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MSI GX700 Extreme Edition Review

MSI have recently sent us a working prototype for their upcoming GX700 Extreme Edition Laptop, the spec is the same as the finished product but the shell lacks the painted tattoo design and the LCD is the 17" WSXGA screen version, but you will get a solid idea of what the finished version will be like as the insides are the same.

To start with you get a good package for your money, as well as a 2500dpi laser mouse, there is a Jabra style headset and a rucksack style laptop bag, all of which have the same tattoo design as the main device.

The design is something we really liked, the images in the gallery will show off some of the touches. The tattoos on the laptop look great along side the black finish and it will definitely be a device to show off to your mates.

To get the ball rolling the spec below shows that the GX700 has some powerful features...

Main Spec

  • 17” WUXGA / Non Glare (1920 x 1200)
  • Nvidia NX8600M GT 512Mb (DX10)
  • i965GM+ ICH8-M
  • HDMI + Dolby Home Theatre HD Audio
  • Intel Turbo Memory (Robson)
  • 1.3mp Webcam
  • Intel T7500 2.2G
  • 2Gb DDR2 (667Mhz)
  • 250Gb SATA
  • SuperMulti ODD
  • intel 4965 AGN
  • Vista Home Premium
  • 6 Cell battery
  • Special Edition Gaming Headset/Mouse/Bag
  • Gaming Tattoo on A side lid
  • 2 Years (1st year C&R, 2nd year RTB)

SOFTWARE

  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Works 8.5
  • Cyberlink DVD Suite

The paint design is one thing, but MSI have also produced a laptop which is light weight and has solid build quality. More importantly it was fairly quite, only during a heavy games session or placing a DVD in the drive you got to hear the fans kick in. During a Windows session it was whisper quite.

The supplied mouse was really good and it also looks the part, but the only thing we would have liked to see would be an led on the mouse that would inform us of which dpi mode we were in - there is a button that you can press to switch between 800 to 2500dpi modes on the fly (the higher dpi is useful for precision work).

The headset was also finished in the same design as the laptop and was comfortable to wear for long periods of use - even if you wear glasses - but its build quality is questionable as it feels a bit flimsy and could easily break.

Its construction is joined by a series of USB ports (3), a RJ45/Modem port, TV-tuner (optional extra), SD card reader, front mounted audio inputs for your mic, headphone jack and a VGA analogue port.

VGA analogue port you gasp, well we thought the same, but its not a major concern as you can get adaptors to convert to DVI, but when you see what is included to the side of the port you will forget all about this, as the MSI features a HDMI port making it an ideal partner for linking up to HD compatible devices and is an excellent addition (it's just a pity that there was no HD-DVD as part of the package).

Though our review version came with the lower quality 1680 x 1050 display this was still a great screen so we would have high hopes that the higher res version will be even better. Playing games, using Windows or watching DVD's were fine, colours were vibrant and there seemed to be no visible ghosting of images when fast paced action was displayed.

We nearly forgot to add that the sound quality was also good and our games and DVD's sounded fine, though the volume needed to be set to full whack whilst watching films.

From a Vista performance point of view we ran the Windows index and the laptop achieved an average of 4.5/5 which means it can handle the advanced features of the operating system and the ones included in the Ultimate edition if you decide to upgrade.

The score was let down by the Graphics mark, which leads us onto the biggest disappointment, the 8600MGT 512 may be a DX10 card but its performance was way below the standard set by the GO 7950GTX, but we must point out that you pay £300 more for a laptop with this card, what it does give you is the same performance as you would get from a 8500GT desktop style card, in that you can play games, but will have to tone down the graphics some what.

We did over a week of artificial and natural benchmarking, which you can see from the images - at the end of the review - that the scores are some what lower than the 7950GTX.

Running at the highest res on the laptops native (1680 x 1050) was virtually impossible, as the card struggles even at the lower 1280 x 900 widescreen resolution, unless like we said before the graphics detail is turned low.

AA and AF settings should be experimented with at lower resolutions because the NVIDIA scaling function will at least scale the display to fit your screen and you can then get some respectable frame rates when you have play tested a few games, but the laptop is not a games machine that you can simply walk into and play on the highest settings.

For Benchmarking we used 3D Mark 06, HardwareOC Prey test and Company of Heroes Performance tests, which we also ran a DX10 test on the card and we have to say the DX10 textures on COH nearly crippled the device on higher resolutions, so again throttling back on the settings will be needed.

To give you an idea of what the card can achieve, we have displayed a few screen shots at the base of the review to show you the settings that we felt the games could run at quite comfortably and to be honest they are not that bad, we were more than happy with the games running at lower settings as they were just as enjoyable as ever.

General Vista performance was improved slightly due to the new Intel Santa Rosa platform, thanks primarily to its new features such as the 1MB of Intel Turbo Memory, Intel PM965 Express Chipset and of course having 2GB DDR2 memory helps. The Santa Rosa platform has a lot of new features, so if you are interested in knowing more, then please click on the following Wiki link.

The laptops boot up times were good thanks to the above and the vista experience seemed a lot more enjoyable as its performance felt better. Though its battery life was still bad, running anything in hi-performance mode i.e DVD's or games would give you just over an hours of use, but again this laptop will be used primarily for games.

As for value it does come out pretty good for the spec you get, but its warranty could be slightly better, as the second year is RTB.