15.4 in 1,680×1,050 display, 2.7kg, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium
The GT627’s black chassis with red trim won’t be to everyone’s taste, and the touch-sensitive controls above the keyboard are a little gaudy.
A more practical concern is the cramped keyboard. Although it uses the full width of the case, it squeezes a number pad in on the right, which means a number of small keys on the right-hand side.
MSI has packed an astounding amount into the lurid case. There’s a quad-core Intel processor with 4GB of RAM, plus an Nvidia 9800M GS graphics chipset. Together, these power the GT627 to an overall score of 80 in our benchmarks, which is remarkable for a laptop. Gaming performance was equally impressive, with a score of 37.9fps in Call of Duty 4, and it managed 32fps in Crysis at the screen’s 1,680×1,050 native resolution, with medium detail and anti-aliasing disabled.
As well as a 320GB hard disk, you get a Blu-ray drive and all the expansion ports you might need: FireWire, HDMI, eSATA and coaxial S/PDIF. Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth are also included, although there are only three USB ports.
The GT627’s 15.4in display isn’t as vibrant as some LED-backlit screens, but colours are accurate. We’re used to seeing a 1,680×1,050 resolution on 22in desktop monitors. It means that each pixel is smaller, and images benefit by looking sharper. In games this means you can get away with a lower anti-aliasing setting.
The touchpad buttons are stiff and don’t have much travel. The surface of the touchpad isn’t smooth enough, and during the time we had it, it wore away an even-less-smooth shiny patch. Mind you, if you’re playing games, an external mouse is essential anyway.
The touch-sensitive panel above the keyboard includes controls for media playback and buttons that turn Bluetooth, WiFi and the webcam on and off. There’s also a button that switches between modes, including an Eco mode, and another that toggles Turbo mode. We noticed only a tiny difference in Turbo mode, while Eco mode turned the display brightness down to 20 per cent, which is too dark to see. Its poor battery life of just over two hours is typical for a powerful gaming laptop. This is a pity, as it’s actually fairly portable at 2.7kg.
The GT627 has the quad-core performance and gaming muscle to rival the desktop-replacement laptops in last month’s group test. All it really lacks is a full-HD screen to complement the Blu-ray drive, but you can hook up a bigger screen via HDMI. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that isn’t too huge, this fits the bill. Despite a couple of minor issues, it’s a good choice if you need the power.
|Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtek High Definition Audio
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption idle
|Power consumption active
|Nvidia GeForce 9800M GS
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
|DVD+/-RW +/-DL BD-ROM
Ports and Expansion
|Total Firewire ports
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro
|eSATA (shared with USB socket), 2x minijack audio input, 1x minijack S/PDIF output (shared), 1x minijack audio output, mini-RF port
|Windows Vista Home Premium
|Operating system restore option