Review Update: MSI GX660R Gaming Notebook

Simon Kohlstock (translated by Daniel Rechitsky), 01/17/2011

Gaming for the Masses. Not long ago, we reviewed the pre-production model of the MSI GX660R. Now that the GX660R is on the market, MSI sent us another model, this time it's the same one that's lining the shelves of stores and available for you to buy. Some improvements have fortunately been made to this model in areas we had criticized in our previous review.

A little while ago we reviewed the pre-production model of the GX660R, the overall rating of 81% was quite good for a pre-release model. However, this review didn't accurately reflect to product later offered to consumers. For example, the pre-release model was equipped with an HD-ready (720p) display, while the current model was bumped up a notch and fitted with a full-HD (1080p) display. 
Now that MSI has provided us with an up-to-date model of the GX660R available to consumers, we reevaluated some areas of the previous review. In doing so, we paid particular attention to the benchmarks and the display. If you'd like to first take a look at the original review of the pre-production model, you can find it here.

Input Devices

Keyboard

In terms of looks, nothing has changed about the keyboard, but it's evident that MSI has been working hard behind the scenes in the time between the release of the pre-production and consumer models.  In the original review, we criticized the flimsy keys and how the keyboard easily caved in under pressure.  Now, the keyboard acts the way a gaming notebook's keyboard should.  Keystrokes are crisp and the keys react quickly and accurately.  The rickety sound of keystrokes as well as the case bending to pressure while typing are a thing of the past.  MSI has definitely made some improvements here.

Keyboard
Keyboard

Display

The greatest difference between the pre-production model and the final consumer model is the display.  The screen remains glossy, measuring 15.6 inches diagonally with an aspect ratio of 16:9.  This time, however, the picture is reproduced at a higher resolution.  While the pre-release model had an HD-ready display, the updated consumer version goes all the way with a full-HD display (1080p).

Unfortunately though, the new display doesn't quite reach the brightness level of the old screen.  Also, the distribution of brightness across the screen dropped down a bit to 80%.  The contrast ratio, too, took a hit on account of the lower screen brightness, falling to 145:1.

188
cd/m²
185
cd/m²
217
cd/m²
208
cd/m²
193
cd/m²
214
cd/m²
220
cd/m²
227
cd/m²
232
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 232 cd/m²
Average: 209.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 80 %
Center on Battery: 193 cd/m²
Black: 1.33 cd/m²
Contrast: 145:1

In terms of viewing angles, there's little difference between the two screens. The screen remains visible and undistorted within the respectable range of 135º horizontally and 45º vertically.

Viewing Angles MSI GX660R
Viewing Angles MSI GX660R

Performance

Not much has changed in terms of hardware between the pre-production model and the consumer model, only the RAM has been increased from 4 GB to 6 GB. Other than that, our new test model contains the same Intel Core i7-740QM processor, clock rated at 1.73 GHz, and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870. You can find more details about the hardware in our original review.

In order to test the performance of the current consumer model, we ran our benchmarks on the new model.  There were no big surprises here.  Either both models performed at the same level or the new consumer version came out slightly ahead.  This slight improvement is most likely to be attributed to new drivers and the additional 2 GB of RAM that the new model of the GX660R is fitted with.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3313
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
9368
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6957
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
4171 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
11680 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
7302 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
44.39 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
3.37 Points
Help
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage5915 points
Help

In the CineBench test, the new consumer model leaves the pre-production model trailing by a bit.  Although the 32-bit test results are nearly identical, the new model stands out a good deal in the 64-bit test, outdoing the pre-release model by several 100 points.

3D Mark
3DMark 0338290 points
3DMark 0518774 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
13253 points
3DMark Vantage8548 points
Help

In the 3D Mark benchmark, there are no noteworthy differences between the two versions of the notebook.  Both models rank in just about the same.

Gaming Verdict

The games played on both versions of the GX660R also produce only negligible differences in performance.  The new results were just about the same as the ones for the pre-production model.  The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 graphics card produces excellent gaming performance all the same in the new model, allowing current games run smoothly in the native resolution with high graphics settings on. 

low med.high ultra
Crysis - GPU Benchmark (2007) 1426750fps
Crysis - CPU Benchmark (2007) 1147256fps
Far Cry 2 (2008) 1188333fps
F.E.A.R. 2 (2009) 1921108441fps
StarCraft 2 (2010) 1666358fps

Emissions

System Noise

The noise level between the two models has not changed much.  In idle mode, the new consumer model is somewhat quieter than the pre-release model.  Under heavy use, too, the noise level measured was slightly lower.  Still, the notebook remains fairly loud.

