ASUS G56 reviewed – sleek and portable gaming 
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Zoe Hawkins
May 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Gaming notebooks are a bit of a strange hybrid. We expect the portability of a laptop with the performance of a proper gaming rig. They need to be lightweight, while still boasting all the bells and whistles we’ve come to know and love. The ASUS G56 aims to give you all that – fantastic gaming power in a pretty, light and well designed portable package. So, how does it stack up?

See me, hear me, touch me

G56 keyboard

Upon opening the box, I was struck by the sleek design of it all. The G56 has that smooth, spun finish, making it practically beg you to touch it. The one-piece keyboard sports an adjustable red backlight for gaming in the dark, although in all honesty the backlighting like that doesn’t make much of a difference for actual gaming – it just looks pretty so if you take it to a LAN you can also show off your flashing lights.

The screen certainly sets this notebook apart. With a 178-degree viewing angle and anti-glare, you can always see what’s going on, not matter what bizarre angle you like to game from. Going full HD on this screen made my eyeballs happy in a way I don’t expect to get from a notebook screen.

However, possibly the best design choice comes from the sound. Notebook speakers are notorious, but gamers expect high end sound and don’t always have the best headsets on hand. Instead, the G56 comes bundled with an external subwoofer. Of course this pumps up the bass, and makes for a much improved audio experience as you are able to get much more volume, as well as frequency range, out of the notebook.

G56 subwoofer

Then there is the matter of weight and size. it’s 15.6 inches (39.6cm) and weighs 2.7kgs (5.6 lbs). It certainly is portable, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend gaming with it on your lap. It feels best when used on a desk or at least coffee table – despite the range of view and comfortable design, it just isn’t ideal (especially with that subwoofer) for couch gaming. Plus, despite having an excellent track pad, it still just isn’t comfortable to game seriously without a mouse in hand.

The battery power, unfortunately, is also less than stellar. Despite lowering performance levels to allow for longer battery life, I still only managed about two hours of gaming before I received those “your battery is about to die” warnings. Sure, it’s enough for a quick round of multiplayer, but it didn’t even last me an entire Civ V game. So, if your portable needs include the use of a flat surface and power source, you will be fine, but if you are expecting to take this gaming PC on the road, its endurance might not match yours.

What’s in the box?

The G56 is more than just a pretty face, it has some decent power under the hood. Sporting a powerful Intel Core i7 Haswell processor, it avoids all the pitfalls of the Sandy or Ivy bridge. Additionally, it has an integrated Intel HD4600 iGPU for normal day to day tasks (internet browsing, Skype, actual work) or when the machine is on battery power. Then, it switches over to the supped up NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M for more demanding applications – like games.

The dedicated GPU is a mid-end chip – it is perfectly serviceable for most gaming, but you may need to tweak some of your settings, especially if you want to run at 1080p. I was able to run all my usual PC games at high graphic settings (although generally with reduced textures) and they ran with buttery smoothness. Of course, anecdotal results are meaningless, so I also ran some (equally meaningless) benchmarking tests.

Benchmark 1

3DMark runs three tests with increasing stresses on the system. The first test, Icestorm, received a score of 98 137. This is a top score (way above the norm) and was a delight to behold as the graphics test ran at an average of about 700 fps and the physics test ran at 132 fps. Of course, as things got harder, there was a difference. The next test, Cloud Gate, got a score of 12 092, which seemed to be high quality, but also fairly standard for people running this test: graphics ran at an average of 70 fps on this one, with physics chugging along at 20 fps. Finally, we got to Fire Strike, the big daddy of benchmarking tests. This test threw all the pixels at the machine, and I must admit that the G56 struggled to keep up. It managed a respectable 2 258 on the test with an average 10 fps on the graphics test and 28 fps for physics. This may sound rough, but it was actually fairly on par with other machines running the same test.

According to 3D Mark, these results mean that while the Notebook definitely doesn’t compare with high end gaming PCs, it is far better than ultralight notebooks and only slightly below the standard of other gaming laptops.

Benchmark 2

That said, benchmarking tools aren’t the end all be all in this game. I was very impressed with the visual fidelity offered by the G56. It was crisp and clear, even with tons of particles flying across the screen. I never experienced any stutter or framerate issues while using the notebook. Sure, it might not stack up to some of the bigger machines, but for a portable gaming machine, it can certainly hold its own.

The ASUS G56JR comes standard with Windows 8. Beyond that, ASUS is generous to give you a plethora of their own software. This ranges from video editing to audio wizardry. It even has USB charger+ which takes advantage of the USB 3 ports to help your USB devices charge faster. Users also get access to ASUS WebStorage, their very own cloud.

G56 behind open

Technical Specs

  • Processor: Intel Core i7 4700HQ
  • CPU: @2.40GHz (8 CPUs)
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 760M
  • Memory:8192MB RAM
  • Display: 15.6 inch, 16:9, 1920×1080 pixels
  • Weight: 2.7 kgs
  • RRP: R14 999

Verdict

G56 edges

When you get down to it, the G56 is not the most powerful machine, nor does it have the longest battery life. However, it is strong enough to handle most of the games you could throw at it, offering fantastic visuals and audio, as well as an excellent feeling keyboard. Coming in at about R15k, it’s way more affordable than your average gaming notebook, and has the ASUS durability behind it.

