Gamers Unite, with ASUS ROG Series Desktops and Laptops

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Gamers expect a lot for their systems, and they pay a premium to meet or exceed those expectations. They’re one of the few niche PC consumers who still look for desktops that serve a singular purpose. Whereas mass consumer desktop sales are mostly based on screen size, multimedia options, and productivity software, gamers want good looks and top speed. Throw in cool options and you may sway some of them, but manufacturers have to be careful—they can smell a wolf in cheap clothing from a mile away, and know an underpowered system when they see one.

The manufacturers who understand gamers understand that you load your machine with power and premiums first, starting with the graphics-card options and moving on to the processor, RAM, and then, storage. But we’re starting to see a trend in which the manufacturer will scale down the extras and offer spartan systems that focus on the core: power and performance, and not much else. ASUS is definitely leading the charge, offering up meaty desktop gaming systems that are competitively priced, while still delivering just the marrow.

The new G20 desktops offer a decent base system, sans monitor, and deliver a solid processor and reliable graphic card. The ASUS ROG G20AJ-US006S ROG Desktop PC is part of a far more expansive ROG line (ROG stands for Republic of Gamers), but this base model offers a respectable engine with a 3.5GHz Intel® Core™ i3 4150 dual-core processor with a 3MB L3 cache, 8GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM and a 7200 rpm 1TB hard drive. As we mentioned, there is no monitor, but there is an NVIDIA GeForce GTX745 with 4GB of dedicated RAM to power through demanding gaming graphics. This card is only manufactured as OEM, which means the public can’t buy it—they are supplied directly to the manufacturers. The unique thing about this card is its size and power. It is equipped with its own fan, and has 384 CUDA cores, similar to the much larger GTX 640 series—but only uses 55W of power, so it’s not a drain on the PSU. Gamers looking for something that can run almost any game on the highest settings may want to keep looking. This card isn’t made for that scenario. It does, however, support up to three displays, with a maximum digital support of 4096 x 2160 at 24Hz over HDMI, and it does support 3D gaming.

The extras we’ve come to expect are in here, including a SuperMulti DVD burner, four USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0 ports (8 USB ports total) and 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet, along with 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. But the real standout is the look and design of the system. The compact monolithic Mayan-inspired desktop is lit on three zones: the front panel, and decorative lighted piping on both sides and along the bottom. You can customize the lighting via software for up to 8 million color combinations.  At only 13" tall and 4" wide, this desktop looks more like a piece of ethereal artwork than a gaming chassis. The front of the unit is creased down the middle, and in that crease you will find  the power button, a slim tray optical disk drive, two USB 3.0 ports, microphone jack and a headphone jack.

The back of the unit has another two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, the RJ-45 jack, HDMI output port, and two discrete VGA jacks (including the DVI port). There’s a full array of audio ports, including side, rear and center jacks, microphone and line in and line out jacks. 

The case does not have visible exterior side exhaust vents, which are common on most gaming systems. This is because ASUS has designed a hidden airflow channel into the unit that ensures efficient heat management but, to keep it safe, the system also includes two internal fans for those all-night gaming sessions. The fans don’t really contribute to the noise levels; the system operates at just 22dB when idle.

Another feature of the G20 series is the SonicMaster optimized audio. Most gamers know that great graphics are only enhanced further by great audio, and ASUS combines hardware and software to bring you audio that befits any gunfight, knockout punch, or football stadium crowd. Also included is ROG Audio Wizard sound processing that adds to your audio enhancement customization, with five modes that can be switched on the fly (Warroom, Soundscape, Battlefield, Action, and Multimedia).

For some real muscle under the hood, you’re going to want to investigate the ASUS ROG G20AJ-US009 gaming desktop computer. It starts out by using a more powerful 4th-generation 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-4790 quad core processor with an 8MB cache. With eight threadsm available, hyper-threading will definitely boost your speeds.  It is locked at 3.6 GHz, but can “boost” to 4 GHz when necessary. This configuration includes 8GB of DDR3 1600 MHz RAM, which can be upgraded to 16GB for serious game play.

The hard drive is a 7200 rpm traditional spindle drive with an 8GB SSD cache to help speed up your most often used games and applications.  Load times for heavy duty games like the Battlefield series or Guild Wars 2 should be minimal with the power of the 8GB cache behind it.

The US009 model also upgrades the GPU with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 controller with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 SDRAM. It outshines the GTX 745 with 1152 CUDA cores and a boost clock speed of 1,072MHz. This mid-range card will offer plenty of help with graphic-intense games, and includes adaptive temperature control protocols to minimize fan fluctuations and keep your fan running cooler. The card is capable of output resolutions of 4096 x 2160 at 24Hz over HDMI or 4096 x 2160 at 60Hz over DisplayPort.

Oddly enough, there are two power jacks in the back, one 180W and one 230W, in case you upgrade the card and need separate power (this mostly applies to systems with an NVIDIA GTX 760 card and above). To that end, ASUS provides a unique ROG-branded bracket to conveniently hold the two power bricks together.

Another addition to the ROG G20 series is the compact Intel I218 series Gigabit Ethernet controllers that are made for small form factor computers that have limited space and power constraints. It delivers a 1Gbps date rate, but is soldered on to the C220 chipset on the motherboard, ensuring faster speed and reliability, and relies less on the main processor. It’s paired with the GameFirst II technology that ASUS developed. GameFirst II is a software-enabled traffic enhancer, using the cFosSpeed suite of programs to allow the user to lower lag—even if they don’t understand the process—or allow tweakers to customize and control every variance in the their traffic. ASUS claims it allows users to reduce latency that’s eight times lower than standard Ethernet. That’s a serious claim that hardcore gamers will be testing thoroughly if they purchase one of these machines.

