MSI is well known for their motherboards and graphics cards. Although the brand has been dabbling across almost all consumer technology segments, they have been concentrating quite a bit on the notebook segment with offerings across all price ranges. Their high-end gaming notebooks in the past offered good competition for Dell and Asus, but they have always lacked the finesse and build quality of the other two, and that’s just a fact. Today, we have another high-end graphics muncher on our hands, the GX780R. Styled very similarly to the new GT783 that the company unveiled at CES 2012, let’s see if any of their earlier shortcomings have been rectified in this new model.
On video: MSI GX780R
Design and Build
MSI have gone with an aggressive look for the GX780R, but mercifully have skipped the hideous orange LED lights on the sides from their earlier models. However, we are once again subjected to flimsy plastic for the lid and the body, which isn’t something you expect when you’re paying more than a lac. The lid itself is sturdy, though, and doesn’t cause any smearing of the pixels on the panel when pressed. The area near the hinge, however feels flimsy and there’s a lot of flex in the plastic.
Anti-glare screen keeps the reflections away
The main chassis is designed with a slight incline, similar to the Asus gaming notebooks, making it more ergonomic to type on. We have no dearth of connectors starting with two USB 3.0 ports and three USB 2.0 ports, giving you a total of five USB ports, which is the highest we’ve come across. You also get multi-channel audio out up to 7.1 channels, which again is not something you see everyday, so props to MSI on that. The other connectors, include a DVD drive (no Blu-ray), powered ESATA port, HDMI and VGA.
Plenty of connectivity options
MSI have chosen SteelSeries to design the chiclet keyboard for the GX780R, which is a big upgrade, compared to their earlier attempts. While the feedback of the keys are certainly better than before, they still feel a bit too tiny and you’ll often find yourself hitting the Caps Lock button more often. They could have easily made it larger, given that there’s ample of wasted space around the keyboard. Another minor niggle is the ‘Windows’ key, which is on the right and not the left (which only has the ‘Fn’ key). There are a bunch of shortcut buttons placed above for toggling Wi-Fi, Turbo, etc. The keyboard is backlit this time around and just like Alienware, you can customize the lighting for various colours and patterns. On the whole, the design is good and the build is certainly better, but it’s not quite up to the mark.
The GX780R packs in similar horsepower as the Dell XPS 17, we recently reviewed. The notebook is powered by an Intel Core i7-2630QM and the graphics is handled by the same Nvidia GT 555M. MSI have beefed up the rest of the specifications though, as the GX780R packs in a whopping 16GB of RAM and comes with two 640GB hard drives in RAID 0 configuration.
Funky lighting effects
The 17.3-inch screen is Full HD, so you get plenty of screen real estate and it’s anti-glare as well, so reflections should not be a problem. Along with this, you also get some exclusive features from MSI, like Turbo Drive Engine, which bumps up the clock speeds dynamically at the touch of a button, Dynadio speakers with THX sound enhancements, i-Charger program, which helps charge USB devices quicker, among others.