ASUS ROG G771JM Review - A High-end Gaming Laptop By Republic Of Gamers
It's time to pay another visit to ASUS' Republic of Gamers! The Taiwanese company has launched another high-end gaming laptop for their ROG series. It packs quite a punch from a hardware perspective and we really wanted to see how well it performs. After two weeks of playing and working on the ASUS ROG G771JM gaming laptop, we're now ready to share our conclusion. If you're on the lookout for a powerful gaming laptop, read on to learn whether you should consider buying the ASUS ROG G771JM or not.
Unboxing The ASUS ROG G771JM
The ASUS ROG G771JM comes in a traditionally painted box with red and black accents - the well-known colors of the Republic of Gamers. Once you open the box you see the ROG logo on the laptop's lid and inside you will find the laptop, the power adapter and the power cable.
Other than the laptop itself you'll find the warranty and a quick start guide. Nothing new as far as the packaging is concerned. The only thing that stands out aside from the box itself is the red ASUS Republic of Gamers logo on the lid.
The ASUS ROG G771JM that we've tested was equipped with an Intel Core i7 4710HQ processor. ASUS also sells a version of this laptop powered by an Intel Core i5 4200H processor. Intel Core i7 4710HQ has a base frequency of 2.5GHz and can go as high as 3.5GHz under heavy load using Intel's Turbo Boost technology. We're talking about one of the fastest mobile CPUs from Intel, with a 6MB cache and a built-in Intel HD Graphics 4600 graphics processor. ASUS chose Intel's HM87 Express chipset to power this laptop.
The processor is accompanied by 16GB of DDR3 RAM memory, two modules of 8GB each, working in dual channel at 1600MHz.
Since we're talking about a gaming laptop, we have some horsepower on the graphics side, too. The dedicated graphics card is an nVidia GeForce GTX 860M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory working at 1253 MHz. The GPU is clocked at 1020 MHz and has a bus width of 128-bit. The GTX 860M video card supports DirectX 11 and offers Shader Model 5.0 capabilities, so you should be set for most games if you're on the move a lot.
The ASUS ROG G771JM features a bright and crisp 17.3 inches wide full HD IPS screen. The storage side of things is rather generous, with a Samsung-made 256GB SSD and a 1TB Hitachi HDD running at 7200 RPM. The full list of available storage options for this laptop looks like this:
- 750GB HDD running at 5400 RPM
- 1TB HDD running at 5400 RPM
- 1.5TB HDD running at 5400 RPM
- 750GB HDD running at 7200 RPM
- 1TB HDD running at 7200 RPM
- 256GB SSD
- 128GB SSD
The SSD drive was seen by Windows 8.1 as a SATA 3 drive, but on a thorough search on the Internet, it seems to be a PCI Express drive. We consider this to be closer to the truth, given the very high speed of this drive, demonstrated in our tests. But more about this later on. The HDD connects via SATA 3, so the data transfers are again quite speedy.
Interesting fact, ASUS also equipped the G771JM with a Blu-Ray Writer optical drive, at a time when most laptop manufacturers are ditching optical units and fewer people use them each day. If you're a photographer, for instance, and you have a lot of data to transfer from SD cards, you'll be glad to know that there's also an SD/MMC card reader on the front left side of this gaming laptop. The SD card reader is located on the front left side.
ASUS worked with Bang & Olufsen to build the speakers for this laptop and also included an HD webcam and a built-in microphone. The ASUS ROG G771JM has a 6 cell 5200 mAh battery and the power brick has a 19V, 120W output. If you're planning to carry the laptop around, keep in mind its size: 415 x 280 x 35.6mm (Width x Depth x Height). That's the equivalent of 16.3 x 11 x 1.4 inches and it weighs 3.4 kg / 7.49 pounds with the battery included. ASUS ROG G771JM provides enough connectivity options for most usage scenarios. The wireless connectivity is enabled by an Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 wireless adapter with Wireless Display capabilities, along with a built-in Bluetooth v4.0 module. Using the 802.11ac standard definitely helps in lowering the latency during online games. The Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller provides Ethernet connectivity and it's located on the left side of the laptop next to the mini Display Port.
