A gaming notebook is a portable desktop replacement that’s best fit to run the latest games on high detail settings using the highest native resolution. That said, it seems manufacturers are seeing a potential goldmine in the portable PC gaming industry. They are coming out with gaming-oriented notebooks built specifically to exceed the demands of today’s most taxing PC games – Crysis included. Enter MSI’s newest member of the GT series notebooks – the GT660. It’s the big-named, Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer’s latest gaming-oriented machine, and it’s touted to be as powerful, if not more powerful, than most desktop PCs.
Aesthetically, the 16-inch MSI GT660 is already a mean machine in our books. It offers a handsome mix of matte and glossy surfaces, accentuated by a sleek, piano-black display; an illuminated MSI logo at the lid; chrome and honeycomb trims on the deck; and some glowing orange LED accents. All these stylish design elements give off the impression that it’s no pushover in video-game performance. Add to that its bulkiness (it weighs somewhere near 8lbs), which is expected of gaming laptops, and you'll get an Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or a Jake Cuenca, if you like.
Like most current notebooks, MSI’s GT660 has a host of buttons just north off its deck. These buttons let you enable and disable the following: Wi-Fi network connectivity, exhaust fans, volume, Eco mode, and Turbo Drive Engine.
Now let’s move on to the good stuff. The best thing about the GT660 is its components, hands down. Specs-wise, this MSI is a stacked beast. It boasts tremendous gaming and computing performance, thanks to the formidable collaboration between Intel’s i7 720QM processor and NVIDIA’s GTX 285M graphics card. Everything else is a bonus: 6GB of dual-channel DDR3 RAM, 2 500GB hard drives (for a whopping 1TB of hard-disk space when combined), HD webcam, DVD+RW drive, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and eSATA porta.
Another aspect worthy of praise is the GT660’s exceptional audio performance. No run-of-the-mill speakers for the GT660 here. MSI and Dynaudio did a fantastic job in the sound department, matching the GT660’s exceptionally loud speakers with the visual flair found in today’s top-notch video games, all for a holistic gaming experience.
On the other hand, screen resolution is a bit wanting. It’s a pity, considering a juiced 16-inch notebook such as the GT660 can easily render resolutions a notch higher than 1366 x 768 pixels.
Before we move on with our gaming benchmarks, it is important to note that we tested all video games in Turbo mode. This is to ensure that we get the optimal fps [frames per second] we can get out of the MSI GT660. The only caveat is you have to keep the GT660’s adapter glued to a power socket to enable it.
First on our short list of video-game benchmarks was Rockstar’s sandbox-style, action-adventure game, Grand Theft Auto IV. We chose this game primarily because it remains to be one of the most popular games to heavily favor quad-core over dual-core CPUs more than 2 years after its release.
As expected, the GT660’s performance in the game’s most CPU- and GPU-intensive situations was commendable. Even though it failed to give passable frame rates on GTA’s optimal graphics settings, it ran the game without hiccups on high settings at its maximum native resolution.
Next on our list was NBA 2K10. With improved graphics, better gameplay, and a thriving community of skilled modders, the PC counterpart of last year’s highest-rated basketball SIM was a near-perfect slam dunk.
Again, much like GTA IV, this game puts a lot of stress on the processor – more so than any other piece of hardware inside a PC. So if you ever wondered why this game was crawling at a snail’s pace on your PC, we reckon it might have something to do with your dual-core CPU.
With eye candy turned all the way up, the GT660 ran NBA 2K10 like a dream. Frames per second consistently hovered way above the 60fps mark.
We ended our gaming benchmarks with guns a blazing, both literally and figuratively, as we pit the beastly GT660 against the most humbling test of all time – Crysis. A benchmarking staple in gaming PCs and the first of a video-game triumvirate, Crysis was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews but ostracized for its equally overwhelmingly steep system requirements.
Now we were pleasantly surprised to see how well the GT660 handled Crytek’s epic first-person shooter. It ran the game at an average of 50fps on high settings, and we couldn’t be more satisfied. Suffice to say that the MSI GT660 earns some brownie points for breezing through this test.
Amidst its awe-inspiring gaming performance, the GT660 is not without faults. There are only 2 things that we didn’t like about this machine. However, those disadvantages come with every other gaming laptop available on the market, and we didn’t expect our experience with the GT660 to be any different.
Battery life for this machine is about as middling as it can get. In gaming mode, and without a connection to a power outlet, we were only able to eke out a measly 2 hours of run time from its 9-cell battery. We tried lowering the brightness settings, but it just didn’t feel right, considering we were playing video games in high definition.
Pricing is a bit troublesome as well. As much as we liked the GT660’s hardware, we couldn’t say the same about its price tag – although it’s really difficult to rave about anything that costs as much as a decent secondhand car, anyway. Pegged at P110, 000, the GT660 will appeal only to those with a lot of money and free time to spare. Given its top-of-the-line components, however, it’s hard to keep on whining about its price.
If you’re short on funds, you can always look for another laptop model that’s priced further down south in exchange for some performance loss, of course. Another option is to build a gaming rig on a quad-core, desktop platform, if portable gaming is not an absolute priority. It will only cost you a third of the GT660’s price tag, but you stand to lose the biggest advantage gaming laptops offer: mobility.
Overall, if you can afford it and you’re on the lookout for a competent substitute for your gaming desktop, then by all means, put the MSI’s GT660 on your list. Its killer looks, coupled with a deadly combination of CPU and GPU, are hard to come by. With MSI’s gaming-oriented laptop, you get your money’s worth – even if you have to give up a ton. Still, knowing there are more affordable alternatives to hardcore gaming than the GT660, we just had to knock some points off its solid report card.
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