The Bottom Line
- High Performance 3D Graphics Processor
- Well Priced
- Larger 9-Cell Battery Pack
- Slower Core i5 Processor
- Awkward Keyboard Layout
- Intel Core i5-430M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 15.4" WSXGA+ (1680x1050) Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- ATI Radeon Mobility HD 5850 Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 2.0, eSATA, FireWire, HDMI, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.1" x 10.2" x 1.3" @ 6.3 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium
Guide Review - MSI GX640-098US 15.4-inch Thin And Light Laptop PC
May 18 2010 - For being a low cost gaming laptop, the MSI GX640-098US does compromise on the processor power. Rather than using the more common Core i5-520M dual core processor, it uses a slightly slower Core i5-430M model. This does put it at a disadvantage to similarly priced laptops in more general purpose applications but it still does a fine job. The 4GB of memory does allow it to handle multitasking without any issues.
While the processor may be a bit below average, the hard drive is quite the opposite. It uses a very large 500GB drive that provides plenty of space for applications, data and media. The drive also spins at the faster 7200rpm rate typical of desktop drives that provides it with quick loading of programs compared to more traditional 5400rpm drives. A standard dual layer DVD burner handles playback and recording of CDs and DVDs.
Since the MSI GX640-098US is designed for gaming on a budget, the graphics systems is important. Rather than using an extremely high resolution panel, MSI has opted for a moderate 1680x1050 resolution that is a good compromise between the typical 1366x768 and the ultra high 1920x1080. Colors and brightness are adequate but get the job done. It does use a glossy coating that makes it difficult to use outdoors and in certain light. Driving the graphics is a Direct X 11 compatible ATI Radeon Mobility HD 5850 processor with 1GB of memory. This isn't the highest ATI graphics processor but it can handle most modern games up to the panel's native resolution without much issue.
Unlike many companies that skimp on the battery pack to keep costs down, the MSI GX640-098US comes with a 9-cell battery compared to most offering just six-cell packs. This gives it an edge in running time but still far from the class leading MacBook Pro. In my DVD playback test, the system was able to run for just over three hours of playback before going into standby mode. This translates to roughly four hours of more typical usage. Gaming will have less but still better than many gaming specific laptops.
One area that is a bit disappointing is the keyboard. It is nice to see MSI include the numeric keypad that is useful to many gamers but there are other keys that have awkward locations and sizes. The function key is in the place most often used by the control key that can cause issue for some gamings. The right side shift key is also smaller than usual to fit in the arrow keys. Add to this a fair amount of flex and the keyboard is definitely something that could be improved.
On the whole, the MSI GX640-098US is a tough value to beat for the gamer on the go. While it may not have the fastest processor, the graphics and display more than make up for it and it still can play modern games just fine. All of this and a price tag of just $1100.