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MSI GT680 - Specifications, Performance and Battery Life

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers
Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
MSI GT680

Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

So far then, the GT680 has held up pretty well, with the loose keyboard being the only real issue. But specifications are where this MSI gets really interesting since, as already mentioned, it's based on Intel's brand-new, 32nm Sandy Bridge platform. This not only brings halfway-decent CPU-integrated graphics (though naturally these are not relevant here) but also more processing power than ever before, while not overly taxing your electricity bill.

Specifically, MSI has selected the Core i7 2630QM for its latest gaming laptop. This quad-core CPU features hyper-threading to support up to eight virtual cores, and though it runs at 2GHz by default, it will turbo-clock up to 2.9GHz when all of its cores aren't in use and thermals allow.

To give a good indication of the increase in performance Sandy Bridge brings, just compare to the Asus G73Jh's 45nm Core i7 720QM in the above chart, which offers the same number of cores and a similar maximum frequency of 2.8GHz - though its standard clock is 1.6GHz, and the MSI's raided hard drive array also has an impact. However, it's undeniable that on the processing front, the GT680 is easily the fastest mobile machine we've seen.

Retail GT680 models will come with 8GB of DDR3 memory, which is upgradeable as the laptop supports four DIMM slots (unlike the standard Intel configuration which only supports two). When comparing results, do note that our review sample actually came with 16GB of memory. We're glad MSI has toned this down though; most users won't need more than four, and eight should be plenty for intensive usage and future games. In fact, with 8GB of RAM, a blistering quad-core CPU and CUDA-acceleration, we can't think of a single task the GT680 wouldn't tear through with contemptuous ease.

Despite not being nearly as gargantuan as other gaming laptop chassis we've seen, the GT680's can house dual hard drives, and MSI's "the World's Fastest Notebook Ever" claim comes from filling both of these with SSDs in RAID. Though you're always free to implement this setup yourself, for the GT680R model's £1350 MSRP you can't really expect an SSD boot drive. Instead, MSI has gone for the next best thing, and put two 'traditional' 7,200rpm, 500GB hard drives in RAID 0, still making for a very speedy and generous 1TB storage system. Just make sure to maintain regular backups, since it also means that failure in either drive may lose you all your data.

If you do want the extra speed out of the box, the aforementioned GT680H model not only adds a Blu-ray drive but also a 120GB Intel SSD for a £240 premium.

What's perhaps most impressive about MSI's gaming laptop is its incredible battery life. Thanks to a high-capacity 7800mAh/87Wh, 9-cell battery and the efficiency of Sandy Bridge, it managed an astounding three hours and 46 minutes in our light productivity test. Considering most portable 'gaming' machines fail this test altogether, it's quite an achievement. The only contender to come close is the Acer Aspire 5745DG, and that machine offers considerably less power on the CPU and GPU fronts, as well as sporting only a single hard drive.

On the 'proper' gaming laptop front then, the GT680 rules supreme, and with nearly two and a half hours in the intensive DVD test, is the only one that will let you watch even the longest films on the go.

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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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