Gaming Notebook: 15-Inch Vs 17-Inch

A Quick Look at the GX640 and GX740

Both the GX640 and GX740 are part of MSI's gaming laptop line and share a lot of features, many of which aren't found in other laptops. This is why we thought the two computers made for a good comparison, and an illustration of the classic laptop-buyer’s conundrum.

As gaming systems, they offer high performance hardware, perfect not only for gaming, but also any computationally intensive tasks, like video editing or 3D rendering. This powerful hardware also creates a very responsive system, letting you open programs quickly and run many at once.

Even though they have different screen sizes, the GX640 and GX740 both have a 1680x1050 resolution display. It's true that some other laptops come with better displays with higher resolutions, but by using a slightly lower resolution, MSI can lower its prices while still including a bright, vivid display. The glossy coating on the screen also does an above average job thwarting reflection and glare when compared with most other anti-reflective screens.

MSI's gaming series notebooks also come with a unique feature called the Eco Engine, a quick-access way to control the computer's power settings from a convenient touch-sensitive panel. It has pre-optimized settings for gaming, movies, presentations, and extreme battery savings. The touch panel also gives you quick access to music controls as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Webcam toggles.

One of the most useful features MSI's gaming line offers is the 7.1 channel audio output. Most laptops only have audio ports for a pair of headphones and a microphone, and that's it. Both the GX640 and GX740 have four independent audio outputs, so you can use your surround sound headphones for immersive gaming, or hook it up to your surround sound system for a theatre-like movie experience.

Perhaps the weakest feature of MSI's line is the keyboard design. The GX640 and GX740 share the exact same keyboard layout, featuring an extremely useful number pad, but fitting a full number pad onto a 15-inch laptop requires compressing the rest of the keyboard significantly. This makes typing difficult at first. Coming from a standard keyboard, you'll likely find yourself missing the backspace key regularly, and ending lines with a '4' instead of a return.

Apart from the keyboard, MSI has done a great job designing both of these notebooks, using very elegant brushed aluminum to create a compact and streamlined look while still keeping an extremely sturdy chassis.


A Note on Price


What is most notable about both of these laptops is their price tags: $1499 for the GX740 and only $1199 for the GX640. Most laptops at this price range come with only mid-level graphics hardware and lower resolution screens. If you're looking for a top performing gaming laptop but are on a tight budget, the GX640 really is one of the best options you can find. With a slightly looser budget, the GX740 is a great choice, offering remarkable overall performance.

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  • quantumrand
    I went back and forth between these two laptops more times than I can count. I'm not a hardcore gamer by any means, but I do like to play the latest games from time to time. In my case, battery life wasn't really a concern since I rarely use my laptop away from a plug, so it was really no holds barred between the two.

    On the one hand, the GX740's quad core CPU with hyperthreading was a huge selling point for me. I do a lot of video converting as well as 3D modeling, so 8 cores is pretty sweet. The size of the thing is pretty extreme though and takes up almost all of my available desk space, leaving little room for my mouse, lol.

    On the other hand, the GX640 is very similar to my current laptop, the GX620. It's the same size, same design, same layout, so switching to it would be very simple. It still has plenty of power to be more than useful, but compared to the GX740 it feels like a big hit to take.

    When it all comes down to it though, the GX640 just offers the best performance per price of anything I've seen. I'm by no means a big spender, so at the end of the day, I have to go with the best deal.
  • Trueno07
    I have an older MSI gaming notebook (it's not really that old, only a year, but they don't make them anymore) and i love it. It hasn't given me any trouble, and aside from some wear and tear on the keyboard (all my fault :D) it's a fantastic performer.
  • stewartwb
    This is an interesting review, but it seems dangerously close to being an advertisement for MSI, with just a token mention of another vendor in the closing paragraph.
  • rohitbaran
    Both the MSI laptops are great performers and coupled with 3 year warranty, they should be giving Alienware a run for their money.
  • cknobman
    Awesome review and comparison.

    Stewart: Although I understand your point I think it would be very hard to find another 15 inch laptop with equipment that high spec for such a low price (and likewise for the 17 incher outside of the asus consideration) which makes it easy to explain why we are only seeing MSI. Not to mention Toms can only review the equipment they are given so if no other vendors offered a laptop for a review then MSI deserves any adverts they are getting.
  • nice advertisement, where are the game benchmarks.
  • quantumrand
    snorenice advertisement, where are the game benchmarks.


    It seems like the content management system doesn't like certain links. The benchmark data can be found here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AlI_WGE7CQWXdDExTkE5ZHQxOC10eE1pR19Cd0VRLVE
  • Tomsguiderachel
    This was not a paid advertisement--the writer selected these laptops to illustrate the 15 vs 17 issue for performance-oriented laptops. Truthfully, there aren't many comparable products in this price range, but if you know of some please feel free to let us know in this comments section. Also, keep in mind that we usually limit our reviews to new products--we were unable to find any recent product launches in the same price range/category.

