Unveiled at this year's CES, MSI's GE600 gaming notebook has about as uninspired a design as you can imagine. Line it up with 10 other laptops and it will be the last one to stand out. So what happens when you boot it up?
Gaming laptops are a great option for people always on the go, living in small homes or even those of us who want to be able to play a computer game without having to sit at their desk to to so. Top gaming choices include laptops from Asus, Alienware, Sager and the MSI, which promises "Extreme Powerful Turbo Gaming".
Someone looking for a middle-of-the-road gaming laptop that, while bereft of any fancy bells and whistles, features a 16-inch screen and built-in DVD drive.
How does this compare to the Alienware's M11x laptop you reviewed? Considering that this runs about the same price, not well. There's nothing wrong with the GE600, it has a lot going for it, but the M11x is still the king of sleek, portable gaming laptops in my book.
OK, what's not as good about it? The most noticeable difference is that the M11x has quite a bit of sizzle packed into its diminutive size. There's the backlit, customisable keyboard, the light effects on the speaker vents and the compact, though comfortable feel and, at just 2kg, the light design. The GE600 has none of that and weighs in at nearly 2.7kg. Also, the GE600's battery life lasted less than three hours every time I flew, almost half the life of the M11x.
Runs about $US900 Is there anything better about the GE600? Sure, it's not a bad machine. The GE600 has a relatively massive 16-inch HD screen (which comes with an equally massive footprint), it also has a fairly thin design, though that big screen means you need a pretty wide bag to carry it around in. And this is a fairly powerful machine with a DirectX 11 i5-430M (2.26 GHz) CPU, 2GB of DDR III memory, a 320 GB hard drive, a switchable ATI Radeon HD5730 graphics chipset and a built-in DVD drive. That drive could be a big deal to those of you who need one. The M11x doesn't have one.
Anything else? I love the MSI's huge screen, even if it means barely being able to open the thing on an aeroplane's seatback table. It's also surprisingly light for its size and despite the fact that it has that DVD drive. The power pack for the laptop is sensible, much like the M11x, meaning it won't take up much room when you travel. And that wide design means you have a pretty huge keyboard and plenty of space to wrest your wrists while typing or touch-padding around the desktop. Finally, this laptop has a hidden subwoofer buried in the underside of the computer that, along with the two keyboard mounted speakers, helps to deliver some serious audio.
The Bottom Line
The GE600 is the sort of laptop for gamers who care more about big screens then they do battery life, more about full-sized keyboards than a small form factor, more about the usefulness of a DVD drive than the glitz of sleek design and flashing lights. This MSI laptop will get the job done, it just won't impress anyone not using it.
The GE600 is sold by MSI. Retails for about $1600 in Australia. A loaner laptop was sent to Kotaku for reviewing purposes. Used the laptop over the course of several months on flights, in bed, at home, at coffee shops. Played Starcraft II, Minecraft, Lego Universe and many other games with no issues.