Gaming notebooks are rarely preferred over full-fledged desktop PCs. The primary reason being the cost. It’s possible to build a powerful desktop for the same price as an average gaming notebook. Gaming notebooks are large in size and heavy, so you can’t really carry these around too often. MSI’s last gaming notebook – the GTX663R, was a great performer but also came with a heavy price tag. Now with the GX660, we definitely hope to see some more value for money.

Design and Build Quality
At first glance, the GX660 looks quite similar to the GTX663R, in more ways than one. Other than its size, we’re not totally impressed by its looks. The top lid is glossy and the notebook is black in colour. The LED that illuminates the logo on the lid is a nice touch. The notebook , though, isn’t up to date on the design – I mean to say it’s not directly comparable to a high-end Alienware notebook.

Very average looking for a gaming notebook

Very average looking for a gaming notebook

After opening the notebook, you notice that the insides aren’t too different from the previous GTX663R notebook. At 15.6 inches, the GX660’s screen is quite large and the bezel surrounding the screen is pretty sleek and doesn’t waste too much space. The keyboard has a chiclet design and is spaced out well. The trackpad doesn’t perform as well as we’d like, but its soft velvet-like surface makes it comfortable to use. Above the keyboard, there are a few touch-sensitive buttons that act like shortcuts for a variety of functions like powering the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth features. There are even buttons for switching between various performance modes. The panel in itself is a thoughtful addition by MSI. Surrounding the panel at its two ends, MSI has supplied us with two Dynaudio branded speakers. They are larger than most speakers we’ve seen and we hope this results in superior audio quality.

eSATA accompanied with VGA and HDMI

eSATA accompanied with VGA and HDMI

While the design is not inspirational, the build quality is not up to the mark, either. For one, the plastic used throughout the notebook has a cheap feel to it. The keyboard’s chiclet design might be nice, but the keys don’t look like they could sustain heavy usage. Gamers are bound to use the same keyboard while spending hours gaming, so the keyboard needs to be chunky and sturdy enough to take the abuse.

Features
The configuration of the notebook is good, but is pretty similar to its predecessor. Intel’s Core i7 Q740 quad-core processor clocks at 1.73 GHz and can also be pressed to give about 2.93 GHz. The notebook comes with a colossal 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, which again is similar to the GTX663R. The biggest difference is the graphics solution being used. While the older model had an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M, this one features AMD’s Mobility Radeon HD 5870. That along with a good 640 GB hard drive, is what is different from the previous model.

Bulky for sure and heats up as well

Bulky for sure and heats up as well

Leaving the specifications aside, we come to the ports that the GX660 boasts of. There are two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports and along with these, MSI has also thrown in an eSATA port and then there’s an HDMI port included, as well. While HDMI is a standard feature that we see in most notebooks today, the eSATA port looks like a nice addition to connect to any eSATA drives. Also, you’ll find a VGA port along with an optical drive as well.

The touch-sensitive shortcut keys also deserve a mention here. As mentioned earlier, there are keys to change performance modes like Eco Saving, Document Only or Turbo. The turbo option is not new in the gaming notebook segment and is supposed to give a slight boost in performance. But what interested us most is a button that controls the fan, so press it once and the fan speeds up, cooling down the notebook if needed.  There's also a customizable shortcut key which will perform an operation just as you want it to.

While the design and build quality is not impressive, the features and connectivity options that the GX660 offers us is definitely worth an applause.
Performance
As we move on to the performance, we see that the GX660 just gets better. We ran a set of gaming benchmarks in addition to the set of tests that we run on standard notebooks. While the performance seen here cannot be classified as top-notch, it’s definitely not bad either when compared to other gaming notebooks. Cinebench R10 scores see only a 6 per cent drop as compared to ASUS’ G73Jw. Cinebench R11.5 scores for the CPU was 2.98, about 7 per cent less than MSI’s GT663R of 3.18. The gaming benchmarks we ran were also quite good. Mafia 2 ran at a pretty decent 26.5 fps at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and with Anti Aliasing on and 16x Anisotropic Filtering. This is an incredible amount of power coming from a notebook.

Great sounding speakers from Dynaudio

Great sounding speakers from Dynaudio

The benchmarks certainly took their toll on the notebook as we saw it get hot within minutes of running a few intensive benchmarks. However, that’s not a new thing for gaming notebooks in particular, as they heat up quickly most of the time. Turning the fan speed up will not do a lot, but can help in releasing some heat. In terms of battery consumption, the GX660 stands at par with other standard gaming notebooks and ran for an hour and 6 minutes total in our battery benchmark.

The GX660’s stereo speakers were one of the better sounding speakers that we’ve ever seen on notebooks, in general. They are quite loud for their small size and there was very slight distortion observed, even at the highest volume. The speakers are loud enough and definitely have some detail. For that matter, even the bass is quite audible.

Performance does pure justice to the price

Performance does pure justice to the price

While the laptop plays HD content without a glitch, the screen’s viewing angles are not optimal. This issue with the viewing angles is observed more in the vertical sphere than the horizontal one. Not that the horizontal viewing angles are any better, but you’ll notice a difference while viewing it from the top and bottom than the sides.

We already mentioned that the GX660’s keyboard might not withhold constant pressure which is inevitable in games, but another important aspect is that the trackpad feels pretty dead in response to many touch controls. You’ll definitely want to buy a gaming mouse to use with this notebook.

Amongst the best gaming notebooks

Amongst the best gaming notebooks

Verdict
At a price of Rs. 59,999 this notebook is an absolute steal. If you’ve been following gaming notebooks, you definitely know that this is probably the cheapest out there. The MSI GT663R costs a whopping Rs. 1,50,000 and for that matter even the ASUS G73Jw’s price is Rs. 1,14,000. However, their performance is only slightly better than the GX660. So at half the price of the standard gaming notebooks, the GX660 is a perfect buy for those searching for a gaming notebook.

Publish date: June 8, 2011 1:51 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 7:58 pm

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