MSI GX720

The GX720 does fine for a gaming laptop. While it doesn't pull the massive punch of its Dell XPS or Alienware competitors thanks to its lower spec graphics card, it comes in a lot cheaper and should cover most gaming needs.


8.0
CNET Rating
7.9
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Design
The GX720 shares its design heritage with the EX720, essentially being a repainted chassis with a black interior and red racing stripes. The lid has been redone to mimic black brushed aluminium, while the panel underneath the monitor that houses the touch-sensitive buttons has been swapped out, with a car-dash inspired grille covering the speakers and a more edgy design for the buttons themselves. While the usual media buttons are here, as well as the power profile, webcam, Bluetooth and wireless on/off buttons, there's also a "Turbo" button, which overclocks the processor from 2.4GHz to 2.78GHz, by increasing the FSB by 30MHz.

MSI has been rather criminal with air vents again though, positioning it on the right, meaning any right hander with an external mouse may find their digits a little roasted. Considering MSI includes a gaming mouse as part of its bundle, this is an interesting oversight.

The gaming mouse itself is actually of decent quality for something not from Microsoft, Logitech or Razer. It's comfortable for right handers, has a custom weight system (allowing you to modify its heaviness by adding metal slugs one by one to the inside of the mouse), and as an added bonus, the retention mechanism is designed like a six-shooter gun chamber. It's the first time, despite all the gaming advertising otherwise, that we've actually thought of a mouse as a weapon.

There is a DPI switcher on the mouse under the multi-directional scroll wheel, and the buttons on the left can be customised to run macros, with three separate profiles available by pressing the "M" button on the mouse. The profile editor isn't the best, because while it allows recording macros, only delay between mouse and key presses can be edited, with mistakes needing to be deleted rather than edited. You also cannot create a macro manually within the software — you must record your actions. It's a definite step-up from the usual mouse inclusions, but from a software perspective won't be threatening the top three manufacturers any time soon.

Aside from this the only gripe is the keyboard, as the keys near the numpad are squashed to accommodate a strip on the left featuring the power button. This could have been placed anywhere else to allow for a full-sized keyboard. The surface is also not as high friction as we're used to, which may contribute to typing errors.

Features
Where the GX720 sets itself apart from its more pedestrian cousin is its feature set. Aside from a welcome increase in resolution to 1680x1050, it includes a Core 2 Duo P8600 at 2.4GHz and an Nvidia 9600M GT. It's still equipped with a 320GB hard drive (although it would have been nice to see an increase from 5400rpm to 7200rpm), and also has 4GB RAM, although once again MSI has opted to supply Vista Home Premium 32-bit edition — meaning the machine can only access 3.07GB of it. We'd have loved to have seen 64-bit Vista here. The change is slowly coming, and we sincerely hope by Windows 7 nobody is selling the 32-bit version.

The sides of the GX720 are a mirror of the EX720, with the left featuring the DVD drive, 56Kbps modem, gigabit Ethernet and dual USB ports; the right configurable audio jacks supporting microphone and line-in input, headphones, or up to 7.1 speakers as well as an IEEE 1394 port, hybrid eSATA/USB port, dedicated USB port, ExpressCard 54 slot and SD card reader. The rear is reserved for video outputs and power, including VGA and HDMI.

Other than the mouse, included in the bundle is a remote for the built-in TV tuner, an aerial, a copy of ArcSoft's TotalMedia 3.5 and the year old Tom Clancy's Rainbox Six Vegas 2. Two blank DVD-Rs are included to burn system recovery discs to, and we suggest you do so as MSI does not include the Vista install disc in the package. Once again you'll need to locate and install your own trackpad drivers to get the most out of your laptop, and MSI really needs custom software to manage its power profiles, with the Windows tool not really being up to the task.

Performance
The GX720 gave a good showing, scoring 5203 in 3DMark 06 and 6043 in PCMark05, indicating it's reasonably well equipped for gaming, excellent for production work, and completely excessive for office use. With Turbo enabled, it pulled 5323 in 3DMark06 and 6832 in PCMark05, a good increase. On the practical gaming front, Crysis: Warhead was certainly playable in Turbo mode with everything set to minimum and the resolution set to 1280x800. Gameplay is possible at the native resolution, but a little ambitious for this title.

The GX720 does fine for a gaming laptop. While it doesn't pull the massive punch of its Dell XPS or Alienware competitors thanks to its lower spec graphics card, it comes in a lot cheaper and should cover most gaming needs.



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Cos
9
Rating
 

Cos posted a review   

The Good:Basically everything but especially turbo, wifi range, speakers and the screen resolution

The Bad:actually a few minor 'bads'; shift, ctrl, Fn all mixed up takes sime getting used to, dvd drive is inconvient and you will always accidently open it due to its placing, looks really bad once open due to the red rubbish, windows 7 pre-loaded is a rubbish os especially in 32 bit

It will game and perform better than you expected from reading the specs, a very good hardware combination. Screen is great feels like a 22' but easier to carry and makes it appropriate for games and business work, very happy with it

Timesheep
7
Rating
 

Timesheep posted a review   

The Good:Reasonable for the most games at the time of it's release. Speakers got great quality of laptop speakers to be.

The Bad:FN AND CTRL ARE NOT IN GAMER POSITIONS! CD/DVD drive to the left. Could have a few more USB port. Small battery for office use. Ventilates from the side (Would be positive, but since Laptop coolers only ventilate the bottom...)

It's a good computer all in all, though it does not deserve it's title as a gamer computer.
First of all, you have the FN key where a gamer would prefer having Ctrl, for easier dodging. Second of all, you cannot change anything about Eco mode, what i am aware of. And third it could have just a slightly better GFX card.
It is not that kind that overheats, and it endures for a very long time, sustaining 60 degrees celsius. Though after 6-8 hours it's getting slow and clearly needs a break, even though temperature is ok and turbo is off.
Turbo increases the CPU core temperature with around 20 degrees which is VERY MUCH! Watch out when to use it.
The optical drive is as noisy as any other in a laptop, it feels slow, and the whole table vibrates when it is burning a disc. The screen is very glossy, so you wont save much energy as you will have to turn the brightness up to full, in order to see something, as the sun is preventing you.
Built-in microphone has nice quality, though it records far from loud enough, and as soon as the monitor just moves a little, you get a "boing" sound through the microphone.

kimBle
8
Rating
 

kimBle posted a review   

The Good:Turbo makes clear difference when on. Looks nice :D

The Bad:MIDGET SHIFT KEY AND ARROW KEYS.............. kinda easy to get dirty

Im pretty satisfied how this laptop is going for me. Doing no harm in my life.. Unless its on my back with the msi bag they give u... wouldnt mind getting a different bag

Proud owner of GX720
8
Rating
 

Proud owner of GX720 posted a review   

The Good:This computer is mad its got dolby surround sound technology and the turbo button is very useful

The Bad:The numpad is all packed to one side and the closer to the right u get its like alice in wonderland its all cramped up

Overall this computer is very great, very affordable and easy to use. Basically it's designed as a gaming computer but can be used for work too. This is the computer for the simple man

Lost in Perth
8
Rating
 

Lost in Perth posted a review   

Where would I get an MSI gx720 in Perth? Anyone can help? Arrow computers don't seem to carry them...

Michal loves gx 720
9
Rating
 

Michal loves gx 720 posted a review   

The Good:Keyboard is great, first laptop i have seen with a numpad. perfect for businesses. Cooling system is quite nice, MUCH quieter than a dell inspiron. I bought for $2000 but it's definetely worth $2500 unlike Cnet's prediction. Touchpad is very perfect. I am proud pulling out this laptop from my bag. Battery life is ideal.

The Bad:speaker hi definition is overrated on this laptop. To play a movie in a way that I can hear properly I either have to wear headphones or change dolby setting to 7.1 surround sound instead of stereo.

Gamemaker. you are wrong. http://www.alienware.com.au/dnn2/default.aspx?tabid=104&ConfigurationID=75 and that configuration is even without upgrading one setting.

 

Craig Simms posted a comment   
Australia

Pretty sure you're mixing up USD and AUD. A similar configuration on Alienware Australia's site with your quoted dual 3870s and higher resolution screen presently comes to AU$5,979.83 -- a good AU$3,930.83 more.

GameMaker
6
Rating
 

GameMaker posted a review   

You can get an Alienware M17 with dual 3870 graphics cards in Crossfire and a better LCD almost the same amount of money.




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User Reviews / Comments  MSI GX720

  • Cos

    Cos

    Rating9

    "It will game and perform better than you expected from reading the specs, a very good hardware combination. Screen is great feels like a 22' but easier to carry and makes it appropriate for games a..."

  • Timesheep

    Timesheep

    Rating7

    "It's a good computer all in all, though it does not deserve it's title as a gamer computer.
    First of all, you have the FN key where a gamer would prefer having Ctrl, for easier dodging. Seco..."

  • kimBle

    kimBle

    Rating8

    "Im pretty satisfied how this laptop is going for me. Doing no harm in my life.. Unless its on my back with the msi bag they give u... wouldnt mind getting a different bag"

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