If you are looking for a laptop that you can use for gaming, as well as use for business and leisure, this might just be the machine you’re looking for.

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • Admiral Chief in Space

    R15k? Wonder if I can get this instead of a Dell again at work….seeing as I do procurement as well, I may just do this!

    • Brady miaau

      Dell works for me. It breaks, they come and fix, at my house or office. For 4 years after purchase. And I broke it by accident, they still paid for new screen

      • Admiral Chief in Space

        Yeah, Dell actually swapped my MB today at work, and brought me new long life battery, free of charge.
        Damn thing still overheats though :/

  • Kromas

    Yeah …… No

  • Hammersteyn

    But can it run…. ag whatever.

    • VampyreSquirrel

      Chances are high that it’ll run Crysis.

      • Hammersteyn

        For $15K it better

        • Admiral Chief in Space

          For $15k it should run 10 of them simultaneously, but R15k, that’s another story

          #trololololol

          • Hammersteyn

            Curse you Admiral.
            *Shakes Fist
            **Arm cramps
            ***Cries in corner

  • VampyreSquirrel

    Very nice review Zoe… is this Gavin’s attempt to get you off your macbook?

    On a side note… I have an HP Envy 15 Touchsmart at home with pretty similar specs, Retail’s around R17k, only real difference is the touch screen… which makes Windows 8 much easier to use. It runs The Witcher 2 on mid gfx, handles my virtual machines (3 of em) which I use for my studies with no issues, and has better battery life than 2 hours :P

    • Admiral Chief in Space

      Glad you like the Envy 15, I’m looking at that perhaps as next work laptop

      • VampyreSquirrel

        just make sure you get the slightly bigger one with the blu-ray player… having to image everything in order to install is a pain.

  • RinceBroken

    Hell Zoe, I didn’t know you spoke Data!

  • Matthew Holliday

    cpu A+
    ram A+
    gfx B-

    that really annoys me…
    is not not too much to ask for to downsize the cpu to a decent i5 with a realistically proportioned gfx?
    I for one am not willing to spend R15k on a laptop, if its not going to max games at its release date.

    • VampyreSquirrel

      You want to max games at release with a laptop? Look at spending R25k+ then

      • Matthew Holliday

        have the prices really shot up that much? R25k is a stupid price.
        why does it HAVE to be an i7? scale that back with a decent i5 and 1 up the gfx card.
        price should be around equal and it would max pretty much anything.
        as a desktop gamer, I could justify 15k for mobility. but 25k for the same performance as my R9k desktop, no chance.

        • VampyreSquirrel

          If you want it with an i5, you’ll need to go custom… like an Alienware (pricey)… you’ll REALLY battle to get a “gaming” laptop with an i5 and a decent gpu.

          • Matthew Holliday

            thats my biggest problem with laptops, even more so than price comparisons, if i wanna upgrade my pc, i just rip a part out and shove a new one in.
            laptops you have to pick from a catalogue cant just stick a new part in.

            and even the gaming laptop catalogues dont cater to gamers. they still stick you with overpowered CPUs and underpowered gfx.

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      That’s my issue as well.. a 760M? CAMMMAAANNNN

      • Matthew Holliday

        exactly, its like they were actively trying to keep it at 128bit to drop performance.
        770m is 192 and the 780 is 256, either of those cards would punch the 760 in the face.

        • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

          The GTX760M isn’t in a MXM slot, it’s soldered into the motherboard. If you wanted larger memory buses and more powerful chips you’d have to put in extra board layers, more traces and more memory chips of a higher density, all of which increases the price.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

      Then you’d end up with something that’s essentially the equivalent of MSI’s GX60/GX70 series, just with a dual-core, hyper-threaded i5 processor. This is what happens when you let Intel dictate the market prices for your end product. When the Maxwell-based GTX860M launches properly, then things will be a bit better.

  • Matewis Jubilai

    Upon quick inspection the header image thing looked like a brand new console that I somehow didn’t know anything about. I was like : “Wow! Asus made a console?!?”

  • frikkenator

    I’ve got the Asus N76VM, specs are quite similar. Got it beginning of 2012 and still very happy with it, would definitely grab an Asus again when the time comes.

  • Brady miaau

    I have a gaming laptop, bought in 2010. Not coping so well now: a desktop bought for less than half that in 2011 would have aged much better for gaming. Paid R20k on sale, dell XPS range

    for work and stuff, is great still

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

    R15K for that?

    I bought my PC for much less than that 3 years ago and my gaming performance is far higher. I would not buy this 0_0.

    • Matthew Holliday

      apparently, as desktop gamers, we’re spoilt.
      even without GTAV and TLOU, we’re spoilt.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        Yeah clearly we are. Heh.

  • Lupus

    My laptop has pretty decent specs except the GFX, for some reason they slap in good cpu, good amount of RAM, SSD and HDD but then iddy biddy 7700m