You can output your games to a big screen if you want, thanks to the HDMI and the mini Display Port. Four USB 3.0 ports are present, two on each side of the laptop. The right side houses the Kensington lock slot along with the microphone-in/headphone-out jack. You can find the official hardware specifications here: ASUS ROG G771JM - Specifications.
Using The ASUS ROG G771JM
We've been using this laptop for almost two weeks in different scenarios and it performed very well under any kind of workload. The design is marked by the well-known ROG branding. The case's texture is a matte black with red accents. The letters on the keys are red and the overall look of the laptop is quite sober. We liked the fact that the design wasn't as bulky as other ROG laptops we've seen in the past.
The matte screen is also a welcome addition since you won't have problems with reflections in strong backlight. The display's viewing angles are good and the colors look clean and vivid.
A rather confusing aspect was the fact that the backlit keyboard didn't light up until we logged into Windows. We believe this is a driver issue and we hope that it will be fixed in the future.
Other than that, the keyboard is silent and responsive, but we wonder why ASUS didn't make it a bit larger. The form factor of the laptop would have allowed for more space between the keys, especially for separating the numeric keypad from the rest of the keyboard. For a 17 inch laptop, this keyboard feels crowded and it's often difficult to use it without looking at some of the keys.
The sound quality of the Bang & Olufsen ICEpower speakers is very good for a laptop. It's actually one of the best quality audio systems that we have seen on a laptop so far. The webcam and the microphone are also of premium quality, the image and sound quality during video chats is very good. All in all, the laptop made a good impression on us, being a good mobile gaming system. Keep in mind that we're talking about a 17.3 inch device, so keeping it on your lap might not be so comfortable. Gaming sessions were pleasant during most games, the only downside being the left side of the laptop heating up. This is normal for any gaming laptop, though. The battery is not the strong point of the G771JM, though, since it has only 6 cells. If you plan on playing lots of games, we highly advise to keep it plugged in, as we only got an average of an hour and a half of autonomy while running benchmarks and playing games.
Apps Bundled With ASUS ROG G771JM
Here we are, touching on that sensitive subject for many manufacturers. The one that often makes your device slow while dropping some coins in some very specific pockets :). As much as we liked the hardware found in this laptop, we cannot say the same about the bundled software. Aside from the drivers, ASUS also included a bunch of applications, some of which are not useful. You will find the following software on the ASUS ROG G771JM:
- ASUS LiveUpdate - an application that you can use to manage operating system updates. We all have Windows Update so we don't really need it.
- ASUS WinFlash - an application designed to update the BIOS software of the device. We recommend keeping it installed and using it from time to time.
- ASUS Color Enhancement - an application that you can use to switch between color presets for this laptop's display.
- ASUS WebStorage - a cloud storage solution from ASUS that provides you with 5 GB of free cloud storage space.
- Cyberlink MediaStory - an application that allows you to compile photos and videos into multimedia files.
- Twitter - the official Windows 8.1 app for this social network.
- Fresh Paint - a painting app for Windows 8.1.
- Music Maker Jam - a music app for Windows 8.1 that allows you to mix different loops and sound effects.
- Line - a chat application that you may want to experiment with before deciding on whether to keep it or not.
- Flipboard - the Windows 8.1 app for the social network aggregation service.
- Netflix - depending on where you live, you'll either love this app or dislike ASUS for bundling it. In the US and a couple of other countries where Netflix is available, you will want to use this app and stream movies and TV shows to your device. In countries where this service is unavailable, this app will not provide any value to you.
- Zinio - a magazine reader app for Windows 8.1
- WildTangent Games - a portal where you can purchase and download various PC games.
- McAfee LiveSafe - Internet Security - a full security suite from McAfee. Unfortunately, our last experience with their products was very poor, so we advise you to get a better security solution.
Our advice is to test all the applications that are bundled with this laptop and only keep the ones that you really need. Otherwise you risk having your operating system full of apps you don't need and it will only get slower with time.
