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MSI GX740 review

Ardjuna Seghers




  • Recommended by TR

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Our Score:


If you're after a gaming laptop, MSI is usually a good company to check out, as its machines tend to offer a lot for the money. Unfortunately this wasn't so much the case with the GT740, which was let down by garish looks and underpowered graphics, so let's see how the new GX740-061UK fares.

Sadly, the chassis hasn't changed at all for this latest 17in model, so it remains a somewhat unattractive machine (unless you're a fan of Fisher Price, in which case a gaming laptop probably isn't the right toy for you). Connectivity also remains identical while the processor is now a Core i5 instead of the previous model's Core i7. So why is this machine significantly better than its predecessor? In one word: graphics. Rather than the underpowered and heavily outdated Nvidia 200-series that new gaming laptops still occasionally come out with, it has an AMD Radeon HD5870 with 1GB of dedicated DDR5 RAM. While this mobile GPU doesn't come close to the performance of its desktop counterpart, it is still one of the best-performing cards for gaming on the go, supporting DX11 and even giving playable frame rates in Crysis at high detail (if you go easy on the resolution).

Nor is the CPU too much of a compromise. Compared to its predecessor's quad core Core i7 720QM (which could run at a turbo-boosted maximum of 2.8GHz), the dual core Core i5 430M, with its maximum 2.53GHz speed, might seem a little inadequate. But keeping in mind that most games don't use more than two cores and the graphics card is more likely to be the bottleneck, MSI has made a sensible choice here. This is especially true when you consider the GX740's price: at well under £900, it's the cheapest laptop we've looked at that's still truly worthy of the title of 'gaming machine'.

The rest of the specifications are also well up to a competent supporting cast. 4GB of DDR3 RAM is pretty much standard and you get a generous 500GB hard drive, though it's of the slower 5,400rpm variety (unless you're lucky enough to live in the US, where you'll get a 7,200rpm drive).

As already mentioned, connectivity is identical to the GT470, so you get a comprehensive selection. Along the right you'll find a memory card reader that handles SD/HC, xD and MMC, a 54mm ExpressCard slot, one mini FireWire port and two USB 2.0 ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA connector. Here you'll also find the rather rare option of analogue 8-channel surround sound outputs courtesy of no less than four 3.5mm jacks. This is a great feature for those wanting to hook up compatible headphones or external 7.1 speakers that don't have a dedicated decoder.

Around the back we have VGA and HDMI for video, while the left houses a DVD-rewriter (another price concession compared to its predecessor, which had a Blu-ray drive) and further two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and one for an old-fashioned V92 modem. The only absentee here is unsurprisingly USB 3.0, but it can be added using the GX470's ExpressCard slot.


October 19, 2010, 9:21 pm

Damn - that's one ugly laptop. For that price, I'd expect something with a little more class.


October 20, 2010, 12:18 am

i bought a rock extreme ctx pro many years ago for £1700 ,it had a 7950gtx graphics card which at the time was a top card,so when you think your getting a ati 5870 which is a top card today and it cost £900 its a absolute bargain in comparison.

as for battery life you have a machine of this power plugged in anyway so its not really a problem,as for looks it wouldn't bother me as the real Beauty you cant see.


October 20, 2010, 12:58 am

@bobsta - easy there! I happen to like the chassis of my GT 725! But then I love the 80s naff vibes!!!

For anyone interested these are very well put together machines for the price. My brother also owns an MSI and also has had no complaints.


October 20, 2010, 1:17 pm


The whole idea is that it's actually really cheap for what you get - but making the red black wouldn't exactly cost more.

Still, as Jones' comment shows, taste is as ever a personal thing.

Denis iii

October 20, 2010, 7:23 pm

I'm seriously considering buying this even though it is the ugliest laptop I have ever laid eyes on. First thing will be a lot of masking tape and matte black paint job!!!! Maybe then I could stomach it but still has that god awful speaker grill...YUCK!!!

Just goes to show how much Asus rips off the UK market with there Asus G73+5870 going for £1800+ when first released in the UK and epic fail again Asus for only releasing the Asus G53 with useless 720P 3D screen the glasses for £1600+- and no 1080 non 3D UK option.

I wonder if this bargain from MSI will cause an ASUS price drop as no one in there right mind would spend an extra 1000quid for the same thing from Asus with a few tweaks and better looks.

Well done MSI, change the design and I'd of happily dropped £1000 on your MSI GX740.


October 21, 2010, 8:26 pm

@Denis iii:

funny you should mention those, as we should soon be getting the G53 in for review :)

As to the G73 being a rip-off, it's not really. You just pay for the Full HD screen, 8GB of RAM, twin HDDs, more expensive chassis including backlit keyboard, quieter cooling, etc. Whether it's worth the price difference will depend on your budget and personal preferences...

But I definitely agree that if they changed the design, the GX740 could be a truly excellent machine all round rather than the 'ugly' bargain it is now.


October 22, 2010, 2:27 am

If you're handy with a screwdriver just take the chassis apart and start spraying the red panels black/grey. I think the design is fine only the garish bright red make it look cheap and nasty.


October 22, 2010, 12:49 pm

I just noticed the screen resolution. Bit surprised at that considering the GT-725 was "full HD". I seem to remember that at the time of my laptops release there were two versions with the two different resolutions though so perhaps MSI will have a slightly more specced up model for an extra bit of cash? Is never really a big deal for me on laptops - though I know it can be a deal breaker for some.

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