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As was noted in our review of the Asus G60J, gaming laptops tend to be about compromise. While processors, memory and storage can all be within comfortable touching distance of desktop equivalents, this is not true for the single most important element for gaming: the graphics card. However, the Asus G73Jh brings a new mobile graphics chip to the table: an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870. This is ATI's fastest mobile graphics chip and, until Nvidia's Fermi makes the transition from the desktop, the fastest in mobile computing, too. It also supports DirectX 11, which will become increasingly important as more games use it. Let's see if the G73Jh can take the heat.
Not content with fast graphics alone, Asus has furnished the G73Jh with an extremely fast overall spec. It pairs a quad-core 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 processor, which Turbo Boosts to up to 2.8GHz, with no less than 8GB of DDR3 RAM - more than on many desktops, and matched only by the Toshiba Qosmio X500-10T. Also like the X500, it features two 500GB hard drives, but in this case they run at a more sensible 7,200rpm rather than the Toshiba's 5,400rpm. A Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), 17.3in screen is just the thing to show off the 5870's graphical prowess, too, and Wirelesss-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR complete an impressive lineup.
Asus claims its G73-line has been inspired by the F117 Nighthawk stealth bomber. This is obvious not only in the laptop's stylish looks but also in its size, which is far larger than the screen would suggest. It's a whopping 31cm deep, largely thanks to the hinge having been moved forward from its traditional position, leaving a lengthy protrusion sticking out the back when the machine is open. Combined with its 42cm width and 3.85kg weight, the G73Jh is every bit the desktop replacement it purports to be.
You'd be right in thinking the extra size means the G73Jh won't fit in most laptop bags, which is why Asus has thoughtfully provided a high-quality Republic of Gamers-branded laptop backpack with the machine. This attractive all-black pack features mesh-padded shoulder straps, a front chest strap, multiple zippered compartments and even a mesh side pocket for carrying bottles. It's no cheap, nasty afterthought. Also included is a decent set of headphones, which only goes to further enhance the bundle's value.
Getting back to the machine, where looks are concerned the G73Jh's stealth aesthetic is responsible for clean, angular lines. There are very few curves to be found here, and we like the understated yet somewhat aggressive effect. We also like the soft-touch matt-black finish on the lid, which not only prevents unsightly fingerprints but also ensures the laptop feels great to carry around.
Opening the G73Jh up, we're greeted by a combination of matt finishes. Gunmetal grey bezels around the screen and keyboard are smooth to the touch, while the raised palm-rest area below the keyboard features a lightly textured surface to prevent sweaty palms from slipping. Build quality is also excellent, with no unwanted flex or creak anywhere.
Again, in keeping with the stealth theme, there's minimal lighting on the Asus G73Jh. A very subtle blue glow beneath the screen isn't even visible in daylight, and aside from the variable-intensity blue-backlit keyboard the only other light sources are the blue-backlit power button and special function buttons, one of which can turn the lighting off altogether.