At Rs 96,000, the ASUS G501V is not a cheap toy. Justifying that price however are beefy specs and a UHD display, both packed into a relatively slim—for a gaming laptop—form factor and lightweight body. But is it the best one for you? Let's find out.
Build and design: 7/10
The laptop is quite nicely built. An all-aluminium body is marred by a plastic hinge that does feel a little flimsy. Moving past that however, you get a simple, black, brushed aluminium finish and red highlights for the trackpad, logo and keyboard.
The keyboard itself is backlit by red lighting.
The left of the device sees a single USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Type C port, as well as an HDMI port and power jack. The right sees two USB 3.0 ports, a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm combo jack. Fairly standard as far as design goes.
Speakers are placed at the bottom and a non-removable battery pack is embedded near the front of the device.
The laptop is quite large, featuring a 15.6-inch screen and is a little heavy, but still lighter than would expect from a beast of a gaming machine.
Keyboard and trackpad: 7/10
The keys on the keyboard are well spaced and respond uniformly to the touch. They're not perfect, but they're very good. The red backlight certainly fits well with the theme and the highlights around the WSAD keys, while gratuitous, are a nice touch. We did appreciate the touchpad, but would have preferred slightly more spacing for the arrow keys because the left arrow key ends up under the 1 key on the numpad.
The trackpad is large and comfortable to use. Using it to scroll and swipe is comfortable and the response was always spot on. The clicks are another matter though. Tap to click wasn't reliable on the entire surface of the trackpad. It was oversensitive in some areas and unresponsive in others. The buttons themselves were fine.
The laptop is slim, but packs in an Intel i7 6700HQ processor, which is a very powerful, 45W TDP processor capable of boosting to 3.5GHz. Also thrown in is 16GB of RAM and a blisteringly fast NVME SSD from Samsung. The graphics horsepower is provided by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M.
The display is a gorgeous UHD display with a resolution of 3840x2160—a bit overkill we might add—and you get two speakers on the bottom. The inlet and exhaust are towards the rear.
You get a grand total of three USB 3.0 ports and for good measure, ASUS threw in a USB Type-C with USB 3.1 and DisplayPort support as well. You get an HDMI port, a multi-card reader and, duh, a webcam.
You don't get a LAN port, but ASUS did provide a USB to LAN adapter. It's certainly a good package for the price.
The display is lovely and extremely sharp, as would be expected from a UHD display. However, it's Windows that lets it down. 4K on a 32-inch display is great when you're using Windows 10 because you won't need to use DPI scaling. On a 15.6-inch screen, you definitely need DPI scaling. Text is so small that you have to squint to read and Microsoft, in all its wisdom, refuses to implement a reasonable scaling mechanism in their OS.
Ignoring Windows' shortcomings however, the display is very good. Everything is crisp and clear and viewing angles are also very good. The display does lose some points for not managing black levels properly though. A great many of the test blocks melded into one.
The average person will have no complaints and unless you're a designer, you won't mind in the least.
One area where the display does suffer is in response time. Our test indicated a very poor response time compared to ASUS' own 1080p laptop displays. This is probably a side-effect of the high-resolution display—we haven't seen many low-latency 4K displays.
Again, the response time is relatively bad and you'll only notice it if you're a hardcore gamer who's dependent on that response time.
Colours, white levels, banding, etc., were all in control and any media looked spectacular on that display.
Purely in terms of gaming in short bursts, the laptop is excellent. We easily crossed the 100fps mark in lighter games like Bioshock Infinite and GRID: Autosport. Hitman: Absolution saw frame-rates between 70 and 80, which was also very good. Metro: Last Light is a very heavy game that brings most gaming desktops to their knees and as expected, the G501V struggled to cross the 50fps mark even at the lowest settings.
All gaming tests were conducted at 720p and as can be seen from the results, the laptop should be able to handle 1080p gaming at medium settings. Gaming at 4K is completely out of the question though. You'd need a 980Ti for that (or maybe even the newer 1070 and 1080), and even then your PC will struggle.
When it comes to storage, the device is very capable as ASUS has seen fit to equip the G501V with a 512GB NVME SSD. That's an M.2 drive running on PCIe 4x lanes. The result? Read and write speeds that exceeded 1500Mbps. You obviously can't take advantage of such speeds in real world scenarios. Does it give you bragging rights? Oh yes it does.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the laptop has major issues with thermal management. While the i7 6700HQ is perfectly capable of ramping up to 3.5GHz, the temperatures under load cross 87 degrees Celsius and the CPU just barely manages to cross the 2.8GHz mark under sustained load. Even under light loads, the laptop never once crossed the 3.1GHz mark.
In bursts, the performance is great. To put the throttling in perspective however, we got 48000 points in 3DMark's IceStorm Extreme, but we only managed 33,000 points when the laptop was heated up. That's a performance drop of 31 percent.
We noticed sudden hiccups throughout our gaming sessions. Sudden frame-rate dips, especially in games like Metro: LL, were the norm. Games like GRID didn't seem to be affected.
This drop in performance was most evident in our video encoding test. A test that took 14 minutes on an i7 6500U (a 15W CPU), took 34 minutes on the ROG G501V's i7 6700HQ (a 45W CPU).
While not a deal-breaker, it certainly feels like you've been cheated out of 20-30% of your performance. It's like buying a 250kph Ferrari and then being told that you can only travel at that speed for a minute at a time because the engine gets too hot.
That 87 degree load temperature will affect your thighs as well. The base of the device would routinely hit 50 degrees Celsius under load, making lap usage very uncomfortable when gaming. Even with regular browsing, the base gets noticeably hot, though not as badly as when gaming.
If the thermal issues weren't bad enough, the laptop's speakers were a major disappointment. ASUS uses a bunch of software to manage the audio "quality," but all it ended up doing was turn the volume down so low that we could barely hear it even in a quiet room. Getting rid of the audio management program brought a noticeable improvement in volume levels, but it still wasn't enough. Audio in movies and YouTube was certainly audible, but that's all that can really be said about it.
In games, the volume levels were simply too low to provide any sort of ambience and a lot of the dialogue in games like The Witcher 3 would get muffled out.
For a device claiming to be a gaming laptop, this is simply not acceptable.
Battery Life: 6.5/10
Our PCMark Home battery test pegged the G501V's battery life at just under 4 hours. This is not a bad result for a laptop as powerful as this one. In real-life usage involving browsing, Word and light gaming, we easily managed 6 hours of usage.
This is a better figure than on the ASUS UX303UB, which actually uses a low-power i5 and a 940M.
Verdict and price in India
The ASUS G501VW offers a good package at its price point. The display is great, the SSD is phenomenal and the laptop isn't actually that thick or heavy for a gaming device. The thermal throttling issues and quiet speakers take away a lot from the overall experience, however.
If you can live with that, this is a great device. If not, you're better off looking elsewhere.
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