During the last years, many of my friends bought some Asus N series laptops based on my recommendations, as these did offer plenty of things for the cost.
In this article we’re going to review the Asus N750, the latest members of the N family. To be more exact, we have the N750JV version here, the top configuration. This follows the Asus N76, a popular product in 2012, and Asus did change quite a few aspects of the new product.
It’s sleeker and lighter, it bundles the new Intel Haswell hardware and Nvidia 700 series graphics and there are a few more or less controversial changes as well.
But you’ll find all about these from the review below, and from the video of course, a more condensed version of this longer post. Still, if you want to buy an Asus N750, read the whole story, there are plenty of minor details you’re going to be interested in.
Important note: the Asus N750JV I got for test is a press sample, a pre-production unit. Hardware wise, this is identical to the final versions you’ll be able to get in stores, but the exact configurations might differ. Also, final versions might offer better performances, as drivers are still fresh right now, at the time of this post.
OK, with that on the table, let’s proceed.
Asus N750JV Video Review
The video review will take you through most of the important aspects of this laptop.
The specs – Asus N750J
And before we get in deep, let’s have a look at the specs, so you’ll know what we’re dealing with here.
|Asus N750 series – Asus N750JV
|Screen||17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, non-glare|
|Processor||Intel Haswell Core i7-4700HQ|
|Video||integrated Intel 4600 HD and dedicated Nvidia 750M graphics|
|Memory||16 GB DDR3|
|Hard-disk||750 GB 5400 rpm; 1TB 5400 rpm + 24 GB SSD|
|Connectivity||Wireless N, Gigabit Lan, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Ports||4 x USB 3.0, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, LAN, card-reader, webcam, S/PDIF jack|
|Baterry||6 Cell 6260 mAh 69 Wh|
|Operating system||Windows 8 Home|
|Size||415 x 275 x 29.9 mm|
|Weight||about 3.3 kg (7.3 pounds)|
Overview – exterior and looks
We’ll start with the looks. Aesthetically, the N750 borrows much from its predecessor, but it is both slimmer and lighter than the N76. Metal is used for the entire casing, with darker sheets of aluminum covering the top and the bottom of this machine, while the silver interior is cast from a solid piece of the same material.
The metal does give the N750 a premium feel and I doubt anyone can say that this is a bad looking machine. Asus worked on those fine details as well. On the hood, there’s a backlit logo. The edges on the inner part of the laptop are now beveled and look a lot like the ones on the iPhone 5, at a different scale of course.
Besides that, Asus kept the circular drilled patterns on the upper right and left sides of the keyboard, starting from those two buttons, which were introduced by their previous N line. However, these no longer cover the speakers, as you’ll find out a bit later.
In fact, several aspects of the new series have been redesigned. Having a look on the sides, you’ll no longer see a cooling grill on the left, and that’s because the cooling system was moved behind the screen’s hinge. In fact, on the left side you’ll find the PSU, the Ethernet slot, a full-size HDMI and a mini DisplayPort connectors, two USBs and a card-reader, which can’t actually swallow a regular SD card, as you can see here.
On the right, there are the audio (with S/PDIF) and microphone jacks, another two USB slots, the optical drive, a Blu-ray player in our case, plus the subwoofer jack and a Kensington lock. As for the front, you’ll only find some bright status LEDs here.
Asus changed the screen’s hinge on the new N750, inspired now by the one on their Zenbooks. It’s larger and much sturdier, and because of that does a way better job at keeping the screen fixed in place exactly how you set it up.
Speaking about that, there’s a 17.3 inch screen on the Asus N750, with a non-glare coating and a decently slender metal bezel. The matte finishing and the lack of glass on top suggests that this is not a touchscreen, which I for one am very happy with.
Asus only went for a regular TFT panel on this machine. It’s sharp, with 1920 x 1080 px resolution and more than bright enough, considering you’ll hardly move this beast from your desk, in strong light. However, the contrast and the colors are not great and that’s why the content looks a bit washed out on this display, even when looking at the screen straight on.
I did discover though that leaning the screen a bit more on the back than you would normally do makes everything look a bit better, as it somewhat pumps up the contrast. Weird.
One thing worth mentioning, this screen is similar to the ones used on the Asus G75VW, with the following hardware ID: CMO1720. I remember enjoying it a lot more on the G75 last year, but in the meantime, I probably got too much used to the IPS panels I’ve seen on so many notebooks, that I come to ask more from a laptop’s display than I was asking in the past.
I had to mention that because I don’t want you to get me wrong here. This screen is better than what you’re getting on most mid-range machines. It’s a TN panel with an extended color gamut. But an IPS screen would have improved the overall experience for sure.
