus for people who don’t like tacky designs. The lid of the G501 is made up of brushed aluminum, with the ROG logo proudly emblazoned on the top. The edge of the lid is accented with a red rubber lining on the inside, which kind of acts like a small rubber gasket protecting the display when the display is shut.
Once you open the notebook, you’re treated to a full-size, QWERTY keyboard that’s backlit, along with a generous wrist-rest, and a large trackpad. To keep the chassis of the G501 streamlined, the fans are located near the hinge and out of sight. Moving on the ports, the G501 has plenty, including 3 USB slots, a full-sized HDMI and DisplayPort, and a 3.5mm jack, along with a SD card reader. Surprisingly enough the G501 does not come with an Ethernet port which may bother some hardcore gamers out there, as nothing beats the reliability of having a wired connection while gaming.
Overall the G551 measured only 20mm thick, which is pretty thin for a gaming notebook. It easily fit inside our leather messenger bag and our backpack without any issues. And since the notebook alone is only around 2 kilos in weight, it was easy to lug around everywhere, which is a big thing for us since we tend to go around a lot covering events and whatnot.
One thing that we didn’t like with the G501 was the fact it was so smudge-prone. We spent a lot of time wiping it down whenever we used it, and this includes the keys as well as the lid of the notebook.
Another odd surprise for the G501 is the TN-based 15.6-inch full HD display. We were a little bit taken aback by this, until we remembered that TN screens have faster response times compared to IPS displays. We’re not sure gamers will like the tradeoff between screen response times to viewing angles and color accuracy, but that’s what you’re getting from the G501, sadly.
Beastly internals can run pretty much anything you throw at it
Considering the hardware running under the hood of the G501, it’s suprising that the entire thing is around 20mm thick. The G501 sports a Intel Core i7 4720HQ processor along with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPU and 12GB of RAM, plus 1TB of storage. You can probably swap out the 1TB HDD with something faster, say a 256 or a 512GB SSD, though we’re not sure if here’s space for both under the chassis.
With the hardware configuration, the G501 tackled most modern games without a hitch on high settings, with full HD. You’re probably not going to hit 60 FPS on many of them, and games like the Witcher 3, for example, needed to be run at lower resolutions to be able to run it at acceptable detail. Still, the G501 is able to run a lot of games without too many compromises.
The G501 is also a great notebook for people that require a powerful machine for video rendering and editing. Not all videographers prefer Macs, and to be honest, many of them turn to Apple’s machines because there’s no good alternative to them. The G501 is a very capable machine for editing and rendering video, and with CUDA rendering enabled, it’s almost able to render a video 1:1.
If there’s one part of the performance equation we’ll have to fault the G501 for, it’s the speakers. They’re small, tinny and frankly, a big disappointment considering the price you’re paying for the notebook. Because of that, ASUS is throwing in a swanky pair of headphones, as well as an ROG mouse to help you game better.
The G501 is powered by Windows 8.1, but it’s eligible to receive an upgrade to Windows 10.
While the G501 may look like an ultrabook, it doesn’t have the endurance of one. Off the charger, we managed to get around 2 hours and 40 minutes of usable battery life, and that’s with normal browsing and use. Forget about trying to game without being plugged in – the notebook throttles the performance of the video card when it’s not connected to AC power, which is kind of a bummer. You can still game with it, but you’re limited to what you can play, unfortunately – and Witcher 3 is definitely out of that equation.
Verdict: A powerful, versatile notebook that doesn’t weigh you down
Ultimately the ROG G501 is a study in compromise. ASUS managed to build a good looking, powerful machine that can handle most modern games out in the market, as well as pull double duty as a photo and video editing rig. While the TN display isn’t ideal and the battery life could be better, that’s just the price you pay to get something as powerful and as portable as the G501. If you’re interested in buying one, the ASUS G501 is priced at Php 59,995, and comes with the freebie headphones and ROG mouse that we mentioned earlier.