MSI GT60 Dominator Pro Gaming Laptop Review
Since I've still got the Alienware 17 in-house, it made sense to put the two of them head to head. While it's true that the MSI GT60 has a much higher pixel density (212 PPI vs 129 PPI), that's not what you'll notice first. What makes the GT60's display pop is that it's an IPS panel, not the fast TN panel that Alienware went with. The GT60's panel has better color uniformity, less backlight bleed around the edges, displays the full 0-32 color bars in the Lagom LCD tests (as shown below), and is frankly gorgeous -- but at the cost of some input lag and a slower response time.
The Alienware 17 panel isn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a 17.6-inch TN panel going up against a gorgeous IPS display. MSI wins this comparison, hands down.
Sound is provided via a pair of DynAudio speakers and a Soundblaster-branded plugin from Creative. The actual audio chip is still a standard Realtek, but the sound output is good, if not quite as full as the Alienware 17. The flip side is that these speakers sound significantly better if you turn the SoundBlaster plugin off (the Alienware 17's non-Dolby-modified sound was distinctly muddy.
They aren't quite as loud as the Alienware, but you could watch a movie or play a game with them, no problem. Highs and lows are both handled well by laptop standards. The Soundblaster plugin offers Creative's "Crystalizer" plugin as well as various methods of manipulating the EQ settings -- though oddly enough, it does not offer a full EQ.
Keyboard and Trackpad
I actually prefer the MSI GT60 Dominator Pro's chiclet keyboard over the Alienware 17's more conventional laptop design, but with one caveat -- MSI moves the Windows key to the opposite side of the keyboard. If you hate the Windows key and promptly disable it when you game, you won't mind, but I actually like (and use) this one -- and constantly found myself missing it when I typed on the keyboard. The entire keyboard is lit by a multi-LED array (configured via the SteelSeries software) and if you dig multi-LED keyboard arrays that let you create custom designs for backlights, you'll like this one.
The Trackpad is built by Steelseries and it has an odd single-button mouse arrangement that picks up your clicks based on which side of the lever you hit. The response mechanism is quite stiff -- moreso than I liked -- and the panel is much smaller than the Alienware 17's. This laptop lacks the large wrist-wrest that the larger system offers, which again comes down to personal taste for such things.