PowerPro 7:15 (MSI 1656) Review

by Reads (17,465)


The PowerPro 7:15 is built on the MSI 1656 gaming notebook. It features a high-resolution 15.4-inch display, Intel Core i7 processor, and Nvidia GTS 250M graphics. Read on to see how it fared in our testing.

A special thanks goes to Donald Stratton of PowerNotebooks.com for sending us this review unit.

Our PowerPro 7:15 (MSI 1656) has the following specifications:

  • 15.4-inch WSXGA+ (1680×1050) glossy-type display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-720QM (1.6GHz/2.8GHz Turbo Mode, 6MB L3 cache) processor
  • Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M 1GB graphics card
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM (2x 2GB)
  • 320GB 7200RPM hard drive (Seagate Momentus 7200.4/ST9320423AS)
  • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5300AGN
  • Built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
  • 8X DVD burner
  • 1 Year Parts w/2nd Day Ship & 24/7 DOMESTIC Toll Free Support +Lifetime Labor
  • 6-cell 4800mAh battery
  • Weight: 6.2 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 14.11” (W) x 9.7” (D) x 1.0~1.4” (H)
  • MSRP: $1,634

The 7:15 starts at $1,347. The options on our test unit consist of 4GB of RAM ($65), the faster 7200RPM hard drive ($25), and Windows 7 Home Premium license ($115). PowerPro notebooks do not come standard with an operating system, which can be an advantage for those that already own a copy or have access to discounted prices.

Build and Design
The 7:15 has a classic, nondescript look with no odd curves or shapes. It is rather slim for a 15.4-inch notebook at only 1.0~1.4 inches, especially one packing this kind of power. The notebook is constructed of mostly plastic; the palm rest and back of the lid are brushed aluminum. Fortunately, none of the plastics used have a glossy coating. While glossy plastic might make the notebook look more attractive, we greatly prefer matte plastics because they are more durable and easier to clean. The plastic used is reasonably thick, on par or better when compared to mainstream notebooks from Dell or HP. It makes no cheap sounds when tapped. The aluminum palm rest and lid back have a very solid feeling and are a welcome addition.

The notebook chassis has small amounts of flex, though nothing out of the ordinary. This again is on par or better than most mainstream notebooks though not as good as a business class machine. There is no flex in the palm rest thanks to the aluminum, and the lid has some of the least flex we have seen thanks to the aluminum backing. Pushing in on the back of the lid still yields ripples on the screen, however. The hinges holding the display to the chassis are strong. The 7:15’s fit and finish is good; all parts fit together with even spacing and nothing seems out of place or mismatched. Quality is consistent; overall the build quality is satisfactory.

Screen and Speakers

The PowerPro 7:15 has a 15.4-inch display available in one resolution: 1680×1050. It has a glossy surface and CCFL backlighting. The display quality is good; it has plenty of brightness but is a bit shallow on contrast. The picture is impressively clear. Viewing angles are about average, washing out from above and below and showing some color inversion at extreme horizontal angles. The high resolution of this display (1680×1050) is excellent for multitasking and Internet browsing. It is rare to see a notebook with more than 1,000 pixels of vertical space and it is certainly appreciated.

The 7:15 has typical notebook speakers – they sound tinny and essentially have no bass. Fortunately the notebook offers many audio-out options including HDMI, S/PDIF, and analog.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The PowerPro 7:15 has a full-size keyboard with separate numeric keypad. The typing experience is satisfactory – keys are communicative with adequate tactile feedback. This keyboard is quiet enough to be used around others without disturbing them. It does suffer from some flex though only under more than normal pressure. The keyboard does not have as solid of a feel as we would like.

Typing on this keyboard takes a day or so to get used to; the 15.4-inch screen means that some of the keys had to be shrunk in order to fit with the numeric keypad. For example, the right Shift and Backspace keys are about 2/3 their normal size. Additionally, there are some layout discrepancies: the [Fn] and [Ctrl] keys at the bottom left corner are switched, and the Home and End keys are not dedicated but integrated as secondary functions into the [PgUp] and [PgDn] keys, respectively. An interesting aspect of the keyboard is its color coding. The W, A, S, and D keys, commonly used for gaming, are highlighted in red. The Function keys (F1 – F12) and the arrow keys are a dark orange. The color coding is a nice touch.

The touchpad has a matte surface that is easy to track on with moist or dry fingers. The touchpad buttons are aluminum and part of the palm rest. They are noisier than we prefer and not as easy to find by feel as they should be.

Ports and Features
This notebook features an impressive array of ports including HDMI (for connection to HDTVs) and eSATA (a fast connection for external hard drives). A small issue we have with the port layout is that two of the notebook’s three USB ports are located on the right side close to the user; this can get annoying for right handers since cords can get in the way. The status lights are along the bottom of the right palm rest and are clearly labeled. The power button is overly bright.

All picture descriptions are left to right.

Left Side: Kensington lock slot, 56k modem jack, optical drive, USB, S/PDIF, microphone, line in, headphone jack.

Right Side: ExpressCard/54 slot (top), memory card reader (xD, SD, MMC, MS, MS Pro – bottom), IEEE 1394 mini-Firewire, USB, eSATA/USB combo port, exhaust vent, Gigabit Ethernet

Back: HDMI, VGA, power jack, battery

Front: Status lights



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