Noise Level

Idle 34.1 / 33.9 / 34.3 dB(A)
HDD 34.6 dB(A)
DVD 36.0 / dB(A)
Load 39.6 / 47.6 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
Stress Test

Temperature

In terms of case temperature, the new consumer version is a bit cooler than the pre-production model. The temperature measured in the new model was slightly lower.  In idle mode, the temperature dropped by 2 to 4ºC in different spots on the case.  The temperature under heavy use also dropped a bit.

During the stress test, we were baffled when processing speed of the GX660R suddenly dropped. Considering that the pre-production model did nothing of the kind, we searched around for the cause of this drop in performance. We finally found the reason to be the power supply. At 90 watts, it wasn't capable of handling the notebook's power consumption capacity. We followed up with MSI and it turns out we actually received the wrong power supply.  Instead of the intended 120-watt power supply, we received a 90-watt one.  With the standard power supply, the throttled performance issue should not come up.

Max. Load
 32.7 °C32.1 °C24.1 °C 
 26.5 °C24.9 °C25.3 °C 
 24.1 °C24.7 °C25.4 °C 
Maximum: 32.7 °C
Average: 26.6 °C
25.7 °C31.1 °C39.6 °C
24.6 °C27.6 °C25.7 °C
24.4 °C24.2 °C21.7 °C
Maximum: 39.6 °C
Average: 27.2 °C
Power Supply (max.)  45.3 °C | Room Temperature 18.8 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Between the original pre-production GX660R and the new model available to consumers, there are few differences. The only serious improvement is represented by the full-HD display, which truly enhances to overall quality of the GX660R. The keyboard, too, was clearly raised to the standards at which a gaming notebook's keyboard should perform. All other sections of the original review apply to the new GX660R model.  All in all, several weak points of the notebook have been improved upon, allowing it to hold its ground a bit better against the competition.

The loud cooling system and short battery life remain. If the noise level doesn't bother you and you plan to mostly use the notebook plugged in, you'll find the MSI GX660R to be a powerful notebook at a fair price.

In Review: MSI GX660R
In Review: MSI GX660R

Specifications

MSI GX660R

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM55
:: Memory
6144 MB, ASint, DDR3-10600, 1333 MHz, max 12 GB, 3 Slots
:: Graphics adapter
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 - 1024 MB, Core: 400 MHz, 8.751.0.0
:: Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, LED, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
WDC Scorpio Blue WD5000BEVT, 500 GB 5400 rpm 500GB 5400 RPM, 2 Hard Discs, Raid 0
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC888
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: Microphone Input, Headphone Jack, 7.1 Analogue, Card Reader: 4-in-1 (SD/MMC/MS/MS-PRO), RJ 45
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel WiFi Link 1000 BGN (b g n )
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633C
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 55 x 396 x 269
:: Weight
3.5 kg Power Supply: 0.63 kg
:: Battery
87 Wh Lithium-Ion, 9 Cells, 11.1 Volts
:: Price
1799 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: HD, Technical Docs, Blank CD for use as a Recovery Disk, Power Supply, HDMI Cable, Norton Internet Security, Norton Online Backup, Adobe Reader 9, Magic-iVisual Effects 2, MSI Demo Music, Webcam Companion, MSI BurnRecovery, Microsoft Office 2010 (Trial), 24 Months Warranty

 

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Links

Price Comparison

Pro

+Powerful Performance
+Good Speakers
+Variety of Ports
+USB 3.0 & eSATA
+The Large Keyboard
+Full-HD Display
 

Cons

-High Level of System Noise
-Heavy Weight
-Short Battery Life

Shortcut

What we like

The good performance and nice design of the notebook. USB 3.0 ensures the notebook will continue to be useful in the future.

What we'd like to see

A quieter cooling system.

What surprises us

The huge difference between the keyboard in the pre-production model and the current one.

The competition

The Asus G53JW performs well with current games, but can also display them in 3D. The MSI GT660R is another good but expensive alternative.

Ratings

MSI GX660R
01/13/2011 v2
Simon Kohlstock

Chassis
86%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
82%
Connectivity
76%
Weight
63%
Battery
69%
Display
66%
Games Performance
91%
Application Performance
90%
Temperature
92%
Noise
75%
Add Points
88%
Average
81%
82%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Update: MSI GX660R Gaming Notebook
Author: Simon Kohlstock, 2011-01-17 (Update: 2012-05-26)