Asus do offer one for the smaller N550 model, but they decided against this option on the N750, probably in order to cut back on production costs. Or maybe because nobody makes such panels; correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember seeing a 17 inch laptop with an IPS screen till now.
Keyboard and trackpad
Alright, that out of the way, let’s turn our attention on the keyboard and trackpad. You’ll notice that Asus ditched the black keys they used in the past for some silver ones, and I don’t like that. The black keyboard created a nice contrast with the interior and they should have kept it on the new series as well.
As for the typing experience… it’s decent. The keys are large, properly spaced and sturdy enough to register commands even when not pressed in the middle. There’s also very little flex with this keyboard, but the layout however isn’t great, with the navigational keys and the entire num-pad section being narrower than the others. Besides that, the keyboard is backlit and you can easily adjust the brightness or turn the illumination OFF.
Still, I’m not entirely happy with the overall experience. I can’t say there’s anything in particular that bothered me, but there are some fine details that did. The keys feel very plasticky, they no longer offer the rubbery finishing we saw on the previous model. And on top of that, they are too tall and don’t travel deep enough inside the frame to offer the feedback I’d want. These things lead to more typos and missed strokes that I usually encounter when switching to a new machine, in my rather short experience with this laptop (typed several thousand words on it though).
As for the trackpad, it’s large, although not as large as it could have been, considering the space around it. It’s fairly smooth and fairly accurate, but, like all the other clickpads I’ve tried on Asus machines in these last years, it can get jumpy and crazy from time to time.
Besides that, it does offer support for plenty of Windows gestures you can perform while dragging from the sides or using up to three fingers, and most of these gestures worked fine during my tests.
Hardware and performances
All those being said, it’s time to see what you can do with this laptop.
Our unit, the Asus N750JV, comes with an Intel Core i7-4200HQ quad-core processor, 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia 750M graphics with 4GB DDR3 memory, two different hard-drives and an extra 24 GB SSD for caching.
Or in other words: this is a beast, but you can upgrade it even further. The N750 is not really easily serviceable, as you’ll have to get rid of the 15 or so Philips screws holding the entire back panel in place. But you can do that with the right tool and a bit of patience, and after that, you’ll be able to access the storage drives, the memory and so on.
As you’ll see in the video and in these pictures, there are two different drives, with the battery in between them. There are also two separated memory modules, one on top of the other. The SSD looks replaceable too, but because it’s shorter than the average mSATA drives, I’m not sure you will be able to find a proper replacement. So it’s easier to swap one of the hard-drives for a 2.5 inch SSD. The Optical bay can be removed as well if you want to, and last but not least, you can see the two cooling fans pumping air towards the hinge, plus the large heat sinks. But more about them a bit later.
Let’s get this back in shape and push the power button. The N750 boots in about 15 seconds or so and runs Windows 8. As a multimedia device and especially on this top configuration, it can handle anything you might throw at it, from basic tasks, like browsing, editing documents, chatting with with your friends and so on, to really complex pieces of software, like Photoshop, Eclipse, Adobe Premiere or 3D Studio Max and so on. And given the large screen, you can easily have two apps sharing the work area, which does improve the overall productivity.
I also ran a couple of benchmarks on this notebook and the results are below. Don’t forget this unit comes with 5400 rpm hard-drives and only a small SSD for caching; if you’ll replace the main HDD with a 2.5″ SSD, these numbers will greatly improve, as well as the overall snappiness and speed of the laptop. Also, keep in mind that I tested an early unit with fresh drivers. Retail units with more mature software might offer slight improvements as well.
- PC Mark Vantage: 11916;
- PC Mark 07: 5158;
- 3D Mark 11: Entry – E4345; Performance – P2694; Extreme – X785;
- 3D Mark 13: Ice Storm – 72528; Cloud Gate – 6536 ;Fire Strike – 1469; Fire Strike Extreme – 707;
- Cinebench 11.5: CPU – 6.79 pts ; OpenGL – 52.79 fps.
And if you’re looking for more details about the hardware and some other tests, check out the following pictures as well.
Since I haven’t tested the N76 with the NVidia 650M chip last year, I can’t compare the scores I got here with those we got on the older laptop. But from what I’ve seen, there’s little gain in benchmark results. There are several reasons for that, as mentioned before. Even so though, Haswell does not offer big power gains, it offers efficiency.
When not using this for work, you can use it for fun. After all, the N750 is a multimedia machine. Watching movies on the large screen is a real pleasure, despite those issues mentioned when we talked about the display. The N750 can of course deal with all sorts of movies, including high bit-rate 1080p and 4K content, if you can find any.
