Asus ROG G501VW Gaming Laptop Review
Asus G501 . I'll put a link to that over here. And that machine has a twin brother, the G501. And at that time I never bothered making a separate video for it, just because a lot of the technical specs and even the design aesthetics are very similar between the two. But recently Asus put a really important patch for the G501 and I thought I should make its own video.
Now this is a really brief video. I'm just going to highlight some of the more important differences between the two, as well as just give you my overall thoughts on the G501. Alright? Let's do it! I'm going to start with a quick unboxing here, because, well, the box itself is different between the two. So, everything inside is basically the same, but the one extra addition in the G501 is that Asus gives you a free ROG mouse. Now the most obvious difference is the finish. The aluminum is anodized black and on the top there's a distinct Republic of Gamers logo. So this is the Asus ROG line. It also has a brushed linear finish instead of the radial finish on the UX 501. Something I noticed pretty early on, though, is that things like fingerprints, smudges and dust, like, they just show up very readily on this black finish...
Like VERY readily. A lot of people don't care about stuff like this, but if you're someone who likes to keep their devices clean and fingerprint free, let me tell you, it is not easy on this device. You can't just wipe it with a microfiber. You need to get some water. Going around the sides, the ports on the G501 are the same and they're also in the same locations as the UX. So there's three USBs, some display outputs and an SD card slot. If you notice, there's like a red accent that's visible from the side which runs around the whole perimeter of the notebook, so this is actually the rubber trim from the screen. It's a simple change to switch it from a black rubber to a red rubber. But because of the location of that trim it really changes the look of the notebook. It's actually pretty smart, I kind of wish they'd done it in blue. And like before that SD card slot is still really shallow and barely holds half the card, but it works. Mechanically, the keyboard is the same, there's a number pad on the right here, which kind of shifts everything over to the left.
And once again there are arrow keys that are surrounded by keys that you don't want to press. But, aside from these two annoyances, once you get used to the shift and positioning, it's actually a very nice keyboard to type on. There are a couple things that are different here, though. First, the sides of the WASD keys, they have a red finish on them. It kind of gives us the whole gamer look and the keyboard backlighting uses red leds, instead of your more standard white ones. The trackpad is the same, it's a pretty decent trackpad for windows machines, but I don't love it.
I mean there's read tons of other devices with crappier trackpads, but this one's not amazing. A quick look at that bonus mouse that Asus gives you. It feels pretty comfortable, it's got some soft rubber on the scroll wheel and in the thumb rust. So I used it to play some games. It's a little lighter than I'm used to and lighter than I like, Recommended Reading but it tracks well and it's a freebie so I can't complain. Ok, so the screen. If you'll remember, the UX501 had an extremely glossy screen, it was a decent screen otherwise, but that glossy finish was really difficult to work with in bright light. Now the G501 has a matte screen. It's 4K, it's bright, it's vibrant and viewing angles are pretty good, but it's not a touchscreen if that matters to you. Personally I almost never use touch screens on notebooks, and I prefer matte finishes, so I really like this screen.
Now when this notebook first launched, there was a really big problem with the screen. Basically whenever you played games, the screen would flicker and there'd be weird lines and stuff. It was pretty horrible. Now Asus finally patched this in early August with BIOS 209 and now, post patch, I haven't seen a single glitch of the screen in two weeks, so I'm pretty sure they fixed it. Color accuracy is okay, it's not amazing. We're getting a 96% sRGB and 74% Adobe RGB off of a Spyder. I mean, it's pretty similar to the UX501, but because there's no glossy finish on that screen, the viewing experience is just better overall. Alright, let's talk about performance. So, spec wise, it's almost identical to the UX501, drive speeds are also identical, just... super fast. The only real difference is that in this model, the G501, it has four gigs of video RAM, which is double what the UX501 has.
But after running a bunch of tests and benchmarks, it really feels like the extra two gigs of RAM doesn't do much. I mean, it's almost identical in performance in everything I did. Video renders were the same, even rendering with multiple lux had the same speed, so that extra video RAM didn't seem to do much for video editing in Premiere Pro. For gaming you'll have to watch the UX501 video for full details, Recommended Reading but the extra video RAM didn't seem to affect frame rates at all. So, Witcher 3 still ran poorly at 4K, but it ran smooth on medium settings again at 1080p, and less demanding games like Heroes of the Storm ran really smooth as well. I didn't notice any significant improvements going from two gigs to four gigs of RAM. Speakers are the same, temperatures are the same, fan noise is the same, battery life is basically the same. The screen on the G501 is a little brighter and I imagine it would use a little more power. But I still get around four to five hours of regular use or watching movies and, when playing games at max brightness, I was still getting around an hour of battery life.
So I chalk them up as a tie. Okay, so recap. G501, it's got a black aluminum shell with red accents. A matte 4K screen that isn't touch enabled, but it's still pretty nice. An off center keyboard with red leds that's comfortable to use once you get used to the position. An ok trackpad, 16 gigs of RAM, 8 of which are non removable.
512 gigs of insanely fast storage, 2 down firing speakers that sound ok, but not great. It's got a gigahertz Quad-Core i7 and a GTX 960M. It's also housing a 96 watt hour battery, that gives about four to five hours of regular use. All for $1,500. Okay, so, some closing thoughts here. Between the UX and the G501, I would consider them functionally identical. The G501 has that extra gig of video RAM, which is really cool on paper, but it doesn't translate to anything useful for the average user. Video renders are the same speed, games play at the same frame rates, so don't purchase the G501 just for that extra video RAM. Now, that being said, if I had to recommend one of these notebooks to people just openly, it would be the G501, just because of that matte screen. The glossy finish on the UX501 was a little bit annoying and, since the patch, the G501 has been really rock-solid and there's been no issues with the screen, so I think that's the "better" of the two devices.