Gaming PCs have come a long way from the stuff of hardcore hobbyists and builders to the stuff of the masses. Smaller, faster and more efficient components have made capable gaming laptops commonplace. The heavy, bulky gaming laptops of the past have given way to sleek, portable designs with an emphasis on style as well as performance.
When it comes to gaming, graphics are king, and manufacturers are moving toward Ultra HD screens. The Asus Republic of Gaming G501 is one such laptop following the trend and positions itself alongside machines like the Razer Blade 2015, sporting a 4K resolution that, unfortunately, adds little to the gaming experience.
If you really want to tell your friends you're running a 4K gaming rig, then the G501's entry-level $1,699 (about £1,083, AU$2,122) price is very appealing. But if you want to show off any Ultra HD content, problems arise. In fact, any 4K content is simply too much to handle for basically any laptop at this point, no matter the price point, and the G501 is no exception. In many ways, this is a clear illustration of why 4K laptops don't make sense.
Design wise, this laptop is almost indistinguishable from the rest of the Asus Republic of Gamers line. The lid features the same brushed aluminum as the other ROG laptops, with the Asus logo and ROG badge prominently displayed on the center of the lid. The outer edge of the lid is also accented with a small strip of red that acts as a sort of gasket when the laptop is closed.
The full-sized keyboard is backlit and only the Shift key suffers from the addition of a number pad, giving up half of its real estate to the up-arrow. Once again, Asus wants to be sure you remember this is a gaming laptop, with yet another ROG logo beneath the keypad and the "Republic of Gamers" branding in small letters directly above the keyboard.
The exhaust vent is cleverly hidden behind the laptop's hinge, making for a clean wrap around body that remains uninterrupted by anything except for the ports. Speaking of which, there are three USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI, DisplayPort, and audio-out, as well as a connection for power.
Conspicuously absent from the Asus G501 is an ethernet port, but Asus included a USB ethernet adapter. It's still less than ideal, but it beats beaming your multiplayer session into the ether.
While the computer looks sleek, and and the simple red-on-black color scheme is a nice change of pace from some of the more "hey, look at me!" gaming rigs, I had a real problem with leaving smudges. Not just on the palm rests and keys, but also on the brushed aluminum lid.
I try to keep my hands clean, but even the slightest bit of grease always leaves an unsightly mark behind. Sure, you can wipe it down with a microfiber cloth or your t-shirt, but you'll have to constantly clean it, especially for fingerprints.
Having had laptops in the past with similar smudging problems, it's worrying what this machine could look like after a year of heavy use. It's also problematic for those who may enjoy the occasional salted snack with their gaming.