MSI GE60 review
15.6 in 1,920x1,080 display, 2.4kg, 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ, 8.00GB RAM, 878GB disk, Windows 8
The MSI GE60 is one of the first laptops we’ve seen with a 4th-generation Haswell processor, specifically the quad-core 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor. The Core i7-4700MQ can dynamically increase its clock speed to 3.4GHz when the processor’s operating within certain thermal limits, providing a healthy increase in performance when applications demand it. It also has 8GB of RAM, which is plenty.
Given its great specification we weren’t surprised that it breezed through our multimedia benchmarks with a huge score of 96. This is very impressive, and is just four points off our reference desktop processor, the Core i5-3570K. You can be sure the GE60 will be able to handle almost anything you throw at it.
The GE60 uses a dedicated 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M chip as its graphics processor, and it made short work of our Dirt Showdown test at a resolution of 1,280x720 and graphics quality set to High, producing a very smooth 70.5fps. When we increased the resolution to its native 1,920x1,080 and raised the quality settings to High, it impressed us again with an average frame rate of 64.1fps, so you’ll certainly be able to take full advantage of its Full HD display while playing games.
The GE60 coped well with our more demanding Crysis 2 test, too. With graphics settings set to Ultra quality at a resolution of 1,920x1,080, it managed a steady 22.5fps. This isn’t smooth enough for comfortable play, but it’s much better than many other Full HD gaming laptops we’ve seen. We only had to reduce quality settings to High to see a much smoother average frame rate of 52.3fps.
One of the GE60’s main highlights, though, is its smart chassis. Its glossy lid and matt black interior has vibrant red highlights, and its smooth corners and rounded edges make a welcome change from the industrial box-like chassis of other gaming laptops. It’s comparatively thin for a gaming laptop as well, measuring 37mm at its thickest point, tapering to 32mm at the front. At 2.4kg, it’s heavy for a regular laptop but pretty light for a gaming laptop, weighing nearly half the weight of the Scan 3XS Graphite LG15.
It’s certainly one of the more stylish gaming laptops we’ve seen recently, and we’re equally impressed by its SteelSeries keyboard. Its springy Chiclet-style keys give a superb level of tactile feedback, and there’s enough room for a full-sized number pad, too. It also has two dedicated buttons, one for controlling fan power and the other to control the brightness of the keyboard’s LED backlight.
A smooth all-in-one touchpad sits just off-centre. As it sits in a slight recess from the main wrist rest, we found Windows 8 shortcuts to be a little temperamental at times, but on the whole it was extremely responsive. Despite its brushed metal finish, we were able to execute multitouch gestures such as pinch-zooming and two-finger scrolling with a superb degree of control and accuracy. The lower half of the touchpad has mouse buttons built-in to it, and the buttons had plenty of depth when clicked.
The GE60 has a 15.6in screen and its image quality was excellent. It has a matt finish, so colours don’t look quite as rich as they would on a glossy display, but reds, greens and blues had plenty of punch and we were particularly impressed with its deep black levels. Whites were a little grey toward the edges, but its contrast levels were great. We saw a high level of detail in all our test photos and the laptop didn’t sacrifice any colour accuracy to achieve it.
The GE60 doesn’t have the widest range of ports, but those it does have should cater for most users. There are two USB3 and two USB2 ports, HDMI and VGA outputs, an SD card reader, a DVD re-rewriter, a Gigabit Ethernet port and separate headphone and microphone jacks. Happily, we didn’t particularly feel the need to use a pair of external speakers, as its integrated speakers were excellent. Our test tracks were full of bass and it’s easily one of the best laptop speaker systems we’ve heard. There's also plenty of space for your media files thanks to its 750GB hard disk and 128GB SSD.
Unsurprisingly, battery life isn’t one of its strong suits, as it lasted just 4 hours and 19 minutes in our light use test with the screen set to half brightness. Playing power-hungry games will drain it more quickly, but this shouldn’t be too much of a concern, as it’s what we expect from a gaming laptop.
The MSI GE60 is an excellent gaming laptop. In terms of performance, it’s not too dissimilar from the marginally cheaper Scan 3XS Graphite LG15, but the GE60’s chassis and keyboard are much more stylish and comfortable to use. At £1,150, it’s also £150 cheaper than the Samsung Series 7 Chronos, making it an Ultimate award winner.