Some time ago I had the chance to look at Maingear's Titan 17 notebook, a system that the PC manufacturer described as a high-performance desktop replacement. The portable certainly lived up to the hype as it decimated every benchmark we threw at it and chewed through games on the way to becoming the most powerful notebook we'd ever reviewed.
The harsh reality, however, is that most people cannot afford to spend a few thousand on a notebook computer, even if it is a solid gaming machine that doubles as a desktop replacement. To that end, today we're going to be testing a handheld device from MSI that is supposed to offer a similar solid gaming experience without breaking the bank.
The MSI GX60 is the newest entry in the company's gaming line of notebooks. The device we tested was made with an AMD A10-4600M quad-core CPU running at 2.3 GHz and a discrete AMD Radeon HD 7970M graphics card with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory, a 15.6-inch display without glare at 1920 x 1080 and 8 GB DDR3 memory delivered in one device 4 GB x 2 configuration, 128 GB flash memory as operating system drive and 750 GB 7200 rpm hard disk drive as storage.
MSI GX60 – $ 1,199- $ 1,420
- 15.6 "1920×1080 matte display
- AMD A10 processor (2.3 GHz)
- AMD Radeon HD 7970M, 2 GB discreet
- 8 GB DDR3 RAM
- 128 GB SSD, 750 GB HDD (7200 rpm)
- Blu-ray drive
- 1 x HDMI, 1 x Mini-DisplayPort, 1 x VGA
- SD / MMC card reader (left)
- 4 audio jacks (right)
- 3 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0
- Killer NIC 802.11b / g / n, bluetooth
- 1.3 megapixel webcam (1280 x 1024)
- Steelseries keyboard
- 15.6 x 10.5 x 2.2 inches, 7.7 pounds
This doesn't stop there, however, as MSI implemented some gamer-specific features to add to the overall appeal of the system. It starts with an updated SteelSeries keyboard that has a number of benefits, such as pressing multiple keys at the same time and a secure tactical feel. MSI even includes a wired gaming mouse as part of the package.
The GX60 also marks the first time MSI has incorporated Killer Intelligent Networking (aka Killer NIC) into a notebook, particularly the E2200 platform. According to Killer, the solution is capable of automatically detecting and accelerating game traffic before the other network traffic for smoother and judder-free performance in the game, which could lead to a competitive advantage.
When you first look at the GX60, it becomes immediately clear that this system can never be confused with an ultrabook. Simply put, at 15.6 x 10.5 x 2.2 inches and weighing 7.7 pounds, it's pretty beefy. It's not as massive as the Titan 17 mentioned above, but a 7.7-pound computer weighs in in the market today.
Even so, the GX60 is more aesthetically pleasing than other barebone gaming systems we've seen. The outer lid is mostly glossy with a raised design in the center that ends at the MSI logo. On the right edge of the system there are four audio jacks, a USB 2.0 port and a Blu-ray drive. On the back there is a locking slot, the power socket, the Ethernet socket, the VGA connector, the DisplayPort connector and an HDMI connector. It should be noted that the three video outputs support AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology, with which you can output to three displays at the same time. On the left side of the GX60 there are three USB 3.0 ports and a card reader.
Opening the lid reveals a spacious keyboard deck with a number pad. The prototype 720p HD webcam and microphone are located above the matte screen. The bezel that surrounds the display is quite thick, but seems to blend in well with the overall theme of the notebook.
Stereo speakers flank the on / off switch and various touch-sensitive controls that are located directly above the keyboard. We were also told that the system contains a subwoofer, although it is not readily visible. One of the more interesting buttons is the ability to manually control the system's fan. Just touch the icon and the internal fans will come to life. This is the first time I've seen such a feature on a notebook. Other touch buttons allow you to control the system's wireless connection, eject the optical tray, and shut down the computer display.
According to MSI, the SteelSeries keyboard is stiffer than the typical notebook circuit board. I would agree with something, although it is in no way perfectly rigid. I noticed that there is no Windows key on the left side of the space bar, as usual. I envision saving space and neatly installing the number pad. I didn't find anything on the SteelSeries board to complain about.
The touchpad is not centered to the left due to the number pad, but as usual it is still centered in relation to the actual keyboard. The touchpad is recessed and has a separate one-piece button for left and right click functions. There's not much floor space with this touchpad, but chances are serious gamers will still be using a mouse while gaming. Five LED indicators adorn the underside of the touchpad and show status updates on things like hard drive activity and battery life.
The palm rest and surrounding area appear to be brushed aluminum, while the keyboard deck is made from a contrasting glossy black plastic that matches the top half of the system near the speakers. Most of the screen bezel is glossy too, which will undoubtedly attract fingerprints over time.