Announced in June, the MSI GT660 is a 16-inch gaming laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX285M graphics. It has Dynaudio speakers which promises superior audio compared to mainstream laptops.
Black is the dominant color on the MSI GT660 laptop. With angled edges and glossy, beveled screen lid highlighting a glowing MSI logo at its center, the GT660 looks like a gaming laptop. Like the Alienware M11x and M17x gaming laptops, the MSI GT660 has flashy LED-lights on its body -- along either edge and back of the screen lid and along the base chassis. The laptop’s palmrest has a honeycomb-like hexagonal texture which feels nice. Rest assured you won’t be embarrassed to take the MSI GT660 to a LAN gaming session.
With the MSI GT660, you don’t need a pair of portable laptop speakers.
Not quite comparable to the tank of a Alienware M17x, the MSI GT660 laptop is still well built. However, the MSI GT660 isn’t as heavy as the Alienware M17x, weighing 3.5-kg with a 9-cell battery -- it can fit in a large laptop bag. The MSI GT660’s much-hyped Dynaudio speakers are placed above the keyboard on either side. There’s a convenient row of touchsensitive buttons above the MSI GT660’s keyboard, and some connectivity ports are placed on the laptop’s spine -- overall, the MSI GT660 laptop is well designed.
The MSI GT660 gaming laptop has a glossy 16-inch widescreen LED-backlit display. Disappointingly, the screen only supports a resolution of 1366x768 pixels -- similar to the 11.6-inch Alienware M11x. In essence, MSI wastes the GT660’s larger screen space by not packing enough pixels inside. Apart from its glare, we had no complaints from the GT660’s screen quality -- nice and bright with good contrast levels and viewing angles. The laptop’s webcam (placed on the top bezel) gets a thumbs up for its HD 720p resolution support and its image quality was quite decent during videochats.
The MSI GT660 gaming laptop has a nice pair of keyboard and touchpad. Unlike its screen, the GT660 laptop makes good use of its 16-inch form factor with a full-sized keyboard with a dedicated number pad on the right. The laptop’s keyboard sports isolated, springy keys shaped similar to the ones on the MSI CX420 -- they’re good for both typing and gaming; the W,S,A,D keys are labelled with arrow keys and easier to spot. The GT660’s touchpad is quite big and responsive with a textured surface, no complaints.
Hardware Specs and Features
The MSI GT660 does justice to its gaming laptop tag. It has a quad-core Intel Core i7 740QM 1.73-GHz processor with Turbo Boost support up to 2.93-GHz. Along with the fast-paced processor, the GT660 bundles a whopping 12GB of DDR3 RAM (3 x 4GB at 1333-MHz), 1TB of storage (2 x 500GB drives in RAID 0 at 7200rpm), and discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M (1GB) graphics. Needless to say these are very good hardware building blocks on the MSI GT660 gaming laptop.
Connectivity options abound on the MSI GT660 laptop: four USB ports -- two of them SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ready -- VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, eSATA, card reader, ExpressCard slot, and audio jacks can be found along the laptop’s edge. Wireless connectivity includes Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and optional Bluetooth 2.1 support. The MSI GT660 comes with an 8x dual-layered DVD writer and a 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium operating system. We are however disappointed that MSI didn’t include a gaming mouse with the GT660 -- an unpardonable oversight.
Like the Alienware FX Editor, the MSI GT660 comes with a console -- MSI LED Manager Utility -- to manage its glowing LED accents. There’s a dedicated button above the GT660’s keyboard to toggle the LED lights on or off. The MSI LED Manager Utility allows you to customize the LED lights, decide which ones to turn off, and even let the lights “breathe” (fade in and fade out) or pulse to the beats of a music track. The level of customization with the LED lights isn’t as comprehensive as an Alienware laptop but nevertheless it’s a nice touch on the MSI GT660.
The MSI GT660 scored an all-time high for laptops on some of our benchmarks. A WorldBench 6 score of 129 is the highest set by any laptop we’ve tested -- a testimony to the MSI GT660’s brute performance. Both 720p and 1080p HD video files played smoothly on the MSI GT660, and its accompanying Dynaudio speakers provided excellent music by laptop standards.
The MSI GT660’s onboard Dynaudio speakers' overall sound experience was better than any laptop we’ve reviewed till date. The speakers don’t offer great bass but everything else is very good by laptop standards: not only are the speakers loud and clear, but also the stereo effect was distinctly better -- left and right audio channels were distinctly audible, highs and mids sound crisp, and the overall audio was high quality. With the MSI GT660, you don’t need a pair of portable laptop speakers.
Gaming on the MSI GT660 laptop’s discrete Nvidia GeForce GT285M graphics was a very good experience. On MSI’s Turbo mode, the card scored 13,623 on 3D Mark 06 -- similar to the Zotac GeForce 9800GT and XFX HD 4770 but lesser than the ATI Radeon HD 5750. At the laptop’s native screen resolution (1366x768), we maxed out both Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and FarCry 2’s settings and the games ran just fine, no frame dropping -- FarCry 2 gave an average 44.15 fps. The MSI GT660’s screen did a good job displaying the game’s visuals and the laptop’s Dynaudio speakers did a very good job of providing an immersive audio experience. During gaming, the laptop was fairly cool on top in and around the keyboard and palmrest, but heat vents on its left edge and back made keeping it on the lap uncomfortable.
The MSI GT660’s battery isn’t great. Its 9-cell battery lasted just 1 hour 17 minutes at high-performance mode during our battery test -- expect around 3 hours of browsing the Web over Wi-Fi on a conservative power plan. However, great performance and exceptional battery life seldom go hand in hand -- so the MSI GT660’s relatively low battery life is understandable. Its Eco engine power management tool does little to improve the MSI GT660’s overall battery life.
All things said, the MSI GT660 is a very good gaming laptop for a price of Rs. 1,39,999 with two year international warranty. The 17-inch Alienware M17x currently packs in a better processor (Core i7-820QM) and graphics (ATI Radeon HD 4870M) and comes with a 1920x1200 widescreen display, but lesser RAM and hard drive space for Rs. 1,48,999.
Still, the MSI GT660 provides a great balance between performance and portability, sitting between the highly portable Alienware M11x and the heavyweight Alienware M17x. And the MSI GT660 has superior onboard sound courtesy of its Dynaudio speakers. If you’re shopping for a portable gaming laptop, be sure to consider the MSI GT660.
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