Sandy Bridge was a great development for portable machines. The improved processing power mixed with lower operating temps and power consumption. Glorious. Unfortunately, the new technology also made apps like SetFSB incompatible, so we no longer can overclock our CPU's. At first I was somewhat disappointed, but later on I decided it didn't matter. At stock settings, these Sandy's were still outperforming my OC'd i7 740QM's.
Besides, there's always the GPU to play with to satisfy my OC needs. Plus, the HM65 chipset supports faster RAM speeds. (DDR3-1600 and DDR3-1866 to be precise.) The unit comes with 8GB of DDR3-1333, which for most people and gamers, is quite enough. Power users and graphic artists will want to upgrade, and can do so up to 16GB if desired. The model here was upgraded to 16GB of DDR3-1866, courtesy of Kingston Hyperx PnP modules.
Getting down to basics, the G73SW-A1 sports a 2630QM processor which runs stock at 2.0GHz, with a 2.9GHz TurboBoost max, and sports a 6MB cache. 8GB DDR3-1333 memory, with 2 slots in the front, and 2 in the back. Some models have come with 4 banks of 2GB, and some with 2 banks of 4 GB. (The model here had 4x2GB) The port configuration is the same as the JW model, with 3x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4 port, mic port, headphone port that doubles as a toslink port, VGA port, multicard reader, and a 1Gb LAN port. Comes with a BluRay capable reader, and multi-DVD burner ODD. Storage are handled by dual Momentus XT Hybrid NAND 500GB drives, for those quick SSD-like boot times. (The HM65 does not support RAID) It also sports a NVIDIA GTX-460M with 1.5GB GDDR5. (Which OC's better than the JW edition due to a newer vBIOS.)
The touchpad has the pleasant soft-touch dual-button configuration by Synaptics, with all the gestures supported. The panel is the classic 1920x1080 FullHD Glossy that Asus is known for in this series. Same rich color, slightly skewed to the blue hew (run the Windows 7 Color Calibrator Wizard to adjust or download my profile), and great viewing angles. Audio is supplied by Realtek's ALC269 solution (100db SNR headphone port), paired with a 2.1 Altec Lansing in-case speaker system, with 2" satellite & 3" woofer drivers. For laptop speakers, they do a very decent job in giving a satisfying experience for both gaming and music. Most laptop solutions aren't very satisfying in my experience. Audio nuts will use headphones or powered external speaker systems, possibly combined with USB external sound solutions. I'll get to upgrades later.
The external case is the same for the G73 series, which is a good thing. It's a very popular design, and it's rubberized and subdued, stealth fighter appearance is welcome by both gamers, and in the office. No flash or bling here, which is most welcome. The cooling system is the same G73 case design that offers excellent cooling performance. How many laptops do you know of that are gaming rigs, that you can use on your bare skin lap with no cooler, at full load? Not many at all, let me assure you. The system has dual fans, each dedicated to either the GPU or CPU. Air is drawn in from underneath, and from the top (vents are located in both corners under the panel) and the front subwoofer port. This design allows the unit to be placed on a bed and still function without overheating much. Comforters will still cause temps to rise, however, tho at stock settings shouldn't present too much of an issue. I still prefer to elevate it a bit when placed on comforters.
Now we get into why I love Sandy Bridge laptops. It can compete with performance levels matching desktop 1st Gen Intel cpu's, if the cpu is not overclocked on the desktop. And no need to overclock, which is fortunate because you can't overclock on a H67M chipset. (At least no one has figured out how to yet). My video recode tests show that the 2630QM performs about on par with a stock i7 950. Games hardly task the unit, except for heavy CPU-load games, like Civilization V.
The other awesome contender is the GPU. This revision of Asus' GTX460M can overclock better than the previous ones made for the JW series. The one here overclocks to 874 / 1674 / 1747 (core/memory/shader, and the shader and clock speeds are tied together), with atypical overclocks around 850-860 / 1700. My overclock would be about 29.5% over stock, which is 675/1250.
The model I am reviewing here has been upgraded with 16GB of Kingston HyperX PnP DDR3-1866 memory modules. The HM65 chipset supports 1600 and 1866 RAM speeds, unlike Gen1 Notebook chipsets. For more information, please refer to my review of the 1866 RAM here.
So, how well does it perform? Here's a comparison using the various 3DMark Tests, with stock speeds versus my 874/1674 Overclock: