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Custom Laptop Design? Complaints, Suggestions, etc.

Level 8
Opening Statement

Over the years, I've noticed laptops seem to be getting slightly worse and better at the same time. features that should stay get removed, features that aren't useful keep staying. So, first I will rant about some things I don't like about the laptop I'm stuck using now. I'm sure most of you will see this as a rant and nothing more but I am hoping that Asus developers may consider some of what I'm talking about and take it into account when making a new machine.

--- Old Machine vs New Machine ---

My old Dell Inspiron 1720 was a pile of dung, always had to have something replaced every 3-6 months. Good thing I had a 4 year warranty on it because I had so much replaced, that the only things that weren't replaced were the motherboard, wireless card, and RAM. Quite liturally everything else was replaced, even the drame, heat sink, everything. At least once, some parts 4 times. The keyboard 20+, however. It did have two good features on it that I wish I had on my G74Sx.
1. A power switch to turn off the wireless card. The switch didn't act like software turning it off, it seemed more like it was directly turning the wireless card off, like cutting power to it or something. Who knows. It is certainly better than this FN + F2 key crap I have now.
2. It had media keys. Actual, physical, media keys which didn't take 8+ exe files to operate. The Asus software that handles this is terrible in my opinion. I don't want 8 randomly named files running in task manager all the time just to handle my keyboard. The worse part being, the keys are all over the place. My volume is so far away, I have to use two hands to change my volume. Same with skipping, pausing, playing video/music. This has made it so I can't use my G74Sx as a media center, because I have to keep the laptop open at all times and keep the keyboard lights on at all times. The Dell, had the media keys on the front so you could access them even if the lid was closed.

So, why were these excluded in future versions of laptops? Why do we not have an immediate wireless kill switch on the side? Why do we no longer have media keys? I don't think these are very hard things to do. Especially when you're increasing the size of a laptop. I mean, my 17" laptop had this stuff, but you've got even more space on the 17.3", and now I just have wider blank spaces between keys and stuff?

--- Integrated Keyboard vs Modular Keyboard ---

Speaking of the keyboard. The G74Sx has this integrated keyboard. I can't even figure out how to take it out. I have found no levers, screws, anything on the outside to pop the keyboard off. My Dell, you just pushed the lid back as far as it would go, lifted the piece of plastic underneath it, and it revealed 4 screws directly in the keyboard top part. You take these 4 screws out and the keyboard slides right out, you don't even need to turn the machine off. Under it is 2 ram slots and the motherboard. I did this every so often to clean out the keyboard of hair and dust, cause I had a cat at that time. It pops right back in and works with no reboot or anything, even did this to replace them, because I hate rebooting my laptop.

It seems like the G74Sx keyboard is integrated in so well you'd have to take apart the whole thing to get it out. I prefer the modular keyboard type that Dell had. It was functional, and easily replaced. I only had it replaced every 3 months because the paint kept wearing off. Half my Asus G74Sx keys are blank now. I can't even tell which one is R and which one is T by looking at them. Same for M and N. At least 10 keys are totally erased and I can't replace the keyboard cause it looks almost impossible without voiding the warranty.

--- Warranty Services ---

In my Dell laptop, the repair people came to me to replace the parts and they did it in under 2 hours max. Even when he took apart the machine to the last screw, right there on top of my drier to replace the heat sink and put thermal paste on. However, to get my Asus laptop repaired, I have to wait a minimum of 3 weeks? Just to get the FAN and keyboard replaced? Hell no. I couldn't even find a way to go to an asus repair station to get it repaired on the spot by walking in. I understand that Asus is a smaller company than Dell, but seriously, 3-4 weeks? I put in $1,000 warranty on this now. I had to extend the warranty because I need repairs, but I don't have a machine to use while the machine is gone. For $1000, I think you should be able to drive your ... out here and fix my $20 fan and my $20 keyboard. Two tiny things that are ultra cheap computer tech that you could get pretty much anywhere for cheap. I even asked if you could deliver the parts to me and I replace them myself, because I could do it in an hour just fine. It's JUST A FAN and KEYBOARD for gods sake. But nope. Spending a thousand dollars on a warranty here doesn't get you any better service, you still get to wait 4 weeks and sit there twiddling your thumbs because you have no computer.

