The striking design of the MSI GX740 laptop isn’t about style, sophistication or elegance – it’s about power, speed and excitement.

Its bold red interior and retro-futuristic design let you know immediately that the MSI GX740 is a gaming machin, and a mighty powerful one at that.

The full-sized keyboard incorporates a numeric keypad with cursor keys and the gamer’s home keys (W, A, S and D ) marked out in red. Beneath the MSI GX740's keyboard sits a rather standard two-button touchpad, but above it we find what appears to be some sort of radiator-grille and dashboard combo sporting looks which manage somehow to strike a balance between futuristic sci-fi and 50s Americana.
 
The grille covers two of the MSI GX740 laptop’s five speakers, the remainder of which make up a 5.1 surround sound-style audio system incorporating a subwoofer. The dashboard is actually a touch-sensitive control panel containing illuminated icons which provide quick access to several useful functions.

You get media transport controls, plus on/off toggles for the WiFi, Bluetooth and webcam as well as an ‘Eco’ switch which cycles through five different power management modes appropriate to different usage scenarios. The MSI GX740's ‘cinema pro’ mode boosts both the displayed image and the audio when watching video, while the final control is user-programmable.

Activating any of these controls results in a large and attractive icon popping up on the MSI GX740's screen to make it clear just what you’re doing.

Gaming of course requires a lot of computing power, and the MSI GX740 comes with a 2.27GHz Intel Core i5-M430. Although a little slower than the version found in the Acer Aspire 8942G-526G64Bi and MacBook Pro laptops, and lacking the quad-core power of HP’s Envy 15, this is still a very fast processor which helps the GX740 to deliver 104 points in WorldBench 6.

The GMSI GX740’s secret weapon, however, is the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 with 1GB video RAM which is by far the fastest graphics processor of the group, beating its nearest rival by 10fps in our “very high quality” Crysis test at 1366 by 768 pixels.

Unfortunately, the MSI GX740 laptop is also very power-hungry, just scraping past the two hour mark under MobileMark 2007 (129 minutes, 126 minutes on performance settings). This is some 20 minutes behind the short-lived HP Envy 15, despite being fitted with a large 85Wh battery which protrudes from the rear of the case.

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See also: MSI GX740 and GX640 gaming laptops announced

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

MSI GX740: Specs

  • 2.27GHz Intel Core i5 M 430
  • 17in gloss, 1680x1050
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 640GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 with 1GB DDR5 RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • 5.1 speakers
  • 4x USB 2.0 (1 shared with eSATA)
  • eSATA (shared with USB 2.0)
  • DVD±RW DL BD-ROM
  • 802.11a/b/g/n, (Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR optional)
  • Gigabit
  • XD/SD/MMC/MS
  • Webcam, ArcSoft Magic-I, ArcSoft Print Creations, OS recovery in BIOS
  • 85Wh Li-ion, removable
  • 395x278x33-39.5mm
  • 3337g
  • 2.27GHz Intel Core i5 M 430
  • 17in gloss, 1680x1050
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 640GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 with 1GB DDR5 RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • 5.1 speakers
  • 4x USB 2.0 (1 shared with eSATA)
  • eSATA (shared with USB 2.0)
  • DVD±RW DL BD-ROM
  • 802.11a/b/g/n, (Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR optional)
  • Gigabit
  • XD/SD/MMC/MS
  • Webcam, ArcSoft Magic-I, ArcSoft Print Creations, OS recovery in BIOS
  • 85Wh Li-ion, removable
  • 395x278x33-39.5mm
  • 3337g

OUR VERDICT

The MSI GX740 laptop offers very good build quality, fantastic gaming performance and a good sound system. However, it’s a shame that its internal Blu-ray drive isn’t backed up by a full-HD screen.

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