ASUS’s Republic Of Gamers (ROG) division has produced some seriously hardcore products, most recently the monster MARS II graphics card (current retail price: S$2500), so you should know when it comes to gaming machines, they don't mess around. The latest entry to their high-end gaming notebook range is the G74SX, a monstrous black beast packing an Intel Core i7-2670QM (2.2GHz) processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M graphics module with a massive 3GB video RAM, dual 500GB Momentus Seagate hybrid drives (HDD drives with a 4GB SSD cache) and a full HD, 17.3-inch display with NVIDIA 3D Vision technology.
With a matte black rubberized finish and angular, sloping edges the G74SX looks like a stealth bomber. It also somewhat reminded us of some of Alienware’s designs but without the attributes that attract attention, like flashing lights or gaudy colors.
While we liked the exterior styling, opening up the G74SX was a bit disappointing. Aside from the track pad and keyboard, the sparse, feature-free interior has only a power button, a ROG logo button (more on that below) and some status light indicators - definitely not the most exciting interior, which isn’t helped by the thick, matte black bezel surrounding the screen.
The full-sized, backlit, chiclet keyboard sits on a strip of dark grey brushed aluminum across the middle of the notebook. While the keys are well-sized, with lots of space between them and a fairly firm response, we did notice some slight wiggling when typing.
The entire interior sits on a 5-degree slope, which theoretically puts the keyboard in a more comfortable position for typing, but in practice it didn't seem to make much difference.
The track pad is large, utilizing most of the height of the wrist rest, but other than its size, we weren’t too impressed. Cursor tracking was generally acceptable, but gestures for middle click, and two-finger scrolling worked erratically at best. Additionally, the buttons were overly soft and mushy with poor tactile feedback.
Fortunately, the G74SX comes packaged with ASUS’s own ROG gaming mouse, a 3200 DPI 6-button ergonomic mouse that gets the job done much better:
The only other buttons you'll find inside the G74SX are the power button and the ROG logo button which has a multi-function use. With the notebook powered off, hitting it will load up ASUS's quick launch mobile OS, which has a few basic applications and isn't terribly useful.
When Windows is already loaded, the button serves as a quick and easy way of switching between different settings. Pressing it will toggle through Power-Saving mode (screen brightness and audio reduced, uses integrated GPU), Gaming mode (uses NVIDIA GPU, full screen brightness/audio, fans at full blast), and Quiet mode (audio off, fans low). Each selection is accompanied by an onscreen display change indicating your current setting. It's similar to the mode dial we saw on Samsung's Series 7 700G7A and we appreciated the ease with which we could switch between different settings.