--- Recovery Disk vs Recovery Partition ---

I don't know why it is that you no longer get an operating system disk when you purchase a laptop. This is very annoying considering it is left to technology that is known to die all the time. My hard drive on my G74Sx died last year, and when I tried to replicate the recovery drive onto a new machine, or copy it over to a flash drive, or move it over to an area where I could use it, it didn't work. So when I ran the recovery partition with a new drive in the other slot, the recovery partition appeared to be working till I got this big giant text across my entire screen. it said one word. "ERROR". Big red letters, it looked like someone typed it in font size 500 in paint.exe. This lead me to believe my recovery drive was a fake. On top of that, it was half empty so Asus, or whoever made the recovery partition, wasted a whole lot of space on my drive for this read only recovery partition which was 25 gigs in size.

It is my experience that HDDs that run 24/7 with an operating system on them, die very quickly. Recovery disks should be included with all laptops, and not depend on a hard drive for recovery. Luckily, i managed to obtain a legit copy of Windows 7, and installed it from the free download ISO directly from Microsoft's website. Now I don't have any extra Asus bloatware or useless functions on my machine, and it runs faster than ever before. Seriously, I actually did much better on my benchmarks!

When I went looking for the original Asus restoration disks, I found that I had to buy them, from Asus, for like $20, and they weren't even updated. it was basically 2 and a half year old disks that would require me to install every update over the last 2 and a half years all over again. When I could just go to Microsoft's website, and download the free Windows 7 ISO that contains every update up to the very date I downloaded it. At worst, I only have a week or at most two weeks of updates to catch up on when I download from them. I also don't have to pay for it. Well I guess technically I do, because my internet charges me $1 per gig. But whatever. Still cheaper, and easier than 2-3 years of updates and $20 for 2-3 recovery disks that take 2-3 weeks to get here in the first place.

.... Requires second post apparently because it's too much text. Bare with me a moment.

Level 8
.... And the continuation!
Suggestions and such

Ok, so now that that ranting stage is over with. Lets talk about some of the things I'd like to see in a new custom built laptop.

First off, I need a laptop, because I need mobility. I live in the middle of no where using a scam like internet service that barely provides me any service at pretty high rates compared to what you get in town. So I need a machine that is powerful, can handle my gaming, can run 24/7, and does not contain useless functions on it.

Now, when I say useless functions, I'm talking about the things hardly anyone uses, or things that you can get external devices to do. Like the DVD player. Gamers tend to use Steam now, and other digital sites to get their games. My DVD Drive is all dusty and unused, I'm pretty sure my laptop started coughing when I opened it up because of all the dust in that particular component. This doesn't mean I don't air out my machine, I do that once a week to keep the temp down below 160F when everything is maxed out.

I also have a plug for those old time monitors. You know, the big useless square things that are 10 times heavier and no one wants them? Yea. I don't need that. Don't put that on my laptop. I don't think ANY GAMER uses that. This is Republic of Gamers, is it not? I'm just glad i don't have those other legacy ports on my machine.

First Suggestion: Replace DVD Drive with other more useful device.
So, this is my first suggestion. Instead of a DVD Drive, offer either SLI GPU, or 3rd HDD slot. In place of a DVD Drive, use that space for something more useful. CPU, GPU, HDD, those things are much better than a DVD/BD drive, which you can just go buy a USB version for $30-$100 at any electronics store. I mean, you don't give out operating system disks anymore anyway. You uselessly put them on the hard drive for some reason. So it's not like anyone ever actually uses these drives but once or twice in their life time.

