Review Index:

MSI GT60 2OD-026US Gaming Notebook Review: Desktop-Class Mobile Gaming

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Design

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With the release of Haswell upon us, we’re being treated to an impacting refresh of some already-impressive notebooks. Chief among the benefits is the much-championed battery life improvements—and while better power efficiency is obviously valuable where portability is a primary focus, beefier models can also benefit by way of increased versatility. Sure, gaming notebooks are normally tethered to an AC adapter, but when it’s time to unplug for some more menial tasks, it’s good to know that you won’t be out of juice in a couple of hours.

Of course, an abundance of gaming muscle never hurts, either. As the test platform for one of our recent mobile GPU analyses, MSI’s 15.6” GT60 gaming notebook is, for lack of a better description, one hell of a beast. Following up on Ryan’s extensive GPU testing, we’ll now take a more balanced and comprehensive look at the GT60 itself. Is it worth the daunting $1,999 MSRP? Does the jump to Haswell provide ample and economical benefits? And really, how much of a difference does it make in terms of battery life?

Our GT60 test machine featured the following configuration:

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In case it wasn’t already apparent, this device makes no compromises. Sporting a desktop-grade GPU and a quad-core Haswell CPU, it looks poised to be the most powerful notebook we’ve tested to date. Other configurations exist as well, spanning various CPU, GPU, and storage options. However, all available GT60 configurations feature a 1080p anti-glare screen, discrete graphics (starting at the GTX 670M and up), Killer Gigabit LAN, and a case built from metal and heavy-duty plastic. They also come preconfigured with Windows 8, so the only way to get Windows 7 with your GT60 is to purchase it through a reseller that performs customizations.

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Continue reading our review of the MSI GT60 Gaming Notebook!!

Design and Portability

The GT60 hardly seeks to make a fashion statement with its understated, matte black styling. Both the display lid and palm rest are lined with brushed metal, while the surrounding areas (including the screen bezel and the underside of the machine) are all hard, matte plastic. The MSI logo on the back of the display lid appears chrome-colored while the machine is off, but lights up (rather subtly) when it’s powered on. The only source of gloss on the entire machine is the control center above the keyboard (which is made of a hard, glossy black plastic) and the various other chrome accents throughout the design (such as the touchpad button bar, power button, and webcam trim).

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Thanks to MSI’s included Keyboard Light Manager software, however, it’s easy to add a little bling/pizazz/accent to the overall look if you so choose. The keyboard lights can be configured to any of seven different colors (think ROY G BIV) and in any of four different shades of intensity/color depth, or you can just opt for a standard white. Meanwhile, the keyboard is divided into three different zones (Left, Middle, Right), and each can be set independently. Various other little perks are included as well, such as the ability to have the lights pulse with the rhythm and dynamics of any audio being played, but those extras are ultimately pretty gimmicky and don’t work all that well.

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The aforementioned display lid and palm rest are both sufficiently rigid such that no flex exists at the front of the base unit and the lid is only mildly susceptible to twisting (pressure from the rear, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to bother it much at all). The top of the keyboard can be flexed to some degree under pressure, but in practical use it feels stable and well-built—far better than the average. The only point of perceived weakness is the large vents on the bottom of the machine, which exhibit quite a bit of give when pressure is applied directly. This is unlikely to present itself as a problem in real-world scenarios, however.

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On the subject of heft, this is one large 15.6” notebook. It’s the mere fact that it isn’t 17” that makes it even remotely portable, but don’t mistake that to mean that it will be easy to move around with. Weighing in at 7.66 pounds and with a 180W power adapter that weighs almost as much as some Ultrabooks (at 2.2 pounds), its total carry weight is just shy of 10 pounds—considerable by any measure.

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But as far as gaming PCs are concerned, the GT60 comes off as solid, mature, and smartly-designed. With four USB ports (three of which are USB 3.0) three different forms of video output (VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort), and four different audio I/O ports (headphone, mic, line in, line out), it’s plenty expandable, too, and as we hope our tests will indicate in the coming sections, it could potentially manage to replace a desktop.

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If there’s one complaint about the design, it’s the sticker on the bottom of the PC that reads “Warranty Sticker - Void if Tampered”. This sticker covers the primary access door for all of the main parts in the PC, including such commonly-replaced items the RAM and hard drive. Seeing as this PC is targeted at the enthusiast community, it’s a little surprising to see such a rigid policy in place regarding upgrades and maintenance by the end user. Some reports suggest that MSI has been honoring warranties even after the sticker has been broken to attempt general maintenance, but the fact remains that it’s there.

