If you have a lot of cash to spend and want a large, no-compromise gaming laptop, you only really need to consider a few names. The ‘big brand’ option is the Alienware 17, the latest model is once again top-notch, but the Asus RoG G752 offers a very similar package – including a 17.3in screen – with less of the “brand tax” that comes with Alienware.
That doesn’t mean it’s cheap, but does make it one of the very best laptops in the world for hardcore gamers. Even if the look is likely to have even more of a Marmite effect than last year’s terrific RoG G751, reviewed,.
Asus RoG G752 review: Price
The Asus RoG G752 is a high-end gaming laptop, as powerful as Asus makes without heading into frankly odd territory with something like the RoG GX700. That’s a laptop with a desktop-grade GPU, but also needs a giant water cooling carbuncle on the back to use all of its power.
You don’t need to spend £2000 to get hold of a G752, though. Just like last year, Asus offers a fairly wide array of configs to suit different budgets.
In the UK that starts with the £1299 G752VT, which has a GTX 970M. That’s a great card, but a single but significant step below the GTX 980M you get in the G752VY, which costs £2,129 from Amazon and is the version Asus sent us for review. The full part code is G752VY-T7049T.
This spec will be overkill for many, especially since it includes 32GB RAM, which can be considered an ‘upgrade too far’ for pure gaming purposes, beyond future-proofing. But let’s see what it can do.
Asus RoG G752 review: Design
This latest wave of gaming laptops is not a quantum shift over what was released in 2015. The top gaming chipset is still an Nvidia GeForce GTX980M (albeit with more RAM) and while Intel’s latest Skylake processors are great, their focus is more about improving efficiency than raw power.
To still give you the sense that the RoG G752 is a full generation ahead of the G751, Asus has jazzed-up the design a bit. The first thing you’ll probably notice is the colour scheme.
Last year Asus went for red on black, with a classic gamey look: big grilles, aggressive lines. While the Asus RoG G752 shape hasn’t changed too much, and the hotrod grilles return, we now get faux brushed metal plastic on the interior and some orange highlights added to the staple red to diversify the colour palette. The lid is topped with metal, but the rest is plastic.
Whether you’ll like the design or not is a personal thing. I much prefer last year’s look, which was a lot simpler and makes the G752 smack of a very conscious effort to stand out and look new. When even the Alienware 17 is making you look like you’ve gone too far with ‘gamer’ design, it’s time to check yourself.
This is not a reason discount the Asus RoG G752, but if you’re really looking for a laptop without any show-off juvenile elements, be sure to check out the Gigabyte P37X v5. It’s not as good in several respects, but the design is much plainer.
One positive side-effect of Asus’s strong desire to please is that the RoG G752 now comes bundles with a whole load of accessories. You get a gaming mouse, a headset and a rucksack, which is thankfully a lot less loud ’n’ proud than the laptop itself. The package is worth £100-plus judging by Asus’s own figures.
Asus has also managed to shave a few millimetres off the G752. It’s 48mm thick to the G751’s 53mm, although in reality the difference isn’t that important. This is still a very big, very heavy laptop you are not going to take around in a rucksack unless you really need to. The weight depends on the spec you go for, but our one is 4kg-plus.
Asus RoG G752 review: Connections
The main idea behind all this bulk is that it lets the RoG G752 manage heat better, but it also gives plenty of room for a wide array of connections.
You get four USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet and a new-for-2016 addition for many laptops, a USB-C port. This is a Thunderbolt 3-compliant port, offering super-charged bandwidth to let you hook up to a docking station without using a big proprietary connector on the back like some old business laptops.
Not everyone’s going to need one of these docks, but as phones are starting to use USB-C instead of microUSB, any laptop without one of these ports is going to look pretty dated pretty soon.
Asus RoG G752 review: Keyboard and touchpad
Being so chunky also means the Asus RoG doesn’t have to use wafer-thin key action like virtually every thin and light laptop. It’s much deeper than the norm, similar to what we saw in the Alienware 17 recently.
Laptops like this don’t need to have a severe click to each key, able to provide excellent feedback with a softer but meatier-feeling approach that’s more like a keyboard you might buy for a desktop. Now that a lot of shallow chiclet are pretty good, it’s more a ‘different’ feel than a better one. But this is still an excellent keyboard, and a great fit for both work and gaming.
The G752’s particular boasting point is that its anti-ghosting tech means you can press 30 keys at once and all of them will register. It also has a red backlight.
Other little tweaks include specific buttons for the inbuilt game capture and the system monitor app, and a relatively discreet row of macro keys up above the keyboard. As with just about any other 17-inch gaming keyboard the keyboard uses a full keypad to the right, which meant you don’t actually work in the centre of the screen, but shunted to the left a bit.
In some laptops this can feel uncomfortable, but the Asus G752 feels good regardless, and a lot of this comes down to the high-quality trackpad. It’s an ultrabook-size pad, has a lovely smooth surface and separates the buttons out. An awful lot of laptops these days integrate them into the pad, with varying degrees of success.
These buttons are big, and have a pretty deep action, a bit like the keyboard keys. They’re almost spacebar-like. This is one of the nicest, largest touchpads used in a dedicated gaming laptop. It’s far bigger than the one in the Alienware 17, for example.
Asus RoG G752 review: Screen
When Asus announced the G752 in late 2015 it looked like we’d get a 4K version. But as of January 2016 Asus told us there are no plans to release it in the UK. That means we’re reviewing the 1080p version.
It’s an archetypal gaming display. Handy matt finish? Check. Great colour calibration? Sure. Good contrast? Yep.
With the matt finish, it’s easy to not be that impressed by the G752 off the bat, as it tends to make colours look less punchy than a glossy display. But our colorimeter tells you the truth.
The Asus RoG G752 covers 104 percent of the sRGB colour gamut, and 71 percent of Adobe RGB. Calibration is excellent too, with Delta E of just 0.13. Its shades are spot on fresh out of the box, more or less, and using a colorimeter to alter the colour balance barely changed a thing.
Maximum brightness is 379cd/m, which is very impressive, working hand-in-hand with the matt screen coating to mean you can use it in bright rooms, or even outdoors. Not that you’re going to want to take the Asus RoG G752 out and about with you, mind.
This is an IPS screen too, so you can look at it from an angle and everything will look fine, unlike TN panels. From an angle blacks take on a blue-y character, but that’s common to all the matt 17-inch gaming laptops I’ve seen recently.
Plus, this is a G-Sync display. G-Sync is a hardware alternative to the V sync software used to stop graphics tearing when you play games. VSync is great, but is always going to cause a performance hit.
There’s no performance hit with G-Sync as it uses a dedicated chip that matches the screen’s refresh rate to the GPU’s frame rendering so that you don’t get any ugly tearing. So while the screen is ‘only’ 1080p, it still has high-end hardware, and is great for gaming.
And for gaming, the lack of 4K isn’t a dealbreaker. With the current generation of mobile GPUs, 1080p is as high as you can go while being assured great performance at max settings in today’s top games.
We asked Asus about its decision not to release the 4K machine in the UK. “At the moment we have no plans to release a 4K version of the G752. This might change in future based upon customer feedback,” Asus told us.
“A lot of other people out there that might have a negative experience [with the 4K G752] because they don’t understand why their game is running poorly on default settings.” When you’re dealing with something like GTA V or The Witcher 3, that makes an awful lot of sense.
There are still good arguments for a 4K display, though. Even if you end up running most games at 1080p, a 4K display gives you a much sharper-looking desktop, which is a bonus if you’re going to work on the machine or, say, edit photos as well as playing games.
Some older games would work just fine at 4K resolution too, like Skyrim (although fans might say using the many power-hungry graphics mods would be a better use of the power).
If you’re desperate for a 4K gaming laptop, alternatives include the Acer Predator 17 and Alienware 17. However, it seems most 4K laptop displays are glossy, which are arguably not as practical.
Asus RoG G752 review: Performance
The version of the G752 we’re looking at is tremendously well-specced. As well as nipping above the HQ-series CPUs most gaming laptops are using this year with an Intel Core i7-6820HK, which is faster and overclockable, it has a near-obscene 32GB RAM. Dell won’t even let you spec out the Alienware 17 with that much RAM.
Of course, RAM isn’t going to be a gaming bottleneck at 16GB (or even 8GB for the most part) in this sort of system. 32GB will be handy for juggling lots of data in programs like Photoshop, though.
Doing the calculations, this 32GB Asus RoG G752 costs just £20 more than the 16GB RAM Alienware 17 that otherwise has the same specs. Given upgrading from 8GB to 16GB costs £110, an extra 16GB is worth a lot more than £20 in Alienware-speak.
In this top-end model you also get 512GB SSD, which is split into two partitions for some reason, a Blu-ray writer and a 1TB hard drive. The SSD is terrifically fast, its (up to) 1561MB/s write and 2196MB/s read speeds among the fastest you’ll see in any SSD.
The GPU is the same 8GB GDDR5 Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M you’ll find in just about every 2016 £2k gaming laptop worth buying. While it’s fundamentally quite similar to the GTX 980M used in the old G751 from last year, that was the 4GB RAM version.
If you own a top gaming laptop from 2015 and have an upgrade itch, it’s worth waiting for an Nvidia Pascal-powered model. That’s the next generation of GeForce graphics cards to obsess over, due to be unveiled fully in mid-2016.
The GTX 980M is spot on for 1080p gaming, though. In the 3DMark Fire Strike test it scores a terrific 8249 points. That’s significantly better even than the Gigabyte P37X v5, which had a similar GPU but a slightly lesser CPU and less RAM.
With this sort of laptop you can run any game (as of early 2016) at max settings, and get great results at 1080p. We’ve tried it with demanding classics like The Witcher 3, Metro 2033 and Crysis 2, and it sails through them maxed out. This is a laptop that makes you feel like you can play anything. Because you can.
It’ll also do the job as a productivity PC, even at pro level thanks to the generous amount of RAM. In PCMark 8 Home it scores 4184, and 13823 in Geekbench 3. The only way to get more power right now is to find one of the few laptops that uses a desktop CPU. And that won’t help you in squeezing out more gaming performance.
Raw performance can be looked at as something you get by just stringing together some top-end components and flicking the power switch. But how the Asus RoG G752 handles that power is more specific to this laptop. A great cooling system means it doesn’t heat up the underside of the laptop up too much, and that the fans don’t need to rev too hard even though there’s a good amount of heat to dissipate.
We found that even at around 20 percent volume, the internal speakers didn’t struggle to compete with the fans during gaming. A pair of large, low rpm fans kick air out of those large outlets on the G752’s back, at a rate you don’t see in the average laptop. You can really feel the air pumping out.
This is one of the key draws of the G752: great cooling for quiet, relatively cool running.
Asus RoG G752 review: Battery life
What the laptop doesn’t get you is good battery life, even though it uses a latest-generation Intel Skylake CPU. Playing a film on loop at 120 cd/m brightness (an unusually low 23 per cent on this display) it lasts four hours 37 minutes. That’s much worse than the Alienware 17, which lasted for six hours 16 minutes playing the same file.
When playing games you shouldn’t expect much more than an hour. It’s classic gaming laptop stamina. Like the design, it’s not geared for use anywhere but on a sturdy surface near a plug.
Finally, let’s tackle the speakers. It’s hard for a laptop of this size not to disappoint, because while the size of the thing elevates your expectations, all that space is used to max out power and reduce heat, not make the thing sound better.
The Asus RoG G752 sounds fine, with perhaps a little more low-mid bulk than ultra-skinny laptops. But not much, and top volume is not that impressive. Compared directly with the Alienware 17, the Asus has clearer, better-extended treble, but much less sense of the fortified mids/bass you get with the Alienware. Neither is worth swaying your decision for, mind. A MacBook Pro sounds better than either.