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The Design Ideas Behind The G75VW, G55VW

Level 15
We recently sat down with the ROG G5 series designer, Skay Lin, who took us through what’s new on the G75VW and what has changed over the recent G74SX and G53SX notebooks. Here are his thoughts covering major upgrades and design challenges.

The G75VW has a recessed logo on the cover. Hand modelling and beautiful nails provided by our product marketer.

The Design
The last three generations are similar as they are inspired by the F117 Stealth Fighter; which we have dubbed as ‘Stealth Evolution’ due to both the angular design and matt surfaces used on the recent G series.

From left to right: G53SX, G74SX, G75VW

The G5 is thinner than any previous design we’ve done, whereas… well, I don’t want to say the G74SX was bulkier, but its profile was certainly sharper with the strong rear hinge that tapers down at a more aggressive angle to the front. In comparison the G5 has lost this shoulder ridge and is overall notably thinner; more like the G3’s actually. In fact, looking at them side-by-side it is surprising how square the G74SX is when you put it next to the G75VW. This is partly why we added extra angular cuttings to the G75 to make it more dynamic in style.

Comparing the height of the G74 (left) and G75 (right)

The thinness aspect continues to follow the market trend towards slimmer and slimmer notebooks. We may not have Ultrabook standards to adhere to, but we still have to incorporate all this high-end hardware: a larger graphics card, the two heatsinks, their cooling fans, a bigger battery, two drives etc – all to meet ROG performance standards. Although, the G5 is not designed to compete with the DTR (desktop replacement) market that appeals to the most hardcore gaming crowd, as we feel those people will simply go for the benefits of a full ROG GENE or mini-ITX based PC given the cost:performance advantage. Instead we aim the G series at customers who want to balance great performance with actual portability, good design and a more affordable price.

It’s seemingly unobvious things that add to the perception of thinness too. For example, we’ve moved to two-hinge design on the G5s. Back with the G53 we learnt that if the hinge is in the middle you get more twisting of the display as people always open it at either edge, and only ever with one hand. The G53 screen is quite chunky so it’s OK, but as we move through the generations it gets thinner, which causes more flex. So the G74SX has a wider, single central hinge on purpose, which the designer then wanted to accentuate as part of the aesthetic. This time though we went for two smaller hinges at either end of the G5s instead, because as they blend into the chassis it gives this further impression of thinness, even if you’re not looking straight on.

The Cooling
At the back we experimented with several different types of openings. We tried hexagons but these were thermally inferior to the simple, long cuts we now use. Where the G75VX has its exhaust ports spaced at either side, the G55VW thermal design is based on the G54SX. Now the G54 was cancelled because its development was leading down a path that made it even thicker than the G74SX. On reflection we felt for its smaller size was unacceptable, so we rolled the good bits – like the cooler – straight into the G55VW design as this was considerably thinner and more attractive.

G75VW rear heat exhaust

Level 15
The Keyboard
We listened to feedback on the G53/73 and changed the keyboard last year with the G74SX. The brushed aluminum is much stronger and gives it a far more attractive look. The G5s follow this design, but now use a new, lighter color that gets extended off the end and wrapped around the edges. Plus, this Chiclet style is easier to clean because it’s entirely flat whereas the G53 was slightly recessed. Of course it still has backlit keys too.

Under the arrow keys there’s a new cut-out on the bottom to give more space for your fingers, so they don’t hit the wrist-pad edge. The gap between the arrow keys and the wrist-pad edge now matches gap used by the rest of the bottom keys, so it’s subtly more visually appealing. We wanted to balance the clean horizontal lines with additions of dynamic style that highlights these areas. The wrist-pad is also more like the G3s – it uses dual-injection rubber that’s slightly coarser than the very smooth G74SX, because customers said they preferred it, so we went back to it.

G75VW arrow keys and wrist-pad

Another area we looked at was the WASD keys as it goes without saying these are very significant for gamers. We added a very discreet dot on the W key so you can find it without ever looking away from your screen. You won’t confuse it with the F and J key dents either, as their extrusions are rectangular and the W is circular. Another reason for this is that we wanted to keep it very visually clean and minimalist, and simply because gamers don’t need to be visually told ‘hey these colored keys are the WASD’; that’s redundant.

G75VW W key nipple

The Touchpad
You can see the touchpad has printed brackets at both edges to highlight to users that inside this is the active area. We found some users feel for the edge with their thumb or finger and stay just inside it, causing the mouse response to be inconsistent. This design we feel also fits the gaming theme too – like a HUD.

At a time when other notebooks are adopting the single click pad with no buttons, we feel the ROG series should be the exception, as gamers need the feedback of real buttons. For the touchpad buttons we worked with the mechanical and UE (user experience) teams to test many varieties of pressure and click styles, while also maintaining durability. We ended up with a ‘scissor’ action spring to give the buttons a solid feeling with more definition.

The Display
On the G53SX we tried to make the area around the LCD a clean design without using rubber, which is also why the keyboard is recessed: so it doesn’t damage the display when it was closed. However, with the G74SX and its flat keyboard we had to put the four rubber nipples around the display, because it’s larger panel made it more vulnerable to damage. We’ve managed to get the G5 down to just two though, with offsets elsewhere like the rubber palm rest. Actually, we initially tried just the rubber rest at first, but it didn’t pass all the internal stress tests so we opted to add two to make sure.

G75VW keyboard, power button and ROG button

the stereo speakers, but the superseding goal to make the G5 slimmer killed this idea. In the end it had to be flat, which meant we also had to also shift the speakers within the chassis as well.

Level 9
They all look gorgeous. My G55 is so awesome.

Level 7
Really awesome gaming laptops overall.
However, the fan system (in regards to easy-of-access) in the G55 is some of the most convoluted I've seen in quite a while.
Taking everything almost 100% apart to be able to properly clean the fans, is not my idea of a optimal design for a gaming laptop.