While desktop PCs have traditionally been the main haven for serious gamers, the explosion of interest in laptops as desktop replacements means that more and more consumers want to be able to play online and on the move without being chained to their studies. MSI has already responded to that need and its latest offspring, the GT740, is its current top-of-the-range gaming notebook.
A games machine should look flashy and cool and in that respect the GT740 doesn’t disappoint. Styled in a mixture of matt black, flame red and glistening silver, this 17-inch monster proclaims itself as the Chevrolet Corvette of gaming notebooks. The keyboard is in matching black with red highlights on the essential gamers’ keys (such as WASD and arrows). The keys themselves feel firm and responsive but unwisely MSI has reordered them so that the Fn key shunts aside the left Control, which annoys intensely when you’re in full battle mode.
Despite this irritation, there’s a number of welcome features about the GT740, not least of which is the Eco Engine power management system which, at a touch, will flip through five different user settings for gaming, text processing, movies, presentations and battery conservation. In keeping with its principal function, there are five surround sound hi-fi speakers (including a built-in subwoofer) which distinctly exceed the standard tinny output of so many laptop sound systems but still lack the desired volume and power that external SRS provides.
Weighing a comparatively light 3.2kg, the GT740 still manages to pack in a wide array of ports, including VGA, Ethernet, PCI Express Card, eSATA and HDMI, as well as a 4-in-1 card reader, Blu-ray player and optional Bluetooth. On the other hand, we would have preferred to see more than just three USB 2.0 ports to allow for more gaming peripherals.
The crunch point for gamers, though, comes when you have to weigh up graphics and speed and there can be few reasons for complaint here. There’s a whopping four processors (thanks to the most up-to-date Intel Core i7 720QM) with 4GB DDR3 RAM and an extremely powerful GeForce GTS 250M graphics card using 1GB DDR3 VRAM.
With acres of hard drive space (500GB SATA), we tested the system to the maximum with Crysis, which is still one of the most visually punishing games on the market, and found the action smooth and detail high, but the colours rather muted at higher settings.
When it came to watching Blu-ray movies, the colours were more vibrant and definition sharp, especially when we initiated MSI’s exclusive Cinema Pro technology which is claimed to enhance both picture and sound at a touch. Yet the main problem is the computer’s highest screen resolution, which is only 1680 x 1050 and leaves you always wanting something brighter.
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