So here is a review of an Asus G72GX-RBBX05. If you have any questions or want information/pictures that is missing from this review, feel free to ask!
For lots of benchmark results and further temperature recording, see Tim4's review!
I bought this unit new from Best Buy. I upgraded from a Gateway P-7805u.
The basic specs are:
Windows 7 Home Premium
Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53Ghz
nVidia GTX 260M 1GB
17.3" Widescreen LCD 1600x900
6GB DDR2 RAM
Coming from my P-7805u (and occasional use of my wife's HP dv7), this Asus is absolutely awesome in it's build quality and design. It is fairly light for it's size, at just over 9lbs, but it is very rigid and solid. You can pick up the laptop from one corner and it virtually does not flex at all. Similarly, the touchpad and surrounding areas are very solid to the touch, and show no sign of flex during normal use. The LCD lid does flex some, but not more than any other 17" laptop I've ever used. The Republic of Gamers logo lights up blue, as does a small bar that lines up against the brushed aluminum section. It's pretty subtle I guess, but adds a nice amount of "look at me" without being ridiculous.
Aside from that strip of brushed aluminum on the LCD lid, the entire surface is plastic with a glossy finish. This means dust and lots of fingerprints. So far, the dust build up has not been very apparent, but fingerprints are. There is a little microfiber cloth included to keep it clean, but don't expect it to shine all the time.
The touchpad is flush with the rest of the palmrest area, but has little dimples to give it texture. It's a nice large size and tracks very well. I love the gesture capabilities of Windows 7, and the touchpad functions well here too. Furthermore, the top of the G72GX remains completely cool to the touch, even while gaming. This is a major plus, as my P-7805u would become uncomfortably warm even under extended normal use.
The keyboard is a chiclet style, and it works well. Key strokes are easy, but feel solid and keep a muted tone. It's also has an adjustable LED back light, which is a really nice feature.
The 1600x900 LCD is great. Honestly, I don't know why people complain about 16:9 screens. This is a great medium-high resolution for a laptop; games look awesome and I feel that I have plenty of screen real estate to work easily. I use Writer and Calc a lot for college, and do basic image editing (photography's a light hobby), and I never feel constricted on this screen.
Ports-a-plenty, covered up nicely. There is a little plastic hatch that covers the ports on each side on the laptop. Some may find this hard to open, especially if you have really short fingernails. It looks pleasing though, and I don't mind the protection for the ports even though I've never had a problem before.
On the right side there is an Express Card slot, wireless On/Off switch, 2 headphone jacks (one is also S/PDIF capable), 1 mic port, and 2 USB ports.
On the left side there is are 2 more USB ports, 1 Firewire, SD slot, and the DVD drive.
Finally, the back has the power port, exhaust vent, HDMI, e-SATA, VGA, LAN, and a lock.
Underneath we get to the heart of the beast. The layout here is very unique I think, but it works well. The battery is actually located underneath the palmrest area at the front of the laptop. Also interesting, but a non-issue, is that the hard drives are not next to each other. Also, the laptop does not come with a bracket assembly for a second hard drive. So if you want to put another hard drive in, you will need to call Asus or go searching for the bracket.
The cooling system uses heatpipes from both the CPU and GPU to one heatsink. There is only one fan, but it get's the job done. As for cooling, even though the system works well enough, it could probably have been a lot better if Asus had opened up the bottom panel more. There are only a few slots for air, but they are positioned over the large aluminum heatsink to draw air over it.
Here are closeups of the cooling system and the memory. Everything is easy to get to, should you want to upgrade the RAM or CPU, or need to get in there and clean it out.
This laptop performs great for it's price. The combination of an overclockable CPU and the GTX 260m is a good match. Those looking for quad-core processing can get it in the RBBX09 model. An odd note though for the GPU is the fact that Asus actually underclocked it, likely for heat related issues.
The Asus default for the GPU is 500/800/1250, compared to nVidia's reference speeds of 550/950/1375. It my testing, both speeds maintain normal operating temperatures, although it's pushing it close when overclocked. The CPU runs at 2.53GHz, but can be overclocked easily with an Asus utility. The highest speed from this tool is 2.9GHz flat, although I believe you can use SetFSB or other tools to go higher if you choose.
Speaking of heat, here's a chart. These are overclocked conditions. CPU: 2.9Ghz, GPU 550/950/1375. "Stock" means just the laptop by itself, "NZXT" is when it was sitting on my Cryo NZXT cooler. Using the cooler makes overclocking easier on mind. The temps are a little high for me when not using the cooler. Not unsafe for the hardware per say, but still...
Did a special test of cooling with the bottom plastic cover off. When overclocked, the new temps were:
CPU: Idle - 30C / Load - 63C
GPU: Idle - 49C / Load - 72C
I think I will try to make a custom bottom panel to open up the air flow more. That was a big drop in temps, a total of -12C/-13C under load from stock cooling.
At stock speeds, the laptop is a solid performer, and it gets a little better with overclocking. I play Modern Warfare 2 maxed with 4xAA and L4D2 maxed with 8xAA. I haven't played anything else on this laptop yet. Overclocking the CPU and GPU helps, but not necessarily by a whole lot. For most games, you will likely be able to raise a few settings, or bump up the resolution/AA a notch and still maintain the same frame rate. 3DMark06 was 10,191 stock, and 11,561 overclocked. 3DMark Vantage posted 6006 when overclocked. The freedom to overclock, whatever the gain, is great though.
Overall, I really like this laptop so far. I think the performance and design qualities are great for laptop in this price range. I'd get it over the new Gateway P-79xx series any day of the week, even if it is a bit more expensive. For me it get's a straight 10/10.