Powerful laptops don't come cheap, but although the MSI GX700-204UK sits in the more expensive category it's only just sneaked over the price barrier making it a good option if you're looking for performance on a budget.

Despite its reasonable price tag, MSI has managed to cram into the MSI GX700-204UK some impressive components - most notably the Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 Penryn processor and 3GB of RAM. The pair proved an admirable match for our WorldBench real-world testing software and managed to pull in a result of 88 which is good for a machine with a sub-£1,000 price tag.

Perhaps where the MSI GX700-204UK really excels, though, is gaming which is notoriously taxing for mobile machines. The nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip managed to achieve a score of 27 frames per second (fps) running our intensive FEAR test which again is unusual at this price.

The keyboard makes the most of the large area available and there's also an additional numeric keypad to the right. The MSI GX700-204UK's touchpad is a decent size, but the buttons were a little temperamental at times.

While there's no faulting its performance, there are areas where compromises have been made in order to keep the MSI GX700-204UK's cost down. The 17in display is reasonable, but not outstanding, and 'only' stretches to a resolution of 1,680x1,050 so doesn't have sufficient pixels to show full 1080p high-definition material without a little downscaling. With no Blu-ray optical drive, though, this may be less of an issue.

The MSI GX700-204UK doesn't make for the best travel companion, due to its size and weight. Like many desktop replacement models it's bulky and you wouldn't want to carry it very far. However, it's also fairly disappointing when it comes to battery life as it only managed to keep going for a pitiful 85 minutes in our intensive testing.

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MSI GX700-204UK: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 3GB DDR2 RAM
  • 250GB HDD
  • 3 x USB
  • 1 x FireWire
  • 17in (1680x1050) screen
  • 512MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GT
  • Bluetooth
  • flash memory drive
  • 802.11a/b/g/draft-n
  • 8x8x8x4x4x5x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 24x24x16x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • 395x278x35mm
  • 3.4kg
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 3GB DDR2 RAM
  • 250GB HDD
  • 3 x USB
  • 1 x FireWire
  • 17in (1680x1050) screen
  • 512MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GT
  • Bluetooth
  • flash memory drive
  • 802.11a/b/g/draft-n
  • 8x8x8x4x4x5x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 24x24x16x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • 395x278x35mm
  • 3.4kg

OUR VERDICT

The MSI GX700-204UK isn't the fastest machine we've seen, but it offers very good performance considering its sub-£1000 price tag. The lack of HD support may disappoint some, but the short battery life is a bigger issue making it only really suitable for use when you've got mains power nearby.

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