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MSI GX740 - Design, Usability and AV

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



  • Recommended by TR


Our Score:


So far we're impressed by both the specifications and connectivity of the GX740, but a lot of our goodwill is lost due to the frankly cheap-looking design that MSI has employed on its gaming laptops for a while now. The largely black machine sports bright red plastic accents, which really don't do its overall image any favours. Nor is it helped by a blue-backlit power button that's constantly lit and clashes badly with all that red.

It’s a real pity as there are some stylish touches, including a brushed black aluminium lid and palm-rest, which make the GX740 far more durable and fingerprint proof than your average glossy plastic affair. Build quality is also generally good, though with some exceptions as the keyboard and speaker grill above it feel cheap and relatively fragile. Again, it detracts from what is otherwise a rock-solid machine.

A range of touch-sensitive, blue-backlit controls can be found in the speaker grill, and while they might look cheap they work well. Media playback controls, a webcam app launcher, and separate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi switches are joined by a handy user-defined button that can launch any application or game you wish.

Unfortunately the keyboard layout is yet another thing that remains unchanged from the GT740. This means it suffers from a Function key that's to the outside of Ctrl, making shortcuts a pain, and a small Enter key. On the positives side, key feedback is still really good, with a decent amount of travel and positive click, though we didn't find them quite as firm as on the GT470. Also, one annoyance we didn't note before was that when typing, hitting the space-bar can be difficult due to its pressed state being ever so slightly lower than the palm-rest, with very little space in between.

Though it doesn't support multi-touch, in every other regard the touchpad is great. It's a decent size, clearly delineated, and features a surface that's smooth and pleasant. Its buttons are etched out of the metal of the palm-rest – one of this laptop's nicer design touches.

Getting onto the screen, it's the same sharp, 1,680 x 1,050, 17in display that impressed us previously. It's not Full HD so 1080p material won't be shown off in every pixel of detail, but on a screen this size you're unlikely to notice the difference. You do lose our in terms of desktop real estate but again it still feels adequate. Also the lower resolution means games will run faster at the display's native resolution.

Tell-tale signs of inferior displays, such as backlight bleed, uneven light distribution and banding, are mostly absent here. Horizontal viewing angles are good, though as usual vertical ones leave a lot to be desired. The screen's glossy coating does cause annoying reflections when ambient lighting is present, but it also enhances perceived contrast and makes colours look punchier.

Speaking of contrast, you get a fair amount of dark detailing, albeit (inevitably on a TN-based panel) at the cost of white differentiation. All-in it's a decent gaming panel, especially as there are no problems such as ghosting.

It's matched by speakers that are above average, one area where MSI seems to have made a bit of an upgrade. While not quite as roomy as its four speakers and built-in sub would suggest, the sound-stage is nonetheless wider than all but its best competitors, with relatively rich bass and detailed if not always crisp highs. Our only other complaint is some very slight distortion at their highest volume. It can't match up to the likes of the Toshiba Qosmio X500-10T, but headphones are not essential.


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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