There’s also an ASUS-exclusive Aegis Performance monitoring application that helps you to maintain and monitor the performance of your rig through an easy-to-use GUI. You can track and monitor CPU and memory usage, identify and correct temperature and voltage thresholds, and even spot-check Internet downloads and uploads.  You can also set all maintenance levels to automatic and let the Aegis do the work.

ASUS G20AJ-US006S ROG Gaming Desktop Computer ASUS G20AJ-US0009S ROG Gaming Desktop Computer
Performance
Processor 3.5GHz Intel® Core™ i3 4150 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-4790 Quad-Core
Cache L3: 3MB L3: 8MB
System Bus 5GT/s
Chipset Socket: FCLGA1150
Type: H97
Memory Slots: 2
Type: 1600 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Installed: 8GB
Graphics Card Type: Dedicated
Installed: NVIDIA GeForce GTX745 with 4GB Installed: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 with 2GB GDDR5 SDRAM
Storage
Hard Drive Bays: 1x
Installed: 1TB 7200 rpm Installed: 1TB 7200 rpm with 8GB SSD Cache
Type: SATA
Optical Drive Slim Tray-Load SuperMulti DVD Burner
PCI Expansion Quantity: 1
Type: PCIe x16
Inputs/Outputs
Ports 2x USB 3.0 (A) (Front)
2x USB 3.0 (A) (Rear)
4x USB 2.0 (A) (Rear)
Display 1x HDMI-out
1x VGA
1x DVI
  No DisplayPort 1x DisplayPort
Audio 1x 1/8" (3.5mm) Microphone Input
1x 1/8" (3.5mm) Headphone Output
1x  1/8" (3.5mm) 8 Channel Audio
Communications
Network 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45)
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Keyboard & Mouse
Keyboard Type: Full-Size, Numeric Keypad
Mouse USB
General
Operating System Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
Power Supply 180 W 230 W
Dimensions (WxHxD) 4.1 x 13.4 x 14.1" / 10.4 x 34.0 x 35.8 cm
Weight 6.4 lb / 2.90 kg 14.07 lb / 6.38 kg

Gaming on the Go

ASUS puts some power behind its new portable gaming stations, as well. Each of the ASUS ROG GL Series gaming laptops features a ripped processor in the 4th-generation 2.5GHz Intel Quad Core i7-4710HQ chip with a 6MB L3 cache, and 16GB of hardcore DDR3 1600 MHz RAM. The GL551JM-DH71 model features a 1TB 7200 rpm hard drive, while the GL551JM-EH71 model features a 256GB solid-state drive. All of their other specs match up equally.

And they’re equally impressive, from the 15.6" Full HD 1920 x 1080 backlit LED display, to the one piece backlit keyboard with the ROG signature red piping. But most impressive is the dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M graphics controller with Optimus Technology. This is a mid-tier card for mobile gaming stations and, performance-wise, sits squarely between the 850M and 870M with up to 1152 CUDA cores and a base clock speed of 797 that can be boosted to 1029 MHz. The card in both these models comes equipped with 2GB of DDR5 memory on board. The Optimus Technology automatically switches between discrete and integrated graphics to maximize the battery life, so playing Plants vs. Zombies can be done from the integrated graphics controller on the processor, while playing Bioshock Infinite at full 1080p with settings at max can be accomplished with the NVIDIA card in charge.

Other standards on these units include a DL DVD±RW/CD-RW Optical Drive, 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, built-in webcam, mic, and speakers (with integrated SonicMaster Technology) and USB 3.0, HDMI and DisplayPort terminals. The laptops also include the ROG AudioWIzard feature for the desktops, allowing for sound customization that fits your specific needs.

ASUS knows gaming, and the needs of gamers. What they offer here are four systems that could easily satisfy your game jones-ing, but does so in either a compact and space-saving desktop box or a recognizable red-infused laptop case that identifies an ROG system. Either way, whether at your desk or on the road, they make sure the fun doesn’t have to stop.

  ASUS GL551JM-DH71 15.6" Gaming Notebook Computer ASUS GL551JM-EH71 15.6" Gaming Notebook Computer 
Performance
Processor 2.5GHz Intel Quad-Core i7-4710HQ
Cache L3: 6MB
System Bus 5GT/s
Memory Type: DDR3 SDRAM
Installed: 16GB
Graphics Card Type: Dedicated
Installed: NVIDIA GTX 860M with 2GB
Display
Type Led Backlit
Size 15.6"
Native Resolution 1920 x 1080
Storage
Hard Drive Installed: 1TB 7200 rpm Installed: 256GB SSD
Optical Drive CD/DVD-ROM Combo Drive with Dual Layer Support
Input/Output Connectors
Ports 3x USB 3.0 (A)
Display 1x Mini DisplayPort
1x HDMI
Audio 1x 1/8" (3.5mm) Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack
Flash Media Slot 1x SD
1x MMC
1x Memory Stick
Communications
Network 1x 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45)
Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Webcam Yes
1.2MP Photo
General
Operating System Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
Keyboard Features: Backlight
Pointing Device TouchPad
Battery 6-Cell Built-In Lithium-Ion  Providing up to 5 Hours per Charge
Dimensions (WxHxD) 15.0 x 10.0 x 1.3" / 38.1 x 25.4 x 3.3 cm
Weight 6 lb / 2.72 kg