If you are out in the market for a premium gaming laptop and are overwhelmed by the vast selection of brands and models, then it is often a clever idea to look for a gaming laptop that provides the best bang for the buck in the price range that you are targeting. Most gaming laptops excel in some areas, but disappoint in others. For example, a gaming laptop can either be extremely powerful and bulky at the same time, or super slim and lightweight but underwhelming in terms of raw gaming power.
Making the right purchase decision is all about cutting away as many compromises as you can, while trying to get the features that you need. However, ASUS has come up with a 15.6” gaming laptop that might be one of the best no-compromises gaming laptops we have ever seen. It is the FX502VM-AS73, priced at a point where most gaming laptop enthusiasts will be able to afford it.
It is not super cheap, nor is it very expensive at just under 1200 bucks. It comes with a superb graphics unit that allows you to run all of the latest AAA titles at maximum settings, while your gaming experience is further enhanced by the breathtaking color accuracy and contrast ratios of this laptop’s beautiful 15.6” 178° wide view FHD panel.
Before we talk about the design and build quality of this ASUS gaming laptop, you need to know what you are getting when you buy one of these. The processor is an Intel Core i7- 7700HQ. This is the latest 7th generation Core i7 quad core, 8-thread laptop processor that Intel has right now. You will be able to multitask and play power-hungry games quite effortlessly with this beast of a mobile CPU, thanks to its 6 MB of L3 cache and generous 2.8 GHz base clock speed, which will automatically boost all the way up to a massive 3.8 GHz when the application demands extra power.
Thanks to its 14nm lithography process and ultra-efficient design, the 7700HQ has a TDP of just 45 watts- meaning that the 6-cell Li-ion battery pack which powers the ASUS FX502VM will easily run this machine for over 4.5-5 hours under light loads such as movie viewing, browsing, document work, etc. Even while playing power hungry games or doing stuff like photo or video editing, the battery life should be around 1.5-2 hours (this laptop is loaded with extremely powerful hardware and has high power requirement).
For the graphics unit, we have a NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 graphics chip loaded with its own dedicated video memory on board. This means you can run all the latest games at high or very high settings and enjoy a smooth 60+ fps. Never has high end mobile gaming been this affordable, 4-5 years back you would have to spend at least 2500-3000 dollars on a laptop if you wanted a machine capable of running all the latest games of that time at ultra-settings.
Now, thanks to NVIDIA PASCAL GPU architecture, graphics chips have become more powerful, while also becoming smaller, cooler, and more power efficient. This allows engineers to fit full-fledged desktop graphics chips inside small form factor enclosures such as a laptop without overheating the laptop or drawing too much battery power. This is not a cut-down mobile version of the GTX 1060, it packs all the 1280 CUDA cores, has the full 192-bit memory interface, runs a base clock of 1506 MHz on the core, and with NVIDIA BOOST version 3.0, it can easily hit speeds of more than 1700 MHz with some good cooling.
Talking of good cooling, this laptop has one of the best cooling systems in its class. We shall talk about how the cooling system of this laptop is designed and how effective it is in the next section of this article, for now all you need to know is that the GPU and CPU combination in this beast is probably the best that you can get at this price. If you are buying based on performance alone, and this laptop fits in your budget then stop reading the article right now and go buy the FX502VM-AS73.
Build Quality and Design:
ASUS has never disappointed in terms of build quality, and we have owned multiple ASUS laptops from all price segments in the past, so we know what we are talking about. The one thing that you are guaranteed when you buy an ASUS laptop is solid build quality. And of course, the cooling is also the best of any other OEM that we have ever seen. ASUS has implemented what they call a “HYPER COOL DUO-COPPER” cooling system. It is quite like the COOLER BOOST technology of MSI, since this laptop has got a total of 2 fans, one each dedicated to the CPU and GPU respectively.
This results in even cooling across the motherboard. ASUS has implemented multiple high quality, thick copper heat pipes leading from the heatsinks on the chips to the fans. The fans speeds are controlled by intelligent thermal sensor systems on the board that detect the temperatures of the GPU and CPU and ramp up or slow down the fans in real time to ensure maximum power efficiency and minimum noise emission.
The cooling is top-class so your lap never feels the heat when you play with the laptop sitting on your legs. The exhaust grill is in the back, while the air intakes are smartly concealed beneath the base and towards the front, resulting in optimal airflow from all positions. The keyboard on this laptop is an absolute masterpiece. It does not have the fancy RGB customizable backlighting since the whole keyboard only glows in red, but that fits in nicely with the matte black finish of the rest of the laptop.
Red and black is a combination we all love, and even the touchpad has a red LED outline around it that lights up in the dark. Each single key is customizable, you can assign macros and execute a series of button presses with just one button from the macro editor in the built-in ROG software. Lighting can be dimmed or turned on/ off, while the function keys have media functions on them. The chiclet keyboard of this laptop is designed to be tactile and responsive for gaming, which is why the travel distance is just 1.6mm- you press a key and the action registers almost instantly.
The WASD keys are highlighted so you are always comfortable with your hand position while playing most games. The microphones on this laptop are arranged in an array to filter out ambient noise so your voice is heard clearly despite the environment you are sitting in. The audio is provided by ICEPOWER and packs a nice balance of bass along with sufficient treble and clarity and both high and low volumes.
Storage and Connectivity:
This version of the FX502VM comes with a 128 GB SATA HDD that makes for an optimal boot drive, and you also get a 5400 RPM 1 TB mass storage hard drive for all your movies, game setups, photos, etc. You get 16 GB of high speed 2133 MHz DDR4 RAM on this laptop, enough for gaming as well as productivity (photo editing, video encoding and manipulation, 3D modelling, etc.).
There is the option to upgrade the RAM up to 32 GB, since RAM slots are free on the motherboard and this laptop supports up to 32 GB if you want. DDR4 RAM is cheap these days, and you can do the installation yourself since this laptop has a base panel held by just one screw that you can remove to access and upgrade both the mass storage as well as the RAM.
For connectivity, we have a HDMI 1.4 port, along with a mini Display Port and 2 USB 3.0 ports. There is 802.11 AC WIFI for the best in wireless networking, along with Bluetooth 4.1 and a SD card reader for all your office documents and photos.
Gaming performance is top-notch thanks to the powerful CPU and GPU- you can run all the latest titles such as Prey, GTA V, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Forza Horizon 3, etc. at maximum settings and 60+ fps. Windows 10 Home 64-bit comes preinstalled so you don’t have to worry about anything- just take the laptop out of the box, install games on the SSD at lightning fast speeds (not to mention, games loading times are non-existent because of that 128 GB SSD), and start playing on the 15.6” 1080p display. The incredible ICEPOWER audio, and fully backlit gaming chiclet keyboard serves as the cherry on the cake, ensuring a premium gaming experience that few laptops can hope to deliver at this price.
Conclusion and Final Verdict:
For the price that this laptop is currently available at, we can’t really see any reason as to why you would not want to buy this machine. It weighs just 2.2 kg with the battery installed, and is a mere 22.5 mm thick with the lid closed. Brushed aluminum panels around the keyboard give it a premium feel and look, while the gaming performance rivals laptops that cost 30-40% more. The CPU is an Intel Core i7 7700HQ (7th generation), and you also get an SSD that you can use as your boot/ game drive. Cooling is amazing, and the display is brilliant. All things considered, this is a great deal.