Performance In Benchmarks
To give you a more objective view on this laptop's performance, we have tested it with a set of benchmarks geared towards different components and usage scenarios. First, we used Bootracer to measure how fast the operating system loads. In our tests, the ASUS ROG G771JM booted, in average, in 25 seconds. Just to be clear, this is the complete boot time measured by Bootracer from the push of the Power button to the moment when all the drivers and start-up applications are loaded. To give you an idea of how fast this is, the average time to the Start Screen on a cold boot was around 5 seconds. The rest of the time was only taken up by the default applications and drivers preloaded on the system. This is an area where the PCI Express SSD drive makes itself noticed. The following test involved simulating a series of daily computing scenarios, such as web browsing, office work, image editing or video chat. To do this, we ran the PCMark 8 benchmark suite on the Home preset. We ran the benchmark on battery power to see how much the battery lasts under these scenarios. The laptop got a 3149 score in this test and the battery lasted for 1 hour and 39 minutes.
To simulate more demanding tasks, such as video editing and multimedia, we also ran the Creative preset. The results were just as good as the previous ones, hitting a score of 3467 and a battery life of 1 hour and 40 minutes.
However, we felt that these tests were a bit too… mild for this powerful laptop. After all, we are talking about a ROG machine geared towards gamers. So we went on and tested the graphics performance with 3DMark Vantage. The performance preset managed to hit a 17640 score, thanks to the GTX 860M.
The most advanced preset, Extreme, managed to hit a score of 9163.
The Metro 2033 benchmark, for instance, was one of the most demanding ones that we ran, and it averaged at around 18 FPS. Take this with a grain of salt though, since the benchmark uses a high number of effects and particles that you don't normally encounter during gameplay at all times. The benchmark in Thief hit an average of 23.9 FPS with all the visual effects enabled and set to the highest possible settings.
OK, we know what you're going to say. You're not buying a gaming laptop to see benchmark results. You buy it to play games. Scores don't mean much for most users. We ran multiple games on the G771JM, such as Crysis 2 and 3, Hitman Absolution, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Battlefield 4 and the results were good. We did our tests using the vsync option enabled so that we avoid tearing effects, and the framerate only dropped below 50 FPS in areas with tens of enemies and a lot of textures. The lowest frame rate was around 20 FPS and we saw it in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, with all the graphic details maxed out. Even though it's an nVidia GeForce GTX 860M card, the bus width is still limited at 128-bit, so in graphically intensive games, you might encounter some framerate drops with all the visuals and effects turned on. Other than that, you shouldn't have problems running most games on high settings. We've also used Powermark to see how long the battery lasts in entertainment usage scenarios, and we got 1 hour and 29 minutes.
We used CrystalDiskMark to see how fast the SSD and the HDD are, and the results were really good, especially when testing the SSD.
The HDD didn't fare too bad either, being a 7200 rpm one.
The G771JM's cooling system performed well during our tests. To stress it out, we used Prime95 to take the CPU to 100% for about an hour and the CPU temperature didn't go higher than 85 degrees Celsius.
We've also stressed out the graphics card using FurMark and the temperatures didn't go higher than 80 degrees Celsius.
Where To Buy
The exhaust is located on the left side of the laptop and that area does get heated during highly intensive usage. Fortunately, the heat is bearable and the cooling system works well enough to dissipate it quickly after the usage level goes back to normal.
The ASUS ROG G771JM is a high-end gaming laptop that packs quite a punch in terms of raw performance. We didn't encounter any serious problems that could be qualified as a deal breaker, hardware or software-wise. However, you need to keep in mind one aspect: this is a Republic Of Gamers machine. It's geared towards gamers who are willing to pay extra for the ROG branding and the build quality that have made this brand famous. This gaming laptop is pricier than other similar configurations from other manufacturers. For the price you pay, you get a lot of storage space together with a very fast SSD, more than enough RAM memory to play your favorite games and good graphics power. The only other downside except the price is its weight - 3.4 kg or 7.49 pounds. If you're a fan of ASUS and ROG, this laptop is definitely a great buy for you. If you're just on the lookout for a good gaming laptop but your budget is not that generous, we advise looking elsewhere.