MSI's latest GX740 is the anathema of high-spec gaming laptops. Normally, if you want a machine that's built for performance, like the Asus G73 or the Alienware M17x, it's going to cost you. All those cutting-edge components don't come cheap, you know.
But the GX740 is a near-perfect blend of price and performance. Despite costing a quid less than £1,000, it’ll deliver blistering frame-rates in any game you can throw at it. And at under 4cm thick with a weight of three kilos, it’s significantly more portable than its rivals, too.
This blend of value and performance is achieved through some clever compromises in the GX740’s engine. Unlike most laptops, there's no choice of configuration, so you get what you're given. Fortunately, you’ll like it.
The 3D rendering power is brought to you via an AMD Mobility Radeon HD5870 graphics card, which is the best gaming chip around bar none.
This is coupled with a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor. We'd have love to have seen the GX740 with a quad-core option, like its predecessor the GT740, but that would have taken it over the magic four-figure price barrier.
Sacrificing two CPU cores sounds drastic, but in most games it's the graphics chip that's important. Just don't expect the GX740 to be the same kind of video editing powerhouse that some of its peers can rightly claim to be.
The GX740 may be relatively light for a heavyweight performer, but the 17in screen is big, comfortable to watch and richly coloured. Games play fast and look great, whether it’s a dark first person shooter like Aliens vs Predator or the cartoonish world of Starcraft II.
It's another compromise, though, as the native resolution is low for such a large panel. Its 1680x1050 pixels do some justification to the flying polygons of a virtual world, but HD video won't be at its best.
Still, it does all come back to the price. If you want a pin-sharp display and the best possible processor, you'll have to pay over half as much again for the £1,600 G73 or M17x.
The GX740 is outstanding value for money, a brilliant games performer with an excellent keyboard to boot. In the light of that, living with a few less pixels doesn't seem like a lot to ask.