MSI GX60 Gaming Notebook



Company: MSI
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: March 10th, 2013

First Impressions

First impressions of the MSI GX60 are good - our black on black on black on black model features a combination of textures and surface finishes, some of which pick up fingerprints easily and some which don't. The first disappointment is the large silver branding sticker sporting the specifications of the purchase you made, which is affixed seemingly permanently. THX and Microsoft Windows 7 rate a logo on the palm rest, but not AMD even amongst the steelseries, killer networks, eyefinity support and subwoofer denotation - no AMD vision, radeon graphics or APU logos; it's definitely not advertising it's an AMD notebook. The stealth armor look will appeal to its primary demographic but turn off those looking for a sleeper, a gamer notebook you can take into meetings without arousing suspicion you're not all business, all the time.

Inside the beast

Microsoft put some binding restrictions on what OEMs can do to preloads of Windows, but MSI managed to get pretty creative with the GX60. The theme is nicely implemented to be an MSI gaming series branding, and there's a dock application tied into the hot key and touch function buttons to manage sound, power profile, and other common settings like wifi, display, touchpad and so on. Cyberlink YouCam is included, a useful app for enhancing your webcam experience and also enabling face unlock of the desktop and compatible websites (IE only). The good news ends there though, with Norton Online backup and Trend Micro Internet Security trials installed and nagging every boot until you commit to the trial period by buying them or decrapifying the OS. WinZip is installed, which as we know is now GPU accelerated, but it's the trial version - boo. Corel WinDVD is included, with Blu-ray support, and self-activates on first run to update and self install a keypack for BD playback. Microsoft Office 2010 trial is installed, and you get Windows Live Essentials 2011, Adobe Reader and Java preloaded, too.

GPU Heatpipe cooler

My first disappointment came when, giddy with glee at my new toy to play with, I plugged in the supplied gaming mouse and nothing happened. At initial glance, I saw that I was plugged into the one port clearly labelled with the USB 3.0 SuperSpeed logo, so I switched ports ... to no avail, and a closer inspection revealed that all four external USB ports are in fact 3.0 SuperSpeed ports. Inspecting device manager, it is clear why the mouse doesn't work - the MSI OS preload doesn't include USB 3.0 drivers, part of the base chipset driver that AMD provide. A cursory glance confirms that the OS preload shipped in December 2012 is in fact a July 2012 image, and there are many updates - both driver and OS security update - required. This is not news to the buyers of OEM laptops, myself included, and I had to fight the remarkably strong urge to write over the OS and start fresh, if only because the default account is non-password protected with full administrator privileges and user folder sharing with everyone enabled, out of the box. Ugh.

mSATA RAID

With preliminary impressions over, it's time to introduce the competition for this beast, in the form of my beat up old boat anchor laptop, a Dell Studio 1747. This is a 2010 model, with a 17" screen and some upgrades of my own acquired along the way. You can see the specifications compared below.

Test Platform

Component Specification  
Model MSI GX60 1AC Dell Studio 1747 (2010)
Chipset AMD A70M Intel PM55 Express
Processor AMD A10-4600M Intel Core i7 Q720
Integrated Graphics AMD Radeon HD 7660G  
Discrete Graphics AMD Radeon HD 7970M 2GB GDDR5 ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650 1GB GDDR3
Memory 2x4GB DDR3 SODIMM 2x4GB DDR3 SODIMM
Speed DDR3-1600 11-11-12-28 DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24
Audio Realtek ALC892 w/THX IDT w/JBL + SRS
Battery Lithium Ion 9 cell 87Wh Lithium Ion 9 cell 85Wh
A/C Adapter 180W Full size 90W slim
OS Drive RAID 0 2x mSATA SANDisk SDSA5DK-064G (128GB, 6Gbps) OCZ Vertex 2 (200GB, 3Gbps)
Storage Drive Western Digital Scorpio Black (750GB, 6Gbps) OCZ Vertex 2 (200GB, 3Gbps)
Network BigFoot Killer E2200 GbE Realtek 8168 GbE
  Atheros AR1111 802.11 b/g/n Dell DW1501 b/g/n
  Atheros AR1005 Bluetooth 4.0 Dell Wireless 365 Bluetooth 3.0
Display 1920x1080 LED (TN) 1920x1080 TrueLife WLED (TN)
  HDMI + mini DP + VGA output HDMI + DP + VGA output
I/O USB 3.0 x3, USB 2.0 x1 USB 2.0 x3, FireWire 1394b
  SD Card, PC Card SD Card, PC Card, eSATA 2 3gbps
Operating System Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate SP1 Windows 8 64-bit Pro
Chipset Driver AMD Catalyst 13.1 WHQL / 13.1 RAID Intel INF 9.3 / STOR 11.7
Graphics Driver Catalyst 13.1 WHQL Catalyst 13.1 WHQL Legacy
MSI Gaming Mouse