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Gaming Notebook: 15-Inch Vs 17-Inch

A Closer Look at the GX640, the 15-Incher

The GX640 is the smaller of the two heavy hitters from MSI, with its 15.4-inch screen and weight of 6.3 pounds. It's fairly portable, fitting into most standard laptop carrying cases, although it is by no means the lightest of notebooks. However, its extra weight is to be expected, considering the hardware it houses.

With Intel's Core i5-430M, the GX640 provides four cores of processing power (two physical cores with Hyperthreadying). This means excellent multitasking capability as well as strong performance with CPU-intensive tasks. Built with mobile computing in mind, the 430M can throttle itself very effectively, reducing its speed when idle and activating Intel's Turbo Boost technology at times of heavy computation. This makes the GX640 a very efficient processing machine.

In coordination with the Core-i5 processor, the GX640 also has an extremely powerful, DirectX 11 ready Radeon Mobility 5850, complete with 1GB of GDDR5 video RAM. What does all this mumbo-jumbo mean? It means that the GX640 can handle even the most advanced game titles, allowing you to crank the settings to maximum for just about any game you want to play. A downside, though, is that the Radeon 5850 can be somewhat power hungry, which makes it difficult to stay mobile for extended lengths of time.

Housing all of this power in such a small frame does have its disadvantages. With only three USB ports, one of which is also an eSATA port, you might find yourself wishing you had more. The cramped chassis also means that cooling can sometimes be an issue. During extended gaming sessions, you might find the brushed aluminum casing warm to the touch, causing your palms to perspire. When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck though, the GX640 is hard to beat.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • rohitbaran
    Both the MSI laptops are great performers and coupled with 3 year warranty, they should be giving Alienware a run for their money.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • nice advertisement, where are the game benchmarks.
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  • 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
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply