Hi all. :) I hope this is the right place to post this! I was going to just make a post in the computer building thread, but I sort of wanted to create my own topic for more specific feedback. Please feel free move or delete if necessary. I'm trying to gather as much information as I can before I make a definite purchase (I'm a little nervous about it :P), so I'm posting this on several different forums with hopes of a lot of good feedback.
This is probably going to be a pretty long post, and I'm definitely not very well-versed in computer building or the technicalities and performance ratings of all the different GPUs/CPUs out there, so bear with me. :)
I just need a little help deciding between two laptops I'm interested in. I would like to be able to play both FFXI and FFXIV on it. This will be my first official gaming laptop. I'm finally replacing my trusty 5 year old Dell Inspiron 6400 that I used to play FFXI on, so I'm pretty excited about being able to play both FFXI and FFXIV smoothly with the settings turned up maybe a little bit to really experience the graphics, since I've never really been able to before. :D
So here we go! Basically, I can't decide between the Asus G73JH and the G73JW. I discovered a topic already created discussing these two laptops, but I just wanted to try and find out a little more detail. (http://www.ffxivcore.com/topic/17514-g73jh-b1-or-the-g73jw-a1/) The links below are just for the general specs, and I will probably end up ordering from xoticpc.com or powernotebooks.com or something just to customize a tad, since I'm also thinking about getting a decent size SSD for it. (Maybe an 80GB one would be enough?) I'm not too concerned with price differences.
(This particular model is the X1, which just means it doesn't have a few features included in other models such as a second 500GB HD and a BluRay drive)
(This has the A1 and the XA1 models, where the XA1 has less features than the A1. I also think the XA1 model has 1033MHz RAM and the A1 has 1333MHz RAM.)
Overall, the particular model isn't a huge deal to me. Like I said, I think I'm going to customize it a little bit anyway.
After a little bit of research, the main difference I could find was that the JH has a Mobility Radeon HD 5870 GPU and the JW has a Nvidia GTX 460M GPU. I also found the JW runs cooler (maybe 10-15C), but I'm not sure if that is really even a major issue.
One thing I'm worried about is the dreaded GSOD problem that a lot of people have with the JH when playing FFXIV. I read through the extremely helpful help topic on here with the BIOS fix, so that makes me feel better, but I also read it just doesn't seem to help for some people and they still experience problems when playing, even after applying all the proper fixes. I would just hate to go through all that and purchase such a nice new laptop and end up never really being able to fully utilize it for FFXIV, or have to constantly worry about it crashing during play.
A lot of people seem to have great feedback as far as how FFXIV actually runs on the JH, but I can't seem to find too much info about how FFXIV runs on the JW. I was able to dig up this post (http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-reviews-owners-lounges/518687-asus-g73jw-owners-lounge-8.html#post6735769) where the JW wasn't running FFXIV too great at first with lots of stuttering, but it did seem like he was able to correct it with some overclocking and new drivers. (http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-reviews-owners-lounges/518687-asus-g73jw-owners-lounge-16.html#post6745008) He said he got around 40-55 FPS (max 60 FPS) in uncrowded outdoor areas and dipping to a minimum of 22 FPS in crowded areas while running at less than full resolution (1680 x 1050).
From what I could find, this seems comparable to FFXIV on the JH: 45-50 FPS in the field and 28-35 FPS in towns at max settings with around 80C GPU temp and 65C CPU temp. (http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-gaming-notebook-forum/526608-g73jh-how-do-games-perform-you-2.html#post6809174 and http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-gaming-notebook-forum/474721-asus-g73jh-gpu-temp-64.html#post6789908)
I realize the benchmark probably isn't the best thing in the world to gauge how FFXIV will run, but just for the record I dug up some results that showed it was relatively close between the JH and the JW. On high, the JH receieved around 2021-2042. (http://ffxiv.zam.com/forum.html?game=268&mid=1279532738294596773#msg1284387040134827218) The JW receieved anywhere from 1700 underclocked to 1981-2000 with a little overclocking. (http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-gaming-notebook-forum/515430-asus-g73jw-discussion-thread-54.html#post6824455 and http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-gaming-notebook-forum/515430-asus-g73jw-discussion-thread-37.html#post6769801)
I know there's a whole thing about the brand war between Nvidia and AMD, but I really don't have a personal preference. :) I just would like to choose the one that works best with both FFXIV and FFXI. Does a particular brand of GPU do better with FFXIV? From looking at the stickies, it seems that there are some issues with both types of GPUs in FFXIV. Aside from the brand in general, it seems like the 5870 in the G73JH is a slightly more powerful GPU than the 460 in the G73JW. (http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benchmark-List.844.0.html) How much of a difference will it make for running FFXIV?
This leads to an imporant question regarding FFXI and GPUs. I've been reading that FFXI does not perform well at all on Nvidia cards, especially the 400 series. This is definitely imporant to me, as I would hate to get a laptop that would run FFXIV nice and smooth but would be horrible with FFXI. This point alone makes me lean more towards the JH just because it has AMD card. Does anyone have any experience with FFXI and Nvidia cards, especially on a laptop? Is it really as bad as everyone says? I will go with the JH if it really is that bad to play FFXI on a Nvidia card.
Regarding updating Catalyst drivers for the JH, some people mentioned they were not able to use the new official Catalyst drivers from AMD.
From the feedback of the JH on Newegg:
"Cons: It WILL NOT allow you to update the video drivers. You CAN NOT download drivers from ATI's webpage and get them to work. When new games come out that require the latest video drivers you WILL NOT be able to play them. This is a known issue with ASUS and they have yet to fix it. Their solution is to recommend you uninstall ATI video drivers and go back to theirs released on 01/2010. You are pretty much stuck playing games that are compatible with old ATI drivers. This is not what I call a gaming laptop.
Other Thoughts: I tried everything to get new ATI drivers to work, many different versions after 01/2010 they all end with the laptop crashes with vertical lines on the screen. Settings the resolution lower does not help. Install only the drivers and not the control suite software doesn't help."
Also, here: http://www.ffxivcore.com/topic/9977-asus-g73jh-notebook-ffxiv-guide/page__view__findpost__p__231597
It seems like they were only able to use the older drivers provided by Asus. I would hate to have to be forced to only use those older drivers and never be able to update to newers ones released by AMD that may improve performance on FFXI or FFXIV.
As I mentioned above, I would like to customize whichever laptop I decide to get just a little bit. I want to get an SSD, so would 80GB seem like a big enough size? I would put Windows 7, FFXI, FFXIV, and maybe a few other programs on it, but that would pretty much be it. I don't plan on putting any other games on it, but I would like to have enough space to be ready for future FFXIV updates and expansions.
Some further customization would probably include the IC Diamond thermal paste. I read that it lowers the temperature of the laptop. Would that be a good decision? Any other customization recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
On the subject of temperature, would I need a laptop cooler for either of these? I would like to be able to run FFXIV for long periods of time, so I don't want to encounter any overheating issues. The reviews say that the JH runs hotter than the JW, but I wasn't sure if that was a huge deal or not and if it would really effect gaming. It would also be nice to be able to sit back and put the computer in my lap, but I'm not sure if that will block any fans on the laptop or cooler and cause heating problems. Are there any recommendations or general tips to go by for picking out a good cooler?
Overall, it seems like both laptops have some pros and cons.
The JH definitely seems to runs FFXIV great, and I assume it would run FFXI fine as well, as I could not find anything particularly notable on compatibility issues in general with AMD cards and FFXI. Also, I think the GPU is slightly more powerful. However, does look like it runs hotter than the JW (but is that going to have any noticeable effect on gaming?), and of course there's the whole major GSOD issue. Even with a fix, I don't want to have to be constantly worrying about FFXIV crashing on me.
The JW appears to run FFXIV very smooth as well, but I haven't been able to find as many testimonies for running FFXIV on it compared to the JH. The GSOD would not be an issue at all with the JW, so that would be a relief to not have to worry about it popping up. Even so, the GPU on the JW does seem to be slightly weaker. I am also very worried about the compatability horror stories I've been hearing with Nvidia GPUs and FFXI. I would like to be able to play both games on the laptop, so that is a major concern for me.
So, in summary (finally!):
JH - Capable of running both FFXI and FFXIV smoothly, slightly more powerful GPU, but possible GSOD problems even with the BIOS fix, and possible issues with upgrading Catalyst drivers from AMD and only being able to use the older Catalyst drivers Asus offers, also runs a little hotter.
JW - Capable of running FFXIV nicely (from what I could tell from the one case I could find), runs a little cooler, no GSOD or driver issues to worry about, but maybe a slightly weaker GPU, and possible problems with running FFXI on a Nvidia GPU.
I think I've covered everything I can think of when comparing these two laptops. Sorry it turned out to be a novel! :) I'm kind of nervous about it and just want to do everything right to make sure I have a nice laptop for years to come that is able to run both FFXI and FFXIV smoothly. I look forward to any helpful thoughts, opinions, and tips. Thank you!
Edited, Oct 25th 2010 2:32pm by Kiwipea