July 18, 2013 | 02:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

MSI has been honoring warranties, beacuse some state's attorney general's offices have put the kibosh on that sort of scare tactic with regards to Warranty, and just wait until the FTC gets wind of this! A bit of the Intel playbook, n'est-il pas!

July 18, 2013 | 04:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Chicklet style keys again?

NO thank you.

Wise up gaming keyboard makers, especially at this weight class, REAL MECHANICAL KEYBOARDS....DO IT.

chicklet keys suck.

July 18, 2013 | 04:50 PM - Posted by madhatter256 (not verified)

You really expect mechanical keyboards in a laptop?

Although I liked the keyboards in the old thinkpads... they were pretty solid.

July 18, 2013 | 04:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Rather buy a lenovo y510p and use the savings to build a i5 haswell desktop.

almost any game can be played on medium or higher solid 60fps on y510p at it's highest resolution.

July 18, 2013 | 04:52 PM - Posted by madhatter256 (not verified)

Does MS allow you to downgrade the OS from Win8 to Win7?

July 18, 2013 | 06:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Oh those BCU(Beyond Coyote Ugly) TIFKAM Tiles, No way in Hell, Just Collect Dust, MSI, without a Windows 7, or a Linux option, there is no option, but the NO SALE option!
GAG, heave my cookies, gag, heave some more!...

July 19, 2013 | 02:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

having a single vent ? no way i rather buy asus g750 which has 2 vents for cpu and gpu or sager which has 2 vents also for cpu and gpu the no doubt the performance is very good but the heat ? nah i don't want unnecessary heat on my unit

August 7, 2013 | 01:38 PM - Posted by Gamebouncer (not verified)

And enjoy waiting for updated drivers. Unfortunately reference drivers will not work with Asus due to lack of optimus and the privilege of a custom graphics chip

I have had both and will stick with MSI

January 15, 2014 | 07:18 AM - Posted by MP4LIFE (not verified)

Actually it's not a single vent system. I have a MSI GT780 which is the same design as the GT60 and GT70. The way it works is the heatsink run from the GPU to the fan and the CPU to the fan, there is only 1 fan, but the GPU expells heat out the rear of the computer while the CPU expells heat from the side of the computer. I was scared of it at first but i bought it anyways and the system worked excellently, and was majorly easy to clean. In 3 years of owning the GT780, I've never had one problem with overheating at all.

July 19, 2013 | 10:58 AM - Posted by fhmuffman (not verified)

Is there a way to drive a 4k display at 60 Hz (DisplayPort 1.2 MST), or is that only going to be gaming laptops with Radeon GPU's?

July 22, 2013 | 10:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'd like to see a comparison between the GT60 and GX60. That would be an interesting review.

January 23, 2014 | 10:52 PM - Posted by k_silvereagle (not verified)

I own a Japanese version of the MSI GT60 that I bought in Akihabara Tokyo, it features lots of things not included in the USA release version here. It has an overclock button and included overclock software, upgraded 16GB DDR5 ram, and 3GB DDR5 NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX670MX graphics card. My keyboard has Japanese Hiragana and English characters with language mode toggles, and it came with THX True Studio Pro sound processing software which is amazing through the HDMI output... The best of all was the price difference. It was only 1430 USD to buy in Tokyo, stores in the usa were selling it with less ram and lower specs for 2700$ in Indiana...

I have not had any issue with heat my coolerboost takes care of all the heat issues, its a pretty powerful little impeller. So far i havnt used over 9.9 of my 16 GB so yea its a little overkill but definitely a system that can take you into the future for several years easily and still run everything perfectly.

For those wanting a windows 7 eperience on windows 8 just buy the program Startisback. A single license is 3$ and your start menu "Is Back" with even more customizable options than before, and allows you to configure a balance between windows 8 and 7 features of your choice. I rarely ever look at the tiles anymore and my GT60 boots straight to desktop now.

Anyway ive vbeen very happy with my experience owning a GT60 so far.

Also my screen is an LED Panel 15.6 inch FHD (Non-Glare type) it has a matte finish. Im not sure because this review didnt cover wireless, it has wifi A/B/G/N, Bluetooth.

The only thing i would consider upgrading in the future is to get a solid state hard drive. Typically the HDD is the only thing that ever slows my system down. but once it loads all the files it needs to work with into its massive ram, its all set to go. I play games seamlessly. HDD is a 7500 RPM 750GB model.

Hope my review notes help out some people.

February 7, 2014 | 12:10 AM - Posted by Steve Schardein

Thanks for your input!  It's also worth plugging Classic Shell, which is a freeware implementation of the Windows Start Menu (and other items if you choose) that, in my experience, works very well indeed.

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