    Thanks for reading,

    Rachel Rosmarin
    Editor, Tom's Guide
  • ghostofanonion
    Xan I just say the only thing beastly about tuhe i7-720 is the price. It's no where near the makrketing hype. In saying that I'm quite pleased the performance of my system (i7-720, 8gb, 5870) I just didn't see the raw power these reviews are promising.
  • quantumrand
    ghostofanonionXan I just say the only thing beastly about tuhe i7-720 is the price. It's no where near the makrketing hype. In saying that I'm quite pleased the performance of my system (i7-720, 8gb, 5870) I just didn't see the raw power these reviews are promising.


    You're definitely right. In terms of raw power, these laptops certainly don't compare to the possibilities of a similarly priced desktop. No laptop would. Just looking at ATI's Mobility 5800 series makes it plainly clear (the Mobility 5800 is dreadfully similar to the 5700 desktop core).

    But when it comes to laptops, these two systems really stand out, both in terms of performance and price. In my opinion, they're a perfect fit for any serious gamer who likes to LAN it up with his friends.
  • daniel123244
    For $30-50 more you can get a asus g73 with 8gigs of ram 1tb hard drive space and a 1080p screen.
  • daniel123244
    quantumrandYou're definitely right. In terms of raw power, these laptops certainly don't compare to the possibilities of a similarly priced desktop. No laptop would. Just looking at ATI's Mobility 5800 series makes it plainly clear (the Mobility 5800 is dreadfully similar to the 5700 desktop core).But when it comes to laptops, these two systems really stand out, both in terms of performance and price. In my opinion, they're a perfect fit for any serious gamer who likes to LAN it up with his friends.


    I think he is talking about a laptop (i7 720)
  • icepick314
    Asus gives 8GB RAM and 1080 display at same price...
  • quantumrand
    icepick314Asus gives 8GB RAM and 1080 display at same price...


    You might want to take a look at the last page. The G73 is supposed to get an update this month, so it wouldn't make much since to review a system that isn't even available anymore.
  • LuckyDucky7
    If it doesn't have a matte screen, forget it.
  • prince_david
    These computers are great performers, but I can't get over the terrible keyboards on the MSI laptops. We have an older GX laptop with the same keyboard, and the small keys make for constant typos, and once you get used to it's keyboard it makes using a normal keyboard difficult. We don't need a full number pad, won't MSI see how much people dislike the keyboards and fix it already. I won't buy another MSI until they do.
  • rosser
    I would love to see you guys take an comparably priced apple laptop, boot camp it to windows 7 and run some benchmarks just for fun. I would love to see the raw scores.
  • quantumrand
    rosserI would love to see you guys take an comparably priced apple laptop, boot camp it to windows 7 and run some benchmarks just for fun. I would love to see the raw scores.


    The 15" MacBook Pro at $1799 would score about a 25 on the Gaming benchmark chart. It would probably get about 85 on the CPU chart. Of course with a significantly lower powered GPU, the MacBook does manage much better battery life.

    For the most part, you're comparing apples and oranges. The GX640 and GX740 have very powerful gaming hardware (the Mobility Radeon 5800). The MacBooks use Nvidia's GT330M which really doesn't even come close to the Radeon 5800 series but uses far less power.
  • ray-ng
    Woah, did I read the last lines correctly? It says the Asus g73jh will have a price drop from $1600 to $1200? At the end of the month?!
  • quantumrand
    ray-ngWoah, did I read the last lines correctly? It says the Asus g73jh will have a price drop from $1600 to $1200? At the end of the month?!


    Haha, if only...It's saying that the G73Jh is getting updated, and the old stock is getting cleared out. Some places are selling the old units for as low as $1200, but it's only for the remaining stock, which is likely running out fast. The new version of the G73 (possibly with the new GTX480M) will probably cost $1799.
  • ray-ng
    quantumrandHaha, if only...It's saying that the G73Jh is getting updated, and the old stock is getting cleared out. Some places are selling the old units for as low as $1200, but it's only for the remaining stock, which is likely running out fast. The new version of the G73 (possibly with the new GTX480M) will probably cost $1799.


    Where?
  • quantumrand
    ray-ngWhere?


    It used to be at BestBuy for that price, but I think they ran out of stock for that model. You can still find a similarly spec'd G73Jh from BestBuy for $1300 though: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Asus+-+Laptop+/+Intel%26%23174;+Core%26%23153;+i7+Processor+/+17.3%22+Display+/+6GB+Memory+/+500GB+Hard+Drive+-+Black/9741729.p?skuId=9741729&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=9741729&ref=06&loc=01&id=1218165344675
  • tomasck
    Is there any way of finding out what the actual specs of the updated G73 will be?

    How did Tom's know that an update was happening this month?
  • quantumrand
    tomasckIs there any way of finding out what the actual specs of the updated G73 will be? How did Tom's know that an update was happening this month?


    From what I can tell, the new G73 will not be a huge overhaul. It sounds like it'll probably be getting a new Fermi GPU and a 120Hz screen for optimized stereoscopic 3D gaming (a concept I personally think is stupid and far from being mature enough for real use).

    I think the G53 sounds pretty interesting though. It'll be fun to see what kind of features and power Asus can pack into a 15 inch laptop.