The best gaming laptop

Asus ROG G752VT-DH72laptop

If you’re accustomed to seeing the most expensive product finishing in first place, our top choice is going to be a shocker. Asus’ G752VT-DH72 isn’t the quickest notebook in our round-up. Frankly, it’s not even the best-built. But it demonstrates a genius in component balance that’d be easy to overlook, if not for the seven other machines we’re comparing it to.

Let’s start with that GeForce GTX 970M under the G752VT-DH72’s hood. Though obviously not the fastest discrete module available, Asus connects it to a 17.3” IPS panel with G-Sync support and a 75Hz refresh rate. So, even when the GPU can’t maintain 75 FPS, synchronization in the display subsystem keeps the output smooth. Once you spend time in front of G-Sync (or FreeSync), it’s hard not to notice the artifacts associated with turning v-sync on or off. Particularly at 1920×1080, the technology lets you get away with a less powerful graphics module, ultimately saving some money.
The rest of the platform falls into place nicely. Intel’s Core i7-6700HQ operates at a modest 2.6GHz and only includes 6MB of shared L3 cache. But the quad-core CPU is still a screamer (even if we would have preferred the -6820HQ, which Intel claims is similarly-priced). Sixteen gigabytes of DDR4-2133 memory split across two SO-DIMM slots are fairly standard. If you find yourself needing more, a panel on the chassis’ undercarriage pops off to reveal a pair of vacant slots.laptop

Asus smartly built a tiered storage subsystem consisting of Samsung’s 128GB PM951 and a 1TB HGST Travelstar. The SSD, equipped with triple-level-cell NAND, is nowhere near as fast as the flagship SM951. However, it does communicate over a four-lane PCIe link using NVMe. Asus offers another configuration with a 256GB SSD and 24GB of RAM for an extra $200, but enthusiasts looking for more capacity can manually upgrade the 128GB version too (the aforementioned panel also reveals an empty M.2 2280 slot).

We certainly get what Asus is trying to do here. By keeping the G752VT-DH72’s SSD small, yet functional, and its graphics powerful, but not overkill, the company can sell this thing for about $1,650. Six other systems in our round-up cost more. Plugged into the wall, G-Sync keeps the action enjoyable. Away from it, Nvidia’s Battery Boost technology throttles you back to 30 FPS by default. Just don’t expect a ton of game time on the road. Our loop of Unigine Valley at 1920×1080 only lasted 43 minutes before the G752VT-DH72 shut itself off, landing in last place.

A somewhat meager battery is but one compromise you make in going the budget route. Asus hasn’t done much to improve its audio over the last Republic of Gamers notebook we reviewed, either. High frequencies lack crispness, while lows sound muddled. Tweaking around in the Sonic Studio II app helps, but you’re going to want a good headset.

I’m also not a fan of the updated chassis; it employs more angles, less soft-touch material, and a brushed silver/copper color scheme. Fortunately, none of the surfaces attract finger oils. The top panel does flex quite a bit, and our sample had noticeable gaps between the screen and bezel. There is a smoked plastic window across the undercarriage, which gives you a nice view of Asus’ cooling solution. However, it was already pretty scratched up on the unit we received.laptop

Though several of the G752VT-DH72’s competitors serve up more peripheral connectivity, we didn’t feel like we were missing anything crucial. Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort 1.2, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Type C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, digital and analog audio I/O, an SD card reader, and a dual-layer DVD±R/RW drive cover the bases well. You also get a built-in Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7265 adapter with Bluetooth 4.0, plus an integrated 1.2 megapixel webcam.

Naturally, gamers will want to use the G752VT-DH72 with their own mice. But the oversized trackpad suffices in productivity apps. Its right- and left-click buttons have just the right amount of travel and depress uniformly. We prefer this to buttons that are raised on one side. Asus’ keyboard is similarly executed well, though its red backlight doesn’t match the new silver/copper color scheme as well as the old black/red design. Function keys along the top make it easy to adjust backlight intensity, disable the trackpad, switch display outputs, or put the notebook to sleep.

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