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My Two Days With the Awesome MSI GT660 Gaming Laptop

My Two Days With the Awesome MSI GT660 Gaming Laptop

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.

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3D Gaming Laptop: Buy Now or Wait?

3D Gaming Laptop: Buy Now or Wait?

The question of whether you should wait before buying a new computer – for the next hardware generation, new feature, or new model that is just around the corner is an incredibly common question. The short and simple answer is that there always is and always will be some new technology around the corner.

This is the nature of the computer industry; it evolves continuously with increasingly powerful hardware and new features. It is also for the very same reason that, following this line of thinking, you would have to wait forever before getting that new laptop, desktop, smartphone, tablet, or whatever high-tech device you are currently considering.

Are 3D gaming laptops an exception? In some cases I would definitely answer yes to that question. For example, glasses-free 3D technology is simply not there yet – it is a fun feature but it hasn’t had enough time to mature. For one thing, there is barely any support for games on these laptops. That will probably change at some point, but for the time being it is strictly for movies, so gamers should consider glasses-free 3D a bonus feature at most when buying a new laptop.

Active shutter technology using 3D glasses, on the other hand, has been on the market for quite some time and is used in both laptops and stand-alone monitors. The most common solution is NVIDIA’s 3D Vision, but there are other good alternatives as well.

In short, active shutter technology works by using a display with twice the refresh rate (120Hz) compared to a regular one (60Hz) and delivers every other picture to your left and right eye – effectively providing depth perception to your games.

The best part is that it actually works and is compatible with a wide range of games. In the case of 3D Vision, there are also frequent driver updates that add new games to the roster. This technology has been widely adopted, so there is no need to worry about it disappearing any time soon.

There are already lots of laptops available that come with a 3D kit and the mandatory 120Hz display, but not all of them are suitable for gaming. What you need to take into consideration before pulling the trigger on a 3D gaming laptop is that the graphics card is sufficiently powerful to actually play the latest games in 3D. The added special dimension requires about 30% more performance from the GPU to provide adequate frame rates (as in free from stuttering) as it normally would.

Consequently, a mid-range mobile graphics card is not recommended for high-end 3D gaming. This is more or less a universal recommendation, but when using active shutter 3D technology it becomes even more important. How do you tell a mid-range card from a high-end one, then? A simple answer is that all laptops that are branded and sold as gaming laptops are normally equipped with a high-end GPU, such as Alienware and ASUS’ Republic of Gamers laptops.

But to return to the original question of whether you should wait it out and see what happens before you go shopping for a 3D gaming laptop, the answer is both yes and no. For glasses-free 3D it is definitely a good idea to wait for improvements in the current technology – at least if your sole purpose with the 3D functionality is gaming. For active shutter 3D, there is no reason whatsoever to wait. Although this technology is also improving continuously, it is already well established and mature.

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