Second Suggestion: Move ports around for people with external mouse.
My second suggestion. I am right handed, and I don't like using the touch pad. So what I've done is I've made a custom Halo 3 mousepad, and got the M325 Logitech mouse with unifying receiver. Before we had tiny recievers though, I had this giant stick out the side. The issue being that my USB ports are right there, where my mouse is. So I had to use the other side. What makes it worse, is the ONLY USB 3.0 port, is on that side, and right where my mouse is. I can't plug anything in, because I have to move my mouse away or onto a different table. My suggestion is that you move USB ports closer to the top end of the machine, away from where a user may place a mouse (or even for left handed users) and put other less used or flatter object ports towards those areas. Like SD cards and such. After all, no one games with a touch pad, all of us gamers have an external mouse. Am I right gamers?

Third Suggestion: Move SD card slot out just a bit.
My 3rd suggestion, is quite a basic one. I'm not sure if this was a G74Sx flop or not, but my SD card slot, is too deep. I have to use a pen to push the card all the way in and to get it back out. This goes for ANY SD card I put in. So it isn't brand related. It's directly related to the SD card slot on this machine. So, put that a bit further out. So that the end of the SD card will stick out at least 1-2mm. On my mother's laptop, it does, and it is easy to push it in and click it back out and causes no problems because it's close enough to the machine, you won't even notice it is in there.

Fourth Suggestion: Add media keys, not function keys.
My 4th suggestion, if you've skipped the above rant, I'll give a short quick version. Add media keys. No one wants FN keys to be required to use your media functions that are hidden throughout the keyboard. Linux recognized every one of my media keys without me installing ANY software. Even recognized that I needed the FN key to use them. It had no problems with any of them. So why do I need 8 exe files on Windows to do this? My previous machine just had a single driver to run the media keys that were on the front of the machine so they could be accessed while the lid was closed.

Fifth Suggestion: Modular Keyboard, not integrated keyboard.
My 5th suggestion, if you've skipped the above rant, don't worry about it. Basically, I want a modular keyboard. Pop the plastic off where the power button is, unscrew the screws securing nothing but the keyboard, and pull it out without ever even having to turn off the machine. Then you can replace and clean your keyboards much easier.

Sixth suggestion: Include recovery disks, or method of downloading them.
So as I said above in the rant, recovery drives are essentially useless. If your HDD dies, your recovery drive dies with it. If your machine dies, you have to send it in for repairs anyway, and there is a 10-40% chance your drive died with it depending on the error. On top of that, the recovery drive is always going to be out of date, and you will end up needing to install every update over the last however old that machine is. Providing a way to DL the ISOs, even if it costs a few bucks for the bandwidth, would be a great way to support your customers in getting the most up to date recovery software for their particular machine without them having to go buy a new copy of the machine just because it's easier than waiting for a new recovery disk to be sent in and then have to sit there installing years worth of updates.

I may add things here later, I'm probably forgetting some things at this moment, being very tired and such.

Conclusion and Final Remarks

I'm hoping that the Asus development team see this, and will provide some comments towards my criticism and complains, and I'm hoping that the community can also support some of my suggestions and provide some useful information regarding everything here.

On a side note, I'd like some software that can control my Asus G74Sx's fan. My fan is slightly damaged, and grinds very loudly at night. I have to raise my CPU and GPU temp to 160F by maxing them out with Seti@Home to get the fan to run at 2500-3000 RPM, which makes it silent enough for me to sleep. when idle, it drops between 300RPM and 2000RPM. If it goes above 700RPM, it grinds, if it goes above 2000RPM, it is a softer quieter grind. When it hits near 3k RPM, it is almost totally quite. I'm pretty sure the fan is on it's way to dying, but, it still works. My machine has never exceeded 160F when maxed out, if I keep airing it out weekly to get the nice, fresh scent of burnt dust out and about in my room. 😐

One last note, I am sorry if any of this comes off abrasive. I say what's on my mind, and am somewhat annoyed about some things. Including how hard it is right now to touch my laptop cause of the heat emanating from the keyboard. 😛 I don't mean any disrespect however. I did my formatting after I finished, so I hope it isn't too hard to read. If any staff/moderators have any tags they could add to this, that'd be good. I'm not very good at tagging.