And it can run games. I have a dedicated clip showing you the gaming performances of this machine, so you should check it out. Long story short though, it will run most recent titles on 1080p resolution with details set to medium, but it’s not primarily a gaming machine, you should look at the Asus ROG series for that. Either way, the clip below will show you some of the titles I’ve tried on the N750JV, like Need for Speed Most Wanted, Starcraft 2: heart of the Swarm, Bioshock Infinity, Skyrim or Metro: Last Light.
— clip will be added soon
And some numbers (all games running on 1080p resolution, with details set to medium):
- Metro: last Light – 42 fps;
- Bioshock Infinite – 33 fps;
- Crysis 3 – 19 fps;
- Dirt 3 – 51 fps;
- Grid 2 – 55 fps;
- Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm – 45 fps;
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted – 29 fps;
- The Elder Scroll: Skyrim – 39 fps.
Software wise, the N750 comes with Windows 8 and a bunch of preinstalled stuff from Asus. Some could be useful, like their Cloud Storage that offers 32 GB of free space for 3 years, or apps like Power4Gear, Splendid, Tutor (teaches you how to use Windows 8) or AudioWizard. Asus also offers a Console that let’s you easily access these features in a centralized interface. You can launch it by pressing the button on the left-upper side of the keyboard.
Even so, many of your might consider all these things crapware and might want to get rid of most of them. It’s up to you.
Heat and Noise
There is one more important thing worth mentioning if you plan on running plenty of games on the N750. It can get very hot.
The new cooling system is fairly quiet (the fans are constantly spinning, but they are never very loud, not even when running at maximum speed), but not very efficient when the device is under heavy load. Air is sucked in from the bottom of this device and blown out behind the hinge. The hinge itself is smartly designed so the hot air will not get towards the user, but behind the screen, so nothing to complain about here.
However, the laptop will get scorching hot around the areas adjacent to those heat pipes I was mentioning earlier. In other words, the area under the Asus logo on the screen, both on the belly and on the interior of the laptop, above the keyboard. That’s not necessarily a massive issue, as you’ll hardly ever get in contact with these parts of the laptop, but it’s not a nice feeling either, especially since the entire metal interior will get warmer as a result, as heat easily propagates through aluminum.
Even so, on the older Ns, the Left side of the keyboard and palm rest got very hot. That’s not happening anymore and the new N is much more comfortable to use because of that.
Let’s talk temperatures though. I don’t have a thermometer and I can’t tell you anything SPECIFIC about outside temperatures. However, based on what HWMonitor and HWInfo are telling us, the components get very hot when running intensive tasks or when running games for more than an hour. At first I thought those numbers are too high to be correct… but after running many tests and studying how the laptop performs, I believe they could be, because HWInfo’s logs show the processor throttling when running complex tasks.
Look at the pictures below, there’s one recorded while running PCMark Vantage (takes about 30 minutes or so), and the other one shows the results while playing Skyrim for about two hours.
However, this is not as bad as it might look. When running prime95 for 60 seconds (I won’t run it for longer on this lease, sry), the same HWInfo shows the CPU throttling in about 30 seconds (while the fans spinning at max speed). Temperatures reach 96-97 degrees Celsius and the frequency drops to about 2700 Mhz. At the same time, the body doesn’t get very hot and neither does the air coming from those vents. Probably because the test is too short for the heat sinks to get to those high temperatures I noticed when running games, but there could be a different explanation: sensors are somewhat skewed and show too high readings, that’s why the system caps the CPU.
Even so, do not forget that this processor runs at 2.4 GHz by default, and in this short test, the frequency never gets below that. So what HWInfo shows as throttling is imh a normal reaction to heavy multitasking. What do you guys think?
Besides that, throttling, even if present, is not something you will easily notice in everyday use. I spent many hours playing games on the N750 without seeing sudden frame drops or anything that would have bothered me.
Those being said, with browsing, watching movies, editing texts and so on, the N750 runs a lot cooler and quieter. Yes, it can get very hot when pushed for hours, but that was somewhat expected, given the sleeker body and the powerful hardware. So for the average user, that will not be such a big problem, but if you want a laptop for heavy stuff and serious gaming, you might want to look somewhere else (HINT: Asus ROG line). Either way, if you are buying the N750, get extended warranty for it as well, just to be safe.
Those aside, over the years, the audio system has been a strong selling point for the Asus N line. With the new Ns however, Asus kind of messed things up. The speakers are no longer behind the punctured grills on the interior, facing towards the user, they are placed on the bottom of the laptop, facing towards the desk. On top of that, there are four of them and they are smaller than in the past.
