MSI GX723 Inverness
MSI's GX723 is the first laptop we've seen with Nvidia's GeForce GT 130M chipset. It may sound smart but it's actually a tweaked GeForce 9600M GT, a mid-range mobile chipset that's been around for some time. The GPU's stream processors run at a higher clock speed, but its narrow 128-bit memory bus is a bottleneck to its overall performance. Its score of 25.1fps in our Call of Duty 4 benchmark is about what we'd expect from a 9600M GT, and won't impress serious gamers. It should be able to handle all but the most demanding 3D games, but you'll often have to reduce the resolution or sacrifice detail to get smooth frame rates.
The P8600 processor has a speedy 2.4GHz clock speed, but it's only a dual-core chip. This is a little disappointing as you can get a laptop with a quad-core processor for not much more. There's no Blu-ray drive, either, although the 500GB hard disk provides plenty of storage space.
The GX723's 17in screen has a 1,680x1,050 resolution, which gives you plenty of desktop space for running multiple applications. Colours are reasonably accurate, if not that vibrant, and contrast is good, although nowhere near as good as some LED-backlit screens we've seen recently.
We were disappointed to find the same cramped keyboard on the GX723 as on MSI's other gaming laptops, such as the smaller GT627. Most of the keys are a comfortable size, but they're squashed together on the right where the main keyboard meets the number pad. The key action is also too light, with no feedback, and touch-typists will find it too spongy. The touchpad is the same as well, and while the pad itself is responsive, the two buttons cut into the metal baseplate have little travel and are hard to locate by feel.
Above the keyboard is a rather gaudy touch-sensitive panel with media playback shortcuts. There's no red 'racing stripe' running around the edge of the case as there is on other MSI gaming laptops, but there's liberal use of stylish brushed aluminium panels around the keyboard. At just over 3kg it's not particularly heavy, though such a big laptop is never going to be ideal for mobile use. Its battery life of just over two-and-a-half hours isn't particularly impressive.
There's nothing seriously wrong with the GX723, but it doesn't strike us as great value, either. If you're looking for a powerful desktop replacement, then we'd recommend Acer's Aspire 8930G-905G50B (Labs, Shopper 257). It has a bigger display and a quad-core processor, and costs just £64 more from www.comet.co.uk.
2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, 4GB RAM, 500GB disk, Nvidia GeForce GT 130M graphics, DVD+/-RW +/-DL, 17in widescreen LCD, Windows Vista Home Premium, 35x395x 278mm, 3.2kg, one-year RTB warranty
Power consumption: 1W standby, 28W idle, 74W active
Its graphics chipset isn't anything to get excited about, and there far are better desktop replacements at a similar price.
Author: Barry de la Rosa