Awards

  • Recommended by TR
MSI GT680

Summary

Our Score

8/10

Pros

  • Blazingly fast
  • Excellent value
  • Class-leading battery life
  • Extensive connectivity

Cons

  • Not the most attractive
  • Build quality sometimes suspect

Review Price free/subscription

Key Features: Quad-core, Sandy Bridge Core i7 CPU; Nvidia GTX 640M Graphics; 8GB DDR3 RAM; Twin 7,200rpm HDDs in RAID 0; Dynaudio 4.1 Speakers; USB 3.0 & eSATA 2

Manufacturer: MSI

MSI's gaming laptops have always held a special place in our hearts, in both good and bad ways. Good because they were reliably excellent value for money, and bad because their design was the stuff of Fisher-Price nightmares, with garish red plastic highlights nullifying the effects of the black brushed metal used elsewhere. Our previously-reviewed GX740 is the perfect example of great hardware packed inside a somewhat unattractive and flawed chassis.

However, not only does the company's new GT680 bring a completely different design to the table, it also sports specifications to make the most powerful laptops quake in fear. These include a quad-core Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor that will run at up to 2.9GHz, Nvidia GTX 460M graphics, 8GB of RAM and twin hard drives in RAID! In fact MSI dubs it "the World's Fastest Notebook Ever" – can the GT680 live up to this claim and still maintain the company's value reputation?

Let's start off with the design. Visually, it's certainly a far more modest and attractive look overall. Unfortunately, it's not all good news. The lid has gone from being a durable and handsome brushed metal to moulded glossy black plastic. Not only does this act as a fingerprint and dust magnet, but it doesn't feel as solid and there's serious flex near the hinge (though keep in mind that we are looking at an early sample, so hopefully this will be improved on retail models). Build quality of the base is far better than that found on the lid, though there's still a little more flex than we would like near the hinge.

Inside, the semi-matte screen-bezel of the previous design is replaced by a glossy surround with a matt outer edge, where we would have preferred this the other way around. Like the lid, the palm-rest is now also glossy plastic rather than metal, though at least a prominent honeycomb pattern disguises smudges.

On to the positives, the colour scheme of blacks, greys, silver and a dark, metallic red is quite successful, and angular lines give it the edginess many gamers will appreciate. It's still not a patch on the awesome design of the Asus G73Jh, but at least you won't have to try to hide it at LAN parties.

Between its metallic-red-trimmed speakers you'll find the familiar MSI touch strip, with a white-backlit power button and controls that become backlit in red when activated. This fits in far better than the previous blue backlighting and jarring metal grille.

One of these touch buttons turns on orange LED strips in the lid and base of the machine, two of which act as floodlights for whatever surface it's resting on. We're not really fans of the effect and it's a pity you can't change the colour, but it will doubtless find some adherents. Overall then, at least compared to previous MSI gaming laptops, the GT680's visual design is an evolution.

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Denis iii

January 28, 2011, 2:02 pm

£1400 for that ugly monstrosity? MSI must be having a laugh!


MSI laptops albeit ugly used to be priced well on a level with US pricing but looks they are taking evil ASUS' tactic of highly jacking up the price in the UK.

Jones

January 28, 2011, 4:19 pm

Im a resident supporter of MSI and in reply to Denis iii - their pricing has been consistent over the past 2/3 years on their top end gaming platforms. The quad core GT725 I picked up 2 years ago was maybe only a shade under the price of this one - both at the higher end of the market at time of release.





You also have to remember that MSI are a Chinese company (I think!) so their pricing structures will be hugely effected by $/£ exchange rates and the fact that the Chinese economy machine is largely making most things more expensive.





This is a different chasis to mine but I recently needed the power port re-soldered due to too much fiddling with it. Same thing happened at almost the same time with my brothers GT725. But then this is amongst the most common of issues with power hungry laptops. Just a word of warning - the guts of MSI machines are apparently several degrees more complicated than usual laptop internals. I didnt get charged extra for the repair but it did take the fella a good 3 or 4 times longer than usual.





And who buys an expensive laptop for its looks?!

TrustingTony

January 28, 2011, 10:12 pm

This looks like a promising option for someone like myself who is looking to grab a Sandy Bridge powered laptop asap. But do we know who'll be stocking this, and when?

Karlgannon

February 2, 2011, 6:35 pm

For the spec this is a MONSTER, looks are good also, wish I could swap my acer 5920g for one, but its out my price range, but I dont think it is overpriced, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. I would love one.

TechVegan

February 2, 2011, 8:39 pm

@Denisiii:


Never judge a book by its cover.


And all gaming laptops are 'monstrosities', though some are indeed a sight more attractive.


Still, MSI's latest design is definitely a positive evolution.





@Jones:


"And who buys an expensive laptop for its looks?!" Two words: Macbook Air. As far as gaming laptops are concerned though, internals and ergonomics are indeed far more important than visual impact.





@TrustingTony:


Micro Anvika should be but one of many retailers getting stock in this month.





@Karlgannon:


Agree that it's excellent value!

TechVegan

February 2, 2011, 9:47 pm

UPDATE:


Looks like we might have to wait a little longer for retail availability :(


The following is direct from MSI:


"MSI has been informed by Intel about the design issues in the Intel 6 series chipsets. According to Intel the performance of some of the Intel SATA ports on Intel 6 series products can degrade over a period of 3 years. MSI takes the quality of our products very seriously, so at this moment we are investigating product batches that may be affected and, meanwhile, have stopped all shipments to our distributors and resellers. Additionally, we asked resellers to hold sales of the Intel 6 series based MSI products to customers until the issue can be resolved."


Unfortunately, as it uses Intel's PM67 chipset, the GT680R is one of the products apparently affected...

Viview

November 21, 2011, 2:52 pm

Many pople are using MSI Laptop,and me,too.I think it's very good.I don't want to have a change.
http://www.laptopadapters.com.au/150w-msi-gt680-ac-power-adapter-with-cord-p-5230.html

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