MST GT683r Review – Another Gaming Monster Notebook
First off, this 15.6 inch gaming laptop would definitely need a better name. I can’t really imagine someone rushing to a computer store and enthusiastically asking for an encryption key sounding MSI gaming laptop. Besides that, this computer seems to fit so good in the ultra portable gaming laptop niche, which is still dominated by Alienware minions.
MSI’s entry is powered by a current gen Core i7 dual core processor and packs the Nvidia Gforce GTX 560M video card, which is brand new and was showcased by Nvidia during Computex, earlier this year. With this initial setup, the laptop seems to be a winner and a good buy for those looking to play and move. But is there more than meets the eye with this one? Find out from our review of the MSI GT683R-242US (there, I’ve said it again).
Not only the video card and processor are impressive at a first glance when we’re looking at the GT683R. The laptop packs 12 GB of RAM, HD audio and speakers and a bunch of performance enhancing technologies, most of them developed by MSI. Full spec list below.
- CPU: 2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2630QM Processor 2.0-2.9 GHz, 3MB Cache
- Operating System: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
- LCD: 15.6″ Glossy Full HD Display 1920 x 1080
- Chipset: Intel HM67
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M with 1.5G GDDR5
- Audio: THX TruStudio Pro
- Speaker: Dynaudio Premium Speakers
- Memory: 12GB DDR3
- HDD: 2 * 500GB SATA 7200rpm
- Optical Drive: DVD Super Multi
- Connectivity: 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet, Built-in 802.11b/g/n WLAN Card
- Card Reader: 7-in-1 Card Reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/XD/MSPRO/MS/MMC)
- Webcam: 720P HD Webcam
- USB: USB2.0 X 2, USB3.0 X 2
- Video Port: VGA (15-pin, D-Sub) X 1, HDMI X 1
- Audio Port: Mic-in X 1, Headphone X 1
- Battery: 9 Cells battery
- Dimensions: 14.97” (L) x 10.24” (W) x 1.77” (H)
- Weight: 7.7 lbs
Design and build
In terms of looks, the GT683R is pretty similar to the GT660R, both computers having something from the SF lines and techno inspired chassis of Alienware computers. The laptop has a glossy, black chassis which is very solid, but adds serious pounds to the overall weight. In the middle of the chassis, you’ll find the MSI logo, which is backlit, and a LED strip going on the bottom side of the chassis.
Similar LED installations are on the two sides and their intensity varies in relation with the sound level the speakers are producing. Of course, you can also customize the way the lights activate by pressing the appropriate customization button positioned above the keyboard. Even if these tricks will definitely turn some heads and make you feel a little more like a galaxy ranger, it doesn’t change the fact that the laptop is bulky and thick.
Sure, it’s probably aimed to be used more in a single location, but a laptop so heavy is never a joy. Overall, the build quality is very good and feels like an industrial piece of equipment, very solid and without any of that cheap plastic that nobody wants on computers.
Keyboard and track pad
The GT683R has a chiclet style keyboard, which feels very roomy and stylish. Keys are large and typos will be kind of rare. The keys are also silent and don’t flex, being similar to those on MacBooks. The W, S, A, D keys, commonly used by gamers, are red, so they’re easy to detect even in the dark. A slight problem of the keyboard is that it doesn’t have an illumination system, which might be a little uncomfortable when playing in the dark.
A more positive aspect is the presence of a full numeric keyboard on the right side. Above the keyboard, you’ve got another one, so to say, a touch sensitive row of commands, including TDE, Cooler Booster, WLAN, Bluetooth, ECO Engine, Dynamic LED, and more. As for the touch pad, the patterned surface is framed by a metal strip, with the two mouse buttons being a little too noisy for my taste.
Still, the touch pad is very precise, supports multi touch gestures and feels great. To sum things up in that area, the palm rest has a honeycomb like feeling, which is a great place to keep your wrists for a longer period of time . Seriously, it feels great and you won’t get any bruises or pains after 5 hours of shooting everything in sight.
Unlike the previous entry in MSI’s gaming laptop series, which had a rather low res 1366 x 768 display, the one on the GT683R packs a splendid 1920×1080 display, and is capable of displaying full HD, 1080p video, thanks to the great resolution. In addition, colors are rich and vibrant and this will definitely add to the gaming experience.
It all comes down to this. Can this laptop play all of the latest games, HD content and generally never feel asphyxiated with tasks? Well, yes. The machine packs a Core i7 processor with a 2 GHZ speed and a maximum Turbo Boost Speed of 2.9 GHZ, no less than 12 GB of RAM and the first notebook version of the GTX 500 video card series, that has 1.5 GB DDR5 and is said to deliver twice the performance of the GT 540M.
In PCMark Vantage, a test that simulates a significant workload of HD playback, gaming, office tools and more, the laptop scored 9740, which is a very good score for a sub $2000 computer. In 3DMark11, which is focused on Vista and 7 based systems, dealing with DirectX11, a physics test and 4 new graphics tests, the laptop scored a very respectable 2030 score, being outmatched by machines like Maingear eX-L 15, which is significantly more expensive.
In CineBench R11.5, which renders a 3D scene, the GT683R was a little less impressive, having a score of 39.43, and being outmatched by Maingear eX-L 15, Asus G73SW and MSI GT680R.
The operating system is Windows 7 Home Premium and there are also a bunch of other apps, some more useful than others. Like always, there’s a trial Norton Antivirus version and Norton Online Backup, as well as video editors, photo viewers and organizers, Bing toolbar and others. Play around with them for a while and see if anything in that mix is useful.
Battery life was an issue on other MSI gaming laptops and it’s a joy to see that the GT683R performs much better. On the DVD battery rundown test, the laptop’s battery emptied after almost 3 and a half hours, which is considerably better than the 2 hours max cap of the former in the series. Also, the laptop performs better than other gaming laptops like Eurocom Racer (1:19) and the Digital Storm xm15 (2:17).
Sound, noise, heat and others
The GT683R comes with a spectacular sound system, with 2 speakers under the screen and a subwoofer on the base. It delivers great sound, both in quality and volume, partly thanks to the integrated THX TruStudioPro audio software. As with other previous MSI laptops, there will be a problem with the loud fan and overheated body from time to time, but it’s a price you’ll have to pay for such a consistent configuration.
Prices and availability
The GT683R costs $1499 and is widely available in the US. There aren’t any configuration options as far as we know, so you can’t trim down the price by getting less RAM or an older video card. This is a very solid gaming system and these things cost money, that’s for sure.
This is definitely one of the best gaming laptops currently available and it does that for a sub $2000
price. It has Nvidia’s latest notebook oriented video card and a Core i7 processor, as well as 12 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage, so we can easily say that this is a very solid configuration for gaming, at least for the next 12 to 18 months.
The shortcomings of this laptops- heat, some noise, mediocre battery life, are all passable if you think about how well it can deal with HD content and gaming, as proven by the synthetic tests results. So if you don’t want to spend more than $1500 on a gaming laptop, the MSI GT683R is a very good choice.