The Bang and Olufsen IcePower technology is still present, but the results, well, check out the video review and hear for yourselves.
Bottom point, the sound system is not really usable with the volume set anywhere North of 50% because of those very annoying distortions. Having the subwoofer connected does help somewhat, as it will take care of all the basses and low frequency sound. But the speakers on the laptop itself will still skew the output. However, making sure OFF is selected from the Audio Editor does help reducing the distorsions, while lowering the overall volume.
Besides that, the sound system is very loud and in most situations you’ll set the volume at around 30%, in which case, the N750 still offers better sound quality than most (if not all) other multimedia machines on the market. But it’s nowhere near the older N76 and N56…
One more thing worth adding is that S/PDIF audio out jack. If you plan on outputting sound towards your home-theater or connecting a good pair of headphones, you’ll thank Asus for adding this minor, but yet so important, feature.
Connectivity and others
Connectivity wise, the N750JV offers pretty much everything you will need on such a machine, with Gigabit Lan, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi. Wireless 802.11AC support would have made this more future proof, but even so, as such routers are still very expensive now, I’m not going to deduct any points for that.
The Wireless chip (Qualcomm Atheros AR946x) is reliable and offers decent performances even when a bit further away from the router, with several walls in between. It can’t stay next to my main driver with an Intel 6300 chip, but it’s pretty close, so I’m happy with it.
The Asus N750 comes with a webcam as well, that should do for occasional video calls. Still, both the webcam and the microphones (there are two of them) are rather… mediocre, to be frank.
Last but not least, there’s the battery life.
The N750 comes with a large 69 Wh battery. Given the powerful hardware, I wasn’t expecting much, but the new Intel Haswell is really efficient.
Of course, when running complex games, you’ll hardly get about one hour and a half of play time. But when dealing with lighter activities, the N750 proves quite versatile. I was able to loop a 1080p video with the screen at 50% for more than 4 hours and with very light browsing and text editing, this laptop went for almost five entire hours on a single charge.
And that’s because the system knows when to cap the CPU and ditch the dedicated graphics for the ones embedded within the processor, so can run efficiently when needed.
I could also add that the N750 can easily last several weeks in stand-by and will resume from sleep in just a few seconds, that’s why I doubt you’ll ever want to completely shut it down. But these things don’t matter that much on a 17.3 inch machine that’s going to live most of its life stuck on a desk. Battery life matters a lot more when it comes to ultraportables, which the N750, with its massive footprint and weighing 3.3 kilos (plus the large 120W brick), is not.
Wrap-up and prices
All in all, the Asus N750 is for sure a top multimedia machine. When compared to its predecessor, the N76, the new model is both thinner and lighter, while packing slightly more powerful hardware and being able to go for longer on each charge. However, the sound system, temperatures under heavy load and to some extent, the keyboard, are steps backwards on this latest series.
Even so, the N750 is an option you have to consider if you’re in the market for a 17 inch multimedia laptop. It will be available by the middle of July and the base versions will start at about 1100 Euros over here.
The top configurations, even better than the one we tested in this clip, will retail for closer to 1400 euros, with 16 GB of memory and a 256 GB SSD, plus a 1 TB hard-drive. So the N750 definitely offers plenty for the money, but will have to face tough competition nonetheless.
Discounted and Up-to-date prices are available via this link, so go ahead and check them out.
HP, Dell and maybe even Lenovo and Samsung are going to have their own powerful 17 inchers as well, with Haswell and all the other goodies. I can’t tell you much about those now though, most aren’t even available yet. But if you do have any questions, post them below.
In fact, that’s how we’re going to end this review: by letting you know that I’m looking forward to read your input on this laptop and answer your questions.
For me, the Asus N750JV is a good multimedia laptop. I would recommend it to many of you, as a desktop replacement with a large screen. However, while I’ve mentioned several things Asus could have done differently on this machine, there’s one in particular that does bother me: the heat. Asus made a thinner and lighter machine, which, combined with Haswell and the redesigned cooling system, leads to high temperatures that can have a direct impact on performances (although minor, from what I’ve seen) and perhaps the laptop’s long term reliability. And on a 17 inch machine, these are far more important than the sleeker body or the increased battery life. Don’t you think?
IMPORTANT: Of course, these are my conclusions based on this particular unit. Do not forget it’s a pre-production sample and that means that we could see better cooling performances for the retail products. So I will wait for others to test the N750 as well and I will come back to this post, if needed, in the next weeks or so.
I’ll also get my hands on the Asus N550 next week and will publish my review soon enough, so stay close for that. Check out my Asus N550 review over here.