Asus ROG G501

This gaming laptop is a marketer's dream.

It packs trendy features, such as an Ultra HD (also known as 4K) screen, a slim, portable chassis and the latest PCIe-based solid-state drive (SSD).

But gamers may feel short-changed by its performance. The key component, the graphics chip, is a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M processor. Sure, it will run the latest games, but at relatively modest graphics settings. Gaming at the native screen resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels is a pipe dream. For instance, in Bioshock Infinite (released in 2013), the machine managed only 49.51 frames per second at the highest setting.


    Price: $2,898

    Processor: Intel Core i7-4720HQ (2.6GHz)

    Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M 4GB DDR5

    RAM: 16GB

    Screen: 15.6 inches, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels

    Connectivity: 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card reader, audio jack

    Battery: 96 watt-hour


    Features 4/5

    Design 4/5

    Performance 3/5

    Value for money 3/5

    Battery life 5/5

    Overall 3/5

Frankly, I would not recommend playing the latest games at 4K resolution, at least not on a laptop without dual graphics chips.

Asus' own review guide gives a plausible scenario of how you should use this display. It suggests you play games in windowed mode at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and use the extra screen real estate for apps such as a chat client or Web browser.

This may work for games where you need to refer to online guides, or casual games you can play while also chatting with friends. But doing so breaks the immersive experience provided by the best games. Besides, the Asus' 15-inch screen is not that large to begin with.

On the bright side, the SSD is great. Apps load quickly and file transfers are speedy. It is probably why the laptop scored an impressive 6.052 in PCMark 7, a system benchmark. Unfortunately, the SSD cannot improve gaming performance.

You do have to be selective when installing apps and games as the SSD has only 512GB.

The laptop itself is a sleek black slab with a red trim. It weighs just over 2kg and is almost as thin as a 15-inch ultrabook or Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Predictably for a gaming laptop, the keyboard has a red backlight. The W, A, S and D keys, typically used for movement in shooting games, are highlighted with extra red LEDs around their edges.

The keyboard has the usual multimedia function keys to adjust screen brightness and volume, but there are no extra keys for gaming macros. It has a number pad, but the keys are narrow.

Key travel is good, although I feel Asus should have moved the Windows logo key from its usual left position so that gamers would not hit it accidentally while gaming. There is also no utility to disable the logo key functionality.

As a result of a surprisingly beefy 96 watt-hour battery, this laptop lasted 6hr 42min in our video-loop battery test.

A sleek and portable gaming laptop with surprisingly good battery life. But I am sceptical about the usefulness of its 4K display.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'Asus ROG G501'. Print Edition | Subscribe