On the left side of the machine there is an optical drive (bluray on this machine), headphone and microphone jacks and two USB 2.0 ports. At the rear is a security locking system.
On the right side of the notebook is the power connector, LAN port, HDMI port, VGA port and two USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0 capable. We would have hoped that both these ports would be USB 3.0 capable, but sadly not. There is also a 5 in 1 card reader on the right side of the laptop.
Stickers galore. We don’t know the reason that PC makers need to plaster their machines with company branding like this. Apple have had the right stance with this for years. Of course they can be removed, but they normally leave residue which takes a lot of effort to remove properly.
The power switch is situated above the keyboard, recessed at the right side.
The finish of the machine looks great in pictures, but it is surprisingly prone to fingerprints and marks. These can be removed easily enough with a cleaning cloth. The surface feels very like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 which we reviewed a few months ago.
Bottom left, near the trackpad are activity lights for wireless, hard drive and battery status. The trackpad itself is very good, offering tactile feedback. The buttons underneath are responsive and feel good to use. We would never rely on a trackpad when working for long durations, but it is perfectly useable for light duties when traveling.
The LED 1920×1080 screen is really impressive and isn’t quite as reflective as some we have used in recent months, which is a bonus. The images above, taken in a studio with LED lighting highlight the muted reflectivity of the panel. It is a very clear, sharp screen and rated in the top 10% we have tested. Viewing angles are higher than average and there is only a little backlight bleed bottom right, but it is only slightly noticeable to the naked eye. Black Definition, while not class leading is very good. There is a 2.0 MP web camera built into the top of the screen.
The onboard sound by Altec Lansing is actually decent, generating reasonable volume with a little bass. It certainly won’t replace a good speaker system for indoor duties, but on the move it can be comfortably used to play movie clips and video files.
The chiclet keyboard is a fantastic size and I found it a pleasure to type with, long term. I have big hands and find many laptop keyboards a real chore to use for long periods of time. This keyboard isn’t quite as tactile or responsive as the class leading Lenovo ThinkPad X1 implementation, but it is well above average and accommodates hands of all sizes.
I also love the fact The G74SX keyboard allows offers various levels of backlighting and has a double height return key with full numpad. There is only a little keyboard flex, feeling well made across the full width. Full marks for ASUS for both keyboard and trackpad design.
The battery is an 8 cell unit, rated at 5,200mAh, 74Wh. It can be easily removed from the rear without the need for a screwdriver or tools.
We wish other manufacturers would copy the G74SX chassis design, especially the underside. By simply unscrewing a single bolt by finger a rear panel unclips, giving direct access to the memory modules and hard drives for easy upgrading. When I upgraded memory in the Alienware M18X for instance I had to remove the keyboard from the unit, as two of the four slots are at the front of the chassis. Very time consuming.
Asus are using Samsung memory and two 2.5 inch Western Digital Scorpio WD7500BPKT 750GB hard drives, which are rated at 7,200 rpm with 16 megabytes of cache. These are probably some of the fastest mechanical 2.5 inch drives you can buy, but they are still much slower than a solid state drive.