- Good overall performance
- Great speakers
- Very nice screen
- Less battery life than previous generation
- No obvious performance boost over last generation
A good gaming notebook with plenty of bang for your buck.
The MSI GX660R gaming notebook is the sequel to last year’s popular GT660R. This 15-inch gaming notebook packs a fast Intel Core i7 processor, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 graphics and a 1080p screen. Should this be your next mobile gaming machine? Keep reading to find out.
MSI offers multiple configurations of the GX660R. Our review unit of the MSI GX660R-060US comes with the following features:
- 15.6-inch 1080p (1920 x 1080) display with LED backlighting
- Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
- Intel Core i7-740QM (1.73GHz) Overclockable
- ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 (1GB DDR5) Overclockable
- 6GB DDR3 RAM 1066MHz (2GB x 3)
- 640GB (320GB x 2) 7200rpm HDD
- Super-Multi/Blu-Ray optical drive
- 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth
- 9-cell Li-ion battery with 150W power adapter
- Weight: 7.74 lbs
- Dimensions: 15 x 10.25 x 1.78 inches
- MSRP: $1,599.99 ($1,399 street price)
Build and Design
At first glance, the new MSI GX660R looks identical to the GT660R we reviewed in 2010. In truth, little has changed with this gaming notebook beyond the use of a higher resolution display, a different hard drive setup, and a slightly newer ATI graphics card. Honestly, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The new GX660R uses the same thick chassis loaded with ports, features the same speaker system from Dynaudio, and it can handle just about any game you throw at it with high detail settings and a 1080p resolution. Combine that with an average street price around $1,400 and you’ve got a good gaming laptop at a fair price.
Getting down to the details of the design, the exterior plastics are covered in a scratch-resistant coating to improve durability. The screen lid itself is also covered in “MSI Color Film Print Technology” which is essentially a multi-layer printed image imbedded into the plastic. In this case, you can see a faint honeycomb pattern in the lid similar to the texture used on the palm rests when you open the notebook.
The main body plastics don’t squeak, creak, or flex even under significant pressure, but the keyboard tray still suffers from obvious flex under heavy typing pressure like the GT660R we reviewed last year. The metal-reinforced main chassis offers a fair amount of structural support, but this also adds to the bulk and weight of the notebook. Overall, the GX660R looks good but the heavy use of glossy plastics means that your fingerprints will show up everywhere.
The bottom of the notebook includes a single, massive access plate for the RAM, wireless cards and the hard drive bays. The battery also clips into the bottom of the notebook underneath one of the palm rests. The three RAM slots are stacked, making use of the extra chassis thickness necessitated by the high-performance graphics card. Despite the thickness and weight of this notebook, the internal layout helps keep the chassis design as thin as possible. Once again, my only complaint is that you have to remove too many screws to get inside this notebook. Considering that the target audience for this laptop is likely to upgrade the RAM or hard drives at some point (possibly as soon as they buy it) I’m sure those customers would appreciate it if MSI made it easier to get inside.
Ports and Features
Again, the GX660R is largely unchanged from the GT660R so you’ll find the same massive collection of ports. This gaming notebook is packed with two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, eSATA port, ExpressCard slot, Ethernet, two video out ports, a media card reader and audio jacks. I’m happy to see the ExpressCard slot and four USB ports considering that an increasing number of desktop-replacement notebooks are cutting out the ExpressCard slot and limiting the number of USB ports to three in order to make the notebook lighter. Sure, the MSI GX660R weighs almost eight pounds, but most frequent travelers aren’t going to buy this laptop … it’s for gamers who will usually stay in one spot while gaming.
Here is a quick tour of the ports on this laptop: