I finally got my hands on an MSI GT660 Gaming Laptop, and no, it is not mine… yet. I borrowed this system for two days from a friend (no easy task) and here is my experience with this extraordinary machine.

MSI is proving to be a trusted name in the Gaming Laptop arena. This machine is purposely built and with this hardware, and stylish looks you will not be embarrassed at a LAN party. This laptop will not fall into everyone’s taste, but with the flashy lights on the outside and the glowing MSI logo, it certainly makes a statement. Lots of glossy surfaces are mixed with matte black add a Knight Rider aesthetic, according to MSI. Touch-sensitive LEDs work quite well to activate and de-activate functions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and others.

The laptop has some very powerful speakers, for a laptop. It produced a nice depth of sound while listening to some music MP3’s thanks to a subwoofer built into the bottom of the laptop. I prefer to play games with headphones so the speakers of a laptop are not that important for laptop sport a 16-inch monitor, and although not the biggest available it is very effective. It does help to bring the weight down, but I will not claim that this laptop can be called portable. The screen is a bit reflective and has a resolution of 1366×768 pixels.

It is easier to carry than a full desktop system, but still 7.4 pounds to carry. Interestingly, MSI did not opt for the backlit keyboard option. This could have been a nice feature since most LANs are dimly lit. The purpose of this laptop is clear just by glancing at the keyboard: the WASD, the 8462 arrow keys are colored red, which corresponds to most games default keys for movement. The keyboard is effective and has a nice feel to it.

PerformanceBuilt for gaming, MSI added the 1.6-GHz Intel Core i7 Q720 CPU and 6GB of RAM. This gives it enough power to be quite useful for some time. The GT660 also sports two 7200-rpm hard drives, for a total of 1 TB storage space. Interesting enough this is one of the first laptops I saw that has USB 3.0, although I was unable to test their speed.

Of course the biggest question still remains: how does it handle games? Containing an Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M graphics card with 1 GB of dedicated memory led to an impressive 3DMark06 score of 12,633. This translated into a very enjoyable gaming experience. I had only a few games to test, but they all played really well. Batman: Arkham Asylum played remarkably well at 1024×768 with 52 fps. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare achieved over 110 fps at the same resolution. At higher resolutions gameplay do suffer, but since I usually play at this resolution, I was impressed.

VerdictWill I buy one? I would if I had the money. It is a very nice laptop. It does run very hot and using it in my lap became very uncomfortable. MSI tackles this problem by adding an ability to boost the fan speed (and noise level) with their Cooler boost technology, but it is best to use this laptop on a table. This laptop is quite expensive, but it does add some flair to LAN gaming for those with deeper pockets. No one will laugh at you when you arrive at the party with this beast.