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MSI GX740 - Performance, Battery Life, Gaming and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
MSI GX740

Summary

Our Score:

8

As already mentioned, thanks to its high clock speed the MSI GX740's Core i5 puts in quite an impressive performance, constantly nipping at the heels of the Asus G73Jh which is equipped with a Core i7 and 8GB of RAM.

Though the GT740 is similarly equipped in the CPU department, its 32-bit OS doesn't let it use its full 4GB of memory. Combined with its weaker graphics this means it lags the other machines significantly.

In terms of gaming, the G73Jh already showed off what the Mobility Radeon HD5870 can do, and this MSI confirms it as one of the performance leaders in its sector. Aside from Crysis which we run at 720p, we don't give you comparative graphs as the GX470's lower 1,680 x 1,050 screen resolution (compared to the 1,920 x 1,080 of rivals like the G73Jh) would skew things in its favour. DirectX 11 title Stalker: Call of Pripyat presented no problem, returning a smooth 46.35 frames per second (fps) average at Ultra detail. Classic favourite Call of Duty 4 also ran very smoothly at 84fps with everything turned up to maximum and 2xAA enabled.

Crysis is rather getting on these days, which makes it all the more embarrassing that we haven't had a gaming laptop through the office yet that can handle it at full tilt. However, at least the 5870 will let you play it, and knocking the resolution down to 1,280 x 720 on High Detail resulted in a silky 33.3fps average, with minimum frame rate at 25fps. Again the Asus edges ahead as Crysis will happily utilize a third processor core and likes its RAM, but considering the GX740 is half the G73Jh's price, that they perform almost at the same level in graphically intense titles is very impressive indeed.

However, one area where this MSI does not succeed is with battery life. Utilizing a smaller battery than its GT740 predecessor yet with a more power hungry graphics card doesn't do the machine any favours away from a socket, and it failed the Productivity test altogether. During DVD playback it managed just over 64 minutes, meaning you can't even watch your average film on this laptop. In this regard it's practically a 'portable desktop'. One other issue caused by the more powerful graphics is that the GX is noisier than the GT, with its cooling kicking into overdrive at regular intervals. It's not particularly annoying while gaming, but does get on the nerves during quieter activities.

MSI has simply focused on spending the money where it's most needed in a gaming laptop: graphics. In going for a mainstream, dual-core CPU and not including a Blu-ray drive, MSI has made sensible compromises to make this Radeon 5870-equipped laptop one of the best value portable gaming machines on the market – in fact, we wish we could give it an 11 for value.

Just to put into perspective what a steal this £875 machine is, consider that the Alienware M17x with nearly equivalent specs (you get a faster hard drive but lower resolution screen) costs a whopping £1,700! A backlit keyboard/touchpad, attractive and nicely-lit chassis, better support and some decent extras certainly aren't worth a price difference of more than £800.

A fairer comparison is to the £1,650 Asus G73Jh, which is quieter and far better-looking. But though it's good value, you do pay for the 8GB of RAM, twin hard drives and other high-end touches – which don't have a huge impact on the majority of games.

Verdict

MSI provides an awesome specification at an awesome price in an outdated chassis. If you're willing to put up with its somewhat garish looks, terrible battery life and a few other foibles, nothing for even close to the same money can touch this GX740 laptop when it comes to sheer gaming performance.

bobsta

October 19, 2010, 9:21 pm

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

paul

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.

Jones

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.

TechVegan

October 20, 2010, 1:17 pm

@bobsta:


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.

TechVegan

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.

AlmostDone

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.

Jones

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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